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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!

The Scale of Life

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Interactive Whiteboard, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 19-04-2012

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What it is:  The Scale of Life is a neat website that I learned about from a parent in @michellek107‘s class today.  The Scale of Life is flash based, and shows the size of objects relative to other objects.  Along the bottom of the site is a slider that lets students zoom in or out in size to see things relative to each other. Students can get as small as 0.0000000001 yoctometers to as large as size of the known universe.

How to integrate The Scale of Life into the classroom:  The Scale of Life is a neat way for students to explore size, science and math.  Students can examine the scale of objects compared to other objects and make observations about size and purpose of the object in the universe.  This would be a fun site to explore as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  As a class, students could adjust the scale and discuss size and purpose of the objects.  Split students into teams to choose a different scale to learn about. Students can learn more about the items that are in the size range to share back with the class.

The Scale of Life could be a fantastic site for students learning about exponents and scientific notation.  Visual students will appreciate that they can see what these big (and small) numbers are representing.

Tips: @michellek107 is digging the music on the site…she has it going in the background of her classroom right now ;).  If you aren’t loving it, there is a music note in the upper right corner where you can turn it off.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using The Scale of Life in  your classroom!

Be the Beat: Interactive heart and virtual CPR simulation

Posted by admin | Posted in Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, PE, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 18-04-2012

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What it is:  The American Heart Association has a new set of heart interactives on their site, Be the Beat.  On Be the Beat, students can explore the heart, view a healthy vs unhealthy heart and perform virtual CPR during a cardiac arrest.  The interactives have extremely life-like graphics and can be manipulated to view the heart under a variety of circumstances.  Students can speed up heart rate or adjust layers of the heart.  The CPR simulation is excellent.  It leads students through a scenario where a friend collapses.  It is up to students to decide how to administer CPR and use an AED to help the friend.

How to integrate Be the Beat into the classroom: Be the Beat is very well done.  I’m impressed with the level of information, the interactive graphics and the ability to manipulate how the heart is reacting.  Be the Beat would be a great site for students to visit when learning about the heart.  This could be as part of a science class, health or PE class.

On the interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, students can take turns adjusting and manipulating what is happening to the heart.  As they take their turn, they can play “scientist” and describe what is happening to the rest of the class with the help of the captions on Be the Beat.  The CPR interactive would be a great whole-class activity.  As a class, students can make decisions about what to do to help their friend who has gone into cardiac arrest.  They can take turns calling for help, administering CPR and using the AED.

Be the Beat would make a fantastic hands-on center on classroom computers as students are learning about the heart.  Students can stop by the center and explore the different areas of the heart.  Assign each student to study a different area of the heart so that they can take turns explaining the functions to each other.

Tips: The American Heart Association has a whole new program where students can learn to save a life in the School Challenge.  Learn more about it here.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Be the Beat in  your classroom!

3D Toad- 360* images worth more than a thousand words

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 16-04-2012

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What it is:   3D Toad is a site I learned about from @rmbyrne‘s fantastic blog, Free Tech for Teachers.  This is like hitting the lottery of educational image libraries.  It goes beyond your typical image library and has 3D images that students can spin all around and explore from every angle.  Stinking awesome!  Even better? (Yes, it gets better.)  It works on mobile iDevice browsers! There are great images to explore on a variety of educational topics including: dissections, animal skeletons, human skeletons, music, geology, dental hygiene, coral, yoga, ballet positions, fossils, history, chemistry, emergency preparedness and computer networking.

Our students are learning all about earth systems right now so the fossils, geology and coral are especially exciting!

How to integrate 3D Toad into the Classroom:  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  If a regular picture is worth a thousand, these 3D images are worth at least 360 times more.  The 3D images on 3D Toad let students examine all 360* of an image.  Students can examine, discover, and analyze images from various angles.  3D Toad helps students really visualize learning in new ways.

Use 3D Toad as a visual glossary on classroom computers.  Students can visit this “visual glossary” center to explore objects and new vocabulary that they are learning.  It would also be great on an interactive whiteboard or classroom computer where students can examine objects together.  3D Toad has a video on their site that shows a teacher using 3D Toad with students.  I don’t love their example because the teacher is at the center of a review time before a test.  The best use of this site would be to let students loose on it so that they can explore the images on their own.

