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World Education Games 2015! Math, Literacy, Science

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Fun & Games, Geography, Inquiry, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 12-10-2015

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What it is: You guys, the World Education Games is back again, taking place around the world October 13-15, 2015! More than 5 million students from over 200 countries and territories will participate in the games for 2015. This is an exciting online challenge for students around the world. The competition begins tomorrow and continues through October 15. The World Education Games includes World Literacy Day, World Math Day (which has been around since the first World Education Games), and World Science Day. Just by participating through the answering of questions, students will be earning UNICEF points which are converted into money that goes directly toward supporting UNICEF education programs where class and school resources are desperately needed.

In World Literacy Day, students will enter the Spellodrome to compete with students from around the world. A sentence will be read aloud and it is the student’s job to spell the missing word.

For World Maths Day, students will enter Mathletics, to compete with students around the world. This is a place for students to practice and work on math fluency speed and accuracy.

World Science Day will bring students to the IntoScience dashboard where students will test their knowledge with a panel containing 16 question boxes, split into four categories of science. Each question is worth one, two or thee points based on the difficulty. In this game, you must answer faster than your opponents.

How to Integrate World Education Games into your classroom: I love the World Education Games for the fun way that it helps students (k-12) practice facts in math, spelling, and science knowledge. This makes drill/skill infinitely more fun. Students can practice with their own classmates and with those around the world. When I was still in the classroom, World Math Day was a time of year that students looked forward to. They ASKED for homework (can I keep playing at home?). True story. The kids loved finding out which country they would be paired with. It was always very motivating to see someone half way around the world playing the same game at the same time. My students worked hard to see if they could be paired with someone on every continent before the Games were over. Keep track of the countries  that your students get matched with on a Google Map or on the printable maps offered on the World Education Games Website.

For at least one week, ditch the worksheets (or do it like we do at Anastasis and ditch them every day!) and practice math facts and spelling with fun games instead. This is a few days of fun, friendly competition for your students. The adjacent learning opportunities during the World Education Games is great (similar to what the Olympic games brings!). Geography, math, spelling, and science investigations are the obvious adjacent possible. This year, UNICEF is partnering in on the Games and the points that your students earn goes toward a very worthy cause, for every point your students earn, money is being donated to UNICEF for education. In addition to the drill/skill, your students can inquire into the Power of One (as our students at Anastasis Academy are doing), or can inquire into organizations that make a difference in the world (like UNICEF) and explore the social issues that these types of organizations are working to solve.

Tips: Using an Android or iPads in the classroom? World Games Day has Apps for that! Download the Mathletics app here for free!


Virtual Escape Room

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, collaboration, Evaluate, Fun & Games, Inquiry, Interactive Whiteboard, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 14-09-2015

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Virtual Escape Room

What it is: I’m telling you, the edublog alliance I created in 2010 is like the gift that keeps on giving. Year after year I continue to be inspired, excited, and made to think by my edublog alliance PLN! These are my go to blogs before all others! Karen Ogen recently posted about a Virtual Escape room. It is so much fun, I had to share here as well on the off-chance you don’t already follow Karen’s blog (iTeach with Technology). Virtual Escape Room is reminiscent of the Clue Rooms or Escape Rooms that are popping up all over the US (I assume they are happening overseas, can anyone confirm that?). These real-life rooms are not only fun, they are a great way for students to think critically and problem solve together. The premies of the rooms is this: You find yourself locked in a room and, using the clues in the room, must find your way out. There are props, puzzles, and clues all over the room and a time limit. The Arizona Science Collaborative has created a virtual version of the escape room (cue cheers from me!). While a real-life escape room would be amazing, often this is not a realistic school field-trip because of funding, class size, and transportation. Enter the virtual version!

How to use Virtual Escape Room in your classroom: The Virtual Escape Room is a great way for your students to work in small groups to solve a mystery together using critical thinking and problem solving. Students must work together to find their way out of a dark virtual room using the clues in the room and solving some puzzles. Students learn how to work together in teams, communicate effectively, go through the scientific method, and solve problems creatively. Put students together in groups of 3-4 students to solve these problems on classroom computers, using an interactive whiteboard as a center, or on individual devices. Before completing the room, discuss what makes a good team member. How can we best solve problems together quickly? Students can go through the room together. Find out which team can get through the virtual challenge the most quickly. Follow up with discussion about what clues they used, how the students worked together as a team, and what things slowed them down. How was the scientific method used?

Tips: If you aren’t familiar with Breakout/Escape rooms, check out http://www.breakoutedu.com to find out how other teachers are creating their own! The virtual room could be a great introduction to a larger room. Even better, introduce your students to this idea using the virtual room, and ask them to create their own escape room challenge (in-real-life) for each other!

