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On Building Culture: Anastasis Academy Teacher Handbook

Schools often talk about professional development as if it is the key to a successful school. I’m not convinced more professional development is the answer.  I think it’s all about culture.  When you have people who come together around passion, who enjoy each other, who have a common mission:...

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Mastery Connect: Standards Based Grading made manageable

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, Evaluate, Grade Level, iPod, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 08-07-2011

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What it is: Mastery Connect is both an online standards tracking tool (parts of it are free) and a free iPhone/iPod/iPad app.  Because the app is truly free, I’ll start with it.  The Mastery Connect app is a handy way to keep the Common Core standards accessible while you teach.  The app sorts the common core standards by grade level, subject and strand.  This is REALLY nice for quickly locating and referencing standards.  Mastery Connect the website is the real gem.  The site is brilliantly designed, easy to navigate, aesthetically pleasing and best of all, it works the way you think it should.  With the Mastery Connect Master Tracker, teachers can assess core standards, monitor student performance and report student progress to parents and administrators.  Master Tracker makes formative assessment that is standards based manageable to keep track of.  Rearrange standards in the Master Tracker based on the order that you teach them in.  View only the standards you are currently assessing, and view the entire standard as a pop-up.  Within Mastery Connect, teachers can create and share common assessments.  Similar in feel to other social networks, Mastery Connect lets you connect with other educators to share assessments, interact and offer each other support.  It is easy to expand your PLN into the space, just find teachers with similar interests and goals and start sharing!

And now for my VERY favorite part- bubble sheet scoring. Mastery Connect uses GradeCam technology to make assessment about as quick as it could be.  Just hold up bubble sheets to your webcam or a document cam and it is instantly scored and entered into the Master Tracker associated with the student it belongs to and the standard it is addressing.  Seriously cool.  I am not a big fan of multiple choice testing (mostly because I think it is a lazy way to find out what a student knows and doesn’t give a true picture of what a student knows or can do) but I think I have figured out how bubble sheets can be used by teachers during formative assessment.  Students get immediate feedback from Mastery Connect and can see where in the standards they need some extra work.  Teachers can view class wide item analysis of assessment and can track progress by standard.

Students can also use iDevices (iPad/iPodTouch) with the bubble sheet app.  This is connected to Master Tracker so as soon as students input answers, it shows up live.  Are you feeling your assessment work-load lighten yet?

Students can also take assessments using any web browser.  It really is a tool that works for schools with minimal tech, to schools that have ubiquitous tech.

Mastery Connect exports to ANY gradebook or student information system.  A one touch export feature makes it about as quick as it could be!

Mastery Connect makes it quick and easy to keep parents informed of student progress.  Student reports can be quickly created and emailed or printed out for parents.  You can also enable parent notifications that will notify parents of student progress as it is entered.

How to integrate Mastery Connect into the classroom: Mastery Connect is actually the tracking tool we will be using at the school I am starting, Anastasis Academy.  We are doing away with traditional A, B, C, D, F grades all together.  I have yet to be convinced that traditional grading is productive and helpful for students (or teachers for that matter).

At Anastasis Academy, we are using the Common Core Standards as a framework for setting learning goals.  I see these standards as the critical-mass-of-knowledge that students need to be successful in learning.  Hear me say, I DO NOT believe that these standards are comprehensive of everything a child should, or wants to know.  They are simply the framework that we will use to build the rest of learning around.  They will help us to ensure that we have a rough road map of where we are headed in learning.  Students, teachers and parents will sit down for a conference each block and use those Common Core Standards to help map out learning goals.  You will notice that we don’t leave this up to teachers alone.  We want our students to have ownership and a say in what their learning looks like.  We don’t want the teacher to be the holder of all the keys, slowly revealing learning to students as they see fit.  Instead, we want students who can look at the learning ahead of them, and offer input about how they would like to go about that learning with parents and teachers acting as guide.  The Mastery Connect app will be SO helpful in this process.  Everyone will be able to access those standards easily at any time they need to recall them.  Brilliant.

