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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

Hour of Code: 30 ways to get your students (k-12) coding! #hourofcode

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Apply, Art, collaboration, Create, Download, Fun & Games, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, video, Video Tutorials, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 09-12-2013

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What it is: This week is Hour of Code week! From December 9- December 15, Code.org is hosting an event to introduce students everywhere to computer sciences.  The event is super flexible, you can plan your hour anywhere it fits in your schedule this week.  Code.org has MORE than enough resources, videos, activities to get you going, but these days there are all kinds of great resources to help you bring programming and the Hour of Code into your classroom.  The best part is, there is no previous coding experience required, really!

I can’t tell you how rewarding and exciting it is to learn something alongside your students.  It is such a neat thing for your students to see you as a learner (without all of the answers) and discover learning together.  This is rewarding in ways you may not have experienced before.

How lead your student (school) in the Hour of Code Week: First: sign up for the Hour of Code week at Code.org.  This leads you to fantastic tutorials for the learner.

  • Check out the tutorials and pick one for your class. Tutorials are available in a variety of languages!
  • I like to go through the tutorial once on my own so that I have some background information before diving right in with students.
  • Test tutorials on the devices students will use during the Hour of Code (there is nothing worse than planning everything only to learn you don’t have the correct plugin!)

Next decide if your students will be going through the tutorial on their own, in partners, or as a class.  This probably depends on what devices you have available for your students.  Don’t let a lack of devices keep you from participating!  Students can work together on classroom computers (maybe as a center where groups visit the computer together for an hour. A new group can visit the center each day of the week.) If you don’t have reliable classroom computers, or the ability for students to work independently in a one to one setting, think about working as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  If you suffer from low bandwidth (the worst!) you can even opt to download the tutorials so that you are watching them locally.

Have fun learning together! It is okay to say, “I don’t know.” As I said above, it is truly such a cool experience to learn with your students.

Hour of Code-30 ways to engage your students!

Although Code.org is hosting the Hour of Code, you aren’t limited to the resources you find there.  Below I’ve listed some of our favorite places to learn about coding at Anastasis Academy:

