Mangahigh: k-12 math games

What it is:  The title of this post is a little underwhelming- I had a hard time expressing ALL that this site does in one line.  Mangahigh is a game based learning site where students can learn all about math. What is unique about Mangahigh math learning games is the way that the learning topics are addressed.  These aren’t your typical drill/skill math games that only address the four basic operations or introductory algebra skills.  The games adapt in difficulty to student levels as they play.  Games continue to challenge students without getting too difficult too quickly and frustrating kids.  The Mangahigh games encourage students to observe, hypothesize, test, evaluate and conclude. All games are based on the Common Core standards making it easy to integrate the games into your current curriculum.  Teachers get their very own login to Mangahigh where they can assign challenges, track student progress and use the games as a form of formative assessment.  The mathematics topic in Mangahigh are geared for elementary, middle and high school students (I am a big fan of site that meet a variety of ages and needs!).

How to integrate Mangahigh into the classroom:  Mangahigh is a great way to shake up your math classroom while injecting it with a big dose of fun, discovery and challenge.  The best way to use Mangahigh is in a one-to-one setting where each student has access to the Mangahigh site.  This makes it easy for students to work at their own pace and for you to track progress.

Mangahigh would be a great way to tailor what your students are working on so that each child is getting challenged at the level they need.  Use the built-in analytics to help inform decisions about where to go next with your students.

Don’t have access to a one-to-one environment?  Don’t discount Mangahigh yet.  The site could be used in a one or two computer classroom as a math center.  Rotate your students through the center throughout the week.  Those who have computers at home can continue the learning there.  Mangahigh would be a great way for students to continue their learning.

Tips: Do you have a pen pal or collaborating school?  Mangahigh will let your students engage in a Fai-To where they can have a friendly little math smack down competition.

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

1-to-1 iPad ePortfolio solution

Today @j_allen asked how we handled eportfolio’s at Anastasis Academy.  The 140 characters of Twitter felt a little too limiting to explain the hows and whys of what we do…bring on the blog post!

Anastasis has a one-to-one iPad program.  Our students own their iPads in a modified BYOD (bring your own device) setup.  I say modified because we requested what device they brought.  The iPad was the ONLY supply on our supply list. Anastasis supplies all other materials (pencils, papers, crayons, markers, paint, glue, etc.).  This has been a fantastic setup for us.  Families are in charge of keeping the iPads in working order, synced with the student iTunes account and charged for class.  We made the decision not to own the iPads as a school to keep costs low for technical support, replacement of broken or out-dated devices and so that our students could take ownership over their own devices.  Students can add any apps to the iPad at home using their own iTunes account.  As a school, we purchase curricular and productivity apps for students.  Students download these apps using redeem codes so that they can stay signed into their own iTunes account.

Anastasis has 60 students in 1st through 8th grade.  At the beginning of the school year, we sent home a list of recommended restrictions for parents to set up on student iPads.  We taught families how to enable parent restrictions on the Internet, movie/app/song ratings, and how to block in app purchases.  We asked all parents to restrict student access to Safari.  At school, we downloaded the MobiCip app to every iPad so that we could filter the Internet.  MobiCip allows us to set up broad category filters based on age. A premium MobiCip account lets us filter exactly what we want to and allow those sites we want to.  (For those who are wondering our students do have access to YouTube.) 🙂

I digress…the question was about ePortfolios.

We use a combination of Evernote, Edu 2.0 and Edublogs to keep and share our work.  Evernote has been a fantastic app for our students.  Students can record text, images, and audio directly in Evernote.  Each note can be emailed to teachers and parents.  A link can also be generated for each note making them easy to share on blogs.  Better yet? There are SO many apps that have the ability to share with Evernote.  Very handy.  Students do quite a bit of writing directly in Evernote.  This is a good place for all of student writing (even those pieces they don’t want to, or aren’t ready to, share).  Evernote makes it easy to organize all of their notes into notebooks (the learning curve here is teaching students to use some organization).  The ability to record audio and take pictures of their work in Evernote is great.  This means that students can capture learning that isn’t natively digital-digitally.  All of those awesome inquiry projects that they construct and build can be captured and reflected on in Evernote.  Another HUGE benefit to the Evernote/iPad combo: it goes with them everywhere.  Recording learning on a field trip? Check. Recording learning at home? Check. Recording learning on the fly? Check. Teachers often send students a PDF instructions for an assignment or a picture to the student’s Evernote account. Parents can login to their child’s Evernote account from any computer or iDevice to see what they are working on.

