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Tynker: Computer programming for kids

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, History, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, web tools, Websites | Posted on 22-11-2013

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iLearn Technology Tynker: programming for kidsiLearn Technology Tynker: programming for kids

What it is: Tynker is about the coolest way for kids to learn how to computer program- absolutely NO prior programming experience is needed!  Tynker leads kids through design thinking through interactive courses where kids can learn how to program at their own pace.

Anyone can teach kids how to program (no really!) because with Tynker, you don’t need any prior knowledge or understanding.  Tynker provides teachers with tools, curriculum and project ideas that will have your kids programming in no time!  The Tynker curriculum pack starts with 6 lessons.  Each one is appropriate for a 45 minute work period. Through the teacher dashboard, you can assign lessons to your students.  A built-in tutor provides step-by-step instructions that guides students toward creating a working project.  The teacher dashboard also helps you track student progress as they learn and master concepts.  No data entry is required, students login and the teacher dashboard auto-magically populates.

When students have completed projects, they can publish them to the class showcase and be shared with family and friends through email, Google+, Twitter or Facebook.

Happily, Tynker works entirely in your web browser.  There is nothing to install or setup.  It is good to go right away!  Equally happily, Tynker is FREE for your school!  Woot!

How to integrate Tynker into your classroom: Not only will students learn the basics of programming with Tynker, they can use it to demonstrate their learning through their creations.  Students can compose stories and comics that retell a story, historical event, recent field trip, fiction or non-fiction.  Using the physics features, students can learn some basics about physics and cause the games they create to be more realistic.  They can also demonstrate understanding of physics principles through their creations.

Students can use Tynker to create their own apps to show off their understanding of new math/science/social studies vocabulary, math or science concepts, retell stories, character sketches, games, animations and more. In addition to being able to create stories, games, and  slideshow- students can also program original music and create computer art.

Don’t think you have time in your curriculum?  Take a look around Tynker and think about natural ways you could use it to enhance your curriculum.  Instead of asking your students to create a book report, have them program a retell using Tynker.  This will take some additional background knowledge (they will need to go through a Tynker tutorial or two) BUT the outcome is well worth it.  You will have asked your students to learn something new semi-independently, beefed up logical/mathematical thinking skills through programming, and invited students to think critically about what they read to tell the story to others through a program.  Worth the additional 45 min!  Students could demonstrate a math concept, show the steps in a science experiment, retell an event in history, and even compose their own music through program.  When you start thinking like a maker as you play with Tynker, you will realize there are infinite opportunities for including Tynker in your curriculum.  If you are still convinced that you can’t find the time in your heavily scheduled (sometimes scripted-sad) day, why not start a before or after school program, summer camp, lunch club, etc.?

At Anastasis, we have Crave classes every Wednesday.  These classes are offered by our teachers every 5 weeks.  Teachers choose an area of learning that they crave and create a class based on that (we have everything from programming, to cooking, to forensic science, hockey history, junk orchestra, iPad rock band, to chess and da Vinci art).  Students get a list of classes at the beginning of a new block, and get to choose a class that they crave.  The result is a wonderful mixed age (k-8) class of passions colliding.  The kids LOVE Wednesdays for this awesome hour of our day.  I’m excited to offer a Tynker class for our next block of classes (along with playing with our new Romo robot!), I think this is going to be a popular class!

iLearn Technology- Romotive robot

Tips: If your school uses Google apps for education like we do, your students can log in with their Google information.

What do you think of Tynker?  How do you plan to use it in your classroom?

Apprenticing students in the art of learning

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 31-10-2013

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I’m of the opinion that the apprenticeship model should be the basis for education.  This is one of the cornerstones of Anastasis philosophy, that we apprentice students in the art of learning.  The goal then, is to teach students how to be learners by modelling what it means to be a learner.  I’m not sure how one can be a teacher and not be a learner.

