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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!

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


|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:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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.




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?


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!

Apple joining Hour of Code and offering free workshops! #edtech

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Create, Evaluate, inspiration, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Podcasts, Primary Elementary, professional development, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 04-12-2014

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Apple offers free hour long workshops to teach you how to code!

Today Apple announced that it will be joining code.org’s “Hour of Code” movement by hosting a free one-hour introduction to the basics of computer programming at Apple stores on December 11. During Computer Science Education week (December 8-14th) they will be hosting other workshops.

As a part of the Computer Science Education week, Apple will be hosting designers and engineers in select cities around the world. Pretty awesome! Contact your local Apple store to find out exact details of what your store has planned for the week.

Students at Anastasis Academy have started into an inquiry block about “How We Express Ourselves;” Hour of Code is coming perfectly timed as students can learn about how people express themselves through code.

Apple is also offering free resources for learning to code that you can get started with today. They’ve created a collection of helpful apps, books, podcasts, and iTunes U courses that will get your students coding in no time!

You (the teacher) don’t have to be an expert at coding to introduce your students to it. In fact, it is kind of fun if you are learning and discovering coding together…definitely a bonding experience! Truly, please don’t stay away from spending at least an hour during the Hour of Code just because you don’t feel like you know anything. Explore together and let your students get excited about coding and about teaching you something new as you go. The resources Apple has listed are a fantastic way to get started. Join the Hour of Code yourself for additional information and support here.

I love that coding can hit every level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. It obviously allows students the opportunity to create something digital, but it also causes them to apply concepts/skills/math, analyze and evaluate code and what it is used for, and can help build knowledge and understanding in code and in a variety of subjects that the code is related to. Pretty great when that happens!

Want to continue your own learning about learning? Join us for the 5-Sigma Edu Conference. There is even a session on coding in the curriculum! It is going to be awesome and as an added benefit, you get to see how classes at Anastasis Academy run. Can’t wait to meet you there!

Post-it Plus: Digitize your Post-it Notes and take brainstorming with you!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 18-11-2014

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Post-it Plus: take your brainstorm sessions with you!

What it is: Post-it Notes are among my very favorite office supplies. I use them for brainstorming, my calendar, to jot down reminders, and to collect the brilliant ideas that happen in the middle of the night. At Anastasis, we use Post It Notes constantly to help organize brainstorm sessions and lines of inquiry during an inquiry block. As you might imagine, we use TONS of Post-it Notes during any given week! They are hard not to love, brightly colored squares just waiting to collect brilliance and post it for the world to see. Recently, I stumbled on an app, Post-it Plus, that takes my love of sticky notes to a whole new level! Post-it Plus is an app that lets you snap pictures of a Post-it note brainstorm session, and then arrange, refine, and organize the notes on a virtual board. The newly organized digital board can then be shared out.  Students can capture 50 Post-it notes at a time and collect and combine ideas from multiple categories. Notes can be organized on a grid, or free form any way that you would like. Boards can be shared via email, PowerPoint, Excel, Dropbox, by PDF, etc. After the work has been shared, anyone can help contribute and arrange the notes to create a great idea! The app is free and optimized for iOS 8.

How to integrate Post-it Plus in your classroom: Post-it Plus is a great way for students to capture their brainstorms and group work so that they can take it with them.

Collaboratively brainstorm with your class or explore some different lines of inquiry and record each new thought on a sticky note. Students can then take a picture of the group on their iOS devices and arrange and group in a way that best makes sense to them. Now all of your students can manipulate the sticky notes individually and bring their learning with them.

As students are writing (either creative or informational), they can write each new idea or paragraph on a different sticky note. Then they can arrange their notes and take a picture. As they create different arrangements, they can use the digital version to compare with the original to make decisions about the flow of their writing.

Teach young students? Write down the different parts of a story (beginning, middle, supporting details, end) on several sticky notes. Students can snap a picture of the notes and practice sequencing the story. Each student has the digital version, so each can practice ordering and you can quickly assess their understanding.

Post-it Plus could also be used for phonics work. Write phonemes on individual sticky notes and ask students to take pictures of each phoneme with the app. Then call out words that students can create with their phonemes in the app.

Post-it Plus is also fantastic for students learning math processes (order of operations anyone?) and algebraic thinking. Write each part of an equation down and students can manipulate the digital sticky notes to show process.

Students can also use Post-it Plus to categorize and organize ideas and events in history, science, government, etc. How We Got to Now anyone? :)

Tips: I can’t tell you how many conferences I’ve been to that we used Sticky notes to brainstorm ideas. Post-it Plus makes it easy to take that thinking and learning with you in a very practical form that you can interact with later! Speaking of conferences, the 5 Sigma Edu Conference is a great one to test out this app!

