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April Issue of #ProjectPLN: The Mistakes Issue

The April issue of #ProjectPLN is out today! In this issue we asked you to share lessons learned from mistakes made.  We had some great contributors this month who generously shared mistakes made, and lessons learned.  Thank you to all that contributed!   projectpln10 – The Mistake Issue Create...

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BoomWriter: Collaborative story writing

Posted by admin | Posted in collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 12-06-2012

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What it is:  I just learned about this fantastic site from fellow edublogger @dkapuler, thanks David!  Boom Writer is a fun site that gives you a new way to engage your students in creative writing, and will have them assessing themselves in a new way.  Using Boom Writer, you (the teacher) choose or produce your own story starter.  Each student follows this prompt letting their imagination take over.  One chapter at a time, student write, read and vote on the submissions they like the most.  The winning chapter gets added to the story and the process continues.  You can determine how many chapters will be completed.  When the collaborative story is finished, the book can be read online or published and turned into a published print copy.

How to integrate BoomWriter into the classroom: BoomWriter is a great tool for creating collaborative stories as a class. I like that BoomWriter has students not only creating, but critically evaluating each other’s work. Students work on their own creative writing while building each other up as writers.  Begin by creating a prompt.  Give it to your students to think about.  They can write their “what happens next” chapter of the book and submit it for approval.  This is your chance to edit or return to a student to continue development of the story or idea. After student writing has been approved, students can read each other’s addition to the story and vote on their favorite (they won’t see who the author was and they won’t be able to vote on their own).  The chapter with the highest votes gets added to the story and the process repeats.  You can choose as many chapters as you would like the finished story to have.

This would be a fun whole-class project, but if you have a large class, you might split your class into smaller groups so that each student has the opportunity to get “published” in the book.  Groups could start with the same prompt or each have a different prompt.  Rather than the group voting on their own story, they could vote on another groups story.

BoomWriter isn’t only for creative story writing, students could share what they know about a specific topic or unit of study.  Each student can add a chapter about what has been learned.  Students can essentially create their own collaborative textbook.

BoomWriter is a great tool to help students understand writing with purpose and audience in mind.  It is also a helpful way to get students to think critically about their own writing and evaluating other’s writing.

Tips: Books can be read online or purchased and added to your classroom library.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using BoomWriter in  your classroom!

iCivics- teaching students civics through games

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Evaluate, Government, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 11-06-2012

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What it is:  iCivics is a great way for students to learn about civics in the United States.  The site features 16 educational video games that help students understand our government.  In addition to the great games, iCivics has great standards-aligned civics curriculum available for free to teachers! Games include topics like: Citizenship and Participation, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, Budgeting, Foreign Policy and National Defense, Separation of Powers, the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch.  The games are fantastic, and put students right in the middle of the action and story.

  • Activate- Students campaign for an issue of their choice.
  • Cast Your Vote- Students choose the questions in a debate, rate the candidates responses, and cast a vote.
  • Immigration Nation- Students help newcomers along their path to citizenship.
  • Responsibility Launcher- Students help others with civic common sense.
  • Argument Wars- Students argue a real Supreme Court case using persuasive abilities.
  • Do I Have a Right- Student run their own law firm that specializes in constitutional law.
  • Counties Work- Students make decisions about community programs and services.
  • People’s Pie- Student control the budget of the federal government.
  • Crisis of Nations- Student work to solve international problems.
  • Branches of Power- Students control all three branches of government.
  • Executive Command- Student get to be president.
  • Win the White House- Students get to manage their own presidential campaign including raising funds and polling voters.
  • Supreme Decision- Students help cast the deciding vote.
  • Court Quest- Student help others navigate the US court system.

Students can join iCivics for free.  When they do, they can take part in the Impact Competition where they play games, earn points, spend points on a iCivics real life project of their choice.

As a teacher, you can sign up for an iCivics account where you can add classes and students.

How to integrate iCivics into the classroom: iCivics is a great way to help students better understand the US government.  The games are engaging, relatively quick to play (one class period), and teach everything that students need to know to play the game.  Students with little or no understanding of the topic will be introduced to everything they need to know within the game.

The games are a great way to learn about civics because they put students right in the middle of the action, the games remind me a little of the SIMS games that I played as a kid.  Students will enjoy being the decision maker in the game-this isn’t a power point presentation disguised as a game (you know you have seen those!).

iCivics is best played on individual computers in a one-to-one or lab setting.  If you don’t have access to a lab where your students can play, students could play as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Make sure that every students gets a chance to participate and weigh in on decisions that are made.

