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The Augmented Reality Library

What it is: Okay, so the augmented reality library doesn’t exactly exist, but I ran across a few items today that had me dreaming about what augmented reality could do for a library.  First a definition for those of you unfamiliar with augmented reality.  Wikipedia has this definition...

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Pixel Press Floors: draw a video game on paper, snap a picture and play it!

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, Fun & Games, Geography, Government, History, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 18-06-2014

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What it is: Pixel Press Floors is a seriously magical (currently free) app that brings a child’s imagination to life. With the Pixel Press Floors creation platform, students can literally dream up and draw their own video game without any coding. Students draw their ideas out on paper, and the Floors app turns the drawing into an actual video game that can be played. Print out the special paper so that the app can recognize the shapes “glyphs” that are drawn, or use the in app drawing tools. The drawing is instantly turned into a game that can be tested, designed, played, and even published to the “Arcade” where others can play it.

How to integrate Pixel Press Floors into learning: The first step of creation is to download the Pixel Press Floors app on the iPad. Next, go to projectpixelpress.com to download and print the free sketch guide. Students draw up the game of their dreams and then take a picture of what they drew from the Pixel Press Floors app.

The glyphs (shapes) that students draw are magically transformed into game play objects. After glyphs have been created, students can apply a design to the element, test it, and play it. Within the app, students can create games with:

  • Run and jump game play (Mario-style)
  • Create with 14 creator glyphs: terrain, moving blocks, ladders, portals, monkey bars, power-ups, coins, super coins, falling blocks, spikes, exploding blocks, start and end positions, pits and fireballs, keys.
  • Two original themes to get the creativity jump-started: “Save the Parents” and “Fiddleheads: Stones of Eden”
  • Publishing and sharing in the Arcade

Pixel Press Floors is a fantastic “maker space” element to add to your classroom. This app is perfect for prototyping ideas, design thinking (ideation and prototyping), teamwork and collaboration, and to build creativity. In designing games, students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, art and aesthetics, writing and storytelling, and creates a motivation for further STEM exploration.

There is so much to learn from digital games.  As a player, students learn to think strategically, persist through failure and experience epic wins that can translate to what they do and are willing to try out in real life. As a designer students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, digital art and aesthetics, and storytelling and writing. Students love being able to bring their creations and ideas to life in the form of a game. Video game creation could be the key to unlocking the storytelling genius in your reluctant writers. It has been my experience that a student faced with a blank paper and a writing assignment can be daunting. Introduce the idea of designing their own game and suddenly a storyline pours forth. It is pretty neat to watch!

Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary!

Students can create games that help them build skills. Instead of simply playing those drill/skill games on other websites/apps, they can create their own! This is visual notes 3.0. Instead of simply practicing math facts, students can create a customized game to help them learn and remember those facts! This type of game is perfect for creating games to practice: math facts, spelling, vocabulary, foreign languages, letter recognition, geography, history facts, etc.

Instead of passively playing games in their free time, students can create their own! The blend of the hand-drawn and technology is seamless and brilliant. Kids will have such fun creating their own games and bringing their imagination to life.

Tips: Game Star Mechanic would be an outstanding place to start, here kids can learn the thinking process behind designing their own video games.

Are you using Pixel Press Floors in your classroom? Leave a comment below and share the ways that you use it with students!

Rodan + Fields Consultant

Sphero: the coolest robot around

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Evaluate, iPod, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 14-04-2014

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Sphero- coolest robot ever

This week, the wonderful people at Orbotix sent me a Sphero to try out and play with. HOLY COW, I haven’t had so much fun with a new toy in a long time. The better part of today was spent learning about the Sphero and stealthily “driving” it into classrooms (much to the delight of kids). Sphero is a robotic ball that gets controlled by iPhone, iPad, or android device. I had it rolling all over school this morning…I only wish I had thought ahead to record student reactions (I was using my iPhone to control it and didn’t think about video and pictures). I had so much fun with it, that I brought it home to play and learn some more. It is equally loved by my dogs! ;)

