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K12 Online Conference 2008

The K12 Online Conference 2008 officially kicks off today!  This is a great FREE online conference to attend.   Not only is it convenient for your schedule (you can attend sessions at your convenience online), but you will learn and be inspired by the speakers and presenters.  I highly recommend...

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#FutureReady starts with Metanoia: doing life together in the journey to change one’s mind

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Apply, Character Education, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 20-11-2014

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Metanoia: What it really means to be #futureready

Every morning Anastasis Academy students start with a mile walk. Together. We don’t walk by class, or by age. We walk together in community. Sometimes (when the weather is nicer) whole families join us, dogs included. It is a great way to start off the day. Directly following the walk, our students come together for a morning meeting. We call it “Metanoia” which is an ancient Greek word meaning: the journey to change one’s mind. Again, we do this as a community, not separated by age, grade, or class. They all sit together. Sometimes we bring in guest speakers, sometimes we watch a video together, and sometimes different staff members lead Metanoia. We share stories and take time to do life together. We do a lot of awesome things at Anastasis, but the Metanoia time together in the morning is among the most awesome.

The Metanoia tends to be tied up with the current inquiry block. This block, our students have been intentional about being thankful. Having an attitude of gratitude every day as part of our How We Express Ourselves inquiry block. Early in the week, we had @thewesroberts as our guest speaker. He gave each student a quarter and challenged them to multiply it and then give it away. Wes talked to the kids about the power they have to make an impact on each other’s lives and on our community. Incidentally as Wes was talking to our students, one of my friends lost their house and dogs in a fire. Devastating. I mentioned this to some of the Anastasis staff and before I knew it, our students had determined that they were going to multiply the quarters they were given to help my friend. Wow.

Today during Metanoia, @lancefinkbeiner called up students to the front one at a time and then asked the other students to say something that they appreciated about the student at the front. As a community, our kids told each other why they matter. This was a neat exercise, but what made it extra special was the way that kids of all ages gave input. They know each other. It matters not if they are the same age, or if they are in the same class. They know each other well enough that they can speak to what they appreciate about in each other. The love and grace that they offered each other through their comments was outstanding. “I like the way that you are friends with everyone.” “You are so creative!” “You include people.” “You have a great heart.” “You are really funny.” It was seriously so much awesome. Every student got to hear what others appreciated about them. Happiness.

So much of the time when we talk about education we focus on policy, politics, technology integration, curriculum. I’m learning that the most important thing is often the one that no one talks about. Community. Doing life together. Our kids are really good at thinking deeply, they are creative and innovative, they are incredibly articulate, they are confident, they are smart. I’m convinced that none of this would look the way that it does if we hadn’t been so intentional about building up our community. When kids feel supported by others; when they know that kids who are older and younger than they are care about them; when they can be vulnerable together, this is what leads to all of the rest being possible.

Many of my friends have been having discussions about #FutureReady. I think #FutureReady starts with Metanoia, doing life together in the journey to change one’s mind.

 

Want to see first hand what makes Anastasis such an awesome place to learn? Join us for 5 Sigma in February!

Summer Learning: reading, creativity apps, serving with kids

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Character Education, education reform, inspiration, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 27-06-2014

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If you are an educator, you are aware of the dreaded “summer slide.” Summer break is a much-needed change of pace for educators, but unfortunately it can mean two months without any reading, learning, exploring, etc. For some kids, summer means hours spent in front of the TV, outside play (which is happy!), or hours spent trying to beat the next level of Flappy Bird. Many parents feel ill-equipped, or at a loss for how to keep their kids learning over the summer.

I created the following publication, “a thing or two,” for Anastasis families. I thought that you all might enjoy it as well! Please feel free to pass this on to your own students and families. In this issue there are ideas for summer reading, a review of my favorite 3 creativity apps, and service learning ideas for the summer.

 

Happy Learning!

