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The Goal of Education

Tonight’s #edchat topic on Twitter was: Can we agree on a common goal of education? My response: The goal of education is to provide the conditions for learning.  I think that it is a broad enough goal for everything else to fall into place.  I engaged in some discussion about how...

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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.

 

 

A catalog of apps sorted by Bloom’s Taxonomy #standagain

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Blooms Taxonomy, Create, Evaluate, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 17-01-2012

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What it is:   This week Apple is all set to make a BIG announcement about education.  I always tune in when Apple has something to say, but this week I am particularly interested in what they are going to do with education.  The announcement has been connected to some of the big 6 (publishers).  This worries me a little bit because I find that the 6 are pretty traditional and in-the-box kind of thinkers.  It will be interesting to see how (or if) Apple has managed to convince some of them to break free a little bit.  What I am not excited for: a re-invention of the old way. Been there, seen that. We need something that will let students be creative and innovative, NOT rearrange their textbooks!  I digress.
In honor of Apple’s announcement, I thought I would do an early release of a catalog of apps I have been working on organized by Bloom’s Taxonomy.  I’ve been putting off publishing it because frankly, there are ALWAYS more to add. I just keep chipping away at it as I find it.  To be honest, I have a large collection on my iPad that are ready to be added but haven’t yet. So…bear in mind this is incomplete and will continue to grow!  For those of you who have iDevices in your classroom or at home, I hope it is helpful!
How to integrate Bloom’s Taxonomy of apps into the classroom: Bloom’s Taxonomy is by no means the best or only way to categorize websites, apps or other educational tools.  However, I often find that for my purposes, it is a really nice way to organize tools so that I can find them later.  It also keeps me (and my students) thinking about the learning process and keeps us all from getting stuck in a one-type-of-learning rut.  Bloom’s is also extraordinarily handy for categorizing apps that don’t fit neatly into a subject matter or that fall into several different subject categories.
In the apps, I have given you a little guide.  If an app cost money, I’ve added a $$ on the app.  The others are free.  The free apps are just as wonderful as some of the paid!
Keep the guide of apps handy for those parents who ask for your best app recommendations!
Tips:   Use the Bloom’s Taxonomy app guide with my Bloomin’ posters!  Stay tuned for BIG versions of the posters coming soon with my launch of the Learning Genome project on Kickstarter! Woot!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Bloom’s Taxonomy of Apps in  your classroom!

Conduit Mobile: Turn any website/blog/wiki into an app for any mobile device!

Posted by admin | Posted in Blogs, Create, iPod, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 11-01-2012

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What it is: Want to see something really super cool?  You can create your very own app for multiple mobile platforms in, I don’t know, 7 minutes flat! Seriously.  Conduit Mobile makes it incredibly easy to create your own app out of a blog, class website, wiki, etc. and publish it to share with others.  It honestly could not be easier.  Type in the URL you want turned into an app. Click go. Customize and tweak to your hearts desire and publish.  That. Is. It.  Holy cow it is easy!  You all are going to look like super geniuses when you turn your classroom blogs/wikis/websites into mobile apps that parents and students can access easily from anywhere.  Better yet- turn your school website into a mobile app and then you will be super genius of the school.  That is an impressive title.  Once your app is published, you have the ability to send push notifications to your app users (field trip reminders anyone?).  You can also easily track the analytics of who is using your app.  You can even enable advertising to earn revenue in accordance with your apps installation and performance.  It never hurts to have a little extra mail money around for all those classroom supplies we buy!
How to integrate Conduit Mobile into the classroom: Conduit Mobile makes it easy to meet your students and families where they are-on mobile devices.  Make classroom content and news easily accessible by running your site through Conduit Mobile-it does all the hard work leaving you an app for Apple devices, Android, Windows mobile, bada and Blackberry.
Do your students have blogs or wikis that they have created?  Help them publish their hard work into an app.  I’m thinking this would be a really NEAT way for our Jr. High students to turn their blog ePortfolios into apps that they bring with them to high school interviews.  Now that would be impressive!  It is so easy to do, there is just no reason not to!
As a school, publish your school site as a mobile app where parents can get quick-at-a-glance information, review policies and get the latest news.
Tips:  To publish your app to the various app stores, you will need a developer certificate.  These differ depending on the app store you are aiming for.  Conduit mobile even makes this process easy, walking you step-by-step (with pictures) through the process.  Once you are connected to each app store, you can publish as many apps as you would like.  If you have a class full of students who would like to publish a mobile app, it may be worth creating a class developer license that everyone can use to publish.

