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Typing Practice

What it is: This blogging alliance has been expanding my knowledge of great tools for the classroom faster than I can keep up with!  Recently, I found two more excellent ways for students to practice typing from @2sparkley‘s blog.  The first is reminiscent of the popular Rock Band, called UpBeat. ...

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

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

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

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

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

How to use How We Got to Now in the classroom: I love the way that Johnson explores innovation through these 6 lenses. Instead of offering up the typical “heroes” of invention, Johnson introduces students to concepts that span hundreds of years of invention and many of the unsung heroes. The six innovations include: glass, time, clean, light, sound, and cold. I’m telling you, the way that Johnson helps kids see connections in innovation and invention is brilliant! So much the way that inquiry works. :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Press Floors: draw a video game on paper, snap a picture and play it!

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, Fun & Games, Geography, Government, History, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 18-06-2014

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What it is: Pixel Press Floors is a seriously magical (currently free) app that brings a child’s imagination to life. With the Pixel Press Floors creation platform, students can literally dream up and draw their own video game without any coding. Students draw their ideas out on paper, and the Floors app turns the drawing into an actual video game that can be played. Print out the special paper so that the app can recognize the shapes “glyphs” that are drawn, or use the in app drawing tools. The drawing is instantly turned into a game that can be tested, designed, played, and even published to the “Arcade” where others can play it.

How to integrate Pixel Press Floors into learning: The first step of creation is to download the Pixel Press Floors app on the iPad. Next, go to projectpixelpress.com to download and print the free sketch guide. Students draw up the game of their dreams and then take a picture of what they drew from the Pixel Press Floors app.

The glyphs (shapes) that students draw are magically transformed into game play objects. After glyphs have been created, students can apply a design to the element, test it, and play it. Within the app, students can create games with:

  • Run and jump game play (Mario-style)
  • Create with 14 creator glyphs: terrain, moving blocks, ladders, portals, monkey bars, power-ups, coins, super coins, falling blocks, spikes, exploding blocks, start and end positions, pits and fireballs, keys.
  • Two original themes to get the creativity jump-started: “Save the Parents” and “Fiddleheads: Stones of Eden”
  • Publishing and sharing in the Arcade

Pixel Press Floors is a fantastic “maker space” element to add to your classroom. This app is perfect for prototyping ideas, design thinking (ideation and prototyping), teamwork and collaboration, and to build creativity. In designing games, students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, art and aesthetics, writing and storytelling, and creates a motivation for further STEM exploration.

There is so much to learn from digital games.  As a player, students learn to think strategically, persist through failure and experience epic wins that can translate to what they do and are willing to try out in real life. As a designer students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, digital art and aesthetics, and storytelling and writing. Students love being able to bring their creations and ideas to life in the form of a game. Video game creation could be the key to unlocking the storytelling genius in your reluctant writers. It has been my experience that a student faced with a blank paper and a writing assignment can be daunting. Introduce the idea of designing their own game and suddenly a storyline pours forth. It is pretty neat to watch!

Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary!

Students can create games that help them build skills. Instead of simply playing those drill/skill games on other websites/apps, they can create their own! This is visual notes 3.0. Instead of simply practicing math facts, students can create a customized game to help them learn and remember those facts! This type of game is perfect for creating games to practice: math facts, spelling, vocabulary, foreign languages, letter recognition, geography, history facts, etc.

Instead of passively playing games in their free time, students can create their own! The blend of the hand-drawn and technology is seamless and brilliant. Kids will have such fun creating their own games and bringing their imagination to life.

Tips: Game Star Mechanic would be an outstanding place to start, here kids can learn the thinking process behind designing their own video games.

Are you using Pixel Press Floors in your classroom? Leave a comment below and share the ways that you use it with students!

Rodan + Fields Consultant

EDpuzzle: Like Video in the Classroom 2.0

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Art, Classroom Management, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Internet Safety, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 06-02-2014

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EDpuzzle- Making video better: iLearn Technology

What it is:  EDpuzzle is a neat new educational site to help you better utilize video in your classroom for learning.  You can find and crop video to use only what you need, add audio notes within the video or do some voice over work for a video, and you can embed questions throughout the video to track student understanding. EDpuzzle collects data as students watch and interact with the video.  You can see if and when a student watched the video, and see the progress of all students through the answers to embedded questions.

How to use EDpuzzle in your classroom: What makes EDpuzzle great is the level of freedom given in cropping, sharing, and tracking video use in the classroom. EDpuzzle enhances the “flipped” classroom by allowing you to embed formative assessment directly into your videos. As students watch, you can check understanding and ensure active watching vs. passive watching. In a flipped scenario, this gives you the ability to completely tailor a lesson the next day based on the formative assessment results you get from homework. This is truly utilizing assessment to inform instruction (which is the point of assessment!).

