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BBC Build a Catapult: the science and math behind the catapult

What it is: Any time students can dig in and discover learning for themselves, I consider it a success.  Recently I ran across the BBC’s DIY build a catapult.  The site lets students explore the history behind the catapult, learn how to build one step by step and then discover principles...

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A conference about what is sacred in education: 5Sigma Edu Con

Posted by admin | Posted in 5Sigma, Anastasis Academy, Inquiry, inspiration, Maker Space, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 03-11-2016

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should I go to 5 Sigma:?

There are a lot of options for professional development. Hundreds of conferences, workshops, MOOCS, edcamps, professional journals, blogs, the list seriously goes on and on. If you’re like me, your inbox and mailbox have a pretty consistent stream of offerings. I’m about to tell you about one more…

The 5Sigma Education Conference holds a special place in my heart because it gives me the opportunity to invite you to come meet the incredible people I work with every day! I have to say, they are seriously SO amazing (only a little biased)!

5Sigma has a lot of incredible features, but our main focus is always that which is sacred in education: students with names. This is what else you can look forward to:

  • A tour of Anastasis Academy, led by our students- this gives you an inside view of our unique model. Anastasis is the school I started 6 years ago. With the help of an incredible staff, we’ve created a place where: we begin with students, inquiry rules the learning process, learning is hands-on and experiential, we have a living curriculum, we use space as a ‘third teacher,’ we help our students excel by eliminating tests/grades/homework, we’ve transformed assessment, we customize the learning experience for every learner. We do all of this with the same per-pupil expenditure as the public schools in the area!
  • This year our sessions and keynotes will be centered around student agency. We’ve found this to be the single greatest factor that impacts every other part of learning. When we support each student to recognize that they are unique in the course of history, we empower students to engage the world now.
    • When we help students embrace their identity they also are ready for:
      • freedom to direct their own learning, how they learn, and where they learn it;
      • learning powered by questions through inquiry;
      • exploration through thoughtful risk-taking and permissive learning;
      • community and a healthy-school culture where students encourage each other in the learning journey, and inspire one another to be themselves; and
      • meaningfully engaging larger issues like diversity because they are better equipped to recognize the strengths, humanity, passions and culture of others.
  • A large part of our program is full-immersion learning. We take students on weekly learning excursions. At 5Sigma, we invite you to do the same. On Sunday, February 19th, the day is dedicated to learning in context through adult learning excursions. Last year we went to GrowHaus, an aquaponic farm in town followed by a brewery tour. Stay tuned for this year’s options!

In short, this is a conference that will do more than inspire you, you will be empowered to launch in your own classrooms, schools and districts!

If something above resonated with you, and you thought, “this is MY topic of passion,” you should definitely propose a session. Proposals are due November 15th!

We hope that we will see you here in February!

 

P.S. If none of the above topics are of interest to you, but you really like to eat…you should come for lunch on Saturday alone. El Toro the Tot has the MOST incredible burgers and tots. Ask @yourkidsteacher it is worth the price of admission!

Watch the Debates: help your students explore this debate and the history of debates

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Character Education, Evaluate, Government, History, Inquiry, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 19-10-2016

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Watch the Debates: Compare debate issues and history

 

What it is: Tonight is the final debate before the presidential election in the United States. While I can’t say that I’m going to miss the absurdity that has been this debate, Watch the Debates is a pretty wonderful site! In addition to the ability to watch tonight’s debate live, students can also explore past presidential debates. Students can filter the debates by the year, or a specific issue.

How to integrate Watch the Debates in your classroom: Watch the Debates provides an excellent way for students to explore the evolution of a specific issue in the United States by watching debates from as far back as 1960. Students can do this for civil rights, the economy, gun control, heath care, immigration, national security, social security, and terrorism.

As it turns out, Watch the Debates is a fantastic site for Anastasis students right now as they are working through an inquiry about ideas that cause change in society. This site could act as a provocation and place to explore how United States politics has changed over time and how our ideas about society have changed over time. Students can also explore the posture of candidates over time (fashion, the way they speak to each other, etc.). This could be a good launching point that leads to discussions about what else is going on historically that impacts these changes. The social constructs in place, the historical moments of pivot, the technological advances, the impact of religion, the scientific discoveries, our perspective as a country, and the political climate in general. Watch the Debates can be a beginning point for discovery and depth of transdisciplinary understanding.

Hat Tip to @michellek107 for passing this on to @teamanastasis today! Thank you!

 

My Simple Show: Create your own explainer videos for free!

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Character Education, Create, Foreign Language, Government, History, Inquiry, Language Arts, Maker Space, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 22-09-2016

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Create  explainer videos free with My Simple Show!

