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
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!
Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Blooms Taxonomy, collaboration, education reform, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development, Subject, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 20-10-2014
At Anastasis Academy, we are continually considering the assumptions made in education. We regularly seek to step away from those assumptions about how education must look, and dream together. Many of you have seen this dreaming (we do it pretty publicly), and have asked LOTS of questions about how we do what we do.
As a staff, we’ve asked questions about how assessment must look. We’ve asked questions about what a report card looks like and about what their purpose is. We’ve asked questions about how learning space must look. We’ve reconsidered the timing of the school day. We’ve questioned standards and testing. We’ve questioned the purpose of school. We’ve looked at the part that community plays in a school setting. Most of what we do at Anastasis every day looks very different from what most schools look like, and yet, what we do is not so revolutionary that it can’t be implemented in classrooms everywhere. In fact, our larger goal is to help educators everywhere do what we do.
Dreaming is nice, but in order to really transform education (and classrooms) we must go beyond dreaming . We have to learn, iterate and find a way to launch. It is only when all three of these happen that we can truly transform education and learning.
This February, Anastasis Academy is hosting a 3-day conference to facilitate this transformation in education. We chose 5-Sigma Edu Con as the name for our conference. Why 5-Sigma? 5-Sigma is a declaration of discovery. In science, it is used as a measure of confidence in a result. At Anastasis Academy, we are in a continual process of discovery. We call our conference the 5-Sigma Edu Con because that is what we hope for, declarations of discovery. Our goal is to transform education to be the very best that it can be for kids everywhere. We want to offer a conference experience where educators can come together to learn with world-changing thinkers and innovators. This conference will go beyond the typical how-to sessions; we will be hosting conversations where educators can come together to learn, iterate, and launch. There is something for everyone! This conference is for educators (of any level), administrators, and anyone involved in education.
I can boldly tell you this is like NO education conference you have ever been to. Some special features you can look forward to:
- Tour Anastasis Academy- if you’ve wanted to see Anastasis Academy in action, this is your opportunity! Get a first hand view of the innovative learning that takes place at Anastasis Academy. Our students will offer an inside look at learning, free from assumptions. Tour our space, ask questions, meet our team, and see education re-imagined.
- Learning Excursions- At Anastasis Academy, we seek to help our students understand that learning happens everywhere, not just within the four walls of our school building. We have reserved February 22 for adult learning excursions. These are opportunities to experience Colorado, think outside the box, and consider different ways of approaching learning. We cannot WAIT to let you experience learning the way that our students do.
- No last names or titles rule- We all have an inherently unique perspective about the world, teaching, and learning. Yet, when we interact in our society (or education circles) these can get lost as we operate from the perspective that some people’s ideas are more important. We tend to give more weight to people on a stage, those who have been published, and people who hold titles of authority. The truth is, we all have something that only we can contribute to the discussion. We want to create a level playing field where ideas can be shared freely and everyone is comfortable to network. The labels shouldn’t own us. Before our final keynote, there will be a “grand reveal” where we will share our last names and titles.
- AWESOME keynotes, sessions, and panel discussions: Christian Long will be the opening Keynote and will kick us off for a fantastic weekend of learning, panel discussions will include Team Anastasis and Anastasis alumni, and sessions are being led by incredible educators and thinkers from around the country.
Registration for 5 Sigma Edu Con is now open. Also open, calls for session proposals. You have something to contribute, please consider presenting! Registration and proposal for a session can be found on the 5 Sigma Edu Con website.
To learn more about the 5-Sigma Edu Conference, visit http://5sigmaeducon.com!
Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, collaboration, Download, Grade Level, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0 | Posted on 17-08-2014
At Anastasis Academy, we don’t have boxed curriculum. This can be both incredibly freeing, and terrifying. If you don’t have curriculum that tells you what to do, what do you DO?! We engage students in inquiry. Inquiry gives students parameters of learning, but allows them to discover and explore within those parameters. Teaching students to properly manage their freedom.
Each 5 weeks, our students engage a new line of inquiry. We follow the PYP inquiry questions (Who we are, Where we are in place and time, How we organize ourselves, How the world works, Sharing the planet). These questions give us good parameters to work within. Each 5 weeks, I send our teachers resources for the inquiry block. Within these big inquiry questions, I provide our primary, intermediate, and Jr. High with different key concept lines of inquiry to explore. These are aligned to the social studies, science, language, and math standards for that age group. Every year I change-up the key concept lines of inquiry just a bit (keeps things interesting and fresh for all of us!).
