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Shahi

  What it is:  Shahi is a mashup of Wiktionary (a Wikipedia type dictionary) and Flickr.  This visual dictionary is a great way for students to look up definitions and get a visual representation of the word.  Students can choose for the images to come from Flickr, Google, or Yahoo.  I find...

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SumBlox: explore number relationships through visual/kinesthetic play

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Create, Evaluate, Fun & Games, Inquiry, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 10-07-2015

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** This is not a sponsored post, I’m just super excited about this product and can’t wait to see what our students do with it!


What it is: Why yes, this is a technology blog. But no, this manipulative is not a technology product. I’m writing about SumBlox here anyway because technology led to the happy discovery of SumBlox and is a great reminder of why it is important to be a connected educator! I learned about SumBlox just a few weeks ago on Twitter as a share from ISTE from @michellek107 and @sumblox. This also isn’t a free tool (like I normally share), but I’m already so impressed by the brilliance of this tool, that I’m sharing it anyway!

SumBlox are a wooden block set of numbers 1-10. What makes those blocks and numbers super amazing: each block size corresponds to the number that it represents. (1 being the smallest and 10 the biggest). Even more super amazing, when the blocks are stacked, they represent the equivalent number. For example, when the 2 and 3 blocks are stacked, they are the same height as a 5 block! GENIUS!! These blocks are a visual and kinesthetic representation of our base-ten number system.

I purchased the Educational Set for our classrooms which comes with 100 solid hardwood blocks including: Thirty 1 blocks; twelve 2 blocks; eight each of the 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 blocks; two 10 blocks and four teaching manuals. The purchase was right around the $300 mark with free shipping and a 10% discount with the code “sumfun.”

SumBlox- Explore number relationships through visual/kinesthetic play

How to use SumBlox in the classroom: These blocks allow students to visually represent and discover math relationships. Students can stack blocks to explore and visualize addition equations, if the stacks are the same height, they also have equivalent values. Students can stack multiples of a number to represent abstract math concepts like multiplication grouping or addens of ten. Students can also explore the concept of fractions and of the mathematics behind adding fractions with different denominators by stacking and scaling fractions. SumBlox also are a fantastic introduction to algebra concepts.

The educational set comes with 4 guides that lead you (the teacher) through exercises and lessons to do with your students. While these are extremely well done, because we are inquiry based, my excitement comes in seeing how students will explore these independently first. I’m excited to see students discover the number/size relationships and number patterns.

At Anastasis, we have a 1:1 iPad program. I anticipate that students will use these blocks for stop-motion animation projects as they explore (iMotion HD is the app they use), capture their discoveries of number relationships in their eportfolio (we use Evernote), and even in Explain Everything videos.

Tips: If you are an administrator purchasing these for your school, go ahead and purchase a few of the educator kits. I only purchased one and am already going back to order one for each classroom. These are going to be popular!

Monster Math: Build Mental Math Skills and Fact Fluency

Posted by admin | Posted in iPod, Knowledge (remember), Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 04-05-2015

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Monster Math: Mental Math Practice******Monster Math FULL version is FREE May 5, 2015 in honor of teacher appreciation week!*******

What it is: Monster Math is an app that helps build kids mental math skills through a fun game. When students begin their journey in Monster Math, they are introduced to monster Maxx who is working to save his friend Dextra. What makes Monster Math different from most math practice apps, is the narrative and journey that they go on that keeps them wanting to play. Each “level” has them working to defeat a monster with math. This sends them to the Hall of Math where they get challenged to collect candies to defeat a monster. The challenge is to collect only the candies that are equal to the target number. As they play the game, students build fluency in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Choosing the correct equations earns candies which are then used to defeat the other monsters. Additional challenge is thrown into the game throughout and soon students are not only challenged to find equations to match the target number, but also to do it before the other monster gets to it.

How to integrate Monster Math in your classroom: Monster Math is a great way for students who are building math fact fluency to practice their math facts. It is especially great for students at the 3rd-4th grade level who have learned addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division since the levels default to combine all 4. You can go in and toggle the skills that you want kids to practice. Monster Math is a fantastic alternative to flash cards for building mental math and is sure to be a favorite for kids who are working on mental math skills.

Monster Math: Fact Fluency practice

Use Monster Math as a center activity in the one or two device classroom. Students can each create their own account so that they can save their individual progress. You can go into the app and choose the skills to practice so that it is more tailored to each students needs. Building mental math and fact fluency is always important…this is one I like to keep ongoing every week regardless of what else students are working on. I’ve found the best way to build this fluency is to keep the practice regular.