How We Got to Now: 6 Innovations That Made the Modern World

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Art, Evaluate, Geography, History, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 05-11-2014

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How We Got to Now: 6 innovations that made the modern world

At Anastasis Academy, we are in the middle of the inquiry block “Where We Are in Place and Time.” During this block our students are exploring orientation in place and time, personal histories, explorations and migrations of humankind, and the relationships between the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations from local and global perspectives.  Serendipitously, Steven Johnson’s new book “How We Got to Now” just came out along with a PBS documentary. The timing could not have been better!! Steven looks at 6 innovations that made the modern world. In his telling about these 6 innovations, he demonstrates the inquiry approach in really brilliant ways. The interdisciplinary nature of this series is fantastic! I’ve been reading “How We Got to Now” (I highly recommend it!) and the students have been watching the new PBS documentary series by the same name as part of the inquiry unit. In addition to the book and documentary series, PBS has a brilliant How We Got to Now website for the classroom!

What it is: How We Got to Now with Steven Johnson is a website from PBS. The resources on the site are meant to support the documentary series (or book) and recommended for 6th-12th grade. At Anastasis, we are using it with students as young as 3rd grade and they are all getting something out of it and loving the connections of history and these innovations.

How to use How We Got to Now in the classroom: 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. :)

The How We Got to Now site has a great “Big Ideas” section that leads students to dig deeper into the six innovations and has provocations for students to continue making connections, learning, asking questions, and even coming up with their own innovations.

Students can explore and discuss how change happens and think about how we get to “next.”

As I mentioned, our students at Anastasis are really loving this block. They are enjoying exploring Where We Are in Place and Time with the help of Steven Johnson and through the lens of these six innovations. It has led to a lot of additional lines of inquiry and has also prompted our students to create their own innovations and inventions for the “next.”

As I was reading “How We Got to Now,” I couldn’t help but imagine a set of dominoes. Each innovation connects to something prior that sets off a chain reaction like the domino effect. I suggested to our classes that the students choose one of the six innovations to illustrate this way. The students will create a mini museum for our families to go through that is full of large cardboard dominoes with the inventions and catalysts of the chain reaction. The last domino will be their invention. I’m excited to see this come together!

Tips: Watch full episodes of How We Got to Now online here.

Are you interested in learning more about the inquiry model we use at Anastasis Academy? Join our conference in February! Early bird registration now available.

Sphero: the coolest robot around

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Evaluate, iPod, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 14-04-2014

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Sphero- coolest robot ever

This week, the wonderful people at Orbotix sent me a Sphero to try out and play with. HOLY COW, I haven’t had so much fun with a new toy in a long time. The better part of today was spent learning about the Sphero and stealthily “driving” it into classrooms (much to the delight of kids). Sphero is a robotic ball that gets controlled by iPhone, iPad, or android device. I had it rolling all over school this morning…I only wish I had thought ahead to record student reactions (I was using my iPhone to control it and didn’t think about video and pictures). I had so much fun with it, that I brought it home to play and learn some more. It is equally loved by my dogs! 😉

Sphero seems like a simple concept, a ball that can be controlled via tablet or phone. Even though the concept is simple, I have to admit, I’m pretty floored by the way that this little ball moves around effortlessly as if by magic. We have a hallway in our school that includes an incline and it rolled up it without any trouble, like a champ! It is SO much more than a fun rolley ball. There are a slew of apps that interact with the Sphero making it ultra fun and educational. The majority of apps available are totally free to download. There are a few that cost $0.99. Apps include:

  • Sphero Nyan Cat Space Party- Even if you have no idea what Nyan cat is, your students will. They will think it is awesome.
  • Sphero Dark Nebula Episode One- A labyrinth game for the 21st century.
  • Sphero Dark Nebula Episode Two- Defeat obstacles and enemies using your Sphero.
  • Sphero- the app I played with all day. This app drives Sphero and teaches it (and you) new tricks with basics of coding.
  • GoGo Mongo- Designed to teach toddlers and primary students healthy eating habits.
  • Sphero Exile- Arcade-like space-fighter game. But with real life actions!
  • Sphero Draw N’ Drive- Use your finger on the tablet or phone to draw a shape or path and watch Sphero follow it.
  • Sphero MacroLab (great for education!)- Learn basics of programming by arranging simple commands and settings in any combination. Save favorite programs and share them with friends.
  • Sphero TAG- A great tag game when you have access to more than one Sphero.
  • Zombie Roller- A zombie app. Need I say more?
  • Sphero Lights- Basically the coolest night-light ever. Keep the Sphero lit even when charging.
  • Last Fish- Try surviving as a fish in toxic water filled with goo and shadow fish. The goal: survive.
  • Sphero Macro Draw- Draw using your Sphero robot.
  • DJ Sphero- Go ahead and be a party rock star with Sphero. Load tracks from your iPad/iPhone music library . Cross fade between songs and speed up or slow down music by spinning your sphere robot. Basically you will be the star of the lunch room.
  • Astro Ball- An arcade-syle 3D flight simulator.
  • Sphero Golf- I played this one as soon as I got home. Create a physical golf course and then virtually control Sphero to make it into the holes that you create. Hit Sphero with either a flick of the finger, or (for more fun) by swinging your arms while holding your tablet/phone.
  • Sphero Cam- Currently Android only. Use the built-in camera on Android to record video with Sphero.
  • orbBasic for Sphero- This is a great app for learning and practicing program. Students can execute basic programs and create and prototype autonomous behaviors for their Sphero robot.
  • Sphero H2O- For real, this robot can be played with IN water!! This is a game for a summer pool party.
  • Etch-o-matic- 21st century toy makes drawings like it is 1965. LOVE this app! Brings me right back to about 1987 when I sat in the back seat of the Jetta on the way to Grandmas. Just like an etch-a-sketch, only better.
  • Sphero Snake- Classic Snake game brought to life.
  • Disc Groove- Control your Sphero to avoid being hit by “flying meteors”
  • Doodle Grub- A new twist on the classic Snake game. Lots of fun.
  • Sphero Pet- Wishing you had a class pet? Sphero fits the bill well without being overwhelming. Kids can teach it to shake, flip and move in any direction.
  • Pass the Sphero- A game of dare for multiple players where Sphero becomes a ticking time-bomb. Lots of fun when there is lots of snow and recess has to occur inside.
  • Sphero Measuring Tape (AWESOME, measuring our Anastasis Academy garden!) Virtual measuring tape. Amazingly accurate. Our kids have been learning Area/Perimeter and using the Anastasis Academy garden as a learning space. Sphero helped verify their calculations.
  • Sharky the Beaver- Sphero turns into an augmented reality beaver that you can interact with.
  • Sphero ColorGrab- A multiplayer tabletop game. Sphero flashes colors and you have to pick him up at the right time to earn points. Best indoor recess ever!
  • Sphero Chromo- Like an old-school Simon game for this little robot. Makes me a little nostalgic for my childhood. :)
  • The Rolling Dead- an augmented reality game featuring zombies. Not sure how it gets better than using Sphero as a fireball to shoot virtual zombies. Anastasis Academy backs to a cemetery where the teachers walk/jog after school. I’m pretty sure the Rolling Dead/Sphero combo will be a welcome addition to our exercise.