  1. Codecademy (this was where Team Anastasis started our first year during Crave classes. I learned right along with them! I can’t tell you the number of times I said, “I don’t know, let’s see if anyone on Twitter can help.” GREAT experience! The kids loved the game nature of learning to code and the immediate gratification of moving to the next level.)
  2. Codecademy: Hour of Code this is available as an app on the iPhone (can also be downloaded for iPad at the phone resolution)
  3. Squad is a free collaborative code editor.  With Squad, students can access the code they are writing anywhere there is an Internet connection. This means that students can chat and edit files together no matter where they are.
  4. Tynker- This is one that I wrote about just the other day…cannot wait to use it!
  5. Romo- This is a robot that helps teaches the basics of programming. I adore this little robot. It is adorable and fairly affordable if you already have an iPhone/iPod that you are willing to let kids use.
  6. Bootstrap- This is an awesome resource for middle and high school students.  It teaches students algebraic and geometric concepts through computer programming.  Different from other resources, this one begins with the math in mind and shows students practical application of what they are learning in algebra/geometry as you go.  Very cool!
  7. Scratch- from MIT, this is a great place to start…a long time winner for sure!
  8. Stencyl- is game creation software with a visual interface that lets students publish their creations for any platform.
  9. Game Salad- similar to Stencyl, this free download lets students create games visually and publish their creation on multiple platforms.
  10. Hackety Hack!- with this download kids can learn the basics of Ruby on Rails programming language.
  11. Code Monster- great beginner interface for kids to learn the basics of programming through a step-by-step online guide.
  12. Hopscotch- Coding for kids in a visual programming language. Hopscotch is an app for the iPad and FREE!
  13. Move the Turtle- Another app for the iPad that teaches programming visually. This one is $2.99
  14. Treehouse- Free app for the iPad that teaches programming and design from 1000 videos, practice modules, etc.
  15. Cato’s Hike Lite- This is a programming and logic odyessy for kids. This is a great place for kids to learn the basics. The lite version linked here is free, the full version is $4.99
  16. CProgramming- an iPad guide to programming in C. This app features a conversational style with visual explanations and is probably best for older student. The hosts sing badly, tell cheesy jokes, and include ridiculous pop culture references.  All of this adds up to a fun way to learn. $5.99
  17. Codea- an iPad app that fills in the gaps of your lack of programming knowledge with visual interface. $9.99
  18. KineScript Lite- visual programming for kids to learn to code and share it with others. A great starting point! Free!  Full version is $1.99
  19. Dynamic Art Lite- Another iPad based graphical programming option for kids. This one lets students create amazing animation and artwork with a drag/drop set of blocks. Free! Full version is $2.99
  20. Kodable is a free iPad game that offers a kid-friendly introduction to programming concepts and problem solving. (The pro version is on SUPER SALE for the Hour of Code week- 90% off!)
  21. Java Tutorial: Learn Java quickly with this iPad app from Udemy for older students. Free
  22. Light-bot Hour of Code- A free iPad app that introduces kids that have absolutely NO experience programming but can immediately use programming logic in this fun game.
  23. Daisy Dinosaur- a fantastic and free basics of programming app that features an adorable dinosaur named Daisy. The visual interface is great and teaches students the basics of objects, sequencing, loops, and events by solving the app’s challenges. (This is a favorite!)
  24. Bot Bat- a free iPad app that lets students design their own robot tank to do battle, they use visual programming to tell the bot what to do.
  25. Codi Animation- an iPad app where students can create animation for their own iOS app. $.99
  26. Chip Bots- a free iPad app that lets students design and program their own robot using chip-based programming environments.
  27. Circuit Coder- an iPad game and simulator for building digital circuits $1.99
  28. Lego Mindstorms Fix the Factory- I don’t know about you, but our youngest students are LEGO crazy. They would be all over this free iPad app that teaches the basics of programming language.
  29. TouchLogo is an ipad game that introduces programming to young children (even preschoolers could use this one!) $2.
  30. Last but certainly not least, Code.org. A fantastic site for all things code and lots of goodies just for educators!

 

iLearn Technology- Romotive robot

Tips: There are lots of videos and printouts for the Hour of Code that you can use to inspire some excitement about this fun day! You will even find links for letters to send home, to your administration, even the government!

What are you doing for your Hour of Code?  What fun things do you have planned?

How to create an online Advent calendar

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Art, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Fun & Games, History, Inquiry, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 01-12-2013

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I love this time of year, it comes with such wonderful anticipation of things to come. A time to be mindful.

 How to make a digital advent calendar- iLearn Technology

You can build some of that anticipation into your classroom with a digital advent calendar that reveals something each day in preparation for the holiday season. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, “coming.” In Christian traditions, this refers to God’s coming into our midst. Anastasis is a faith-based school, so the advent calendar I created for our students and families is to be in celebration of this coming.  Your classroom advent calendar doesn’t have to be faith-based.

Your advent calendar could be in anticipation of the coming new year, the coming break from school, or just a fun way to surprise your students with something they get to reveal each day.  It would even be fun to reveal some sort of “Mission Impossible” task each day for your students. Be creative! This could be related to something they are learning/working on in your classroom, a kindness challenge, a video of the day, a writing prompt for the day, brain teaser, a book/poem/website for the day, a peek into your classroom for families, inquiry question of the day, song/podcast, 25 days of science experiments, etc.  Even as adults we enjoy moments of anticipation, why not capitalize on that in your classroom?

I used Weebly to create our digital advent calendar.  You can follow our calendar here. Weebly is an easy to use, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website builder. It makes it simple to quickly put together a site that you can easily edit in preparation for the next day of revealed surprise.  Weebly also lets you include a nice variety of content so that it is flexible enough to meet your needs. I started December first with some text and an image.  My plan is to take a video each day of our students sharing a verse, quote, thought, blessing, song, etc. and embed the video using the YouTube option.  The only thing for me to do each day will be to take the video and upload it to our Anastasis YouTube channel and then copy the url into the Weebly image for the day. SO easy to keep up with each day!

