Featured Post

What makes your school/PD/conference different?

The first question that I get asked when people find out that I’ve started a school: what makes Anastasis Academy different? And this is a tricky one to answer, because the truth is EVERYTHING makes us different. It’s hard to describe something that no one has seen before, so you begin to relate it with ideas and concepts that people are familiar with. The more I’ve talked about Anastasis, the more I’ve begun to really recognize what it is at the heart that makes us so different. It is our starting point and driving force: students-with-names. That may seem like a strange comment to make, “students-with-names,” because, of course they have names! But in education, we make a lot of decisions without these specific students-with-names in mind. We make decisions for students as if they are a homogeneous group, or worse, a number. As if they don’t have special interests/passions/gifts. As if they don’t have something unique that the world needs. At Anastasis Academy, we see the potential of students-with-names and help them believe that they are capable of realizing that potential. That it is worth the risk of being fully alive. That they can be vulnerable in community. When we talk about education, too often the focus is on learning all the right things, equipping kids with the right content and answers. But the truth is, a great school is about so much more than learning all the right things. A great school is about connecting humanity. It is about finding the educators who can draw students out, who can foster humanity and connection. Who see potential and help others see it, too. Who help kids embrace their worth and value. Because we start from this place, from students-with-names, every other decision we make has to honor that. So we can’t think about curriculum as a one-size-fits all. Because, students-with-names. We can’t assess in a way that minimizes the individual and the learning journey that is happening. Because, students-with-names. We can’t have large class sizes that prohibit us from getting to know the stories of students. Because, students-with-names. We can’t pretend that worksheets, tests, and grades are what learning is about. Because, students-with-names. We can’t let technology be the teacher. Because, students-with-names. We can’t have restrictive classroom space. Because, students-with-names. We can’t rely on typical professional development to prepare teachers. Because, students (and teachers)-with-names. When your goal is honoring the humanity, EVERYTHING else must shift to help meet that goal. Everything must be adjusted outside of the assumptions we make as adults about what education “should” look like. Last week, I asked every Anastasis teacher to come to school on Tuesday with sub plans with one caveat- don’t “dumb it down” for the sub! Just continue on with whatever you were doing. That was all of the information I shared. On Tuesday morning, we all met in the office. I had slips of paper with every class name on it. Each teacher chose a name. This was to be their class for the morning. Teacher Swap! My goal was a simple one, build community and empathy among the staff. If you’ve met the staff at Anastasis, you may have wondered at this goal (these are the most amazing people who have incredible empathy and we have a pretty tight community). Something different happens when you are in a classroom that isn’t yours, teaching students you don’t normally teach. You begin to see things through new lenses, different perspectives. You begin to problem solve differently. We had a Jr. High teacher with our 2nd-3rd grade, our 4th-6th teacher with our kindergarten. Teachers who normally teach young students, teaching some of the oldest. It was outstanding! During our Wednesday staff meeting, we talked about the successes and challenges that were faced. We remembered what it is like to be a “new” teacher again, the fish-out-of-water feeling that comes from having a loose inquiry plan with a different age group. It revealed the way that each class ladders up and prepares these students-with-names for the next part of their learning journey. It reminded us not to set boundaries and expectations too low; these kids are capable of greatness! It revealed to the teachers of the older students why the teachers of the younger students are ready for recess at 10:00am on the button. 🙂 In a few weeks, teachers will begin to go into each other’s classrooms as an observer. My hope is, that the time spent teaching in each other’s classes will provide them with greater insight and more thoughtful observation.   In February, we invite you to come visit us. Join us to see first hand how a focus on students-with-names impacts everything that we do (including our approach to conference PD!)  The 5Sigma Education Conference is an opportunity for you to see first hand what makes Anastasis such a different learning environment. On February 19th, our students will tour you through our building, they’ll walk you through classes and talk to you about their learning experiences. We have two incredible keynotes by equally incredible people. Angela Maiers is our opening keynote. If you aren’t familiar with Angela’s work, I encourage you to take a look at her here, and learn why she is the perfect person to kick off our “students-with-names” focused conference. Bodo Hoenen is our closing keynote. Bodo has a passion for making individualized learning possible for children who have been largely forgotten.  In between those keynotes, will be sessions, panels, featured speakers, conversations, and plenty of inspiration. On February 21st we’ll take a field trip together. This is our second 5Sigma Education Conference, if you were at the first, you know what a powerful weekend this is. If you weren’t with us last year, you will not want to miss out this year! Check out what last year’s attendees had to say about the weekend here. Register today and take advantage of early-bird pricing! Have something that needs to be added to our conversations? The call for proposals is still open! Click on the link above and head over to the “Propose a Session” tab.

Read More

Solar System Scope: See the solar system in 3D

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 20-04-2011

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


What it is: Well, yesterday set me off on a space kick.  Today I spent time with the Solar System Scope site, talk about a COOL way to view the solar system!  Solar System Scope (SSS) is a 3D real-time look at celestial positions with planets and constellations in the night sky.  Students can adjust planet and moon settings, star and constellation settings, earth observatory settings and time settings.  View the solar system from a heliocentric, geocentric or panoramic view.

How to integrate Solar System Scope into the classroom: Who would have guessed the day would come when we could take our students on a realistic field trip through space?  That is exactly what the Solar System Scope makes possible.  For young students, it would be fun to plan a class space mission.  Prepare your students as astronauts, load into your classroom spaceship (which may just be chairs and desks specially configured for the day) and prepare for launch.  “Fly” through the universe and solar system using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  This is almost like having a planetarium right in your classroom. Pretty cool!

Of course after traveling through space as a class, students will want to explore more on their own.  They can do this at a classroom computer center or individually in a computer lab setting.

Older students can get more in-depth using the built-in distance meter to measure the distance between planets.  Each star reveals information about how many light years away it is from earth.  Students can adjust the settings to learn more about constellations.  Time and date can be adjusted to view the solar system on a given day. When students click the play button, they will see a 3D animation of the solar system based on the view they chose.  Very neat!

In addition to using Solar System Scope for science, use it as a launching point for a creative writing activity.  Students can write a fictional story about their travels through space, or even pretend to colonize a planet using factual information about the struggles they would have to overcome.

This site is a great one to use in connection with the NASA 50th Anniversary site I shared yesterday!

Tips: Solar System Scope isn’t finished yet, they are still working on some cool features.  Be sure to watch for a planetary journey for kids complete with an animated talking guide named Zyx, desktop clocks that show all planet positions at the moment, a space-flight simulator screen saver (perfect for the interactive whiteboard!) and a space forum.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Solar System Scope in your classroom!


Comments (3)

[…] Solar System Scope shares an interactive 3D view of our solar system. Select the view on the left tab of the screen and choose the telescope to view the stars. Kelly Tenkley shares more about this site on her blog iLearn Technology. […]

[…] done and dusted, I decided to work on my planning for teaching the solar system. A post by Kelly Tenkley set me off in the right direction. The Nine Planets tour that I mentioned in a previous post shares […]

After the success of SolarSystemScope we have launched a new Watch & Play model


focused on the Sun and the Moon as they appear from the given location of the Earth surface:
– current position of the Sun, its trajectory, time and azimuth of sunrise and sunset
– moon phases, current position and trajectory of the Moon
– seasons, solstices and equinoxes in chart

But the most interesting part is to drag the model in time and watch changes during a day or year.
(polar day and night, analemma and situations on the equator are our favourite)

Enjoy it 🙂

Write a comment