Our Little Earth: Global News for World Citizens

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Character Education, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 20-11-2013

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iLearn Technology- Our Little Earth international newspaper for kids

What it is: Our Little Earth is a great international online newspaper for kids.  It is delivered every two weeks directly to email and best of all, it is free!  Past editions of Our Little Earth can be found on the site for students to read and explore.  Each issue helps students stay informed about what current events are happening in the world around them.  Every edition has a map showing students where the news came from for the issue.  The articles are easy for students to read and do a great job of offering enough background information so that students can make connections to the text and better understand it.

How to integrate Our Little Earth into your classroom: I really like Our Little Earth kids news, it is simple in its delivery, but packs a substantial punch of great information.  This is a fantastic source for students to read just-in-time, non-fiction text, at a level that is accessible to them.  Subscribe to Our Little Earth and read through a story-a-day for the weeks following.  Make sure to model for kids how to explore the themes, politics, geography and history that is related in each article.  This is also a great starting point for kids to fact check, make connections, and confirm the reliability of a source.  The news is current, so there is always something fresh!

I love using current news with students, it keeps the classroom relevant and touches enough transdisciplinary themes that students can make connections to other reading and learning they are doing.  Combine Our Little Earth with @angelamaiers What Breaks Your Heart project.  As students are more informed, they will be able to better articulate things about the world they would like to be a part of changing.

Use Google Earth to help students learn geography at the same time.  Create a pin on the map for each story read.  Ask students to come up with a title for each story (or use the title provided) to help them remember what they read about that location. Add to the same Google Earth map all year-long so that students can begin to see common themes by geography.

Tips: Use the search feature to help students dig even deeper into events and themes.  What happened a year ago at this time?

What do you think of Our Little Earth?  How do you plan to use it in your classroom?

6 Days and 78 Resources for Digital Literacy Internet Safety

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Character Education, Evaluate, Internet Safety, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 15-09-2013

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At Anastasis Academy we are a 1:1 BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) school with EVERY student using technology throughout the day every day.  Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship are important topics for us because it is so integral to what our kids do while they are at school.  Whether or not you have a 1:1 program, these are topics that shouldn’t be overlooked!  Don’t assume that because your students are fairly savvy when it comes to learning technology, that they will automatically pick up on digital literacy.  Digital Literacy isn’t a topic that should be relegated to school either, it is essential that parents learn about digital literacy so that they can echo and enforce good technology use at home.  This week we will have a week of intensive digital literacy training for our students.  Being a BYOD school means that these topics come up as we go through the year often, it is nice for us to have an intensive week to refer students back to throughout the school year.  So much of digital literacy echoes good safety practices in “real” life.  As such, we spend time discussing online and offline safety practices during this week and have our local school deputy join us.  When I was a technology teacher, I would end this week with an Internet Driver’s License, students had to pass a safety quiz in order to get their license.  This was their ticket to being able to be online in my class.  Students could lose their license for inappropriate online behavior.  This was always popular for kindergarten through fifth grade students!  Below are our favorite resources to use.  We choose a different digital literacy topic for each day of the week, follow along or mix it up to meet your own needs!

6 Days and 78 Resources for Digital Literacy Internet Safety- ilearn technology

Monday- Online Identity

Students tend to assume that if something is online, it must be true.  This is especially true of people they “meet” online.  Students believe that anyone on a social network, blog comments, forum, etc. are who they say they are.  It is important to help students understand that not everything and everyone online is what they seem.

Elementary:  Faux Paw the Techno Cat: Adventures in the Internet

Faux Paw PDF book

Privacy Playground: The First Adventure of the Three CyberPigs

Cyber Cafe: Think UKnow

Child Net: Primary

Internet Safety Cartoon

Professor Garfield: Internet Safety

Jr. High: NS Teens Friend or Fake- a video that helps students realize that not everyone they meet online is trustworthy

NS Teens- RescueRun Game

Be Seen app (iTunes)  (Google Play)