I create Pinterest boards for our teachers that have a variety of resources for each inquiry block. These resources include ideas, videos, lessons, books, apps, etc. that are related to the inquiry block. They are not prescriptive, but rather offer a launching point for teachers. Then, I create QR code posters that look like this:
These get posted all over the school so that teachers and students always have access to the resources (note: we are a 1:1 iPad school).
This has worked REALLY well for sharing resources, as I notice students connect with a line of questioning/inquiry, I can add resources during the inquiry block that the students can use. This creates a whole community that is discovering and learning together. The curriculum is fluid, it is constantly growing and adapting. Teachers often send me links and ideas through Pinterest (I don’t add teachers as collaborators for the boards-even though I could- because I don’t want them to feel obligated to spend their free time the way that I do). Students have begun to send ideas through Pinterest as well…way cool!!
Here is the problem, each year I create 18 inquiry boards. I use the same Pinterest account for personal use as I do for education (you never know when a non-education idea will spark the perfect education idea). As I was getting ready to create boards for this school year, I realized how MANY boards I was going to have to sort through to find this years boards. It is starting to get ridiculous! I needed a good way to archive boards. Enter Evernote. We already use Evernote as a school for ePortfolios, archiving boards using Evernote is the perfect solution!
I used the Firefox web browser to do this, I’m sure this plugin exists for all major web browsers. First, go to “Tools” in your Firefox menu bar and choose “Add Ons.” In the search bar, type “Evernote web clipper” and download the Evernote Web Clipper add-on. After you restart Firefox, this will put the Evernote Web Clipper button in your Firefox tools.
Navigate to the Pinterest board that you want to save. Select all by going to “Edit” in the menu bar, and choose “Select All.” You could also just navigate to the board you want to archive and hold down the command key and letter “a.” Then click on the Evernote Web Clipper button in your address bar. Add any tags that you want to be associated with the board and a note to yourself about the board.
That is it! The board is saved to Evernote with all of the images, and the web link is live as well! Verify that the board saved to Evernote correctly and then delete the board. Now you have room for a new year’s worth of boards.
This is a seriously great way to archive any boards that you need to save but don’t need in your Pinterest list right now. I’ve just archived all of last year’s inquiry boards and am ready to pin another year! This is also a great way to create a back-up of your boards or to save and send entire boards to colleagues.
If you just need to save the images from a pinterest board, use that-boy-I-love, (@jtenkely)‘s awesome creation, Pinswiper. This tool will save just the images from a Pinterest board as jpgs on your desktop. Great if you need images that you saved for classroom presentations, writing prompts, etc.
Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, collaboration, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference, Teacher Resources, video | Posted on 24-07-2014
I had the great privilege of joining the fun over at #Principalcast on Sunday. Spike, Theresa and I had a great time talking and geeking about education and I shared our journey of starting a school. If you missed Principal Cast live, you can pretend you were there with us and watch/listen to the conversation below.
Don’t miss #Principalcast Sunday’s at 6pm MST, 8pm EST Follow @principalcast for the latest show information!
Also, in case you missed the announcement, Anastasis is hosting it’s first annual Education Conference in February!! Save the date for February 20-22 and plan to be in Colorado with us. You will not want to miss this conference. It is going to be EPIC! More details soon!
Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, video, Video Tutorials, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 17-03-2014
Tags: category, channel, classroom, curate, customize, digital textbook, embed, flipped classroom, learning, learning channel, school, tag, tagible, video, video channel, website
What it is: HOLY SMOKES! This is the coolest new tool! I’ve spent the morning building out our Anastasis Tagible page (link at the bottom of the post), and I feel like my head is spinning with possibilities.
Tagible is a brand new video manager site. It allows you to create a completely customized channel for all of your school/classroom videos. Videos can be imported directly from your YouTube or Vimeo channel. Once you set up the import feature, Tagible automatically imports any video that is added to your channel. Best of all, Tagible gives you the ability to tag videos with categories and then tags within that category; videos and customized channels are really easy to create. The channel that you create is easy to share with anyone through social media or it can be embedded directly on your school/classroom website.
- Create a one-stop-shop for ALL of your videos that is completely customizable and branded just for your classroom or school.
- Tag videos in new ways using categories and sub-tags, this makes it simpler than ever to find exactly the video that you are looking for.