Tips: The lesson plans in the teacher section are truly well done.  These are worth using in your classroom!  Games are now available in the app store as well!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using iCivics in  your classroom!

Mixbook: Yearbook/Storybook/Calendar/Card creator

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Art, collaboration, Create, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 07-06-2012

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What it is:  Mixbook saved us this year in a BIG way.  Being our first year as a school, we didn’t want to use a big yearbook publishing company to create our first yearbook.  We wanted to be able to get as much of the year in as possible (most yearbook companies have mid-year deadlines), we were only having 60 made (small potatoes for big yearbook companies), and we wanted to be able to print one-offs if we needed to.  We started creating in Shutterfly, it was a familiar program, most of our helpers had used it for personal books so the learning curve was small.  And then the world came crashing down. It was the day before the deadline to get our order in so that it would make it before the school year ended. Two of us logged in at the same time and apparently properly confused the system and lost the whole thing.  All 30 pages of it. After throwing a pity party, trying to get in touch with Shutterfly (unsuccessfully), and declaring that there would be no yearbook, I did what anyone would do- I took my pity party to Twitter.

I never did hear from Shutterfly.  You know who did come to the rescue? Mixbook.  They saw my pity party tweet, apologized for our bad fortune, offered their assistance and let us know that they would be happy to help in any way they could.  I was familiar with Mixbook but hadn’t used it before. I hopped onto the Mixbook site and immediately liked what I saw:

  • The interface is incredibly easy to use.
  • It allows collaborative working and tells you when someone else is editing the book so you don’t override each other.
  • It has great templates.
  • It has great customization options.
  • The customer service is unmatched.  Honestly, any time we had a question/comment/problem they helped within minutes.  During business hours they have  a dynamite online chat support system.  When it wasn’t normal business hours their Twitter genius would get back to me. Emails were answered within hours.
  • Finished books can be viewed and shared for free online.
  • They were incredibly helpful in keeping the price of each book reasonable for us.  They extended coupon codes, gave us bulk purchase discounts, and rushed our order so that it would get to us with plenty of time to spare.
The books are GORGEOUS.  They look better than they do on screen (this hasn’t been my experience with other book companies).
Mixbook is a free online scrapbook/calendar/card creator.  With Mixbook, you aren’t limited to pre made templates, everything is fully customizable. The online design software is extremely easy to use and works the way you would expect it to (no unwelcome surprises). Mixbook is integrated with many popular photo sites including Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, etc.  You can also easily batch upload from your computer.

How to integrate Mixbook into the classroom:  As we experienced, Mixbook is a fantastic place to make school or classroom yearbooks.  Despite the short timeline, we enjoyed creating our yearbooks and are glad to have our first year commemorated so beautifully.  At the bottom of each page, we created a running timeline of everything that happened in our first year as a school.

Because it is so easy to customize each page, students could use Mixbook to create “published” portfolios or writing.  Take pictures of student work throughout the year, keep a folder for each student.  At the end of the year, students can create a Mixbook of their work.  They can include the pictures of their work and add text boxes where they reflect on their learning or explain the project.  For original writing, students can create digital or hand drawn illustrations that get scanned and uploaded to the Mixbook pages.  Students can type the story directly in Mixbook.  The finished book can be shared for free online, parents will have the option to purchase the book if they would like to.

A photo calendar would be a great way to commemorate a school year and would make an awesome end of the year gift to your students.  Each month can include projects and snapshots of what you did throughout the year.

Create specialized cards and thank you stationary for your classroom.  Any time you need it, it will be ready to go and more special for your students.

Group projects are easy to create with Mixbook.  The collaboration ability is wonderful!  You could use Mixbook with colleagues to create custom learning guides that you can get printed.

Tips: As an educator, you get an extra discount for any order of 10 items or more.  OUTSTANDING!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Mixbook in  your classroom!

Global learning and creating a daVinci culture

Posted by admin | Posted in Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 05-06-2012

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What it is:  This week I am presenting at the Highway 21 conference that Adams 12 puts on each year.  This year the focus is on global learning.  I created websites for both of the sessions I’m doing.  While you won’t get the full effect of what I’m talking about, there are useful links and information on both sites.