 ThinkUKnow Teen

ChildNet: Secondary

CyberSmart: Unwanted Contact

Everyone Knows You Online

Do you really know who you are talking to online video

Tuesday: What to do

Every year I would ask my students how many of them had seen something they knew they shouldn’t have online.  100% of kids from kindergarten through eighth grade would raise their hands.  When I followed up with: how many of you told an adult about it? Only about 2% in the same age group raise their hand!!  When you ask students why they don’t report to an adult they list the following reasons: I didn’t want to get in trouble; Mom/Dad/Teacher would take the technology away from me if they knew, it was just an accident so I don’t tell; I was embarrassed.  This is a big deal!  Kids need to know that there is a trusted adult in their life who can help them navigate their online interactions without blaming them for accidental exposure.  After sharing these videos, we discuss appropriate responses to inappropriate material.  I ask kids to turn off the screen without shutting the device down.  This keeps other students or siblings from seeing the inappropriate content before it can be reported.  If a student sees anything online that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, confused or something they know is inappropriate they should report it to a trusted adult right away.  I always let students know that they will never be in trouble for reporting this to us.  It is a big help for us because then we know which sites to block so that other kids don’t run across the same material.  Empower your students to do the right thing by letting them know that they are doing their part to keep a wider community safe.  If students do come to you with inappropriate content, take a deep breath, thank them for their help and report the URL to your tech department to be black listed.  No matter how shocking the content is, do NOT get upset with the student!  This will keep them from ever telling you about it again.  Do not punish students for dong the right thing! Follow up as necessary to help the student properly navigate what they were exposed to.

Elementary: NS Kids: Bad Netiquette Stinks!

NS Kids: Tell a Trusted Adult

NS Kids: UYN game

Welcome to the Web

ThinkUKnow kids

CyberSmart: Offensive Content

CyberSmart: unwanted content

Jr. High: NS Teens: Mike-Tosis

Wednesday: Online Identity/Digital footprint

Students often separate who they are online with who they are in “real” life.  This is a mistake!  It is important for students to understand that who they are online and who they are in person is one and the same.  Decisions made online can impact their real life in big ways!  Students also need to know what information is okay to share online, and what information is private and should not be shared online.

Elementary: NS Kids: Be safer online

NS Kids: Be safer offline

CyberSmart: Digital footprint

Jr. High: NS Teens: Profile Penalty

NS Teens: Tad’s Profile Panic game

Top Secret!

CyberSmart: Digital Reputation

Thursday: Cyber Bullying

Cyber Bullying is becoming a big issue for kids all over the world.  Kids say things to each other online (or about each other) that they wouldn’t dream of saying to someone in person.  It is important that kids know what cyber bullying is and what to do if they encounter a cyber bully. Kids need to know that it is always inappropriate to cyber bully in all of its forms.

Elementary: Faux Paw Meets the First Lady: How to Handle Cyberbullying

Faux Paw PDF book

Communications level 2 mission: cyberbullying

Stuart and Scout: Cyberbullying

The Great Bully Roundup

Hector’s World: Cyberbullying

CyberSmart: Cyberbullying

Jr. High: NS Teens: Terrible tEXt

NS Teens: Cyberbully Zombies Attack

NS Teens: Stand by or Stand Up comic

CyberSmart Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying video

 Cyberbully virus video

Friday: Online Privacy

Here’s the thing about making online content private: it’s never really totally private.  Kids forget that even if they only share with people they know, the people they know may not necessarily keep online content private.  I always use the example of my mom who keeps many of her pictures “private” online.  However, I have access to those photos and nothing stops me from downloading them or taking a screen shot and sharing them with the world.  It is important for kids to know if something is digital, that it can be shared.

Elementary: NS Kids: Passwords

NS Kids: Password game

Google: Playing and Staying Safe Online

Disney Surfswell Island

Privacy Pirates: An Interactive Unit on Online Privacy

Safety Land

Communications Level 1 Mission: Personal Information

Hector’s World Personal Information

Do’s and Don’ts when using social networks

Jr. High: NS Teen: Post to be Private

NS Teen: Stop that post…again game

NS Teen: Stop that post! game

Google: Playing and Staying Safe Online

CyberSmart: Identity Theft

Online Safety bulletin board video

Do’s and Don’ts when using social networks

Every Day Learning: Online Discernment

Students tend to believe that everything they read or see online is true.  Obviously this is SO not the case!  Help your students learn how to have discernment as they are surfing the net.