Sphero seems like a simple concept, a ball that can be controlled via tablet or phone. Even though the concept is simple, I have to admit, I’m pretty floored by the way that this little ball moves around effortlessly as if by magic. We have a hallway in our school that includes an incline and it rolled up it without any trouble, like a champ! It is SO much more than a fun rolley ball. There are a slew of apps that interact with the Sphero making it ultra fun and educational. The majority of apps available are totally free to download. There are a few that cost $0.99. Apps include:

  • Sphero Nyan Cat Space Party- Even if you have no idea what Nyan cat is, your students will. They will think it is awesome.
  • Sphero Dark Nebula Episode One- A labyrinth game for the 21st century.
  • Sphero Dark Nebula Episode Two- Defeat obstacles and enemies using your Sphero.
  • Sphero- the app I played with all day. This app drives Sphero and teaches it (and you) new tricks with basics of coding.
  • GoGo Mongo- Designed to teach toddlers and primary students healthy eating habits.
  • Sphero Exile- Arcade-like space-fighter game. But with real life actions!
  • Sphero Draw N’ Drive- Use your finger on the tablet or phone to draw a shape or path and watch Sphero follow it.
  • Sphero MacroLab (great for education!)- Learn basics of programming by arranging simple commands and settings in any combination. Save favorite programs and share them with friends.
  • Sphero TAG- A great tag game when you have access to more than one Sphero.
  • Zombie Roller- A zombie app. Need I say more?
  • Sphero Lights- Basically the coolest night-light ever. Keep the Sphero lit even when charging.
  • Last Fish- Try surviving as a fish in toxic water filled with goo and shadow fish. The goal: survive.
  • Sphero Macro Draw- Draw using your Sphero robot.
  • DJ Sphero- Go ahead and be a party rock star with Sphero. Load tracks from your iPad/iPhone music library . Cross fade between songs and speed up or slow down music by spinning your sphere robot. Basically you will be the star of the lunch room.
  • Astro Ball- An arcade-syle 3D flight simulator.
  • Sphero Golf- I played this one as soon as I got home. Create a physical golf course and then virtually control Sphero to make it into the holes that you create. Hit Sphero with either a flick of the finger, or (for more fun) by swinging your arms while holding your tablet/phone.
  • Sphero Cam- Currently Android only. Use the built-in camera on Android to record video with Sphero.
  • orbBasic for Sphero- This is a great app for learning and practicing program. Students can execute basic programs and create and prototype autonomous behaviors for their Sphero robot.
  • Sphero H2O- For real, this robot can be played with IN water!! This is a game for a summer pool party.
  • Etch-o-matic- 21st century toy makes drawings like it is 1965. LOVE this app! Brings me right back to about 1987 when I sat in the back seat of the Jetta on the way to Grandmas. Just like an etch-a-sketch, only better.
  • Sphero Snake- Classic Snake game brought to life.
  • Disc Groove- Control your Sphero to avoid being hit by “flying meteors”
  • Doodle Grub- A new twist on the classic Snake game. Lots of fun.
  • Sphero Pet- Wishing you had a class pet? Sphero fits the bill well without being overwhelming. Kids can teach it to shake, flip and move in any direction.
  • Pass the Sphero- A game of dare for multiple players where Sphero becomes a ticking time-bomb. Lots of fun when there is lots of snow and recess has to occur inside.
  • Sphero Measuring Tape (AWESOME, measuring our Anastasis Academy garden!) Virtual measuring tape. Amazingly accurate. Our kids have been learning Area/Perimeter and using the Anastasis Academy garden as a learning space. Sphero helped verify their calculations.
  • Sharky the Beaver- Sphero turns into an augmented reality beaver that you can interact with.
  • Sphero ColorGrab- A multiplayer tabletop game. Sphero flashes colors and you have to pick him up at the right time to earn points. Best indoor recess ever!
  • Sphero Chromo- Like an old-school Simon game for this little robot. Makes me a little nostalgic for my childhood. :)
  • The Rolling Dead- an augmented reality game featuring zombies. Not sure how it gets better than using Sphero as a fireball to shoot virtual zombies. Anastasis Academy backs to a cemetery where the teachers walk/jog after school. I’m pretty sure the Rolling Dead/Sphero combo will be a welcome addition to our exercise.