3D Toad would be a great place for students to practice their observation skills.  Each student could choose an object to explore in depth, write a detailed description and observation of the object.  Working with a partner, they can describe their object and see if their partner can identify the image from the description alone.

These 360* images can be used for introducing new concepts, as a visual aid for students who are presenting learning, and as a place for further exploration of a topic or object.

Tips: Double click to zoom-in on an image.  ***Some of the images have alternate 3D views that can be viewed with 3D glasses!  The Giraffe skull is a good example of this.  How cool would it be to outfit your students with some cheap 3D glasses for this lesson? I’ve asked local theaters to share leftover glasses in the past, they are usually very willing/happy to help out!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using 3D Toad in your classroom!

HTML5 WYSIWYG editor- Wix wins again!

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, Create, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 16-04-2012

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What it is:   I never learned HTML, sure I know a few basics but nothing that will build me a good looking, functional website.  Wix has long been my secret weapon.  I use it often.  In fact, it was how I built the Anastasis Academy website.  The one drawback: Wix creates flash sites.  Which means that it doesn’t work on all devices.

Until now.

Wix recently introduced a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor for building websites in HTML5.  Woohoo!  This is such great news on a number of fronts.  First and foremost, they have again made it possible for your average Joe (and me) to create well-designed, well functioning websites easily.  These HTML5 templates are just as beautiful and impressive as their Flash counterparts.  There are a few less bells and whistles available, but with a little creativity, you can have a fully customized HTML5 site in no time.  If you can edit a word document, you can build a website.

If you have shied away from creating your own classroom website in the past, today is the day to take a deep breath and plunge in.  Wix is the one of the most amazing online website builders I have ever seen.  Why is it so amazing?  1)  It is simple to use and learn, you truly don’t have to know anything about website development. 2) It produces amazing results with a small amount of effort, I am really blown away by the possibilities here. 3) The sign up process is completely painless.  4) You have an unbelievable amount of control when you are feeling creative (still extremely easy!). 5) It is free, and what could be better than free for a teacher?! 6) It is web-based which means that you can update your website from anywhere.

You can choose to publish with a wix domain or purchase your own domain and connect the two.  It is free to use the wix domain…again, you can’t beat free!

How to integrate Wix HTML5 Editor into the classroom: Wix is a great place for students and teachers to create a website quickly and easily.  Wix is the perfect tool to use to create a classroom website for your students.  Post classroom rules, homework assignments, links for your students, units you are working on, school information, parent newsletters, etc.  Wix is also a great place for your students to create a website.  They will go nuts with this (trust me!), Wix is one of those assignments they will continue to work on at home without being asked.  Instead of having students display knowledge of a subject in traditional ways, invite them to create a website about it where they can be the classroom “expert” on the subject.

Be sure to ask your students what non-school websites they are creating too (I know from experience they will take off with this!) you will get to know your students more personally by viewing websites that they create both in and out of class.  You could also create Wix websites as a class if you have limited computer use.  Have your students prepare a website to teach other classes about a subject that they have been studying.

In addition to sharing knowledge, Wix has some fantastic portfolio templates that students could use as a portfolio of school work.  Students can include any pictures, audio, video, and writing that has shaped their learning throughout the year.  Wix will help your students create a professional, polished eportfolio that they can share with family, friends and teachers.

With the addition of the HTML5 templates, teachers can easily create sites that students and parents can access from anywhere, including mobile devices.  Pretty cool!

Tips: Did you wonder how I created that Web 2.0 advent calendar?  Wix is my secret!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Wix HTML5 Editor in your classroom!

Replacing the Friday folder with a podcast: Voxie Pro Recorder

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management, Evaluate, iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 12-04-2012

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When you change the way that teaching/learning happens in a classroom or a school, you quickly discover that additional changes are needed to support it.  We have been in the process of learning ALL of those things that are affected by changing the classroom model.  At Anastasis Academy, we are largely paperless.  Our students still write with paper pencil, create posters and projects, but much of their work is done in Evernote, iMovie, Stop Motion HD, Pages, Keynote, and Notes on their iPads.  When you take away worksheets, traditional quizzes and tests from the classroom, there isn’t a whole lot to send home as a “Friday folder.”