As a young child, I was apprenticed as a learner.  My parents were masters at encouraging curiosity.  They themselves are inquirers.  They showed me what it meant to passionately pursue understanding of the world around me.  It never felt like school.  As long as I can remember, my parents have owned their own businesses.  When I was growing up, they owned and operated a kitchen remodel business.  I spent summers “playing” at work.  This was my first interaction with using a computer.  I spent hours pretending to talk on the phone to a client and then designing their kitchen using the office Apple IIe.  It was really exciting when I got to use the blue print machine in the insanely scary basement of the office.  Later, my dad started a model rocket company.  He made model rocket kits completely out of wood.  This led to an excitement about physics, making, and entrepreneurship.  My parents involved my brother and I in each part of the process.  I spent many hours sewing bags for the rockets to be packaged in.  When my brother decided that skateboarding was life, my parents started a skateboard company.  This time I learned about screen printing, graphic design, and skate culture.  My families most recent pursuit of passion is at Koostik.  My dad started this company after discovering that he could amplify sound by putting his iPhone in a Styrofoam cup.  He immediately began to tinker in the garage, using his passion for woodworking to create speakers for the iPhone that worked 100% through acoustics.

This was learning at its absolute best.  It gave purpose to all of the things that I learned in school.  My parents taught me how to pursue curiosity, passion and crazy ideas.  They showed me that learning is a life long adventure.

I often get dropped-jaw stares when I tell people that I started a school.  The immediate follow-up questions begin: how did you do it, what classes did you take to prepare you, what professional development on starting a school did you get, where did you find the money?  My answer is always the same, I was raised to do this.  My parents taught me how to do this by demonstrating what it means to be a learner.  They taught me how to do this by showing me how passions and ideas are pursued.  Many that I talk to consider starting a school risky or scary.  For me the scarier thing would be to sit by and watch kids go through an education system that isn’t in their best interest.  The scarier thing is to do what every one else is doing.

I was raised to do this.

My hope for students everywhere: that they would have teachers in their lives who would apprentice them in the art of learning.

Thank you mom and dad for showing me what passionate learning looks like!

 

P.S.  If you haven’t seen the gorgeous work that my dad does, check out Koostik.  Each of the products is made by hand.  My dad is constantly sending me photos of new ideas he is tinkering with.  LOVE that!  Koostik has a contest that ends TONIGHT where you can enter to win product.  I saw the prize pack in person today.  The photos don’t do it justice.  Everything is gorgeous!  My dad is pretty much the master at choosing just the right piece of wood and working with the grain to really make each piece stand out as a masterpiece.  It is truly (functional) art.  Details for how to enter here.

Koostik prize package!

 

 

Chalkstar to Rockstar #2: Risk and Trust with Anastasis Academy

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development, Teacher Resources | Posted on 12-09-2013

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Chalkstar to rockstar Anastasis Academy Podcast

The second episode of Chalkstar to Rockstar featuring @michellek107 and yours truly is now live.  In this episode we talk about the freedom that comes with risk and how trust is involved every step of the way.  Thank you @bennettscience for interviewing and @TechSmith for hosting us!  Listen to this quick podcast here.

**Clearly I had a cold going full force while we were recording so the result is this really specially nasal enhanced voice.  Sigh.

Bloom’s Taxonomy Paint Palette

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Blooms Taxonomy, Grade Level, professional development, Teacher Resources | Posted on 18-07-2013

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An article I read this week had me thinking about Bloom’s Taxonomy and what learning really is.  It led to me coming up with a new graphic for Bloom’s Taxonomy, this one a Paint Palette.  I like thinking about Bloom’s in the form of an artist paint palette because each color has equal importance.  For an artist, the greatest beauty comes in the mixing of colors.  Using a multitude of shades and blends on a canvas.  I think the same can be said of learning.  Learning that tells you that you can only use one color is rather uninspired.  But learning that encourages you to use all of the colors can create something really meaningful and beautiful.

At Anastasis, we encourage our students to look at learning through a variety of lenses and outcomes.  Bloom’s Taxonomy helps us do that by showing students that there are different ways to approach learning.  Now our biggest problem is that students will find that they really enjoy one way of showing what they know (iMovie) and proceed to use it for EVERYTHING.  I created the Bloom’s Taxonomy Paint Palette with verbs that help describe the different ways of learning.  I created a painting using the same colors from the palette to give students ideas for different outcomes and evidences of learning.  I’m in the midst of working on an app and website catalog organized by the same colors so that students can be introduced to the many options they have for the different types of learning and producing.  I’ll share that when it is finished!  For now, I’ve included screen shots of the Bloom’s Taxonomy Paint Palette, the Bloom’s Taxonomy Painting and a sample page from the catalog.

