Friday, August 24, 2012

Zombies can use Tablets too

Check out my new toy! I know iPads are all the rage, but you just can't argue with a $249 sticker price on this refurbished 10 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab. Yes, it's from Walmart, and yes, it's used, but hey... I added a $59 insurance plan that covers freezes, drops, cracks, etc... so why pay for new? (not to mention, I couldn't afford it anyway.) 

Get this... I ordered it online on Tuesday, it arrived on Thursday. I also ordered a nice padded storage case because Zombies are klutzes when it comes to carrying things.

So what's the big deal? I remember back when the iPad was a feminine product joke on SNL... we all said, "Who would bother buying that? It's just like a laptop but flat... what a waste of money!" And here we all are... finally realizing what Apple figured out a long time ago, that it's REALLY NICE to have all your web, music, files, movies, books and games in one easy-to-look-at, portable location! Not surprising, then, that something so handy for home/work would also be handy for school.

Tablet Advantage #1: I don't need to lug a textbook home anymore

Here's me playing with the online textbook at home. (I still like the hard copy at school though) Many textbooks are also available in the iStore and Android market for download, just like any other eBook. You can view them pretty much any e-Reader.


Tablet Advantage #2: Interactive Classroom

You can walk around the class with one thing on the Smart board, and use your tablet either for teachers or students to reinforce concepts. All you really need is a decent Wi-Fi connection in most cases. And it doesn't need to be attached to a cell phone plan unless you want network access everywhere you go.
Unfortunately, internet speed does seem to be the biggest stumbling block for businesses, schools and communities. Servers and bandwidth can't always support the needed volume for thousands of individuals to be viewing large files and videos from the internet at the same time.

If you don't have the bandwidth to support online activities, you can still use e-Reader textbooks or download math-related apps and games. I am setting the main page of my tablet to meet student needs, including the login, grading portal, regular and graphing calculators, the e-Book, links to the online textbook site for interactive practice and videos, as well as some games. If you do have internet access, well... then the world is at your students' fingertips! Especially if they are allowed to bring in their own tablet (and if you can trust them to use it responsibly). 
The platform is also nice on tablets for automatic updating. Say you have an important reminder to post in your class (like my Math-7 Hour 1 Bellm) above... I can be standing in the back of the room, type in an assignment clarification, or start a discussion, and it will automatically update on the Smart board in real-time in the front of the room. Any students who have Schoology installed on their phones or tablets will then receive the update on their device as well.
Tablet Advantage #3: Quick Reference for Teachers

Sitting at a meeting? Need to check on a student's grade or check out a book from the library and you're away from your desk? Bring your tablet! Type or write some notes while you're there. Open a .pdf or word document while you're there. Show it to your colleagues on the huge 10-inch screen. 

Tablet Advantage #4: Take attendance as you walk around the room

Stand by the door to greet kids and mark them present/sick/tardy as they arrive. Or stand in the back and be sneaky. Whatever you do, you're not chained to your desk anymore. You can even set a timer on the device to beep at you so you don't forget. (which I often do) 

Tablet Advantage #5: Real-Time polling / Check for understanding

If you trust your students to have their own smart phones / tablets out, and you have working internet and a platform like Schoology (which is free!) to start up a conversation or a random polling question. They can answer from their own device either anonymously or by name. You've got instant feedback, and you can always still check verbally or on whiteboards with students who don't have a device. 

Tablet Advantage #6:  Timers, Clocks, Calculators, Weather and other Gadgets

Do you have a time management problem? Well I sure do. In addition to needing timers to take attendance, I need a "wrap it up, big talker" timer to get kids back in order and conclude the lesson at the end of the hour. I also like having weather at the click of a button when the kids start asking if their sports are going to get cancelled at the end of the day. 

Tablet Advantage #7: Everything else!

Check the news. Read a book. Download a bunch of apps for your kids and yourself. Watch a movie. Listen to some music. And try not to get too addicted.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Zombie is Alive (and back for another bite)

Happy August, everyone! 

The summer is flying by in its typical expeditious pace. Curriculum training has begun, school supplies crowd the shelves, and I am getting the back-to-work bug in the pit of my belly a little too soon. 

 I wasn't planning to blog again for at least a few more weeks, but seeing as I just Googled the term "flip-class" and found the picture I was looking for ON MY OWN BLOG, I took it as a sign from God, or maybe it was Ashley, to get back in the groove of things. So this blog will probably read like half health-journal entry, half HGTV show, and maybe a third school-related. Yes, I know that doesn't add up. It's summer. Give a girl a break. 

Health-Journal/Shrink Entry
A million thanks for all the support, as my family and friends continue to grieve the loss of my sister Ashley. Her funeral in June was extremely moving and gave everyone a chance to let out a lot of pent-up emotion. We have since been passing the summer on Ashley-time, showing up at least 15 minutes late everywhere we go, and taking lots and lots of pictures. There are some touching memorials on Youtube that you can watch (with Kleenex!) if you would like to know her better. 

The headstone for Ashley's grave will be ready in a little over a month, and then we will travel as a family to the cemetery by our family cabin where we will lay her to rest. It is a beautiful site; full of farm-land views and a bubbling brook, eagles swooping and guarding over the graves, and lots of room to plant flowers and sit on the family bench, contemplating happier times. 

So how do you pick up the pieces after a tragedy and move on with your life? Well, us Goetz/Bellm's are not mopers. We have done just that. Picked up the pieces and gotten on living. Visiting each other, traveling, meeting and playing with babies, participating in a 5K walk/run in Richfield and dedicating our efforts to Ashley. I myself have taken everyone's advice to heart to "take care of yourself". For probably the first time in my life since high school sports, I truly feel healthy and fit. 