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

We Give Books: Read digital picture books online for free

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 09-01-2012

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What it is: We Give Books is a fantastic initiative from Pearson.  Here, you will find award winning digital picture books for students through age ten.   There is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, a variety of authors, and a balance of read-aloud books and independent readers.  New books are added every month along with special, seasonal books.  Now any student with internet access also has access to high-quality picture books!  Even better? The more books you read, the more books that are made available for everyone.  Choose a book to read, choose a literacy partner campaign to support through your reading, and the more that you read, the more books that are shared with those that need them.  Way cool! The site reminds me of Lookybook (which is sadly no more).  I’m happy to *finally* see another option!
How to integrate We Give Books into the classroom: We Give Books instantly increases your classroom library and puts high-quality books within reach for children everywhere.  We Give Books makes an excellent companion to the interactive whiteboard or projector-connected classroom computer for a class read along.  Pull up a story and read the book chorally, ask students to take turns reading, or simply follow along.  Everyone can see the pictures and words!  This is a great resource for practicing reading strategies together as a class.
We Give Books makes a wonderful reading station on classroom computers.  Students can access wonderful stories any time through We Give Books.  For those students that struggle with indpendent reading (or are emergent readers) there is a read-along option on some of the stories.  Students can follow along with the reading building fluency, flow and vocabulary.
If you are a primary or elementary teacher, this is a must-add link to your classroom website or blog.  Be sure to share the site with families so that students can access the same wonderful library of books from home.  Students (and teachers) can create their own library where they keep the books they have read (or enjoy reading).  To add a book to a library, you must be a member of We Give Books- no problem, it is quick and free to become a member!
Tips:  Students can use the word cloud on the right side of the We Give Books page to find books about their favorite subjects.  Thank you to @Shannonmmiller for pinning We Give Books on Pinterest, it is a great find!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using We Give Books in  your classroom!

Codecademy: Learn how to code

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Create, Interactive book, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 05-01-2012

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What it is:  Codecademy makes learning to code a snap.  It is an interactive, fun way to learn coding one step at a time.  The site will prepare students to program websites, games and apps.  Learn independently or with friends, keeping track of their progress and comparing it with yours.  Students can track and share their progress to see how much they have learned and to stay motivated.  The platform could not be simpler to use and after just a few lessons…I’m starting to really understand and get the hang of programming.  I think that is pretty impressive considering that I have never had a lesson before now (not entirely true, a few years ago I went through the learn C in 24 hours course…I could follow along but didn’t really understand what I was doing.)!
How to integrate Codecademy into the classroom: With the popularity of apps, I have students who are just itching to learn how to program.  It is great to see boys and girls of all ages excited about learning how to code.  Codecademy is something that you can use to learn right along with your students.  You don’t have to be the expert because Codecademy guides everyone step-by-step through lessons and lets everyone move at a pace that is comfortable to them.  If your students can read, they can learn to code with Codecademy.  Today, a fourth grader at Anastasis started going through Codecademy lessons and quickly surpassed me.  His excitement was evident as he figured out variables in lines of code, how to set off an alert or command.  What I love about using Codecademy as a class or school is that students can work together, encourage and challenge each other.  When students hit certain lessons, they unlock new badges to display.
Codeacademy’s obvious use is to learn how to code.  For students who are passionate about gaming, websites, and programming this is a great sandbox to learn in.  Students get immediate feedback about the code they are writing.  Start a class club where students learn how to code together.  Use some time each week to learn to code with students, you could set the goal of learning to code together over the course of the year.
Codecademy is great for students who are reluctant to read but love technology.  This reading is for a purpose and students love it!  With Codecademy, getting an online education has never been so much fun!
Tips: Codecademy has created a new site called Code Year.  Make your New Year’s resolution to learn to code and sign up for Code Year.  Each week, you will get a new interactive lesson delivered to you via email.  By the end of the year you (or your students) will be lean, mean coding machines!  So cool!  I’m taking the challenge with several interested students and am looking forward to learning something new this year!

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

Google Digital Literacy Tour

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Evaluate, Internet Safety, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 04-01-2012

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What it is:  No matter what subject(s) you teach, digital literacy is something we all need to take the responsibility to expose our students to.  iKeep Safe (one of my favorites for Internet safety with Faux Paw the Techno cat!) teamed up with Google to create a curriculum for educators to teach what it means to be a responsible digital citizen.  The outcome is wonderful, it is designed to be interactive, discussion oriented, and hands-on.  Each separate piece of curriculum (workshop) includes a pdf resource booklet for both educators and students, videos to accompany lessons, and presentations.  The three workshops available are:
  1. Detecting Lies and staying true
  2. Playing and staying safe online
  3. Steering clear of cyber tricks
How to integrate Google Digital Literacy Tour into the classroom:  Google never disappoints, and the Google Digital Literacy Tour is no exception!  These are a great discussion starters for every classroom.  I like this Digital Literacy Tour because it doesn’t give a lot of drill and kill type exercises to find out if the student can tell you the “correct” answer.  Instead, it invites conversations and deeper thinking…exactly what is needed for true digital literacy!
The videos and presentations can be used throughout the year (and multiple times throughout the year) to open discussions about online behavior.  Too often educators assume that because students are adept at using technology, that means they know how to properly use that technology.  Students can understand the freedom and benefits that technology brings without knowing how to properly manage that freedom, that is what digital literacy is all about!  It is up to us to help students understand what their digital relationships represent in real life, and how their actions online can affect what they do in real life.
Use the Google Digital Literacy Tour as a conversation starter for the whole class or ask students to break into smaller groups to discuss before they share with the larger group.  If you have some added time for reflection, ask students to write about their own experiences, or reflection, on why digital literacy is important.  Every year I have taught Internet safety, I am amazed by what students tell me they have encountered online!  I am telling you now, no matter what grade you teach, your students have encountered something online that they didn’t know what to do with.  Help them navigate that!

Tips: Share these resources with parents.  They often hear reports that emphasize the negative aspects of online behavior and, instead of teaching students how to properly manage their freedom, restrict it all together.  This is okay for the short term but does nothing that is beneficial for students long term!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Google Digital Literacy Tour in  your classroom!

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