Elementary: Google: Detecting Lies

Co-co’s AdverSmarts: An Interactive Unit on Food Marketing on the Web

CyberSense and Nonsense: The Second Adventure of the Three CyberPigs

Passport to the Internet: Student tutorial for Internet Literacy

Using the web for research

Jr. High: Google: Detecting Lies

Allies and Aliens: A Mission in Critical Thinking

Jo Cool or Jo Fool

MyWorld: A digital literacy tour for secondary students

Using the web for research

 

Teacher resources/lesson plans:

Net Smartz: Includes an online safety education kit, teaching materials, presentations

Web Wise Kids: teacher resources, safety night, safety kits

iKeep Safe: Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum

Media Smarts: lessons, resources, professional development

Carnegie Cyber Academy: lessons, game guides, printouts/activities

ThinkUKnow- videos, lessons, resources

Child Net- presentations, resources, lessons, videos

CyberSmart- resources, professional development

Google: Good to Know

Tree Octopus- Help Kids see that not everything that is online is true.  The Octopus Tree Frog site will put their critical thinking skills to the test!

 

Remember, as you go through these topics and resources for kids, it is crucial that you tie in the equivalent off-line behavior.  Think stranger danger, reporting inappropriate behavior, bullying, and critical thinking.  At the end of the week, challenge kids to create their own PSA video about the digital literacy and safety tips they learned this week!

Detox: the most important event of the school year

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Character Education, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, education reform, Evaluate, Fun & Games, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 13-08-2013

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Anastasis is in the midst of gearing up for the start of a new school year.  It is year number 3!  In some ways, we are still very much a start-up (I think this will always be the case in some respect, it’s part of our philosophy to keep innovating!).  We are also beginning to establish some nice traditions and events that we look forward to each year at the start of school.

Each year, we take a few days to meet with each student individually to build a Learning Profile.  Teachers sit down with each student and  go through a survey that helps them better understand a student’s interests and passions as well as gain a glimpse at multiple intelligence strengths, learning style preferences, and brain dominance.  These Learning Profile days give students a chance to meet their new teacher in a safe space, help the teacher to learn about the student, and ultimately are used to help Team Anastasis individualize instruction for each learner.  I’ve played around with different ways to gather this information: Google forms that the teacher fills in during an interview, Bento for gathering information in one place, an interactive PDF.  This year I took a different approach, I am hopeful that it will be more fun for the students.  I created a set of cards to sort of gamify the process, giving students a tangible and visual way to think through each statement as it relates to them.  Teachers will record this process and then hand the data collected off to me for future planning.  I used my new favorite find http://thenounproject.com to help me illustrate these cards.  Fun fact: I have an ACTUAL artist working on the next version of these cards that I will be able to share with the world!  @mdusing is creating illustrations for each card to help students better understand what each card represents, some of the concepts can be pretty abstract (empathy is always a tough one for kids to connect with…even when they are VERY empathetic!).  This version will be available for all of you as a download; it will also be woven into The Learning Genome Project.

Learning Profile Interests/passion survey

Learning style preference cards

Multiple intelligence cards

Brain Dominance cards

Because our philosophy and model are so different, we start each year with a week of detox (fitting since our initials are AA) ;).  During this week, we help students “stand up again” in who they are as learners, as creators, as individuals.  We undo some of the messages they have learned about learning: that it happens in specific ways and at specific times, that the goal is answers, that the teacher knows it all, that a test is the only way to measure success, that they are bad at learning certain things, that they can’t be friends with kids who are a different age than they are, that only some people are creative…the list could go on and on!

