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Extreme Planet Makeover: make a planet

What it is: NASA has some really fantastic resources and activities for use in the classroom.  This week I am creating a customized integrated technology plan for a local elementary/middle school.  One of the subjects we are integrating tech into is astronomy.  NASA was, of course, my first stop...

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Anastasis Academy hosting the education conference you don’t want to miss!

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Blooms Taxonomy, collaboration, education reform, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development, Subject, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 20-10-2014

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5 Sigma Edu Con- a truly innovative education conference!

At Anastasis Academy, we are continually considering the assumptions made in education. We regularly seek to step away from those assumptions about how education must look, and dream together. Many of you have seen this dreaming (we do it pretty publicly), and have asked LOTS of questions about how we do what we do.

As a staff, we’ve asked questions about how assessment must look. We’ve asked questions about what a report card looks like and about what their purpose is. We’ve asked questions about how learning space must look. We’ve reconsidered the timing of the school day. We’ve questioned standards and testing. We’ve questioned the purpose of school. We’ve looked at the part that community plays in a school setting. Most of what we do at Anastasis every day looks very different from what most schools look like, and yet, what we do is not so revolutionary that it can’t be implemented in classrooms everywhere. In fact, our larger goal is to help educators everywhere do what we do.

Dreaming is nice, but in order to really transform education (and classrooms) we must go beyond dreaming . We have to learn, iterate and find a way to launch. It is only when all three of these happen that we can truly transform education and learning.

This February, Anastasis Academy is hosting a 3-day conference to facilitate this transformation in education. We chose 5-Sigma Edu Con as the name for our conference. Why 5-Sigma? 5-Sigma is a declaration of discovery. In science, it is used as a measure of confidence in a result. At Anastasis Academy, we are in a continual process of discovery. We call our conference the 5-Sigma Edu Con because that is what we hope for, declarations of discovery. Our goal is to transform education to be the very best that it can be for kids everywhere. We want to offer a conference experience where educators can come together to learn with world-changing thinkers and innovators. This conference will go beyond the typical how-to sessions; we will be hosting conversations where educators can come together to learn, iterate, and launch. There is something for everyone! This conference is for educators (of any level), administrators, and anyone involved in education.

I can boldly tell you this is like NO education conference you have ever been to. Some special features you can look forward to:

  • Tour Anastasis Academy- if you’ve wanted to see Anastasis Academy in action, this is your opportunity! Get a first hand view of the innovative learning that takes place at Anastasis Academy. Our students will offer an inside look at learning, free from assumptions. Tour our space, ask questions, meet our team, and see education re-imagined.
  • Learning Excursions- At Anastasis Academy, we seek to help our students understand that learning happens everywhere, not just within the four walls of our school building. We have reserved February 22 for adult learning excursions. These are opportunities to experience Colorado, think outside the box, and consider different ways of approaching learning. We cannot WAIT to let you experience learning the way that our students do.
  • No last names or titles rule- We all have an inherently unique perspective about the world, teaching, and learning. Yet, when we interact in our society (or education circles) these can get lost as we operate from the perspective that some people’s ideas are more important. We tend to give more weight to people on a stage, those who have been published, and people who hold titles of authority. The truth is, we all have something that only we can contribute to the discussion. We want to create a level playing field where ideas can be shared freely and everyone is comfortable to network. The labels shouldn’t own us. Before our final keynote, there will be a “grand reveal” where we will share our last names and titles.
  • AWESOME keynotes, sessions, and panel discussions: Christian Long will be the opening Keynote and will kick us off for a fantastic weekend of learning, panel discussions will include Team Anastasis and Anastasis alumni, and sessions are being led by incredible educators and thinkers from around the country.

Registration for 5 Sigma Edu Con is now open. Also open, calls for session proposals. You have something to contribute, please consider presenting! Registration and proposal for a session can be found on the 5 Sigma Edu Con website.

To learn more about the 5-Sigma Edu Conference, visit http://5sigmaeducon.com!

