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It’s that time again! Project PLN is ramping up for another year of sharing.  We took a little time off for the summer to re-charge our batteries (and let you recharge yours). What is Project PLN?  A collection of articles written by members of our PLN (Personal Learning Network-that’s...

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First Day of School: Anastasis Academy #standagain

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management | Posted on 22-08-2011

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Today was one for the books.  We did it! We opened a school with a radical new vision for what a school should look like in light of learning.  It was a truly great day!

Of course there were some bumps (that is to be expected with ANY first day of school) but I have to say, when you surround yourself with incredible people it is hard to go wrong.  When I say that we built a dream team it is not an exaggeration.  These are true teachers, masters at what they do because each of them is a linchpin.  They don’t wait around for someone to tell them what to do, they exude greatness and encourage the same in their students.

We started our day the way we will start every day at Anastasis Academy, with a community mile walk.  We call this a community walk because families are invited to do it with us.  Every family joined us today.  I know that won’t be the case every day but it was an incredible start to the year to see a whole community walk together.

After the walk, the community gathered for a blessing for the year from our Board Members.  These are people who have poured into us and mentored us in so many ways.  We couldn’t be where we are without our board and the people it represents.

Today there were discussions about community, what it means to properly manage freedom and how to be a friend.  The children are incredibly perceptive and these discussions led to some pretty profound insights from the students.  One fourth grader noted “Freedom requires a lot of responsibility.”  Students seemed to grasp that freedom doesn’t mean that we get to do whatever we want when we want to.  It requires something of us.  There were discussions about what this freedom looks like within our school community, what this freedom looks like in learning and what this freedom looks like in our technology use with the iPads.

The iPads are still a novelty for many of the students.  They wanted to do EVERYTHING on the iPads all at once because they could.  “Let’s play a game, listen to music, and have a video going all at once!!”  I suspect that the novelty will wear off as students come to realize that the iPad isn’t just a once-in-a-while privileged but something that they can learn with all the time.  One of my favorite moments of the day was when some eighth grade boys came up from lunch having an argument about which was bigger: a liter or a gallon.  Their first instinct wasn’t to use their iPads and Google the answer, but to ask an adult.  They are still in the mindset that adults hold all of the knowledge of the world.   It was a great time for us to shrug our shoulders and remind them that they had the whole world at their fingertips and could discover the answer themselves.

We had some fun whole-school activities built into the day.  Before school each teacher wrote 10 things about themselves.  Each item was printed out on a separate piece of paper.  These were spread out on the floor and students were to choose an item and match it to the teacher they thought it belonged to.  Each teacher stood in a different corner and the students set off trying to match talents, passions and fears to the correct teacher.  After they had correctly placed all of the items, each teacher took a moment to go through their stack, introducing themselves to the students.  The kids asked great follow-up questions and were excited that many of their own passions, interests and fears were reflected in those leading them in learning this year.  It was so much fun to see students faces light up when teachers said things like “I love Star Wars” or “I love to play basketball”.  They begged for proof when we shared secret talents “touching our tongue to our nose”.  They shared a special bond when they found out that even adults have fears. (Mine is taxidermy-true story.)

Because we are in a brand new building, we had to come up with a way of helping kids find things like bathrooms, drinking fountains, classrooms, playgrounds, lunchroom, etc.  I thought a scavenger hunt would be a fun way to do this.  Since I am a HUGE geek, I decided to do this techy style with QR codes.  Each team (classroom) got 10 QR codes that led them to clues with each student in charge of one clue.  Students downloaded the free Scan app and scanned the QR codes to receive a clue.  As a team, they worked together to solve the clue to find different areas in the building.  When they solved the clue they took a picture of the answer using the camera app.  At the end of the hunt, students added up their points.  All ages had fun with the hunt!

I deemed the day a success when, at the end of the day, I overheard siblings use their iPad to FaceTime with their dad.  He asked how the first day was and both answered, “great! We had fun!”.  The first grader went on to enthusiastically tell her dad about the scavenger hunt that she went on and the pictures that she took.  The seventh grader added some additional details about how the QR codes worked.  Both talked about relationships with teachers and students.  To have that on the first day of a new school is telling.  We have a great team.

