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Math Class Needs a Makeover: videos, inquiry, math stories and more

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Blogs, Create, Download, Evaluate, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Math, professional development, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 18-06-2013

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What it is:  I’ve had the great fortune of time to go through my Google Reader favorites this week as I prepare for the shutdown (still bitter about that!).  The unexpected benefit I’ve had from Google Reader’s demise? The forced opportunity to go back through and be reminded of some of the truly amazing people and resources in education.  Dan Meyer is one of my all time favorite math geniuses.  He reminds us that math is more than computation, it is a frame of mind and an outlook on the world.  If your math program isn’t that…it is time to change!  As I went back through the resources of Dan’s that I had tagged, I re-watched his TEDx Talk: Math Class Needs a Makeover.  If you haven’t seen this TED Talk, or haven’t watched it in a while…now is the time.  I’ve embedded the talk above for your viewing pleasure…you don’t even have to go anywhere!  If you have watched it recently, be a friend and share it with someone else.

Dan also has some other really useful mathspiration.  His blog, dy/dan, is a source of math prompts and discussions that will have you thinking beyond computation. 101Questions is a project that encourages students to think about math through photo prompts and inquiry.  Graphing Stories is STINKING fantastic, Dan offers a printout for your students, they can then watch any video and graph the story.  AWESOME describes this resource. Three Act Math is a curricula that Dan developed, click on the links within the doc to get to the resources.  Again…AWESOME. Geometry curricula offers you Dan’s handouts, pdfs, powerpoint and keynote presentations.  Algebra curricula offers the same.

THANK YOU Dan for sharing your passion for mathematics, your inspiration for those of us who aren’t as naturally inclined to geek out about math, and for your openness of resources.

How to integrate Dan Meyer’s awesomeness into the classroom:  Dan makes it really easy for you to integrate his methods into your classroom.  Everything you need from inspiration, to mathematical story sets, to curricula materials is available.  If you teach math, the obvious place to start is with the type of math that you teach.  Dan’s resources are mostly intended for high school students use.  However, as I looked through his resources again, I think they could be appropriate for students in elementary school as well.

101Questions is a great way to have your kids enter an inquiry mindset as they approach math.  These are photos that ask your students what the first thing that comes to mind is.  Students can type in their answer and get a new prompt.  These would be a great way to start your class using a projector or interactive whiteboard.  Have your class inquire and come up with questions together.  Students can also do this as an independent activity and then share their questions with other students.

Graphing Stories speaks for itself.  Again, it is geared toward secondary students, but I think that given enough support, primary students would really enjoy engaging math this way too.  (Sometimes we don’t give students enough credit for where an interest can take their thinking.  Case in point: Anastasis 2nd and 3rd graders who know Fibonacci inside and out. Normally you wouldn’t see the concept until high school or later.)

The Three Act Math is also a favorite of mine.  Use Dan’s three acts, or use his as inspiration for creating your own!

Dan’s resources hit on every level of Bloom’s Taxonomy…that alone is good reason to stop reading this and go on your own exploration!

Tips: Dan is great to follow on Twitter...a constant stream of 140 character mathspiration!

How are you using Dan Meyer’s Awesome in your classroom?  Leave a comment below!

8 alternatives to Google Reader

Posted by admin | Posted in Blogs, For Teachers, professional development, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0 | Posted on 12-06-2013

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8 alternatives to Google Reader

I’ve been in mourning over Google’s decision to shut down Reader.  MOURNING.  Honestly, I love having a centralized location for all of my favorite blogs.  It is like my own customized newspaper delivered each morning.  I’ve been using Google Reader since about 2007, and in that time I’ve amassed an enormous collection of favorites.  Whenever I find something I want to remember or be able to go back and read, I Tweet it out and then immediately favorite it.  I can’t tell you how often I go to my Reader when I’m remembering something great that I favorited that I want to revisit or share.  Daily.