Technology Globe Trotting- this session is all about making your classroom more global.  I’ve included technology that can help to make a classroom global, as well as some technology-free things that we have done at Anastasis that have made our students more global.

Searching For daVinci- in this session, we discuss what it means to be a daVinci thinker.  I pose the question: in the current school system (traditional learning), is it even possible to have another daVinci?  I set this session up as a What? So What? Now What? format where we use some design thinking to redesign our classrooms to foster more daVinci.  From my presenter page:

This session will be broken down into a What, So What, Now What format. Come ready to participate!

  • What? What is a daVinci thinker?  What characteristics did daVinci have that we want to foster in students?
  • So What? Why is this important? Does it matter if we have daVinci thinkers?
  • Now What? How do we change our classrooms to foster this type of approach to learning?

At Anastasis we know that it is hard to have a daVinci thinker without first being:

  • Inquirers- developing natural curiosity, independent learners, active (not passive) learning.
  • Connectors- transdisciplinary connectors, understanding relationships between seemingly unrelated events.
  • Communicators- comfortable in expressing ideas and information confidently and creatively.
  • Open-minded- realizing that everyone has something to contribute and we can learn something from every person and situation we come in contact with.
  • Risk Takers- willing to try something new that has unexpected outcomes.  Willing to fail fabulously.

It is essential that we foster a classroom and school environment that allows room for and actively practices all of the above.  

How can we search for daVinci within ourselves?  Is it possible to search for daVinci in our classrooms if we aren’t willing to search for daVinci within ourselves?

Tips: You can follow the conference on Twitter using the #highway21 hash tag.  You will notice that all of the sites that I created were made with Weebly.  This is a super easy website creator!  We often use it with students, too.

Google World Wonders Project

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 04-06-2012

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What it is:  Google has a way-cool new project called the World Wonders Project.  Thanks to Google, you can now wander the Earth with your students virtually to discover some of the most famous sites on earth.  The site makes a great addition to the history and geography classroom and opens your classroom to the wider world.  Not only are wonders of the modern world available, students can also explore wonders of the ancient world.  Using the street-view technology from Google maps, Google has made wonders of the world available to all of us at any time.  Themes include archaeological sites, architecture, cities and towns, historic sites, monuments and memorials, palaces and castles, parks and gardens, places of worship, regions and landscapes, and wonders of nature. When you explore a site, you get Google’s street view of the site, information about the site, YouTube videos related to the site and Getty images of the site.  The result is a truly rich experience that will make your students feel like they have jet-setted around the world.

How to integrate Google World Wonders Project into the classroom: Google World Wonders Project is a fantastic way to help make your students more globally aware.  The World Wonders Project lets students really explore and discover the world from the comfort of their classroom.  Aside from actually getting to visit these places in person with your students, this is the next best thing!  Understanding the world and features of the world that we live in is the first step in becoming more globally minded.  Seeing different architecture and landmarks from around the world helps students to better understand the cultures and people who call those places home.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Google World Wonders Project is worth a hundred times more.  Students can envision geography and history because they have a picture (that they can interact with), video, a story and a slideshow of Getty images.  History comes to life when students can “put themselves” in the shoes of those who lived it.  Geography is so much more tangible when it isn’t just a label on a map.

Building up global citizens is crucial.  Below are three steps that can’t be skipped if students are truly to be globally minded:

Step 1: Encourage students to be global minded

Educational globe trotting is impossible without this important step.  Students have to understand the overlaps in humanity. They have to be willing and open to learn not only about their own cultures, but also the perspectives, values, traditions and cultures of others.
Being global minded means that students know how to show empathy and compassion for others. It means that they know how to respect others ideas.  Building global mindedness can feel like a chicken and egg scenario. Connecting your students with others globally is a great way to build global mindedness.Global mindedness truly begins in your classroom.  Build a culture of caring, compassion, empathy and respect and it is easier to transfer to the wider world.  Reflect often with students about feelings and attitudes.  When students recognized the shared humanity in their own classroom, it is easier to understand that shared humanity in light of a larger world.

Step 2: Encourage students to be inquirers

Students who are inquirers are curious, they are willing and open to discover new learning.  Kids are naturally curious, unfortunately in school we tend to “undo” this natural curiosity.  We allow students only one line of inquiry (the one they have been given). We keep kids from asking additional questions (we don’t have time for that).  We teach kids that there is one right answer (the one the teacher has).  Without an inquisitive nature, being global minded becomes just another assignment to do.  Deep connections with others aren’t made.