Bloom's Taxonomy Paint Palette- Kelly Tenkely iLearn Technology

 

 

Bloom's Taxonomy Painting- Kelly Tenkely iLearn Technology

 

 

Bloom's Taxonomy apps- Kelly Tenkely iLearn Technology

National Center for Atmospheric Research

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Geography, Inquiry, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 17-12-2012

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What it is: Today Anastasis students were lucky enough to visit the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.  It was a truly fantastic experience (if you ever find yourself in Colorado, it is worth a visit! Open free everyday!).  The center has some fantastic interactive exhibits, much like what you find at Exploratorium in California.  In addition to the physical location, the National Center for Atmospheric Research has some wonderful online games, activities and resources for the classroom.

In the Interactives and Simulations for weather, climate and atmospheric science section you will find:

  • A virtual laboratory for creating a weather balloon.
  • A simple virtual climate model.
  • The build a tree dendrochronology activity where students can explore past climates.
  • Compare IPCC scenarios interactive where students forecast carbon dioxide levels.
  • The climate sensitivity calculator.
  • The Earth’s Energy balance virtual lab.
  • Compare solar eclipse photos activity.
  • Solar eclipse memory
  • Sun-earth connections memory
  •  Clouds memory
  • Atmospheric chemistry memory
 In the classroom activities section, you will find:
  • Paleoclimates and Pollen where students can study pollen.
  • Model a moving glacier where students make a model of a glacier and create an experiment to study movement.
  • Glaciers then and now where students study pictures of glaciers taken in the 1900’s and compare them to pictures of the glaciers today.
  • The systems game where students observe a system.
  • Looking into surface Albedo where students inquire into how color affects the way that the sun interacts with Earth’s surface.
  • Feeling the heat where students investigate which parts of their school yard have a higher temperature.
  • CO2 How much do you spew where students analyze energy consumption.
  • The nitrogen cycle game where students play the role of nitrogen atoms traveling through the nitrogen cycle.
  • The water cycle 0-18 and ice cores where students look at proxy data to determine past climate.
In addition to the fantastic activities on the site, students can learn more about the sun and space weather, weather, atmosphere and climate on the NCAR website.

How to integrate the National Center for Atmospheric Research into the classroom: If you are studying weather, climate or atmospheric research with your students this is a must stop site.  It is FULL of great activities, virtual labs and easy-to read and understand information.  Really, take a few minutes to dig in.  Today, when we visited we got to explore some of these virtual labs and games first hand.  Our students watched a short video introducing them to NCAR and what scientists do there.  Next we entered into a classroom where the fun began!

Today we learned about the North and South Poles.  The fine people at NCAR had made globe paddles that had the north pole on one side and the south pole on the other (glued to giant tongue depressors).  They gave the students different facts about the north and south pole and students had to hold up their paddles with the correct answers.  Next, students learned about how polar bears were equipped for the COLD temperatures.  There were tubs of ice water on the table.  Students were asked to place their hands inside the ice water.  We timed how long they lasted in the cold water.  Next, students put their hands in a “blubber” paw and tried the experiment again.  The hand inside the layer of blubber could stay in the cold for a long time with no discomfort.  These blubber paws were actually made with 2 ziplock baggies with Crisco in between the layers and duct-tape at the top of the baggies so that they were sealed together around openings where the two baggies came together.  This left a Crisco pocket that formed the paw.  Students also learned about penguins and how they find their mate in hundreds and hundreds of penguins.  Penguins have particular sounds that help alert their mate.  The penguins can distinguish between the particular sounds that each penguin makes to find their mate.  Students simulated this by each taking a film canister with an object/objects in it.  The students had to shake their canister and find their match using the sound alone.  They had a ball with this!  They also practiced transferring a styrofoam egg from one pair of feet to another without using their hands the way that the penguin does.  Our students also did the glacier matching project (listed above) where they worked in teams to match the original pictures to the new pictures.  Some of these were really challenging as the second picture had NO glacier to be seen!  The kids learned that every glacier in the world is shrinking with the exception of two glaciers in Norway.  Fascinating!