Google Reader is closing the door on July 1st.  I’ve been trying to pretend that this day isn’t coming.  Denial won’t stop it.  Today I decided to settle in and start going through my favorites to save them to my Pinterest boards.  I’ve found some great alternatives for Google Reader, but I have yet to find one that transfers both current RSS feeds and favorites.  I talked to Feedly on Twitter and they said that they are working on it.  I haven’t seen this feature added yet.  Not willing to lose all of those favorites, I’m going through the painstaking process of saving them elsewhere.  On the upside: I’m being reminded of the brilliance I’m surrounded by online.

If you are looking for a replacement RSS feed reader (say for your favorite blog…*ahem*) here are some great alternatives.

1. The Old Reader is in beta, it was built to be a replacement for Google Reader.  It looks a whole lot like the Google Reader you know and love.  For those super geeks (own it!) you can even use the same keyboard shortcuts.  This option is free but is currently browser-based only…no mobile apps yet.  Alas, that is where I do the majority of my reading.

2. Feedly is a good RSS reader alternative.  In addition to collecting your RSS feeds for you, it has a news suggestion algorithm that will suggest other articles that you will probably find interesting.  Great unless you have a reader like I do…then it becomes an endless rabbit hole that is hard to walk away from.  Feedly also has a great social aspect that makes it easy to share with friends and post to social networks.  With Feedly you can choose what type of layout you prefer. You can easily transfer all of your current subscriptions from Google Reader to Feedly.  Feedly comes as browser extension and mobile app.

3.  News Blur is similar to Google Reader, you can share articles, save for future reading, star them or start your own daily “burblog” of news stories that you want to share with others.  It comes in mobile app format.  Now the bad news: free accounts are capped at 64 blogs and 10 stories at a time (this would never do for me). Premium users pay $24 a year to subscribe to as many sites as they want.  The worse news: currently they aren’t allowing free users to sign up.  Dang. It.

4. Pulse lets you keep up on the blogs that you subscribe to, but it primarily recommends stories it thinks you will enjoy.  Pulse looks a little more like Feedly and will also let you import your Google Reader feed (mobile version only).  Articles can be saved, shared, browsed, sorted by category.

5. NetVibes is a RSS reader and a social aggregation service.  Basic accounts are free which will do what you need to follow your feeds.  You can add widgets like weather, Twitter, and top news stories to your NetVibe dashboard.  The bad news: there aren’t any mobile apps.

6. Feed Demon is not only an RSS reader, it also lets you set up keywords to be alerted about.  If a keyword appears in a feed (whether you subscribe to it or not) it will apear in your feed.  It also lets you subscribe to podcasts, it automatically stores them in a directory and makes it easy to save them to a mobile device.

7. Flipboard recommends feeds but also lets you subscribe to RSS feeds.  The layout is beautiful and looks like a magazine.  You can also add your social networks including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  It brings your online life together in one place.  Favorites can be saved. Flipboard is available for the iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire and Nook.

8. Feedbin makes it easy to subscribe to new feeds by domain or by feed url. You can import your current feeds using the OPML import feature.  You can organize all of your feeds by Tags. Just like Google Reader, Feedbin has great keyboard shortcuts that will help you get through your news efficiently.  Feedbin is not free, it currently costs $2/month.  The biggest benefit (and the reason this will most likely be my choice) you can connect Feedbin to the Reeder app!!  I currently use the Reeder app to read my Google Reader feeds.  I absolutely LOVE Reeder, It is such a beautiful way to read, save, share, etc. all of my RSS feeds.  Reeder is still working out a solution for July 1st.  In the mean time, it is available for free in the iTunes app store and you can connect it to Feedbin.  Reeder is working out the ability to connect it to other readers as well.

RSS feeds are a great way to bring professional development to your fingertips ever day.  Don’t let the demise of Google Reader stop you from learning!

