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What it is:  Augmented Reality, how cool is that technology?  Dialing up the awesome factor a couple of notches is AR Sights.  AR Sights is a company who makes it possible to view Google Earth right in a web browser and then zoom into places of interest (Pyramids, Eiffel Tower, etc) and take a look...

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The Answer Pad: BYOD Student Response System

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Classroom Management, collaboration, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 16-04-2013

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What it is: The Answer Pad is a student response system…only better!  What makes it better?  The ability for use with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) classrooms and the ability to collect student responses outside of your typical, limited multiple choice answers that most student response systems are limited to.  The Answer Pad is really made up of two parts.  1. The student response piece that lets students go interactive with outstanding drawing features.  2. The answer sheets that score and capture data from existing paper exams including full online reporting, the ability for students to show their work, and a variety of question types. The Answer Pad is available for the iPad, Android or from any web browser.  Download the TAPit Free app for the iPad!

The free version of The Answer Pad is pretty robust for teachers and students.  Premium features are available at a reasonable price that take it to the next level.

How to integrate The Answer Pad into the classroom: The Answer Pad is a really useful addition to the formative assessment puzzle.  I LOVE that it doesn’t limit teachers to gathering low-level data in the format of multiple choice answer (although this feature is available for those times when you want to check for entry level understanding).  The Answer Pad lets students draw and type out answers, making the feedback they give to you during a lesson that much more valuable.  The fact that it isn’t limited to the basics is GREAT!  Imagine a math lesson where students are able to actually show and demonstrate their understanding (not just their amazing guessing skills).  The instantaneous feedback is wonderful for adjusting lessons and providing more individualized instruction based on what you are seeing.

In addition to collecting more valuable math feedback, The Answer Pad also gives you valuable feedback for any subject, a blank template lets students free write/draw their understanding.  This might even be a great way for students to take notes during learning, you can give your students feedback on their note taking during a lesson.  I am always amazed when I look at student notes, some of our students really don’t know what is important enough to write down and how to organize themselves best for later reference.  Using the free draw in The Answer Pad would give you good insight into a student’s thinking process and help you to guide and direct them appropriately.

The reporting feature is also really helpful, being able to look not only at student answers, but also at the written work that led to the answer is SO valuable.  This embedded feature makes Answer Pad more than just a self-grading platform, this is feedback and data that you can really use to drive instruction.

Tips:  Premium features include: custom frameworks for scoring tests, ability to bundle assessments together for side-by-side comparison and reporting, advance functions for test scenarios, an additional drawing palette for the Go Interactive portion, support by phone, and access to black-line template library.

Thank you to @dkapuler for introducing me to The Answer Pad!

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  The Answer Pad in your classroom.

Dance Lessons for Zombies: Redesigning the Report Card

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 05-03-2013

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|Kelly Tenkely|

One of the byproducts of starting your own model of education: the old systems constantly fall short.  They start to feel forced, frustrating and tired.  The hard part is that SOMETHING is needed, but what others have in place isn’t it.

So you start dreaming.  You try to leave assumptions of what it “should” be like behind.  You work to imagine something new and different.  Something that fills the need in the right way.

It seems like every corner we turn we have to reinvent.  Anastasis needs a way to organize and keep track of student information…easy!  We will hunt down a student information system, there are a million to choose from!  [This is the part where we hit a brick wall.]  There may be a million student information systems to choose from, but none of them fits our needs.  None is flexible enough to use the way we need to use it.  They make assumptions based on a system that we aren’t a part of.  So, we come up with our own solution.  We mash-up tools that were never designed to do what we do with them.  We make them bend to our will.  Eventually, I’ll just create my own solution (The Learning Genome Project), and it will do just what we need it to because it was designed apart from the assumptions.

The most recent challenge: redesign the report card.  This may seem like a simple task.  It has been anything but simple!  This has been going an ongoing challenge for us.  We redesigned the learning experience from the ground up.  We don’t give grades, at least not in the traditional sense.  So then, how do you help parents come to understand everything that happens in the 8 hours that their children are with us every day?  How do you show them the richness of learning, the uniqueness of their child, without reducing it to a score in a handful of “essential” areas?  How do you change a culture who seeks validation that their child is “smart” based on a piece of paper that comes home four times a year?  How do you help them really understand the difference in philosophy if the reporting looks the same?

This is a challenge because what makes us learners is so wonderfully complex.  It isn’t only about math, reading, writing, science, social studies and art.  At Anastasis, we are in the business of helping students “Stand Again” (the Greek translation of Anastasis), to become fully alive in who they are as unique individuals contributing to the fabric of the world.  Our reporting has to reflect this.  Obviously, your typical report card isn’t going to cut it.  We’ve looked high and low for a ready-made solution.  It doesn’t seem to exist.