 

5 Sigma Edu Con- a truly innovative education conference!

 

The Very Best Use of a Weekend: #RSCON4

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Video Tutorials, Virtual Field Trips | Posted on 10-10-2013

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I am SO excited for this weekend.  It is the Reform Symposium Conference!!!  Seriously, I feel a little bit giddy.  Like a child on Christmas morning.  As an adult, RSCON is one of the things that can bring back the same feelings of anticipation and eagerness.  So much learning is about to happen this weekend!  Best of all, it is INSPIRED learning.  What could be better than surrounding yourself with a weekend packed full of inspiration, learning, hope, edu-friends and encouragement? Nothing, that’s what.

In case you’ve been out of the loop in the world of social media lately, this is BIG!  You will not want to miss this FREE worldwide virtual conference.  It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, what you are wearing, how disastrous (or epic) your week was, because RSCON4 is available to everyone.  Please look at the schedule (conveniently made available in your preferred timezone) and plan to join us for as much of the conference as you can.  I’m overjoyed that I get to be a part of this incredible conference again.  Although I’ve been the very WORST organizer, I’m truly so honored to be a part of something so important.

I’ll be presenting on Sunday with @michellek107 and @nancybabbitt, we will share a little bit of the “secret” sauce that makes Anastasis so awesome. Drop in and join the conversation.  Better yet: drop in to several sessions and join the conversation! Looking forward to learning with all of you!

 

Reform Symposium Free Virtual Conference

Presefy: Go mobile with your presentations and give everyone a front row seat

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management, collaboration, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 22-04-2013

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What it is: Presefy is a new tool that lets you present with your mobile device wirelessly.  The best part: those attending the presentation can view your presentations from their own web browsers (on a mobile device or a computer), and follow along using your unique “channel.”  Upload pdf or ppt(x) files, at the moment those are the two supported file types.

How to integrate Presefy into the classroom: Presefy would obviously be wonderful to use when you are presenting at a conference or to a large group, but I also love the implications in the classroom and school setting.  Have you ever been sitting in a conference or a session where your vantage point stinks?  You go right ahead and check out because you can’t see what the speaker is referring to anyway.  Imagine having the ability to follow along on your own device.  Now you are more engaged than ever!  The same is true for students, having something on a projector for all to see is great, but if you have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or a one-to-one setting, Presefy is a great way to share.  Students can follow along on their own devices.  Added benefit: now there doesn’t have to be a front of your classroom.

At Anastasis, we don’t have clear fronts of the classroom.  This is intentional.  We want to be able to share and discuss in a variety of ways and locations.  Presefy lets us do just that by taking away the need for everyone to be facing one direction, with one presenter at the front.  Instead, the teacher can present and be a part of the discussion and conversation in a way that is more organic.  Students can follow along on their own devices.  Everyone has a front row seat.  Everyone can see clearly and be part of the presentation.  SO much better!

With Presefy you can broadcast and run your presentation right from your mobile device.  You even have access to see your notes and jump to any slide.  Additional features are coming soon including the ability to poll your audience, ask questions, make notes, etc.

Tips:  Right now, you are limited to having two presentations uploaded at a time.  If you invite a friend to join Presefy, you will get to upload additional presentations.

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  Presefy in your classroom.

Do Lectures: Ideas + Energy = Change

Posted by admin | Posted in education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 05-07-2012

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What it is:  Summer is a great time to be inspired, laugh and gather ideas.  TED has been my go-to place for video inspiration, but recently I found a new source: Do Lectures.  Do Lectures are like TED Talk videos, they are inspiring talks from people who are changing the world.  The talks are broken down into talks about Big Ideas, Challenging talks, Funny talks, Informative talks, Inspiring talks, and Soulful talks.  You can also search by topic (business, creativity, environment, food, sport, technology, or well being) or by speaker.

Do Lectures started out of West Wales and is moving to the good old USA in 2012.  They call themselves a mash-up, a village of ideas.  They take great talks, yummy local food, great un-signed bands, workshops and bring them together in one place. They switch the Internet off so that people talk (in real life) because ideas need conversation.  The idea is to create an eco-system for ideas to be born, shared and acted on.  The next event is happening in California September 20-13.

How to integrate Do Lectures into the classroom: Do Lectures don’t focus on education specifically.  I kind of love that they don’t.  I find that my BEST ideas for the classroom and education come from outside of education.  Often, we become an echo chamber within education.  Hearing ideas from any field sparks ideas and creative approaches to teaching/learning for me.  Do Lectures are a great place to find inspiration and new ideas for your classroom.