Our detox week is a time for students to remember that they matter.  It is an opportunity for them to re-frame the ways that they think about learning.  It is a time for them to share their passions with each other.  It is a chance to realize the working together is more productive than competing in learning.  It is a safe time to explore creativity.  It is also the week that new students start to discover that the relationship with their teacher is different here.  That the goal of coming to school isn’t an “A” at the end of the semester.

I love this week!  We see kids who begin to come back to life.  The spark in their eye that can only come through discovering something new.  For some kids, this week is life changing.  Others are a little more hesitant, they don’t trust the freedom that we offer.  They wonder when the “real work” will start and they will settle back into mediocrity.  For these students, the detox week is a glimpse of things to come that they aren’t sure if they can trust.  It usually takes about a month to really settle in and see that we really do mean what we say.

Individual classes explore what it means to be vulnerable.  How to be proud of the individual talents and gifts that make up a class.  How to work together to do hard things.  We also bring the whole Anastasis community together for some activities.  Our first year, students worked together to create iPad styluses out of sponge and wire for less than 10 cents.  Last year we held an all-school day of play (highly recommend that!) and marshmallow/spaghetti tower challenge.  This year we have some fun group art projects and challenges planned.

At the end of second week, we will hold our third annual identity day.  This is an opportunity for students to share an area of passion with the school community.  Students can choose to share anything they want to in a way that they want to.  We hold a school-wide fair and invite families to attend.  The set up almost looks like a science fair when all is said and done.  We spend the day getting to know each other- apart from classroom constraints.  We take a moment to see the world from another point of view.  It is a spectacular day of honoring each child for who they are (teachers participate, too!).  After a half day of sharing ourselves, we spend the rest of the day building community at a local park where we go ice-blocking.  For those who have never had the privilege of ice-blocking, it involves purchasing a block of ice from a grocery store, finding a large grassy hill, sitting on the block of ice, and sledding down the hill in the sunshine.  We have a blast!  Parents, teachers, and students get involved in the fun.  Barriers are broken down, friendships forged and a community bound together for a year of life and learning together.

Our detox week may be the single most important week of the entire year.  It sets the tone, letting students know that this is a safe place to be who they are.  That this is a place where learning looks like life.  That the questions this year will be as important as the answers.  I’m not sure Anastasis would be the incredible place of learning it is without our detox week.

I collect ideas for inquiry units and our detox week on Pinterest.  If you are interested in hosting your own “detox,” check out the ideas saved here!

Of course, you can always follow all of my boards on Pinterest here.

Also random side note, I’m trying to convince Anastasis staff that it is a good idea for us to start an Extreme Combat Juggling team.  It’s a real thing, which is awesome.  Feel free to help me in this encouragement, on Twitter they are: @michellek107, @dweissmo, @bestmscott, @nancybabbitt, @matthewquigley, @lancefinkbeiner.  :)

 

Adobe Forms Center: Create & Share Interactive Forms

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Inquiry, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 11-07-2013

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What it is: Sometimes I come across a useful site and think, “how in the world is it possible that I haven’t discovered this before?”  That happened today with Adobe Form Central.  This free web application lets you create pdf’s that are actually web forms that can be filled out directly on the pdf.  Fancy.  Forms Central has a huge bank of templates that you can start with including a section just for education.  These are mostly application, appointment, quiz type forms.  But the best…the ability to create your own custom pdf form! Design items include text fields, date fields, email fields, single choice, multiple choice, drop down menu, single check box, rating scale, file attachments, formatted text, images, and page or section breaks.  When you have finished with the form you can set the form up to automatically email recipients, redirect them to a new url, or include a confirmation message.  You can even collect payments through PayPal (I’ll tell you why I find that feature useful!).  When you are ready to distribute your form you can email the link, embed the form or share on Twitter.  From within form central, you can view responses and save to Excel or as a PDF.  You can even sort responses from within Forms Central.

How to integrate Form Central into the classroom:  The obvious (and boring) use of Forms Central for education is for creating quizzes and tests.  Pass.  I’m not interested in using it that way so the custom feature is where I head.  Form Central is a great place for you to create a guided inquiry form where students can view the current inquiry question and fill in their own lines of inquiry and thoughts as they begin into a new unit.  Answers are collected in one place so that you can go through with your class and discuss options.  This could be a great twist on the ideation step in design thinking!