CompassLearning Learning Profiler: Getting to know your students

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Blogs, Classroom Management, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 09-04-2013

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What it is: At Anastasis Academy, we individualize curriculum for every student.  We don’t purchase any boxed, one-size-fits-all curriculum.  Instead, we create a learner profile for each student.  I pulled together a variety of learning style inventories, multiple intelligence strength finders, and brain dominance predictors and mashed them up into a child-friendly teacher/student survey.  Our teachers spend two days before the first day of school going through these inventories with students.  I compile the information (along with their interests and passions) and put it all in an at-a-glance document.  I’m just revamping the document a little bit to look more like a big baseball card with learning stats.  We use these learner profiles all year long as a starting point for pulling curriculum, lessons and resources that will best meet the individual child’s needs.  (Learning Genome 1.0)

Educators often ask if we can share this process, unfortunately right now it isn’t pretty or sharable in any meaningful way.  When the Learning Genome is completed and launched, we will be able to share this process with the world.

Today, I ran across a tool that can help bridge the gap for teachers who are seeking a way to better customize the classroom experience for their students.  CompassLearning has created a Learning Profiler that is free to use and the results are easy to share.  While it doesn’t include all of the components of an Anastasis learner profile, it is a great starting point!  Students (who are independent readers) can go through the online survey and learn more about their learning style, interest areas and expression style.  This information would be SO helpful as a starting place for getting to know the students in your classroom better.  It would go a long way in helping you pull resources and tools that will best meet the needs of the individual. When a student is finished going through the profiler, they can share their result “badges” with others through a link to the badges, through Facebook, Twitter, email or a printed report.

How to integrate CompassLearning Learning Profiler into the classroom: At the beginning of a new school year (or semester), students who are independent readers could complete the Learning Profiler on classroom computers in a center rotation, or in a computer lab setting.  Results could be printed out or shared with the teacher via email.  I’ve found it helpful to compile these results so that I can see overlapping interests and learning needs in the classroom.  It would also be interesting to create a bulletin board with the different “badges” represented and with a picture of each student.  Students can connect their pictures to the badges using string and push-pins or staples.  It would be neat to have a web of information about your students visual for all students to see.  This would be a good getting-to-know-you activity where students could visually see their similarities displayed. 

For non-independent readers, the process would be a little more arduous.  During a silent reading or independent work time, pull students one at a time to sit and interview them.  I actually prefer the arduous method because you get all of the in-between commentary from the students which gives you a more complete picture of who they are, what they love, fear, get excited about, etc.  Even with our independent readers at Anastasis, we create our learner profiles through teacher interview.  There is something more personal and human about it.  Using this method may take a few weeks to get through all of your students, the information you glean will be invaluable!  If you teach younger students but have an older grade of “buddies,” it may be helpful to have the buddy help conduct the surveys and record the answers of the younger child.  Again, this would be a great way for the students to really get to know each other.

After you have received the results, use the information to help you plan learning activities.  If you have a student struggling in an area of learning, use the strengths and interests you know they have to come at the learning from a different angle.  Education blogs, your PLN, and Pinterest are great places to find the perfect learning opportunity to help the students in your class.  I promise you that when you connect with students this way, you will be showing them that they matter, that you care about them as an individual and that you want what is best for them.  They won’t feel like a number!  If you are looking for a specific technology resource, iLearn Technology is a great place to start the search.  Over there —> in my right side bar you will find a multi category search.  Narrow down the search by Bloom’s Taxonomy, resource type, subject area, etc.  Click search and away you go!  You can also search by keyword in the search box toward the top of the screen.  I try to tag the bejeebers out of all of my posts so that no matter how specific the search, you will find what you are looking for.  Full disclosure, I use that search box ALL the time when I am pulling resources for students at Anastasis.

Tips: Want to see what the future of personalized learning will look like?  Check out the Learning Genome Project.

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  CompassLearning Learning Profiler in your classroom.