- Create customized channels based on categories and sub-tags. Each time a new video is added with a category/tag, it gets automatically added to the channel.
- Embed channels on class or school websites. The embedded channel is ALWAYS up-to-date because all content tagged for that channel gets added automatically. (Set it up once and let Tagible do all the work!)
- Tag videos under multiple categories and subcategories.
- Connect your school/classroom YouTube or Vimeo channel to automatically populate your Tagible channel with content.
- Customize your Tagible site with your own backgrounds, color schemes, and logos. (This is SO easy to use, you can even drag and drop images for your background onto the “upload here” buttons!)
- Import any video from YouTube or Vimeo (not just your own). Curate video to create a customized channel just for you and your students!
- Share your videos easily using Twitter, Facebook, and email.
How to use Tagible in your classroom or school: There are all kinds of video management tools, but Tagible is absolutely the most useable and useful for schools! Video is such a rich way to share learning. Our students are constantly uploading video projects. Tagible would make a fantastic video portfolio. Create a “Team” page for your classroom and then create a sub tag for each of your students. As your students upload video to your YouTube channel, tag it in Tagible with the student name. Now each student can have their own “channel” of their learning journey. This becomes a living portfolio that continually gets added to throughout the year (or years). Record student presentations, class participation, special events, etc. Whenever a video gets tagged with that student, it automatically gets added to their channel. You can share a student’s specific channel with their family, now they don’t have to wade through everyone’s video to find their child! If your students have their own blog or website (Weebly.com or Wix.com are awesome for this!) they can embed their channel directly on it. Now all written, photographed, and video work is accessible in one place.
Create learning channels for your students. Import the videos that your students can access to learn from, or be inspired by. Each video can be categorized according to unit and topic. Students can go through a units “channel” to access all learning videos that you recommended for the unit. This is definitely textbook of the future! I’m excited to utilize this idea for our inquiry units. As the students and I find video, we can add it to our own customized learning channel. This channel can then be embedded in student projects, websites, and shared through social media.
Set up a video learning station on classroom computers. As your students are rotating through learning centers, one of the centers can be video relevant to the learning. The great thing about using Tagible: you don’t have to be concerned about students clicking on “related videos” on YouTube that aren’t yours.
As a school, create a professional development tool for your teachers. Create a professional development category with sub tags like: assessment, technology, philosophy, teaching strategies, common core, etc. Add videos and create channels that teachers can access for on-demand professional development.
Keep your school or classroom websites up-to-date with the latest video content without contacting your web provider or logging in to add new video. Create a category called “Home Page” and create a channel based on the category. Any time you tag any video with the “Home Page” category, the channel will be updated to include the new video automatically. If you’ve embedded that channel on the homepage of your website, all of the video is automatically included, no need to edit the website.
Tagible is a great way to foster a home-school connection. Record student work and share via a unique channel with families. This would be an incredible look inside your classroom for families who don’t get the opportunity to volunteer at school often.
At Anastasis, I’ve created categories for Field Trips, Special Events, Teams (classrooms), Inquiry Blocks, Explore (videos we like), Crave classes, School year, and Student Created. The great thing about the categories is that you can use them to quickly narrow down videos for a channel. For example, we could create a channel just for “Inquiry Blocks” in “2013-2014″ school year. Students and families can find exactly the videos that they are looking for all the time!
Are you an educational speaker? Create a channel of your presentations to share with others, and create a channel of videos that you used during your presentation. These can easily be shared at the end of a conference.
If you “flip” your classroom using video, Tagible is ideal. Make it easy for students to access video based on your own customized categories. Your flipped channel can be embedded directly on your blog/website and update automatically every time that you add a video. Create “review” channels that automatically collect videos from a unit or topic so that students can go through the channel to review and study. Invite your students to come up with categories that they would like to be able to search by.
Tips: Tagible is a brand new startup company. They are still working some bugs out of the system, and are regularly adding new features. In the bottom, right corner of the site you have the option to “Send Feedback” click on the portion of the site that you want to send feedback about and let them know about any bugs you find or features you would like to see. You can try Tagible for free, they do have advanced features with monthly subscriptions. Be sure to mention Kelly Tenkely, they may be able to help you out with premium features. Tagible was started by one of Anastasis Academy’s board members and founding families. It has been incredible to watch this thing take shape! Just like the school, it started around this family’s kitchen table.
Want to see what a customized Tagible site looks like? Check out Team Anastasis here.
Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Download, Evaluate, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 12-03-2014
Tags: brainstorm, BYOD, classroom, collaboration, comment, design thinking, free, ideation, image, inquiry, learning, notes, pen pal, photo, research, school, sticky note, stormboard, student, teacher, textbook, video, virtual, virtual whiteboard, vote, whiteboard
What it is: Stormboard is a super beautiful virtual sticky note brainstorming and collaboration application that lets classrooms or teams share online whiteboard space. In addition to virtual sticky notes, Stormboard makes it simple to add quality and usefulness to your shared space with photos and video. Each idea that gets added to a Stormboard has a comment thread attached to it, this ensures that everyone’s voice gets heard and conversations about specific ideas don’t get lost. Users can also vote on ideas, this is a quick way to get feedback. Stormboard lets you instantly generate “innovation” reports so that all ideas can be easily captured and saved as a spreadsheet or pdf. Shared space is flexible, you can share both synchronously or asynchronously. Stormboard works on any internet connected device making it ideal for a BYOD (bring your own device) classroom, and seamless regardless of what platforms your school uses.
How to use Stormboard in your classroom: I’ve seen lots of sticky note type applications over the years. Stormboard is hands down the most flexible and the most aesthetically pleasing. It gets all of that without being difficult to learn, it has a really great intuitive interface. Stormboard is a great way to capture learning that happens. In an inquiry classroom, we are regularly brainstorming, asking questions, following bunny trails of important thoughts and ideas, and sharing photos and video. Stormboard would be such an ideal place to capture all of this thought during an inquiry unit. I love the way that it threads conversations so that everyone’s voice gets heard and captured as it relates to an idea.
At Anastasis, our kids are constantly discussing big ideas. Stormboard would be a great way for the students to take notes and capture those ideas all together. As they go through literature, research, current events, science experiments, etc. they can capture all of their ideas, quotes, related images and videos in one place. When it comes time to write a report, reflection, summary or do some design thinking with their learning, students will have all relevant information in one place that THEY created together. This could be huge! Our Jr. High has been going through a book chapter by chapter throughout the year. So many of the discussions they have should be captured, the deep thinking is truly awesome! Stormboard would be a great place for this to happen. Learning and thinking process recorded.
Stormboard would also be perfect when you are implementing design thinking in the classroom. It is the perfect place for the ideation and research phases of the project to be captured.
Students can use Stormboard to work collaboratively with others in their class or with other classes in their school. It would also be a great tool to use with a collaborating school. Because it has options for sharing synchronously or asynchronously, it can be used with schools in different time zones around the world for collaborative projects.
Teachers can use Stormboard to collaborate on units or lessons with other teachers, make plans for new team undertakings, or just as a place to share or capture ideas.
Classrooms can use Stormboard on classroom computers OR on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer to capture learning each day. This would make a cool living “textbook” where students could gather materials, resources, share ideas and conversations. Each day assign a different set of students to be in charge of the record. If you have a one to one device situation, each student can collaborate in this process together. At the end of the day, download the PDF or innovation report and save it. What a cool yearbook of learning and insight into your classroom.
As a school, plan new initiatives with your administrative team. We are currently dreaming of our own building (right now we lease space). This is the perfect place to share that dreaming with all stakeholders and capture conversations and thinking along the way.
I think it is awesome that Stormboard works on all devices, but also provides the option of downloading your work. This way you aren’t SO reliant on a tool that if it disappeared, all would be lost.
Tips: Stormboard is free to use. However, the free account is limited to 5 collaborators at a time. I’ve got my fingers crossed that when they see the awesome way that educators are using Stormboard, they will consider offering a free education account with enough for a class or two to collaborate. For $5/month/user you can add as many as you want. For $10/user/month you get unlimited users and unlimited administrators.
Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, collaboration, Create, education reform, Evaluate, inspiration, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 01-03-2014
Tags: amazon prime, anastasis academy, aquaponics, blended learning, calendar, dub step, earth, fda, fibonacci, field trip, food, food production, fractals, gmo, greenhouse, grow, how the world works, hybrid learning, hydrophonics, inquiry, magic, maker space, moon phases, observatory, patterns, pinterest, planetarium, planets, prototype, research, seasons, sky, solar system, space, waves
It’s hard to describe to people all of the magic that happens at Anastasis on a daily basis. It really does feel like something special, a magical quality of falling down the rabbit hole into another world where school is fun and challenging and wonderful. The learning that happens here is very organic, it lacks a formulaic approach. So when people ask us how they can do what we do, it isn’t a simple answer.