The Sphero apps the are available to download range from just plain fun, to serious learning capability and augmented reality. There are so many possibilities with this little robot and, it seems, that the apps and abilities of this little robot will only continue to grow. This robot is resilient. It can stand up to dogs, water, outdoors, hills, etc. Truly so magical and amazing!

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

I dig technology that effortlessly blends real world with imagination and technology. Sphero definitely fits this bill in ways that I haven’t seen before. I’m excited to dig into Sphero Education to try out the STEM lessons that can be used with Sphero with students. I’ll be sure to blog our progress through them! Stay tuned.

 

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!

 

 

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

Smithsonian Quests: Learning through discovery and collaboration

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 07-05-2013

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Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 3.18.12 PM

What it is:
Smithsonian Quests encourage students to explore learning through discovery and collaboration.  As students learn, they can earn digital badges for their quests.  Students can explore their own interest through a series of online activities while incorporating knowledge and skill-building in the online quests.  The quests ask students to explore a topic of interest as part of a standards-based curriculum or as a student-driven after school activity.  By signing  up for Smithsonian Quests, you will receive an invitation to join a grade-level based group in the Smithsonian Quest Community.  Students from kindergarten through adult learners can join Smithsonian Quest and collect badges.

How to integrate Smithsonian Quests into the classroom: Smithsonian Quests is a great program that connects transdisciplinary learning with digital badges.  As your class works through the site, they will start to realize how they have been learning, exploring, connecting and acting.  Students can unlock a badge by completing a set of quests that go with it.  Some Quests are independent and others are collaborative.  Quests get reviewed by a group of “specially selected experts” before badges are awarded.  Badges include: oral historian, historical biographer, cool curator, cultural storyteller, portrait reader, community historian, symbols spotter, correspondent, dirt detective, art advocate, environ-scientist, culture keeper, eco-journalist, time traveler, H2O hero, conservation campaigner, invasions investigator and tree hugger.  Quests include things like listening to audio, taking pictures, recording, etc.  As you can see, there are quests for every interest!

When students sign up for quests, they get invited into a group (class group when the teacher sets up the account), can add friends, see the badges they have collected, and view friends who are online.  Students also get an online journal where they can reflect on learning or update their status with the kind of learning they are doing.

I like that these quests can be done collaboratively (a whole class goal to earn the digital badges by learning?) and that they are  largely discovery based learning.   The quests really challenge students to dig deeper in learning and often lead to additional questions.  Quests can also be completed individually by students.  Students can explore areas that are high-interest for them. These Smithsonian Quests would be a fantastic end of the year project where students are driving their own learning but working toward a known goal.  Spend the last week of school with a time for students to share their learning with others.

As we head into summer break in the United States, consider suggesting Smithsonian Quests to parents as a great summer-time learning opportunity.

Tips:  Register for free and have a look around to see all of the cool opportunities for your classroom!

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

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

E is for Explore: discovery, science, math, art, literacy, social studies and more!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Blogs, Create, Evaluate, Fun & Games, Inquiry, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 07-01-2013

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E is for Explore!

 

Happy New Year!!  I have to say, I wasn’t heart broken to see 2012 go and welcome a year of new beginnings.  2012 felt…hard. And uninspired.  I think that is what happens when you see a dream realized and then comes the part where you are in the middle of it, making it work and doing the HARD work.  2012 wasn’t a year I felt particularly creative. I miss that, it is part of my essence.  I’ve been so incredibly busy, just working to keep everything going, that I had nothing left over.  I’m hoping that 2013 is a different story. Step 1: the first post of 2013.  Here is to creativity and passion!

What it is: I discovered a new blog that I am absolutely loving!  It is hard to beat a place where exploration is not only welcome, but encouraged.  E is for Explore is that place.  Here you will find new learning activities and a fantastic collection of ideas from other sources.  There is a handy-dandy index that helps you find just what you need quickly and easily.  I’ve been working on collecting resources for this inquiry unit and E is for Explore has been an absolute treasure trove.  Topics include discovery/exploration, science/engineering, mathematics, art, literacy, social studies and seasons/holidays.

