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Progressive Phonics

What it is: Progressive Phonics is a fantastic, free all-in-one reading program that I learned about from @rmbyrne on his blog Free Tech for Teachers (honestly, some days I wonder why I bother with a resource sharing blog…he is amazing!)  This site is totally FREE, as in every single download is available for $0, all that is required is registration.  Progressive Phonics provides books that can be read on-screen or printed out.  Books include alphabet books, beginner phonics, intermediate phonics, advanced phonics, and handwriting.  In addition to phonics rules, Progressive Phonics teaches essential sight-words (phonics rule-breakers).  Each book includes a PDF version of the book, and accompanying activity sheets such as handwriting worksheets, a word search puzzle, flash cards, and a five-minute memory game.  If you have access to iPads or iPod’s for your classroom, these FREE phonics books can be downloaded and put into the iBook bookshelf for reading. How to integrate Progressive Phonics into your curriculum: Phonics is one of those things that a reading program either excels at, or falls flat with.  Using the Treasures reading curriculum, I was always disappointed by the lack of real phonics work and often supplemented with sites like Starfall.  Progressive Phonics is another resource that would make a fantastic supplement.  If you use a standard reading curriculum, take a look at the Progressive Phonics books and align them with your current curriculum.  For example if your current curriculum has students practicing short vowel “a”, find the corresponding phonics rule in Progressive Phonics.  Because these books are free to download, they are excellent for printing out and sending home with students for extra reading practice.  The accompanying printable games, flashcards, and puzzles will keep your students practicing that skill in and out of the classroom.  Books can be printed out and assembled as a traditional book, read on the classroom or lab computers, or transferred onto a mobile device such as the iPad or iPod Touch.  This collection of phonics resources is a must see! Tips: One thing I really appreciate about this site is that each book comes with a page count and an approximate time to print.  I remember spending hours printing Starfall books on an old school printer, wondering if I would ever finish.  The approximate printing time lets you know what you are in for before you hit print.  Each book is offered in two formats, one is a print friendly version that has been designed to use as little ink as possible.  So smart! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Progressive Phonics 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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