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Sumdog: Fun Math Practice Games

What it is: Sumdog math is a site with an outstanding collection of math games covering over 100 numeracy topics and split into 10 levels.  The games are free to play for home and school math practice.  Sumdog games can be used as an engaging anticipatory set for mental math, or to reinforce a specific...

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Free worldwide conference: Reform Symposium (#RSCON)

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, collaboration, education reform, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference, Teacher Resources | Posted on 23-09-2013

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Reform Symposium Free Worldwide Conference

In conjunction with Connected Educator Month, I’m excited to share with you all the 4th (!!!) annual Reform Symposium Conference (RSCON).  In case you aren’t familiar with this OUTSTANDING conference, it is a FREE online three-day event that brings together educators, students and innovators from all over the world.  Mark your calendar right now for October 11th to 13th (2013). 

Full disclosure: I’m one of the organizers for the Reform Symposium Conference.  You might call me the very worst organizer. :)  I have been seriously falling down on the job this time around!  I seem to have overly lofty goals for my weeks.  It looks manageable on the calendar and then kids, parents, school must-solve-problems crowd in.

The Reform Symposium Conference is so dear to me and such a big part of my story in starting my own school.  The conference started the year before I left the classroom and has stretched into me starting my own school.  As a result of this conference, I grew in ways I couldn’t imagine.  I made strong connections in my personal learning network and connected with educators around the world.  What better way to celebrate Connected Educator Month?!

The Reform Symposium Conference is a global community initiative to transform teaching and learning.  This is a highly inclusive and engaging online event that will encourage you toward transformative approaches toward teaching and learning.  To attend this year’s conference and keep up with the latest conference news and updates, please join this network.

Exciting news for this year’s conference: 

  • Sugata Mitra is the opening plenary you guys!!  Sugata is the 2013 TED prize winner and instigator of the Hole-in-the-Wall experiment.  You will not want to miss it!
  • Internationally renowned electric violinist Steve Bingham will conduct a live performance.
  • There will be 10+ international keynotes.
  • 4 Panel discussions that feature distinguished experts in education.
  • More than 100 presentations by educators around the world (something for everyone to learn and grow in their practice!)

If you would like to help out with this awesome event, you can volunteer here.

 

I’m honored to have been a part of this incredible conference since year 1.  I hope that you will join us for an incredible weekend of connection, learning, laughing, inspiration and growth!  Sign up now!

Math Class Needs a Makeover: videos, inquiry, math stories and more

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Blogs, Create, Download, Evaluate, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Math, professional development, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 18-06-2013

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What it is:  I’ve had the great fortune of time to go through my Google Reader favorites this week as I prepare for the shutdown (still bitter about that!).  The unexpected benefit I’ve had from Google Reader’s demise? The forced opportunity to go back through and be reminded of some of the truly amazing people and resources in education.  Dan Meyer is one of my all time favorite math geniuses.  He reminds us that math is more than computation, it is a frame of mind and an outlook on the world.  If your math program isn’t that…it is time to change!  As I went back through the resources of Dan’s that I had tagged, I re-watched his TEDx Talk: Math Class Needs a Makeover.  If you haven’t seen this TED Talk, or haven’t watched it in a while…now is the time.  I’ve embedded the talk above for your viewing pleasure…you don’t even have to go anywhere!  If you have watched it recently, be a friend and share it with someone else.

Dan also has some other really useful mathspiration.  His blog, dy/dan, is a source of math prompts and discussions that will have you thinking beyond computation. 101Questions is a project that encourages students to think about math through photo prompts and inquiry.  Graphing Stories is STINKING fantastic, Dan offers a printout for your students, they can then watch any video and graph the story.  AWESOME describes this resource. Three Act Math is a curricula that Dan developed, click on the links within the doc to get to the resources.  Again…AWESOME. Geometry curricula offers you Dan’s handouts, pdfs, powerpoint and keynote presentations.  Algebra curricula offers the same.

THANK YOU Dan for sharing your passion for mathematics, your inspiration for those of us who aren’t as naturally inclined to geek out about math, and for your openness of resources.

How to integrate Dan Meyer’s awesomeness into the classroom:  Dan makes it really easy for you to integrate his methods into your classroom.  Everything you need from inspiration, to mathematical story sets, to curricula materials is available.  If you teach math, the obvious place to start is with the type of math that you teach.  Dan’s resources are mostly intended for high school students use.  However, as I looked through his resources again, I think they could be appropriate for students in elementary school as well.