Passwords may have been missing, permissions needed to be configured but all in all it was a fantastic success!  I can’t wait to see what the year brings.

Onward.

The Dream Team…

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy | Posted on 15-08-2011

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This marks the week before the first week of school.  The school I’m starting. Wow, weird to say.  I’m can’t promise a solid week of posts as we scramble to get everything squared away.  In the mean time, I thought I would “introduce” you to the Anastasis Academy dream team.  They are a seriously incredible group!

Stand Again (click here to meet the team!)  Stand Again is the official Anastasis Academy blog.  We chose Stand Again because it is what Anastasis translates to in Greek.  You may also see the team using the #standagain hashtag on Twitter to tell of our adventures, it is the quickest way to see what we are up to. 🙂

I hope that those of you who are starting back to school this week have an incredible year ahead of you!

#RSCON3 Reflection Party Save the Date!

Posted by admin | Posted in Reform Symposium Conference | Posted on 10-08-2011

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You are cordially invited to the official #RSCON3 Reflection Party on Saturday, August 13th at 8am LA time, 10am Houston, 11am NYC, 4pm London, 11pm Perth! Check more time zones here, http://bit.ly/rscon3partytimezones
We will raffle the rest of the prizes including the iPad 2!

Here is the room link, https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?sid=2008350&password=M.0743256FB7C4BCBCBFA7D1BB923C68

We will see you there!

Sincerely your organizers,

Shelly Terrell, Clive Elsmore, Kelly Tenkely, Chris Rogers, Lisa Dabbs, Melissa Tran, Mark Barnes, Ian Chia, Cecilia Lemos, Kyle Pace, Jerry Blumengarten, Chiew Pang, Greta Sandler

27 Days of Professional Development: Day 3 Short History of Finnish Education

Posted by admin | Posted in inspiration, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference | Posted on 10-08-2011

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I’m continuing to spread the Reform Symposium inspiration and professional development through a blog post series here!  Today I’m sharing a fabulous opening Keynote from the Reform Symposium about the history of Finnish Education by Timo Ilomäki and Aki Puustinen.  I continue to be amazed at the educational approach and model in Finland.  If you aren’t familiar with Finnish education I urge you to view the recorded keynote and follow-up with some Googling of “Education + Finland”.

The keynote was really fantastic.  I loved catching a glimpse of what education looks like in other parts of the world and this was no exception.  We have so much to learn from and with each other.  My favorite portion of the keynote was when one of Timo Ilomäki and Aki Puustinen’s students answered questions from educators around the world.  Even if you can only catch part of the keynote, definitely make sure to catch that portion at the end!

To view the keynote click here: Short History of Finnish Education

This will download the recorded Elluminate session to your computer using Java so that you get the full effect of video and chat box during the keynote.

Math Pickle: Put your students in a pickle encouraging genuine problem solving!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Create, Evaluate, inspiration, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 09-08-2011

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What it is:  Math Pickle is a FABULOUS site for mathematics inspiration that I learned about from @davidwees Reform Symposium session.  Math Pickle features mathematics videos for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.  The videos feature real students engaging in inspiring math problems and puzzles.  The videos often speak to unsolved math problems throughout history that students work to solve.  In the unsolved problem, students must use developmental level appropriate math to work out the problem.  Math Pickle is the brain child of Dr. Gordon Hamilton who wants to abolish elementary mathematics as a subject and push the idea that problem solving is at the very heart of mathematics. The videos featured on Math Pickle do just that, put your students in a math “pickle”.  If you think about the purpose of mathematics, this makes perfect sense.  What we really want is students who are great problem solvers and can use mathematics to help solve those problems.

How to integrate Math Pickle into the classroom: Math Pickle is the most excellent mathematics inspiration I have come across.  It approaches mathematics from the standpoint of a problem solver instead of from the standpoint of a rules follower.  Already that shift in thinking makes my brain happy.  Brilliant.  Math Pickle has problems and videos for every grade kindergarten through twelfth.