I am not a private person, and I don't like to toot my own horn, but it really wasn't that hard and I want to share my secret. Shhhhhhh. Here it is. 


Step 1: I started a free fit-log at It has a ton of ads, which I don't pay any attention to, but if they bug you, you can subscribe to the pay-site version. The biggest benefit to the fit log? Taking ownership and being honest with food intake, and being shocked to find out exactly how much (and what is in the) food I'm eating. And then taking ownership of the exercise (or lack thereof) that I'm doing, and accepting that I need to do a lot more. If you're honest, and stay within your calories, you should see results. 

Step 2: Taking up running. I know, right!?!? I have hated running since I was a teenager. I liked it as a kid, but when my body got too gangly and the side aches started, I said, "enough!" and gave up the institution of running for pleasure. Biggest mistake ever. Watching the Biggest Loser contestants year after year, and my brother training for major marathons, you'd think I'd get a clue... but no, "that's not for me", I said... and then one day I just woke up and said, "I can do this!" and ran for 25 minutes straight. Slowly. Like 15 mins/mile slowly.  I refuse to run/walk. Because I am lazy and I know I'm going to abuse the "walk" part.

The second day was SO HARD that I whined on Facebook about child birth being easier. But the third day was better. And then I started adding incrementally to my distance and decreasing my run times, and got better shoes, and got a new MP3 player and arm band, and really good blister band-aids... and before you know it, I'm posting a 29:02 time at the 5K race we just ran

I. AM. HOOKED. This is FUN!!! My brother warned me that running is addicting. He was right. I want to run further and compete in more races. So I am now registered for a 10K race in September right down the road from my school. The training is really hard on the body if you don't have REALLY GOOD SHOES that fit REALLY WELL. And REALLY THICK BAND-AIDS. Believe me. I learned the hard way and had to take two weeks off to nurse a sore heel. Note to prior self & y'all: Walmart does not sell decent running shoes.

Step 3: Plan ahead so you can have a life. And EAT like a normal human being and take a day off here and there. I have gone on vacation several times, out to eat too many times, and hosted/been to many parties in the last few months and was able to keep losing weight. I don't sit around eating celery or bring a bag of my own special food. 

But I do sign into my Fit Day log before going to a party or a restaurant, and look up the nutrition information on what I want to eat. I enter it into my fit log beforehand so I can adjust my food for the rest of the day. You can always delete or edit it later. And if you want to eat an extra large piece of cake? Go to town! Just know that it's going to cost you an extra 20-25 minutes of running or a nice long bike ride the next day. 

Here are my all-time favorite tips before I switch gears into HGTV-mode:
-Don't eat 3 hours before bed-time. A light drink seems to be alright occasionally though ;)
-Don't drink your calories!!!! No regular pop! No shakes! No full bottles of wine!!! 
-Eat a light breakfast (150-250 cal.) with some protein in it. I LOVE BACON!!!
-Cross-train when bored/injured/tired (I like to walk, do Pilates, and now, biking!).
-Log only weight losses. Never gains. Everyone yo-yo's. Celebrate the good days.

And now for some Home Improvement! (Note, nothing school-related until August...)

Our basement was boring, blah beige and hadn't been updated since we moved into the house five years ago. I could qualify for Trading Spaces with this makeover because I think I stayed under $1000 total for both rooms. 

Downstairs Great Room: (~72 hrs labor, logged major calories burned painting!)


-Painted the boring beige walls a hearty maroon. 
-Painted a Golden Gophers gold accent wall in front.
-Built my husband a desk for his home business
-Built 3 giant square storage shelves from Ikea 
-Bought some matching black frames and artwork
-Bought a ton of lighting for the east end of the room
-Bought couch slip-covers in "Cappuccino" and a couple matching throw pillows
-Spray painted the coffee table with a stone finish
-Cleaned out and hid all the kid stuff and mini trampoline in their own area by the door

Downstairs Hawaiian-theme Bedroom: (~48 hrs labor, seemed easy after above...)

-Painted the walls a "Cape Blue" and a lighter "Winter Sky" blue accent wall
-Hoping to put up the wood plank faux finish wallpaper above the bed soon
-Installed layered curtains with a washed out, almost tie-dye blue/gray/white rippling effect
-Invested in a PILE of dollar-store tropical fake flowers (birds of paradise, palms, etc.)
-Bought this amazing bookshelf head board and matching Ikea wood side tables
-Bought a set of side-table lamps with cream-colored shades
-Typed "Hawaii" into the search box at and ordered a TON of prints
-Bought separate black frames at Target rather than paying Allposters for frames/shipping
-Bought dollar store candles and tubs of shells to spread around book case / head board
-Bought the beautiful accent pillows and pillow cases AFTER selecting room colors
-Flipped over the reversible bed spread from the brown side to the cream side (FREE!!!)

Last Topic: New Toys and Tools for School!

I made a major life-changing decision this summer, to delete my school page. I have nothing against the software; it worked great and had a fairly inexpensive yearly rate. But I vowed to use the free software and sites provided by my school and new textbook instead. OK... and too.

Changes for 2012-2013 (which you may or may not find useful):
-Using my school-provided website for information, pictures, and links to my other sites
-Using for class news, documents, discussions, calendar, and drop-box
-Using Prezi more, and Powerpoint less. I made this Prezi for our new math curriculum.
-Using free online version of our new textbook at school & home instead of real books
-Use more Flip-Class to promote student learning at own pace & more class work time

We had fascinating training days working with these new free technologies, and I have to say, I think this is going to be the most productive and successful year I've had yet. It's only August ninth, and I've already outlined nearly the entire first month without needing any printed resources in front of me!!! 

Thank goodness for technology...  

Enough computer for now. Time to get some exercise. Cheers to an active summer!