Monster Math: Fact Fluency practice

Monster Math is a great app for students with individual devices. This allows them to track their own progress at home or school. Monster Math is a great app to recommend to parents who are looking for alternatives to flash card practice. Monster Math definitely takes the battle out of math practice because the storyline keeps it feeling fresh and challenging.

Teachers get reporting on where students are doing well, what skills they are struggling with, and what skills haven’t been started yet.

Monster Math: Fact Fluency practice

Tips: Monster Math is available for the iPhone and iPad. There is a free version and a $2.99 paid version of the app.

Using Technology to Differentiate Instruction

Posted by admin | Posted in 5Sigma, Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Create, education reform, Evaluate, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 13-04-2015

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|Kelly Tenkely|

One of the major benefits of using technology in the classroom is the ability to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of every student in every lesson. Just as every student grows and develops at different rates, they learn in different ways and at different speeds. Technology makes it possible to pace lessons appropriately for each student’s learning level and can be used to promote learning in the multiple intelligences.

Below you will find website suggestions that address the different learning styles in your classroom with the help of technology:

Verbal-Linguistic

These learners enjoy learning through speaking, writing, reading, and listening. In the classroom setting these students shine when given tasks such as taking notes, researching, listening, reading for information, and writing.

Websites to encourage learning for Verbal-Linguistic students:

1. http://wordle.net Allow students to express themselves creatively with words

2. http://ed.voicethread.com Capture student voices with audio, text, pictures, and video

3. http://zoho.com- A free online word processor, and presentation tool

4. http://gcast.com- Students can podcast (voice recording) online.

5. http://kerpoof.com – Students can create stories or mini-movies

6. http://www2.shidonni.com- Students create animated stories

7. http://tickatok.com Students can create stories and turn them into a book

8. http://pbskids.org/wordworld A world where words come alive

9. http://readwritethink.org 52 interactive activities related to reading, writing, and speaking

10. http://speakaboos.com Students can read stories online, record their own story and play literacy games

Logical-Mathematical

These learners love numbers, reasoning, and problem solving. These students enjoy measuring, calculating, and organizing data. In the classroom students will shine when given tasks such as collecting data, conducting experiments, solving problems, predicting, classifying, and sequencing.

Websites to encourage learning for Logical-Mathematical students:

1. http://zoho.com- Spreadsheet and data collection tools

2. http://ed.voicethread.com Capture a sequence of events in an experiment or during problem solving

3. http://emeraldisland.com A virtual world where students can experiment and problem solve

4. http://sciencecomics.uwe.ac.uk/index.php Comics about science experiments, and problem solving games

5. http://toytheater.com/index.php Math, reading, music and art puzzles

6. http://sciencemuseum.org.uk/launchpad/launchball- Logic puzzle games

7. http://mathplayground.com Students practice math skills and engage in logic games

8. http://mathtv.org Students watch a series of video word problems for math, watch a step-by-step video solution and work on follow up problems

9. http://iknowthat.com- Games that make students think: science, language arts, math, and thinking games

10. http://enlightenme.com/enlightenme/superthinkers A site the encourages critical thinking and problem solving

11. http://knowitall.org/hobbyshop A hobby shop full of logical-mathematical activities

12. http://mrsp.com- A storybook site that celebrates reading and books

Visual-Spatial

These learners learn best visually and organize their thinking spatially. They are drawn to information that is presented visually. These students love to illustrate projects, color-code, and create visuals for projects.

Websites to encourage learning for Visual-Spatial students:

1. http://kerpoof.com -Students can draw and create picture stories

2. http://www2.shidonni.com- Students create a character and illustrate a world

3. http://xtranormal.com- Students create and direct their own movies

4. http://knowitall.org/artopia Students interact with online painting, media arts, sculpture, and theater

5. http://doink.com Students can create animations to illustrate a concept or story

6. http://eyeplorer.com- Shows information visually on a color wheel to help students discover relations in any topic

7. http://flickr.com A picture sharing website

8. http://picnik.com – Edit photos add effects, fonts, shapes, and frames

9. http://arkive.org Students can view photos of thousands of animals

10. http://animoto.com/business/education Create videos with pictures

11. http://glogster.com/edu Create online posters to visually display knowledge

Bodily-Kinesthetic

These learners benefit from physical activity, hands-on tasks, and constructing things. These students are able to express ideas through movement. They like to act, manipulate objects, operate the mouse, take pictures, and be involved physically in a project.

