An edublog about integrating technology into the classroom.
Virtual Forest Challenge
What it is: Scholastic and Nature’s Source have teamed up to create the Virtual Forest Challenge game to help students understand how their actions have real implications in local and global ecosystems. The game leads students through a variety of virtual environments and...
If you’ve ever read a post on iLearn Technology and thought, “man! That is way cool, I wonder how they do that at Anastasis?” Now is your opportunity to find out! We are hosting our first education conference in February. 5 Sigma Edu Conference
I. Can. Not. Wait!!
We have early bird pricing happening through November, don’t miss out on that opportunity to save yourself (or if your lucky, your school) a little money! This is going to be a truly awesome event, the sessions coming together are fabulous and THE Christian Long is going to be here (can you hear the squeals of excitement that are happening?).
If you still aren’t sure if you should make the time to come, use this handy little decision map:
Welp, that settles it! Can’t wait to meet you all face to face and geek out over education together!
At Anastasis Academy, we are in the middle of the inquiry block “Where We Are in Place and Time.” During this block our students are exploring orientation in place and time, personal histories, explorations and migrations of humankind, and the relationships between the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations from local and global perspectives. Serendipitously, Steven Johnson’s new book “How We Got to Now” just came out along with a PBS documentary. The timing could not have been better!! Steven looks at 6 innovations that made the modern world. In his telling about these 6 innovations, he demonstrates the inquiry approach in really brilliant ways. The interdisciplinary nature of this series is fantastic! I’ve been reading “How We Got to Now” (I highly recommend it!) and the students have been watching the new PBS documentary series by the same name as part of the inquiry unit. In addition to the book and documentary series, PBS has a brilliant How We Got to Now website for the classroom!
What it is:How We Got to Now with Steven Johnson is a website from PBS. The resources on the site are meant to support the documentary series (or book) and recommended for 6th-12th grade. At Anastasis, we are using it with students as young as 3rd grade and they are all getting something out of it and loving the connections of history and these innovations.
How to use How We Got to Now in the classroom: I love the way that Johnson explores innovation through these 6 lenses. Instead of offering up the typical “heroes” of invention, Johnson introduces students to concepts that span hundreds of years of invention and many of the unsung heroes. The six innovations include: glass, time, clean, light, sound, and cold. I’m telling you, the way that Johnson helps kids see connections in innovation and invention is brilliant! So much the way that inquiry works.
The How We Got to Now site has a great “Big Ideas” section that leads students to dig deeper into the six innovations and has provocations for students to continue making connections, learning, asking questions, and even coming up with their own innovations.
Students can explore and discuss how change happens and think about how we get to “next.”
As I mentioned, our students at Anastasis are really loving this block. They are enjoying exploring Where We Are in Place and Time with the help of Steven Johnson and through the lens of these six innovations. It has led to a lot of additional lines of inquiry and has also prompted our students to create their own innovations and inventions for the “next.”
As I was reading “How We Got to Now,” I couldn’t help but imagine a set of dominoes. Each innovation connects to something prior that sets off a chain reaction like the domino effect. I suggested to our classes that the students choose one of the six innovations to illustrate this way. The students will create a mini museum for our families to go through that is full of large cardboard dominoes with the inventions and catalysts of the chain reaction. The last domino will be their invention. I’m excited to see this come together!
What it is: Discovery Education and 3M have partnered to bring the science of everyday life into your classroom. This fantastic collection of resources is for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. On the site you will find videos and interactives that help kids learn about the science around them and make connections to what they are learning in school. Lessons are inquiry based and encourage exploration in life science, physical science, earth science and technology/innovation. Virtual labs are interactive flash-based labs where students can discover more about science like wind energy. At the Innovation HQ portion of the site, students can travel through time and look at innovations that they use in their every day life and “meet” 3M scientists. On the Student page, students can see a young inventors hall of fame.
How to integrate Science of Everyday Life into the classroom: The Science of Everyday Life is packed FULL of great videos, lesson ideas, virtual interactives and student activities. I really appreciate that the approach to lessons is inquiry based! The lessons include great resources and encourage students to ask questions and dig deeper. The virtual investigations and labs are also really well done.
Content is separated out by grade level, quickly find exactly what best fits your classroom needs!
The travel through time feature is really neat for students to explore. This could be done as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard or used as a center exploration or individual activity in a 1:1 or lab setting. Split students into smaller teams or have them explore a specific time period independently. The timeline gives some basic information, and would be a great launching point for further investigation. Students could turn this into a larger project where they connect the innovation from history with innovations today. What learning had to take place in the past, in order for the innovation that we have today? This would make a great compare/contrast activity for students.
