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Answer Garden

What it is: I learned about Answer Garden from an interactive post on Suzanne Whitlow’s excellent blog, Suzanne’s Blog.  Answer Garden is a “new minimalistic feedback tool.”  It can be used as an online answer collection tool or embedded on a website or blog.  An Answer Garden...

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iTunes U: Creative Problem Solving course from TED

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, Grade Level, inspiration, iPod, professional development, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, video | Posted on 09-02-2012

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What it is: iTunes U is a true gem that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough.  iTunes U is a collection of learning from around the world, available for free at your finger tips.  It just doesn’t get better than that!  Recently I found a new iTunes U course that I had to share with all of my edu friends.  Creative Problem Solving is a course by TED (you know that really super, great conference “talks”) that collects great TED talks about creative problem solving in one convenient place.  “These speakers from TED assess the prevailing model of education reform by answering the critical question: How do we create educational environments that maximize how students harness their creative and problem-solving potential?  Relevant areas of interest, study and coursework include: Education Policy, Curriculum Development, Assessment, Pedagogy, Career and Technical Education, Project-Based Learning, Whole Child Education, 21st Century Skills, and Multiple Intelligences.” These TED talks have had a significant impact on me and have guided many of my thoughts and “hunches” about education.  The collection includes Tim Brown, Emily Pilloton, Gever Tulley, Dan Meyer, Kathryn Schultz, and not one but two from Sir Ken Robinson.  7 episodes in one place for a free course on education that will blow your mind and fire up your passion for education reform. 

How to integrate iTunes U Creative Problem Solving  into the classroom: iTunes U is a great place to learn for both you and your students!  This particular collection is a great place to feed your educator soul and boost your own professional development.  If you have the ability to shape PD at your school, this is an AWESOME addition to your time together as a staff.  In the past, I have done TED Talk Tuesdays and Webspiration Wednesdays over the lunch break with other teachers.  We gathered in the library where there was plenty of room to sit, relax, eat and learn together.  The discussion that ensued after watching the TED talk was always rich. This is a GREAT way to build culture and community among your staff.
Over the summer, I started every morning with a TED talk to start my day off with a healthy dose of inspiration.  I think I will re-instate this habit while I get ready for school.
At Anastasis, we often share videos as a staff.  They aren’t always this inspirational, sometimes we share clips from SNL (HVR, HVR! “Write that down.”) or YouTube.  Videos have a wonderful way of connecting us and giving us shared language and inside jokes.  Gotta love that!
Tips:  TED has other great iTunes U courses including Understanding Happiness and Mastering Tech-Artistry.  Next on my list!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using iTunes U Creative Problem Solving  in  your classroom!

Money Island: a financial literacy virtual world

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 08-02-2012

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What it is: Money Island is a neat site I found today while searching for some fun tie ins for our economic inquiry block at Anastasis.  This enchanting virtual world teaches students about money and how the economy works while they go on quests to destinations like the Eiffel Tower and Atlantis.  Students learn and practice the real-life principles of financial responsibility.  Students build knowledge and skills in three major areas including: saving and spending, earning and investing, and using credit wisely.  In addition to these major areas, students learn how to spend, grow and give money; the difference between wants, needs and taxes; different types of income; gain an understanding of interest; how to use credit wisely; and how to build wealth.
The site includes detailed lesson plans and activity suggestions for the classroom, as well as a specialized area within money island where teachers and parents can see what students are learning and track progress.
Money Island was created in partnership with the Young Americans Bank.  This bank was designed specifically for children under the age of 21!  Our students will be taking a field trip to the Young Americans Bank in Denver to continue their learning during this block.  If you are in the Denver area, it is a great field trip!
How to integrate Money Island into the classroom: Kids are not exposed to enough opportunities to learn and practice financial literacy.  Case in point: the national debt crisis, housing loan disaster, and credit card stats. It baffles me that we don’t spend more time in the classroom helping kids learn about money and finances!  Every teacher should take this on in some capacity, we can’t assume that someone else will teach it.  Kids need to learn about how the economy works prior to being neck deep in financial decisions on a daily basis.  Money Island is a fun introduction to all of this!
Students begin their journey in Money Island with a mission to help character Stone Broke.  Students choose a virtual side-kick who will guide them through Money Island and help them make important decisions.  Students are directed through a series of quests to help Stone Broke while learning about money and how to make sound financial decisions.
Money Island is a virtual world so it takes a bit of time to get all the way through it.  When students login, they are given a special key so they can pick up right where they left off in the game.  This is a great site for a one to one classroom environment or computer lab setting where each student has their own computer.  The site could also be used as a center activity on classroom computers with students rotating through the center throughout the week.  Because students can save their progress, they can play from both school and from home.
Money Island makes a fantastic tie-in to a money or economics unit for kids.
***Hint: Click “Join” to join.  For some reason the “Play” button is a little bit temperamental.  It worked for me the first time I played with it but not the second…not sure what that is all about!
Tips:   There is a new game featured on Money Island…Episode 2 helps students learn how to “win” at the credit game.  There are also fun mini games and comics on the site for kids to interact with and explore!