101Questions is a great way to have your kids enter an inquiry mindset as they approach math.  These are photos that ask your students what the first thing that comes to mind is.  Students can type in their answer and get a new prompt.  These would be a great way to start your class using a projector or interactive whiteboard.  Have your class inquire and come up with questions together.  Students can also do this as an independent activity and then share their questions with other students.

Graphing Stories speaks for itself.  Again, it is geared toward secondary students, but I think that given enough support, primary students would really enjoy engaging math this way too.  (Sometimes we don’t give students enough credit for where an interest can take their thinking.  Case in point: Anastasis 2nd and 3rd graders who know Fibonacci inside and out. Normally you wouldn’t see the concept until high school or later.)

The Three Act Math is also a favorite of mine.  Use Dan’s three acts, or use his as inspiration for creating your own!

Dan’s resources hit on every level of Bloom’s Taxonomy…that alone is good reason to stop reading this and go on your own exploration!

Tips: Dan is great to follow on Twitter...a constant stream of 140 character mathspiration!

How are you using Dan Meyer’s Awesome in your classroom?  Leave a comment below!

Screenr: Instant Web-based Screencasts

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Apply, Blogs, Classroom Management, Create, Download, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, web tools, Websites | Posted on 01-04-2013

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What it is: Have you tried to type the following into Google: “school makes me”?  If you haven’t, it is a sobering reminder of the state of education as perceived by students and society.  I started Anastasis Academy to change this reality for students.  My hope is that one day soon, the automatic suggestions that Google pulls are overwhelmingly positive.  Last week, I asked students at Anastasis Academy to finish the statement “school makes me…”  I didn’t prompt them or give them any additional details about how I would be using it.  The answers that we got are in the video above.  Pretty cool to see how even one year of freedom in learning leads to different perspectives.  I can assure you, these are not the words most students would have used about school prior to coming to Anastasis Academy.  In fact, in full disclosure, we have 2 students that are new to Anastasis.  They started only a few months ago.  They finished the statement with “bored” and “tired.”  *sigh* This was a sad moment for me.  I want more for these boys.  Later in the day they both happened to be hanging with me in the office for a few minutes.  One of the boys asked me why I had asked the question.  I showed them what happens when you type the words into Google.  “Oh, that is really depressing. So why did you ask us?”  I told them that I cared about what they thought because if there was something we could do differently as a school, we would do it.  Both boys asked if they could change their answers, “we were thinking school in general…this place isn’t really like that.”  There were no GRAND statements of how much they loved it and we are changing their world…give it time!

To create the video above, I needed to screen capture my Google experience.  I’ve long been a fan of Screenium but for some reason, it has decided to throw in the towel and is not interested in recording anything but audio.  Frustrating.  So, I set out to see if I could find an online screencast recorder that I could use.  Jackpot!  I found Screenr and it is my new go-to for screencasting.

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Screener is a web-based screen recorder that makes it really easy to create and share screencasts.  There is nothing to install or download (always a plus!), you can record on a Mac or PC, the video plays on all devices, and it is totally FREE!  Just click the record button, capture your screen and voice (if you want) and then share the link or download the video to use in other programs.  I downloaded my finished screencast so that I could make a little video in Keynote with our words.

How to integrate Screenr into the classroom:  Screenr is a fantastically simple tool that allows teachers to create detailed screencast instructions in minutes.  This free-to-use application can capture video of anything that is on your computer screen.  Audio can be included (or not) for any screencast.  The resulting video can be embedded on a webpage or blog, sent to students via email, or downloaded.  Screencasting is a great way to teach students how to use e-Learning tools or how to complete any computer assignment.  When I taught in the technology lab, there was never enough of me to go around.  Screencasting made SUCH a difference in how I spent my time with students!  Students could self direct learning, or remind themselves of that one step they forgot.  Instead of waiting for me to be available, students could keep working and my time was spent working to help students make connections in learning instead of just on answering process questions.

Screenr would be useful for students who want to share something new they learned.  Have a student who is JAZZED about coding?  Let them show off that passion by creating tutorial videos for other students.  Anything that is computer based and could use some explanation is perfect for Screenr.  Because you can embed videos, you can share them on a class blog or website.  If you tag your videos and posts, it will be easy for students to quickly search and find what they need as they work.

Screenr can be used for more than just tutorials.  Remember this video?  This is such a cool, creative use of a screencast.  Students could similarly show off their learning through screencasts of various programs on their computer.  Just takes a little inspiration and creative thinking!

