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PSToM: Parents, Students, Teachers of Mathematics

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 06-06-2011

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What it is: PSToM is an online portal for math classes.  With PSToM parents can follow their child’s progress and know exactly what their child is learning in math.  Students can learn at their own pace, assess their own learning and know how well they are doing in math (and why!).  Teachers can recommend math videos, know each students strengths and weaknesses and tailor classroom instruction to get more out of each class.  PSToM has built-in math problems with an area to solve them, math videos that can be shared, built-in tests and a place to discuss learning.  The site is simple but the learning possibilities are pretty incredible.

How to integrate PSToM into the classroom: PSToM is a fantastic supplement to the math classrooms.  PSToM makes it simple to create a blended classroom with online content, discussion and problem solving supporting what is happening in the classroom.  As a teacher it is easy to assign math videos and problem sets.  All data is collected and shared with students, parents and teachers.  PSToM is a great connection between the math classroom and home.  The mystery of the math classroom is taken out for both the parents and students.  Everyone knows what learning goals are being worked on, the progress and what skills need to be practiced.

Use PSToM as a supplement to your math classroom and to customize math lessons for your students.  Give students the opportunity to work on math at their unique learning level in a computer lab setting or as a center on classroom computers.

Tips: Be sure to tell parents about PSToM, it is a great way for students to get some extra practice and opportunity for understanding in at home.

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

Min.us: Instant document sharing

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, Download, iPod, Middle/High School, Open Source, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 06-06-2011

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What it is: Do you ever find yourself wanting to share a file quickly and easily without relying on email to deliver it?  You do? I thought so.  Min.us is a great way to share files quickly and easily, it even provides file sharing options between devices!  Students and teachers of all ages can use Min.us to share files.  Just drag the file onto the screen and click “Start Sharing”.  It could not be easier.  Choose to share publicly or privately.  Share using the unique URL that is generated.  Easy peasy.  No need for students to sign in.  A built-in timeline shows all of the files that have been shared.  Min.us has a desktop application that can be downloaded and placed in the task bar for sharing without opening a browser.  Min.us has apps for sharing on mobile devices including the iPhone, Android, and Windows 7 with more mobile options coming.

How to integrate Min.us into the classroom: Min.us is an easy way to share documents with your students, colleagues and parents of children in your classroom.  Drag and drop a document and share the link for fast, easy sharing.  Include permission slips, class documents and make-up work as Min.us links in a weekly newsletter for easy access to EXACTLY the document that each family needs.  No more sending emails full of attachments that get filtered or bounced back!  Quickly share documents between teacher and student computers.  Students can use Min.us to turn in work, teachers can use it to share documents quickly with classroom computers or share documents immediately with a computer lab full of computers.

Tips: Login to follow your documents (how many downloads, a feed of documents you have subscribed to and a full history of all of your documents).

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Min.us in your classroom!

19 Pencils

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 03-06-2011

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What it is: 19 Pencils is a beta site that provides teachers with a place to share websites, quizzes and video from one central, customizable location.  From 19 Pencils you can discover, organize, manage and share content with your students for learning.  19 Pencils is very easy to use and makes it fast to share collections of online material with students.  Collect and share websites, create and use ready-made quizzes and track student progress on that online content.  Teachers can share one link and students can access all online content for the classroom from one location.

How to integrate 19 Pencils into the classroom:19 Pencils makes it easy for teachers to collect and share resources with their students online.  Clear out all of those sticky notes and the bookmark bar crammed full of web addresses (or am I the only one that does that?) and compile them all in one place that is easy for everyone to access.  Add websites (complete with preview picture), teacher-created quizzes and video to your 19 Pencils classroom space.  Students can easily access all classroom materials from one URL on classroom computers, in the computer lab or at home.  This is a fantastically easy site to use!  Even the technology novice can put together a collection for students quickly.  Create 19 Pencils collections for units of learning, subjects or just as a collection of learning site recommendations for students.

I am a big fan of the site visual previews, this is SO helpful for young students who are just emerging as readers. No matter what age group you are working with, more learning is possible when students aren’t spending times typing in long urls.   19 Pencils also makes it easy to share with your colleagues!

Tips: Want to create a comprehensive website for your classroom?  Check out Weebly, Wix or Bloust!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  19 Pencils in your classroom!

Isle of Tune: Create a musical journey

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Create, Geography, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 31-05-2011

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What it is: Isle of Tune is a site that has just significantly impacted my productivity today- I can’t stop playing!  Thanks to @Matt_Arguello and @dancallahan for this share today on Twitter!  Isle of Tune lets students create musical journeys out of street layouts.  Roadside elements act as instruments and cars are the players.  Students can create whole islands of music by creating a street layout, adding objects that generate different sounds and adding cars to play the music.  Each object has an object panel where students can adjust the sound, volume or clone the object.  Students can determine when a sound will be played based on the ground lighting up when the car passes.  Junctions change the course of passing cars or can “loop” a sound.  It is easy for students to get started, they just click “Create a new island” and away they go.  Students can name their island anything and save to return to it later.  No need for registration, the Internet browser they are using just needs to have cookies enabled (this is a bit of a problem for shared classroom computers with a single account).