We will use Mastery Connect a little differently than I’m sure most schools will.  Instead of bombarding students with multiple choice “bubble” quizzes and assignments, our bubble sheets will be for teacher use.  For example, we may create a bubble sheet based on a standard with the specific skills or content that we are looking for.  As we formatively assess students, the teacher can fill in that bubble sheet either on paper or on the iPad for instant input into Master Tracker.

Tips: I have been extremely impressed with all of the Mastery Connect tools.  Not all of it is free but the portion that is not free is very affordable ($4/student/year).  I like that Mastery Connect offers parent, teacher and student all of the information and tools they need to understand where they are and how they are learning.  The people at Mastery Connect have been dynamite, they are helpful, flexible and friendly!

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

PlanbookEdu: Lesson Plans in the Cloud

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, iPod, professional development, Teacher Resources, web tools | Posted on 06-07-2011

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What it is: Planbook EDU is a great cloud-based (a.k.a online) lesson plan book.  Because Planbook EDU is hosted in the cloud, all you need is an Internet connection, your plans travel with you.   Planbook EDU is listed in the Google Apps Marketplace and is a natural fit for schools already using Google apps for education (email, calendar, documents, etc.).  The free version of Planbook EDU has nothing to install, let’s teachers access their planbook from any internet connection, is easy to use with word processor like editing, is fully customizable, works in all major web browser and is iPad/iPhone supported (word processor editing doesn’t work on these devices).

How to integrate Planbook EDU into the classroom: I am a big fan of organizational tools, they let me organize my thoughts so that in the fire hose of ideas what is important (the learning goal) doesn’t get lost. Planbook EDU is a simple way to organize and plan units and your school year.  I love that it is cloud-based so that I can access my plans from anywhere and any time.  The basic features are robust enough to get your planning in place and the extras that can be added on make it VERY useful.

The premium version allows you to embed your planbook directly in your classroom website…very handy for keeping students and parents up to date with what is coming!

Tips: For $25/year, you get all of the free features plus- attach files to lesson plans, assign Common Core Standards, embed your planbook on any website, share lesson plans with anyone, print from your browser, export to Microsoft Word or PDF, built-in spell check and enjoy access to unlimited planbooks each school year.  EVERY user gets a free 14 day trial of all the premium options from Planbook EDU.

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

 

Friday Recap: TGIF (especially a 3 day weekend TGIF!!)

Posted by admin | Posted in Friday Recap | Posted on 01-07-2011

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You know it has been one of those weeks when I only manage ONE post here all week long.  I think that is an all time low since I started iLearn Technology in 2007.  Just wow.

Between starting a school and working out details for the Learning Genome it has been a busy week where I feel like life is moving at turtle speed.  Let’s get these shows on the road already!

This is just a post to let you know that more useful tech tools WILL be coming your way, it just may take me a 3 day weekend to get back on top of life.

In the mean time…if you aren’t yet part of an online personal learning network, I can’t SHOUT it enough- you need one.  All you have to do is sign up for Twitter, engage in conversation with other educators from around the world and BAM- your own personal learning network is born.  It is brilliant, I can’t tell you how much I learn from my PLN every day.  This week was particularly wonderful because I got to follow all the happenings of the ISTE conference.  Even though I couldn’t be there, I could keep up with all the fun and learning.  If you are so inclined to jump into Twitter and give it a try, be sure to drop me a hello (@ktenkely). I haven’t been great about tracking new followers lately but I always respond to @messages.

A ginormous thank you to all of you who wished me a happy birthday yesterday on Twitter, Facebook or by helping with this custom birthday present.  Tears when I saw this beauty.  Thank you!

Today I entered the Learning Genome (if you don’t know what in the world that is, feel free to click here and learn about it) in a grant contest to raise some funds.  I would be grateful if you could vote and help spread the word like crazy.  It is easy, just click the banner below :)


To all my friends in the US, Happy Independence Day!