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

Algebra in the Real World movies

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 03-02-2012

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What it is:  The higher up I got in math, the less connection I could make back to it’s usefulness in real life.  I had math mastered in school, I could memorize the formulas and spit back out the steps to get straight A’s in algebra, geometry, calculus and even trig.  It wasn’t until I was watching the Social Network movie (as an adult) that I started connecting that higher math to purposes in real life.  That is a problem.  Remember the scene in the Social Network when Zuckerberg is writing algorithms on his window?  I saw that, looked at my husband in astonishment and whispered “I learned that!”.  I had NO idea that trig was actually used for anything.  Seriously.  That is why when I saw Algebra in the Real World movies on Karl Fisch’s Fischbowl blog, I knew it was a site that needed to be shared again.  Algebra in the Real World has mini documentary type films that show the ways that Algebra is used in a variety of jobs and real world scenarios.  Movies include:
  • Aquarium makers
  • Backpack designers
  • Designing stronger skateboards
  • Engineering faster bikes
  • First one in the ball park
  • The forester
  • Landscape architects
  • The Lundberg farms
  • Maglev trains
  • Reliable Robots
  • Roller Coasters
  • Saving the bald eagle
  • Solar power
  • The starshade
  • Structural engineering
  • The surface of Mars
  • Testing the robotic hand
  • The wind business
  • Windsails

Plenty of variety to help students with a variety of interests!

How to integrate Algebra in the Real World movies into the classroom: After seeing the Social Network, I wanted to go back to my high school trigonometry class so that I could connect the dots.  I always really appreciated my physics class because it gave meaning to the algebra classes that I took.  I like that these videos help to make connections between the equations students learn and their uses.  It is nice to have such a good mix of topics so that students with different interests and passions can find one that helps them make the connection.
These videos would be great to share with a whole class as the algebra topic connected with the video is introduced, at the beginning of the school year, or based on student interest level.  Use as an end of the year cap to connect what has been learned throughout the year with the use post classroom.
Tips: The Algebra in the Real World movies are available online or for purchase on DVD.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Algebra in the Real World movies in  your classroom!

Google Doodle, Science Fair, Booklet

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Art, Character Education, Create, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 01-02-2012