Do Lectures can also be the perfect supplement or launching point for units of study in your classroom.  You may find a video that supports the learning happening in your classroom.

Tips:  Be sure to share those great videos you stumble on with the rest of us!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Do Lectures  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.

Save the Date: Reform Symposium Conference #RSCon3

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

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


 

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

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

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

Reform Symposium 2011 FREE Worldwide Virtual Conference/Professional Development

Posted by admin | Posted in inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 21-12-2010

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Everyone could use FREE professional development.  As an organizer of the Reform Symposium, I wanted to personally invite you all to our annual Reform Symposium Conference for New Teachers (but don’t be fooled, it is really for ALL teachers), which will take place on Saturday, January 8th, 2011.  You can attend this worldwide conference from the comfort of your home or anywhere you have Internet access.  We have some of the best educational speakers in the world involved. This conference provides you the opportunity to connect with educators and professionals in the field of education worldwide.  Over 2400 educators from 59 countries attended our last conference in July.  This year we will focus on interactive presentations that help teachers with creating engaging classrooms and lessons, building relationships with students, improving literacy, working with interactive whiteboards, and much more.  This year we look forward to 2 keynote speakers, 18 presentations, and open discussion on classroom management, a panel discussion on parental engagement, a mentor program, and an open lab for hands-on support in helping you continue your professional development in online educator communities.  You have never attended a conference quite like this one!  Join us for one session or multiples.

The Reform Symposium virtual conference has opportunities for continuing education credits, connections with educators around the world, an amazing lineup of raffle prizes (including prizes to EVERY educator who registers for the conference), and fantastic keynotes and presenters.

Check out the Reform Symposium website here or download the brochure here.

Please pass the word about this free conference, print out the brochure and stick it in the teachers lounge, stick it in teacher’s school mailboxes, and pass this post on to the administration at your school.

We hope to see you all there!

Wiggio: Group Collaboration made easy

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 28-10-2010

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What it is: Yesterday as I was scanning through my Twitter stream when I came across this tweet from my friend @jasonshmidt123:  “Holy buckets of love, this is cool! RT @plugusin: Checking out Wiggio:  http://wiggio.com/ for collaborating.”  Now, any time buckets of love are involved I am intrigued- I had to check it out.  I must say, Wiggio is a way cool tool for collaboration.  Wiggio is a completely free online toolkit that makes it easy to work and coordinate with groups.  Wiggio is SO very simple to use and has a very straight forward interface that makes it easy for even those who are low-tech.  Wiggio lets you share and manage files, manage a group calendar, poll your group, post links, set up conference calls (including voice, webcam, shared whiteboard space, and screen sharing), chat online, send out mass text messages, and send voice or email messages to the entire group.  Wiggio has a lot of features that remind me of Google Groups but some additional features that truly make it a “holy buckets of love” experience.  Everything is in one place, handy and easy to use!

How to integrate Wiggio into your curriculum: I can see a lot of possibilities of Wiggio in the classroom.  Use it to create a class group with student families each year.  Keep families up to date with the latest happenings in your classroom, volunteer opportunities, and class projects that will need some parent support.  Share all important documents, videos, and resources that you use in your classroom for easy access from home.  (I can’t tell you how many, “I’ve lost the permission slip could you please send a new one?” I get in a year!).  Keep all those documents in your Wiggio group file and parents will never have to worry about lost paperwork again.  Live meeting opportunities mean that you can hold a virtual parent university where you catch parents up on the new math/reading/science/writing curriculum.  Teach your parents everything from reading strategies to use at home to working through math problems together.  Parents would love a little support in this area!  Offer virtual conference opportunities for parents who are unable to make it for a live conference due to long-term illness, job travel, or in multiple parent homes.

Use Wiggio to create student groups where you keep students up to date with classroom happenings and resources.  Offer your students a study hour where they can meet with you virtually for a little extra support or mentoring.  Remind your students of upcoming assignments by creating to-do’s.  Collect digital assignments using Wiggio files.

Students can create study groups of their own for collaborative projects.  As they work together they can meet virtually, share resources and links, and create a schedule to keep themselves on task.