EDpuzzle can be used in conjunction with videos that you have made for your students, or with videos that you find.  I like using video to introduce students to a brand new topic or idea.  Well-created video has the ability to quickly and succinctly help students dive into new learning and formulate new questions and lines of inquiry.  For example, when Anastasis Jr. High started our last inquiry block about “How the World Works” and explored the topic of food and farming, they started by watching the documentary Food, Inc.  This was a great way to launch their thinking and lines of questioning about where our food comes from.  Out of that video, students chose different lines of inquiry to explore and research.  EDpuzzle would be a good way for students to help others see where their line of inquiry started from.  Students could grab the clip of the documentary that intrigued them, and embed audio to show their thought process as they watched.  Sort of a Saved-by-the-Bell Zack Morris “Time out” moment where they can describe their line of thinking.

For primary teachers, EDpuzzle could be used as part of a guided reading center.  YouTube has lots of great read-along videos. (You can also create your own based on class reading!) Use these videos along with EDpuzzle to check for comprehension.  As the video plays, embed questions to check for understanding.  Students can independently go through the guided reading (or Close reading) activity, while you work one-on-one with other reading groups.  Rotate the reading groups throughout the week so that each student gets the opportunity to go through the EDpuzzle guided reading activity, and each group gets one-on-one time with you.  This is a fantastic way to maximize your time and get valuable feedback from all student learning.  EDpuzzle could also be used in this way as a science center (with a video pertaining to an experiment or new learning), a math center, etc. I love using center rotations because it ensures that I have time to work closely with each group.

For secondary students, use EDpuzzle is a great way to check for understanding.  It is also a wonderful way for students to create and demonstrate understanding.  EDpuzzle would be ideal for sub days.  I always dreaded being away from the classroom because it was essentially a lost day.  Even if the substitute did EXACTLY what I asked, I missed the opportunity to see my students work and think.  EDpuzzle would give you the ability to “teach” remotely and embed the same questions and promptings you would give if you were live in the classroom.  While you won’t get to hear all of the discussion, you will have some feedback to better understand how your students were thinking.

With documentary-type videos, EDpuzzle can be used to embed writing prompts.  Record a prompt throughout the video so that students can pause and write out their reflections and thoughts.  I find that good documentaries are often SO packed full of good things that by the end of the video, only the last 10 minutes get well-reflected on. The documentary Baraka would be an incredible video to do this with!

Have you seen Vi Hart’s YouTube channel?  I am obsessed! I love the way that she goes through math in a casual stream-of-conscious type approach.  Embed related practice math problems based on the topics that Vi is sharing in her videos.  As students get those light-bulb moments of, “oh, that is how that works!” capitalize on the new understanding by giving them a place to put it into practice and try it out.

Do you record your students learning? EDpuzzle could be a fantastic way to record audio feedback to the videos that they upload.  These can then be shared with parents and students for review.

Tips: Don’t have access to YouTube at school?  No worries! You can still use EDpuzzle with your students. EDpuzzle lets you search for video by topic, or pull video from Khan Academy, Learn Zillion, National Geographic, TED, Veritasium, and Numberphile as well.  LOTS of incredible learning just waiting to happen!

 

Degree Story Teacher Contest

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!

Eliademy: Democratizing education with technology

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Interactive book, Internet Safety, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Phonics, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, video, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 19-11-2013

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ilearn Technology: Eliademy- Democratizing education with technology

What it is: Eliademy has a wonderful mission of democratizing education with technology.  The tool makes it easy for anyone to create an online classroom, for free!  Eliademy makes it easy for educators to create, share and manage courses.  Eliademy is a free learning management system and course content created by you.  Educators can engage students through discussion boards, videos, images, news feeds, visual notifications and calendar with a fast and easy to use interface.  Eliademy is available everywhere: Mac, PC, tablet, smart phone. Very handy!  Even better, you can create a course from your tablet (not available in a lot of LMS/online classroom options).

How to integrate Eliademy into your classroom: Eliademy isn’t just for offering distance-learning.  It is a great way to connect your students in new and awesome ways in a blended-learning environment.  Keep all of your digital classroom resources in one, easy-to access place.  Make sure that your students can always be connected to what is happening in class with a shared calendar. Extend classroom discussions with discussion boards, video, and news feeds.

I’ve long been a fan of blending online experiences with offline.  Students begin to see that learning can happen anywhere, not just in your classroom.  They also connect in different ways online.  I’ve found that kids are willing to have deeper, more vulnerable conversations in an online environment.  This is especially true when the relationships are established first in the classroom.

Host your “flipped” materials using Eliademy.  Not only can students access video, they can extend the experience with access to additional classroom materials, the ability to discuss and share resources online, etc.

Challenge students to create their own course to share.  What are they passionate about?  What can they offer to teach others?

Tips: Eliademy makes the promise that it will always be secure, without advertisements, and free.  Outstanding.