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What it is:  Google has all kinds of great resources that many of us use daily in our schools.  Every year I look forward to the launch of Google Doodle and wait with anticipation to see what kids from around the US have come up with.  This year, I am in a place where we can even try our hands at the Google Science Fair.  Very exciting stuff!
Doodle for Google is now open for 2012 submissions!  K-12 students can express themselves through the theme “If I could travel in time, I’d visit…” as creatively as possible using Google’s logo as their canvas.  The winner gets their image displayed on the Google homepage for a day, $30,000 in college scholarships and a $50,000 technology grant for their school.  The winning doodle will also be featured on a special edition Crayola box.  Submissions have to be postmarked by March 20th.
The Google Science Fair is open to students age 13-18.  Students from around the world compete for over $100,000 in scholarship funds, an expedition to the Galapagos, an experience at CERN, Google and LEGO and an award from Scientific American.  Nothing to scoff at!
Google also has a new booklet available called “Google in Education: a New and Open World for Learning“.  This is a great resource to see how others are using Google tools in education.
How to integrate Google Doodle and Science Fair into the classroom: Google for Doodle and Google Science Fair are such fun competitions for students to get involved in.  Both let students think and express themselves creatively.  If you don’t have time to integrate these contests into your regular school day, consider holding an after school club for a few weeks so that students have a place to gather and participate.
I really love looking through the Google Doodles every year.  I was thinking that it would be fun to have the students create a doodle with our school name based on our school theme for the year.  Yearbook cover?  Now that could be fun!
Tips:   Share the new Google edu booklet with your colleagues, don’t hog all of those good ideas to yourselves!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Google Doodle and Science Fair in  your classroom!

I might be too old for conferences: #Educon reflection

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, inspiration | Posted on 31-01-2012

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Over the weekend, all of Team Anastasis took a little trip to Philly for Educon.  The experience was incredible, but not for the reasons you may be thinking.  In the past, education conferences have been a place to go and collect ideas to bring back to the classroom.  Educon offered this, but it isn’t what we came back talking about.  Educon is a wonderful conference put on by the great educators at Science Leadership Academy.  The conference started with a tour of SLA led by students.  I appreciated that the tour was student led…it gave us an inside look at what the culture of the school looks like and let us see the school through the eyes of a student.   It is always interesting to listen to the way that kids talk about their school, their experiences, their plans post graduation.  The school is really wonderful.  It is a one-to-one Macbook school, but the technology isn’t really what you notice when you walk through the classroom.  The technology really blends into the background just the way books, pencil and paper do.  The classes we walked through felt pretty typical of my own public high school experience.  Students were engaged in experiments, filling out rubrics for themselves on their performance in Spanish classes, exercising in health class, and putting the finishing touches on projects.

I feel blasphemous even saying this but I was a little bit…underwhelmed.  It isn’t that what we saw wasn’t “innovative” (the buzzword of the weekend), but it just wasn’t earth SHATTERING.  I guess that my take away has more to do with my expectations of what I was going to see than with what SLA is doing. Hang with me here.

In the past, I would go to education conferences and was absolutely inspired by what other schools around the world were doing.  I came back to my own classroom on fire to try some of the new ideas and thinking.  I continued conversations about what I had seen and experienced at the conference. I pushed myself to do better for the students that I teach.  Maybe I’m getting too old for conferences.  You know that point of growing up when playing make-believe doesn’t hold the same magic as it used to because you have new interests and understandings about the world?  That is kind of how I am feeling about conferences.  They used to reveal things to me that I hadn’t been challenged with in the past.  They used to inspire new ways of thinking about learning.  Lately conferences leave me feeling frustrated.  We are having the same conversations, listening to the same excuses about why something won’t work in the classroom or school that someone is in because it is ruled by Nazis.  I grow really weary of hearing the excuses. I grow really weary of educators defending practices that aren’t best for kids because they have discovered a technicality of this one time in history when the practice was useful.

I want to be inspired.  I want to be surrounded by people who will say, “I’m doing it, regardless of what policies my school will or will not change.”

Part of the “problem” is that I am surrounded by 6 of the greatest teachers on the planet every single week.  Honestly. These people are incredible.  They are willing to walk into the unknown.  They are willing to rethink everything they know about education and learning.  They are willing to change every plan they have carefully laid out because they know it is what is best for their students at that moment.  They look at their students every day with such love in their eyes, that you know they would do anything for them.  It makes going to conferences, even the “innovative” ones, feel like a step back in time.  I know that what we do is revolutionary, but sometimes I forget how revolutionary it is because I live in it every day.

