Saturday, August 29, 2015

Using Technology to Create a Classroom Calendar Chart

In my "Old Days" of teaching, I posted a calendar chart in the classroom.  This was before whiteboards were available.  Every August, I would take the calendar chart out of my teacher's closet and hang it up on one of the walls in the classroom.  Each year, it became more and more worn.  It had folds where none should have been, it was frayed on the edges, and there were tape marks, holes, and tears from years of being mounted, taken down, and posted again.  It was sad looking.  It did not exude freshness and newness for classroom decor at the beginning of the school year. 

I might also mention that I was not fond of the abbreviated words for the days of the week.  In my opinion, young children should see the full name of the days of the week when teaching calendar skills. Should I mention that the font style was not my favorite?  But . . . . what was I to do.  I wasn't in the business of manufacturing calendar charts.

It gets worse.  There were a few times when I couldn't FIND the calendar chart.  I misplaced it.  Where oh where could it be???  It wasn't in my teacher's closet OR the usual places that I might have put it.  I was scrambling to locate it before the first day of school. 
Then the birth of the whiteboards.  This gave teachers like me the power to post their calendar activities on a digital file and then project them on the board.  

No more calendar charts.   

Not so fast!  I STILL liked having a calendar chart posted on the wall.  The children could refer to it throughout the school day as needed.  I believe it helped them to see the value of using a calendar in authentic situations.  They also liked manipulating the numerals and arranging and rearranging the order when they had a few extra minutes.  

Thanks to technology and Microsoft Word ®, I learned how to make my own calendar chart.  No more abbreviated days of the week!  No more fonts that I don't want!  No more "sad" looking calendar charts.  No more lost calendar charts!

In this post, I will teach YOU how to create your own printable calendar chart using Microsoft Word ®.  I will make this easy.  But, if you're not up to the challenge, you may download the FREE calendar chart that I created.  It's at the end of this post.  Remember, learning to create this yourself adds to your technology toolbox! 

There are many versions of Microsoft Word ®.  The version that I used to create the chart with is Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business.  If you have a different version, things that I show you might be a tad different on your computer.  Therefore, this tutorial may not work as well for you.  I also converted my chart to a PDF so that I could take the file to a print shop and maintain formatting.

Let's get started.  It's as easy as following a recipe in a cookbook!

1.  Open to Microsoft Word ®
2.  There are 3 things we will take care of to set up your page.  Click on the "Page Layout" tab.  You will see "Margins, Orientation, and Size".  I've outlined them in blue, red, and green as shown below respectively.
Figure 1
We'll start with "Margins".  Click on it and scroll down to "Custom Margins".  Set your custom margins as shown below.  It's 0.4 at the top of the page and 0.05 at the bottom of the page.  Use .25 for the left and right margins.  Then click on the "OK" bar. 
Figure 2

Warning!  From time to time you will see this message below.  Always choose to ignore it!
Figure 3
4.  That was easy!  Click on the "Orientation" tab next.  (Remember that I outlined that in red.)  It will give you 2 choices.  The choices are "Portrait" and "Landscape".  Pick "Landscape".
Figure 4

5.  We're on a roll!  Click on the "Size" tab.  Scroll down and select "More Paper Sizes".  Then, under the paper tab, scroll again from the listing.  It will give you choices like, "letter", "legal", "statement", "executive" and so forth.  You want to find the one that says, "Custom Paper Size".  Once in the "Custom Page Size" mode, you will type in your desired width and height.  In the "width" bar, highlight and type: 22".  In the height bar, highlight and type:  17".  Then click "OK".  (Remember that the message from figure 3 may pop up.  Just hit ignore!)
Figure 5

See how smart you are!  Your page is all prepped!  Now it's time to add a table that will become your calendar chart!  

6.  There is an "Insert" tab.  Click on it and then on the image of the table.  Mouse over the table until you have a 7 x 6 table.  It will show 7 squares horizontally and 6 squares vertically.  Click, and your table will be on your page.  