What it is: My Simple Show Video Creator lets students easily create professional level “explainer” videos. The finished product looks just like a Common Craft video, so cool! The step-by-step tool helps students think about storyline and the flow of explaining a concept.

How to integrate My Simple Show into the classroom: My Simple Show is a fantastic option for digital storytelling. Students begin by choosing to write their own script, or by uploading a Power Point presentation. Next, they can choose from one of many templates to start from, or alternately, start from scratch. The templates are an awesome option because they give kids an outline and break down the story telling/explaining process. For each step in the process, it guides students with a prompt and with some examples. My Simple Show auto-magically picks up words in the script and suggests pictures. Students can use the pre-selected images, choose an image from the My Simple Show library of images, or upload their own image or picture. In the final step, students add audio. This can be computer generated or students can record their own audio. The finished product is pretty impressive! Below is a video I made quickly today.

My Simple Show’s obvious use is for explanatory digital storytelling, but it would also be a great way for students to reflect on a field trip, tell a story, retell new learning (pssst. this is an awesome way to check for understanding!), or create their own “textbooks.”

Students can use My Simple Show to explain a historical event, introduce a biological process, introduce a physical law, summarize literature, summarize a biography, discuss pros and cons, explain a law, etc. Use My Simple Show to create whole class stories where each student contributes a portion of the explanation or story.  This type of video can be made over a few weeks using classroom devices as a writing center.  This would be a fun way to create an A to Z type book of learning, reflections by students after a unit, a 100 day video,  fact vs. opinion video,  a class video of poems, a phonics video, or a class video about a field trip that students took. Students can take pictures of science experiments and create a digital video detailing the experiment with text, images, and student voice reflections included.  The finished product can be shared with parents and families easily through YouTube, Vimeo, or downloaded as a MP4 file.

For a back to school night activity, take a picture of each student to add to a class video and record students sharing an explanation of a school day. This same idea could be used in preparation for parent-teacher conferences. Students can create a video about their learning during the quarter/trimester, record thoughts about why they are proud of the work they did, and add reflections.  These can be shared as a starting point for conferences, at the end of the conference, parents have a keepsake. My Simple Show could also be used for character education. Give the students a scenario or problem, and have them work out a step-by-step explanation or solution.

Because of the voice recording capabilities, My Simple Show, would be a great way for students to practice a foreign language.  They can illustrate a word or phrase accompanied by the audio.  Classes could work together to create a “living” digital glossary.

Be sure to give your students access to My Simple Show in your Maker Space, it is a great option for students to choose!

Tips: My Simple Show has video guides that lead students through each step of the process…I definitely recommend watching these at least once as a class or for the first round of creation!

Swift Playground: Apple’s free app that teaches kids to code!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Create, Fun & Games, Inquiry, iPod, Maker Space, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 19-09-2016

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Swift Playground Learn to Code Apps on your iPad!

What it is: Swift Playground is an awesome new app from Apple that teaches kids how to code in Swift. This free app for iPads uses games to teach kids Apple’s coding language used to create apps. Students can drag and drop code, and easily edit the code to customize it. The code can be instantly run so students can test out their code and see if it works. Best of all, in those instances that the code they put together doesn’t work, Swift Playground has debugging tools and hints built-in to help students rectify any problems. Students can also code with Swift from scratch making the app endlessly adaptable to any skill level.

How to integrate Swift Playground into your classroom: Swift Playground requires no previous coding knowledge, making it the perfect tool for learning how to code. For those students who have experience with coding, Swift Playground is robust enough for even seasoned programmers to bring new ideas to life. Swift Playground begins with a series of challenges to help students master the basics, students use code to help characters navigate a 3D world. When the challenges have been mastered, students can build and manipulate their own code to dream up new creations. Use Swift Playground to get your students thinking logically and solving problems from new perspectives. The skills built as students learn to code are the same skills that will help students in other disciplines like math and science. I love the way Swift Playground starts out by giving students a fun environment of challenges to learn the basics of Swift, but also allows them the flexibility of drag and drop code, and allowing students to edit and write their own code. Swift Playground even features a special keyboard that includes the most common coding characters so that students don’t have to hunt through keyboards to find what they are looking for. As students advance in their skills, they can use code templates that allow customization with code. Beyond what most learning platforms allow, students will be able to adjust multi-touch interactions, the accelerometer, and the gyroscope. These features and abilities are such an awesome tie-in to conversations about complex math and physics! When students are finished with their creation, they can share it with others using Messages, Mail, or Airdrop. Students can even post videos of their creation for others to see! For those who are really soaring, Swift Playground code can be exported to Xcode (where the pros create apps).