After the tour of the school, we were free to wander the streets of Philly until the opening Keynote panel to really kick things off.  We bought some subway tokens from student, and transportation genius, Jeff and headed off to see the Liberty Bell.  Traveling the streets of Philly with my staff was epic.  These people make me laugh until no sound comes out.  We did touristy things together, like take pictures in the subway (because @bestmscott was a subway virgin).  We listened to Lance ooh and ahh over Independence Hall.  That guy can throw down when it comes to American history.  I’m kind of jealous that Anastasis students are the only recipients of that passion.  We exclaimed over how much smaller the Liberty Bell is in person than we had anticipated.  We made a lip sync video to Crazy Train while we waited for our tour.  We argued over the kind of trees that surrounded Independence Hall (I stand by rubber tree- that is what they look like they are made of).  We booked it to Sonny’s for a genuine Philly cheese-steak complete with cheese whiz.

This is what conferences and professional development should be.  Opportunities to build culture and community for a school body.  Opportunities to learn together and see each other’s passions.  My new goal is not to take my staff to a conference. My new goal is to start a travel agency for educators that makes it possible to travel for learning and meet with other educators who are doing the same.  It is wonderful to see all of the other amazing, passionate educators that I learn from online every day in person.  It is wonderful to sit over a glass of whiskey and talk about what we saw, what we learned and education philosophy.  I learned that the real reason I go to conferences is not for the sessions that I sit and participate in.  It is for the human contact. It is so that I can remember there are others in this fight for children.  It is so that I can rub elbows with others who care as much as I do.

Team Anastasis led one of the first sessions on Saturday.  We were humbled by the turnout we had for our “Searching for daVinci” conversation.  This conversation took the shape of a: What, So What, Now What discussion.  The point of this format is to get smaller groups discussing and then sharing out with the larger group. I enjoyed this format, it gave us the chance to do what we do with students every day at Anastasis.  Our topic came from a blog post I wrote about daVinci and some other conferences I have presented at.  You can see the website we used to guide discussion at http://searching4davinci.weebly.com.  In addition to an overview, it has my Bloom’s Taxonomy images and pictures from inside Anastasis.  I truly did enjoy the conversations that were had, and the bunny trails that they led to.  One of my favorite share outs was from a teacher who said “we need to start hiring renaissance, daVinci teachers.”  Our main focus was on creating classrooms that would foster the daVinci in students.  I really liked the teacher angle.  He was right, it is hard to create this type of learning atmosphere without teachers who are multidisciplinary and passionate about a variety of disciplines.  That is what makes our rock star teachers at Anastasis such rock stars.  They are that kind of teacher.

We enjoyed engaging in conversation in the panels and other sessions.  Sometimes we wanted to fight, and sometimes we couldn’t agree more.  The whole conference was kicked off with the panel about how to sustain innovation.  Some time was dedicated to defining what innovation was (vs just a trend) and panelist offered ideas about how innovation could be sustained in schools.  I’m not sure an answer was ever landed on and I think that part of the problem was that innovation can’t be sustained when your focus is on innovation.  Innovation is not something that you can plan out.  Often it is the result of happy accidents and hunches colliding and a willingness to do something scary.  I asked (rather uneloquently) if maybe we weren’t asking the right question.  I’m not sure there is an answer to sustaining innovation.  Maybe the real question should be, how can we make education look more like life?  How can we bring more of what it means to be human into the classroom?  How can we encourage life to happen in education?  Innovation is a natural byproduct of life.  Innovation happens where their is opportunities for failures that lead to new thinking.  Failure is also a natural byproduct of life. After the panel discussion @matthewquigley commented on how uncomfortable educators were with open ended questions.  “Did you notice that EVERY teacher in there felt the need to give a conclusive answer?”  It was true, most were not willing to leave the panel without a clear cut “this is how you do it” answer.  How sad.  Questions and inquiry make way for innovation.  When you already have the answer there is no longer a reason to innovate.