Tips: There is a pro version of Screenr, I’ve found the free version to meet all of my needs for school/classroom use.

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

Reform Symposium: Opening Keynote Steve Hargadon

Posted by admin | Posted in education reform, inspiration, ISTE10, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference, Teacher Resources | Posted on 30-07-2010

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This weekend is the Reform Symposium eConference, 48 hours of free learning! I am going to do my best to keep notes of all of the great conversations and learning when I am not moderating or sleeping :)

This was the opening keynote by Steve Hargadon:

  • Information overload vs. Web as a conversation
    We have to get past our perception that participation is only for the elite. Everyone is a participant and a creator.
    The answer to content overload is to create more content because our paradigm shifts and we start seeing everything as conversation.
  • Our students hold in their hands technology that was the stuff of dreams when we were growing up. They are incredible devices for learning. Learning is everywhere.
    We are seeing an amazing shift toward openness. Consider Wikipedia that in a relatively short amount of time an open encyclopedia took the place of a cultural institution.
    MIT is now providing classes to free when anyone goes online. The value is no longer in the specific content but in being actively engaged and they are doing something that is valuable to humanity by providing this openness.
  • Flexbook- online open virtual textbook initiative. This will bring value and save money.
  • Participation is being reinvented, it is a return to participation. It is a pre-broadcast, pre-factory, un-consumer model. This is dramatically changing the lives of youth because their lives are largely interactive.
  • Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, and Myspace are showing us a new model of growth and success that is driven by consumer demand instead of top down economics.
  • Linux is running Google’s servers.  This is incredible!
  • Volunteerism 2.0- we have always recognized value of volunteering but we are now seeing the opportunity to volunteer and participate in ways that weren’t possible before.  Clay Shirky calls this the “Redistribution of Our Cognitive Surplus”.  We are spending time creating instead of consuming.  This is unleashing energy.  Clay Shirky Ted Talk.
  • This is a change in structure it is participative (like democracy).  The Internet is doing this for content and knowledge.  We need the same structure in education.
  • We have to move toward the freedom end of the structure in schools.  We aren’t used to thinking this way.  It is possible for students to be their own driver in education.
  • We are organizing without organizations. What used to take financial resources to pull together to get something happening, doesn’t require that any more.  (Case in point the Reform Symposium conference!!)
  • Wikis let us organize information the way we want them, post at our convenience (not every day like a blog), but social networking has been widely adopted in a way wiki’s and blogs weren’t.  Social networking opened the door to the participation and conversation and made it easy to come in.  Blogs take longer to get the conversation going. Wikis are a little more complex and have a learning curve.  Social networking aggregated web 2.0 tools in a single location.  Facebook is now up to 500,000,000 members.
  • Steve started Classroom 2.0 and it now has 45,000 members, social networking is valuable to the education world.  It gives peer-to-peer practice sharing and conversation.
  • We have to get over that social networking is a dangerous place to be.  It will become the framework structure of the educational experience.
  • Communication platform: social networking + learning management system + live collaboration
  • It makes us rethink how teaching and learning take place.
  • We have to ask how well are we preparing students for this world and how prepared are we from this world?
  • Principles of school 2.0: contributing, collaborating, creating.
  • The best way to predict the future is to be it: Be a learner first, we need great teachers to be a part of the conversation and figure out how to harness web 2.0’s inherent capabilities, keep perspective-students need really great teachers more than ever, join an educational or social network (lurking is allowed), become a part of the conversation and encourage others to do so, help collaborate to build a new playbook and be a voice in the public discussion (Twitter #edchat!!), embrace the change process (this is going to be a wild ride, it is going to challenge the way we think).

Find the recording of the Keynote here.

ARKive

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Geography, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 25-02-2009

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What it is:  ARKive is an incredible website that I learned about from a tweet on Twitter (forgive me I was in the middle of class and didn’t keep track of who- thank you whoever you are!)  ARKive tag line is “images of life on Earth”, but ARKive is so much more than just a collection of images, it has thousands of videos, images and facts about the world’s species.  This is the digital version of Noah’s Ark!  This is the most impressive animal and life website I have seen!  I truly can’t say enough about this site, students of all ages will enjoy this one (I’m talking k-12 here!)  ARKive has an education section of the site that is a free multi-media educational resources complete with downloadable, ready to use audio/visual modules on a wide range of science, geography, citizenship, and environmental based topics.  ARKive also has some great games for students to play that are directly related to the lessons they learn while on the ARKive site.  Games range from building a habitat to word searches and digital fridge poetry.