How to integrate Isle of Tune into the classroom: Isle of Tune is an enchanting place for creation.  The sky is the limit as students create music based on visual creation.  Aside from teaching some great music principles, Isle of Tune would be a fantastic way to teach students pattern.  Students can use Isle of Tune to construct patterns of objects and actually experience the connection between math and music as they “play” their pattern tune.

Isle of Tune would also be a fun place for students to learn about maps and ordinal directions and basic graphing.  Students can start with oral directions about where to lay their street “Four street squares North East, two street squares West”.  After directions are given, students can customize their islands with trees, houses, lamp posts, etc.  You can quickly tour the room for some formative assessment while students complete their island.  Let students take turns listening to each other’s Isle of Tune, noting similarities and differences based on the patterns made.

Use Isle of Tune as a creative writing prompt.  Students can create an island and tune and write an imaginative story about the island they created.  The saved island makes a nice visual-aid and soundtrack for their finished story.

Isle of Tune makes a great interactive whiteboard, or projector-connected computer activity.  Students can work together to create a giant island of tunes.  Use the annotate over the desktop feature to label directions, coordinates and patterns.

The shared songs are pretty incredible- many of the “top” shares are popular music that has been created using Isle of Tune.

Tips: Isle of Tune is currently available on the web, keep an eye out for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad versions coming soon!  If Isle of Tunes inspires your students to want to become architects or engineers, point them toward online CAD Drafting classes.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Isle of Tune in your classroom!

Friday Recap

Posted by admin | Posted in Friday Recap | Posted on 27-05-2011

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Three day weekends are a gift straight from heaven!  I could not be more thrilled that we are headed into one of those.  I have been on turbo speed for the past few months and I need a reason to take a forced break- this seems like the perfect excuse to do just that!

Working to open a school in August is hard work, I continue to be amazed at the learning community that is being pulled together and I am excited to see it all unfold!

This week:

I hope you had a meaningful week full of many learning gifts.  To those who finished school this week-congratulations! For those who have some time yet- keep doing what is best for kids!

Happy weekend!

FlipSnack: Turn a PDF into an embeddable Flash Flip Book

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, Interactive book, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0 | Posted on 27-05-2011

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What it is: FlipSnack lets students turn PDF documents into embeddable Flipbooks quickly and easily.  Students upload a PDF (or multiple PDFs) to be included in the book and FlipSnack instantly transforms it into an interactive flippable book.  In order to login to FlipSnack, students will need an email address (this can be a temporary email such as Tempinbox or Mailinator).  Students can also login using a Twitter account, Facebook connect, Google connect or MySpace connect.  FlipSnack has some neat options available that other pdf to embeddable book services like Issuu do not have.  Students can choose a template for their Flip including classic, hardcover, coil bound and interactive.  Student also have the ability to customize the background, size and buttons included in their embed.  Students can share their FlipSnack with a unique url, on social media sites and email, or embed it in another website.  The free version lets students embed the finished FlipSnack on a website or blog with a FlipSnack watermark.

How to integrate FlipSnack into the classroom: FlipSnack is a neat way for students (and teachers) to share pdf documents online.  Students can save their work as a PDF and upload into an interactive book that can be embedded on a blog, wiki or website.

Use your classroom computers as a student created library.  Students can upload original stories to a class FlipSnack account to create a library of student work.  During silent reading time, give students the opportunity to enjoy their peers as authors.  This is perfect for an elementary classroom that may not have the email addresses for each student to sign up for a separate account.

Create custom books for your students by combining PDF documents into one customized text-book.  These can be embedded on a class blog, website, or wiki for students to access from anywhere they have internet access.

Upload school handbooks, resources etc. to the classroom and school website for easy access by students and parents.

One of the features I enjoy about FlipSnack is the ability to view statistics for the flip books.  Find out how many views a Flip has had by day, month or all time.

Tips: I often use Issuu to share and embed PDFs.  It has been my go-to favorite for personal use.  I hesitated to use Issuu with students because of the collection of ALL user publications on the home page of the website.  Sometimes these were inappropriate for elementary students.  I like that FlipSnack doesn’t share user-created publications with little eyes.

Take a look at the FlipSnack I created for my new school, Anastasis Academy, embedded below:

 

Please leave a comment and let us know how you are using FlipSnack in your classroom!