Screenr: Instant Web-based Screencasts

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Apply, Blogs, Classroom Management, Create, Download, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, web tools, Websites | Posted on 01-04-2013

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What it is: Have you tried to type the following into Google: “school makes me”?  If you haven’t, it is a sobering reminder of the state of education as perceived by students and society.  I started Anastasis Academy to change this reality for students.  My hope is that one day soon, the automatic suggestions that Google pulls are overwhelmingly positive.  Last week, I asked students at Anastasis Academy to finish the statement “school makes me…”  I didn’t prompt them or give them any additional details about how I would be using it.  The answers that we got are in the video above.  Pretty cool to see how even one year of freedom in learning leads to different perspectives.  I can assure you, these are not the words most students would have used about school prior to coming to Anastasis Academy.  In fact, in full disclosure, we have 2 students that are new to Anastasis.  They started only a few months ago.  They finished the statement with “bored” and “tired.”  *sigh* This was a sad moment for me.  I want more for these boys.  Later in the day they both happened to be hanging with me in the office for a few minutes.  One of the boys asked me why I had asked the question.  I showed them what happens when you type the words into Google.  “Oh, that is really depressing. So why did you ask us?”  I told them that I cared about what they thought because if there was something we could do differently as a school, we would do it.  Both boys asked if they could change their answers, “we were thinking school in general…this place isn’t really like that.”  There were no GRAND statements of how much they loved it and we are changing their world…give it time!

To create the video above, I needed to screen capture my Google experience.  I’ve long been a fan of Screenium but for some reason, it has decided to throw in the towel and is not interested in recording anything but audio.  Frustrating.  So, I set out to see if I could find an online screencast recorder that I could use.  Jackpot!  I found Screenr and it is my new go-to for screencasting.

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Screener is a web-based screen recorder that makes it really easy to create and share screencasts.  There is nothing to install or download (always a plus!), you can record on a Mac or PC, the video plays on all devices, and it is totally FREE!  Just click the record button, capture your screen and voice (if you want) and then share the link or download the video to use in other programs.  I downloaded my finished screencast so that I could make a little video in Keynote with our words.

How to integrate Screenr into the classroom:  Screenr is a fantastically simple tool that allows teachers to create detailed screencast instructions in minutes.  This free-to-use application can capture video of anything that is on your computer screen.  Audio can be included (or not) for any screencast.  The resulting video can be embedded on a webpage or blog, sent to students via email, or downloaded.  Screencasting is a great way to teach students how to use e-Learning tools or how to complete any computer assignment.  When I taught in the technology lab, there was never enough of me to go around.  Screencasting made SUCH a difference in how I spent my time with students!  Students could self direct learning, or remind themselves of that one step they forgot.  Instead of waiting for me to be available, students could keep working and my time was spent working to help students make connections in learning instead of just on answering process questions.

Screenr would be useful for students who want to share something new they learned.  Have a student who is JAZZED about coding?  Let them show off that passion by creating tutorial videos for other students.  Anything that is computer based and could use some explanation is perfect for Screenr.  Because you can embed videos, you can share them on a class blog or website.  If you tag your videos and posts, it will be easy for students to quickly search and find what they need as they work.

Screenr can be used for more than just tutorials.  Remember this video?  This is such a cool, creative use of a screencast.  Students could similarly show off their learning through screencasts of various programs on their computer.  Just takes a little inspiration and creative thinking!

Tips: There is a pro version of Screenr, I’ve found the free version to meet all of my needs for school/classroom use.

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

E is for Explore: discovery, science, math, art, literacy, social studies and more!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Blogs, Create, Evaluate, Fun & Games, Inquiry, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 07-01-2013

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E is for Explore!

 

Happy New Year!!  I have to say, I wasn’t heart broken to see 2012 go and welcome a year of new beginnings.  2012 felt…hard. And uninspired.  I think that is what happens when you see a dream realized and then comes the part where you are in the middle of it, making it work and doing the HARD work.  2012 wasn’t a year I felt particularly creative. I miss that, it is part of my essence.  I’ve been so incredibly busy, just working to keep everything going, that I had nothing left over.  I’m hoping that 2013 is a different story. Step 1: the first post of 2013.  Here is to creativity and passion!

What it is: I discovered a new blog that I am absolutely loving!  It is hard to beat a place where exploration is not only welcome, but encouraged.  E is for Explore is that place.  Here you will find new learning activities and a fantastic collection of ideas from other sources.  There is a handy-dandy index that helps you find just what you need quickly and easily.  I’ve been working on collecting resources for this inquiry unit and E is for Explore has been an absolute treasure trove.  Topics include discovery/exploration, science/engineering, mathematics, art, literacy, social studies and seasons/holidays.

