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Today’s Document: History through cartoons

What it is: Today’s Document is an awesome daily history site that I learned about from the Instructify blog written by Bill Ferris.  Today’s Document is based on the RSS feed from the National Archives. Jon White takes these daily documents from history and turns them into cartoons...

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Student Freelance: connecting talented students with employers for freelance work

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, collaboration, Middle/High School, Subject, Teacher Resources, Web2.0 | Posted on 27-06-2013

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Student Freelance via iLearn Technology

What it is:  Student Freelance aims to connect talented American educated students (sorry, for now this is US only) with employers who want to utilize those talents.  Students get an opportunity to put their talents and passions to work while earning money, gaining experience, and making connections with others in their fields of interest.  Employers win because they get a cost-effective solution and the opportunity to scale up.  The added benefit is the apprenticeship opportunity that exists here.

How to integrate Student Freelance into the classroom: If your students are anything like ours, they are wildly talented and passionate.  They continue to amaze me with the ways that they push themselves to learn in areas of passion.  I’ve had several students ask if I could connect them with someone at Google or Pixar so they can start putting their skills to work. :)  While I don’t always have that ability, I can now point them to Student Freelance.  This offers students the ability to share their skills and passions with the world, while becoming contributing citizens now.  It is also a great opportunity for your students to begin building up an authentic work-experience portfolio while they are still in school as learners.

Jobs are listed by areas of skill expertise and passion.  The opportunity can be a freelance job on location, or in some cases, a freelance job that they can complete from anywhere in the US by connecting online.

I’m looking through all of the freelance offerings of students and wondering…could schools utilize these students as a sort of adjunct teacher/mentor for students at their own school?  This could be a cool way to support students and make valuable connections.

Tips:  Spread the word to local businesses that Student Freelance is an option!  I’m not sure most business owners would know to look here.  It is a great mission to support!

Are you using Student Freelance?  Share your experience in the comments below!

CompassLearning Learning Profiler: Getting to know your students

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Blogs, Classroom Management, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 09-04-2013

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What it is: At Anastasis Academy, we individualize curriculum for every student.  We don’t purchase any boxed, one-size-fits-all curriculum.  Instead, we create a learner profile for each student.  I pulled together a variety of learning style inventories, multiple intelligence strength finders, and brain dominance predictors and mashed them up into a child-friendly teacher/student survey.  Our teachers spend two days before the first day of school going through these inventories with students.  I compile the information (along with their interests and passions) and put it all in an at-a-glance document.  I’m just revamping the document a little bit to look more like a big baseball card with learning stats.  We use these learner profiles all year long as a starting point for pulling curriculum, lessons and resources that will best meet the individual child’s needs.  (Learning Genome 1.0)

Educators often ask if we can share this process, unfortunately right now it isn’t pretty or sharable in any meaningful way.  When the Learning Genome is completed and launched, we will be able to share this process with the world.

Today, I ran across a tool that can help bridge the gap for teachers who are seeking a way to better customize the classroom experience for their students.  CompassLearning has created a Learning Profiler that is free to use and the results are easy to share.  While it doesn’t include all of the components of an Anastasis learner profile, it is a great starting point!  Students (who are independent readers) can go through the online survey and learn more about their learning style, interest areas and expression style.  This information would be SO helpful as a starting place for getting to know the students in your classroom better.  It would go a long way in helping you pull resources and tools that will best meet the needs of the individual. When a student is finished going through the profiler, they can share their result “badges” with others through a link to the badges, through Facebook, Twitter, email or a printed report.

How to integrate CompassLearning Learning Profiler into the classroom: At the beginning of a new school year (or semester), students who are independent readers could complete the Learning Profiler on classroom computers in a center rotation, or in a computer lab setting.  Results could be printed out or shared with the teacher via email.  I’ve found it helpful to compile these results so that I can see overlapping interests and learning needs in the classroom.  It would also be interesting to create a bulletin board with the different “badges” represented and with a picture of each student.  Students can connect their pictures to the badges using string and push-pins or staples.  It would be neat to have a web of information about your students visual for all students to see.  This would be a good getting-to-know-you activity where students could visually see their similarities displayed. 