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

Book Writer: create books on the iPad

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Interactive book, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 21-10-2013

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Book Writer app- iLearn TechnologyBook Writer

 

 

 

What it is:  Book Writer is a great app for the iPad (and iPhone or iPod Touch).  This app makes it a snap for kids to create books that can be read directly in iBooks.  With Book Writer, students can create their own ebooks with photos, video, audio and links.  Images and video can be annotated over in the book.  Finished books can be shared using iTunes and E-mail.  One of the best features of Book Writer is the huge number of applications that books can be shared through including: iBooks, Nook, Instashare, Bump, Evernote, Dropbox, and Send Anywhere.  This makes Book Writer wonderfully flexible no matter what apps your school uses regularly.

Book Writer- iLearn Technology

How to integrate Book Writer into the classroom: Book Writer is a great app for students to “publish” their writing in.  Students can compile research, notes, images and videos to create their own textbooks.  Why passively read through a text when students can be a part of creating their own?  This makes the learning so much more valuable and gives students the opportunity to “own” their learning.  Each student’s finished book will be just a little different.  Students can compile class notes, images of work and examples from class, and videos (either their own or other videos they’ve downloaded), reflections on learning, etc. into a book that can be shared.  This would be a fantastic way for students to share what they’ve learned at the end of a unit.  Because of the variety of content that can be included in Book Writer, it would make for a great science journal.  Students can take photos  of a scientific experiment or process, label the images, and reflect on observations, hypothesis, etc.

Students could also use Book Writer as a place to keep all of their creative writing based on visual writing prompts.  Students can include the picture prompt on one page and their writing on the facing page.  Students can add to this book throughout the year and share their “published” writings at the end of the year.

Younger students will find Book Writer easy to use.  These students could create their own word bank picture dictionary.  Ask students to create a new page for each letter.  Every time a word gets added to the class word wall, students can add it to their dictionary.  Students can also add pictures to accompany the words, or audio of themselves saying the word.

Book Writer can be used for a class yearbook and then shared with all students digitally.  The extra fun part are the videos that can be included!

Tips: Book Writer has a clean, easy to use interface.  If you are using with young students, you may want to walk them through where to find tools for the first time.

Compatibility: Requires iOS5.0 or later

Devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch

Price: $3.99 (iTunes link)

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?

Detox: the most important event of the school year

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Character Education, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, education reform, Evaluate, Fun & Games, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 13-08-2013

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Anastasis is in the midst of gearing up for the start of a new school year.  It is year number 3!  In some ways, we are still very much a start-up (I think this will always be the case in some respect, it’s part of our philosophy to keep innovating!).  We are also beginning to establish some nice traditions and events that we look forward to each year at the start of school.

Each year, we take a few days to meet with each student individually to build a Learning Profile.  Teachers sit down with each student and  go through a survey that helps them better understand a student’s interests and passions as well as gain a glimpse at multiple intelligence strengths, learning style preferences, and brain dominance.  These Learning Profile days give students a chance to meet their new teacher in a safe space, help the teacher to learn about the student, and ultimately are used to help Team Anastasis individualize instruction for each learner.  I’ve played around with different ways to gather this information: Google forms that the teacher fills in during an interview, Bento for gathering information in one place, an interactive PDF.  This year I took a different approach, I am hopeful that it will be more fun for the students.  I created a set of cards to sort of gamify the process, giving students a tangible and visual way to think through each statement as it relates to them.  Teachers will record this process and then hand the data collected off to me for future planning.  I used my new favorite find http://thenounproject.com to help me illustrate these cards.  Fun fact: I have an ACTUAL artist working on the next version of these cards that I will be able to share with the world!  @mdusing is creating illustrations for each card to help students better understand what each card represents, some of the concepts can be pretty abstract (empathy is always a tough one for kids to connect with…even when they are VERY empathetic!).  This version will be available for all of you as a download; it will also be woven into The Learning Genome Project.

Learning Profile Interests/passion survey

Learning style preference cards

Multiple intelligence cards

Brain Dominance cards

Because our philosophy and model are so different, we start each year with a week of detox (fitting since our initials are AA) ;).  During this week, we help students “stand up again” in who they are as learners, as creators, as individuals.  We undo some of the messages they have learned about learning: that it happens in specific ways and at specific times, that the goal is answers, that the teacher knows it all, that a test is the only way to measure success, that they are bad at learning certain things, that they can’t be friends with kids who are a different age than they are, that only some people are creative…the list could go on and on!

Our detox week is a time for students to remember that they matter.  It is an opportunity for them to re-frame the ways that they think about learning.  It is a time for them to share their passions with each other.  It is a chance to realize the working together is more productive than competing in learning.  It is a safe time to explore creativity.  It is also the week that new students start to discover that the relationship with their teacher is different here.  That the goal of coming to school isn’t an “A” at the end of the semester.