How to integrate E is for Explore into the classroom:  E is for Explore is a great tool for unit, center, and inquiry planning.  I am really enjoying the huge bank of hands-on activities and projects all designed to encourage exploration in learning. The wide range of activities will keep sparking curiosity in a variety of disciplines.

As I plan out inquiry units and gather resources, I am always on the lookout for activities that will encourage students to explore and spark new curiosities.  E for Explore made this process infinitely easier, bringing me an easy-to-search collection of activities, with great instructions, all in one place.  Many of the activities are manageable enough for a center activity within the classroom…great for differentiation and individualization!

I shared E is for Explore with some of our students, they had a great time looking through the science experiments and learning about how to make mini robots and floam.  This would be SO much better than a small tic-tac-toe board for students to choose an activity from.  Students can explore the entire site and choose an exploration that is of interest to them and complete it accordingly.

Tips: My hope is that iLearn Technology does for you what E if for Explore did for me.  Did you know that you can search by keyword (at the top of my website) or through a multi-category search (in the sidebar on the right)?  Choose as many variables as you want and see what you can find!  I categorize every post by keywords, Bloom’s Taxonomy level, Grade Level, Resource Type, and Subject Area.  After 7 years of free resources, I’ve amassed quite a collection of awesome, free classroom tools.  Go ahead, give it a try and see what new fun finds you come across!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  E is for Explore in your classroom.

Unitag: Custom QR Code Generator

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 06-12-2012

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What it is: QR codes are becoming more and more prevalent in education and everywhere else (advertisements, TV, your bag of chips, soda, etc.).  These codes are easy to make and can lead to some fun learning opportunities.  Unitag is a QR code generator that lets you customize the look of the QR code.  First, choose a type of QR code to generate.  This can be a weblink, text, a business card, an email, a geolocation, a text message, a phone number, a calendar date, a wifi network, or a mobile page.  Next, you can customize the QR code with pre-made templates, personalized color palette, a special look, a logo or picture, “eye” colors, and more.  When you are finished, the QR code can be downloaded or shared on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.  This process could take seconds (it is SO fast to create) or several minutes depending on how fancy you like to get with your customizations.

How to integrate Unitag into the classroom: So, what in the heck can you use those codes for?  A lot!  Use Unitag to create customized codes for back to school night; instead of sending parents with stacks of papers, offer a QR code by the door where they can snap a picture that takes them to your expectations/important dates/syllabus/special projects.  Include QR codes next to parent teacher conference signups so that parents can instantly upload the date to the calendar on their phone.  A QR code linked to your business card helps parents and students know what office hours you keep and how to keep in touch.

For older students (who have a phone) offer QR codes to help them remember important dates, homework, special projects, etc.  This could be posted next to the door so that on their way in or out they can instantly snap a picture and have all of the upcoming assignments in their calendar.

QR codes can be used by students to create choose your own adventure type stories.  The codes can link to different twists and turns within the story.  This would be fantastic for student created fiction but could also make a really cool book report.  Students could write one version summarizing the story as it was, a QR code could lead to an alternate ending that they created themselves.

When studying history, QR codes could be used to show different angles of the same event, different outcomes depending on population…and how cool would it be if those QR codes were included on a map where the events took place?!  Students can link the QR codes to different views of the same event.  For example, one from the viewpoint of explorer Christopher Columbus and another from the point of view of Native Americans.  A QR code classroom timeline would also be very neat.  Students can create reports/content that is linked to a QR code that gets placed on a giant timeline.  Customize the code with images that are related to the event or colors that represent the event in some way.

Create a bulletin board with a map of the world.  Place QR codes over different places for an interactive board.  Students can use the QR codes to reveal the name/capital/key features of the place.

Have a secret clue or math problem each day that students can reveal using a QR code.  It sounds so simple, but honestly, students love the mystery and hidden challenge!

In science, QR codes can be used at different stations to reveal the steps that students should follow for an experiment.  How about a periodic table of QR codes that reveal what each element does or a video that shows the element in action?

At the beginning of last year, we created a school wide school scavenger hunt that used QR codes to help students learn where different classrooms/resources could be found.  It was great fun!