Anastasis learners are in a continual state of growth, discovery, and creativity. We are just wrapping up an Inquiry unit about “How the World Works.” As a school, we are preschool through eighth grade. All of our students engage the same big guided inquiry for a 5 week block. Although the driving inquiry is the same for all students, I break down the unit into some key concept lines of inquiry by age level. We have a primary, intermediate, and jr. high key concepts that provide entry points into learning at a developmental appropriate level. Our primary kids looked at How the World Works from the inquiry prompting that: people have daily habits and use time to help guide their day, week, month, and year. This gave them the opportunity to explore calendars, time, seasons, patterns in growth of crops, school habits, moon phases, sun, etc. Our intermediate students looked at How the World Works from the inquiry prompting that: predictable patterns help us explore objects in the sky and their connection to our life on Earth. This allowed our students to explore movement of the solar system, moon phases, constellations, galaxies, history of humans understanding of patterns in the universe, technologies that help us understand patterns, how the patterns in space impact life on earth, how animals and plants rely on patterns. Our Jr. High students explored How the World Works from the prompting that: Food comes from many places and goes through many changes on its journey to us. They discovered more about where produce comes from, what GMOs are, what the role of the FDA is, what chemical additives food has, farm to table, organic vs. non-organic, responsibilities of humans in food production and consumption, how food production has changed over time, practices for mass production of meat, what happens when our food resources have been exhausted?
The nice thing about having ALL students in the same big guided inquiry during a block, is the incredible overlaps in learning that occur between classes. This provides truly amazing opportunities for our students to learn from and with each other. We take advantage of that overlap as often as possible!
For each inquiry block I give teachers an inquiry guide with the driving inquiry question, the key concept, and the individual lines of inquiry that could be explored. This is a launching spot. I also provide resources for students and teachers on a Pinterest board. This board gets added to throughout the inquiry block as I know which lines of inquiry students are exploring (they often come up with great lines of inquiry that I haven’t considered). This becomes our “curriculum.” It is always evolving and growing based on the needs of students. Teachers send me requests for books, videos, apps, and hands on materials that they need throughout the block (I LOVE Amazon Prime!). The Pinterest boards are shared with students via QR codes that are hanging throughout the school. At any point in time, they can use their iPad to snap a picture and instantly they have access to a library of materials and ideas that they can explore related to the inquiry block. If you are interested in what this look like, you can check out the boards here:
This is the point that the magic I mentioned above starts to happen. Our teaching staff is awesome. They are some of the most creative, innovative, forward-thinking people I know. Even better: they provide the space for kids to be curious and expertly help them navigate that curiosity for new learning. This block offers such a rich picture of what learning looks like at Anastasis that I just have to share it. Notice that EVERY level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is addressed in this process, every subject woven into their learning naturally.
The students in Team Weissman began this block with a field trip to a local observatory. This was a really neat trip that I had the privilege of attending with them. Our students got a private tour of the observatory, complete with a history lesson of Colorado’s landscape when the observatory was built, the changes it’s gone through, the building history, and the science. The kids LOVED exploring each part of the building and learning about all of the little “secrets” around the observatory and why it was built the way that it was. They got to go into the basement to see how the base of the telescope is actually free-standing and not attached to the building. They got to open the ceiling. They got to explore each separate part of the telescope and ask questions and learn from an expert. The observatory expert’s passion was contagious. The spark for inquiry was lit in those moments. When the students were back at school, they each chose a line of inquiry that they wanted to know more about. They chose to learn about moon phases, galaxies, planets, constellations, Fibonacci, fractals, waves, plant life, etc. Each student snapped a picture of the QR code for this block to begin digging through resources. This was a great spring-board for discovery. As students dug into discovery, they chose different projects and ideas of how they could share their learning with others. This led to the building of a planetarium that the whole school could tour through to learn more about the universe, green house design, art work to teach about the relationship of plants/fractals/Fibonacci, a telescope, a black hole demonstration, a planetary model, a genius art demonstration of moon phases for the planetarium, and a model of different types of waves.
There was a lot of research that happened in this unit. One student showed me how she was using multiple devices to compare sources as she did her research…brilliant!
Throughout the 5 weeks I heard exclamations of excitement, pride in what students had created, excitement as they saw what other students in the class were doing. Completely fantastic, magical moments of learning! This week, the students invited every other class in the school to be a part of their learning. They gave each class a tour of the universe in the planetarium and each presented their findings over the last 5 weeks. They also walked them through how patterns in the universe are mimicked here on earth in their greenhouse (made with pvc and shower curtains!).
