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Childtopia Tales

What it is: Childtopia is like 10 websites in one…they have so many cool things going on that I am going to break it down into sections so stay tuned… The Tales section of Childtopia has 7 books to choose from. Students can hear these books read to them in five different languages. The books...

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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

33 Space Websites to Celebrate the Launch of Endeavour

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 16-05-2011

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Did your students get to see the shuttle launch this morning?  What a great way to start a Monday!  Seeing a launch never gets old for me, there is always a sense of wonder and anticipation during count down and launch.  To celebrate the launch of Endeavour, I thought I would share some of my favorite space websites.  In no particular order:

1. We Choose the Moon- An interactive that drops students right into history where they get to witness, and take part in, the Apollo 11 launch and mission.

2. NASA Clickable Spacesuit- An interactive for students to learn about the parts of a spacesuit.

3. Planet Quest: Alien Safari- An interactive exploration adventure that encourages students to find bizarre and extreme organisms that live on Earth.

4. Eyes on Earth 3D- Lets students track missions as they are happening with the satellites that are collecting information about Earth from space.

5. Moon Zoo- Gives students the chance to study the lunar surface while contributing to real science.

6. NASA @ Home and City- Students explore 3D environments where they discover common household and city items that have roots in space exploration.

7. Solar System Scope- A 3D real-time look at celestial positions with planets and constellations in the night sky.

8. NASA’s 50th Anniversary Flash Feature- Best. Website. Ever. An incredible interactive timeline that highlights each decade in the United States space program from 1950 to 2000.

9. European Space Agency- Kid-friendly information about the universe, life in space, lift off, useful space, earth, and more.

10. NASA’s Be a Martian- Students virtually explore and learn about the human-robotic partnership that makes virtual exploration of Mars possible.

11. NASA Space Place- Fun online games, animations, projects, and fun facts about Earth, space and technology.

12. NASA Interactive Timeline-  A multimedia timeline that begins in 500BC and follows the search for extrasolar planets to modern discoveries.

13. Moon in Google Earth-  Take tours of landing sites narrated by Apollo astronauts, view 3D models of landed spacecraft, zoom into 360* photos of astronaut footprints and watch rate footage of the Apollo missions.

14. NASA Images- Find amazing images of the universe, solar system, earth, aeronautics and astronauts.

15. Google Sky- Students get up close and personal with the solar system, constellations, the Hubble Telescope, backyard astronomy, Chandra X-ray Showcase, GALEX Ultraviolet Showcase and the Spitzer infrared Showcase.

16. Buzz Lightyear in Orbit- Teaches students about the next space mission with Atlantis.

17. Station Spacewalk Game- Play the role of an astronaut and repair the ISS.

18. NASA 101- Learn about what NASA does.

19. NASA Anatomy: How Space Technology Improves Human Health- Students learn about how NASA impacts daily life and health.

20. Apollo 11 Launch- Step into the moonshoes of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong while discovering the lunar landing.

21. Spooky Space Sounds- Listen to real sounds from space.

22. Hubble Celebrates 20 years- View imagery from the Hubble Telescope and learn about history of the Hubble.

23. Galaxy Zoo- Explore the universe and really help scientists.

24. Climate Time Machine- Take an interactive tour through Earth’s climate history.

25. NASA Edge- Students look behind the scenes at NASA with entertaining and informative videos.

26. NASA 360*- Learn about NASA’s past, present and future and how NASA has improved life on earth with these videos.

27. NASA e-clips- Learn about innovative applications of science, technology, , engineering and math through short NASA videos.

28. TEDx NASA- Inspiring talks from TEDx NASA.

29. NASA @ Twitter- Students can follow NASA on Twitter to get up-to-date information on space exploration and discovery.

30. Your Age on Other Worlds- Students can find out how old they would be on other planets.

31. iWas Wondering Astro Game- A scavenger hunt in outer space.

32. Study Jams Solar System- Students view a video and slide show about the solar system.

33. Pipo Club- Travel through the Universe with Pipo.

 

NASA Clickable Spacesuit

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 12-05-2011

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What it is: NASA has the COOLEST interactives, this Clickable Spacesuit is no exception.  Before students explore the spacesuit itself, they can view a slideshow about spacesuits.  The Clickable Spacesuit lets students click on individual parts of the suit to learn more information.  Students learn all about the individual parts of the spacesuit and get up-close pictures of the part.

How to integrate NASA Clickable Spacesuit into the classroom: Students (especially young students) are fascinated with astronauts and space.  NASA’s Clickable Spacesuit will let them dig in and explore how the spacesuit works piece-by-piece.  The text of the site is a little advanced for primary elementary students but would be appropriate as a guided whole class activity using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.

Ask older students to brainstorm and identify items that have been inspired by spacesuit technology (think extreme outer wear, sleeping bags, emergency equipment, etc.).  Students can also brainstorm why each part of the suit has been designed the way it has, what does it tell us about space?