For non-independent readers, the process would be a little more arduous.  During a silent reading or independent work time, pull students one at a time to sit and interview them.  I actually prefer the arduous method because you get all of the in-between commentary from the students which gives you a more complete picture of who they are, what they love, fear, get excited about, etc.  Even with our independent readers at Anastasis, we create our learner profiles through teacher interview.  There is something more personal and human about it.  Using this method may take a few weeks to get through all of your students, the information you glean will be invaluable!  If you teach younger students but have an older grade of “buddies,” it may be helpful to have the buddy help conduct the surveys and record the answers of the younger child.  Again, this would be a great way for the students to really get to know each other.

After you have received the results, use the information to help you plan learning activities.  If you have a student struggling in an area of learning, use the strengths and interests you know they have to come at the learning from a different angle.  Education blogs, your PLN, and Pinterest are great places to find the perfect learning opportunity to help the students in your class.  I promise you that when you connect with students this way, you will be showing them that they matter, that you care about them as an individual and that you want what is best for them.  They won’t feel like a number!  If you are looking for a specific technology resource, iLearn Technology is a great place to start the search.  Over there —> in my right side bar you will find a multi category search.  Narrow down the search by Bloom’s Taxonomy, resource type, subject area, etc.  Click search and away you go!  You can also search by keyword in the search box toward the top of the screen.  I try to tag the bejeebers out of all of my posts so that no matter how specific the search, you will find what you are looking for.  Full disclosure, I use that search box ALL the time when I am pulling resources for students at Anastasis.

Tips: Want to see what the future of personalized learning will look like?  Check out the Learning Genome Project.

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  CompassLearning Learning Profiler in your classroom.

MinyanLand: A virtual world for economics and finance

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Character Education, collaboration, Knowledge (remember), Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 03-03-2011

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What it is: I love virtual worlds that go beyond just play and incorporate learning opportunities.  MinyanLand is a virtual world where students get to play games and make friends while they learn about earning, saving, spending and giving.  Best of all, it is free to use!  Students begin their time in MinyanLand with $50,000 in MinyanMoney and a condo.  They can visit the ATM in the MinyanLand bank to invest their money.  Each time students visit, they can check to see if their balance has gone up or down.  Students can earn more MinyanMoney by playing fun games, or doing real life chores or classroom jobs to collect a virtual allowance.   Students can  use their MinyanMoney to buy things for their home, add rooms, and move into a new neighborhood.

MinyanLand has it’s own newspaper called the MinyanLand Journal, it will keep students up-to-date with what is new every day.  Students can play games where they practice their math skills and test their knowledge about money.  Games include a Lemonade Stand, Guitar Mayhem, Paper Route, Concentration, Balloon Quiz, Fill in the Face, Fill in the Name, Catch the Money, Word Search, Money Sorter, Cluedoku, Boo Blvd., Where Did You Get That Money?, and Quiz Boxes.  Students will need to keep their virtual character healthy by fueling up at Ollie’s Diner.

The characters in MinyanLand are fun and varied, there is Hoofy the Bull, president of the bank; Boo the Bear, a retired dot-com millionaire; Daisy the cow, executive producer of MinyanLand’s TV station; Cassidy the Bear, a school teacher; Sammy the Snake, an administrator in City Hall; and Snapper the Turtle, the go-to guy in town.

MinyanLand is a fun way for students to learn about and interact with economic and financial concepts.  The economic system in MinyanLand can even take advantage of real-life pricing of general goods and services.  Students are encouraged to charitably give within MinyanLand.  The idea is to offer every child the opportunity and platform to be financially literate.   MinyanLand is ideal for students in 3rd-5th grade but younger students would enjoy it as well.

How to integrate MinyanLand into the classroom: MinyanLand is such a fun way to work toward financial literacy in the classroom.  It offers students a virtual economy where they can practice real-world skills of buying, earning, investing, and giving.  I love the way that MinyanLand ties the real world to the virtual by allowing students to earn virtual MinyanMoney for real chores and jobs.

Registering is free and easy enough for young students to register themselves.  A parent or teacher email address is optional for registration.  If students include a parent or teacher email address, they can earn MinyanMoney for chores or jobs that you assign.

MinyanLand is one of those sites that would be great as a year-long project.  Students can visit MinyanLand throughout the year in the classroom (and at home) to learn about money, investing, spending, earning, and the economy.  It is a natural fit in the math classroom where students are already working with money and numbers.  MinyanLand would be best in a lab setting where each student has access to a computer.  If you don’t have a lab for students, use classroom computers as a learning center.  Students can visit the center throughout the week to interact in MinyanLand.

Tips: Even if you don’t want to use the virtual money in class, consider letting parents know about the opportunity to tie household chores to learning.  Students can play in class and earn virtual money at home.

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