Inside the planetarium: Planets
Inside the planetarium: Black Holes
Anastasis is a 1:1 BYOD school. Each of our students has an iPad (the only supply on their supply list) in addition, sometimes they bring a phone or iPod as well. You know what? As awesome as the technology is, it fades into the background. It really is just another tool for learning that we use at Anastasis. It helps tremendously with research, connecting with experts all over the world, typing out and recording ideas. What I love about this last unit is that none of the students chose to show their learning through technology. Each of them chose something tangible to demonstrate learning. The use of technology was brilliant. Truly hybrid learning! The students who worked on the planetarium used an app called Sky Guide to figure out exactly where in the sky each constellation and galaxy was so that their planetarium would be a true picture of what it would be like to look up into the night sky. After building the planetarium, the kids decided which way they would align it in the classroom. Then, using the Sky Guide app, they would get in, find out where the constellation was in relation to where they were standing. They poked holes in the plastic in the shape of the constellation and labeled it with a piece of tape. A brilliant coming together of technology and creativity!
I wish I could bottle up the excitement that the whole school had as they watched the planetarium being built. The amazing anticipation of getting to see the finished product. The sneak peeks they tried to take. This was a school community learning and exploring together.
As Team Weissman worked on this, students in Team Baldwin each chose a pattern that they wanted to learn something more about. They connected to experts, researched, and came up with really incredible questions. The outcome of this was also student created projects to show others what they had learned. These kids also held an expo day to let others in the school see their learning. They got to be the expert. Students explored everything from patterns in the circulatory system, to service animals, to electricity, to dub step, to patterns in baking, the moon, coding, and plant growth. When I asked the kids what they liked best about their projects, the common answer was: getting to talk to my expert. Connecting students with an adult expert (usually using technology) was so meaningful and lasting. They were proud to share with others what they were now an expert in.
The Jr. High was so impacted by what they learned about where our food comes from, that they created a conference for Anastasis students and parents. They had sessions, round table discussion, asked parent experts to come in and share, and invited a keynote speaker. They also invited other classes in on their learning by asking them to share learning they’ve done throughout the year at their expo. The round table discussion among the students was hands down my favorite part of the day. Hearing these kids challenge each other’s opinions about GMO’s, Monsanto, being a localvore, food production, health, etc. was incredible. They were well researched, thoughtful and considerate of different opinions. They referred back to field trips they had to Growhaus and a local meat market. They started out in the community with experiential learning, used technology to learn more, and finished by inviting community to learn with them.
Primary students shared their greenhouse:
Anastasis Jr. High Round Table discussion
This is what learning looks like. It is hard work, there is challenge. There is also beauty and excitement and pride.
Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Apply, Art, collaboration, Create, Download, Fun & Games, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, video, Video Tutorials, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 09-12-2013
Tags: bootstrap, bot bat, cato's hike, chip bots, circuit coder, code, code monster, code.org, codea, codecademy, codi animation, coding, computer science, cprogramming, daisy dinosaur, dynamic art, game salad, hackety hack, hopscotch, hour of code, java, kine script, kodable, learn, LEGO, lego mindstorms, light bot, move the turtle, programming, romo, romotive, ruby, scratch, squad, stencyl, touch logo, treehouse, tutorials, tynker, video
What it is: This week is Hour of Code week! From December 9- December 15, Code.org is hosting an event to introduce students everywhere to computer sciences. The event is super flexible, you can plan your hour anywhere it fits in your schedule this week. Code.org has MORE than enough resources, videos, activities to get you going, but these days there are all kinds of great resources to help you bring programming and the Hour of Code into your classroom. The best part is, there is no previous coding experience required, really!
I can’t tell you how rewarding and exciting it is to learn something alongside your students. It is such a neat thing for your students to see you as a learner (without all of the answers) and discover learning together. This is rewarding in ways you may not have experienced before.
How lead your student (school) in the Hour of Code Week: First: sign up for the Hour of Code week at Code.org. This leads you to fantastic tutorials for the learner.
- Check out the tutorials and pick one for your class. Tutorials are available in a variety of languages!
- I like to go through the tutorial once on my own so that I have some background information before diving right in with students.
- Test tutorials on the devices students will use during the Hour of Code (there is nothing worse than planning everything only to learn you don’t have the correct plugin!)