How to integrate E is for Explore into the classroom:  E is for Explore is a great tool for unit, center, and inquiry planning.  I am really enjoying the huge bank of hands-on activities and projects all designed to encourage exploration in learning. The wide range of activities will keep sparking curiosity in a variety of disciplines.

As I plan out inquiry units and gather resources, I am always on the lookout for activities that will encourage students to explore and spark new curiosities.  E for Explore made this process infinitely easier, bringing me an easy-to-search collection of activities, with great instructions, all in one place.  Many of the activities are manageable enough for a center activity within the classroom…great for differentiation and individualization!

I shared E is for Explore with some of our students, they had a great time looking through the science experiments and learning about how to make mini robots and floam.  This would be SO much better than a small tic-tac-toe board for students to choose an activity from.  Students can explore the entire site and choose an exploration that is of interest to them and complete it accordingly.

Tips: My hope is that iLearn Technology does for you what E if for Explore did for me.  Did you know that you can search by keyword (at the top of my website) or through a multi-category search (in the sidebar on the right)?  Choose as many variables as you want and see what you can find!  I categorize every post by keywords, Bloom’s Taxonomy level, Grade Level, Resource Type, and Subject Area.  After 7 years of free resources, I’ve amassed quite a collection of awesome, free classroom tools.  Go ahead, give it a try and see what new fun finds you come across!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  E is for Explore in your classroom.

Evernote as an ePortfolio in a 1-to-1 iPad setting

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Blogs, Classroom Management, Create, Evaluate, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 11-08-2012

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Above is the information sheet I created for using Evernote as an ePortfolio.

At Anastasis, we use a combination of Evernote, Edu 2.0, and Edublogs to keep and share our work.  Evernote has been a fantastic app for our students.  Students can record text, images, and audio directly in Evernote.  Each note can be emailed to teachers and parents.  Evernote notes can also be posted on blogs through the email-to-blog feature.  Better yet? There are SO many apps that have the ability to share with Evernote.  Very handy.  Students do quite a bit of writing directly in Evernote.  This is a good place for all of student writing (even those pieces they don’t want to, or aren’t ready to, share).  Evernote makes it easy to organize all of their notes into notebooks (the learning curve here is teaching students to use some organization).  This year we are keeping learning logs (we call them Tracks) as a table of contents for what is in Evernote. Everything is tracked by a number as part of the Evernote title so it is easy to find and search.

The ability to record audio and take pictures of their work in Evernote is great.  This means that students can capture learning that isn’t natively digital-digitally.  All of those awesome inquiry projects that they construct and build can be captured and reflected on in Evernote.  Another HUGE benefit to the Evernote/iPad combo: it goes with them everywhere.  Recording learning on a field trip? Check. Recording learning at home? Check. Recording learning on the fly? Check. Teachers often send students a PDF instructions for an assignment or a picture to the student’s Evernote account. Parents can login to their child’s Evernote account from any computer or iDevice to see what they are working on.

Edu 2.0 is our education portal.  In Edu 2.0 we can share things as a school community.  Edu 2.0 has a built in e-portfolio (we don’t often use this), a blog, a post feed, calendar, and message system.  Edu 2.0 makes it easy for us to stay connected as a school community.  Because we teach young students, this “walled” community is a safe place for students to share any, and all, of their work and thoughts with others.  Students often write blog posts in Edu 2.0 about their learning.  Other students, parents and teachers can comment on the Edu 2.0 blog posts.  Teachers use Edu 2.0 to send students assignments, make class announcements and communicate quickly with parents in their classroom.  Students can link any content from their Evernote account to their blog in Edu 2.0 to share it with other students, parents or teachers.  The school calendar is updated with all birthdays, learning excursions and school events so that students, parents and teachers are always up-to-date.  The live post feed makes it easy for teachers and administration to make school-wide announcements.  This feed shows up on the home page of every student, parent and teacher.

