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Zoo Whiz

What it is:  Zoo Whiz is a new education site that encourages kids to be “whizzes” in math, reading and word development.  There are levels and content for students from 5 to 15 years old.  There are over 11,200 interactive activities to help unleash the whiz in every child.  The games and activities go beyond simple drill and skill to build higher order thinking skills and problem solving strategies.  The activities build fluency in math, reading and word development.  Zoo Whiz has kids practice math, reading and word skills through a series of activities and games that gets progressively difficult.  As students play games, they earn Zoo Whiz “money” that will allow them to purchase animals to build up their zoo.  Young students will really enjoy this aspect of Zoo Whiz! In the math sections, students will learn: Numeration: integers, operations, money Addition & subtraction Multiplication & division Fractions & decimals: ratio, percentages Patterns & algebra: patterns, relationships Data: recording, displaying and interpreting data Measurement: length, area, volume/capacity, mass, time Space & geometry: 2D, 3D, position, angle, transformations, symmetry Currently Zoo Whiz is in public beta.  There are still some areas that are being developed and released.  There are two versions of Zoo Whiz: a free account and a premium account that provides students with additional content and abilities within the game.  In the public beta, both versions are free.  While the site may have curricular material for students up to age 15+, I’m not sure a 15 year old student would spend any amount of time on this site.  It is definitely more geared for the under 10 crowd. How to integrate Zoo Whiz into the classroom: Zoo Whiz is a fun new way for students to hone their math, reading and word skills.  Because every student has their own login, they can practice the subjects at their own level and at their own pace.  The site makes a great center activity, providing students extra practice for basic, key skills.  I like the way Zoo Whiz activities present concepts in a variety of ways to ensure that students have a real understanding of a concept (instead of memorization of a fact alone).  Zoo Whiz is a great place for students to build fluency. I like the way that Zoo Whiz has set up the school and classroom accounts to be linked with a home account.  This makes it easy for both parents and teachers to stay aware of what skills students are working on, where they are successful, and where they could use some additional help. Students will enjoy earning money to purchase animals for their zoo. If you don’t have the opportunity for students to play these games individually, consider using a projector-connected computer or an interactive whiteboard to play the games as a class.  Create one class account for students to play from.  Students can take turns helping the class earn money for their zoo and decide which animals should be added.   When I had only one computer in the classroom, I turned activities like Zoo Whiz into a class game.  Sometimes I would split the kids into teams to see which team could earn the most points and others we would work collaboratively to get to a benchmark that we predetermined.  Either way, all students should be involved in game play. Tips: I learned about Zoo Whiz from iLearn Technology reader, Tania.  Thank you Tania!  Zoo Whiz looks like a fun addition to the classroom.  Be sure to let parents know about Zoo Whiz, this could be a fun way to continue practice at home. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Zoo Whiz in  your classroom!

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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!

Comments (12)

I’ve nominated your blog for an award! Visit the link below to copy/paste the Blog on Fire button. Share seven things about yourself and pass the award along to some “hot” blogs you follow. Congrats and Happy October!

http://primaryteachingresources.blogspot.com/2011/10/blog-on-fire.html

I love your choice of tools. I think those are right on. But, I go back to a discussion we had early on – if someone walks into Anastasis and says “Can I see an ePorfolio?” do you bring up each site? I’d love to have one site where all of the collected info is organized. Easy to access and decipher by someone who does not interact with the kids on a daily basis. Ideally, a Google Site. But editable on the iPad and still filtered. I was told today by our staff to just build it.
I really appreciate the time you put in for this blog post. I love getting little peeks into Anastasis. Thank you!

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How do students publish videos to the school’s YouTube account? Do you share the password with the students?

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Barry, when students want to publish a video, they must bring the video to the teacher who inputs the password for the school account.

Josh, you are so right. There is no one tool that will do it all…hence my creation of the Learning Genome that will do ALL that we need it to do in one :) Until then, this solution is working well. We could show the kids Evernote account and get nearly everything in!

Thank you! I’m honored ;)

Hello, I would love to use Evernote with my students, but they are only third graders – obviously they don’t meet the age requirement of 13! Do you know of other e-portfolios tools like Evernote that younger students can use? Thanks so much!

We sign our kids up for Evernote and connect it with parent account and parent sign-off. This works well for us! I don’t know of one tool that does everything that Evernote does in one. I have use think.com with young students for this purpose.

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