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Secrets from a non-tenured teacher- Guest Post

Guest Post by |Erin Klein| What I’ve realized from my brief, yet ever-exciting, career as a teacher is that there is so much that we aren’t prepared for as we sign our names on our much anticipated contracts.  My first year, I was laid off, or ‘pink slipped,’ and had to draw a straw in our elementary hall-way with the three other ladies that were all hired the same day as I was that year.  I drew the short straw, literally.  My administration reassured me that they would find a spot for me in the fall.  It wasn’t my first grade classroom that I had previously had but rather a newly created position at the middle school, funded by Stimulus dollars, in effort to support students needing literacy intervention.  Though we had intervention classrooms, Literacy Workshop was special because we infused the reading intervention into the social studies and science classrooms and monitored their progress throughout.  Well, because that position was only temporary, I found myself doing yet another unique role the following year, co-teaching.  Now, I’m curious as to what my role will look like for year four (2011-2012)… I often wonder if this evolving path has been a blessing or not.  Then, as I reflect, I realize that the biggest secret that I’ve come to discover is that being exposed to so many teachers, administrators, and opportunities only reaffirms what seems to often be forgotten: It’s not about the program, it’s about the teacher. Those words were actually told to me as inspiration to work in these new positions.  Having my Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, I enjoyed researching and trying out new programs and strategies.  Of course I believe in strong programs, but as I’ve stepped into more and more classrooms, I’ve realized how the teacher delivers the program and engages his or her students is the more powerful tool.  So, I began to network with as many teachers as possible – trying to find out their inspiring ideas. By attending numerous quality professional development conferences and workshops, I became an intellectual sponge filtering and filing all that I could absorb.  My classroom became my work shop for taking those ideas and turning them into practice.  My students didn’t become sponges soaking up what I was delivering but rather my team for figuring out what was working and how to enhance what wasn’t working.  They were now the pioneers of their success, taking ownership of their learning.  Our team looked similar to Gregory House’s medical team, without the satire, bouncing intelligent ideas off of each other – turning to their guide to facilitate their learning.  Students were inspiring each other each day and growing exponentially.  Our lessons came alive, collaboration was second nature, and active engagement was automatic, not encouraged. Having a compulsive personality, I couldn’t get enough… I needed to extend my network without waiting for the next workshop or conference.  Thus, I turned to the Internet.  I was amazed with how many teachers were willing to share not only their ideas but also their resources.  After compiling a hub of my personal favorites that worked for my classroom, I decided to start my own resource sharing blog, Kleinspiration.  I wanted to share the inspiration that I had gained from web 2.0 sites, Apple applications, brilliant teacher’s blogs, and best-practice ideas; hence, Kleinspiration was born.  This blog is still in its infancy as it was started two weeks ago, but I work daily to update it with the best of what others are sharing and creators are designing along with how it can be applied directly to practice within your classroom.  With being a follower of Kleinspiration, you will find inspired ideas to bring to your class right away that are free, user-friendly, teacher tested, and student approved.  I look forward to collaborating with you soon. Thank you Kelly for allowing me to be a guest blogger on your site, one of the greatest resources I’ve come across, iLearn Technology.  Thank you for helping me to remember one of the greatest secrets in education, a network and support system of passionate teachers.  You’ve continue to inspire me each day! Personal Invitation to Join My Network, Kleinspiration: Follow Kleinspiration: click here and select ‘follow’ on the right hand side! Tweet with Erin Klein: click here to follow on Twitter ‘Like’ it on Facebook:  click here to be a fan of Kleinspiration

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Atlantis Remixed: Inquiry based virtual world

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Interactive book, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 15-04-2013

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What it is: Atlantis Remixed is a great interactive virtual world that supports students and teachers in conducting rich, inquiry-based explorations during which students learn standards related content and develop pro-social attitudes regarding environmental and social issues.  More than just making learning fun, project Atlantis Remixed aims to help kids realize that they can make a real difference in the world.  Atlantis Remixed is really a combination of education, entertainment/gaming and social action.  The game environment has been designed to support students in social commitment and real-world action.  Atlantis Remixed was created for children ages 9-16 to engage in transformational play in both online and offline learning activities.  The storyline in the online activities inspires students toward social action.

Atlantis Remixed is a combination of a 3D multi-user virtual environment, learning quests and unit plans, a storyline (presented through an introductory video, novel and comic book), a global community of participants, and a narrative programming toolkit that kids can use to remix user-created stories.  The storyline helps bridge the virtual, fictional, world of Atlantis with the real-world.  Students can travel to virtual places to perform authentic activities (Quests), talk with other students from around the world, build virtual characters and professions, and demonstrate learning through multi-media portfolios.  The platform is transdisciplinary including math, science and literacy. Students are sent on virtual social missions that reflect global ideals such as social responsibility, compassionate wisdom, creative expression, diversity affirmation, environmental awareness, healthy communities, and personal agency.

How to integrate Atlantis Remixed into the classroom: Atlantis Remixed has full units ready to use. Each unit is aligned to standards, inquiry based and meets multiple domains of learning. A single water-quality unit puts students in role of scientists hired by a national park, to come to the forest to help explain fish decline in the area.  Students interact with virtual park rangers, loggers, fishermen and indigenous people and discover multiple perspectives.  After decisions have been made, students can log back in and see the impact of their decisions.  They can reflect on the consequences (and unintended consequences) of their decisions, and make changes as needed.

In addition to the virtual component, there is guided offline learning that can take place including discussions and in class activities.  Teachers can modify curriculum to fit their own classroom needs.

Units include: Taiga- a water quality unit, Virtual Mesa Verde- a social studies unit, Plague World- a persuasive writing unit, Ander City- a statistics unit, Spacenik- a planetary science unit, Biological Indicators Mission, Rights & Responsibility Mission, Two Cells-One World Mission, and Diversity Mission.  You can look at a snapshot of any of these missions to learn more about it.

Think about the added components you could layer on Atlantis Remixed Quests and missions.  Are your students practicing writing business letters?  Who could they write to in the virtual world or real world?  Are your students learning how to use a new tech tool?  What tie-in is there to the inquiry?  How can you integrate other learning and customize the Atlantis Remixed environment to best fit your needs?

Tips: On the Educators Page, you can choose to login to the 2D gateway without logging into the 3D world.

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Atlantis Remixed in your classroom.

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