How to integrate ARKive into the classroom:    ARKive’s ready made educational resources make it simple to integrate into your science, geography, or general classes.  The resources are ready made PowerPoint presentations (which incidentally also open nicely in Keynote which we use).  The resources bring learning to life with images, videos, facts, and some interactive pieces.  This is what textbooks should be!  ARKive’s ready made resources can be downloaded on classroom computers for use by small learning groups as a center, downloaded to a lab of computers for individual student exploration, or used with a projector and an interactive whiteboard for whole class learning and exploration.  The ARKive site itself is a wonderful place for students to explore and learn more about animal species and life on Earth.  This would be a great place for students to collect information, images, and video to create their own presentations.  The games provided on the ARKive site are fun for students and teach them as they play.  For example, students who are studying habitat can play the Design a Habitat game and gain an additional opportunity to interact with the concepts they are learning.  Older students can dig into the facts provided on ARKive and learn about animal classification and species of the world.  ARKive images could be used in the language arts classroom as a story starter or creative writing prompt.  

 

Tips:  This is truly an incredible site, I encourage you to take a look at it and use it with your class!  (Click on the education link at the bottom of the site for the Resources and Games.) 

 

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

Prezi

Posted by admin | Posted in Foreign Language, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 12-01-2009

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What it is:  Prezi is a unique online presentation builder that seems to be popping up a lot lately all over the web.  It is getting so much attention because of its new approach to online slide shows.  Prezi has some unique features like zooming presentations that grab and hold viewers attention.  Prezi lets you create a sort of walking path through your presentation.  The finished product is engaging and impressive looking.  The tools in Prezi are different from other online presentation builders but are easy to use and figure out.  The tutorial will have you and your students creating in minutes.  

 

How to integrate Prezi into the classroom:   Because of Prezi’s unique zooming feature, it would be a good tool for students to use for vocabulary.  Students can type in the word to be defined and then zoom in on the definition.  Building vocabulary presentations would be good for review and study.  Prezi would also be a neat way to explore and display information from history (display a date, place, or person in history and then zoom into facts and details that are related), timeline information (create paths from different dates in Prezi), literature (create a sort of interactive character map of any literary character), science projects (use Prezi’s path to lead through the scientific method), foreign language (type a word in another language and zoom to translate), geography (zoom into details around a map), math, and much more. 

 

Tips: Be sure to check out the tutorial on Prezi, it will have you up and creating in no time!  Check out the inspiration to see the amazing things that others have used Prezi to create.

 

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

Ideas from TIE

Posted by admin | Posted in Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 25-06-2008

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Well, now that I am rested up and my head has stopped spinning with all of the info. I took in yesterday at TIE, I am ready to share some goodies!  Jason Ohler was the keynote speaker…I have to say, definitely the highlight for me.  His presentation was on digital storytelling.  While I have dabbled in digital storytelling with my students, Jason has jumped in with both feet!  Jason is quite the storyteller himself and had us captivated as he reminded us of the importance of developing creativity in our students.  As Jason presented, I was madly jotting down notes and have some great quotes to share.

“Literacy today is consuming and producing the media forms of today.  Students need to be able to write whatever they read (or consume).”    I love this, our students are not content with simply taking in literacy, they want to be creators and inventors of their own literacy.  This has expanded beyond simply writing… think about your students obsession with You Tube.

This one is my favorite “Intelligence is measured by your desire to learn.”  I think this is my new life motto.  I need to plaster this all over my classroom.  No Child Left Behind does nothing for intelligence!

“You don’t have to be a technician magician…know free labor when you see it and let the kids do it.”  In other words, you don’t have to know everything or anything about technology.  Your students know how to use technology, let them be the experts and teach each other (and you!)

Jason has an amazing website dedicated to digital storytelling.  You may need to dedicate a chunk of time to this site, trust me you will end up spending time here (hooray summer break, you do have time after all!)  You can even check out some clips of Jason’s keynote speeches on You Tube, these are linked from his presentation page.   Also, be sure to spend some time on the Resources and Projects pages.  You will find lots of treats for the taking!

Are you already digital storytelling?  What advice do you have for those who are thinking about taking the plunge?

More tomorrow, I bought Jason’s book “Digital Storytelling in the Classroom” and it is calling my name!  Happy learning you intelligent readers you! :)