Forms Central could be used to create customized rubrics that you and your students can fill in.  Again, the great feature here is that everything is collected in one spot!  Students can create and use forms to collect scientific or mathematical data that can be analyzed and evaluated later.

Students can create their own custom surveys for collaborative projects and easily distribute their forms and collect answers.  Our students created their own not-for-profit (LSGW Foundation), because they occasionally host fundraisers, Forms Central would be really useful for collecting information and donations online.  The ability to connect the form to a PayPal account where they can collect donations is fantastic!

The PayPal function could also be used by you at the beginning of the school year.  If you’re like us, you have parents fill out loads of Q&A’s at back to school night so that you can get to know the family and child better.  You could include a short wish-list of items that you would like for your classroom.  Parents could choose to donate monetarily to your classroom fund through your forms.  Forms Central also gives them an easy one-stop place to quickly fill out all of the information online.

Do you host an after school club or tutoring?  Use Forms Central to create your application/enrollment form and collect payment at once.

Have your students evaluate your class using a course evaluation (template), collect feedback from colleagues at a conference where you hosted a session, collect interest for a new offering in your classroom, create a risk assessment sheet…the sky is the limit for what you can create.

One of my favorite things about the start of the school year at Anastasis Academy is the Learning Profile that we create for each of our students.  We survey students to learn about their multiple intelligence strengths, brain dominance, learning style preferences, and interests and passions.  Forms Central would be a really great way to collect all of this information (at least until the Learning Genome is finished!).

Tips:  You may be wondering…why not just use Google forms?  I love Google forms, I really do.  But Forms Central gives options that Google does not.  Those options are appealing to me on a number of levels!  The bank of templates they have to start from is also super helpful when time is an issue.

Are you using Forms Central in your classroom?  Share your experience in the comments below!

Here is Today: a web app to put time in perspective

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Evaluate, History, Inquiry, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 10-07-2013

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Here is today iLearn Technology

Here is today iLearn Technology

Here is today iLearn Technology

What it is:  Here is today is an interesting little web app that helps students visualize time in a new way.  Students start out by seeing a square and a title that says “here is today” with the current date.  When students click “okay” at the bottom, they are taken to a visual of the next step in.  Students can see where the day is falling within the month, the year, the century, the millennium, the epoch, the period, the era, the eon, the earth, life, oxidation, fish, insects, reptiles, mammals, birds, humans, and the universe.  Each stage of the graphic has an arrow pointing out how today (whatever day that happens to be) compares in the grander scheme of things.  Pretty cool!

How to integrate Here is Today into the classroom:  Here is Today is an outstanding way to help students understand where they are in place in time.  They can see where they are and then compare it to the larger history of the world and universe.  Obviously, this is a natural fit into a history or biology class.  Here is Today would also make a great object lesson in math and be great for studying comparison and scale.  It would also make for a great philosophical discussion as we realize just how minute the moment we are living in really is.

Here is Today is a great site for students to explore and inquire about independently.  What questions arise as they explore the site?  After students have investigated and come up with their own lines of inquiry, gather back as a classroom community and discuss those lines of inquiry and the thinking that led to them.  If you happen to follow the IB Primary Years Program, this fits in great to “Where are we in place and time” inquiry.

Here is Today would also be a useful visual on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer where a class can observe and explore together during discussion.  The way that the site compares time is seriously smart.

Here is Today could launch an interesting creative writing assignment.  Invite each student to explore the site and to choose a view.  The story should be written based on the point of view and time that they chose.  This could be a new way to explore setting, time and theme.

Tips:  Here is Today reminds me a little bit of the Scale of Life site that I wrote about here.  Using these sites together could be pretty epic.  Talk about a great sense of our place in the universe!

Are you using Here is Today in your classroom?  Share your experience in the comments below!