Books Should Be Free: Free Audio Books from the Public Domain

Posted by admin | Posted in Download, Interactive book, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 25-05-2011

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What it is: Books Should Be Free is a fantastic collection of audio books that students can download and listen to for free from the public domain.  Books are easily searchable by genre, keyword, title or author.  Books can be downloaded as MP3 files, iPod or iTunes format.  Each book includes a description of the book, full text from Project Gutenberg, a Wikipedia link, and the audio download.  Students can play a snippet of the audio before deciding to download.  The collection is pretty impressive, including my favorite classics.

How to integrate Books Should Be Free into the classroom: Not every child has an extensive collection of books at home, or parents who model a love of reading.  Books Should Be Free expands every classroom and home library by giving students access to some of the most loved books of all time.  Students can download both the audio and accompanying text for a read along or simply listen to the audio file.  Audio books help students build comprehension, fluency and help students develop a love for story.  Books Should Be Free is a great way to start a Reading Buddies program at your school with some MP3 players or iPods that can go home with students loaded up with good books.

Tips: Looking for some more ebooks to expand your classroom library?  Check these out!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Books Should Be Free in your classroom!

May Issue of Project PLN: New Teacher Reflections

Posted by admin | Posted in Project PLN | Posted on 24-05-2011

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It has been quite a month and Project PLN is a little late to publish.  I want to send out a HUGE congratulations to Nick and his wife who welcomed their new baby boy Leo into the world.  What a cutie pie!  I have no idea how he managed to get any work done after meeting that sweet new arrival- could look at him for hours!  I have been busy starting a school- who knew that was so much work?! :)  Today Anastasis Academy was interviewed on a local radio show, you can listen to it here. Nick and I finally got it squared away and are excited to share it with all of you!

In May, we asked new teachers to share some lessons learned and reflections from the year.  I am reminded once again that no matter how many years we are in to our teaching journey, we always have something new to learn.  I hope that as you read reflections from these great educators, that you take the time to reflect on your year.  Celebrate success, learn from mistakes, find a way to grow.

 


projectpln10 – Project PLN May Issue

Create Your OpenZine

 

Cyberkidz: games for math, literacy, geography, creativity and science

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, Geography, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Typing, Websites | Posted on 23-05-2011

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What it is: Cyberkidz is a great new website packed full of great learning practice games for kids age 4 to 11.  The games reinforce skills in a variety of disciplines including math, literacy, geography, creativity and science.

Math- amounts, pattern, scale, number recognition, counting, scale, sums to 10, sums to 20, weights, multiplication, telling time, money, measurement, calendar, volume, percentage, distance, division, mathmix, area

Literacy- letter recognition, alphabetical order, hangman, crosswords, typing, singular and plural words, sayings and quotes, learning Spanish, learning Dutch

Geography- America, state capitals, countries of the world, Asia, Africa, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, South Africa, Ireland, flags

Creative- painting, music, coloring, maze

Science- food for animals, skeletal system, body parts, animals, solar system, mammals, the eye

The games in each category are great for practice and skill building.

How to integrate Cyberkidz into the classroom: Cyberkidz is a fun place for students to work on the knowledge level of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  The music game is the only creative game that I would truly place in the “create” category of Bloom’s Taxonomy because it gives students free rein to explore music and create a recording.   The majority of the games are designed to help students build skills and remember key concepts that are a necessary foundation for other learning.  These are a nice alternative to worksheet skill practice.  Students will enjoy the game quality of these practice activities.  Each activity can be advanced through relatively quickly making them perfect as a center on classroom computers.  Students can visit the game as a math, literacy, geography or science “practice” center before advancing to put those newly honed skills to work in a higher order thinking center.

These practice activities could also be completed as a class using an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer.  Split students into teams and rotate them up to the whiteboard for a class practice session.

Tips: On each game screen, students can scroll to the bottom for instructions on the game.  Most of the games are pretty self-explanatory and kids will figure them out quickly.

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

Using Angry Birds to teach math, history and science

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Fun & Games, History, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 18-05-2011

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This post has been generously sponsored by iTutorMaths – GCSE Maths Tutors in the UK

Yesterday instead of dutifully writing a blog post, I was having fun building catapults with kids.  I was playing with a transdisciplinary lesson using Angry Birds as my inspiration.  Yes, you read correctly-Angry Birds.

It doesn’t seem to matter what age group or demographic that I talk to, kids (and adults) everywhere are fans of Angry Birds. As I was playing around with Angry Birds (yep I’m a fan too), I started thinking about all of the learning that could be happening.  I have watched a two year old tell an older sister that “you have to pull down to go up higher”.  I have watched as kids master this game through trial and error.  Being the teacher that I am, I started dreaming up a transdisciplinary lesson with Angry Birds as the base.