On Wednesday mornings, we have a late-start for our students.  This gives the staff great time to come together and tackle these daunting tasks.  We talk often about all of the incredible things that we see in our learners every day.  We wonder over the phenomena of parents just wanting to know what their grade would be…you know, if they had one.  What they are really asking is: “is my child going to be okay?  Are they going to do well in life?”  The grade they are seeking doesn’t really answer those questions. As teachers we know that if a child is in an emotionally hard place, or doesn’t have the attitudes and habits of learning built up, they won’t perform to the fullest in math/reading/writing/science/social studies.  It isn’t about them just knowing their math facts, they also have to have the spirit of risk-taking, the discernment to know which operation to apply to a problem, the perseverance to stick with a problem they don’t immediately know the answer to, etc.  We want SO much more for children than for them to recite math facts by memory.  We want them to be fully ALIVE as learners.  We dreamed, we made list after list of what we want graduating students to look like.  We drew pictures. We laughed (a lot). We got frustrated that it wasn’t simpler.

Over the last week, I’ve taken those notes, scribbles, drawings and lists and drew up a report card.  It looks very little like any report card you’ve probably seen.  It isn’t perfect. I suspect it will go through some evolution.  Our main objective is to help communicate that we are teaching amazing, unique beings.  In the center you will see my crude version of the Vitruvian Man. I love the blend of disciplines that daVinci revealed.  There is a sort of perfection in the overlap…it looks a lot like life.  We stuck with the Greek theme, and used ethos, pathos, mythos and logos to help us describe different parts of a child.  In true Anastasis fashion, we made up our own Greek-inspired word, Pneumos, to show the creative force…the “life-breathed” spiritual aspect of a child.  Below is our re-imagined report card.  I’m still working on the second page that includes definitions of each word listed in our circle.  In addition, we use standards-based-grading and a variety of rubrics.  Our standards-based-grades are a little different (surprise!), our goal is forward progress through learning, standards gives us a framework for this to happen.  We don’t stick within grade levels.  Sometimes second grade students are ready for fifth grade standards.  We say, “have at it!”


We are really working toward changing a culture.  I like to think of it as dance lessons for zombies.  As a culture we seemed to be immersed in systems.  We take them for granted and let them dictate our every move.  Systems can be good, they can bring order and rationality.  But they can also stifle and keep us from really living.  They can make us look a whole lot like zombies.  We are working to make learning look more like life.  We are working toward helping learners “stand again” in who they were created to be. To dance.

How to Do Research Interactive Graphic

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 29-03-2012

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What it is:  The research process can be a hard one for kids to master.  As a student, I remember thinking that it was a long process of random steps that were supposed to somehow come together as a completed project. I was constantly convinced that I would forget one of those steps and the whole thing would come crashing down around me.  I’ve seen this same behavior in our students at Anastasis. We mention the word research, and we are met instantly with groans.  Kids don’t really dislike research though, they do it all the time voluntarily.  Kids want to know how to be masters at parkour and they immediately search YouTube and Google for videos, tips, blogs, etc. to learn all about it.  Kids hear someone talk about dub step and will go through videos and connect with others who know about dub step.  They didn’t believe me when I told them this is research.  The Kentucky virtual library has a great interactive that leads kids through the research process step-by-step and lets them dig deeper into the portions that they don’t understand.  It has a fun game board-like interface so that it isn’t intimidating for kids to go through.  Every step of the process is covered from initial planning, to searching for information, to taking notes, to using the information, reporting and evaluating.  I’m not a stickler for this process happening exactly as it is described, but I appreciate that the site gives students a starting point so they aren’t so overwhelmed with the “research beast.”

How to integrate How to do Research Interactive Graphic into the classroom: The How to do Research Interactive Graphic is a great site to keep bookmarked and available for easy access for students throughout the school year.  Any time they are faced with the daunting task of performing a research project, they can access the interactive graphic.  Whenever your students are working on research, set up your classroom computers as a “research station” where students can perform searches online and access this graphic.  The interactive graphic will keep your students moving when they are feeling overwhelmed and stumped and provide a great foundation for conducting research.
The graphic is also a great way to introduce students to the research process.  Using an interactive whiteboard, or projector-connected computer, you can lead students through the process, explaining specific areas of focus for the project or your classroom.  I like that this site doesn’t just focus on the research paper, but shows students that research can have a variety of outcomes.
Tips: Within the graphic, there are pages that you can print out for your students.  Check out the notes section for an example of this.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using How to do Research Interactive Graphic in  your classroom!

School Tool

Posted by admin | Posted in Middle/High School, Open Source, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Software, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 06-05-2009

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What it is: School Tool is a collection of free administrative software for schools.  This is a student information system that includes demographics, gradebook, attendance, calendaring and reporting for primary and secondary schools.  It also provides a framework for building customized applications and configurations to meet the needs of your school.

How to integrate School Tool into the classroom:  School Tool is an excellent alternative to expensive information systems.  This open source solution is a great way to save some educational technology dollars to spend on additional hardware or infrastructure.  If your school is looking at implementing a new comprehensive information system, definitely take a look at School Tool.  

 

Tips:  School Tool has documentation to help with installation and setup, an administrators handbook, a developers handbook, and a glossary of usage.  These documents should have you up and running in no time!

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