Websites to encourage learning for Bodily-Kinesthetic students:

1. http://play.ekoloko.com- A virtual world that taps into mouse manipulation, typing, and manipulating objects on the screen

2. http://emeraldisland.com- A virtual world that requires mouse manipulation, typing, and manipulating objects on the screen

3. http://secretbuilders.com An enchanting virtual world where students can interact with historical figures

4. http://arsights.com Augmented reality site that lets students manipulate Google Earth objects by using a web cam and print out. As students move the paper, the virtual model on the screen adjusts accordingly

5. http://ge.ecomagination.com/smartgrid Another augmented reality site that shows students a digital hologram of smart grid technology

Musical/Rhythmic

These learners learn best through auditory experiences. They enjoy making songs, rhythms, and patterns. These students will appreciate displaying knowledge with audio and video recorders.

Websites to encourage learning for Musical/Rhythmic students:

1. http://gcast.com- Students can create podcasts

2. http://toytheater.com Students interact with music, sounds, and patterns

3. http://viddler.com Record video with a webcam

4. http://playmusic.org Students explore and interact with music

5. http://kids.audible.com Download and listen to audiobooks

6. http://capzles.com Create timelines with audio and video

Interpersonal

These learners enjoy interacting with other students. They enjoy discussions, cooperative work, and social activities. These students will love web 2.0 tools that allow them to interact with others on projects.

Websites to encourage learning for Interpersonal students:

1. http://play.ekoloko.com- A virtual world that allows students to interact and work on solving problems together

2. http://emeraldisland.com- A virtual world that encourages students interaction for the common goal of saving Emerald Island from PiRats who want to take over the green world.

3. http://secretbuilders.com An enchanting virtual world where students can interact with historical figures

4. http:tutpup.com A site that lets students practice spelling, and math facts against other students from around the world in real time

5. http://ed.voicethread.com Students can use Voicethread to complete projects together. It also provides the ability for students to interact and comment on other student’s Voicethread projects.

6. http://twitter.com Create a personal learning community within your classroom, encourage students to share learning experiences and new information.

7. http://glogster.com/edu A web 2.0 tool that allows students to create together and comment on other students Glogs.

8. http://www2.shidonni.com Students create an imaginary world and interact with other classmates virtually. They can create worlds and stories together.

9. http://think.com Students can work on projects together, interact with other students and view other student’s learning space

Intrapersonal

These learners learn best through meta-cognitive practices. They enjoy thinking about their thinking and reflecting on learning. Allow these students to think about what they are learning with reflective tools such as blogs and wikis that can be shared with others later.

Websites to encourage learning for Intrapersonal students:

1. http://think.com Students can blog about their learning

2. http://wetpaint.com A wiki where students can reflect on their learning

3. http://pbwiki.com A wiki where students can create and reflect on their learning

4. http://eyeplorer.com- Students can search a topic of interest and take notes about their learning right within the Eyeplorer website 5. http://kerpoof.com Students can record and think about learning through story creation

Naturalist

These learners learn from interactions with the environment they enjoy field trips that involve observation of the world around them. These students will enjoy activities that incorporate nature.

Websites to encourage learning for Naturalist students:

1. http://earth.google.com- Students can explore the earth with satellite imagery, maps, terrain, and 3D buildings.

2. http://google.com/sky- Students can explore the universe including the solar system, constellations, galaxies, and the moon.

3. http://kbears.com Students explore nature, animals, and the earth through a fun interface.

4. http://arkive.org Students learn about thousands of animals and their habitats

5. http://switcharoozoo.com Students create animals, build habitats and learn about wildlife

6. http://play.ekoloko.com- A virtual world that puts students in charge of their own environment

7. http://emeraldisland.com- A virtual world that encourages students interaction with a virtual environment where they keep the planet green.

8. http://nationalzoo.si.edu Students can view live video of animals, view photo galleries, and visit exhibits

9. http://wdl.org/en Students can take a virtual field trip around the world and through time

10. http://vistazoo.com Students can create virtual tours of the world by combining pictures, video, audio, and objects in 3-D

The multiple intelligences can be met and enhanced through the use of technology. Many technologies overlap and address several of the intelligences at once. With a little creativity and planning, you can create rich lessons that will meet your student’s needs and let them learn at their own pace and level.