What bummed me out about this conference was the number of excuses I heard about why something would/could never work in their situation.  What I really saw: fear.  I refuse to believe there is nothing to be done.  I refuse to believe that we can’t do better for kids now.  I refuse to believe that there is no wiggle room around all of the constraints we think we have.  I refuse to accept it.  I know it can be different.  And if it can’t, my next question is: why would you accept that?  If you truly want what is best for kids (and I know you do), why would you continue down the path of can’t?  Stand up. Fight. Start over. Do something.  The excuses will get us all nowhere.  The excuses hurt the kids who don’t have time to sit and wait for us to get it right.  I know some will say that it is different for us because we decide what our school looks like. We started the school.  It wasn’t hard. Everyone could do it if they were willing to be a little bit afraid.  @matthewquigley and I started a school with zero dollars.  No joke.  We didn’t get some wonderful grant, government money, etc.  We figured out how to be uncomfortable for a little while so that we could do something amazing.  We surrounded ourselves with families who supported us emotionally and acted as our cheerleaders and challenged us.  We found other teachers who were crazy and passionate enough to journey this path with us.  We built a community.  That is what it takes, a community who is ready to change the path because it is the right thing to do.  Don’t wait for your admin to wake up and do it, or for the teacher next door to get on board, or the government to change.  Be the change you want to see and do it.

What I loved about Educon: encouraging and fostering the community and culture of our school by going on this grand adventure together.  Meeting up with friends and fellow change makers from around the world.  Making jokes, challenging each other, sharing a meal, sight seeing and singing together.  Sharing laughter, ideas, and stories.  Seeing students take ownership over their school and pride in showing it off.

As it turns out, this post is a lot longer than I had anticipated…sorry about that.  I am too old for conferences.  Sometimes we have to play make-believe with others until they too outgrow conferences.  I’m okay with that. Baby steps.  What I would like to hear less of is the excuses.  I would like to see more opportunities for those of us who have outgrown conferences to have a different kind of learning experience.  One where we travel to a common destination where we can explore, and geek out, and share.  One where we can debate over a good Philly cheese steak, sing karaoke together, and challenge each other.  Maybe what we really need are host schools around the world that can be our gathering place for grand adventures of this sort.  Any takers?

Yesterday @matthewquigley stopped me and said “You know we can’t call our teachers ‘teachers’ any more right?  They are change makers.”  He is so right!  Lance (soon to be on Twitter), @nancybabbitt, @leadingwlove, @michellek107, @bestmscott, @matthewquigley: you are my heroes.  I had the BEST time with you all and I couldn’t be more excited about what we are doing to change our corner of the world.  Onward.

America’s biggest story time with Tim Tebow!

Posted by admin | Posted in Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Websites | Posted on 30-01-2012

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What it is:   Book-it and Suessville have teamed up to do a live read-aloud story time with Tim Tebow.  On February 15, 2012, Tim Tebow will be live in a webcast reading Dr. Seuss classic, Green Eggs and Ham.  This is especially exciting for our Colorado kids who are huge Tebow fans-HUGE.  There are lots of fun printables to pump your students up for the big-day including some tail gate party fun.  There are coloring pages, bookmarks, graphing activities, green activities, games and more.
How to integrate America’s Biggest Story Time into the classroom: Set up a reminder for this one, it is sure to be a good time.   You just can’t beat a good story…Green Egg and Ham is a classic!  Hold a reading party in your classroom, using this event to kick it off.  Start by holding a tail gate party complete with fun snacks, a book exchange, etc.  Watch Tim Tebow read Green Egg and Ham live in the webcast on an interactive whiteboard or on a projector-connected computer.  Set up tents, pillows and blankets around the room where students can choose a cozy spot for a day of reading.  This is a fun way to celebrate the joy of reading.
Here are some more ideas I have been collecting on Pinterest for your read-in book party:

Book cakeBook party inviteBubble Gum TimerCaterpillar kabobs

Tips:   Sign up for an email reminder for this event on the Book It website!  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you should be on Pinterest. 

Please leave a comment and share how you are using America’s Biggest Story Time with Tim Tebow in  your classroom!