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.

123D Design: The simplest (FREE) way to get ideas into 3D

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Apply, Art, Create, Inquiry, iPod, Maker Space, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Technology, Video Tutorials, web tools, Websites | Posted on 07-04-2015

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123D Design Free 3D design for 3D printing!

What it is: 123D Design is a free super powerful, but simple to use, 3D creation and editing tool. As if that wasn’t great enough, it also supports many new 3D printers! The 3D creation tool is available for PC, Mac, and iPad download ensuring that no matter what devices you have at your disposal, you can take advantage of this awesome tool. The 123D app is incredibly intuitive, within just a few minutes, you can be creating like a pro (really!). Not feeling like a pro? There is also a quick start guide and a library of video tutorials that will explain how the different tools within the app work. The app has lots of 3D designs to start with that can be altered, but it also gives students complete creative license to create all on their own. So cool!

123D Design Free 3D design for 3D printing!

How to integrate 123D Design into your classroom: 123D Design is a fantastic tool that brings the principles of geometry to life while giving students an outlet for creative design and invention. The app is easy enough to use that even young primary students can use it successfully to create.

123D Design Free 3D design for 3D printing!I introduced this app to some of our students who have been learning the basics about coordinate planes. They quickly were able to identify the coordinate planes and were able to understand x, y, and z! This is the type of creation tool that helps students understand the application possibilities of the math they are learning (math in context, what a novel idea!)

At Anastasis, we’ve been playing with the iPad version of 123D Design. In the app version, students begin by choosing a basic shape and then can edit it to be exactly what they want it to be. They can easily connect shapes to make really detailed creations. Example projects help them to play with the tools in the app until they understand and can start from scratch on their own. When students are finished, they save it to “My Projects” which is accessible in the 123D Design web and desktop app. If you are lucky enough to have access to a 3D printer, the kids can even print out their creations!

This is a great addition to any maker space/prototype lab/design thinking routine. Don’t have any of that fanciness at your school? No problem! Adding this app to your classroom gives students an outlet to do some design thinking and work through ideas and inventions right in your classroom. Instant prototype lab!

Our students often engage in design thinking as they engage inquiry. Right now one of our 4th grade students is inquiring into how much water is wasted in our daily activities. One area of waste is when we brush our teeth. This student is designing and creating a toothbrush with the water built-in so that the faucet doesn’t have to be turned on to wet the toothbrush. She’s been experimenting to find out how much waste there is in this activity in our prototype lab. Next, she’ll begin to bring her designs to life with 123D Design and we’re hopeful that she’ll be able to print out a prototype on our Printrbot (still experimenting with how to do that!).

Tips: Sign up to become a member of Autodesk 123D. This gives you access to 3D models, tutorials, 10 free premium models each month, ability to send the 3D model directly to your own 3D printer (or if you don’t have one, to a printing service), unlimited cloud storage of your student designs, and access to the Autodesk forums.

Prodigy: Virtual world of math

Posted by admin | Posted in Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 18-12-2014

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Prodigy: Math virtual world

What it is: Prodigy is a fantastic way to differentiate math in your classroom. Prodigy is a game-like fantasy world where students engage in math along their adventures. Prodigy is a virtual world where students can play together with classmates. In the virtual world, students are wizards who learn magic and spells to defeat over 100 monsters. To learn a new spell or add powers (or adopt pets), students must complete different math challenges. As students play the game, they will learn over 300 math skills in 1st-8th grade. Prodigy is adaptive, so it constantly adjusts to challenge them and keep them learning at their own pace. Gaps are automatically identified and the math challenges scaffold accordingly. As a teacher, you can get real-time feedback on the skills students have been working on and identify challenges at a glance.

How to integrate Prodigy into your classroom: Prodigy is aligned to the Common Core Math standards and has over 300 math skills for students to master. It moves beyond simple number sense and also covers geometry, spatial sense, probability, and other crucial skills. Because Prodigy is aligned to the Common Core, it is easy to navigate.  The teacher dashboard is really intuitive, you can get in and have your class signed up and ready to roll in no time! From the teacher dashboard, you can use the assessment feature to diagnose where students are, and align math content to what you are teaching in class. In a 1:1 classroom setting, where each child has their own device, using Prodigy in your math class is a no brainer. Kids will love it! If you don’t have the luxury of a 1:1 environment, but you do have classroom computers, your kids can still benefit from Prodigy. Use Prodigy as a math center and in the course of a week, make sure that all of your students have the opportunity to filter through to practice the skills they have learned that week.