 

Kelly Tenkely is the founder and administrator of blended learning school, Anastasis Academy in Colorado. Learn more about blended learning at the 5Sigma Education Conference.

Originally posted at The Apple

Wait, what just happened?! (Launching a Conference)

Posted by admin | Posted in 5Sigma, Anastasis Academy, collaboration, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 02-03-2015

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5 Sigma Edu Con- a truly innovative education conference!

As it turns out, putting on a conference is a whole lot like planning for a wedding. Months of preparation, sleepless nights, and dreams (nightmares?) that make you begin to believe that the world revolves around this one event. And then suddenly it is here, the big day. The culmination of all of the hard work.

A strange peace comes over you when you wake the morning of the conference. You’ve done all that you can do. If it hasn’t already been planned for, it will just be what it is.

Blink and it is over.

Wait, what just happened?!

You know it was an AMAZING two days and that the connections were incredible, but going back to sum it up in a few words…that is harder.

The crisis of the imminent creeps in (oh yeah, I still have a school to run!) and before you know it a week has passed and you still haven’t put thoughts down on paper.

I’ve struggled to neatly sum up the 5Sigma Conference. What I can say is, WOW. The 5Sigma Education Conference was one of the best professional experiences I’ve had. It feels a little arrogant to say since I’m the one who planned it, but really, what happened last weekend impacted me enormously. It wasn’t what I did. It was the connections with others who are innovative and amazing in their education space. It was the stories told, the laughter shared, it was the discovery that others are doing the hard thing in education and we share the same struggles and joys. In a way, the 5Sigma conference was like being in a foreign country and finding someone from your hometown. Only everyone at the conference was that person.

Anastasis is a very different kind of school. Even the things we do that share common education language (inquiry), look very different here. It can feel a bit isolating, even surrounded by other educators, because we do things that others don’t. 5Sigma was a great reminder that we aren’t alone. That others know the struggles. They also know the deep joy, freedom, and excitement. It was incredible to be able to share that with so many!

I’m still sorting out my thoughts…I suspect they will become several posts. In the mean time, I want to share some words from others who are more eloquent in their reflection of the weekend than I currently am.

This gem is from @yourkidsteacher (who many of you supported through the 5Sigma Pay-it Forward program to get to Colorado for the conference): Edu Conferences, Woodstock & Physicists

Check out this Storify of Tweets from the weekend to get a taste of the fabulous discussions that happened (Thanks to @rsvoigt for making that happen!): 5Sgima Edu Conference Storify

To all who attended the first annual 5Sigma Education Conference: a sincere thank you! Your presence, support, and the conversation your brought was THE highlight.

To our awesome presenters: You all are rock stars. I don’t say that lightly. You are incredible people doing important work every. single. day. Thank you for sharing that.

To our sponsors: You made so much of what we did possible to do. Thank you for supporting us with swag, donated snacks that made us feel at home, and prizes that put some substantial smiles on faces!

To Team Anastasis staff, students, and parents: You are hands down the BEST and my favorite!

 

How We Got to Now: a student created mini museum

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, collaboration, Create, education reform, Evaluate, History, Inquiry, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 04-02-2015

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In November, I wrote a post about the book/PBS documentary series “How We Got to Now” by Steven Johnson. If you haven’t read this book or watched the series, it is a must! Truly, this is one of those books that has stayed with me. I’m not the only one. Students from 1st-8th grade at Anastasis have become fascinated with Steven Johnson’s journey through the six innovations that made the modern world. The way that Steven weaves the story is remarkable. It reminds us just how interconnected the world is and that innovation doesn’t happen in isolation, but as a result of connection. This book, perhaps more than any we’ve read as a school, has reminded us of the beauty of inquiry. What happens when hunches collide and people pursue those hunches.

I love the way that Johnson explores innovation through these 6 lenses. Instead of offering up the typical “heroes” of invention, Johnson introduces students to concepts that span hundreds of years of invention and many of the unsung heroes. The six innovations include: glass, time, clean, light, sound, and cold. I’m telling you, the way that Johnson helps kids see connections in innovation and invention is brilliant! So much the way that inquiry works. :)

In my first post, I wrote about how our students had imagined these innovations as a series of dominoes. Each new discovery leads to the next. Much like dominoes creating a chain reaction. The students have spent the last months exploring each of the 6 innovations in-depth. In addition to the PBS series, they’ve spent time really digging into each innovation that led to the next.