Smithsonian Quests: Learning through discovery and collaboration

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 07-05-2013

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What it is:
Smithsonian Quests encourage students to explore learning through discovery and collaboration.  As students learn, they can earn digital badges for their quests.  Students can explore their own interest through a series of online activities while incorporating knowledge and skill-building in the online quests.  The quests ask students to explore a topic of interest as part of a standards-based curriculum or as a student-driven after school activity.  By signing  up for Smithsonian Quests, you will receive an invitation to join a grade-level based group in the Smithsonian Quest Community.  Students from kindergarten through adult learners can join Smithsonian Quest and collect badges.

How to integrate Smithsonian Quests into the classroom: Smithsonian Quests is a great program that connects transdisciplinary learning with digital badges.  As your class works through the site, they will start to realize how they have been learning, exploring, connecting and acting.  Students can unlock a badge by completing a set of quests that go with it.  Some Quests are independent and others are collaborative.  Quests get reviewed by a group of “specially selected experts” before badges are awarded.  Badges include: oral historian, historical biographer, cool curator, cultural storyteller, portrait reader, community historian, symbols spotter, correspondent, dirt detective, art advocate, environ-scientist, culture keeper, eco-journalist, time traveler, H2O hero, conservation campaigner, invasions investigator and tree hugger.  Quests include things like listening to audio, taking pictures, recording, etc.  As you can see, there are quests for every interest!

When students sign up for quests, they get invited into a group (class group when the teacher sets up the account), can add friends, see the badges they have collected, and view friends who are online.  Students also get an online journal where they can reflect on learning or update their status with the kind of learning they are doing.

I like that these quests can be done collaboratively (a whole class goal to earn the digital badges by learning?) and that they are  largely discovery based learning.   The quests really challenge students to dig deeper in learning and often lead to additional questions.  Quests can also be completed individually by students.  Students can explore areas that are high-interest for them. These Smithsonian Quests would be a fantastic end of the year project where students are driving their own learning but working toward a known goal.  Spend the last week of school with a time for students to share their learning with others.

As we head into summer break in the United States, consider suggesting Smithsonian Quests to parents as a great summer-time learning opportunity.

Tips:  Register for free and have a look around to see all of the cool opportunities for your classroom!

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Smithsonian Quests in your classroom.

Atlantis Remixed: Inquiry based virtual world

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Interactive book, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 15-04-2013

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What it is: Atlantis Remixed is a great interactive virtual world that supports students and teachers in conducting rich, inquiry-based explorations during which students learn standards related content and develop pro-social attitudes regarding environmental and social issues.  More than just making learning fun, project Atlantis Remixed aims to help kids realize that they can make a real difference in the world.  Atlantis Remixed is really a combination of education, entertainment/gaming and social action.  The game environment has been designed to support students in social commitment and real-world action.  Atlantis Remixed was created for children ages 9-16 to engage in transformational play in both online and offline learning activities.  The storyline in the online activities inspires students toward social action.

Atlantis Remixed is a combination of a 3D multi-user virtual environment, learning quests and unit plans, a storyline (presented through an introductory video, novel and comic book), a global community of participants, and a narrative programming toolkit that kids can use to remix user-created stories.  The storyline helps bridge the virtual, fictional, world of Atlantis with the real-world.  Students can travel to virtual places to perform authentic activities (Quests), talk with other students from around the world, build virtual characters and professions, and demonstrate learning through multi-media portfolios.  The platform is transdisciplinary including math, science and literacy. Students are sent on virtual social missions that reflect global ideals such as social responsibility, compassionate wisdom, creative expression, diversity affirmation, environmental awareness, healthy communities, and personal agency.

How to integrate Atlantis Remixed into the classroom: Atlantis Remixed has full units ready to use. Each unit is aligned to standards, inquiry based and meets multiple domains of learning. A single water-quality unit puts students in role of scientists hired by a national park, to come to the forest to help explain fish decline in the area.  Students interact with virtual park rangers, loggers, fishermen and indigenous people and discover multiple perspectives.  After decisions have been made, students can log back in and see the impact of their decisions.  They can reflect on the consequences (and unintended consequences) of their decisions, and make changes as needed.