Anytime you have a center activity, include a QR code that links to instructions, supplementary videos or websites.  This saves students from having to spend learning time typing in URLs or looking for directions that the last group wrote on or piled things on (or does that only happen to us?).

Do your students create a LOT of digital work like ours do?  One of the challenges we face at Anastasis is the lack of worksheets going home.  I know…it doesn’t seem like that would be a challenge, but it is.  Parents aren’t quite sure where to look for their child’s work since it is all digital.  QR codes could go home in lieu of a Friday folder that link to student work.

This time of year, it would be really neat to create a QR code advent calendar where students reveal some new piece of learning every day.

Tips: I hope that your mind is racing with the possibilities these little codes offer.  There is something to the mystery of them that appeals to students, they are like unveiling a surprise.  Don’t keep all the fun of creating them to yourself, students can easily create these and use them within their work.  I honestly can’t think of a subject or discipline that these wouldn’t be useful in.

Art: Share some art history or steps to an art project through a QR code.

Foreign Language: Create a word bank wall that has QR codes that reveal the translation of the word.

Geography: Create a map with QR codes that reveals additional information about the place.

Government: QR codes that lead students to political cartoons and related learning.

History: Exploring multiple points of view within a historical event.

Language Arts: Choose your own adventure story creation.

Math: Problem of the day.  Multiple methods for solving a problem.  Instructions for a math center activity.

Music: An exploration of world music through QR code link/videos.

PE: Links to examples of different exercises/warm ups.

Phonics: Video library of phonemes through QR code.

Science: Periodic table of QR codes with links to element information or videos.

Apps for scanning QR Codes: QR Reader, Qrafter, QR Scanner, Scan, Red Laser, Quick Scan Pro, Quick Scan, ATT code scanner.  There are hundreds of these, search your app store for “QR code” and find the one that best fits your needs and device.

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

Yummy Math! Best Math Blog EVER

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Evaluate, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 18-10-2012

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What it is:  Yummy Math is an absolutely fabulous blog/site dedicated to helping students and teachers understand how math is relevant to the world.  What a great mission!  The blog was started 2 years ago…bummed that I am only JUST discovering it.  Brian Marks and Leslie Lewis are the creators of Yummy Math.  They have worked together to make an easy way for teachers to bring real-world math into the classroom.  Math (like everything else) should be taught within a context.  I believe this is key!  When understood in context, students can make connections to their learning and, as a result, really learn it.  The goal here is to engage students in math so that they yearn to reason, think critically, problem solve, question and communicate…in short: DO math!  Each week, multiple activities and ideas are added to the Yummy Math site.  This means that you are in constant supply of real-world math problems for your students to engage in.

Categories include:

  • Algebra
  • Data and Probability
  • Geometry
  • Number Sense
  • Sports
  • Holidays/annual events
  • Math and Science
  • Math and Food
  • Math and Social Studies
  • Math and Art
  • Movies and Entertainment

How to integrate Yummy Math into the classroom: You know that dry math curriculum that you feel TRAPPED by?  Yummy Math exists to free you (and your students) from the endless memorization and unconnected practice.  This is the perfect supplement to any math program.  Use these activities a few times a week to really get your students thinking outside of the (math) box.  These will stretch your students, and help them grow exponentially in their understanding of math and all of the cool things it makes possible.

These are not your typical “real” world word problems.  None of that, if train a is traveling north at x, and train b is traveling south at y what time will they meet? Garbage.  This is…what is the real cost of owning an iPhone 5?   or  The House of Representatives passed a law in 2007 to increase the efficiency of light bulbs, what is the real energy savings that can be realized with CFL and LED.  Not only relevant, but really interesting!

Tips: You know what is EXTRA helpful?  That Yummy Math has already done all the leg work to tell you which Common Core Standards these project are meeting.  Yes. They are awesome!