How to build your own Weebly Advent Calendar:

  • Sign up for a free Weebly account
  • Choose a template to start with for your calendar. Any of the templates will work, choose the look you like best!
  • Start by dragging some text onto your page. This is a great place for a few sentences about your calendar and what students/families can expect to find each day.
  • Under the “Structure” section, select and drag over the “Columns” onto your page. I chose 5 columns.  Repeat so that you have multiple rows of 5 columns.  I have a total of 5 for 5 rows and 5 columns.
  • Into each row and column, drag over the “Image” option so that you have 25 image place holders.
  • I used Apple’s Pages software to create my daily images with the dates listed on them. I used some digital paper, layered a solid box of color, and two text boxes. I took a screenshot of each date (I just created one image and then changed the text for each screenshot).
  • Back in Weebly, click on the image placeholder to upload the images created (alternately, you can just use the search option to find images to use). Repeat for each image.
  • Create a new page (under the Pages tab a the top of the Weebly screen).  Be sure to check the box so that the page is hidden from navigation.  This is going to be your “come back on the appropriate day” page. Click “Save and Edit.”
  • On your new page, add some text and an image.  Type a greeting message from those who are trying to sneak a peek early.
  • Navigate back to your home page. Click on each image, an edit box for the image will come up.  Select “Link” and choose “Standard Page” and then the page you just created.  Save.
  • Create other pages for your site if you would like to, I created an “About” page for those who are curious about Anastasis.  It might be fun to include a “contact” page where students can submit ideas for the calendar (maybe original writing or other work?)
  • Publish your site.
  • Each day go back and click on the image for the appropriate day. From the edit box, go back to “Link” and change where the image links to.  It can link to another page that you create on the Weebly site, a website or video, a file, or an email address (what if your students got a new email address each day to email an encouraging note to?).  Alternatively, you can delete the image for that day all together and embed a video, html, flash, etc.
  • Don’t forget to re-publish after you’ve added/edited the site!

There is something truly wonderful about revealing a surprise each day. Don’t leave the families of your students out, it would be great to give families a glimpse of your classroom so that they can see what there kids are up to each day. This can be photos, original student writing, video, or fun activities to be completed as a family in lieu of homework.

Students can also be in charge of creating their own advent calendar. The possibilities for this are endless!

 

What great ideas do you have for using an advent calendar in your classroom? Share them below!

Addison Tales: Ignite Your Student’s Imagination

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Evaluate, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 17-10-2013

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Addison Tales: Activate your student's imagination in descriptive writing

What it is: Addison Tales is an interesting interactive site that asks your students to contribute content.  This ongoing competition challenges students to invent an imaginative story character for Addison’s Tales.  When students visit the site, they will be introduced to Mr. Cornelius Addison.  If students click on the sparkly stars, they can visit the story’s characters.  When students click on Mr. Cornelius Addison, they will be taken to a story called “The Dream”.  The story is about Mack’s wild and imaginative store where he sells characters.  The story urges students to add characters to the store and then to “trap” their characters inside finished stories so that they don’t just remain figments of the imagination.  When students create their own characters, they make them “real” like the solid characters in the cottage that can be discovered inside the apps that are available from Addison tales in the app store.  The challenge is for students to write and draw interesting characters.

How to integrate Addison Tales into your classroom:  I think the way that Addison Tales combines technology, writing, drawing, story and imagination is brilliant!  Read “The Dream” with your students using classroom computers, an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  For those of you with iPads in the classroom, “The Dream” is also available as a free app.  After reading the story, talk about the types of characters described in “The Dream.”  This is a great way to get your students thinking about description and imagery!  Ask students to write down the adjectives and descriptive words that they remember from the story.  Students can choose a character from the story to draw.  For a fun class activity, invite students to all draw the same character and see what similarities and differences exist between student drawings.  (This can lead to some fun discussion about artistic license!) 

