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24 of Our Favorite Apps at Anastasis Academy!

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Blooms Taxonomy, For Teachers, inspiration, iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary | Posted on 12-09-2013

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24 of our favorite apps at Anastasis Academy

 

Recently, Kelly Hodgkins from The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) interviewed me for a back to school piece on apps that teachers use in the classroom.  I not only shared our favorite apps, I also shared some iPad accessories that keep us happy.

Click here for 24 of our favorite apps at Anastasis Academy.   What are your favorite apps?

Fluency Finder App: Updated with new features!

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, Interactive book, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 21-08-2013

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Normally I post all of my app posts at my other blog, iPad Curriculum.  Because iDevices are becoming SO common place as a technology in the classroom, I’m going to start posting them here as well.  If you just want apps, head over to iPad Curriculum and you can search apps only!  Just like iLearn Technology, you can search any app by Bloom’s Taxonomy level.  All of the websites I share on iLearn Technology are completely FREE, the apps I review tend to be a mix of free and paid apps.  At the bottom of each post, I share the cost of the app.


Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 2.29.31 PMFluency Finder

What it is: In the US it is back to school time!  I love these first days of school when you get to meet a new group of students and uncover their passions, strengths and weaknesses.  Fluency is one of those measures that is great to have from the beginning of the year because it means that we as teachers are armed with the background knowledge to help build reading confidence in students.   You can easily find and track fluency rates so that you have more time to help students strengthen reading skills and find books that are confidence-building and enjoyable for them.  I have written about Fluency Finder before (here), but I’m writing about it again because they have just come out with some great new features worth another mention!  Fluency Finder now has a data-sharing email function so that you can share fluency results with all stakeholders easily.  Comprehension questions have been built-in so now you have a one-step fluency and reading comprehension assessment.  Very handy!  Reading passages are being updated with a snapshot list so that you can quickly compare passages.  32 brand new passages are also being added from literary classics for 1st-8th grade reading levels.

 

I like Fluency Finder because of the way that it instantly calculates results and then stores them in your Student Record for instant access.  Really handy when you are in the library with students and want to quickly remind yourself of their current fluency levels to assist them in selecting the perfect, not-to-hard-book that will keep them reading with enjoyment.

How to integrate Fluency Finder app into the classroom:

Fluency Finder makes it simple to assess reading fluency in 1st-8th grade reading levels.  To get started:

  • Add students to the app
  • Select an appropriate grade level passage for the student to read
  • Print the passage from the www.fluencyfinder.com website (students could also read from their own iDevice or computer if you want to save paper)
  • Begin assessment, start the app timer as the student begins reading
  • Student will read from printed passage as you follow on your iDevice marking any mistakes
  • Tap the (+) button when student makes a reading mistake
  • Tap the (-) button if the student self-corrects a mistake
  • End the timer when the student finishes
  • Tap the “finish assessment” button to instantly see results

Now instead of focusing so much on keeping track of the fluency and score, you can focus on what actually matters: listening for fluency, comprehension and expression.

Being a paperless school, we are LOVING this option for helping students choose books that are at a level that is “just right.”  It gives us the opportunity to help students hunt down the perfect amount of challenge and really focus on a story they can love.  We are all about encouraging an absolute love of reading!

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 2.29.58 PM

Tips: Target Fluency Rates

First Grade: 60-70 wpm

Second Grade: 80-95 wpm

Third Grade: 100-120 wpm

Fourth Grade: 120-135 wpm

Fifth Grade: 130-145 wpm

Sixth Grade: 140-150 wpm

Seventh Grade: 150-160 wpm

Eighth Grade 160-175 wpm

Cost$6.99 (iTunes link)

Compatible with: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later

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

Detox: the most important event of the school year

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Character Education, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, education reform, Evaluate, Fun & Games, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 13-08-2013

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Anastasis is in the midst of gearing up for the start of a new school year.  It is year number 3!  In some ways, we are still very much a start-up (I think this will always be the case in some respect, it’s part of our philosophy to keep innovating!).  We are also beginning to establish some nice traditions and events that we look forward to each year at the start of school.