Swiffly: Convert SWF (Flash) files to HTML5

Posted by admin | Posted in Download, Grade Level, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools | Posted on 28-06-2011

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What it is: Google rocks my socks.  The good people at Google that are dreaming up ways to change the world never cease to amaze me. Today, new to Google Labs is a little tool called SwiffySwiffy let’s you upload a SWF file (otherwise known as Flash) and convert it to HTML5.  Sweet.  This means that you can use flash content on devices without a Flash player (i.e. iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch).  You know what that means?  The iDevices are officially the PERFECT device thanks to Google.  (No need for the list of reasons you don’t like iDevices, I’m a hardcore fan and you are not likely to change my mind with a rant. Deal? Deal.)  Swiffy works directly from your web browser, I have tried it out in Firefox, Safari and Chrome.  It worked in all three well!  It will also work from Mobile Safari which means it will work from your iDevice.  Very handy.  Using Swiffy is as easy as uploading a file and clicking “upload and convert”.  It couldn’t be easier.

How to integrate Swiffy into the classroom: When I was in college I had a professor that often said “The wheels of academia are SLOW to turn.”  She couldn’t have been more correct.  I have seen this in nearly every arena of education.  Technology is no exception.  Many wonderful resources are available as flash files.  The problem?  iDevices (the iPad, iPod Touch) are becoming more frequently used in the classroom and they are not flash friendly.  Google labs comes to the rescue with Swiffy.  Simply upload the flash file and convert it to HTML 5 using Swiffy. The new HTML5 files can be distributed to student devices so that learning can continue uninterrupted by something silly like file type.  Very cool.

Tips: SWF 5 currently gives the best results.  If possible save the SWF file this way!

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

Friday Recap: Look where you want to go and steer in that direction- how a blog started a school #missingISTE11

Posted by admin | Posted in Friday Recap, ISTE10 | Posted on 24-06-2011

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Happy Friday!!  To all of you who are making your way to Philly for ISTE11, I wish you safe travel, fun and learning.  I wish I was there with you! Someone will have to Flat Stanley me so I can pretend I am there with you all. For those who are missing ISTE with me, we have started a Twitter support group :)  Use the hashtag #missingISTE11 to find other peeps who can’t be there this year.

The reason I am missing ISTE: Look where you want to go and steer in that direction- how a blog started a school.

 

Happy weekend!

Save the Date: Reform Symposium Conference #RSCon3

Posted by admin | Posted in professional development, Reform Symposium Conference | Posted on 23-06-2011

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I’m pouting a little bit today.  You see, this is the time of year when Twitter springs to life with plans for the ISTE conference.  I won’t be there this year because I’m a little busy what with starting a school and all.  I’ll be stalking those of you who are going to be at ISTE and living vicariously through you.  I am bummed to be missing out on the ISTE fun but I am looking forward to connecting and learning with everyone at the Reform Symposium virtual conference.


 

If you aren’t familiar with the Reform Symposium, it is time you get familiar with it.  Honestly, what could be better than 3 days of professional development with all of your edu best buddies from around the world in your jammies?  That’s right, not much.  RSCon3 will be held from Friday July 29th to Sunday July 31st.  We are on our way to being the biggest global online conference in education.  With more than 65 presenters and 12 keynotes and thousands of conversations, it is sure to be a fantastic weekend!  This conference is organized by educators (yours truly included) for educators.  Best of all, the conference is completely and totally FREE!!  You really can’t beat that! So, go ahead and pull up that calendar right now and save the date so you don’t forget.  Want to tell another educator how much you appreciate them?  Go ahead and invite them to the conference as well.  They will be thrilled that they have such a kind and thoughtful friend that thought to include them. :)

If  you are an administrator, please send the Reform Symposium flyer to your staff.  Did I mention this is FREE professional development?!

If you happen to think of it in the next month, take a minute to check out the organizer page and THANK those people profusely; pulling off a conference like this takes a lot of organization and planning.  I am honored to be working with such inspiring people!