After students try their hand at describing characters from the story, they can work on creating their own character.  Students should think carefully about word choice and imagery.  Through December (2013) Addison Tales is running a competition where students can submit their characters.  Each week, Mr. Addison will frame a select number of characters on his wall with the artist’s nickname, country and character name for everyone to see.  At the end of the month, one of the most curious of the characters submitted will be turned into a plush toy and sent to the lucky artist.  Pretty great reward!

Tips: The contest portion runs every month through the end of December.  Even without the contest, the site offers a great way to introduce your kids to descriptive writing and imagery!

What do you think of Addison Tales?  How do you plan to use it in your classroom?

Snap! Digital Reading Program: 128 leveled readers

Posted by admin | Posted in Download, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 08-08-2013

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Snap! Digital Reader Library iLearn Technology

What it is: Snap! Digital Reading Program is a set of interactive leveled books that can be printed, viewed on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, interactive whiteboards or classroom computer.  All of the books in the program have been developed to help teachers meet requirements in the Common Core Standards in vocabulary and comprehension through the use of direct instruction, close reading, modeling, guided and independent practice, and text-dependent questioning.  Each leveled reader has a digital interactive version that includes fluency exercises, comprehension and multiple-choice type assessments.  As your students read, you can track what they are reading, view the digital assessments and performance reports.  These reports include information about CLOZE scores, multiple choice scores, and fluency.  You can also see information about the  last book they read (word counts, difficulty, words read correctly, etc.).  Snap! Digital Reading Program also includes lesson plans associated with each book.  While the program isn’t a free one, a year-long subscription to all materials (interactive ebooks for student, printable PDF versions of the books/lessons/other materials, and the data analytics for all of your students is just $89.  Pretty reasonable for access for every student in your class!

How to use the Snap! Digital Reading Program in your classroom: I’ve mentioned this before, but it is worth repeating: when you have a limited classroom library (due to space, as a new teacher, budget, etc.) ebooks are such a great way to instantly expand that library exponentially!  Snap! helps you do that and more.  Not only are you able to offer your students additional access to reading material, they have the added benefit of getting interactive books that give you data so that you can better guide students in choosing books that will help them fall in love with reading.  The readers can also be used for reading interventions, guided reading, shared reading and tutoring.  The leveled readers are for students in grades k-8, so even if you have a super advanced second grade student, you can continually challenge them.

Snap! Digital Reader Library iLearn Technology

The flexibility of this program is fantastic!  I’ve long been a fan of Learning A-Z for their printable books, but they are limited to a printout.  With Snap! you have the option of printing out books, but students can also access them from home device, on the iPad, Kindle Fire, Android, interactive whiteboard, or classroom computers.  The eBook version of the reader includes audio, photo slideshows, glossary terms, videos, fun facts, interactive maps and animations.  The PDF version includes lesson plans, alphabet book, word books, assessment materials and individual student record books.  Regardless of how much technology you have available in your classroom, the Snap! program works.

In a one to one setting you get the best of all worlds.  Every student in your class instantly has access to 128 quality interactive books and activities.  Did I mention $89?! That is a great deal!  You also have the ability for offline pdf books that can be sent home for extra practice.  When I taught second grade, my students loved having a print copy of the ebooks that they read in class.  It was always a treat to have those printed to color and share at home.

In a one or two device classroom, you can set up a reading center for students to cycle through.  Students can visit the center once or twice a week to read.

Model reading strategies for the whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Students can practice reading along and be introduced to new vocabulary.

Tips: The iPad version is not called “Snap!” Digital Reader.  The app you will download to access the interactive ebook library is Mobl21 HD.

Snap! Digital Reader Library iLearn TechnologyPrice of app: Free* ($89 yearly subscription required!)

Device: iPad with iOS 5.0 or later, Kindle Fire, Android, computer

Oxford Owl Maths: math ebooks, activities

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Math, Primary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 24-07-2013

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iLearn Technology Oxford Owl Math ebooksWhat it is: Oxford Owl is the awesome site I wrote about yesterday.  They have a fantastic collection of free ebooks and accompanying activities for kids.  The site is making an appearance in today’s post because they ALSO have Oxford Owl Math for ages 3-7.  There isn’t quite the breadth of resources here that you will find on the main Oxford Owl site, but they do have some great suggestions for math activities, both online and offline, and there are some online math e-books.  The 3-5 section currently has the most e-books, online math games, activity sheets that can be printed out, and offline games to play.