In addition to the virtual component, there is guided offline learning that can take place including discussions and in class activities.  Teachers can modify curriculum to fit their own classroom needs.

Units include: Taiga- a water quality unit, Virtual Mesa Verde- a social studies unit, Plague World- a persuasive writing unit, Ander City- a statistics unit, Spacenik- a planetary science unit, Biological Indicators Mission, Rights & Responsibility Mission, Two Cells-One World Mission, and Diversity Mission.  You can look at a snapshot of any of these missions to learn more about it.

Think about the added components you could layer on Atlantis Remixed Quests and missions.  Are your students practicing writing business letters?  Who could they write to in the virtual world or real world?  Are your students learning how to use a new tech tool?  What tie-in is there to the inquiry?  How can you integrate other learning and customize the Atlantis Remixed environment to best fit your needs?

Tips: On the Educators Page, you can choose to login to the 2D gateway without logging into the 3D world.

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Atlantis Remixed in your classroom.

The Future We Will Create: all the in-between important stuff

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Inquiry, inspiration, Middle/High School, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 20-03-2013

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A few years ago I watched the documentary TED: The Future We Will Create.  Being a fan of TED talks, I was curious to learn more about the behind the scenes of TED talks and how the conference came to be.  I had heard snippets here and there that the TED conference was like a boys club…you had to have money and “be” somebody to get into a live event.  The documentary pulled back the curtain a little on the intentionality of the way that TED conferences are set up.  They are intentionally packed with entrepreneurs and successful people from various walks of life to bring together change makers.  The actual speakers may not be well known (at least not prior to the talk), they have a limited time to speak, and they share an inspirational message.  But TED isn’t really about the talks, TED is really about the talks that happen in between the talks.  It is about those serendipitous moments that happen when people are exposed to a shared inspiration and then have opportunity to dream about it together.  The magic is in those moments when people with different perspectives come together and share their thinking from that unique vantage point.  It is really about the in between moments, that seemingly empty and unimportant time.  TED does something else that I wasn’t aware of, they offer one TED speaker a “prize”.  Only the prize isn’t really a prize (not in the way we typically think about prizes), instead it is that this person gets to make a wish.  They get to cast a vision and a “what-if.”  They get to challenge the audience to solve a problem that matters to them.  Then comes the incredible part- these people actually use their unique gifts and talents and perspective to help make it so.  World changing.  A future that we create.  Together.

 

As I was pulling together resources for our current inquiry block about “sharing the planet,” I came across several fantastic TED talks that could act like a catalyst for deeper thinking and additional curiosity.  As I watched each video, I kept thinking about the behind the scenes, the in-between talks that aren’t documented.  The change happening as a result.

Then it hit me, we could do this at Anastasis.  We could watch these talks together, and then allow for the in-between talks.  We could be intentional and let our students engage in the discussion, the serendipitous moments of one thing leading to another, and another.  We could give our students time to just talk and wonder and discover together.  We could narrow it down to 3 or 4 TED talks and provide our students with serendipitous in-between.  We could open up the opportunity for our students to come up with the “wish” or challenge that the others would work to make happen.  We could empower our students to go through this same process and then watch them use their unique perspective, gifts and talents to find solutions and dream up new possibilities.

I’m excited to try this.  I believe that we are in the midst of genius every day at Anastasis.  These kids are really incredible.  I want to see what unfolds when we offer just a little inspiration related to our inquiry and then give them some space to just explore and talk.  I want them to see that when hunches collide, BIG world changing ideas happen.  I want them to understand that they are world changers.

Has anyone else done this with students?

I think that this will be a starting point.  For now we will watch talks.  Next year, I would love to have our students plan their own talks.  I want to invite the best-and-brightest from around the world to come listen to our talks.  I want to provide the in-between moments where change is enacted.

Stay tuned…