Our classroom today…can’t beat the view!

 

Touching clouds!

 

Our students got to follow the activities above with an exploration of weather, climate, and atmosphere science exhibits.  You could easily recreate the activities above and follow up with virtual simulations, videos and games.  These could be set up as centers for students to explore (the virtual centers on classroom computers).  There is SO much here that exploration of all that the NCAR site has to offer could take days.  The simulations and games would also be appropriate on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer where students can explore and interact as a whole class.  Allow students to take turns playing scientist.

Tips: While we were at NCAR, our guide, Tim, told us that NCAR was originally established in the 1960s to learn how to control the weather.  This brought up a great discussion about what could happen if humans could control the weather, and what unintended consequences might come along with that.  This would make for a great creative writing exercise or comic strip.  Our students came up with some insightful thoughts on this topic!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  NCAR in your classroom.

I might be too old for conferences: #Educon reflection

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, inspiration | Posted on 31-01-2012

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Over the weekend, all of Team Anastasis took a little trip to Philly for Educon.  The experience was incredible, but not for the reasons you may be thinking.  In the past, education conferences have been a place to go and collect ideas to bring back to the classroom.  Educon offered this, but it isn’t what we came back talking about.  Educon is a wonderful conference put on by the great educators at Science Leadership Academy.  The conference started with a tour of SLA led by students.  I appreciated that the tour was student led…it gave us an inside look at what the culture of the school looks like and let us see the school through the eyes of a student.   It is always interesting to listen to the way that kids talk about their school, their experiences, their plans post graduation.  The school is really wonderful.  It is a one-to-one Macbook school, but the technology isn’t really what you notice when you walk through the classroom.  The technology really blends into the background just the way books, pencil and paper do.  The classes we walked through felt pretty typical of my own public high school experience.  Students were engaged in experiments, filling out rubrics for themselves on their performance in Spanish classes, exercising in health class, and putting the finishing touches on projects.

I feel blasphemous even saying this but I was a little bit…underwhelmed.  It isn’t that what we saw wasn’t “innovative” (the buzzword of the weekend), but it just wasn’t earth SHATTERING.  I guess that my take away has more to do with my expectations of what I was going to see than with what SLA is doing. Hang with me here.

In the past, I would go to education conferences and was absolutely inspired by what other schools around the world were doing.  I came back to my own classroom on fire to try some of the new ideas and thinking.  I continued conversations about what I had seen and experienced at the conference. I pushed myself to do better for the students that I teach.  Maybe I’m getting too old for conferences.  You know that point of growing up when playing make-believe doesn’t hold the same magic as it used to because you have new interests and understandings about the world?  That is kind of how I am feeling about conferences.  They used to reveal things to me that I hadn’t been challenged with in the past.  They used to inspire new ways of thinking about learning.  Lately conferences leave me feeling frustrated.  We are having the same conversations, listening to the same excuses about why something won’t work in the classroom or school that someone is in because it is ruled by Nazis.  I grow really weary of hearing the excuses. I grow really weary of educators defending practices that aren’t best for kids because they have discovered a technicality of this one time in history when the practice was useful.

I want to be inspired.  I want to be surrounded by people who will say, “I’m doing it, regardless of what policies my school will or will not change.”

Part of the “problem” is that I am surrounded by 6 of the greatest teachers on the planet every single week.  Honestly. These people are incredible.  They are willing to walk into the unknown.  They are willing to rethink everything they know about education and learning.  They are willing to change every plan they have carefully laid out because they know it is what is best for their students at that moment.  They look at their students every day with such love in their eyes, that you know they would do anything for them.  It makes going to conferences, even the “innovative” ones, feel like a step back in time.  I know that what we do is revolutionary, but sometimes I forget how revolutionary it is because I live in it every day.