Figure 6

Your table might look like the one shown in figure 7.  It doesn't look like a calendar chart right now but that's o.k.  Make sure it has 7 boxes going horizontally and 6 going vertically.  It's a total of 42 boxes.  We'll call those boxes "cells".

Figure 7
We're going to make some adjustments to your table.  But first you need to understand how to highlight rows within your table.  This allows you to direct your commands to the proper rows, columns, and cells.  There are two examples shown below.  The first example (figure 8) shows the entire table as highlighted.  I would want to use this if I planned to make every cell the same measurement.   
Figure 8
The second example (figure 9) shows the rows 2 through 5 highlighted.  In this instance, I would give those rows directions in terms of measurements without directing the first or last rows.

Figure 9
I would highlight, then right mouse click within the table, and select "Table Properties".  From there I would give it the measurement formula.

7.   We're ready to turn this table into a calendar chart!  Go ahead and highlight the entire table.  Left click your mouse and drag it over the entire table.  Then right mouse click within the table.  (Make sure the table remains highlighted when you do this.)  A drop down menu will appear.  Left mouse click "Table Properties".  You will get a dialogue box which will look like the one shown below.  I've circle the important items in yellow.
Figure 10
You are going to make every cell in this table 3 inches by 3 inches.  Go to the Row tab.  Specify height to 3 inches.  Set it for EXACTLY 3 inches.  The other choice says "At Least".  You don't want that one.  Then hit on the bar that says "Next Row" and cycle through every row at 3 inches exactly.  Then click OK.

One row of your table will now carry over to another page in your document.  Bet you weren't expecting that!  Don't worry.  The table will be on one page when we get finished.

8.  Highlight your entire table again. Highlight the table by starting at the bottom row which is now on a page 2 of the document.  Drag your mouse upward until it reaches the top row of the table.  Right mouse click within the table.  The drop down table will appear.  Left mouse click on "Table Properties".  This time you are going to work with the Column tab.  (You completed the Row tab in step 7.)  Remember that our goal right now is to make every cell a 3 x 3 square.  Here's what the dialogue box will look like:
Figure 11
Click on the Column Tab.  Make every column at 3 inches.  Cycle through the "Next Column" bar.  Then click "OK".  

9.  We're going to adjust the measurement of the top row of the table calendar chart.  Since the top row is where the words for the days of the week will go, we only need it to be 1 inch high.  Highlight the top row of your table.  Right mouse click within the TOP ROW.  When the drop down menu appears, click on "Table Properties".  Go to the "Row" tab.  Change it to 1 inch, EXACTLY.  Then click "OK".  DON'T go to "Next Row" as you did before.  Otherwise, it will start to change ALL of your cells to 1 inch in height.   
Figure 12

Voila!  Your table should now appear on one page!  Reducing the height of the top row from 3 inches to 1 inch allowed the entire table to fit on one page.

10.  Moving right along!  We're going to center your table so that it will be perfectly aligned on your page.  Look at figure 13 below.  Do you see that little mark on the upper left corner of the table?  I've made it a little bigger than its normal size.  I call it a four-way arrow.  You want to right mouse click on it.  A drop down menu will appear.  
Figure 13
 Go to the "Table" tab.  Select "Center".  Then "OK".  (If you don't find the little mark, just highlight the entire table and follow the same steps.)   
Figure 14
11.  You're doing great!  You have a perfectly aligned and measured calendar chart!  You need to dress it up a bit more.  Those horizontal and vertical lines might be too thin looking by the time your table goes to press.  You can thicken the lines to your preference with this step.  My chart has a thickness of 6 points.  You can select something thinner than this if desired.  Highlight your entire table again or click on that four-way arrow.  Once the drop down menu appears, select "Table Properties".  In the "Table" tab, select "Borders and Shading".  Go to the Width box and make your selection from .5 points up to 6 points.  (See figure 15 below.)  The style is the solid line.  The setting should be for ALL.  Apply to CELL or TABLE.  You might notice that there is a color option.  You can try out different colored lines if you'd like.  However, you should keep this calendar chart as a BLACK line.  I'll explain the reason for this later on.   
Figure 15
You're almost finished!  Right now, your calendar chart is looking something like figure 16.  It has 42 cells in all.  35 cells are 3 x 3 inches.  The top row of cells are 1 inch high and 3 inches wide a piece.  What a masterpiece you've created!
Figure 16
The last few things you have left to do is to create text boxes for your days of the week.  Then you'll pick your own font, type one day of the week in each text box and slip them into place!  If you know how to make text boxes, skip number 12 of this tutorial.

