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More Advent Calendars: Student created, creative, and imaginative!

After my last post I found some new advent calendars that I just had to add to the list. First is an advent calendar created by eighth graders at ASLS who’s teacher Mr. Akerson (@mra47) I follow on Twitter.  What is so neat about this advent calendar, is it is made up of pictures of the students and teachers.  Each day that you click on delivers a new devotion written by one of the eighth graders.  I have NO idea how they created this site, each day all of the students pictures look a little different direction so that they are focused on the person on the date of the day (that is a total of 2200 pictures!!).  Genius! They are making Weebly do things I am sure it wasn’t intended to do.   The students at ASLS have a goal to get someone from every state in the US to view their advent calendar.  I think we can help them out with that and do one better, let’s get them views from around the world! This student created calendar is not to be missed! This calendar is a fun one to use with your students, but why not blog lift their idea and create a similar calendar with your students?  Since we are already into December maybe yours is a 12 days of Christmas calendar or a unique lead up to your schools winter break.  Students could create a “word a day” calendar, math problem of the day, featured student art, story of the day, poem of the day, fact of the day…the possibilities are endless on this one. Ask your students, they will have great ideas! The second calendar is one that is sure to spark your students imagination and creativity.  Send Felicity is a beautiful idea and way to celebrate all things imaginative.  Every day Felicity From Thin Air will surprise your students with fun activity ideas that are illustrated by some of the best children’s book illustrators in the world.  The idea behind the Send Felicity and the illustrations are enchanting.  Currently ideas are being shared on the Send Felicity website.  There is an accompanying application for the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad that is soon to be released.  This complimentary (read free) application will guide students in creativity and imagination.  Eight arts and crafts ideas will be interspersed throughout for students to complete with their families or at school.  All creations can be submitted to the Send Felicity gallery.  Felicity from Thin Air is meant to be a new way of learning and engagement for the mind. It is about creativity, collaboration, and sharing with a global audience.  In addition to the daily activities, there are magic surprises.  I don’t know what the magic is but I am assured I will know it when I see it   Get your students families engaged in some fun holiday spirit.  Instead of homework for the month of December, why not give your students (and parents) the homework of following Felicity from Thin Air and engaging in creativity as a family.  I guarantee that the positive effects will be much more lasting than any worksheet you could send home.  Today’s Felicity from Thin Air activity is Fancy Dress for Dinner.  Pick any theme and invite the whole family to show up for dinner dressed for the occasion.  Costumes can be as silly or creative as you like!  Following Felicity at school?  Adapt the idea for a Fancy Lunch or Fancy Math class and have your students create impromptu costumes out of classroom items.  Don’t have time for the cut/paste? Have your students draw their costume.  The goal is to let kids be creative and imaginative! Librarian extraordinaire Shannon Miller of VanMeter shared the Polar Express advent calendar with me.  This calendar includes the beautiful Polar express illustrations and combines it with fun activities and give away opportunities.  Enter a chance to win the giveaways for your class (for example yesterday was a chance to win the Polar Express bell from Santa’s sleigh) and complete the activities together.  Each day is a new surprise! How to integrate Interactive Advent Calendars into the classroom: The season of Advent is always filled with eagerness and expectancy. Build some of that anticipation into your school day by allowing students to unlock a new secret on the advent calendar each day.  Use these advent calendars with the whole class on an interactive whiteboard or projector, or set them up as a quick center activity that students can visit.  Use the advent calendars that reveal a story to practice looking for foreshadowing clues, using context clues to guess what will happen next, or as story starters for students own stories. Tips: Each of these advent calendars has some fun goodies and hidden surprises, find the one that best fits your classroom needs. Thank you to all of you who have spread the word to fellow teachers about my Web 2.0 advent calendar, I am glad you are enjoying it!

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Custom Guide

Posted by admin | Posted in Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 08-01-2009

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What it is:  Custom Guide is a website that offers free quick reference cheat sheets for using technology (operating systems and applications).  The guides are two sided and remind me of Cliff Notes.  Custom Guide allows you unlimited distribution rights and they make great support handouts. References include: Microsoft Access, Excel, FrontPage, Internet Explorer, InfoPath, Office, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, Publisher, SharePoint, Visio, Windows, Appleworks, Mac OS, Entourage, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, Photoshop, Elements, and Firefox.   My one problem with Custom Guide is that it is REALLY outdated for Mac guides.  I suppose that for some schools this would be okay since it can take a while to adopt newer technology and some of us are working with dinosaur computers and software, but for me it is no good.  Custom Guide also offers free online learning with interactive tutorials and you can even create your own custom courses.


How to integrate Custom Guide into the classroom:  Custom Guide would be very useful for the computer lab setting.  Print out and laminate the most used applications and operating system sheets.  Bind with a single ring and keep next to each computer.  As students have questions or issues, they can consult their cheat sheets for the answers first.  This is also nice for non-computer teachers who are using the computer labs or classroom computers with students.  The cheat sheets give them an added level knowledge quickly and easily.  If you are a computer teacher or a teacher who is known for using technology in your classroom, you undoubtedly get frequent questions about how to use applications from your colleagues.  I don’t always have time to sit down and give mini lessons, having these cheat sheets on hand could be a big help for those times.  


Tips: Even though the Mac Custom Guides are a bit outdated, the guides they do have are very handy.  When you sign up for a free account, you can ask for updates to be sent to you when they add a new guide.  In the mean time, Apple has some great support guides for their products.


Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Custom Guide in your classroom.

Comments (2)

[…] to Kelly Tenkely and her iLearn Technology blog, I’ve just learned about Custom […]

I just checked out Custom Guide and this is a great website for people who don’t know much about the software and technology that is out there right now. It is especially helpful in explaining how to use this type of technology in a manner that is easy to understand and very clear.

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