Jr. High Speed Booking

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Evaluate, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 30-01-2012

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Today I created another speed booking site, this time for our JR. High teacher at Anastasis. Feel free to use it with your middle school students…make sure to create your OWN share page or I will get a whole lot of interesting responses from our Google form.  You can create  your own form using Google Docs.

Team Fink Extreme Speed Booking. 

If you are unsure of what I am talking about here, you should check out this post for a full explanation. 

 

 

Extreme Speed Booking:Using Technology to help kids love reading

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Evaluate, Fun & Games, inspiration, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 23-01-2012

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What it is:  What makes technology SO great is the way that it can make life (and teaching) more productive and fun.  Over the years, I have found so many ways that technology can make reading more rewarding for both kids who love to read, and kids who dread reading.  Today, I created an “Extreme Speed Booking” website for @michellek107′s class at Anastasis.  I created the site quickly using Weebly, an awesome WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website editor.  Drag and drop website building is where it is at!  The idea behind the site is to introduce students to a variety of books and form classroom book groups.  How does Extreme Speed Booking work?  A whole lot like speed dating.  :)   Students spend a little time with each book and then rate them accordingly with “I want to read more”,  “Interesting”, “Not for me”, or “I’ve already read”.  Students can also make a note of how interested they are in reading the book (maybe a 1-10 scale)?  This process introduces students to a variety of books, genres and authors.  Students may come across titles and authors they wouldn’t otherwise find.  It also helps teachers form classroom book groups that are of high-interest and investment to students because they had input.
How to integrate Extreme Speed Booking into the classroom: Extreme Speed Booking is a fun way to build book groups/literature circles.  I love this method of exposure to a variety of books, authors, and genres.
For our purposes at Anastasis, I created the Weebly website with a link to the “look inside” on Amazon.  Because all of our students have an iPad, this was the simplest way to get the book preview into the hands of the students.  Don’t have technology?  No problem!  Just make sure that you have enough copies of books so that each student can sit with the physical book during the Extreme Speed Booking sessions.  If you have classroom computers, you can do a blend of both.
Explain to your students that they will have 2 minutes with each book.  During that time, they can choose to read the introduction or first chapter, read the book jacket, or flip through and look at chapter titles and pictures.  The goal during this time is to discover whether this is a book that they would like to read.  It is okay if it isn’t a book they would want to read…the goal is to find out which book they are most excited about.  After the two minutes is up, sound a bell that signifies it is time to switch.  Before they switch, students can quickly make a note of the Title and rate the book.  Continue on until students have had 2 minutes with each book.  Collect the notes students have made and formulate book groups based on interest in the book.
I’ve added a few extra pages to our Extreme Speed Booking website including places where students can explore other books that they may like to read (Shelfari and Book Wink).  I’ve also added a form that book groups can fill out as they are reading.  The form gets emailed directly to the teacher.  Our students will probably be blogging quite a bit of reflection about their reading.  I thought it might also be useful to have a place for groups to answer questions, make comments, or update their teacher with their progress as a group.
@michellek107 created a Google form for her students to fill out while they are speed booking.  Great idea!  She is so smart.  This will make it easy to collect all of the responses in one place to form groups.
Suggestions for books:
  • Choose books from a variety of levels, make sure you have a few book options for each reading level in your classroom.
  • Choose a variety of authors and genres, this is a great way to expose students to authors and genres they don’t normally seek out on their own.
  • Set up classroom computers with some book trailer videos from a site like Book Wink…this is a great “introduction” to a book or genre and acts much like a movie trailer.
  • Choose a variety of books from ONE author.  After students have completed reading in their smaller groups, they can come back together and do an author study as a whole class; each group contributing something a little different.
  • Choose a variety of books from ONE genre.  Students can read books in the smaller groups but discuss common features of the genre as a class.
  • Choose a variety of books on a similar topic.  Students can read books in the smaller groups and then discuss the different character perspectives, author approaches, etc.  This would be really neat to do with historical fiction, Holocaust fiction, etc.
  • Use non-fiction books that reinforce topics and themes that you are using in other academic areas.
  • Use biographies of presidents, change makers, authors, etc.   Students can learn about a specific person in the smaller reading group and share what they have learned with the larger group later.
Tips:   Extreme Speed Booking is a lot of fun with tech, but equally doable without tech!  If you have access to a 1-1 tech environment, or can reserve the computer lab for a round of speed booking, you can use my technique above.  Weebly makes it very easy to do this!
If you haven’t already, check out Shelfari and create a virtual bookshelf of book recommendations for your class or school.  You can see our Shelfari shelf for Anastasis below.  If you teach 3rd-12th grade it is worth checking out Book Wink!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Extreme Speed Booking in  your classroom!