Working with a class outside of your school?  Maybe in another state or country?  Wiggio is the perfect platform for connecting them, they can work together with shared space and chat live from your classroom.

Wiggio can be used with teaching staff to keep teaching teams organized and give them a place to share resources, ideas, and share a common calendar of events.

Have ambitious parents?  They can use Wiggio to collaborate and work with other parents for fundraiser events, coordinating volunteers, and special days.

I am currently using Vyew as my virtual classroom meeting space but Wiggio offers so much more functionality all in one place, I think for the next round of virtual class I will be making the switch!  To quote Jason again, “Holy buckets of love, this is cool!”

Tips: Wiggio has a demo area where you can play with all of the features yourself without registering or creating an account.  Note to all web 2.0 companies…this is a really nice feature, I wish you all would do it :)

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

Create your own virtual classroom: Edu 2.0 and Vyew

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, collaboration, Create, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 18-10-2010

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What it is: Tomorrow I launch my virtual classroom and honestly, I am a little nervous!  It is like the first day of school; everything is carefully planned, all the resources are ready to go, and the students are enrolled and have received their welcome packet.  But, there is still that anticipation and sense of dread that all that careful planning won’t be enough…that something unexpected will happen that will force me to think on my feet.  Really, isn’t that what teaching (and learning) ends up being every day? :)  I am using two tools to host my virtual classroom that I wanted to share here.  Even if you teach in a traditional classroom, these tools offer the ability to expand your school day and provide your students more of a hybrid learning model.

Edu 2.0 is the first tool.  I first wrote about and started using Edu 2.0 in 2007.  The tool has only gotten better with time!  Edu 2.0 is an outstanding alternative to Moodle or Blackboard as an online Learning Management System (LMS).  It is completely free to use, multilingual (it auto translates messages!), allows you to teach public or private classes, gives each student an online portfolio, includes a full gradebook, allows you to create curricula and track proficiencies, transcripts of all student grades, tracks attendance, includes forums and wikis, online quizzes, create and track to-do lists, completely web-based, mobile with a free iPhone app, tracks analytics, teach multiple sessions of the same class, upload and access over 15,000+ online resources, parent involvement, define and measure proficiencies, integration with popular web widgets, real-time chat, custom RSS feeds for your class, Calendars, private (designed with students in mind), create and share lessons, provide conditional pathways in lessons (you have to pass one assignment or class before moving onto the next), rubrics, groups, debates, messaging, public and private blogs, surveys, multimedia, and pdf integration.  That is a long list but it really doesn’t even scratch the surface of what Edu 2.0 can do.  This is your one stop shop for a LMS whether you are in need of one for a district, a school, or for your individual classroom.  It is relatively easy to learn and has fantastic tutorials, guides, and support.  The biggest challenge that I have with Edu 2.0 is navigation, not because it is difficult, but because it is so comprehensive!

Vyew is the second tool I am using for my virtual classroom.  Vyew is an online meeting room that is simple to use.  The free version is the one I am using, premium versions are well priced and offer increased options and capacity.  Vyew allows up to 10 students to participate in a room at a time.  Teachers can create and upload course content for real-time and anytime collaborative learning.  Vyew is a lot like Elluminate but doesn’t require any downloads, it runs completely inside the web browser.  This makes it a really easy virtual meeting option for students as they aren’t required to do a lot of extra prep.  The authoring area of Vyew is easy to use, it is a lot like creating a PowerPoint presentation with slides.  Vyew allows for external publishing which means that you can embed the finished presentation on your Edu 2.0 site for those who couldn’t attend the live Vyew session.  Vyew supports a HUGE amount of files including video, pdf, PowerPoint, swf, and many more.  It also allows for real-time desktop sharing which means that all of your students can see what you are doing on your computer as if you were sitting side by side!  There is a built-in screen capture tool for making step by step tutorials.  Both students and teacher have whiteboard drawing tools for on-screen collaboration.  Embedded comments let you include information on the page to be expanded.  Vyew lets you communicate with VOIP (voice over IP), webcam (all 10 can use the webcam!), free tele-conferencing with a unique phone number provided, and voice notes (voice recording embedded in on-screen sticky notes).  This is such a simple to use virtual meeting room and it’s features are among the best.