Swift Playground-Learn to code on the iPad

Many classrooms don’t yet have time built into the day that is dedicated to coding. But perhaps once a week you use coding in math class as applied math, or use Swift Playground as part of a 20% time offering in your classroom. If those are unavailable, consider participating in Hour of Code.  Play with Swift Playground yourself and you’ll start recognizing tie-ins with other learning that your students are doing. When your students are proficient with coding in Swift Playground, they can start creating and reflecting on learning with the code they know.  Swift Playground is a fantastic resource to have available as part of your Maker Space! Maybe they create a new game to help them remember vocabulary, or math facts. Perhaps they build a world based on a historical event. Once those basics are mastered the application possibilities are endless!

Tips: Everyone can code! This isn’t a skill that only a few should possess. Even the youngest students can use Swift Playground, I’m talking kindergarten can use this app! If you are new to the concept of code, check out this crash course from Apple.

3 Steps to a Living Curriculum

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Blooms Taxonomy, Classroom Management, collaboration, education reform, For Teachers, Inquiry, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools | Posted on 04-08-2016

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3 Steps to a Living Curriculum

Boxed curriculum does exactly that: it boxes in learning, narrows the scope of possibility, and leads kids to believe that learning is a chore. Living curriculum does the opposite: it unleashes learning, opens up possibility and adjacent possibility, and leaves kids excited to continue learning. Living curriculum grows and adapts for a richer, more meaningful learning experience.

3 Steps to a Living Curriculum:

  1. Know your students! This seems like a really obvious first step, but honestly, if you don’t know your students it will be impossible to break free of the box(ed) curriculum. How do you get to know your students? At Anastasis, we dedicate our first days of school to getting to know our students and building a learner profile. We ask all kinds of interest and passion questions, we play a card game that helps us identify their Learning Style preferences, Multiple Intelligence Strengths, and Brain Dominance, and we build a Learner Profile. To take students beyond pre-fab curriculum, you have to know them first. What are their strengths as a learner? Where do they find struggle? All of this information will make you a better guide in the learning. It will also allow your students to understand themselves as learners and their classmates as learners. It will change the ecosystem in your classroom!
  2. Break free of the box. You have to break free of the boxed curriculum before you can truly experience a living curriculum. Boxed curriculum is like teaching students through paint by number. Or like exploring the world via a map. Sure, maps are a predictable. You can see the whole landscape in a simple, two dimensional layout. They give us answers and a 10,000 foot look at a landscape. They allow us to gather some information about the world: where major landmarks are in relation to other major landmarks, what rivers/lakes/mountains we might encounter. With a map, we can chart a course and head a direction. But it isn’t living. Looking at a map is not the same as exploring the world. With inquiry, you may have a guidebook that helps along the way, but it is actually all about the journey. Where boxed curriculum is about answers, inquiry is about the journey to the answer. Living curriculum is immersive learning where students get to create their own map including the features and nuances that are important to them (this is why knowing them is step 1!). Learning is too complex and beautiful to be captured by boxed curriculum. When students are immersed in the journey, they can appreciate the scale of a mountain, the wildlife and ecosystem of a river. A living curriculum is not prescriptive, it is an autobiography of learning written by the student as they learn. A living curriculum uses inquiry because the path to learning is more about following a direction than arriving at a destination. Each year, I create a new set of inquiry guides for our teachers and students. The main inquiry questions stay the same every year (we love the PYP questions!): “Who We Are,” “Where We Are in Place and Time,” “How We Express Ourselves,” “How the World Works,” “How We Organize Ourselves,” and “Sharing the Planet.” Then, under each line of inquiry, I come up with a direction for our inquiry block and additional suggestions for different lines of inquiry that students could follow. Each block has a Pinterest board where we can collect resources for learning during the block. These are books, videos, apps, lesson ideas, articles, experiments, field trip possibilities, etc.
  3. Invite teaching partners and students to collaborate. This is the LIVING part of living curriculum. This is where the curriculum actually comes alive and changes and adapts organically as the learning process unfolds.  Pinterest is a great place for this to happen and, be honest, you are there anyway! Using our Pinterest boards, I start gathering resources I think might be useful, then I invite teachers and students to collaborate with me. As they follow a direction in inquiry, inevitably it leads their learning in unexpected places that I couldn’t have imagined. Inviting teachers and students who are doing the learning to collaborate, the curriculum comes alive. It adapts and changes and grows with us. Living curriculum. Our learning becomes fully immersive, and rich. Students are creating their own maps as they explore learning.

Want to see an example of Living Curriculum in action? Check out this example from Anastasis!

Where to find the card game we use to build our learner profile: The Learning Genome Project

Follow me on Pinterest to see our Living Curriculum grow!

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!

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.

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.