After the tour of the school, we were free to wander the streets of Philly until the opening Keynote panel to really kick things off.  We bought some subway tokens from student, and transportation genius, Jeff and headed off to see the Liberty Bell.  Traveling the streets of Philly with my staff was epic.  These people make me laugh until no sound comes out.  We did touristy things together, like take pictures in the subway (because @bestmscott was a subway virgin).  We listened to Lance ooh and ahh over Independence Hall.  That guy can throw down when it comes to American history.  I’m kind of jealous that Anastasis students are the only recipients of that passion.  We exclaimed over how much smaller the Liberty Bell is in person than we had anticipated.  We made a lip sync video to Crazy Train while we waited for our tour.  We argued over the kind of trees that surrounded Independence Hall (I stand by rubber tree- that is what they look like they are made of).  We booked it to Sonny’s for a genuine Philly cheese-steak complete with cheese whiz.

This is what conferences and professional development should be.  Opportunities to build culture and community for a school body.  Opportunities to learn together and see each other’s passions.  My new goal is not to take my staff to a conference. My new goal is to start a travel agency for educators that makes it possible to travel for learning and meet with other educators who are doing the same.  It is wonderful to see all of the other amazing, passionate educators that I learn from online every day in person.  It is wonderful to sit over a glass of whiskey and talk about what we saw, what we learned and education philosophy.  I learned that the real reason I go to conferences is not for the sessions that I sit and participate in.  It is for the human contact. It is so that I can remember there are others in this fight for children.  It is so that I can rub elbows with others who care as much as I do.

Team Anastasis led one of the first sessions on Saturday.  We were humbled by the turnout we had for our “Searching for daVinci” conversation.  This conversation took the shape of a: What, So What, Now What discussion.  The point of this format is to get smaller groups discussing and then sharing out with the larger group. I enjoyed this format, it gave us the chance to do what we do with students every day at Anastasis.  Our topic came from a blog post I wrote about daVinci and some other conferences I have presented at.  You can see the website we used to guide discussion at http://searching4davinci.weebly.com.  In addition to an overview, it has my Bloom’s Taxonomy images and pictures from inside Anastasis.  I truly did enjoy the conversations that were had, and the bunny trails that they led to.  One of my favorite share outs was from a teacher who said “we need to start hiring renaissance, daVinci teachers.”  Our main focus was on creating classrooms that would foster the daVinci in students.  I really liked the teacher angle.  He was right, it is hard to create this type of learning atmosphere without teachers who are multidisciplinary and passionate about a variety of disciplines.  That is what makes our rock star teachers at Anastasis such rock stars.  They are that kind of teacher.

We enjoyed engaging in conversation in the panels and other sessions.  Sometimes we wanted to fight, and sometimes we couldn’t agree more.  The whole conference was kicked off with the panel about how to sustain innovation.  Some time was dedicated to defining what innovation was (vs just a trend) and panelist offered ideas about how innovation could be sustained in schools.  I’m not sure an answer was ever landed on and I think that part of the problem was that innovation can’t be sustained when your focus is on innovation.  Innovation is not something that you can plan out.  Often it is the result of happy accidents and hunches colliding and a willingness to do something scary.  I asked (rather uneloquently) if maybe we weren’t asking the right question.  I’m not sure there is an answer to sustaining innovation.  Maybe the real question should be, how can we make education look more like life?  How can we bring more of what it means to be human into the classroom?  How can we encourage life to happen in education?  Innovation is a natural byproduct of life.  Innovation happens where their is opportunities for failures that lead to new thinking.  Failure is also a natural byproduct of life. After the panel discussion @matthewquigley commented on how uncomfortable educators were with open ended questions.  “Did you notice that EVERY teacher in there felt the need to give a conclusive answer?”  It was true, most were not willing to leave the panel without a clear cut “this is how you do it” answer.  How sad.  Questions and inquiry make way for innovation.  When you already have the answer there is no longer a reason to innovate.

