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Boy’s Life Comic Creator

What it is: Boy’s Life Magazine is a great place to reach those boys in your class that are reluctant readers or writers.  On the Boy’s Life site, you will find a Comic Creator where students can create a comic strip.  The Comic Creator is easy to use, offering enough tools for boys to really customize their comics but not SO many that they get lost in the forever search of pictures.  A great balance! How to integrate Comic Creator into the classroom: The Boy’s Life Comic Creator is a great little tool to help your boys connect with writing and story telling in a way that they enjoy and understand.  The tool is simple enough to use as a writing station/center on classroom computers.  The comic does need to be created in one sitting, there is no way to save and come back to a comic later.  Completed comics can be printed off and shared. The Comic Creator is a great entry point into writing but could also be useful in math for creating and solving story problems.  Students can create a short math comic strip that can be traded with other students to solve. Students taking a foreign language class could practice new words by creating a comic strip story in Comic Creator. Use Comic Creator the first week of school as a way for boys to tell all about themselves.  Each student can create a comic strip that stars them as the main character.  Invite other students to try to match the comic strip with the student as a fun interactive bulletin board activity (Think comics on one side, student pictures on the other and string to draw the “line” between matches). Tips: I learned about the Boy’s Life Comic creator from The Book Chook, be sure to follow this GREAT kids lit blog!  The Boy’s Life website is packed full of goodies that your boys are sure to enjoy (there is even some reading that gets sneaked in there ). Please leave a comment and share how you are using Comic Creator 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. :)

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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