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On Demand Learning: Classroom Optional (Khan Academy and Academic Eart

What it is: Tonight I was talking education with a fun group that is helping me think through my school design.  As we were talking one of the participants mentioned Khan Academy…some of the teachers in attendance had never heard of it.  I sometimes forget that not everything is common knowledge and even if it is common knowledge to most, there are still those who can benefit from the mention!  Khan Academy was started by Salman Khan quite by accident.  He tutored his cousins in math and when he moved away from them, they still requested support.  Sal began making algebra videos and uploading them to YouTube for his family, it has grown to over 2,100 videos and 100 self-paced math, science, and history exercises for students.  The library is extensive and comprehensive including algebra, arithmetic, banking and money, biology, brain teasers, calculus, California standards algebra, geometry, chemistry, cosmology and astronomy, credit crisis, current economics, developmental math, differential equations, finance, history, linear algebra, organic chemistry, Paulson bailout, physics, pre-algebra, pre-calculus, probability, statistics, trigonometry, valuation and investing, venture capital, and capital markets.  It is a pretty impressive collection!  I really like these videos because they provide students with on-demand learning and present the learning in a way that appeals to the visual and auditory learner.  The experience is so much richer than a textbook can offer. It is like having your own personal tutor. Academic Earth is another extensive video library that lets students (and adults) take video courses from the worlds top scholars all in one place…for free!  The mission of Academic Earth is to give everyone access to a world class education.  Subjects covered by Academic Earth include art, architecture, astronomy, biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, education, electrical engineering, engineering, entrepreneurship, environmental studies, history, international relations, law, literature, mathematics, media studies, medicine and health care, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, religious studies, test prep, and writing.  Students have access to the learning happening at Berkley, Columbia, Harvard, Khan Academy, Maryland, Michigan, MIT, Norwich, NYU, Princeton, Stanford, UCLA, UNSW, USC, and Yale.  Did I mention all of that learning is free?  I know, amazing! How to integrate Khan Academy and Academic Earth into the classroom: Both Khan Academy and Academic Earth provide students with opportunities for on-demand learning in their areas of interest or their areas of weakness.  Students can use these resources to support the learning happening in the classroom and to fill any gaps that students may have in their learning.  Video is a powerful medium because it appeals to a wide range of learners and makes it easy to pause, rewind, review, and share that learning. Khan Academy would be a great tool to use for the “Fisch Flip” where the homework is to watch the lesson on video and class time is spent on working through the problems together.  Let that sink in…makes more sense doesn’t it? Students get support where they need it most, in the follow through and practice of the learning. Academic Earth provides students with the opportunity of pursuing their passions, getting a feel for what type of study they would like to pursue in a university, and support learning. Do you have students that could use additional challenge and are constantly searching for more learning? Set up an extended learning center in your classroom where students who need that challenge can self direct and extend their learning by using Khan Academy or Academic Earth. Tips: Khan Academy is a great resource to pass on to families, parents are often looking for ways to supplement and support the learning happening in the classroom.  Math in particular is a challenge as many parents did not feel successful enough in higher math themselves to help their children. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Khan Academy and Academic Earth in your classroom!

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Oxford Owl: free ebooks (with audio!)

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 23-07-2013

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Oxford Owl free ebooks: iLearn Technology

What it is: Oxford Owl is an incredible collection of free children’s ebooks for kids ages 3-11.  Each ebook has accompanying audio so that students can choose to read along, or read independently.  The books also have activities that focus on reading comprehension and story recall.  There are several options for filtering the ebooks so that students can find just the right story including by age, by book type, and by series.  In addition to the ebooks on the site, you can find fun activities and recommendations for each age group, games to print and play, and online games with characters from the books and site.

How to integrate Oxford Owl into your classroom:  I am a big fan of books.  Huge even.  It doesn’t matter where they reside, books make me happy.  It makes sense then, that Oxford Owl would be a squeal worthy site for me.  Free ebooks with audio you guys!  This site reminds me a little bit of Lookybook...I’m still lamenting its demise.

Oxford Owl is a great way to instantly expand your classroom library.  Books are leveled by age and include both fiction and non-fiction.  You will find biographies, dictionaries, fiction, myths and legends, non-fiction, phonics, picture books, poetry and books for struggling readers.   The stories that I went through were truly fun to read!  Use the books on Oxford Owl during reading time on classroom computers.  Students can choose a book to go through as a read along (SO very helpful when there are students who really need to read with a buddy, but the buddy situation is limited).   If you only have one or two computers in your classroom, get a headphone splitter and let students read together in small groups.  The related activities are a great way for students to self-monitor comprehension.  Students can also read these stories independently.  When I taught 2nd grade, I had a voracious reader who quickly read through all of the classroom books and was ready for more.  He was only allowed to check out from the library once a week (and usually those books went home) so I would have him use Lookybook.  Oxford Owl would open a whole other world of books for them to read!

We all have days where a few extra minutes to deal with a problem, set up for the next activity, etc.  Oxford Owl could be connected to your interactive whiteboard or projector for students to listen to a story while you get things sorted.  The whole class can enjoy the story together.  My students loved books on the IWB because they could all see the pictures and read along.  Oxford Owl is also ideal for that time of year when the germs settle in and the voice has gone on strike.

One of my favorite things to do in the classroom was reading with small groups of students.  It gave me the opportunity to give them the individual attention that they really deserved and let me get to know them as readers better.  But…what to do with the rest of the class?  I assigned tub work that students could complete independently.  The tubs were centers related to what we were learning during the week.  Each tub contained all the necessary materials that students would need.  This was independent learning they could work on while I was with the small groups.  Oxford Owl would make a great addition to the “tub” work.  Students could visit the computer center and choose some books to read and play the associated games.

Tips:  Now for the unfortunate news: Oxford Owl is flash-based.  BOO! Not ideal at all for a classroom full of iPads like we have at Anastasis.  Luckily, there is a solution.  There are several Flash Browsers that you can download for the iPad to view flash content.  My favorite is Rover (because it is filtered and created for kids!).  If your network is well filtered, I would also recommend iSwifter and Photon.

P.S. We Give Books is another outstanding place to find free ebooks!

P.S.S. Hat Tip to The Techie Classroom- an outstanding blog to add to your reader if it isn’t already there!

Comments (2)

[…] Tips: If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Oxford Owl Literacy site. […]

What a great resource for classroom teachers. Finding FREE eBooks is hard to do, not to mention books related to technology topics! Oxford Owl looks to be pretty amazing, minus the flash part. Here’s a great eBook collection to add to those resources mentioned above. Also, these books are PDF so they work great on iPads!

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