Each year, we take a few days to meet with each student individually to build a Learning Profile.  Teachers sit down with each student and  go through a survey that helps them better understand a student’s interests and passions as well as gain a glimpse at multiple intelligence strengths, learning style preferences, and brain dominance.  These Learning Profile days give students a chance to meet their new teacher in a safe space, help the teacher to learn about the student, and ultimately are used to help Team Anastasis individualize instruction for each learner.  I’ve played around with different ways to gather this information: Google forms that the teacher fills in during an interview, Bento for gathering information in one place, an interactive PDF.  This year I took a different approach, I am hopeful that it will be more fun for the students.  I created a set of cards to sort of gamify the process, giving students a tangible and visual way to think through each statement as it relates to them.  Teachers will record this process and then hand the data collected off to me for future planning.  I used my new favorite find http://thenounproject.com to help me illustrate these cards.  Fun fact: I have an ACTUAL artist working on the next version of these cards that I will be able to share with the world!  @mdusing is creating illustrations for each card to help students better understand what each card represents, some of the concepts can be pretty abstract (empathy is always a tough one for kids to connect with…even when they are VERY empathetic!).  This version will be available for all of you as a download; it will also be woven into The Learning Genome Project.

Learning Profile Interests/passion survey

Learning style preference cards

Multiple intelligence cards

Brain Dominance cards

Because our philosophy and model are so different, we start each year with a week of detox (fitting since our initials are AA) ;).  During this week, we help students “stand up again” in who they are as learners, as creators, as individuals.  We undo some of the messages they have learned about learning: that it happens in specific ways and at specific times, that the goal is answers, that the teacher knows it all, that a test is the only way to measure success, that they are bad at learning certain things, that they can’t be friends with kids who are a different age than they are, that only some people are creative…the list could go on and on!

Our detox week is a time for students to remember that they matter.  It is an opportunity for them to re-frame the ways that they think about learning.  It is a time for them to share their passions with each other.  It is a chance to realize the working together is more productive than competing in learning.  It is a safe time to explore creativity.  It is also the week that new students start to discover that the relationship with their teacher is different here.  That the goal of coming to school isn’t an “A” at the end of the semester.

I love this week!  We see kids who begin to come back to life.  The spark in their eye that can only come through discovering something new.  For some kids, this week is life changing.  Others are a little more hesitant, they don’t trust the freedom that we offer.  They wonder when the “real work” will start and they will settle back into mediocrity.  For these students, the detox week is a glimpse of things to come that they aren’t sure if they can trust.  It usually takes about a month to really settle in and see that we really do mean what we say.

Individual classes explore what it means to be vulnerable.  How to be proud of the individual talents and gifts that make up a class.  How to work together to do hard things.  We also bring the whole Anastasis community together for some activities.  Our first year, students worked together to create iPad styluses out of sponge and wire for less than 10 cents.  Last year we held an all-school day of play (highly recommend that!) and marshmallow/spaghetti tower challenge.  This year we have some fun group art projects and challenges planned.

At the end of second week, we will hold our third annual identity day.  This is an opportunity for students to share an area of passion with the school community.  Students can choose to share anything they want to in a way that they want to.  We hold a school-wide fair and invite families to attend.  The set up almost looks like a science fair when all is said and done.  We spend the day getting to know each other- apart from classroom constraints.  We take a moment to see the world from another point of view.  It is a spectacular day of honoring each child for who they are (teachers participate, too!).  After a half day of sharing ourselves, we spend the rest of the day building community at a local park where we go ice-blocking.  For those who have never had the privilege of ice-blocking, it involves purchasing a block of ice from a grocery store, finding a large grassy hill, sitting on the block of ice, and sledding down the hill in the sunshine.  We have a blast!  Parents, teachers, and students get involved in the fun.  Barriers are broken down, friendships forged and a community bound together for a year of life and learning together.

Our detox week may be the single most important week of the entire year.  It sets the tone, letting students know that this is a safe place to be who they are.  That this is a place where learning looks like life.  That the questions this year will be as important as the answers.  I’m not sure Anastasis would be the incredible place of learning it is without our detox week.

I collect ideas for inquiry units and our detox week on Pinterest.  If you are interested in hosting your own “detox,” check out the ideas saved here!

Of course, you can always follow all of my boards on Pinterest here.

