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Mr. Thorne Does Phonics

What it is: Mr. Thorne Does Phonics is a website and YouTube channel dedicated to teaching kids phonics through videos.  The site has a great tag line, “Where learning to read becomes reading to learn.” The videos are divided up by categories which include: Introduction to Phonics Geraldine the Giraffe Videos Alphabet Letters and Sounds More Alphabet Letters and Sounds Consonant Digraphs Long Vowel Sounds Consonant Blends Alternative Sounds Alternative Spellings 200 High Frequency Words Grammar Christopher Thorne hosts all of the phonics videos with occasional guest appearances from his friend Geraldine the Giraffe (who has her own book!).  The videos are engaging, help students listen for phoneme segmentation, and give them encouragement to replicate the phoneme sounds themselves.  This library of phonics videos is wonderfully comprehensive! How to integrate Mr. Thorne Does Phonics into the classroom: Mr. Thorne Does Phonics is a fantastic introduction to phonics, phonemes, and decoding words. Students can practice word recognition, pronunciation, and phonics rules with fun videos that can be played, paused, and rewound.  The Mr. Thorne Does Phonics site would be a wonderful site to have available for students on classroom computers as a reading center. Students can visit the reading center and pull up the video of the exact phonics skill that they need to practice.  Mr. Thorne Does Phonics would also be a wonderful way to introduce your whole class to a new phonics skill by playing the videos for them using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard. If you have access to a built-in webcam or portable video camera, encourage students to create their own Mr. Thorne inspired phonics videos.  These can be shared with other students in the class, parents, and younger grade levels.  The videos also make a great record of progress throughout the school year. Tips: You can also find Mr. Thorne’s phonics videos on YouTube. Can’t access YouTube at school? Download the videos for offline viewing using a tool like Kick YouTube or Keepvid.

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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. :)

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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