What bummed me out about this conference was the number of excuses I heard about why something would/could never work in their situation.  What I really saw: fear.  I refuse to believe there is nothing to be done.  I refuse to believe that we can’t do better for kids now.  I refuse to believe that there is no wiggle room around all of the constraints we think we have.  I refuse to accept it.  I know it can be different.  And if it can’t, my next question is: why would you accept that?  If you truly want what is best for kids (and I know you do), why would you continue down the path of can’t?  Stand up. Fight. Start over. Do something.  The excuses will get us all nowhere.  The excuses hurt the kids who don’t have time to sit and wait for us to get it right.  I know some will say that it is different for us because we decide what our school looks like. We started the school.  It wasn’t hard. Everyone could do it if they were willing to be a little bit afraid.  @matthewquigley and I started a school with zero dollars.  No joke.  We didn’t get some wonderful grant, government money, etc.  We figured out how to be uncomfortable for a little while so that we could do something amazing.  We surrounded ourselves with families who supported us emotionally and acted as our cheerleaders and challenged us.  We found other teachers who were crazy and passionate enough to journey this path with us.  We built a community.  That is what it takes, a community who is ready to change the path because it is the right thing to do.  Don’t wait for your admin to wake up and do it, or for the teacher next door to get on board, or the government to change.  Be the change you want to see and do it.

What I loved about Educon: encouraging and fostering the community and culture of our school by going on this grand adventure together.  Meeting up with friends and fellow change makers from around the world.  Making jokes, challenging each other, sharing a meal, sight seeing and singing together.  Sharing laughter, ideas, and stories.  Seeing students take ownership over their school and pride in showing it off.

As it turns out, this post is a lot longer than I had anticipated…sorry about that.  I am too old for conferences.  Sometimes we have to play make-believe with others until they too outgrow conferences.  I’m okay with that. Baby steps.  What I would like to hear less of is the excuses.  I would like to see more opportunities for those of us who have outgrown conferences to have a different kind of learning experience.  One where we travel to a common destination where we can explore, and geek out, and share.  One where we can debate over a good Philly cheese steak, sing karaoke together, and challenge each other.  Maybe what we really need are host schools around the world that can be our gathering place for grand adventures of this sort.  Any takers?

Yesterday @matthewquigley stopped me and said “You know we can’t call our teachers ‘teachers’ any more right?  They are change makers.”  He is so right!  Lance (soon to be on Twitter), @nancybabbitt, @leadingwlove, @michellek107, @bestmscott, @matthewquigley: you are my heroes.  I had the BEST time with you all and I couldn’t be more excited about what we are doing to change our corner of the world.  Onward.

A Plethora of habitat websites and activities

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, Knowledge (remember), Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 19-01-2012

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This post is going to be formatted a little differently than most are-so fair warning. :)  I do a lot of digging for resources and tools for our inquiry block at Anastasis Academy.  I thought it might be about time I shared the love here!  If you find it useful, I may include some more of these kinds of posts periodically.

Right now our students are learning about how the world works.  They are inquiring into animal habitats and needs.

Websites:

  1. Draw a habitat- my favorite from PBS!
  2. Plant and Animal Habitats from BBC has students working with the Sarah Jane Adventures team to complete a habitat interactive activity where students match aliens with the best habitat based on clues about both creature and habitat.
  3. Learn about habitats with this virtual text from BBC.
  4. Create a butterfly habitat by adding and removing plants.
  5. Explore the Deep Sea habitat with this interactive from National Geographic.
  6. Explore the Antarctica habitat with National Geographic’s Critter Cam.
  7. Build an online habitat with Switch Zoo.
  8. Design a Habitat with ARKive education.
  9. The Great Habitat Match with the Magic School Bus Gang.
  10. Walk in the Forest helps students learn about layers of habitats in the forest.
  11. Animal Homes (this is a good one for kindergarten or younger).
  12. Frog habitats- students help a frog find a new home.
  13. e-Learning for kids habitat interactive.

Activities:

  • Remember cootie catchers? Or fortune tellers?  They are easily folded out of a regular 8.5×11″ piece of paper.  Students can use cootie catchers to show their knowledge, and quiz each other, about habitats.  Ask students to each choose a different habitat to create their cootie catcher about.  Each flap can have a different word that describes the habitat (for example: desert might say “dry”, “barren”, “extreme temperatures”, “low vegetation”).  The next flap can have a type of animal that lives in that type of habitat.  The last flap can include a fact about why that habitat is perfect for the animal.  To play with the cootie catcher, one student chooses a word and the other spells the word out while opening and closing the cootie catcher.  The first student chooses a new word and the second student spells the word out while manipulating the cootie catcher.  On the final turn, the student chooses a flap to be opened to reveal the fact.
  • Create a complete ecosystem: photosynthesis, rain, decomposition, life cycles  http://cranberrycorner.blogspot.com/2010/07/summer-fun-ecosystem-edition.html 

There are SO many fun ways to explore habitats and animals…if you have outdoor space at your school, send students outside to explore the habitats they walk right by every day.