Because Discovery Education is involved, you can anticipate high quality videos and related resources.
Tips: The resources and interactives on the Science of Everyday Life are largely Java and Flash based. If you are running these resources off an iPad, you will want to use an app like Rover (which allows you to view Flash), Photon, iSwifter, etc.
What it is: NBC Learn has some fantastic free resources for teachers and students. One of these freebies is called Science Behind the News. In partnership with the National Science Foundation, NBC explores the science, technology and engineering found in current events. Here, you will find a collection of videos that introduce students to the science found in the world around them and current events. Students can learn about everything from quantum computing, to predictive policing, to crowdsourcing and weather phenomenon. Each video is around 5 minutes long and are well produced.
How to integrate NBC Learn into the classroom: I am a HUGE fan of embedded learning. Learning that is in context just makes sense. The learning is richer because students are able to make real connections to the foundational understandings that they already have. In addition, this type of learning gives them an idea of how the learning that happens in the classroom is connected to life. With Science Behind the News, students are able to see connections to the world right now. These clips encourage students to be curious about the world around them, and to dig into the bigger “why” of how things work. I like the thinking that is encouraged here. It is really modelling curiosity beyond just passively listening to a news story.
These clips are a wonderful way to kick off a new science unit, as a resource during inquiry, or for students and classes just to explore. Students can use these clips as a starting point for further research, a “spark” for more learning. Each student could choose a different video to watch and then conduct some research to learn more. Where else is the science used? How has our thinking about a topic changed over time as we have learned more about it? What math is involved? Help your students to see that subjects don’t happen in isolation in real life. Science is connected with social studies, math, literacy, history, sports, art, economics, discovery, etc. Can they find the overlaps in learning?
Tips: NBC Learn has other outstanding resources including: science in golf, science in hockey, science in football, chemistry now, fishing the dream, sinking the titanic, science of the winter Olympics, science of the summer Olympics, writers speak to kids and science in innovation. Check them all out!
What it is: I LOVE everything about this site. It truly embodies everything I love about learning and technology. DIY is an online club for kids to earn maker skills. Kids (otherwise known as Makers) share their creations and work with a larger online community and collect patches for the skills they learn. Each skill has a set of challenges that help kids learn different techniques and create something fantastic. When a child completes a maker challenge, they can add photos and video to their online portfolio to show off their creation. DIY is a website where kids get a public portfolio, an app that they can use to upload videos and pictures of their projects, makers can choose to do challenges to earn “Skills” badges, and a parent dashboard where teachers or parents can follow along on all activity.
Maker identities are always secure, children are asked to choose an animal and a nickname to help protect their privacy. Parents get access to see what their kids are posting online.
I love that this site encourages creativity, reflective portfolios and using technology constructively. It is an outstanding balance of online and offline activity!
How to integrate DIY into the classroom: At Anastasis, we strive to encourage a maker community. We do have a 1:1 iPad environment. For many, this equates to a technology rich environment (it is) where everything is done or consumed on a device. I can think of nothing sadder than reducing learning to a device! We most often use our technology to capture and share our learning. DIY is a fantastic site that makes way for kids to be curious about the world around them, create something new and use technology to innovate.
DIY is a great place to help students discover the love and joy of being a learner and a creator. It fosters a classroom culture of innovation and sharing of learning and accomplishment. So many of the challenges incorporate learning that support standards and other learning that is “required” in the classroom. These challenges would be great to take on as individual makers, in small groups of makers, or to tackle as a whole class. Don’t think of DIY as an “extra” thing to add into your classroom routine. Instead, look through the challenges through the lens of how it can enhance the learning objectives in your classroom. Embrace the maker culture in your classroom and allow room for creativity and innovation. The inquiry model of learning lends itself beautifully toward this. DIY could be the catalyst to making the shift away from more traditional learning and into an inquiry based model.
Tips: Instead of assigning “traditional” homework (read: piles of worksheets), assign a challenge from the DIY site. Better yet, let students choose their own challenge to tackle and make time in the classroom for them to share their creations and accomplishments.
Leave a comment and tell us how you are using DIY in your classroom.