The Sphero apps the are available to download range from just plain fun, to serious learning capability and augmented reality. There are so many possibilities with this little robot and, it seems, that the apps and abilities of this little robot will only continue to grow. This robot is resilient. It can stand up to dogs, water, outdoors, hills, etc. Truly so magical and amazing!

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

I dig technology that effortlessly blends real world with imagination and technology. Sphero definitely fits this bill in ways that I haven’t seen before. I’m excited to dig into Sphero Education to try out the STEM lessons that can be used with Sphero with students. I’ll be sure to blog our progress through them! Stay tuned.


Google Story Builder: Create a video story Google style

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Government, History, inspiration, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Subject, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 18-03-2014

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iLearn Technology Google Story Builder- Easily create short video stories

What it is:  I can’t help but love Google’s commercials. They are brilliant in their simplicity and weave together a story beautifully. In the past, Google let you build a story by way of a Google search. Now with Google Story Builder, you can build a video story that looks like it is being typed live between two collaborators in a Google doc. SO very happy! It couldn’t be simpler, any age could create a fantastic little video with this tool! Students create some “characters” for their story. These characters are the Google Doc collaborators. Next, students type text for each collaborator to add to the doc. Finally, students choose music to accompany their video. That is it! When students are finished with their video, they can share it via a weblink.

How to use Google Story Builder in your classroom: Google Story Builder is an outstanding little tool for sharing a story or learning. It allows students to demonstrate learning or understanding in a fun, easy way. A lot of tools can become THE focus of a project. You know how this goes, as soon as you mention that students will be creating a video project all of the learning journey goes out the window and immediately the focus is on the hilarious video they are going to create. The learning can become an after thought. With Google Story Builder, this isn’t the case. The outcome is going to look similar for everyone so the focus is the learning and story. Creativity comes through the story and the music chosen. This is the best kind of creativity, it requires students to know the topic or subject well enough to create a mini parody of it.

Students could use Google Story Builder as a book report. Students can think about major themes or the climax of a story and retell it through the collaboration the story characters in this Google Doc. How awesome would it be to have Romeo and Juliet creating a document together? How about Junie B. Jones and That Jim I Hate? The Little Red Hen asking for collaborators for her latest cooking project?

As students learn about major players in history, they can create a Google Story about those historical figures and their interaction if they had a shared Google Doc. For example students might imagine the writers of the US constitution drafting the constitution as a Google Doc. Or Galileo arguing with the “church” (the story I told in my video).

Students could personify any inanimate object or idea as a character in a Google Story. How about parts of speech arguing which part of speech is the best or should be used in the sentence being typed? Countries of the world telling all about what they are known for? Periods of history as characters? Science ideas (evolution vs. creation)? Math stories including characters like Odd Todd and Even Steven? The possibilities are as varied as your student’s imaginations!

Teachers can create a Google Story to help their kids with inference. Create a story between two characters and ask students to infer about context. What is happening? Do you think the characters are friends or foe? Why? What do you think they are working on together?

Tips: I created the Google Story above as an example. What will you use Google Story Builder for in your classroom?


Rodan + Fields Consultant

Stormboard: Beautiful virtual brainstorming and collaboration

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

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Stormboard-beautiful virtual brainstorming and collaboration

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.


Rodan + Fields Consultant