Step 3: Teach students to communicate effectively

It baffles me that this isn’t a larger focus in our schools.  Communication makes everything else we do in life possible.  Students have to learn how to represent their ideas and learning clearly with confidence.  They must learn how to work with others, pausing long enough to hear the ideas of others.
There are two extremes that I often see in communication: 1. The student doesn’t believe that their ideas are worthy of words.  They are shy or afraid of how they will be received.  2.  The student finally gets the floor and doesn’t want to give it up.  They want to talk and will go around and around with their ideas without letting anyone else get a word in edgewise.  There is a balance here.

Google World Wonders is one way to help students understand other cultures, ideas and times.  It can be explored by students individually on classroom or computer lab computers, or explored as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  If you teach young students, make this an experience.  Set up your classroom like an airplane. Take tickets, have students “pack”, serve an inflight meal, watch an inflight video about the place being visited, create a Flight Day.  When you land in your destination, students can explore the Google World Wonder assigned.

Google has some great teacher guides and educational packages to use with the World Wonders project.  Check them out on the Education page!

Tips: I am leading a session in Adams 12 tomorrow about Global education.  You can see the website I created with links I am sharing here.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Google World Wonders Project in  your classroom!

Pinterest Classroom Inspiration Roundup

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Art, Character Education, Classroom Management, Create, Fun & Games, inspiration, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 21-05-2012

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Holy Smokes. It has been a CRAZY couple of weeks.  Don’t let anyone tell you that starting a school is an insane amount of work; that is a piece of cake compared to ending your first school year!  Blogging has obviously taken a back seat.  It feels strange not to blog every day after making that a habit over the last 4 years.

Today is dedicated to Pinterest.  I find so many fantastic things that spark ideas for must-dos at Anastasis. I’m sharing a few of  them here. I hope they spark some ideas for your classrooms!









This year we did some composting, this was followed by planting seedlings in newspaper just like this.  Each student made a newspaper “pot” for their seeds. We love that it is biodegradable!








We are ending the year at Anastasis with a Storyline Expo. This is a showcase of student work throughout the year. We wanted to show a progression of learning and a timeline seemed like a great way to do it.







We are making preparations for our first field day.  Water noodle target practice looked like a great activity.  What are we most excited about? A food truck for lunch.  We are cool like that.









We have spent a good majority of the year sharing wishes and dreams. For our storyline expo, we are creating silhouettes of students sharing what they love about our school.







We have done SO many hands on experiments throughout the year.  This one was particularly neat to visualize weather in a cup.









We took pictures of all the kids “holding-on” to rope like this.  They made great bookmarks for our first ever read-in!











Every student created a poster with this quote on it. It so perfectly summarizes what we believe about students and learning.






This is SUCH a great way to practice equations and algebra. Each number on the clock is represented by an equation. Our students made some unique “geeky” clocks this year.








We really wanted students to find freedom in their learning this year.  Creating unique thumbprints with information and thoughts from each student was a great way to kick this thought process off.  They turned out great!










Words we live by daily!



To see the originals of these images (and many more), visit my Pinterest Classroom Inspiration page. Pinterest is my guilty pleasure, I add to it even when I don’t have time to blog!   If you haven’t joined Pinterest yet, I highly recommend it.  Fair warning: it is addicting!
























































Quincy and the Magic Instruments

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Music, Primary Elementary, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 15-05-2012

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What it is:  Next year we are adding a kindergarten to Anastasis (currently we are a 1st-8th grade school). In honor of this addition, I’ve been digging up some fun primary sites and resources.  Quincy and the Magic Instruments is a great primary site to teach students about music and instruments.  The site is enchanting with it’s interactive story/video platform. It invites students to take part in the story and introduces them to various “magic” instruments. As students learn, they get mouse practice (dragging dropping) for some fine motor skills; matching shapes, and identifying different types of instruments.  Students also get exposed to a variety of types of music that instruments are used to create.

How to integrate Quincy and the Magic Instruments into the classroom:  Quincy and the Magic Instruments is a great site to introduce students to some basic fine motor mouse skills.  When I taught in the computer lab, I quickly learned that mouse manipulation doesn’t come as second nature for all students. They have to build up that fine motor skill to click, drag and drop.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to show students that their mouse wasn’t actually “broken” – they just had it upside down. 🙂

Quincy and the Magic Instruments is a fun place for students to learn about different kinds of instruments and the sounds they make.  As the instruments appear, you can help students identify what the name of each instrument is and even introduce them to the idea of major and minor notes.  If you are using the site as a class with an interactive whiteboard, annotate over each instrument with the name of the instrument and what part it plays in a band.