Use these videos to pump some inspiration into the way you approach and teach math or show them to your students and encourage them to continue solving the problems.  Don’t forget to film your students working through their own math pickles!

The Inspired page of Math Pickle is a must see.  Students can take a look at what mathematicians do in real life.  They can also learn about the source of Math Pickle problems.

Tips: Be sure to check out Muse, news and reviews for additional ideas, puzzles and reviews of math products, puzzles and games for the classroom.

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

27 days of professional development: Day 2 Multimedia and Interactivity in Mathematics

Posted by admin | Posted in inspiration, Math, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference | Posted on 09-08-2011

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To keep the Reform Symposium learning and inspiration going I decided to do a 27 days of professional development series.  Day 1 was my Keynote about how a blog post and a Twitter conversation started a school.  Today is Multimedia and Interactivity in Mathematics by David Wees.

In this session, David examined the role of multimedia and interactivity in mathematics education.  I love the way that David looked at how photography can make such an impact (particularly for visual learners) in the math classroom.   Capturing math in the world around us can help students view math differently.  Toward the end of the session I asked David if he had created a Flickr group for math photos…working on twisting his arm to start that one for all of us.  🙂

This was a fantastic session!!  During the session, David mentioned Math Pickle.  Math Pickle is such a great math website that I’m going to do a second review post just for it.

To view David’s session, click the link to the right: Multimedia and Interactivity in Mathematics*

*This link is to an Elluminate recording, it will ask to download the session to your computer and requires a Java plugin to run.  Well worth the effort to open it because you get to see everything (chat included) as it happened live!

 

Keynote: how a blog post and a Twitter conversation started a school #RSCON3

Posted by admin | Posted in professional development, Reform Symposium Conference | Posted on 05-08-2011

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Last week at this time I was getting ready for my Reform Symposium Keynote.  It was fun to share with everyone but what I really enjoyed about the weekend was learning from everyone else!  The Reform Symposium recordings are now live!  To keep that learning going I’m going to do a 27 days of professional development series.

For the next 27 days in addition to sharing a tech tool, I’m also going to share one of the Reform Symposium sessions.  Last weekend was such an incredible time of learning and sharing that I want to keep the momentum going.  It is also a GREAT excuse for me to attend all of the sessions I missed out on during the conference.

If you missed my keynote last week about how a blog post and a Twitter conversation started a school, you can view it here.  This is a link to the Elluminate session (a Java download).

Below are the slides I used in my Keynote.  For those who asked, I made the slides using Apple’s Keynote.  I just drew a timeline, inserted some pictures, text and voila- timeline!

 

 

Moneyville: Economics and money virtual world for elementary students

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Evaluate, Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 04-08-2011

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What it is:  Moneyville is a fantastic site I learned about from iLearn Technology reader Tania.  This is an impressive site from the UK that teaches young kids (5-9 years old) about money and economic principles.  Moneyville is a fun interactive environment/virtual world where students can explore where money comes from, what money is worth and how they can prioritize spending and save (perhaps the US government should be playing this game?).  Throughout the game, students are asked to make a number of decisions that can affect their finances for the year.  In Moneyville students can make money by picking apples and selling apple juice, work at the post office to sort packages according to value, work at the city gates where they can earn money by painting, purchase items for their virtual room with the money they have earned, visit with a wizard who can reveal a secret treasure and add items to a wish jar where students can place items they are saving for.  Students will also find a time machine in Moneyville where they can journey to ancient Rome, ancient Egypt, the Middle Ages, or to the time of the dinosaurs.  The money in Moneyville is generic so it can help students of any country the principles of where money comes from, how to prioritize money, the value of money, and why it is important to save.

How to integrate Moneyville into the classroom: Moneyville is a fun way to help young students understand the basics of money and economics.  The site is a fun way for students to explore economic principles.  It provides a great place to start discussions about what it takes to make money (work), why money is important, why saving is important and how the economic cycle works.  Moneyville would be a great site for students to play on individually in a lab setting at the beginning of a money/economics unit.  Expand the game into other disciplines.  Students can learn about persuasion and advertising by creating advertisements for their businesses in Moneyville using a paint or word processing program.