Also random side note, I’m trying to convince Anastasis staff that it is a good idea for us to start an Extreme Combat Juggling team.  It’s a real thing, which is awesome.  Feel free to help me in this encouragement, on Twitter they are: @michellek107, @dweissmo, @bestmscott, @nancybabbitt, @matthewquigley, @lancefinkbeiner.  :)

 

President Obama’s 2010 Back to School Speech

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Character Education, Evaluate, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 14-09-2010

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President Obama is giving his 2010 Back to School Speech today at 1PM ET.  This is an opportunity for the President to speak to students about the importance of education and encourage them as they start back to school.  Last year the President petitioned students to remember that “Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.”

The speech will be offered with live streaming from CNN and WhiteHouse.gov.  I am also offering live streaming below:

Dr. Seuss Inspired Classroom Theme

Posted by admin | Posted in inspiration, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 20-08-2010

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Since I don’t have a classroom of my own to set up this year, I dropped into a friends classroom to offer my bulletin board expertise (I LOVE decorating for the year and begged for her to let me help).  She is teaching first grade for the first time this year and wanted a fun theme.  Dr. Seuss is perfect!  I hunted down some good Dr. Seuss quotes that would tie in with what she wanted to display on the bulletin boards and we set to work pulling it all together.  I think it looks great!

This is right next to the clock, it says "How did it get late so soon?"

Above the door to the classroom it says: Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.

This is the classroom jobs board and morning message board.

Over the jobs board it says: This mess is too big and too deep and too tall. But, we can clean it up! We can clean it up all!

Kings Kid is like a Star Student or VIP, they make a poster all about them to hang up for the week. This quote says: Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.

This is the reading corner, it turned out so cozy!

Another angle of the reading center with the Cat in the Hat on the back of a bookshelf.

On the closet door is Thing 2.

Horton is on the girls bathroom door.

Two fish is on the boys bathroom door.

The backside of two bookcases in the reading center.

This is where student work will be displayed. The quote above says: Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh the Thinks you can think up if only you try!

Front of the classroom with the Promethean board.

Back of the classroom.

Toward the reading center.

Teacher desk

The room turned out so cute!  Right now the calendar has purchased numbers on it, I suggested that she take pictures of all of the kids holding up their class number and using those as numbers on the calendar.  She only has 19 students this year so for the additional numbers she is going to have specialist teachers and admin hold up numbers.  To tie in with the Dr. Seuss theme, she is going to use Photo Booth’s green screen background to insert a Dr. Seuss background for the kids.  The kids will wear a Cat in the Hat hat for the pictures.  :)  It is going to be cute!

My favorite touches in the room are that each bulletin board is designed for student interaction or to display student work or accomplishments.  I can’t wait to see it when all of the student work is up!

Math Mania Back to School Challenge

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 01-09-2009

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What it is: Math Mania Back to School Challenge is a FREE 48 hour math competition hosted by Voyager.  Voyager also holds the World Math Day competition each year, Math Mania is a similar competition. Students compete against other students in real time using the Vmath Live math program.  This challenge is limited to 2nd through 8th grade students in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas who are registered by September 14th.  Other Math Mania challenges will follow (different dates depending on US state) so if your school isn’t in a state listed above, check out the Math Mania website to find out when your challenge will take place.  Although the official competition is September 15-16, students can begin practicing on VmathLive as soon as they are registered.  Prizes include student and school trophies and plaques, on-site pizza parties, visits from Vbot, and a champion hall banner awarded to the top overall performing school.  Awards will be given to the top 10 students overall, the top 5 classes,  and the top 3 schools.

How to integrate Math Mania Back to School Challenge into the classroom: You have never seen students so excited to practice math facts!   Students face off with other students from around the world practicing their math facts.  The live competition with students from around the world is highly motivating and has students asking “can I play this at home?”  When have you ever had students ask to practice their math facts?!  Reserve a computer lab for September 15th and 16th so that your students can take part in the competition.  In the mean time, students can be practicing for the competition by playing on VmathLive in a computer lab setting or as a center activity on classroom computers.

Tips: If your state is not listed above, be sure to visit the VmathLive site to find out when your Math Mania challenge will be held.  Print out the fliers from the VmathLive and post around your school to raise interest and excitement about the competition.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Math Mania Back to School Challenge  in your classroom.