As teachers, we were pretty comfortable with not having a Friday folder.  We were seeing all of the incredible evidences of learning that the students were creating.  The problem: parents aren’t always seeing those same evidences.  Either the parents aren’t sure where to look, kids are feeling tight lipped or blogs aren’t subscribed to properly or read regularly.  We were hearing often from parents, ‘I know that they are progressing, I know that amazing things are happening, but I’m not quite sure how to prove it to myself.  I’m not sure where to look.’  Because we also don’t give homework, parents can’t use that as a gauge of what kids are doing in the classroom.  So, we needed a solution.  One day while @Matthewquigley and I were rehashing and wracking our brains for the best way to do this without taxing our teachers to the point of burnout, @Matthewquigley had a stroke of pure genius.  “What if we did something like a podcast Friday folder?”

Brilliant!

The more we thought about it, the more we liked audio as a solution.  @Matthewquigley and I can walk into a classroom at any given moment and ask students and teachers what they are observing/inferring/learning/noticing and they can give you a great answer.  It is easy to talk about students and to tell those great stories about a student that often get forgotten before parent-teacher conferences.  It is equally easy to talk about the work you are doing in class, when you are still in class where one project isn’t lost among the plethora of activities and learning that happened in the day/week.

We went full steam ahead with this idea.  First, I looked at audio recording apps for the teacher iPads.  I wanted something that would be easy to use, give us the ability to categorize, easily sync over wifi, and email the audio recording to parents and admin.  The clear winner was Voxie Pro.  It was simple enough to do everything we needed, without too many extra bells and whistles to distract.

Here is what we did:

Length- 30 seconds to 1:30 per student
Frequency- every other week

Purpose: to help communicate the progress that students are making, to collect an audio body of evidence that helps tell the story of student growth, to aid in the building of the digital portfolio.

Teacher should include: what has been observed, noticed, inferred
Topics: Social/emotional, spiritual, academic

Student should include:  Something they are proud of, want to share and where parent can find it in pictures, Evernote, iMovie, the interwebs, etc.
Student could read a few sentences to show progress in skills, explain Bible verse they discussed that week, re-tell a story, explain a new concept, etc.

Teacher Template

Student:___________________
Week: _____________________
What I noticed/observed/inferred:
Spiritually:_____________________
Academically:____________________
Socially/Emotionally:___________________

Student Template

A project/blog post/discussion that I want to share/am proud of: _________________________
My parents can learn more about it here:________________________________________

The first wave of these audio emails went out today.  They turned out great! Parents know exactly what is happening in the classroom as it pertains to their child and kids are sharing work that they are proud of and reminding themselves (and mom and dad) where they can find it.  Not only do parents have a great bi-weekly update specific to their child, they have a timeline of learning and progress at the end of the year.  Imagine the implication of starting a program like this in kindergarten, and following the student all the way through middle school.  You would have a week-by-week of what was learned, what strengths and weaknesses were exhibited, but also have that precious student voice throughout the years.

What I like about the audio Friday folder, is the ability to say more about a child than a worksheet with a star at the top can.  With the audio, you can communicate things about the development of a child.  Their progress in math when they struggled and struggled, but stuck with it to the end.  Their empathy for other students when they notice another student who is lonely in the lunch room and get up and invite their friends to sit with that student.  Their maturation as they handle a conflict with another student appropriately.  I especially love that students can highlight a project(s) that they are particularly proud of and help mom and dad find it.  That is a dinner conversation starter!  With any luck, we will forever banish the “what did you do at school today?” question.  In it’s place, “I’m really proud of you for sticking with that math when it was so difficult, what was it that you were working on?  How did you finally solve it?”

Awesome.

An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton: Free online

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Interactive book, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 12-04-2012

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What it is:  Dallas Clayton created An Awesome Book for his son.  The book is about the idea of dreaming BIG and never giving up.  He decided to self publish and worked hard to spread the love of reading the world over.  Since then, Clayton has offered his book free online (lucky us!) and started a foundation to give away one book for every copy of An Awesome Book he sells.

How to integrate An Awesome Book into the classroom: An Awesome Book is an awesome book about dreaming big dreams.  It is a great book that encourages kids to believe in themselves and in those fantastic dreams that they have.  An Awesome Book is wonderful for reading as a whole class on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  You could also set up An Awesome Book on classroom computers for students to read through independently.  Fantastic!

When students are finished reading, ask them to create their own awesome books with their big dreams.

Tips: To learn more about An Awesome Book and it’s creator, Dallas Clayton, check out the Very Awesome World Website.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using An Awesome Book  your classroom!

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