Each of our teachers has a class Edublog.  This is where the teachers write blog posts about the happenings in their classrooms.  Students can also contribute to the class blogs to get input and comments from a global audience.  Some of our students also have Edublog accounts where they can share their work from Evernote more publicly.  The Edublog is the place for interaction and collaboration with the world.

We have a school YouTube account where students can upload videos and stop motion animations.  The school account has become a nice central place for students to share their work with the world.  I act as administrator on the YouTube channel so that I can moderate comments and videos.  Students can easily link to, or embed, videos they have created in Evernote, on their Edu 2.0 blog or on Edublogs.

This combination of tools has worked well as an ePortfolio for student work. I love that at the end of the school year students have ALL of their work with them.  Because they own their iPads, the Evernote content goes with them.  Even without the iPad, students can access their Evernote account from anywhere and continue using it.  Parents can also easily access and view student ePortfolios using Evernote.

What do you love: Google’s multi-search search engine

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Blogs, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 23-04-2012

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What it is: What do you love is a nifty little search space from Google that I ran across today.  Apparently I’m late on this one, everyone was blogging about it a year ago!  Ah well, can’t win ‘em all.  With What do you love, students can type in a search term and instantly get results grid-style from Google images, create an alert, find patents, look at trends, email someone about the topic, explore the search in 3d with SketchUp, find books, watch videos, translate into 57 languages, organize a debate, find blog posts, maps, call someone, start a discussion group, plan an event, view it in Google Earth, create a instant bookmark to the search, or make the search mobile.  This is a super way to help students organize and view information and options for sharing from one place.

How to integrate What do you love into the classroom:  What do you love is a great tool for helping students learn about how searches work.  Students can instantly see a variety of search options and can begin comparing/contrasting results from the different streams.  Ask students to consider which types of searches lend themselves to each type of search (images, video, web, blogs, maps, etc.).  It is nice to have a one-stop shop of search results all within one page like this.  Students can quickly look at the top items from each available stream and decide from that one point which option best fits their search needs.

As a teacher, this search option is incredibly valuable for the time it saves.  Working on a new thematic unit or unit of inquiry?  Type it into the search terms and immediately find related books, videos, and other resources to help you maximize your time and effort.

I think that the trends are fascinating to look at and speculate about.  Are your students studying current events or an event in history (Titanic anyone)?  It is really interesting to see how the trend of the search topic changes over time.  Ask students to speculate and think critically about the rise and fall of certain topics.

Did you know that Google will help you organize and start a debate with moderation?  Me either.  It is a pretty neat little service that gives everyone a voice and lets students gather input from a large audience.  This could be a great way for students to get help with brainstorming, collecting public opinion or in preparation for a presentation they are giving.  This is an option I would only use at the high school level (it is for 13 and above).  I haven’t played with it long enough to receive inappropriate responses, but I’m sure they slip through.  This is also a great way for students to get more opinions or input about a topic they love.  Right now the top topic on the Moderator site is about Minecraft.  This is HUGE with our students right now, they cannot get enough!

What do you love would be a great site to bookmark on your projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard so that students can do searches about topics they are interested in as a class.  Using What do you love this way gives you the opportunity to help students wade through results and practice discernment in what is accurate and good information for the topic being searched.  I don’t know about you, but YouTube is the first place my students head when they are going to learn something new.  I think this is because the video medium is preferred over the text results where they have to wade through information to find what they are looking for.  Most students tell me they go to YouTube first because it is easy to know within a few seconds whether a video is going to give them the information that they want (forget deciding if it is a credible source).  YouTube IS a wonderful place to learn something new, I often go there myself, but it is nice for them to see other results along side the video.  As educators it is our job to teach students how to be discerning about the information they collect and how to use that information appropriately as it relates to the task they have been given.

Tips: Fair warning, this is a search engine.  You can’t always guarantee that what a student searches will come up with appropriate results.  I often remind students that if they come across anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused they should tell a trusted adult so that we can sit down and help them work through what they found and offer recommendations for a better search.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using What do you love in  your classroom!

Conduit Mobile: Turn any website/blog/wiki into an app for any mobile device!