How we got to now-Anastasis Academy

@dweissmo really took on this project with her students. The process wasn’t without it’s frustrations (for teacher and students) but the end result was absolutely incredible! Honestly, I couldn’t have imagined a better outcome than what I saw today when Deb’s class unveiled their mini museum. Before I get to that, let me lead you through the process of how this project came together.

First, Deb’s class watched each of the How We Got to Now @PBS documentary series. The students took notes (in Evernote, through sketchnotes, etc.) about each innovation. The class would also debrief after each video and talk about what surprised them, encouraged them about the invention process, the key players, and the timeline. @dweissmo is a master at leading these conversations. Her enthusiasm is infectious and the students caught her passion. Steven Johnson also has a way of presenting the unfolding of each innovation in a way that hooks your interests and keeps you marveling and making connections long after the video is over. After watching the documentary series, Deb put each of the six innovations up on her wall and asked students to write their names on a sticky note and choose which innovation that they were most excited to learn more about.

Students chose which innovation they wanted to do a more in-depth study of and would, ultimately, create dominoes based on.

For the dominoes, we snagged a bunch of the flat-rate shipping boxes from USPS. The students painted them different colors according to the innovation they were studying (a different color for each innovation). Next they took all of their notes and research and started creating their “dominoes” with information about that innovation. They quickly realized that there was SO much to say about each innovation, that it didn’t fit on their domino. The kids decided to create websites where they could add a little more in-depth information about the innovation. To make it easier for the museum audience, they connected the websites and webpages they built to QR codes for each domino. You guys, these are 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students!!! I’m so proud of them I could burst. They built their websites using Wix (a wonderful and amazing WYSIWYG editor). The QR codes were built using Google’s URL shortener which also happens to include a QR code. On the back of each domino, the kids affixed their QR codes. Some of the kids also created videos that were included on their website. (If you are interested in seeing these websites, all are linked here.)  All of this was done over the course of a few months as the kids continued on their inquiry journey of How We Express Ourselves, and How the World Works.

Then came the full moon. Any teacher will tell you that the full moon does something to children. Perfectly wonderful, reasonable children are suddenly unrecognizable and cannot make a decision or work together to save their lives. This is a real thing! This full moon coincided with class decisions about how to set up their museum. And much chaos ensued. Despite the full moon, the kids were able to come to a decision about how they would set up their museum for the rest of Team Anastasis and families to enjoy. For all of the trouble they had coming to a decision, they did a remarkable job in the end! They created a sort of maze/labyrinth to walk through with dominoes along the journey. They decided to organize the dominoes not by innovation, but instead as a timeline so that you could see the interconnectedness of innovation. They had a station set up with clips from the How We Got to Now PBS series, a station where kids/parents could download a QR code scanner and learn how to use it before going through the museum, the actual domino mini-museum, and a place to reflect on the museum afterward. It was incredible!!

What was truly inspiring was watching the other classes (and parents) journey through the museum. Kids of all ages were SO engaged and impressed with what Team Weissman had put on. They spent time sitting at each domino and learning more about the innovations. They asked questions. They told Team Weissman what a neat website they had built. They connected with each other and learned together. Seriously, I couldn’t have dreamed up a better scenario. As the 1st-3rd grade class was leaving, they stopped and asked some of Team Weissman, “could you show us how to do QR codes and websites for our Body Tracings?” This is what learning looks like!

After all their hard work, the kids sat down and reflected on what could have gone better. What they would like to do differently for their next museum. They congratulated each other for a job well done. They talked about how hard the project felt at times and how very proud of themselves they were when they persevered through the hard parts. They made plans for the next opportunity to share it.

And now for our next trick, Team Weissman is creating their own inventions…How We Get to Next! These are so brilliant, I can’t wait to share them!

If you are joining us for the 5sigma Education Conference (and I hope you are!!), you will get a first hand look at the How We Got to Now mini domino museum and hear from the students who created it.

 

 

 

The power of the #PLN: Paying it Forward

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, inspiration, professional development, Teacher Resources | Posted on 02-02-2015

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The network that educators have created through social media is seriously incredible! I’m often asked by non-educators how they can build such a supportive presence with social media. My answer: I’m not really sure, this PLN network works because it is full of caring, amazing educators who have decided to support each other in all kinds of awesome ways. We share each other’s work, we offer support, we meet up to have a drink together, we help each other when we are ready to give up. It truly is remarkable!