My guess is, if your students are like ours, that just being exposed to Prodigy in class will have your kids asking, “can we play this at home?” Umm, yes! I love when they get so into learning that they want to carry on all on their own. This is one of those games that they will want to come back to voluntarily!

Tips: Prodigy is completely free for you to use as an educator with your students. All of the educational skills and teacher features are completely free with no time limits that some sites have. The only thing that Prodigy charges for are kids’ game features where families can purchase special wands, hats, robes, etc.

Curious about how we use technology at Anastasis? You do not want to miss our conference in February! Registration is now open!

MobyMax: Tablet + help differentiating instruction

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management, Interactive book, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Software, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 08-12-2014

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Moby Max: transform your classroom for $69!


It’s always nice when new toys show up in the mail to review. Especially when they promise to help make your program more tailored to the individual, that I really like!

What it is: MobyMax is more than just a tablet, it is a complete system that helps you identify areas of strength and weakness that your students might have through placement testing, progress monitoring, assessments, and IEP reporting; has practice for kindergarten through eighth grade mathematics, fact fluency, number sense, reading, language, literature skills, informational skills, writing, vocabulary, and state test prep. MobyMax also includes “Power Tools” acting like a clicker, monitoring behavior, messaging, a social wall for students, a parent portal, manipulatives and time reports. Students can earn prizes and badges as they work through MobyMax and can set their own daily goals.

Each student gets their very own learning plan with MobyMax with the adaptive curriculum. Students who are struggling get the extra exposure and help they need, while students who are ready to move on are challenged appropriately.

One of the things that I really appreciate about MobyMax is the mix of direct instruction and the ability for students to discover learning on their own through discovery-based instruction. As a teacher, the continuous progress monitoring makes formative instruction that much easier. Because MobyMax is based on the Common Core, you can analyze data based on standards, student, class, school, or even district.

The MobyMax tablet is $69!! It has a 7” screen and runs on Android 4.2. The battery life is 5 hours and should last most of your school day without a re-charge. Wifi and speakers are built-in and there is headphone input so that your students can use MobyMax Tablet independently without disturbing others.

How to Integrate MobyMax into your classroom: One of my favorite MobyMax features: it reads each question/problem/challenge for students so that your remedial or ESL students have an additional layer of support. Really helpful when you are working to meet the needs of a lot of different students! While MobyMax focuses mostly on the Understand/Knowledge levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, it is a really fantastic (and reasonably priced) way for your students to gain math and reading fluency practice. Each step of the way they are supported and challenged as needed thanks to the adaptive technology built-in!

MobyMax is reasonably priced enough that even if your classroom doesn’t have classroom computers, you could have several Moby Tablets. The MobyMax tablet would be a fantastic center where students can work on building skills independently. While you work one-on-one with students, other students can use MobyMax to keep moving forward with support. With class-sizes as out of control as they are, this is HUGE. The MobyMax tablet runs on Android which means in addition to all of the great MobyMax curriculum, your students also have access to all of the happiness that Android brings. Web browsers for research, additional apps, file saving etc.

In a 1-1 setting, MobyMax would be a great place for your students to interact and build a digital class community (practicing digital citizenship, communication, and building class culture). If you allow your students to take the MobyMax home for additional support/practice, you could forever banish worksheets from your classroom. Really! The feedback you get is fantastic and auto-magically adjusts to meet each individuals needs for practice and support.


At Anastasis, we are a 1-1 iPad setting, this works really well for us, but we also have a population where we can request a device in a BYOD situation. Many of you don’t have that luxury, MobyMax would be a fantastic solution in a lot of ways! Not only do your students now have a device, but they also get a robust math and reading fluency platform that enhances learning as aligned to the Common Core Standards. It’s like getting an extra set (or 20) of hands! Students who don’t have great support systems at home, now can continue learning independently. Really happy!

One of our struggling students (happens to be dyslexic) has a broken iPad and used the MobyMax for the last two weeks in his 7th grade year. “I miss my camera, but I really like the way it let’s me practice and read with it so that I don’t miss anything important on my own. They should make apps for the iPad so I can get the best of both worlds. Overall, I think it has saved me the last two weeks!”

The one thing I wished for in the tablet was a camera. At Anastasis, our learning portfolios are digital. We take a lot of pictures of non-digital work for those portfolios! However, at $69 it is hard to find too much fault, camera or no!


Tips: You can WIN a MobyMax Tablet of your very own. Leave a comment below before December 15 about how you would put MobyMax to work in your classroom. On December 15th I’ll put your names in a random draw and one of you will get a happy surprise for your classroom! Make sure to include your correct email address in your comment so that I can be in touch with you!

Happy Monday!


Wonder how we individualize learning every day at Anastasis? Join us for 5-Sigma Edu Con in February!

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.