The following is a re-post from my other blog: iPad Curriculum. I shared Send Felicity a few weeks ago as part of my advent collection but thought I would give everyone a little more information about this incredible site and invitation for play. Even though Send Felicity has an iPhone/iPod Touch app, the app isn’t necessary to engage in the creative play which is also available on the Send Felicity website and Facebook page. I encourage you to offer your students opportunities for play. I deeply believe that play is a strong catalyst for learning.
What it is: Everyone could use a little more magic and enchantment in their lives and Send Felicity brings students (and teachers/families) just that. Take a look at the video below to watch some of that magic unfold.
Felicity is six and three-quarters years old. She loves imagination, making things, and magic. She comes from a magical place called Thin Air. Felicity invites children everywhere to join her in play. Every day there is a new special surprise waiting for children. Each surprise invites students to engage in creativity, play, imagination, and learning. It is an enchanting-ongoing place that involves technology, imagination, and the real world in new ways. The artists, geeks, and minds behind Felicity are deeply committed to keeping the childhood experience one of magic, imagination, and exploration. They bring these values to life beautifully as an application, website, and social experience. What I love about the Send Felicity experience is the storyline behind Felicity, and the invitation to be part of something that is engaging, meaningful, and magical. The combination of the three makes Send Felicity a unique learning and interactive experience. So, how does Send Felicity work? Children can visit the application or website to learn of a new craft (adventure) to take with Felicity. Felicity takes every day objects like paper plates and makes them magical. Children follow the adventures and create and pretend along with Felicity. Children can take pictures of their finished masterpieces and upload them to the Send Felicity website, sharing the creative experience with others. The application is truly unique and takes what is real and adds a bit of magic (as you saw in the video).
How Send Felicity can enrich learning: Play is an important part of learning. It provides the building blocks for self-regulation and executive functions, promotes creativity, imagination, and divergent thinking. Unfortunately play is often stripped from the classroom. Send Felicity weaves together a wonderful tapestry of play and learning in the form of an application, a website, and a social movement. Felicity uses open-ended play and experimentation that leads to an attitude of fun learning. Felicity helps your students turn ordinary objects into creative works of magic. Use Felicity’s daily dose of magic to spark your students imaginations. Set aside some time for your students to do a little creative play. The benefits that play has on the rest of the learning day will be well worth the time invested. Go beyond the crafts and invite your students to write stories, poems, or secret letters in connection with the imaginative play of the day. Activities for Felicity are open-ended and include art, language arts, literacy, and even math and physics. Send Felicity marries technology and real life in new fun ways. The application is just a piece of the bigger picture. The application takes students physical creation and adds a little magic to it.
Today we are boldly making mistakes.Today, our children will make a small mess.
Today, we’ll set out on an adventure and begin with an “oops” and end up in a place where we can look and wonder. Together, we can do something mistaken and wrong; and audacious and wonderful to surprise everyone.
This project shows children that it is okay to make mistakes, and that, in fact, those mistakes can be turned into something wonderful, new, and meaningful. Students don’t hear often enough that it is okay to make mistakes and that it is indeed an important part of the learning process. Take a look at what these beautiful oops turn into:
The Send Felicity App has not yet been released to the iTunes store, but don’t let that stop you from using Felicity in your classroom right now, the Send Felicity website is full of fun activities, instructions, and even a bit of magic. You can also check Felicity out on Facebook where she shares creations made by children from around the world! Send your students home with a wonderful gift this holiday season and point them toward the Send Felicity website. Students will love the opportunities for play and imaginations, parents will love the ideas to keep their kids learning and playing. Let parents know about Send Felicity along with this article from Geek Mom for a little explanation.
The wonderful people over at Send Felicity are so passionate about creating a world of wonder and imagination for children to play in that they have made the technology that Send Felicity is based on open source. Interested parents, educators, and developers are invited to sign up to play along with them.
Devices: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch iOS 3.1.3 or later
What it is: Who are the Zimmer Twins, you might ask? Edgar and Eva Zimmer are 12 year old twins who appear normal but have developed psychic powers. Strange things began to happen when the twins adopted a black cat named 13. On the Zimmer Twins website, students can create their own cartoon movie endings to a story starter or create their own animated movie from scratch. Students can create and edit movies solo or “Collab-o-write” and work together creating a collaborative movie. Zimmer Twins runs well in Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari making it easy to get to and use in any classroom setting. You will need Flash 8 (or higher) installed for the Zimmer Twins to work properly.