I happened to be writing an inquiry lesson that has students look at inventions throughout time and thought: the catapult-that is an invention that has technology and concepts that are used even today.  This is one of those inspirational moments that comes when you are drifting off to sleep and has you frantically searching for paper and pen to record as fast as the ideas come.  So what did I do? I got myself out of bed and went to work sketching out a super awesome plan.

Here is the embedded learning that I came up with:

  • Primary Math: positional math language (above, below, left, right, bottom, biggest, smallest), measurement (distance), angles, shapes
  • Intermediate Math: parabolas, velocity, angels, trajectory, acceleration, quadratic formulas
  • Science: simple machines (lever), mechanics, force, energy, velocity/speed
  • History: history of the catapult, changes made to catapult technology throughout history, modern-day inventions that use this technology
  • Music: Tie in with history, what music was popular in the middle ages when catapults were invented (give students a feel for the culture of the time).
  • Art: Tie in with history, what era of art was happening during the middle ages when catapults were invented (give students a feel for the culture of the time).
  • Language Arts: reflection writing, reading text for information (non-fiction books and websites)
  • Learning: application of Angry Birds on students as learners, application of building a catapult on students as learners (I can’t claim this one it was all @stumpteacher with this blog post).

I set up 3 stations of learning and exploration.   In the first station students found Angry Birds on the iPads (now also available on the Internet in Chrome here), guiding questions, sticky notes and books on the history of catapults and simple machines.  Guiding questions were on chart paper and invited kids to join in the question asking by jotting down their own “wonders” on sticky notes and adding them to the chart questions.  At this station students “tested” Angry Birds and were asked to consider energy, force, acceleration, speed, angle and distance as they played.  Kids had fun with this, I anticipated that they would stick strictly to the  iPad and Angry birds but all of the kids looked through the books at some point.  There was a lot of talk about strategy, what they noticed about angle and how far to pull back on the different levels to get the bird to reach the target.

At Station 2 students found random materials that they could use to build their own catapult.  We included small blocks of wood, duct tape, string, rubber bands, paper clips, plastic cups, smaller dixie cups, paint stir sticks, popsicle sticks, plastic silverware,  markers, empty toilet paper rolls, clothes pins and of course the marshmallow to launch.  Students colored their marshmallow with sharpies to look like an Angry Bird (if doing this with kindergarten, be sure to mention that as soon as the marshmallow is colored, it is no longer food…we had a couple who were begging to eat the colored mallow!).  Next, students went to work constructing their catapults.  We offered no instructions and just let them go to town.  There was a lot of trial and error but all of the kids (kindergarten through eighth grade) made working catapults.  Students tested their catapult and experimented with speed, distance, accuracy, fulcrum, angle and force.  After launching the marshmallow bird they measured for distance and recorded.

As students tested we asked them:

  • What makes the catapult more accurate?
  • What makes the bird go the furthest?
  • Does mass affect the results?
  • How do objects move?
  • How do we calculate motion?
  • What is acceleration?
  • What is speed?
  • What are some forces that act on objects in motion?
  • How did the catapult set the marshmallow in motion?
  • Which challenge did your catapult meet best, accuracy or distance?
  • What helped the catapult?
  • What kind of energy did your catapult use?
  • What kind of force?
  • What are other kinds of levers?
  • What are simple machines?
  • What happens when the arm of a lever is shortened or the load is moved?
  • What happens to the force needed to make the load move?
  • What happens when you move the fulcrum?
  • What is the relationship between force and distance?
  • What happens when you adjust the angle?

Students had a fantastic time learning through trial and error and working together to reach our pig targets.  The collaboration among students was neat to watch, students would give each other ideas for fine-tuning the catapults to improve results.

In the third station, students had the opportunity to reflect on what they learned.  We asked them to reflect literally and figuratively.  Literally what did you learn about how a simple machine works, parabolas, measurement, etc.  What did you learn about catapults and how the technology is used today?  Then we asked them to think about the activity figuratively, what can Angry Birds teach them about life? What can it teach them about the learning process?

 

Older students looked at the math and science behind Angry Birds, using screen shots to determine if a bird would make it to the pigs based on parabolas.

Younger students labeled their catapult diagram with the language they learned about simple machines, force, and motion.  Students also labeled the Angry Birds diagram.

To wrap up we discussed the middle ages as a class and went through some of the texts together.  We read the history of the catapult and talked about why it was a necessary invention.  We connected all of this with how the technology is currently being used on air craft carriers (the boys really got into that discussion).

Who knew you could learn so much from a game of Angry Birds?

Here are some of the resources that we used during this lesson:

Projectile Motion simulation

Angry Birds Pig Target

Catapult guide for students

Myth Busters YouTube clip of tree catapult

The Physics of Angry Birds

Angry Birds Geogebra

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