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Draw That Habitat

What it is: I am a fan of everything PBS does, recently I ran across this gem while looking for some activities that help students learn about habitats.  Draw that Habitat is SO much more engaging than most of the “match the animal to the correct habitat” lower level thinking “games” (if you can call them that) that are out there.  In Draw that Habitat, students are introduced to imaginary animals.  They are briefed on the animal and its needs and are then given drawing tools to create a habitat.  Each month a new imaginary animal is introduced. This month’s challenge is an animal called a Flarch.  During the activity students learn that a habitat is a place that an animal lives where they get food and water, find shelter, search for a mate, and raise babies.  Students are asked to think about how and where the imaginary animal gets food and water, where it keeps safe from weather and other animals, etc.  What I love about this activity is that it calls on student’s creativity and imaginations.  They are asked to come up with a solution for an imaginary animal and in the process learn about habitats, camouflage, and adaptation.  When students are finished with their habitat, they can share it with other students and view and rate the habitats that others have created. How to integrate Draw That Habitat into the classroom: Draw that Habitat is a great little activity for primary students who are learning about habitats, camouflage, and adaptations. It is probably best to use Draw that Habitat after students have a general understanding of what a habitat is.  This is a place where they can solidify that understanding and expand on what they have learned by creating something new.  I like the abstract nature of the activity, they aren’t creating a habitat for a known, real animal; instead, students are coming up with new solutions based on some key information they are given.  This gives students a chance to think critically, problem solve, and use some creativity and imagination. In a one to one setting where each student has access to a computer, each student can create a habitat for the month’s challenge.  When students are finished, have a class parade, where students walk through and view the different solutions that classmates came up with.  Students can explain why they made the choices they did and see what other solutions might work. In a one or two computer classroom, students can visit Draw that Habitat as a learning center in small groups.  Students at the learning center can each contribute to the habitat. If you don’t have access to computers for students to visit, create a class habitat using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computers.  Each student in the class can add to the habitat and describe how their contribution is important for the animal who lives in the habitat. As an extension activity, students can write a story about the imaginary animal and its habitat. This site is intended for younger students (early elementary), but don’t discount it’s usefulness in upper-grades.  I find that when drawing-coloring are involved, students of all ages get excited about it- I have had 6th graders jump on this site and have a great time creating a habitat (they were jealous the younger kids got to do the activity and they didn’t- reminding me once again that kids like opportunities to play and be creative!). Tips: Students can save the habitat they create offline as a .jpg file.  Click the “save” button to download. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Draw that Habitat in your classroom!

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Apprenticing students in the art of learning

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 31-10-2013

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I’m of the opinion that the apprenticeship model should be the basis for education.  This is one of the cornerstones of Anastasis philosophy, that we apprentice students in the art of learning.  The goal then, is to teach students how to be learners by modelling what it means to be a learner.  I’m not sure how one can be a teacher and not be a learner.

As a young child, I was apprenticed as a learner.  My parents were masters at encouraging curiosity.  They themselves are inquirers.  They showed me what it meant to passionately pursue understanding of the world around me.  It never felt like school.  As long as I can remember, my parents have owned their own businesses.  When I was growing up, they owned and operated a kitchen remodel business.  I spent summers “playing” at work.  This was my first interaction with using a computer.  I spent hours pretending to talk on the phone to a client and then designing their kitchen using the office Apple IIe.  It was really exciting when I got to use the blue print machine in the insanely scary basement of the office.  Later, my dad started a model rocket company.  He made model rocket kits completely out of wood.  This led to an excitement about physics, making, and entrepreneurship.  My parents involved my brother and I in each part of the process.  I spent many hours sewing bags for the rockets to be packaged in.  When my brother decided that skateboarding was life, my parents started a skateboard company.  This time I learned about screen printing, graphic design, and skate culture.  My families most recent pursuit of passion is at Koostik.  My dad started this company after discovering that he could amplify sound by putting his iPhone in a Styrofoam cup.  He immediately began to tinker in the garage, using his passion for woodworking to create speakers for the iPhone that worked 100% through acoustics.

This was learning at its absolute best.  It gave purpose to all of the things that I learned in school.  My parents taught me how to pursue curiosity, passion and crazy ideas.  They showed me that learning is a life long adventure.

I often get dropped-jaw stares when I tell people that I started a school.  The immediate follow-up questions begin: how did you do it, what classes did you take to prepare you, what professional development on starting a school did you get, where did you find the money?  My answer is always the same, I was raised to do this.  My parents taught me how to do this by demonstrating what it means to be a learner.  They taught me how to do this by showing me how passions and ideas are pursued.  Many that I talk to consider starting a school risky or scary.  For me the scarier thing would be to sit by and watch kids go through an education system that isn’t in their best interest.  The scarier thing is to do what every one else is doing.

I was raised to do this.

My hope for students everywhere: that they would have teachers in their lives who would apprentice them in the art of learning.

Thank you mom and dad for showing me what passionate learning looks like!

 

P.S.  If you haven’t seen the gorgeous work that my dad does, check out Koostik.  Each of the products is made by hand.  My dad is constantly sending me photos of new ideas he is tinkering with.  LOVE that!  Koostik has a contest that ends TONIGHT where you can enter to win product.  I saw the prize pack in person today.  The photos don’t do it justice.  Everything is gorgeous!  My dad is pretty much the master at choosing just the right piece of wood and working with the grain to really make each piece stand out as a masterpiece.  It is truly (functional) art.  Details for how to enter here.

Koostik prize package!

 

 

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