A few years ago, our friend Beth Still wanted to demonstrate the power of social networks and PLNs while also assisting a “newbie” in attending ISTE. The ISTE Newbie Project was born! Beth asked people in her network to consider contributing a small amount of money ($10, $25) to help pay for the travel, registration, and hotel costs for someone to attend the international conference for the first time. Each year, over $2000 was raised to cover the costs for that year’s newbie. The beauty of this project, however, was that many people contributed relatively small amounts. Because our networks are growing, it was easy for an individual to only donate $10 or so, yet the project could be fully funded. This was that power of networking that Beth wanted to illustrate!

As we look forward to the 5Sigma Education Conference in the next few weeks, we’ve heard from a few who planned to join us, but whose districts won’t pay for travel. We thought back to the Newbie Project and wondered if we could provide travel funds for someone to join us at 5Sigma.

Eric Johnson, aka “yourkidsteacher,” is a teacher from South Bend, Indiana whom we asked to join us at 5Sigma and share his new project, erasemeanness.org. Eric has been a huge supporter of our work, and we have been really looking forward to him joining us for our inaugural conference. Eric’s district was not able to provide his travel funds, however, and he shared that he would not be able to come to 5Sigma. When we remembered the “crowd-sourcing” that happened with the ISTE Newbie Project, we thought we should consider doing something similar.

 Here is the part where you come in, valued PLN member! The 5Sigma Pay it Forward Travel Fund is the same model as described for the Newbie Project. If only 50 people decide to donate $10 after reading and sharing this idea, Eric’s flight will be fully funded. We have two weeks to raise $500.

The networking value depends upon how many people see this project and choose to donate a small amount… and then SHARE with others. Let’s demonstrate the power of networks and, together, we can do something really great for an amazing educator. Please share out the Pay it Forward #5sigma project. Please consider donating $10 to help a fellow educator *donate through paypal at the bottom of this page*. The great thing about paying it forward- it generally comes back ten-fold. Thank you for your support!

Metanoia- the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life (basically what #edu is all about!)

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Classroom Management, Create, education reform, Evaluate, For Teachers, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology | Posted on 21-01-2015

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5-Sigma Education Conference February 20-22, Colorado

The problem with education reform is that we keep attempting to change surface level systems and hoping for deep systemic change as a result. What we actually end up with is new standards, new curricula (usually replacing one one-size-fits-all with another one-size-fits-all), new technology initiatives, more professional development, added “rigorous” expectations, new standardized tests, new assessment systems, and new buzz words. If you’ve been involved in education for any amount of time, you begin to see a pattern emerge. As a society, we seem to be always searching for the next best thing that is going to “fix” education; it quickly begins to feel like a broken record. I’ve often heard education veterans lament about how this is, “just one more new program.” It will get hyped, change the way everything is done, but the end result will be the same: countless professional development dollars will have been spent, there will be additional pressure and stress to get everything changed over to the “new” way of doing things, and lives and schools will be turned upside down and inside out. In the end the “new” push will end up with all the others: shoveled to the side when the next latest and greatest idea comes on the horizon. This has been the case for as long as I’ve been in education (30-year+ veterans tell me that it is nothing new). When this is the education landscape, you really can’t help but to feel jaded and wonder what the point of all of it is.

The trouble is, in all of these initiatives we never really change our minds about what education is and what it needs. We continue thinking about and approaching education in exactly the same ways, put a new cover on it, and act as if it will finally be THE thing that changes everything. If we keep looking at education with the same assumptions, no matter what comes our way, the end result will be the same. Swirl. The circling around solutions that aren’t really solutions. We have to change our minds. We have to identify the assumptions that we make about education and divorce ourselves from them enough to gain a new perspective.

Assumptions that we make in education (this is just a sampling, but you’ll get the idea):

  • Everyone needs to exit the school system with the same skill set and knowledge.
  • Academic success can be measured and assigned a number.
  • Tests show progress in learning.
  • Kids should move through learning at the same pace and, if they aren’t, there is something wrong with them.
  • That classrooms are places with desks, whiteboards, and paper/pencils.
  • That education should be rigorous.
  • That teachers deliver learning.
  • That homework is a necessary part of school.

When the above assumptions are the mind-set that we operate from, no new initiatives layered on top of them are going to make the systemic change we hope for.

We have to change our minds first. We have to begin designing from within.