Next decide if your students will be going through the tutorial on their own, in partners, or as a class. This probably depends on what devices you have available for your students. Don’t let a lack of devices keep you from participating! Students can work together on classroom computers (maybe as a center where groups visit the computer together for an hour. A new group can visit the center each day of the week.) If you don’t have reliable classroom computers, or the ability for students to work independently in a one to one setting, think about working as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer. If you suffer from low bandwidth (the worst!) you can even opt to download the tutorials so that you are watching them locally.
Have fun learning together! It is okay to say, “I don’t know.” As I said above, it is truly such a cool experience to learn with your students.
Although Code.org is hosting the Hour of Code, you aren’t limited to the resources you find there. Below I’ve listed some of our favorite places to learn about coding at Anastasis Academy:
- Codecademy (this was where Team Anastasis started our first year during Crave classes. I learned right along with them! I can’t tell you the number of times I said, “I don’t know, let’s see if anyone on Twitter can help.” GREAT experience! The kids loved the game nature of learning to code and the immediate gratification of moving to the next level.)
- Codecademy: Hour of Code this is available as an app on the iPhone (can also be downloaded for iPad at the phone resolution)
- Squad is a free collaborative code editor. With Squad, students can access the code they are writing anywhere there is an Internet connection. This means that students can chat and edit files together no matter where they are.
- Tynker- This is one that I wrote about just the other day…cannot wait to use it!
- Romo- This is a robot that helps teaches the basics of programming. I adore this little robot. It is adorable and fairly affordable if you already have an iPhone/iPod that you are willing to let kids use.
- Bootstrap- This is an awesome resource for middle and high school students. It teaches students algebraic and geometric concepts through computer programming. Different from other resources, this one begins with the math in mind and shows students practical application of what they are learning in algebra/geometry as you go. Very cool!
- Scratch- from MIT, this is a great place to start…a long time winner for sure!
- Stencyl- is game creation software with a visual interface that lets students publish their creations for any platform.
- Game Salad- similar to Stencyl, this free download lets students create games visually and publish their creation on multiple platforms.
- Hackety Hack!- with this download kids can learn the basics of Ruby on Rails programming language.
- Code Monster- great beginner interface for kids to learn the basics of programming through a step-by-step online guide.
- Hopscotch- Coding for kids in a visual programming language. Hopscotch is an app for the iPad and FREE!
- Move the Turtle- Another app for the iPad that teaches programming visually. This one is $2.99
- Treehouse- Free app for the iPad that teaches programming and design from 1000 videos, practice modules, etc.
- Cato’s Hike Lite- This is a programming and logic odyessy for kids. This is a great place for kids to learn the basics. The lite version linked here is free, the full version is $4.99
- CProgramming- an iPad guide to programming in C. This app features a conversational style with visual explanations and is probably best for older student. The hosts sing badly, tell cheesy jokes, and include ridiculous pop culture references. All of this adds up to a fun way to learn. $5.99
- Codea- an iPad app that fills in the gaps of your lack of programming knowledge with visual interface. $9.99
- KineScript Lite- visual programming for kids to learn to code and share it with others. A great starting point! Free! Full version is $1.99
- Dynamic Art Lite- Another iPad based graphical programming option for kids. This one lets students create amazing animation and artwork with a drag/drop set of blocks. Free! Full version is $2.99
- Kodable is a free iPad game that offers a kid-friendly introduction to programming concepts and problem solving. (The pro version is on SUPER SALE for the Hour of Code week- 90% off!)
- Java Tutorial: Learn Java quickly with this iPad app from Udemy for older students. Free
- Light-bot Hour of Code- A free iPad app that introduces kids that have absolutely NO experience programming but can immediately use programming logic in this fun game.
- Daisy Dinosaur- a fantastic and free basics of programming app that features an adorable dinosaur named Daisy. The visual interface is great and teaches students the basics of objects, sequencing, loops, and events by solving the app’s challenges. (This is a favorite!)
- Bot Bat- a free iPad app that lets students design their own robot tank to do battle, they use visual programming to tell the bot what to do.
- Codi Animation- an iPad app where students can create animation for their own iOS app. $.99
- Chip Bots- a free iPad app that lets students design and program their own robot using chip-based programming environments.
- Circuit Coder- an iPad game and simulator for building digital circuits $1.99
- Lego Mindstorms Fix the Factory- I don’t know about you, but our youngest students are LEGO crazy. They would be all over this free iPad app that teaches the basics of programming language.