A Plethora of habitat websites and activities

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, Knowledge (remember), Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 19-01-2012

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This post is going to be formatted a little differently than most are-so fair warning. :)  I do a lot of digging for resources and tools for our inquiry block at Anastasis Academy.  I thought it might be about time I shared the love here!  If you find it useful, I may include some more of these kinds of posts periodically.

Right now our students are learning about how the world works.  They are inquiring into animal habitats and needs.

Websites:

  1. Draw a habitat- my favorite from PBS!
  2. Plant and Animal Habitats from BBC has students working with the Sarah Jane Adventures team to complete a habitat interactive activity where students match aliens with the best habitat based on clues about both creature and habitat.
  3. Learn about habitats with this virtual text from BBC.
  4. Create a butterfly habitat by adding and removing plants.
  5. Explore the Deep Sea habitat with this interactive from National Geographic.
  6. Explore the Antarctica habitat with National Geographic’s Critter Cam.
  7. Build an online habitat with Switch Zoo.
  8. Design a Habitat with ARKive education.
  9. The Great Habitat Match with the Magic School Bus Gang.
  10. Walk in the Forest helps students learn about layers of habitats in the forest.
  11. Animal Homes (this is a good one for kindergarten or younger).
  12. Frog habitats- students help a frog find a new home.
  13. e-Learning for kids habitat interactive.

Activities:

  • Remember cootie catchers? Or fortune tellers?  They are easily folded out of a regular 8.5×11″ piece of paper.  Students can use cootie catchers to show their knowledge, and quiz each other, about habitats.  Ask students to each choose a different habitat to create their cootie catcher about.  Each flap can have a different word that describes the habitat (for example: desert might say “dry”, “barren”, “extreme temperatures”, “low vegetation”).  The next flap can have a type of animal that lives in that type of habitat.  The last flap can include a fact about why that habitat is perfect for the animal.  To play with the cootie catcher, one student chooses a word and the other spells the word out while opening and closing the cootie catcher.  The first student chooses a new word and the second student spells the word out while manipulating the cootie catcher.  On the final turn, the student chooses a flap to be opened to reveal the fact.
  • Create a complete ecosystem: photosynthesis, rain, decomposition, life cycles  http://cranberrycorner.blogspot.com/2010/07/summer-fun-ecosystem-edition.html 

There are SO many fun ways to explore habitats and animals…if you have outdoor space at your school, send students outside to explore the habitats they walk right by every day.

Say “NO!!” to the Protect IP Act

Posted by admin | Posted in General | Posted on 18-01-2012

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This post is for all of my American friends:  You may have noticed some of your favorite sites (Google, Wikipedia, Pinterest, etc.) have some funky things going on with them today.  That is because the Internet as we know it is at risk.  I know, it sounds diabolical!  I hope that you will take 3 minutes to help save the web by calling your Senators and letting them know why SOPA and PIPA are such a terrible idea.  Take a little visit over to American Censorship (http://americancensorship.org), enter your phone number and zip code (or fill in above).  You will immediately receive a phone call with some discussion points about the bill and tips for a worthwhile conversation.  Then, you will be directly connected with your local Senator(s).  After work hours? It was for me!  That’s okay, just leave a message stating why you believe SOPA and PIPA are such a bad idea.   This truly is a fast and painless process.  You know what wouldn’t be painless? Censored Interwebs.

 

 

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