Posted by admin | Posted in Blogs, Create, iPod, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 11-01-2012

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What it is: Want to see something really super cool?  You can create your very own app for multiple mobile platforms in, I don’t know, 7 minutes flat! Seriously.  Conduit Mobile makes it incredibly easy to create your own app out of a blog, class website, wiki, etc. and publish it to share with others.  It honestly could not be easier.  Type in the URL you want turned into an app. Click go. Customize and tweak to your hearts desire and publish.  That. Is. It.  Holy cow it is easy!  You all are going to look like super geniuses when you turn your classroom blogs/wikis/websites into mobile apps that parents and students can access easily from anywhere.  Better yet- turn your school website into a mobile app and then you will be super genius of the school.  That is an impressive title.  Once your app is published, you have the ability to send push notifications to your app users (field trip reminders anyone?).  You can also easily track the analytics of who is using your app.  You can even enable advertising to earn revenue in accordance with your apps installation and performance.  It never hurts to have a little extra mail money around for all those classroom supplies we buy!
How to integrate Conduit Mobile into the classroom: Conduit Mobile makes it easy to meet your students and families where they are-on mobile devices.  Make classroom content and news easily accessible by running your site through Conduit Mobile-it does all the hard work leaving you an app for Apple devices, Android, Windows mobile, bada and Blackberry.
Do your students have blogs or wikis that they have created?  Help them publish their hard work into an app.  I’m thinking this would be a really NEAT way for our Jr. High students to turn their blog ePortfolios into apps that they bring with them to high school interviews.  Now that would be impressive!  It is so easy to do, there is just no reason not to!
As a school, publish your school site as a mobile app where parents can get quick-at-a-glance information, review policies and get the latest news.
Tips:  To publish your app to the various app stores, you will need a developer certificate.  These differ depending on the app store you are aiming for.  Conduit mobile even makes this process easy, walking you step-by-step (with pictures) through the process.  Once you are connected to each app store, you can publish as many apps as you would like.  If you have a class full of students who would like to publish a mobile app, it may be worth creating a class developer license that everyone can use to publish.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Conduit Mobile in  your classroom!

1-to-1 iPad ePortfolio solution

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Blogs, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 11-10-2011

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Today @j_allen asked how we handled eportfolio’s at Anastasis Academy.  The 140 characters of Twitter felt a little too limiting to explain the hows and whys of what we do…bring on the blog post!

Anastasis has a one-to-one iPad program.  Our students own their iPads in a modified BYOD (bring your own device) setup.  I say modified because we requested what device they brought.  The iPad was the ONLY supply on our supply list. Anastasis supplies all other materials (pencils, papers, crayons, markers, paint, glue, etc.).  This has been a fantastic setup for us.  Families are in charge of keeping the iPads in working order, synced with the student iTunes account and charged for class.  We made the decision not to own the iPads as a school to keep costs low for technical support, replacement of broken or out-dated devices and so that our students could take ownership over their own devices.  Students can add any apps to the iPad at home using their own iTunes account.  As a school, we purchase curricular and productivity apps for students.  Students download these apps using redeem codes so that they can stay signed into their own iTunes account.

Anastasis has 60 students in 1st through 8th grade.  At the beginning of the school year, we sent home a list of recommended restrictions for parents to set up on student iPads.  We taught families how to enable parent restrictions on the Internet, movie/app/song ratings, and how to block in app purchases.  We asked all parents to restrict student access to Safari.  At school, we downloaded the MobiCip app to every iPad so that we could filter the Internet.  MobiCip allows us to set up broad category filters based on age. A premium MobiCip account lets us filter exactly what we want to and allow those sites we want to.  (For those who are wondering our students do have access to YouTube.) :)

I digress…the question was about ePortfolios.