How to integrate Oxford Owl Maths into the classroom:  Oxford Owl Maths has some wonderful math themed interactive ebooks that include practice with position words, counting, shapes, time, and adding/subtracting.  The ebooks make for a great introduction or review in the kindergarten and first grade classrooms.  The telling time ebook and activities are even appropriate for second grade students.  In the kids treasure box, students can collect online trophies for the games and puzzles they complete, find recipes to make in the kitchen, and download offline activities.

Oxford Owl would be a nice center activity that even the youngest students could explore independently or with a partner.  It could also be used for whole class stories with an interactive whiteboard or projector.

This is a good site to introduce parents to for at home reading, play and math practice.  If you have a classroom website, Oxford Owl is a great one to link to!

Tips: If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Oxford Owl Literacy site.

Tell us how you are using (or plan to use) Oxford Owl Maths in your classroom!

Oxford Owl: free ebooks (with audio!)

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 23-07-2013

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Oxford Owl free ebooks: iLearn Technology

What it is: Oxford Owl is an incredible collection of free children’s ebooks for kids ages 3-11.  Each ebook has accompanying audio so that students can choose to read along, or read independently.  The books also have activities that focus on reading comprehension and story recall.  There are several options for filtering the ebooks so that students can find just the right story including by age, by book type, and by series.  In addition to the ebooks on the site, you can find fun activities and recommendations for each age group, games to print and play, and online games with characters from the books and site.

How to integrate Oxford Owl into your classroom:  I am a big fan of books.  Huge even.  It doesn’t matter where they reside, books make me happy.  It makes sense then, that Oxford Owl would be a squeal worthy site for me.  Free ebooks with audio you guys!  This site reminds me a little bit of Lookybook...I’m still lamenting its demise.

Oxford Owl is a great way to instantly expand your classroom library.  Books are leveled by age and include both fiction and non-fiction.  You will find biographies, dictionaries, fiction, myths and legends, non-fiction, phonics, picture books, poetry and books for struggling readers.   The stories that I went through were truly fun to read!  Use the books on Oxford Owl during reading time on classroom computers.  Students can choose a book to go through as a read along (SO very helpful when there are students who really need to read with a buddy, but the buddy situation is limited).   If you only have one or two computers in your classroom, get a headphone splitter and let students read together in small groups.  The related activities are a great way for students to self-monitor comprehension.  Students can also read these stories independently.  When I taught 2nd grade, I had a voracious reader who quickly read through all of the classroom books and was ready for more.  He was only allowed to check out from the library once a week (and usually those books went home) so I would have him use Lookybook.  Oxford Owl would open a whole other world of books for them to read!

We all have days where a few extra minutes to deal with a problem, set up for the next activity, etc.  Oxford Owl could be connected to your interactive whiteboard or projector for students to listen to a story while you get things sorted.  The whole class can enjoy the story together.  My students loved books on the IWB because they could all see the pictures and read along.  Oxford Owl is also ideal for that time of year when the germs settle in and the voice has gone on strike.

One of my favorite things to do in the classroom was reading with small groups of students.  It gave me the opportunity to give them the individual attention that they really deserved and let me get to know them as readers better.  But…what to do with the rest of the class?  I assigned tub work that students could complete independently.  The tubs were centers related to what we were learning during the week.  Each tub contained all the necessary materials that students would need.  This was independent learning they could work on while I was with the small groups.  Oxford Owl would make a great addition to the “tub” work.  Students could visit the computer center and choose some books to read and play the associated games.

Tips:  Now for the unfortunate news: Oxford Owl is flash-based.  BOO! Not ideal at all for a classroom full of iPads like we have at Anastasis.  Luckily, there is a solution.  There are several Flash Browsers that you can download for the iPad to view flash content.  My favorite is Rover (because it is filtered and created for kids!).  If your network is well filtered, I would also recommend iSwifter and Photon.