Edu 2.0 is our education portal.  In Edu 2.0 we can share things as a school community.  Edu 2.0 has a built in e-portfolio (we don’t often use this), a blog, a post feed, calendar, and message system.  Edu 2.0 makes it easy for us to stay connected as a school community.  Because we teach young students, this “walled” community is a safe place for students to share any, and all, of their work and thoughts.  Students often write blog posts in Edu 2.0 about their learning.  Other students, parents and teachers can comment on the Edu 2.0 blog posts.  Teachers use Edu 2.0 to send students assignments, make class announcements and communicate quickly with parents in their classroom.  Students can link any content from their Evernote account to their blog in Edu 2.0 to share it with other students, parents or teachers.  The school calendar is updated with all birthdays, learning excursions and school events so that students, parents and teachers are always up-to-date.  The live post feed makes it easy for teachers and administration to make school-wide announcements.  This feed shows up on the home page of every student, parent and teacher.

Each of our teachers has a class Edublog.  This is where the teachers write blog posts about the happenings in their classrooms.  Students can also contribute to the class blogs to get input and comments from a global audience.  The Edublog is the place for interaction and collaboration with the world.

We have a school YouTube account where students can upload videos and stop motion animations.  The school account has become a nice central place for students to share their work with the world.  I act as administrator on the YouTube channel so that I can moderate comments and videos.  Students can easily link to, or embed, videos they have created in Evernote, on their Edu 2.0 blog or on Edublogs.

This combination of tools has worked well as an ePortfolio for student work. I love that at the end of the school year students have ALL of their work with them.  Because they own their iPads, the Evernote content goes with them.  Even without the iPad, students can access their Evernote account from anywhere and continue using it.

Do you have a one to one program?  I would love to hear your solutions for an ePortfolio!

Encyclopedia of Life: podcasts, videos, images, activities

What it is:  The Encyclopedia of Life (eol) is a beautiful website that celebrates the biodiversity of life.  On the eol website, find podcasts where students can discover the diversity of life five minutes and one species at a time.  Students can dig deeper into their learning with extra features like “Meet the Scientist”, “Educational Materials” or “Extras”.  The “Extras” include Google Earth tours, videos, audio out-takes, images and contributions from listeners.  Podcasts can be subscribed to via RSS or iTunes.  The Encyclopedia of Life even provides a podcast guide for educators to use!

Teachers can create customized “Field Guides” on the eol website.  These guides are collections of text and images from the eol website to fit your classroom needs.

Students can participate in their very own BioBlitz activities where they are led in observation of biodiversity in their own backyard.

The Tools page has great extra interactives and tools for students to use as they learn about life on earth. Find tools such as a Cool Iris eol plugin, Google Earth Species quizzes and Life Desk where students can create and contribute to eol.

How to integrate Encyclopedia of Life into the classroom:  The Encyclopedia of Life is a gorgeous site for students to explore biodiversity.  Students can engage with audio, video, images and activities to learn more about life on Earth.

My favorite part of the site is the BioBlitz activities that lead students through discovering biodiversity in their own backyard.  These activities teach students to be careful observers, respectful of life and encourage curiosity and discovery.  Choose a BioBlitz activity to complete in the school yard with your students.  Use the eol site to learn about the different species you find.  Students will love the image and audio collections here!

Are you studying a specific species in your class? Create your own classroom field guides.  Better yet, put students in charge of this job.  Split students into groups, each group can create a field guide to share with the rest of the class based on a species. 

Tips: You have to login in order to create field guides on the Encyclopedia of Life.  All content can be viewed without a login.

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

Ever wondered what 10,000 young people could do to solve some of the world’s greatest problems?