Don’t have time/resources at school for students to play Moneyville in the classroom? Introduce them to the game using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer. This is the type of site that my students begged to be able to continue on at home.  I never made it homework but rarely had a student who didn’t play at home!  If you do have an IWB or projector, create a class Moneyville account.  Let students take turns making decisions in Moneyville and talk as a class about the consequences (and unintended consequences) of those decisions.

Tips: Students create a username and password so that they can play in Moneyville with all of their progress and money saved.

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

Project PLN is Back! Be a part of #projectPLN this year with a post

Posted by admin | Posted in Project PLN | Posted on 03-08-2011

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Project PLN is on it’s way back! @thenerdyteacher and I met on Skype today after our brief summer hiatus to plan the upcoming year of #ProjectPLN.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Project PLN, it is an online magazine that publishes articles from members of our personal learning network from all over the country and world!  Project PLN is totally free to you but the ideas, inspiration and people you will meet as a result…well that is just priceless.  Each month the editors (that is me and @thenerdyteacher) choose a topic for the next issue.  We ask our PLN (that is you) to share their thoughts in the form of an article (or blog post you may have written).  We publish every post we receive as an article and put it in one convenient location where we can then share with the world.  My favorite part of Project PLN: being introduced to new educators and ideas from around the world.

Last year we used Openzine to host our magazine. We had such and incredible response that sometimes we caused some Openzine fails.  This year we are moving the whole operation to WordPress.  You can find the new site for Project PLN at http://projectpln.com.  We are still playing with the layout and formatting so you can ignore the mess while we are tinkering.

And now to announce your part in all of this: we are accepting posts for the September 2011 issue!  Our theme for the September issue is getting started.  We would love to hear from you about how you get started for the school year.  This could be activities you do with your students, staff development, classroom decorations, or even how you pump yourself up for a new year.  There are so many creative ways to get ready for a new year and we want you to share yours with the rest of the PLN!

Here are the bits you will need to know to be included:

Please send the post to ProjectPLN10@gmail.com

Please provide a bio of yourself to be added at the end of the post, this should include where you are in the world, your Twitter ID if you have one, and a link to a blog, website, etc. if you have one.

Please include a picture with your post (it makes them so much more appealing!)

Please send us your submissions by Friday August 26th.

If you have questions you can always send us an email, contact us on Twitter (@ProjectPLN), or find us on Facebook.

 

I cannot WAIT to share what we have cooked up for October-December.  It is going to be fun!

Don’t hog all of the fun to yourself, share with the rest of your PLN.

Kelly and Nick

Editors-Project PLN

Science Toy Maker

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 02-08-2011

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What it is:  Science Toy Maker is a teacher-created website with fantastic instructions and ideas for science toys and projects.  These are mysterious, kinetic, noisy, do-it-yourself science projects that spur scientific investigation.  The science toys and projects are inexpensive (seriously so cheap that anyone can make them!) and don’t require special skills, tools, materials, or work space.  Each toy or project has a “more about” page that includes explanations, historical context, related activities, and high-quality links for more research.  Each toy/project also has a clear step-by-step video directions or text instructions with helpful pictures.  This is a GREAT resource for the classroom, for students interested in science and for parents.

How to integrate Science Toy Maker into the classroom: Science Toy Maker is a fantastic place to visit for fun science projects and inspiration.  These simple toys/projects demonstrate powerful science concepts and can be used as an introduction to a new concept or an illustration of a concept.  They are easy enough to follow for kids to do them independently making this a great stop for a center activity.

Do you have students who just can’t get enough science?  Send them to Science Toy Maker to continue that passion inside and outside of school.  Parents will appreciate the resource to keep their kids learning and students will enjoy the continued exploration and creating.

I love sites like this one, it may not be the most visually appealing site, but the content and ideas behind it are wonderful.  Why not have your students create their own science experiment site?  Throughout the year, students can record science experiments with photos or videos and add information and research they have gathered.  This can be added to a class wiki for reference later in the year and to share with other students.

Tips: The most developed projects and toys are at the top of the site with those that are still a work in progress toward the bottom.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Science Toy Maker  your classroom!

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