I am using both edu 2.0 and Vyew together for my virtual classroom.  I felt I needed an online meeting room where I could create meetings on the fly because this class is being held completely online.  I am working with students in third through eighth grade and teaching a 5 week digital storytelling class.  We will be working together to discover the power of story, and how to use different digital mediums to tell a great story.  I am offering this class to everyone but advertised specifically to the students I used to teach for the first virtual classroom.  I did this for a few reasons: parent requests, as a way to stay connected to my students, and I knew what technology skills they had already learned.

How to integrate Edu 2.0 and Vyew Virtual Classrooms into your classroom: Creating a hybrid classroom is an incredible gift to your students.  It offers them the ability to connect with you outside the hours of the school day, and on their own terms.  It gives students time to review content, interact with other students, and learn at their own pace.  Virtual options provide a whole new dimension to learning.  Use a virtual classroom to: extend your classroom and teaching, tutor students individually, offer courses to home school families, connect your students with other classrooms, record in-class learning for students who are absent or have a long-term illness.  There are hundreds of ways that taking your classroom online can benefit your students.  Taking your classroom online gives parents an additional way to be involved in their child’s education and goes one step better, allows them to learn along side their child.  Have a tough new math curriculum that parents are lamenting?  Offer a virtual parent university where parents can learn more about how to help their child with the new learning.  Have teachers that need professional development but can’t find the time?  Use Edu 2.0 for learning on demand.  Edu 2.0 can be utilized as a classroom online learning solution, or as a school or district wide learning management system.  Use Vyew for live meetings with your students.  Make yourself available in a Vyew room at the same time every day for additional academic help.

Tips: You can offer your virtual classes for free or charge depending on their purpose. I wouldn’t charge for a virtual classroom that was an extension to my regular classroom, but you might charge for tutoring or specialized classes.   I am charging for my class and treating it as an after school club.  Edu 2.0 allows you to charge for a class with checkout support using Paypal or credit cards.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Edu 2.0 and Vyew Virtual Classrooms in your classroom!

K12 Online Conference 2010: Free professional development!

Posted by admin | Posted in inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Web2.0 | Posted on 12-10-2010

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What it is: K12 Online Conference is a completely FREE online conference for educators around the world.  The conference focuses on innovative ways that web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning.  The conference is run by volunteers and open to everyone.  This year the theme of the conference is “Cultivating the Future”.  Yesterday was the kick off to the conference with a pre-conference keynote by Dean Shareski.  In the next two weeks (October 18 and October 25), 40 presentations will be posted online for participants to view, download and discuss.  Live events happen in the form of “Fireside Chats”, there are three live events this year.  The first Fireside Chat is scheduled for October 15 and will be hosted by Dean Shareski.  I have attended the k12 Online Conference every year since it started (2006) and each year I am inspired, and fueled with new ideas.  I am excited to see so many student voices and presenters this year, there is just nothing like hearing about education from the student perspective!  I am also excited to see so many familiar names from my PLN…there just isn’t anyone I would rather learn from!

How to integrate K12 Online Conference 2010 into your classroom: Check out the 2010 Schedule now and choose some sessions that you are most interested in.  Commit to viewing 2 or 3 (or if you are OCD like me, all of them!).  Take charge of your professional development and be inspired by fellow educators and students.  Make it fun and invite a friend to view some sessions with you.  Play sessions in the teacher’s lounge during lunch, take over a classroom with a projector and provide snacks, or invite a colleague over for PD and cocktails (for the record, that is the option I would choose!). Don’t keep all of this great learning to yourself!    In the past, I have found the student presentations to be inspiring not only for me, but also for my students.  Last year there was a presentation about applications called Wizard of Apps or Will they have an app for that or What we are loading (and learning) along the road presented by Joyce Kasman Valenza and students.  The presentation was a fun Wizard of Oz type play about different web 2.0 applications that they were using and learning with.  My students loved the idea of students putting together a play and teaching teachers.  If you are an administrator, be sure to let your staff know about this truly amazing professional development opportunity.  The line up of presenters is fantastic!  Then, encourage your staff to start building up a PLN (personal learning network) on Twitter.  They can start with the k12 Online presenters!

Tips: You can view the archives of past k12 Online Conferences for 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using k12 online conference 2010 in your classroom!