12.  Let's get cooking with those text boxes!  There is a tab that says, "Insert".  Click on it.  (See figure 17.) 
Figure 17
You will see quite a few options across the page.  One will say, "Text Box".  Pick that one.  Left mouse click on it.  A drop down menu will appear with several options.  Choose the one that says, "Draw Text Box".  
Figure 18
Drag and draw a rectangle.  Adjust the size so that it is the same size as one of the cells in the top row of your calendar grid.  Now copy the text box and paste it 6 times.  This will give you 7 text boxes in all - one for each day of the week.
Figure 19

13.  Position your text boxes in the cells in the top row.  (Figure 21)  There should be one text box per cell.  Just drag them in.  I've made them yellow so you can see them.
Figure 20
Figure 21
14.  We're not going to leave those text boxes with any color.  (Everything in this chart must use black ink.  I'll get to that in a bit.)  We're going to change the text boxes to "No Fill" and "No Outline".  This will make them invisible!  Click on one of your text boxes, then go to Format, and then Shape Fill, select "No Fill".  Repeat this for all the other text boxes.
Figure 22

You're almost done!  

15.  Select your desired font style and size from your own listing and type your days of the week into the text boxes.  Here's a Tip:  Type Wednesday first so your know the size that you have to work with.  (It's your longest day in terms of the character count.)   Use the black color for your font.
16.  Save your file on a flash drive as a .doc document.  Then save it as a PDF on a flash drive.

 Time to get it printed!

Your chart is a 22 x 17 size.  Make sure that the person printing this is informed of this size.  Unless your school division has a special printer for this size, you will need to take it to a print shop to have it printed.  I recommend that you call first to see if your local shop has such a printer.  I used a Fed Ex Print & Ship Center to print my own calendar chart.

You might remember that I mentioned that you should stay with the black color options for your grid lines and font color.  If you have ANY color in your chart, your price will go up . . . . a lot.  So, use the black ink.  My local store had three color paper options which were white, blue, and yellow.  I chose all three!  While stores may vary their products, the paper color does not increase the price of the printing with my charts.  I was charged $2.37 per chart.  I did this in August of 2015.   Ask about the pricing before you print.
You will need to have it printed with regular paper thickness.  If you choose a thick paper option, your price will go up.  You can strengthen your chart by laminating it at school. 

You're done!  You have a beautiful calendar chart which is uniquely your own!   
Uh, so you didn't feel like learning how to do this?  I understand.  I'm happy to share my chart with you provided that my terms of use are followed.  The terms of use are in the file.  Please be sure to read them.  I'm also posting a few of them here.

1.  You may not use my chart for any commercial purposes.  This includes displaying numeral cards which you intend to sell on my chart.

2.  File sharing is prohibited.  You can't send anyone a copy of the file.

3.  File linking is prohibited.  You can't send anyone a copy of the direct link to the file.  You CAN tell others about this blog post where they may get a copy of the calendar chart themselves.

4.  Your license to use my chart is for your own personal and classroom use.  You can't make copies of the chart for others.

5.  You are not allowed to upload the calendar chart on the internet or World Wide Web.  You can't post my chart on your own website.

Lessons by Molly © 2015  All rights reserved.