Oddizzi: where the world comes to life

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Virtual Field Trips, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 17-10-2011

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What it is:  I love those serendipitous moments in life where the stars seem to align and everything that comes your way is tailor made to meet your needs.  This resource filled those needs for me this week!  At Anastasis, our primary students are working on an inquiry unit about how transportation has changed over time and how transportation is used in different locations in the world.  What should appear in my inbox than a little note from the people over at Oddizzi inviting me to take a look at their content.  Serendipitous I tell you.  Oddizzi is a paid-for service but they have sample content on their site to give you a taste of what you can expect.  That sample content is free and has made my day.  It may make yours too, you should head over and have a look!  Oddizzi brings the world to life in a way I have seen few other resources pull off.  Students have access to their very own interactive map where they can view places, physical features, global features, places of interest, my story and class pals.  Students can click on each feature on the map to learn more in popup bubble.  The content below the map is rich including student-friendly text, videos, “secret” facts, images and more.  Oddizzi is a great way to teach about geography, global issues, math, citizenship and multicultural topics.  One feature that I have found to be really useful is the “Sneak-a-Peak” option which condenses a page of content down to one page of easy to read sentences.  Perfect for differentiating for your different reading levels while maintaining a topic thread for the whole class.  Odd and Izzi are fun characters that lead students through the site revealing hidden secrets as they go.

How to integrate Oddizzi into the classroom:  Oddizzi is a fantastic way for students to explore geography and culture.  Use Oddizzi sample content to introduce a lesson or unit, as a place for students to gather research, or as a center activity on classroom computers.  In the Sample Content you will find information on Egypt, transportation in India, Rivers and Games (flags from around the world and a game about Egypt).

Oddizzi is a great place to spur interest in geography and encourages students to learn more.  We will use the Transport in India content to help students think about questions they can ask about how transportation is used in other countries.

Geography is a subject that is often overlooked in schools in the United States.  Oddizzi helps bridge the gap between geography and other disciplines such as reading, writing, communicating, math, social studies, history, etc.  No excuses!

Use Oddizzi as a starting point for students to gather facts, information and gain a general understanding of geography and culture.  Students can use that information to create a poem about the country or location.  At Anastasis, @leadingwlove did an incredible project with students where they each chose a country they wanted to learn more about.  After learning about the country, they wrote a poem.  Each made a large thumbprint on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper and inside the thumbprint left a negative space of the outline of the country.  They wrote their poems on the lines of the fingerprint.  The result was incredible!  Students learned a lot, practiced writing poetry and created a masterpiece to boot!  Since our students are in a one-to-one iPad environment, they took this a step further and took pictures of their finished products and added special photo effects to make a one-of-a-kind digital masterpiece for their e-portfolios.  SO awesome!  You can see the beginning of one of these poems below…

Tips: In the subscription version of Oddizzi, you can connect with other classes around the globe in a secure learning environment.  This allows your students to send online postcards to other students around the world so that they can learn first hand what life is like around the globe.  Neat! A curriculum zone offers teachers resources for integrating Oddizzi across multiple disciplines for transdiciplinary learning.  In addition, the subscription version has “Over to you” where students can contribute content to the site.  If you are interested in testing out these additional features, request a free trial of Oddizzi for your class here.

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

Lessons learned from Stanford, Google, IDEO and Pixar

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, inspiration | Posted on 01-09-2011

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This weekend I spent some time with incredible innovators at Stanford University to talk about innovation in education.  All walks of life gathered at d.school to discuss problems in education and to propose solutions.

My biggest takeaway: Education needs more design thinking and collaborative concepting at all levels.