Literature Map- The Tourist Map of Literature

Posted by admin | Posted in Evaluate, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 22-06-2011

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What it is: Literature Map is a neat little web tool that I learned about from Samantha, an iLearn Technology reader. Thanks Samantha!  Literature Map makes it simple to discover new authors.  Student’s can type in the name of a favorite author and instantly get a cloud of related authors.  The closer two writers are together on the map, the more likely someone will like both of them.  Any of the authors in the cloud can be selected to see the authors related to them.

How to integrate Literature Map into the classroom: Isn’t it wonderful to find an author that you can’t get enough of?  Literature Map helps students in the discovery of new authors based on authors they know they like.  Tools like Literature Map can act as a catalyst in uncovering the love for reading.  Literature Map would be a great site to bookmark on classroom computers or in the library.  Students won’t be stuck in the “I don’t know what to read” or the “I can’t find anything to read” rut.

In the intermediate classroom or middle/high school classroom, ask students to choose two authors from the Literature Map to compare and contrast.  Students can dig into writing style, genre and author study as they compare/contrast.

Tips: If you don’t find an author listed, you can contribute to Literature Map so that others can benefit from your recommendations.

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

Off-Road Algebra: Using off road motorcycling videos to learn Algebra

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Math, Middle/High School, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 20-06-2011

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What it is: Off Road Algebra is a series of video resources focused on pre-algebra and algebra for ninth grade.  This Hot Chalk  unit centers around off-road motorcycle racing.  There are 30 related problems for off-road algebra, each with an accompanying digital resources.

Problem 1: Conversion between gallons and liters

Problem 2: Miles per gallon

Problem 3: Gallons per mile

Problem 4: Velocity x time = distance, Part 1

Problem 5: Velocity x time = distance Part 2

Problem 6 (not available)

Problem 7: Comparing decibels

Problem 8: (not available)

Problem 9: Slopes and Ramps, Part 1

Problem 10: Slopes and Ramps, Part 2

Problem 11: Playing catch up, Part 1

Problem 12: Playing catch up, Part 2

Problem 13: GPS Axis

Problem 14: GPS conversion

Problem 15: GPS distance

Problem 16: Mixing Gas and Oil

Problem 17: Margin of Victory

Problem 18: Lap Time Math

Problem 19: Trac Turn Angles

Problem 20: Number of Revolutions

Problem 21: Inside and Outside a Wheel

Problem 22: Choosing between mean and median

Problem 23: Cylinder Volume

Problem 24: Comparing the Volume

Problem 25: Graphing the Ride

Problem 26: Acceleration, Part 1

Problem 27: Acceleration, Part 2

Problem 28: Acceleration, Part 3

Problem 29: Calculating with the contact patch

Problem 30: Tire Aspect Ratio

How to integrate Off-Road Algebra into the classroom: If you have spent any time in a math classroom, I’m sure you have heard something to the effect of, “why would we ever need this in real life?”.  It is a good question.  Learning should look like life…after all, isn’t that the point?  Off-Road Algebra helps students understand how the concepts they are learning in algebra are related to life through the world of off-road motorcycles.  Math is more than just filling in the correct answer on a test. Math is everywhere and we need to help students see that.

These videos walk students through off-road motorcycling problems so that they can make the connections between the classroom and life beyond the classroom.  There is a printable PDF that you can download that has thorough explanations and answers for all 30 problems. You can also find a correlation between the math problems and standards.

Use these videos with your whole class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Video is ideal for math because it gives students the ability to pause, rewind and replay as needed.  Using an IWB with built-in IWB software, students can annotate over the desktop to solve equations as the video plays.

The videos are a great alternative to the standard math textbook, offering video explanations of how to solve a variety of problems.  Students can use these to support work in the classroom or at home.  The videos could make a quick-stop center activity in the one or two computer classroom.

Tips: Be sure to check out Hot Chalks other real-world math problems.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Off Road Algebra  in your classroom!