Tips: Use NASA Clickable Spacesuit to expand on other sites where students can learn about space.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  NASA Clickable Spacesuit in your classroom!

BBC Build a Catapult: the science and math behind the catapult

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Create, Download, Evaluate, History, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 11-05-2011

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What it is: Any time students can dig in and discover learning for themselves, I consider it a success.  Recently I ran across the BBC’s DIY build a catapult.  The site lets students explore the history behind the catapult, learn how to build one step by step and then discover principles of velocity, acceleration, force, distance and math.  With the popularity of games like Angry Birds, I think a lesson in the science and math behind the catapult is in order.  I like the step-by-step nature of this site and the way that kids are guided through a series of directions.

How to integrate BBC Build a Catapult into the classroom: Begin with a time of inquiry where students can inquire into how catapults work, what they can launch, what they have been used for in the past and the science and math behind the catapult.  This site will help answer a lot of their questions and even prompt some additional questions.  Students can follow the step-by-step directions for constructing their own catapult.  Give students the opportunity to test their catapults, using the science and math concepts behind the catapult to predict where object will land based on angles and mass.  The science section of the site does a fantastic job of illustrating vertical velocity, horizontal velocity, the circumference of a circle, acceleration, force and mass.  These can be hard to understand concepts on paper (or in textbooks) but when students can see the concept illustrated and apply it, they will begin to build a framework of understanding.

After students understand the concepts of building a catapult, ask them to try building a catapult out of different types of supplies, do some energy sources work better than others?  Ask students to think about objects in our modern-day lives that use the principles or science used in a catapult.

Students can access this site from classroom computers as a learning/building center or go through the steps as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.

I really appreciated the step-by-step directions for students to follow.  This is such a necessary life skill, and one that I don’t see practiced enough.  If students know how to read, understand and follow directions, the whole world opens for them and Google becomes useful!

Tips: At the bottom of the site are printable versions of the directions for building a catapult.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  BBC DIY Catapult in your classroom!

Planet Quest: Alien Safari

Posted by admin | Posted in Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 10-05-2011

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What it is: Planet Quest Alien Safari is an interactive exploration adventure that encourages students to click on “life zones” around the world to find bizarre and extreme organisms that live on Earth.  Students will also learn about what the extreme organisms reveal about finding life in space.  As students explore they will learn about organisms that can live without sunlight, those with the highest radiation dose, those that are the most acidic, those that live the furthest underground, those with the strangest habitat and those that are the hottest.  Students click on a life zone on the 3D Earth to begin a video introduction to the organism.

How to integrate Planet Quest: Alien Safari into the classroom: Planet Quest Alien Safari is going to be a popular one with your boys.  My students got a kick out of “discovering” new organisms.  Use Alien Safari when discussing different life forms, classifying organisms or studying space.  My students wanted to do more than just explore the organisms, they wanted to write stories about them.  Students wrote creative stories imagining what kind of super hero the organism would be, or making them into super villains (As I said, the boys have fun with this one!).

Ask students to make predictions about the organisms based on where they are found, what does their geographic location tell us about the organism?

Tips: The music on this site gets a little OLD (at least for me, the kids may disagree) I had the kids use headphones when they were accessing this site independently.  If you are using it with the whole class and an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, you can turn the music off in the bottom right corner.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Planet Quest: Alien Safari in your classroom!

The Secret Annex

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Evaluate, Government, History, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Understand (describe, explain), video, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 09-05-2011

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What it is: The Secret Annex lets students travel back in time to Anne Frank’s hiding place.  Students can explore Anne’s house in a super cool 3D interactive environment.  The Secret Annex gives students an authentic feel for the place where Anne wrote her diary while listening to stories of everyone who lived in the hiding place.  In addition to the 3D hiding place, students can review historical archive material about the war and view unique TV broadcasts where memories are shared.

How to integrate The Secret Annex into the classroom: The Secret Annex is about the closest students can come to traveling through time and experiencing the hiding place.  The site is incredible in its attention to detail.  Each room can be explored with narration describing the room.  The Secret Annex is an excellent addition to any classroom studying World War II, reading the Diary of Anne Frank or studying Nazi Germany.

Explore the Secret Annex as a class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer for a virtual field trip.  After exploring as a class, allow students to dig deeper into the site learning about all of the guests of the hiding place on classroom computers or in a computer lab setting.

If you are reading the Diary of Anne Frank as a class, use the Secret Annex as a support tool and visual aid so students can picture where Anne composed her diary.  The site does a fantastic job of capturing the feelings of fear, hope, anxiety and relief.

Ask students to imagine that they were hiding in the hideaway.  Use The Secret Annex as a writing prompt for students to explore the feelings, attitudes and observations in diary or journal form.

Tips: Be sure to visit the “This Site” page where you will find more historical information about Anne Frank, a timeline of Anne’s life, student guides to help students who are learning about World War II and teaching materials from the Anne Frank House.

Thank you to Ryan for sending me to this site, I truly have the best readers!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  The Secret Annex in your classroom!

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