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

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Gamestar Mechanic: Teaching game design in the classroom

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Art, Character Education, Create, Evaluate, Fun & Games, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 15-02-2012

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What it is: I just love when I get lost in a bunny trail of links…you know the kind, you go hunting for something specific and click on something that looks interesting which leads you to a browser of 25 tabs open.  I had one of these serendipitous link moments today that lead me to Gamestar MechanicGamestar Mechanic is both a game and an online community that teaches kids how to design their own digital games.  In designing games, students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, art and aesthetics, writing and storytelling, and creates a motivation for further STEM exploration.  The free version of Gamestar Mechanic is available with unlimited use for teachers who want to use it with their students.  This account option comes with 1 teacher login and 40 student logins.  A premium account offers some additional classroom goodies including: class management, the ability for students to incorporate their own custom artwork, live professional training webinars, tools for tracking student activity and assessing progress, the option of having a “walled” school community, and more.
As a teacher you will find sample lessons for using Gamestar Mechanic, an introductory step-by-step guide, and a full learning guide.  Teachers can even play a short quest to learn more about how to use Gamestar Mechanic in the classroom to teach core subjects.

How to integrate Gamestar Mechanic into the classroom:  There is so much to learn from digital games.  As a player, students learn to think strategically, persist through failure and experience epic wins that can translate to what they do and are willing to try out in real life.  As a designer students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, digital art and aesthetics, and storytelling and writing.  Students love being able to bring their creations and ideas to life in the form of a game.  Gamestar Mechanic could be the key to unlocking the storytelling genius in your reluctant writers.  It has been my experience that a student faced with a blank paper and a writing assignment can be daunting.  Introduce the idea of designing their own game and suddenly a storyline pours forth.  It is pretty neat to watch!
Gamestar Mechanic makes it easy for all teachers to incorporate game design into the classroom and weave it into the core subjects being taught.  You don’t have to be a tech-superstar, just create an account, read through the getting started guide and enlist the help of a student who’s passion is game design.  This type of designing and thinking is wonderful because it lays the ground work for so much other STEM thinking.  It nicely blends disciplines and helps students recognize the overlap in the learning that they do.
Students can each create a game of their own in a lab setting where every student has a computer.  If you are limited on your computer options for students, create a game as a class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Students can create games that incorporate other learning or research they are doing to help teach future classes or younger students.  At Anastasis, we have Crave Classes.  These are classes that the student gets to choose based on personal passions.  In the one or two computer classroom, give your students time for a Crave class where they work on Gamestar Mechanic.  Other students can follow their areas of passion…almost in a center type of a set up.
Tips:  There are a variety of pricing and package options for classrooms.  If your students are really enjoying the game design process, it might be worth taking a look at the premium options available.

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

Google Doodle, Science Fair, Booklet

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Art, Character Education, Create, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 01-02-2012

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What it is:  Google has all kinds of great resources that many of us use daily in our schools.  Every year I look forward to the launch of Google Doodle and wait with anticipation to see what kids from around the US have come up with.  This year, I am in a place where we can even try our hands at the Google Science Fair.  Very exciting stuff!
Doodle for Google is now open for 2012 submissions!  K-12 students can express themselves through the theme “If I could travel in time, I’d visit…” as creatively as possible using Google’s logo as their canvas.  The winner gets their image displayed on the Google homepage for a day, $30,000 in college scholarships and a $50,000 technology grant for their school.  The winning doodle will also be featured on a special edition Crayola box.  Submissions have to be postmarked by March 20th.
The Google Science Fair is open to students age 13-18.  Students from around the world compete for over $100,000 in scholarship funds, an expedition to the Galapagos, an experience at CERN, Google and LEGO and an award from Scientific American.  Nothing to scoff at!
Google also has a new booklet available called “Google in Education: a New and Open World for Learning“.  This is a great resource to see how others are using Google tools in education.
How to integrate Google Doodle and Science Fair into the classroom: Google for Doodle and Google Science Fair are such fun competitions for students to get involved in.  Both let students think and express themselves creatively.  If you don’t have time to integrate these contests into your regular school day, consider holding an after school club for a few weeks so that students have a place to gather and participate.
I really love looking through the Google Doodles every year.  I was thinking that it would be fun to have the students create a doodle with our school name based on our school theme for the year.  Yearbook cover?  Now that could be fun!
Tips:   Share the new Google edu booklet with your colleagues, don’t hog all of those good ideas to yourselves!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Google Doodle and Science Fair in  your classroom!