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Pilot Handwriting: Turn Handwriting into a Font

What it is: This is a fun site. Pilot Handwriting let’s students turn their handwriting into a font of their own.  The site is easy to use: print the template for students to fill out, take a picture of the completed template with a webcam (scanner and digital camera options also available), click on individual letters to adjust the look, save the handwriting by creating an account, click “let’s write” to use the font.  Writing completed on the Pilot Handwriting site can be emailed.  Saving the handwriting does require students to create an account. The account has no age limit but asks for an email address.  If you are teaching students who don’t have an email address, they can use a @tempinbox.com or @mailinator.com ending so they don’t have to create an email account. How to integrate Pilot Handwriting into the classroom: I’ll be honest, I am not a big fan of handwriting worksheets- this is due to my own experience with them. I remember feeling like the practice page was endless and in the end didn’t give me a good feel for handwriting (especially in cursive) because I was writing letters individually; how often do you do that in real life?  The Pilot Handwriting font creator would be a fun way for students to end those handwriting practice sessions.  When they have a letter down, they can write it on the template.  The template could be filled out over several weeks as they learn and practice new letters.  At the end, they can turn all that practice into their very own computer font…as unique as their fingerprint!  The finished font can be used for learning how to write a friendly letter.  Students can compose a letter to a teacher, another student, or a parent using their font and send the finished letter via email. Pilot Handwriting let’s students create multiple fonts within one account.  Students could create a font at the beginning of the school year and again at the end of the school year (or in subsequent years) to compare their growth.  Handwriting can tell us so much about how students are developing and thinking. This is a great way to record that development digitally. My students love creating their own font, it makes all writing and practice more fun.  I caught a fifth grader typing out her spelling and vocabulary words just so that she could use her font.  In that one exercise she was practicing her handwriting, typing, and spelling/vocabulary.  Not too shabby ūüôā Tips: This is a neat site for students to share with their families. I have great handwritten notes from my grandmothers, recipes from my mom, and birthday cards from aunts and uncles.  There is something about a handwritten note that feels so personal and meaningful, it is capturing a piece of who that person is.  Students may want to ask their family members to create a font with their handwriting.  I had one student who was creating a family tree for class, he had each member of his family fill out the template and create a font.  He then asked them to send an email to him with the information needed for his tree using the font.  He cut and paste these onto poster board. It was honestly the coolest family tree I have seen, he had his family get involved and created a keepsake in the process. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Pilot Handwriting in your classroom!

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If It Were My Home: Compare Countries Visually

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 11-02-2013

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What it is: We are just heading into a new inquiry block at Anastasis Academy.  The kids are exploring world communities and our interdependence on each other.  If it Were My Home is a fascinating website that asks students to consider what their life would be like if they were born in a different country.  Would they be the same person?  If it Were My Home is a country comparison tool where students can compare living conditions in their own country to those of another.  When students select a country, there is a visual overlay comparison of maps.  Students can easily visualize relative size of another country based on their own state or country.  Students will also see a break down of death rates, HIV/AIDS, birth rate, electricity availability, oil consumption, economic comparison, health care, and class divide.  Students have the ability to compare the country they selected with another country of interest.  Students can learn additional information about the country and vote to show if they would rather live in the chosen country.  Additionally, most countries offer a recommended reading list with books about the selected country.  When students click on the mini-facts, they get a full description of the fact along with the original source.  SO stinking cool!

How to integrate If it Were My Home into the classroom: If it Were My Home is an outstanding way for students to visualize and compare other countries to their own.  I love that this site helps students with geography, but also reveals that there is a real world community that is interdependent and diverse.  This site helps students recognize the unique place they are in the world and how it relates to other countries.  I love the added awareness of human rights and social justice issues that this site encourages.  In our inquiry unit, we are looking at what the facts listed on the site mean about the government, belief systems, human rights, equality, social justice and landscape of the countries they represent.

This is a site that can be used to help students ask bigger questions.  To see a fact about another country, and ask what bigger problems might be revealed, what we can learn from other countries, and break down some stereotypes that students may have about other countries.

Ask each student to choose a country to compare to their country of origin.  Have students pair up with a partner and compare their chosen countries to the country of origin.

Choose “Disasters” from the menu at the top of the screen to view some natural and man-made disasters that affected the lives of millions of people. ¬†Students can view the scope of the disaster in relation to where they live, helping them to better visualize the impact that man-made and natural disasters can have on a population.

Tie in a creative writing project and have students imagine that they are moving from their country of origin to their chosen country. ¬†Students can use the information and comparison as inspiration for their fictional story about what life would be like in their new home. ¬† Students could also write a short autobiographical story about growing up in their country of origin, followed by a short “autobiographical” type story about their life growing up in a different country.

Use the statistical data in If it Were My Home for some real world mathematical comparison between countries.  If Rwanda has a 10.7 times higher chance of dying in infancy, how many infant deaths does it expect on average per year?  If Rwandans make 98.06% less than Americans, what would you expect an average salary to be?

I used Rwanda as my example because Rwanda is where we started our first Anastasis sister school. ¬†Our 2nd-3rd grade class has been absolutely fascinated with Rwanda and poured over this site to learn more. ūüôā

Tips: Encourage your students to read one of the recommended books about the country they chose. This will help them understand more about the country they chose, and give the people in that country voice beyond the facts listed.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  If it Were My Home in your classroom.

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