My Twitter friend Ewan McIntosh recently shared an incredible opportunity for involving students in solving real world problems.  I love putting kids creative minds to problems that keep us all wondering. I’m always so impressed with the unique approach that children take to problems.  Kids don’t have the same life filters that we do.  Some assumptions we make about the way things have to be done don’t exist for kids. They are free of those.

Ewan explains how your students can be involved wonderfully so I won’t reinvent the wheel:

“At TEDxLondonBLCNaace and a few other events this summer I asked if people wanted to join me in trying to encourage more curricula that were based less on students solving the irrelevant, contrived pseudo problems given to them in textbooks, and based more on finding great, real world problems that need solved.

A superb opportunity for action has come along.

Ever wondered what 10,000 young people could do to solve some of the world’s greatest problems? We want to know for the world’s most important ICT event, ITU Telecom World 11, by gathering young people’s vision for the future on world2011.us.

The October 24-27 event is the flagship meeting of the world’s telecoms industries, brought together by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the specialised United Nations agency responsible for information and communication technologies. In the run up to the event, and during it, we’ll be showcasing the ideas of young people, aged 8-18, alongside the debates, panels and corridor discussions of these influential delegates.

I’ve been at so many events recently that have either totally lacked the student voice, or made third party reference to it through second-hand reportag from their teachers. This is a real chance for your students to make a global impact on problems that matter, wherever they are.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime real world project-based learning opportunity, that ties into most teachers’ curriculum at any given point in the year.

We’re providing some brief points of inspiration to get you started, over the seven key themes, and will open up a wiki space today where teachers can collaborate and add to each other’s resources on the areas.

By October 24, we hope to have videos, photos, blogs and examples or prototypes of what young people believe might help solve challenges on their own doorstep. Sign up your class, school or district to begin sharing the ideas of your students. We want you to tell us how technology could be harnessed to:

To take part, you just have to sign up your interest, and from there you’re able to submit posts to the project.”  -via http://edu.blogs.com

 

Way cool!  Thanks for sharing Ewan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

October #ProjectPLN: The BEST issue!

Woohoo! It is October which means a shiny brand new issue of #ProjectPLN.

For the October issue we asked everyone to submit “The Best” of education. Educators from around the world submitted lesson plans, apps, web tools, etc. that have been “The Best” for them.  I, for one, am newly inspired and ready to use some of the best shares with our teachers at Anastasis Academy!

We would be honored to have YOU (yes you) participate in the next issue of Project PLN.  Here is how:

In November, we are having a #SchoolDidAGoodThing issue. We want people to share the stories of how school did a good thing for them. These stories serve as an inspiration to teachers and the community. It is a nice reminder why we all do what we do. We really hope you will share a story with us on how school did a good thing.

December is going to be epic. We have an idea for the December issue that we really love. We have declared December, “The Student Voice Issue”. We want to encourage teachers to have students write about, film, draw, etc. what they want their dream school to look like. Our goal is to have 13 posts with 1 post representing each grade of K-12. We still have some logistics to work out, but we want to get the idea out there now so interested teachers can think about working with their students on this exciting project.

We hope you like this month’s issue of ProjectPLN and we want to hear from you about what we can do to make it better.

As always, feel free to email posts to ProjectPLN10@Gmail.com, check in on us at Twitter @ProjectPLN or say hello on Facebook.

 

NASA Eyes on the Solar System: 3D interactive solar system

What it is:   It is no secret that I am a big fan of NASA…I may, in fact, be a space nerd.  It is all so fascinating, mysterious and beautiful.  Whenever I do a space unit with students, I find that I have many kindred spirits.  Space seems to have that effect on all kids. Recently I learned about a new 3D interactive solar system that NASA has introduced thanks to @rmbyrne and his ever-full-of-useful-ideas-blog, Free Technology for TeachersEyes on the Solar System is a 3D environment students can explore that has actual NASA mission data included inside.  Students can ride along with the Juno mission to Jupiter.  The Juno mission seeks to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter and our solar system.  In the Explore Juno mission, students will learn more about the science, the spacecraft, and the mission with a 3D interactive.  Students can also explore the solar system on their own.