How to integrate Zimmer Twins into the classroom: Your students are going to love this site! They can direct and produce their very own animated movies. The easiest way to start using Zimmer Twins in the classroom, is to use it as a story starter. Students can watch a “starter” video and finish the story however they would like. The first time you introduce the site, it might be fun to complete a video as a class. Then students can take over and create their own ending to a Zimmer Twins movie. These video clips make excellent story starters for journal writing even if you can’t take the time to make it into an actual video. To use as a story starter, show the beginning of the short animation to your students on an interactive whiteboard or projector, then let students take over on classroom computers, working together, or writing a journal entry. After your students are familiar with the Zimmer Twins website, they can start a story from scratch. Students could direct “screen plays” of their writing, as a way to publish their finished work. Zimmer Twins would make an excellent alternative to the traditional book report. Students could create a movie where the main character is being interviewed, the story is being summarized, or retold. Students could also create movies about historical events, describing a science experiment or concept, in math as a story problem, to demonstrate understanding of character education or for vocabulary practice. My students have really enjoyed creating movies to show what they have learned on any topic, it is always a sure winner! Are you looking for new ways to engage your students? Why not create a Zimmer Twins original yourself to introduce a new topic. If you are looking for more great ideas for using Zimmer Twins in your classroom, be sure to check out the lesson plans on the teacher page, there are some good ones.
Tips: Students can create a movie on Zimmer Twins without registering; however, they will not be able to save their creation. Creating an account requires an email address. If this presents a problem in your classroom you can do a few things: 1. create a classroom account that every student logs into and saves their videos on. Students will need to include their first name or a class number in the title of their video to differentiate it from others in the class. 2. Set up an account for each student using your email account. You will have to check this email account to provide your students with their passwords. 3. Ask parents to set up accounts for their kids to use at school.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Zimmer Twins in your classroom.
Last week, I instituted Webspiration Wednesday at CHC. To find out what exactly Webspiration Wednesday is, check out my original post here.
Today we gathered over a TED Talk by Tim Brown on Creativity and Play.
Tim reminded me of something very important, there comes a point in schooling where we begin discouraging play. We ask students to sit in their seats, to fill in the circles completely with a number two pencil, and to stay on task. There is very little time in schools for play. I think that by making schools void of play, we harm our students. There is a lot of important learning that happens during play and discovery.
In the video, Tim shows some pictures inside some major design firms (Pixar and Google). At the beginning of the year, I asked students to describe what their dream school would look like. I was very sad to learn that most of them couldn’t conceive of a school that looked different. In our first brainstorming session, most of them talked about having more recess or a longer lunch and that was the extent of their wishes. I really tried to impress on them that their school could look and be structured any way they wanted. I was met with blank stares and confused looks. The problem in the first brainstorming session was that students were doing what they do all day long in school. They were trying to guess what I was thinking. They wanted to give me the right answer. But in this instance, there wasn’t a right answer, every answer was right. I showed my students pictures of Googleplex and Pixar and explained that there was a lot of work and creativity that came out of both companies. What they saw was a playland. Nearly all of my students declared that they would work at Google or Pixar when they got out of school. One of my students asked if I would help her write a resume so that Google would have it on file when she was ready to work there (she is 9). We brainstormed a dream school again. This time the students understood that there wasn’t a right answer, that the sky was the limit. Few of them included desks in their dream school, nearly all of them included animals of some kind, and most of them wanted slides and piano stairs to get from one floor to another. We collaborated on Wallwisher and dreamed together. At the beginning of the project, I told the kids the school could look like, and operate, any way that they wanted, but there were two restrictions: 1. it had to be a place of learning, and 2. they had to justify why they included everything in their school. Most of them cited an increase in creativity and innovation (we learned that word as we looked at pictures of Googleplex). One of my students wanted a huge cylinder tropical fish tank in the lobby with clear pipes branching out and winding around the school and through the classroom. She thought the fish would be interesting to study and an inspiration for learning. Another student wished for swing chairs hanging from the ceiling so that they could move while they learned. Several kids wanted dogs in the school that they could read to because, “dogs won’t make fun of you when you make a mistake reading out loud.” Once the students felt comfortable with not having one right answer, they let their imaginations run wild and came up with excellent ideas and suggestions.
We need to help kids understand that there usually isn’t only one right answer. They have been so primed to believe that every problem has one correct answer because we overload them with tests and worksheets that tell them that it is so. We squash creativity. Pretty soon they become adults who don’t know how to play and as a result, aren’t creative. How do you encourage creativity and outside the box thinking in your classroom?