P.S. We Give Books is another outstanding place to find free ebooks!

P.S.S. Hat Tip to The Techie Classroom- an outstanding blog to add to your reader if it isn’t already there!

Here is Today: a web app to put time in perspective

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Evaluate, History, Inquiry, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 10-07-2013

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Here is today iLearn Technology

Here is today iLearn Technology

Here is today iLearn Technology

What it is:  Here is today is an interesting little web app that helps students visualize time in a new way.  Students start out by seeing a square and a title that says “here is today” with the current date.  When students click “okay” at the bottom, they are taken to a visual of the next step in.  Students can see where the day is falling within the month, the year, the century, the millennium, the epoch, the period, the era, the eon, the earth, life, oxidation, fish, insects, reptiles, mammals, birds, humans, and the universe.  Each stage of the graphic has an arrow pointing out how today (whatever day that happens to be) compares in the grander scheme of things.  Pretty cool!

How to integrate Here is Today into the classroom:  Here is Today is an outstanding way to help students understand where they are in place in time.  They can see where they are and then compare it to the larger history of the world and universe.  Obviously, this is a natural fit into a history or biology class.  Here is Today would also make a great object lesson in math and be great for studying comparison and scale.  It would also make for a great philosophical discussion as we realize just how minute the moment we are living in really is.

Here is Today is a great site for students to explore and inquire about independently.  What questions arise as they explore the site?  After students have investigated and come up with their own lines of inquiry, gather back as a classroom community and discuss those lines of inquiry and the thinking that led to them.  If you happen to follow the IB Primary Years Program, this fits in great to “Where are we in place and time” inquiry.

Here is Today would also be a useful visual on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer where a class can observe and explore together during discussion.  The way that the site compares time is seriously smart.

Here is Today could launch an interesting creative writing assignment.  Invite each student to explore the site and to choose a view.  The story should be written based on the point of view and time that they chose.  This could be a new way to explore setting, time and theme.

Tips:  Here is Today reminds me a little bit of the Scale of Life site that I wrote about here.  Using these sites together could be pretty epic.  Talk about a great sense of our place in the universe!

Are you using Here is Today in your classroom?  Share your experience in the comments below!

NBC Learn: Science behind the news

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 08-05-2013

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What it is:
NBC Learn has some fantastic free resources for teachers and students.  One of these freebies is called Science Behind the News.  In partnership with the National Science Foundation, NBC explores the science, technology and engineering found in current events.  Here, you will find a collection of videos that introduce students to the science found in the world around them and current events.  Students can learn about everything from quantum computing, to predictive policing, to crowdsourcing and weather phenomenon.  Each video is around 5 minutes long and are well produced.

How to integrate NBC Learn into the classroom:  I am a HUGE fan of embedded learning.  Learning that is in context just makes sense.  The learning is richer because students are able to make real connections to the foundational understandings that they already have.  In addition, this type of learning gives them an idea of how the learning that happens in the classroom is connected to life.  With Science Behind the News, students are able to see connections to the world right now.  These clips encourage students to be curious about the world around them, and to dig into the bigger “why” of how things work.  I like the thinking that is encouraged here.  It is really modelling curiosity beyond just passively listening to a news story.

These clips are a wonderful way to kick off a new science unit, as a resource during inquiry, or for students and classes just to explore.  Students can use these clips as a starting point for further research, a “spark” for more learning.  Each student could choose a different video to watch and then conduct some research to learn more.  Where else is the science used?  How has our thinking about a topic changed over time as we have learned more about it?  What math is involved?  Help your students to see that subjects don’t happen in isolation in real life.  Science is connected with social studies, math, literacy, history, sports, art, economics, discovery, etc.  Can they find the overlaps in learning?

Tips:  NBC Learn has other outstanding resources including: science in golf, science in hockey, science in football, chemistry now, fishing the dream, sinking the titanic, science of the winter Olympics, science of the summer Olympics, writers speak to kids and science in innovation.  Check them all out!

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  NBC Learn in your classroom.