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Zimmer Twins: New site just for schools!

Read my previous mentions of the Zimmer Twins here.  What it is:  The Zimmer Twins movie maker is one of my favorite classroom tools.  Recently, they added a Zimmer Twins at School site that has extra goodies built-in that make it an even sweeter deal for the classroom.  Yesss. I love it when that happens.  On the Zimmer Twin site, students can create really impressive cartoon animations (seriously this is saturday morning cartoon quality). Who are the Zimmer Twins, you might ask?  Edgar and Eva Zimmer are 12-year-old twins who appear normal but have developed psychic powers.  Strange things began to happen when the twins adopted a black cat named 13.  On the Zimmer Twins website, students can create their own cartoon movie endings to a story starter or create their own animated movie from scratch.  Students can create and edit movies solo or “Collab-o-write” and work together creating a collaborative movie. With the free school account, teachers can add 5 students, make 12 movies, visit a profile page for each student and teacher, and have the ability to moderate content.  Very handy for classroom use!  In the past, I had to create an account for every student, work out how to keep track of everyone’s creations and make sure we could share with each other.  Thanks to the new school account, all of this can be handled easily right within one account! How to integrate the Zimmer Twins School into the classroom:  Your students are going to love this site!  They can direct and produce their very own animated movies.  The easiest way to start using Zimmer Twins in the classroom, is to use it as a story starter.  Students can watch a “starter” video and finish the story however they would like.  The first time you introduce the site, it might be fun to complete a video as a class.  Then students can take over and create their own ending to a Zimmer Twins movie.  These video clips make excellent story starters for journal writing even if you can’t take the time to make it into an actual video.  To use as a story starter, show the beginning of the short animation to your students on an interactive whiteboard or projector, then let students take over on classroom computers, working together, or writing a journal entry.  After your students are familiar with the Zimmer Twins website, they can start a story from scratch.  Students could direct “screen plays” of their writing, as a way to publish their finished work.  Zimmer Twins would make an excellent alternative to the traditional book report.  Students could create a movie where the main character is being interviewed, the story is being summarized, or retold.  Students could also create movies about historical events, describing a science experiment or concept, in math as a story problem, to demonstrate understanding of character education or for vocabulary practice.  My students have really enjoyed creating movies to show what they have learned on any topic, it is always a sure winner!  Are you looking for new ways to engage your students? Why not create a Zimmer Twins original yourself to introduce a new topic.  If you are looking for more great ideas for using Zimmer Twins in your classroom, be sure to check out the lesson plans on the teacher page, there are some good ones. Tips: Zimmer Twins School also offers a VIP account with lots of extras including the ability to add 40 students, make unlimited movies, open comments, write blog posts, write polls, enable/disable student comments on videos. Right now a month-long VIP membership is FREE!  You can get a year membership for $89.95. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Zimmer Twins School in  your classroom!

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Shocking! The real purpose of your life! or What are we preparing for?

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, video | Posted on 26-11-2012

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Today @lancefinkbeiner shared this video with me.  It is too good not to share!  Now…how to make this the reality of what learning is really about in schools.  I can’t tell you how often in education that the answer for why something is done is, “we are preparing kids for…”  For example, we give 3 hours of homework to elementary students because we are “preparing them for middle school.”   In middle school we give additional homework and weekly tests because we are “preparing them for high school.”  High school has it’s own set of ridiculous standards in preparation for college.

My question: when are we preparing kids for life?  When are we preparing them to engage in the world around them?  When are we preparing them for healthy relationships with others?  When are we preparing them to ask good questions and seek answers?  When are we preparing them for what to do with failure?

The problem for preparing kids for the next system they will encounter is that the next system isn’t really the goal.  That goal is this imaginary place we call “success” and “perfection”.  Neither exist.  How do we prepare kids to live honest, meaningful lives?  THAT is what I am interested in preparing for.

Comments (4)

Aren’t we *always* preparing kids to live honest, meaningful lives? I find your question a bit strange, I admit. Your preamble implies that kids require formal education (school) to learn to live honest, meaningful lives. I don’t think this is the case today, nor has it ever been. Kids need to learn many things outside of school. The best way to teach your kids to lead an honest, meaningful life, is to live one yourself -its amazing what kids will pick up from their surroundings. Formal education and life-lessons shouldn’t be conflated

Dave, this can be the trouble with a blog post…all of the nuances of thought can’t be wrapped up neatly in a few words. Judging by your comment here, my guess is that you don’t follow my work regularly. Sometimes I make the mistake of assuming that my readers know my background and previous thoughts that bleed into this one.
In answer to your comment: I don’t know that I agree that we are always intentionally preparing kids to live honest meaningful lives. I think that assigning hours of homework to an elementary student, for example, doesn’t lead to honesty (in learning for the pleasure of learning) or for working toward a meaningful life. I’m actually not saying that kids require formal school to learn to live honest, meaningful lives. In fact, quite the opposite. I believe that kids can learn this in spite of their formal schooling. What I am suggesting is that schools should stop telling kids that the purpose of learning is for the next institution of learning. What I am suggesting here is that learning (in schools) look more like life. I would agree, the best way to teach a child to live an honest and meaningful life is by modeling that ourselves. The question I pose to you: How is that possible in a system that leads children to believe that the purpose of learning is to prepare them for the next system? I started a school, http://anastasisacademy.com, to free up teachers to lead by example and to give students the freedom to explore what it means to live and honest, meaningful life.

I thoroughly agree with the video AND this post! Children aren’t able to learn and enjoy school anymore because they are bombarded with testing. State testing, this and that testing. It’s ridiculous. This is also having a negative affect on teachers because they cannot TEACH what they want, and they cannot really enjoy the career. We should reevaluate how our education system is working. Too many people graduate with Bachelor’s degrees that are useless. This needs to change! Great post!

I think it’s quite true that schools have to prepare children not only for next grade or level but also to prepare them for life and job skills that require worldwide awareness, collaboration, communication, problem solving…etc. Some people call those skills “The 21st century skills”.

Testing is not the olny way to assess students success at school. Teachers are using different tools such as daily observation of pair and group work. I am sure that there are many projects running worldwide are concerned about enhancing students’ life skills.

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