As people tour through Anastasis, I often get the feeling that they are overwhelmed. What we do looks very different from the school that they operate within. There is this pause generally followed by, “we could never do this! ” There is red tape, naysayers, not enough money, and hurdles of every sort. They realize that what we do would take a fundamental shift in the way things are done at their school and that feels BIG. Unattainable.

When we change our minds, ditch the assumptions, it is truly a starting over.

As educators and decision makers, we often try to make shifts in educations by bring in a new program, adding the newest technology, changing one curriculum for another. But the truth is, to change education, we have to work at it a bit more abstractly…we have to change our minds. The real change has to happen within each of us as educators. We have to identify our assumptions, step back and take a look at education and learning from a new perspective, a new lens. This is a shift in how we think about education and the lens we consider it under.

How do we change our minds? NOT by adding “new” programs (that as it turns out have the same view of education/learning and have just altered the packaging). The more I’ve reflected on the education reform puzzle, the more I’ve come to believe that this has to start with administrators and teachers. We have to begin by identifying assumptions and then taking a fresh look at education apart from those assumptions.

An illustration of the change of mindset:

I started a school that is technology rich. We have a 1:1 iPad environment from k-8. We also have Chromebooks, projectors, robots, etc.

Do you know that I have never provided my staff with professional development to learn how to use this technology?

Never.

I didn’t even ask them how proficient they were at using technology when I hired them.

When I gather my staff for professional development, we talk about the kind of learners we want our students to be. We talk about the learning habits we want them to develop, the character qualities that we hope they leave Anastasis with. We talk about philosophy and pedagogy, and how to learn. We design for learning. All of the tools that we have available (technology included) get utilized, not because I’ve spelled it out for my staff, but because we’ve dreamed together. We’ve changed our minds and focused first on the learner and the journey that they will take. We ditch the assumptions and try new angles. The fun happens when we start to discover (together) how technology can enhance that journey. You’ve never heard so much excitement over new apps discovered, or the exclamations of “did you know it could do this?!” Suddenly my staff remembers what it is like to be a learner. They again enjoy engaging that journey and they recognize that I (the administrator) am not the holder of knowledge. They don’t have to wait on me to learn or create something new. There is freedom in that changed mind-set! When teachers realize that they don’t have to wait, they begin to help their students realize that they are on their own learning journey. They no longer feel the need to be the holder of all knowledge, but apprentice students in the art of engaging the learning journey.

What does this change of mind mean for professional development? It means that my job is to create opportunities for my staff to engage in learning together. Sometimes this means that we take a cooking class or go paddle boarding together. Other times it means engaging in meaningful conversations over drinks at the end of the day or breakfast at Snooze. When you help people step away from their assumptions by actually modelling what that looks like, a transformation happens. It is empowering. It can be scary. The end result isn’t always obvious. If you can push past the fear of the unknown, and realize that we are all learners on our own “metanoia,” the results are staggering! This is how we get the BIG sweeping changes in education. This is where culture and community are built and students learn to properly manage freedom in learning.

We would love to share with you how we design learning at Anastasis, but more than that, we want to help you change your mind. February 20-22nd you can join us for a conference unlike any you’ve ever attended. Get fired-up, iterate with world-changing thinkers, and make plans that you can launch with a tour of Anastasis Academy, a series of keynotes and break out sessions from leading visionaries, panel discussions, and adult learning excursions. At the 5-Sigma Education Conference, we will help you change your mind and offer pragmatic, applicable insights that will help you transform your own space in education. Teacher, administrator, superintendent, district leaders-this conference is for all of you!

Requesting professional development dollars #PD

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, For Teachers, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development, Teacher Resources | Posted on 14-01-2015

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Education is an interesting beast. We are in the business of learning. We enjoy learning and connecting with other educators to improve our own craft. And yet, often we are expected to pay for our own continuing education. You would think that this would be embedded in our job description and encouraged and supported by our superiors!

We hope you can join us for the 5-Sigma Education Conference, but we know for many of you this means finding wiggle room in the already tight family budget. We want to help you approach your administration/school board/etc. to request professional development dollars to attend 5-Sigma.

We’ve created a letter that you can adjust to fit your personal request. No reinventing the wheel (we know that your time is precious!), no searching for just the right approach (we know that sometimes that equates to it never happening. This Google Document Letter is a view-only. To edit your own copy, you can either copy/paste into your program of choice OR within Google Documents, click on “File” and choose “Make a Copy.” This copy will allow you to personalize the letter to best fit your needs. Within the letter anything within the brackets should be edited. You will also find a link to session descriptions that you can copy/paste from. Find the letter here.