Throughout the day we shared stories, created concept maps, brainstormed collaboratively, identified problems in education and prototyped possible solutions.  I love that we didn’t just give answers. We prototyped possible solutions in the prototype lab where we had access to all kinds of great building materials.  We came up with some pretty impressive solutions.  What if schools operated more like this?  If teachers and students worked together as designers.  This is the drive behind Anastasis Academy’s morning inquiry block.  We look at big questions and work on interdisciplinary projects that incorporate a range of subjects and disciplines of learning.

“What if the process of education were as intentionally crafted as the products of education (i.e., we always think about the book report or the final project, but not the path to get there).” (Fast Company)

Schools have a lot to learn from Google, IDEO and Pixar.  These are companies that have created a culture of creativity, play and collaboration.  IDEO mirrors this culture in their physical space.  The space lends itself to creativity and new ideas because the space isn’t overly prescriptive.  Stanford’s d.school was very similar.  Tracks run all over the building where walls of whiteboards can be clipped in and moved around easily.  A writing space wherever and whenever you need one.  Brilliant.  All of the furniture is on wheels, it is easily moved and rearranged based on current needs.  Large wooden Lego-type blocks can be easily moved, arranged and built with for any situation.

I love the philosophies of Pixar, the layout is designed to foster “forced collisions of people”.  Students with different backgrounds, passions and understandings collided in new understandings.  Would forced collisions of people encourage a whole new population of da Vinci thinking?

At Google play is not only encouraged, it is deeply engrained in the culture.  Spaces are flexible and constantly changing and being built.  This is was the case in Stanford’s d.school and I have to say, the instant ability to edit our workspace impacted our thinking.  “Imagine what might happen if students had this same power to edit and make their own spaces within the school environment.” (Fast Company)

I highly recommend the following article from Fast Company “What Schools Can Learn From Google, IDEO, and Pixar.”

The article mentions High Tech High, a collection of charter schools in Southern California led by Larry Rosenstock.  Please take the 14 minutes to watch this great video about High Tech High!  Innovation is education is emerging in pockets all over the world. Anastasis Academy is a part of this innovation!


 

Educational Framework: Input welcome!

Posted by admin | Posted in education reform, Teacher Resources | Posted on 22-03-2011

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I am currently working on a website for the school (Anastasis) I am starting.  This is a different model than most parents will be familiar with so I am finding myself working on ways to flesh out just what learning looks like in this new model.  One of the pages I have created is titled “Educational Framework”.  I would love your input on the descriptions below as well as the graphic.

The framework below illustrates the educational approach of Anastasis and the synthesis of:

Inquirers: The combination of child, teacher, mentors, family, and friends in pursuit of a question.

The Cycle of Inquiry: The cycle that lead learners use to facilitate learning; inquire, investigate, plan, customize instruction, collaborate, construct meaning, create, evaluate, reflect and revisit.

Academic Content Areas: Nine areas are explored to help learners achieve standards and developmental benchmarks; language arts, social studies, science, mathematics, physical awareness/health/play, spirituality, social/emotional learning, arts, and global citizenship.

Learning Habits/Disciplines: Distinct habits and disciplines are assumed by the students as they approach learning. These disciplines support and assist the learning process.

Technology: Technology permeates learning in this blended learning model. Students use technology to build: functional skills, effective communication, collaboration, ability to find and select information, critical thinking/evaluation, cultural/social understanding, eSafety, and creativity.

Learning Genome: The Learning Genome makes it possible to customize and personalize learning for every student by taking into account; the student profile (interests, passions, developmental levels, learning styles, abilities, etc.), the school profile (resources available), the individualized learning plan (created by lead learner, student, and parents), Standards/benchmarks/scope and sequence, and tagged curriculum.

In addition to the graphic above, I have created an animation of the same graphic.  In the animation, each section builds on the previous section so that the graphic is revealed in manageable pieces.  The audience for the graphic is parents so I am trying to keep educational jargon to a minimum.

I realize there is a lot of information on the Graphic but really want to paint a picture of what I am referring to under each heading…I don’t want to assume that parents will fill in those blanks on their own.

So, what do you think? Suggestions and recommendations are welcome!