We use a combination of Evernote, Edu 2.0 and Edublogs to keep and share our work.  Evernote has been a fantastic app for our students.  Students can record text, images, and audio directly in Evernote.  Each note can be emailed to teachers and parents.  A link can also be generated for each note making them easy to share on blogs.  Better yet? There are SO many apps that have the ability to share with Evernote.  Very handy.  Students do quite a bit of writing directly in Evernote.  This is a good place for all of student writing (even those pieces they don’t want to, or aren’t ready to, share).  Evernote makes it easy to organize all of their notes into notebooks (the learning curve here is teaching students to use some organization).  The ability to record audio and take pictures of their work in Evernote is great.  This means that students can capture learning that isn’t natively digital-digitally.  All of those awesome inquiry projects that they construct and build can be captured and reflected on in Evernote.  Another HUGE benefit to the Evernote/iPad combo: it goes with them everywhere.  Recording learning on a field trip? Check. Recording learning at home? Check. Recording learning on the fly? Check. Teachers often send students a PDF instructions for an assignment or a picture to the student’s Evernote account. Parents can login to their child’s Evernote account from any computer or iDevice to see what they are working on.

Edu 2.0 is our education portal.  In Edu 2.0 we can share things as a school community.  Edu 2.0 has a built in e-portfolio (we don’t often use this), a blog, a post feed, calendar, and message system.  Edu 2.0 makes it easy for us to stay connected as a school community.  Because we teach young students, this “walled” community is a safe place for students to share any, and all, of their work and thoughts.  Students often write blog posts in Edu 2.0 about their learning.  Other students, parents and teachers can comment on the Edu 2.0 blog posts.  Teachers use Edu 2.0 to send students assignments, make class announcements and communicate quickly with parents in their classroom.  Students can link any content from their Evernote account to their blog in Edu 2.0 to share it with other students, parents or teachers.  The school calendar is updated with all birthdays, learning excursions and school events so that students, parents and teachers are always up-to-date.  The live post feed makes it easy for teachers and administration to make school-wide announcements.  This feed shows up on the home page of every student, parent and teacher.

Each of our teachers has a class Edublog.  This is where the teachers write blog posts about the happenings in their classrooms.  Students can also contribute to the class blogs to get input and comments from a global audience.  The Edublog is the place for interaction and collaboration with the world.

We have a school YouTube account where students can upload videos and stop motion animations.  The school account has become a nice central place for students to share their work with the world.  I act as administrator on the YouTube channel so that I can moderate comments and videos.  Students can easily link to, or embed, videos they have created in Evernote, on their Edu 2.0 blog or on Edublogs.

This combination of tools has worked well as an ePortfolio for student work. I love that at the end of the school year students have ALL of their work with them.  Because they own their iPads, the Evernote content goes with them.  Even without the iPad, students can access their Evernote account from anywhere and continue using it.

Do you have a one to one program?  I would love to hear your solutions for an ePortfolio!

Writing Prompts Tumblr

Posted by admin | Posted in Blogs, Create, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 21-09-2011

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What it is:    Writing Prompts  is a Tumblr blog I learned about from @johntspencer on Twitter this morning.  It is a fabulous blog packed FULL of writing prompts to use in the classroom.  There are currently 247 prompts on the site but new prompts are added regularly (so subscribe to this one!).  The prompts are pictures coupled with a text prompt and are sure to get the creative writing juices of your students flowing.

How to integrate Writing Prompts into the classroom:  These Writing Prompts are a fantastic way to get your students thinking outside of the box and interested in writing.   Display prompts on an interactive whiteboard, projector connected computer, or at a writing center on classroom computers.  Students can spend 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted time just writing their thoughts.  Keep these in a journal so that they can go back through their writing and choose a 15 minute piece they would like to expand on.

A blog is the ideal platform for writing of this kind because students can re-blog the prompt along with their written piece.  Students can get feedback from teachers and peers in the form of comments on the blog.

The Writing Prompt Tumblr blog is the perfect addition to a classroom or student RSS reader.  New posts will be delivered as they are posted so your students will always have a fresh supply of writing inspiration.  I use Google Reader when I am at a computer, Reeder or Flipboard on the iPad.

Tips:  These prompts are best for secondary elementary, middle and high school students.  If you teach younger students, consider creating a writing prompt Tumblr of your own.  They are easy to get started with!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Writing Prompts in  your classroom!