 

Friday Recap: Apps, jobs, new blogs

Posted by admin | Posted in Friday Recap | Posted on 17-06-2011

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Happy Friday!!  Fridays during the summer are especially wonderful aren’t they?  Nothing better than a weekend ahead, some sunshine and fresh air and flip-flops.  Bliss.  I finally managed to keep up with posts here and get a few in over at iPad Curriculum with some application reviews.  Next week we are beginning to interview for positions at the school I am starting, Anastasis Academy.  If you are interested in applying, get yourself in gear and get your application in soon!  The job does require that you are in Colorado :)  On a serious note, we are looking to build a ball team.  I happen to believe that my PLN is made up of the best educators in the world, if you are interested please do apply, we would love to have you!

I ambitiously started a new blog last week for the school called Stand Again (I must be crazy, I think this makes blog #7…)

Below are posts from iPad Curriculum:

Stick Pick- I am VERY excited about this app from my friend and blog alliance member Buzz Garwood, worth checking out!

Virtual Rat dissection- just as gross (and educational) as you would imagine.

 

Happy weekend to you all!  I hope you find some time away from work and technology.

A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 16-06-2011

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What it is: The Periodic Table of Visualization Methods is a brilliant collection of visualization methods for displaying, understanding and using information.  The periodic table is broken down into data visualization, information visualization, concept visualization, strategy visualization, metaphor visualization, and compound visualization.  Each “element” of the table includes information about the element such as if it is a process visualization or a structure visualization.  Each “element” also includes cues about what kind of thinking the visualization requires (divergent or convergent).  As you move your mouse over the table, an example of the “element” pops up.  As I said, brilliant!  The Periodic Table of Visualization is an excellent way to help students (and teachers) understand and explore visual literacy.

How to integrate A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods into the classroom: A Periodic Table of Visualization is a great place to start helping your students understand how to decode visual information as well as how to create visual representations of information.  I’m a HUGE fan of infographics, graphic organizers, charts, graphs, mind maps, etc.- definitely a visual learner!  Students often come across visual information graphics in their reading for the classroom.  Unfortunately, we don’t always spend time helping students understand that visual information because we are SO focused on the text.  The Periodic Table of Visualization gives you a one-stop-shop to discuss the different kinds of visual data, helping students understand how to “read” and decode that information.  These are great critical thinking activities because they ask students to process information in a different way.  Use the Periodic Table with an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer to expose students to examples of different types of visual information.  Talk about each one and how information is being conveyed.  If you have interactive whiteboard software, use the annotation feature to “stamp” or keep track of the different kinds of visual data students come across during the year in their reading.  Make it a year-long goal to find an example of each type of visualization.  This will keep your students looking for and engaging with visual literacy.

Take it a step further and encourage your students to create their own information graphics and visualizations.  After some learning that was completed, ask students to choose one of the “elements” from the table of visualization and create their own graphic or table.

I love the way that a Periodic Table collects and organizes information.  Currently I am working on the first unit of inquiry for students at Anastasis Academy.  From first through eighth grade, all of the units are focused around community.  I thought it might be fun to create our own periodic table of community.  Each student can add an “element” that makes up community.  Instead of just pictures popping up on our periodic table, I thought students could add video, photos, text, or audio.  Each student will add to the community periodic table and we will use this as part of our school code of conduct.  Here is what I am thinking: Each student will learn about community and choose a method of sharing what they learned (video, audio, text, photo).  They will create their “element” using their iPad and add it to their online portfolio at edu 2.0.  I can easily access all files from one place (edu 2.0) and add the projects to a periodic table of elements that I create on Wix.com.  I’ll link from the Table to the student projects and voila, a Periodic Table of Community.  I’ll let you know how it works in practice :)

Another related idea: create a Periodic Table of Students during the first weeks of schools.  Add each student’s picture to the periodic table along with their class room number and initials as their Element information.  This can be printed out and turned into a bulletin board for the classroom or shared on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer with parents at back to school night.  If you have “star” students in your classroom (or VIP) you might add the student picture to the periodic table when it is their week to share and shine.

Tips: Thank you to my friend @artysteph26 for sharing this awesome resource on Twitter yesterday.  Thanks Steph!  **Reminder: if you don’t have a personal learning network on Twitter, I highly recommend spending some time on that this summer.  That small time investment is worth it’s weight in gold I tell ya!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods in your classroom!

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