- TouchLogo is an ipad game that introduces programming to young children (even preschoolers could use this one!) $2.
- Last but certainly not least, Code.org. A fantastic site for all things code and lots of goodies just for educators!
Tips: There are lots of videos and printouts for the Hour of Code that you can use to inspire some excitement about this fun day! You will even find links for letters to send home, to your administration, even the government!
What are you doing for your Hour of Code? What fun things do you have planned?
Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Art, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Fun & Games, History, Inquiry, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 01-12-2013
I love this time of year, it comes with such wonderful anticipation of things to come. A time to be mindful.
You can build some of that anticipation into your classroom with a digital advent calendar that reveals something each day in preparation for the holiday season. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, “coming.” In Christian traditions, this refers to God’s coming into our midst. Anastasis is a faith-based school, so the advent calendar I created for our students and families is to be in celebration of this coming. Your classroom advent calendar doesn’t have to be faith-based.
Your advent calendar could be in anticipation of the coming new year, the coming break from school, or just a fun way to surprise your students with something they get to reveal each day. It would even be fun to reveal some sort of “Mission Impossible” task each day for your students. Be creative! This could be related to something they are learning/working on in your classroom, a kindness challenge, a video of the day, a writing prompt for the day, brain teaser, a book/poem/website for the day, a peek into your classroom for families, inquiry question of the day, song/podcast, 25 days of science experiments, etc. Even as adults we enjoy moments of anticipation, why not capitalize on that in your classroom?
I used Weebly to create our digital advent calendar. You can follow our calendar here. Weebly is an easy to use, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website builder. It makes it simple to quickly put together a site that you can easily edit in preparation for the next day of revealed surprise. Weebly also lets you include a nice variety of content so that it is flexible enough to meet your needs. I started December first with some text and an image. My plan is to take a video each day of our students sharing a verse, quote, thought, blessing, song, etc. and embed the video using the YouTube option. The only thing for me to do each day will be to take the video and upload it to our Anastasis YouTube channel and then copy the url into the Weebly image for the day. SO easy to keep up with each day!
How to build your own Weebly Advent Calendar:
- Sign up for a free Weebly account
- Choose a template to start with for your calendar. Any of the templates will work, choose the look you like best!
- Start by dragging some text onto your page. This is a great place for a few sentences about your calendar and what students/families can expect to find each day.
- Under the “Structure” section, select and drag over the “Columns” onto your page. I chose 5 columns. Repeat so that you have multiple rows of 5 columns. I have a total of 5 for 5 rows and 5 columns.
- Into each row and column, drag over the “Image” option so that you have 25 image place holders.
- I used Apple’s Pages software to create my daily images with the dates listed on them. I used some digital paper, layered a solid box of color, and two text boxes. I took a screenshot of each date (I just created one image and then changed the text for each screenshot).
- Back in Weebly, click on the image placeholder to upload the images created (alternately, you can just use the search option to find images to use). Repeat for each image.
- Create a new page (under the Pages tab a the top of the Weebly screen). Be sure to check the box so that the page is hidden from navigation. This is going to be your “come back on the appropriate day” page. Click “Save and Edit.”
- On your new page, add some text and an image. Type a greeting message from those who are trying to sneak a peek early.
- Navigate back to your home page. Click on each image, an edit box for the image will come up. Select “Link” and choose “Standard Page” and then the page you just created. Save.
- Create other pages for your site if you would like to, I created an “About” page for those who are curious about Anastasis. It might be fun to include a “contact” page where students can submit ideas for the calendar (maybe original writing or other work?)
- Publish your site.
- Each day go back and click on the image for the appropriate day. From the edit box, go back to “Link” and change where the image links to. It can link to another page that you create on the Weebly site, a website or video, a file, or an email address (what if your students got a new email address each day to email an encouraging note to?). Alternatively, you can delete the image for that day all together and embed a video, html, flash, etc.
- Don’t forget to re-publish after you’ve added/edited the site!
There is something truly wonderful about revealing a surprise each day. Don’t leave the families of your students out, it would be great to give families a glimpse of your classroom so that they can see what there kids are up to each day. This can be photos, original student writing, video, or fun activities to be completed as a family in lieu of homework.
Students can also be in charge of creating their own advent calendar. The possibilities for this are endless!
What great ideas do you have for using an advent calendar in your classroom? Share them below!