To expand on this little online game, ask students to make up a story about how Quincy’s baton got lost and why the magic instruments turned into different animals and objects.  How did the instruments come to be magic?

Tips: On any screen students can replay a song or jumble the instruments for an added challenge.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Quincy and the Magic Instruments in  your classroom!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week Goodies from Learning a-z

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Language Arts, Podcasts, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 07-05-2012

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What it is: It’s teacher appreciation week!  One thing that I quickly learned in starting a school, teachers ARE the school. I always appreciate companies that recognize and honor this.  Learning a-z is holding an Open House during teacher appreciation weeks which gives you free access to all 6 of their sites for the whole week.  It also happens to be their 10 year anniversary, to celebrate they are giving away 10 free licenses each day of this week.  Learning A-Z is an excellent resource that I have used for ages.  Sites include: Reading A-Z which is a great collection of printable and projectable books and resources for 27 different levels; Raz-Kids which is a student-centered site where kids can practice reading online; Vocabulary a-z where you will find 12,000+ pre-made vocabulary words where you can build custom lists for students; Science a-z which delivers science curriculum resources across more than 60 units and includes three reading levels for each; Writing a-z which contains everything you need to teach writing in your classroom; and Reading-Tutors which provides more that 400 reading resource packets to use for one-on-one tutoring.

Be sure to take advantage of these great resources that are being offered FREE to you this week (May 7-11).

How to integrate Learning A-Z Open House into the classroom: The materials and resources at Learning A-Z are wonderful.  I like the way they are available at the touch of a button so that you can instantly customize resources and lessons for students on the fly.  Learning A-Z is like an instant boost to your classroom library.  Students have additional resources that they can access both at school and at home.  When I was a new teacher, Learning A-Z was a lifeline!  I didn’t have a great classroom library built up yet and I didn’t have the money to go out and build it up immediately.  Learning A-Z helped me give students exactly what they needed, when they needed it.  My second grade students loved the printed books, they would often color them, take them home and read them over and over again.  It gave them a sense of ownership over their reading.

Learning A-Z resources are great book-buddies for home.  One year, I podcasted all of these (I wish I had saved them so I could share!) and sent my students home with the book and an iPod nano so they could read along at home.  This was wonderful for the kids that didn’t have someone reliable at home to read with.

I also used the Learning A-Z resources as part of my literacy and science tub work.  You can learn more about tub work here. 

The resources can be used for individual students or for a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Be sure to set up your classroom computers with these resources for your students this week!

Tips: Learning A-Z isn’t always a free resource, but they always offer some free material for you to access.  You may find after this week that you would like a subscription.  Be sure to register for the license give away…great end of the year present!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Learning A-Z in  your classroom!

TED-Ed: Lessons (videos) worth sharing

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Evaluate, History, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 26-04-2012

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What it is: I have long been a TED talk fan, so much so that I started a lunch group at my previous school called TED Talk Tuesdays where teachers could gather over lunch, watch TED Talks and discuss it’s implication on education.  TED has a brand new education site that I am excited about.  TED-ed is a collection of educational video lessons that have been animated.  These lessons can be used as a supplement in any classroom.  Each video on the TED-ed site has an associated lesson, a Quick Quiz with multiple choice comprehension questions, Think which asks questions to help students think more critically about what they have watched, and Dig Deeper which helps students to explore the topic further.  In addition to the videos, TED-ed gives educators the ability to “flip” videos.  You can use, tweak, or completely re-do any lesson that is featured on TED-Ed, or even create lessons from scratch based on any video from YouTube.  You can re-title a lesson to fit your classroom, add context, questions and follow-up suggestions, and create a custom URL for your video lesson.  You can even track your student’s progress to see who has viewed the assigned video, the number of questions they attempted, the answers they provided, and the answers they got correct.

How to integrate TED-Ed into the classroom:  TED-Ed is a fantastic new resource for the classroom.  The videos can be used for flip teaching.  Flip teaching changes up the classroom model.  Normally students come to school to get instruction and do their practice work at home as homework.  In a flipped teaching model, the instruction is watched at home as “homework” and the practice happens in the classroom where students can receive teacher support.  This means that the focus in the classroom is on higher-order thinking and learning skills instead of on instruction.  How novel. 🙂 Student can come to class ready for deeper inquiry, critical thinking, discussion with classmates, collaboration and get more personalized attention from the teacher.  You maximize classroom time by “going home” with the students.