How to integrate Eyes on the Solar System into the classroom:  Eyes on the Solar System is a super awesome way for students to explore our solar system.  Students can choose to join the Juno mission or explore the universe on their own.  This is a GREAT site to share with the whole class on a big screen (projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard).

With young students, explore the universe together on an interactive whiteboard or projector.  Have students prepare for their space mission and do a launch count down as a class.  Students can take turns being mission astronauts by interacting with the 3D solar system.  Other astronauts can take “official” mission notes and observations at their seats as they wait for their turn as mission first in command.

Eyes on the Solar System makes a great center activity on classroom computers.  During a center rotation, students can each explore a planet or feature of our solar system and then report back to Mission Control (the rest of the class) with their findings.  Assign (or let students each choose) a different feature to study.  When the students come back together as a group, the whole solar system will be represented.  I have had students create “baseball cards” of everything from composers to planets.  Eyes on the Solar System would be a great place for students to start their exploration and research to gather “stats” about a planet.  Students can take a screen shot (on a Mac command+shift +4) of their planet for the front of the card and add the stats to the back of the card using a word processing or publishing program.  Print out a class set of each card and let students trade and collect all of the planets (and special features) of the solar system.

Turn student exploration of the solar system into a creative writing project.  Students can go through the Juno Mission to Jupiter and write a fictional story from Juno’s point of view.  Do you have hesitant writers? What about having students create a graphic novel or comic book about Juno’s adventures through the solar system?

Tips: Be sure to check back to Eyes on the Solar System periodically, new features, tours and news are being added.  “Just like the universe, ‘Eyes on the Solar System’ is expanding.” 🙂

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Eyes on the Solar System in  your classroom!



Goal Book: Personalizing Education

Goalbook Beta Overview from Daniel Yoo on Vimeo.

What it is:  Goal Book is a platform, currently in beta, that helps educators come together to create and track student goals.  The interface is very Facebookesq in feel.  Teachers can create and track student goals from within Goal Book, sharing those goals with any other team member that works with the student.  Each time a goal or progress of a goal gets updated, the entire team that works with a student is updated.  Educators can keep each other updated with progress of goals, celebrate students, and share messages in Goal Book.  In addition to updating educators, parents are now in the center of the conversation.  They can see all progress, communicate with the education team that works with their child, celebrate successes and send private messages from within Goal Book.

How to integrate Goal Book into the classroom:  Goal Book is a fantastic way to keep every part of an education team up to date with IEP goals and progress.  No more keeping track of email threads, assuming someone else is taking care of a particular portion of the goals, or wondering what progress a student has made with another team member.  Goal Book brings all communication to one, easy to manage place.  I like that teams are fluid in Goal Book.  Here, the assumption isn’t made that every student has the same group of educators working on their goals.  The students you have input in are listed in one place and the team members associated with that student show up as well.

Goal Book isn’t just for students with IEP’s, all students benefit from creating and tracking learning goals!  Ask your students to think of a goal they would like to make for themselves for the semester/quarter/trimester in each discipline.  Record the goals and progress with students throughout the semester/quarter/trimester.  Celebrate with students when they have reached their goals and share these with parents.

At Anastasis Academy, we hold parent/teacher/student conferences at the beginning of each block.  We call this conference “Meeting of the Minds”.  This is a time where parent, teacher and student come together to write learning goals for the upcoming block based on the progress that was made the previous block.  Students play a big part in creating their learning goals.  One thing I would like to see from Goal Book is the ability to include students in the goal making/tracking process.  It is important to include students in the planning and tracking of THEIR learning goals.  Kids have to have ownership in their learning!

Tips: The Goal Book blog is worth subscribing to and following if you plan to use Goal Book at your school or in your classroom.  The blog will keep you up-to-date with the latest updates and information about Goal Book.

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

#ProjectPLN: Best. Issue. Ever.

We are getting geared up for the Best issue of Project PLN. Ever.  What makes it the best?  You do! With your submissions of the “Bests” in eduction.  This could be the best lesson you have ever taught (or learned), the best technology tool you use with your students, the best book on education, the best manipulative you use with your students, the best field trip you have ever been on with students…you get the point.