I love this week!  We see kids who begin to come back to life.  The spark in their eye that can only come through discovering something new.  For some kids, this week is life changing.  Others are a little more hesitant, they don’t trust the freedom that we offer.  They wonder when the “real work” will start and they will settle back into mediocrity.  For these students, the detox week is a glimpse of things to come that they aren’t sure if they can trust.  It usually takes about a month to really settle in and see that we really do mean what we say.

Individual classes explore what it means to be vulnerable.  How to be proud of the individual talents and gifts that make up a class.  How to work together to do hard things.  We also bring the whole Anastasis community together for some activities.  Our first year, students worked together to create iPad styluses out of sponge and wire for less than 10 cents.  Last year we held an all-school day of play (highly recommend that!) and marshmallow/spaghetti tower challenge.  This year we have some fun group art projects and challenges planned.

At the end of second week, we will hold our third annual identity day.  This is an opportunity for students to share an area of passion with the school community.  Students can choose to share anything they want to in a way that they want to.  We hold a school-wide fair and invite families to attend.  The set up almost looks like a science fair when all is said and done.  We spend the day getting to know each other- apart from classroom constraints.  We take a moment to see the world from another point of view.  It is a spectacular day of honoring each child for who they are (teachers participate, too!).  After a half day of sharing ourselves, we spend the rest of the day building community at a local park where we go ice-blocking.  For those who have never had the privilege of ice-blocking, it involves purchasing a block of ice from a grocery store, finding a large grassy hill, sitting on the block of ice, and sledding down the hill in the sunshine.  We have a blast!  Parents, teachers, and students get involved in the fun.  Barriers are broken down, friendships forged and a community bound together for a year of life and learning together.

Our detox week may be the single most important week of the entire year.  It sets the tone, letting students know that this is a safe place to be who they are.  That this is a place where learning looks like life.  That the questions this year will be as important as the answers.  I’m not sure Anastasis would be the incredible place of learning it is without our detox week.

I collect ideas for inquiry units and our detox week on Pinterest.  If you are interested in hosting your own “detox,” check out the ideas saved here!

Of course, you can always follow all of my boards on Pinterest here.

Also random side note, I’m trying to convince Anastasis staff that it is a good idea for us to start an Extreme Combat Juggling team.  It’s a real thing, which is awesome.  Feel free to help me in this encouragement, on Twitter they are: @michellek107, @dweissmo, @bestmscott, @nancybabbitt, @matthewquigley, @lancefinkbeiner.  :)

 

Smithsonian Quests: Learning through discovery and collaboration

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 07-05-2013

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What it is:
Smithsonian Quests encourage students to explore learning through discovery and collaboration.  As students learn, they can earn digital badges for their quests.  Students can explore their own interest through a series of online activities while incorporating knowledge and skill-building in the online quests.  The quests ask students to explore a topic of interest as part of a standards-based curriculum or as a student-driven after school activity.  By signing  up for Smithsonian Quests, you will receive an invitation to join a grade-level based group in the Smithsonian Quest Community.  Students from kindergarten through adult learners can join Smithsonian Quest and collect badges.

How to integrate Smithsonian Quests into the classroom: Smithsonian Quests is a great program that connects transdisciplinary learning with digital badges.  As your class works through the site, they will start to realize how they have been learning, exploring, connecting and acting.  Students can unlock a badge by completing a set of quests that go with it.  Some Quests are independent and others are collaborative.  Quests get reviewed by a group of “specially selected experts” before badges are awarded.  Badges include: oral historian, historical biographer, cool curator, cultural storyteller, portrait reader, community historian, symbols spotter, correspondent, dirt detective, art advocate, environ-scientist, culture keeper, eco-journalist, time traveler, H2O hero, conservation campaigner, invasions investigator and tree hugger.  Quests include things like listening to audio, taking pictures, recording, etc.  As you can see, there are quests for every interest!

When students sign up for quests, they get invited into a group (class group when the teacher sets up the account), can add friends, see the badges they have collected, and view friends who are online.  Students also get an online journal where they can reflect on learning or update their status with the kind of learning they are doing.

I like that these quests can be done collaboratively (a whole class goal to earn the digital badges by learning?) and that they are  largely discovery based learning.   The quests really challenge students to dig deeper in learning and often lead to additional questions.  Quests can also be completed individually by students.  Students can explore areas that are high-interest for them. These Smithsonian Quests would be a fantastic end of the year project where students are driving their own learning but working toward a known goal.  Spend the last week of school with a time for students to share their learning with others.

As we head into summer break in the United States, consider suggesting Smithsonian Quests to parents as a great summer-time learning opportunity.

Tips:  Register for free and have a look around to see all of the cool opportunities for your classroom!

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  Smithsonian Quests in your classroom.