Video is a great medium for learning because it allows students to learn at their own pace and gives them the ability to replay as many times as they need to.  Visuals are always useful when learning something new, video is a great medium because of the way that it helps enhance understanding through the use of visuals. 

Videos are searchable by those that have been featured, those that are part of a series or by subject.  Students can learn about the arts, business/economics, design/engineering/technology, health, literature/language, math, psychology, science/technology, and social studies.  The library will continue to grow as teachers flip the videos and TED-ed adds content from educators around the world.

The videos are great in a flipped classroom model but can also be used within the classroom.  Videos can be watched and discussed as a whole-class or put on classroom computers as a learning center.  When I taught second grade, I made sure that I had time individually with my students each week.  In the mornings, my students worked on groups with “tub work” to make this time possible with individual students.  These videos would make a great “second teacher” in a blended learning classroom where students could continue their learning while you work with students individually. 

Tips: Remember, if you don’t find a video that meets your classroom needs, you can always flip any video you find on YouTube!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using TED-ed in  your classroom!

What do you love: Google’s multi-search search engine

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Blogs, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 23-04-2012

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What it is: What do you love is a nifty little search space from Google that I ran across today.  Apparently I’m late on this one, everyone was blogging about it a year ago!  Ah well, can’t win ’em all.  With What do you love, students can type in a search term and instantly get results grid-style from Google images, create an alert, find patents, look at trends, email someone about the topic, explore the search in 3d with SketchUp, find books, watch videos, translate into 57 languages, organize a debate, find blog posts, maps, call someone, start a discussion group, plan an event, view it in Google Earth, create a instant bookmark to the search, or make the search mobile.  This is a super way to help students organize and view information and options for sharing from one place.

How to integrate What do you love into the classroom:  What do you love is a great tool for helping students learn about how searches work.  Students can instantly see a variety of search options and can begin comparing/contrasting results from the different streams.  Ask students to consider which types of searches lend themselves to each type of search (images, video, web, blogs, maps, etc.).  It is nice to have a one-stop shop of search results all within one page like this.  Students can quickly look at the top items from each available stream and decide from that one point which option best fits their search needs.

As a teacher, this search option is incredibly valuable for the time it saves.  Working on a new thematic unit or unit of inquiry?  Type it into the search terms and immediately find related books, videos, and other resources to help you maximize your time and effort.

I think that the trends are fascinating to look at and speculate about.  Are your students studying current events or an event in history (Titanic anyone)?  It is really interesting to see how the trend of the search topic changes over time.  Ask students to speculate and think critically about the rise and fall of certain topics.

Did you know that Google will help you organize and start a debate with moderation?  Me either.  It is a pretty neat little service that gives everyone a voice and lets students gather input from a large audience.  This could be a great way for students to get help with brainstorming, collecting public opinion or in preparation for a presentation they are giving.  This is an option I would only use at the high school level (it is for 13 and above).  I haven’t played with it long enough to receive inappropriate responses, but I’m sure they slip through.  This is also a great way for students to get more opinions or input about a topic they love.  Right now the top topic on the Moderator site is about Minecraft.  This is HUGE with our students right now, they cannot get enough!

What do you love would be a great site to bookmark on your projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard so that students can do searches about topics they are interested in as a class.  Using What do you love this way gives you the opportunity to help students wade through results and practice discernment in what is accurate and good information for the topic being searched.  I don’t know about you, but YouTube is the first place my students head when they are going to learn something new.  I think this is because the video medium is preferred over the text results where they have to wade through information to find what they are looking for.  Most students tell me they go to YouTube first because it is easy to know within a few seconds whether a video is going to give them the information that they want (forget deciding if it is a credible source).  YouTube IS a wonderful place to learn something new, I often go there myself, but it is nice for them to see other results along side the video.  As educators it is our job to teach students how to be discerning about the information they collect and how to use that information appropriately as it relates to the task they have been given.

Tips: Fair warning, this is a search engine.  You can’t always guarantee that what a student searches will come up with appropriate results.  I often remind students that if they come across anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused they should tell a trusted adult so that we can sit down and help them work through what they found and offer recommendations for a better search.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using What do you love in  your classroom!

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