We are happy to contact your administration, and even offer a two-for-one for admins that come along. Just send a request to info@anastasisacademy.us and include the administrator’s email address.

We cannot wait to meet you, to learn with you, and to change education with you!

Professional Development reinvented! #edchat #coed #C4C15

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, For Teachers, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 08-01-2015

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Over the years, I’ve been privileged to meet and know all kinds of wonderful people. Rod Berger (Core of Education) is one such person. Rod is a great encourager, connector, and amplifier in education. If you aren’t familiar with Rod and his work, you should be! Thank you for your time today Rod, I appreciate the help amplifying this new passion project!

 

Anastasis Academy prides itself on embarking on a continual process of discovery. We hope that you will join us for this incredible conference!

From lack of motivation to Schooltopia (a resolution you will want to keep!)

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, For Teachers, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development | Posted on 07-01-2015

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January is the month of resolutions. The dawn of a new year when the possibility for change is fresh, and aspirations of doing better is rampant. The idea of a clean slate, or cleaning of the slate.

Unfortunately for me, January has always been the time of the year when I feel the least amount of motivation (eclipsed only by February). I’m not sure why this is, but I sort of dread this time of year. I can’t pinpoint exactly why this is. It could be that my formally decorated house suddenly feels bare and sad. It could be that it is STILL getting dark before I get home from work and I’m STILL waking up in the dark. Maybe it is the abundance of gray, cold days. OR the indoor recess and cabin fever that flow out of those days. Perhaps it is the tax forms that start showing up in my mailbox reminding me of the imminent filing of taxes. Regardless of the reason, the result is the same. I feel less like connecting with friends, less like engaging in conversations on Twitter that I normally love. In general, I feel much less like my glass-half-full self.

But this year…this year is different! I have something to anticipate in February. I hope for those of you who dread these months like I do, this could be just the thing to pull you out of the January/February funk. 5-Sigma Edu Conference.

4 years ago I started a school. I decided that I was going to put all of the best into one place. All those #edchats were going to matter, they were going to make a difference for kids. I reworked curriculum, assessment, structure of the day, the classroom space, the homework that would happen, the way parents and students would think of school. Basically I wanted schooltopia. Enter some absolutely incredible board members, teachers, and families and the schooltopia is about as close to utopia as you can imagine. That isn’t to say it hasn’t been without its bumps and major lessons along the way (some I would have liked to have avoided), but when you walk into Anastasis Academy, you can instantly feel that something is different in the best way possible. I realize that I am biased, but those who visit our school exclaim over it as well. In fact, those that visit Anastasis generally come back again and again. They invite friends to come see. Our students feel the difference. Our parents talk about the life they see in their kids.

This February, we are hosting our first ever conference. We want to share with a bigger audience what we are up to at Anastasis. What we do that it is different (sometimes it is simply in the language we use with students). We want you to see it first hand. We want to learn together and make Anastasis a true living laboratory. The 5-Sigma Edu Conference is more than a tour of Anastasis. We’ve brought together a truly passionate group of innovators and change makers to host conversations and planning sessions. Christian Long is our opening keynote and Rafranz Davis is our closing keynote. If you’ve ever experienced either of these wonderful people, you know that they are like instant shots of inspiration. Beyond the inspiration, these are people who walk along side educators to help them use that inspiration to inform change.

We’ve got panel discussions with students, teachers, and parents. We’ve got artists who think like educators. We’ve got master mentors. We’ve got incredible educators coming to share their insights and encouragement. We’re bringing in a team of people who have inspired what happens at Anastasis and want to introduce you to the same inspiration.

I. Cannot. Wait.

Finally, something to keep me from the apathy I so often fall into this time of year!

I want to invite you to join us. I can promise this will not be like any other educational conference that you’ve been to!

Register today at http://5sigmaeducon.com

 

Want to hear more? Tune in to Core of Education’s live YouTube event tomorrow!

**I appreciate that for most educators, conference fees and travel come out of personal budgets. I also appreciate (as an educator) that those budgets are extremely tight…always. If you are looking for professional development that will take you beyond the big-budget conferences that share lots of cool tools but don’t transform your classroom, this is the place. We want to spoil you as you’ve never been spoiled at a conference! If you are lucky enough to work in a school or a district that helps pay for outside professional development, I’ll be posting a request letter template here tomorrow. I’ll do my best to save you time in your request!