We all have a classroom favorite, this is your chance to share that favorite with the rest of us!  Please send us your submissions for the October issue by Sunday, October 2 (2011).  The issue will go live on Tuesday October 4 over at http://projectpln.com.  Send your submissions to ProjectPLN10@gmail.com

 

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @ProjectPLN

 

Kelly and Nick

Project PLN Co-Editors

Friday Recap: Geeking over new apps, celebrating week 5

Whew, it has been a while since I have done a Friday recap.  Mostly because these days I’m just so happy to have made it through another week that I am celebrating other ways…like by taking a nap.

Anastasis Academy has just completed week number five.  Can I say how incredibly cool it is to see something that you pour yourself into come to fruition?  We have students! We end every week with a field trip learning excursion.  Awesome.

If you are interested in following our journey, you can follow our blogs (yes plural, we each have at least one, some overachievers have two…or more).  I’ve created a bundle that you can subscribe to in Google Reader.  Subscribing to a bundle means that you will never miss a beat…it will almost be as good as being here with us.  This is just the collection of teacher blogs.  Each of our students blogs as well, we can’t share those publicly because we use full student names.  Occasionally I may let you have a peek at some of our student writing by republishing the post anonymously.  For now you will have to take my word for it, these kids are amazing.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and YouTube.  You can be a super fan and like us on Facebook.  If you are ever in town, stop by and let us show you around!

This week I found some super cool apps.  I’m talking classroom changing here.  I couldn’t wait to blog my favorite find which is Demibooks Composer.  A BIG thank you to @ianchia for making me aware of its existence.  I can’t wait to see what our students come up with!  Demibooks Composer puts the power of interactive e-book publishing into the hands of every student.  I am geeking out here.  It is seriously cool.  Hurry up and download it while it is FREE.  I would have paid big money for this app.  Big.

 

Inside Story Flashcards: The world’s most interesting way to learn words

What it is:  First of all, how about that for a tagline?  “The world’s most interesting way to learn words” is a lofty goal for anyone to reach, but I must say, Inside Story Flashcards is doing a bang up job of it!  What makes these vocabulary flashcards so great is the accompanying pictures.  They are so appropriate for the words they are describing and offer a great visual to associate with the word.  In addition to the well matched picture, students can click on a speaker icon for audio of the word.  Students can choose to show or hide the definition.  Students can choose words at four different levels: Basic (includes words like seven, comb, typewriter); Easy (includes words like attire, inclined, endorsement); Medium (includes words like prodigy, monochrome, dank) and Hard (includes words like crepuscular, bedizened, atavistic).

The online flashcards are fantastic but there are also free printable flashcards for offline use!

How to integrate Inside Story Flashcards into the classroom:  Inside Story Flashcards are a superb addition to any classroom.  They are just the ticket for visual learners…petrified will forever more be associated with the kitten picture above in my mind!  These flashcards are a fun way to practice vocabulary and learn a new word.

Use the site with the whole class using a projector-connected computer or an interactive whiteboard.  Split students into teams to see which team can come up with the most creative sentence using the new vocabulary word.  The online flashcards also make a great creative writing prompt.  Students can use the newly learned vocabulary in connection with the picture displayed.

Students can practice their vocabulary skills on classroom computers using the “hide definition” feature.  Students can quiz themselves and then show the definition to find out if they are correct.

The print flashcards can be used in the low tech or no tech classroom.  Print out flashcards to keep in a writing inspiration station.  Students can use them to learn new vocabulary or to inspire writing.

Start your day with a new word.  This can be the “word of the day”, challenge students to use the word of the day in conversation at some point during the day.

Do you have students who are gearing up for the SATs?  Send this link home for some fun practice/learning time.

Tips: At Inside Story Flashcards, you can also purchase sets of flashcards with a theme.  I’m liking the cat and dog flashcards.  Can Haz vocabulary.

**For those who are wondering, I did write this post on my iPad.  It was not wicked hard…just different.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Inside Story Flashcards in  your classroom!