How We Got to Now: 6 Innovations That Made the Modern World

How We Got to Now: 6 innovations that made the modern world

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. ūüôā

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!

Tips: Watch full episodes of How We Got to Now online here.

Are you interested in learning more about the inquiry model we use at Anastasis Academy? Join our conference in February! Early bird registration now available.

Timelapse: 3 decades of photo imagery of the world

Timelapse: a satellite veiw of the earth (iLearn Technology)

What it is:¬† Timelapse is an incredible visual satellite timeline powered by Google.¬† Timelapse is about as close as you can get to a time machine, if that time machine hovered above the earth and gave you a bird’s eye view of development and change. Students can choose from some highlighted Timelapse views including: Las Vegas, Dubai, Shanghai, Oil Sands, Mendenhall Glacier, Wyoming Coal, Columbia Glacier, and Lake Urmia.¬† Alternatively, students can use the search box to view a satellite timelapse of any place in the world. Students can change the speed of the timelapse, pause the satellite imagery, and zoom in or zoom out.¬† The imagery begins in 1984 and goes through 2012.

How to use Timelapse in your classroom: Timelapse would be a fantastic way to begin an inquiry unit. The site itself sparks lots of questions.  Depending on the location, students may inquire into climate change, history, development, expansion, human impact on land, satellites, etc. Timelapse could also be used in science classes and history classes. This is a great tool for students to use to analyze and evaluate visual data.

Timelapse would be a neat way to explore history of the world from a completely different perspective.¬† Students could use Timelapse as a creative writing prompt to imagine the world from a new perspective. What changes when you aren’t down in the midst of life on earth? Do problems appear different? Does success get measured differently?

Tips: Below the Timelapse map, students can read about how satellites are used to capture the imagery they are exploring. Well worth the read!¬† It is also separated into “Chapters” that each tell a larger story about the featured Timelapses.


Degree Story Teacher Contest

Oxford Owl Maths: math ebooks, activities

iLearn Technology Oxford Owl Math ebooksWhat it is: Oxford Owl is the awesome site I wrote about yesterday.¬† They have a fantastic collection of free ebooks and accompanying activities for kids.¬† The site is making an appearance in today’s post because they ALSO have Oxford Owl Math for ages 3-7.¬† There isn’t quite the breadth of resources here that you will find on the main Oxford Owl site, but they do have some great suggestions for math activities, both online and offline, and there are some online math e-books.¬† The 3-5 section currently has the most e-books, online math games, activity sheets that can be printed out, and offline games to play.

How to integrate Oxford Owl Maths into the classroom:  Oxford Owl Maths has some wonderful math themed interactive ebooks that include practice with position words, counting, shapes, time, and adding/subtracting.  The ebooks make for a great introduction or review in the kindergarten and first grade classrooms.  The telling time ebook and activities are even appropriate for second grade students.  In the kids treasure box, students can collect online trophies for the games and puzzles they complete, find recipes to make in the kitchen, and download offline activities.

Oxford Owl would be a nice center activity that even the youngest students could explore independently or with a partner.  It could also be used for whole class stories with an interactive whiteboard or projector.

This is a good site to introduce parents to for at home reading, play and math practice.  If you have a classroom website, Oxford Owl is a great one to link to!

Tips: If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Oxford Owl Literacy site.

Tell us how you are using (or plan to use) Oxford Owl Maths in your classroom!

Here is Today: a web app to put time in perspective


Here is today iLearn Technology

Here is today iLearn Technology

Here is today iLearn Technology

What it is: ¬†Here is today is an interesting little web app that helps students visualize time in a new way. ¬†Students start out by seeing a square and a title that says “here is today” with the current date. ¬†When students click “okay” at the bottom, they are taken to a visual of the next step in. ¬†Students can see where the day is falling within the month, the year, the century, the millennium, the epoch, the period, the era, the eon, the earth, life, oxidation, fish, insects, reptiles, mammals, birds, humans, and the universe. ¬†Each stage of the graphic has an arrow pointing out how today (whatever day that happens to be) compares in the grander scheme of things. ¬†Pretty cool!

How to integrate Here is Today into the classroom:  Here is Today is an outstanding way to help students understand where they are in place in time.  They can see where they are and then compare it to the larger history of the world and universe.  Obviously, this is a natural fit into a history or biology class.  Here is Today would also make a great object lesson in math and be great for studying comparison and scale.  It would also make for a great philosophical discussion as we realize just how minute the moment we are living in really is.

Here is Today is a great site for students to explore and inquire about independently. ¬†What questions arise as they explore the site? ¬†After students have investigated and come up with their own lines of inquiry, gather back as a classroom community and discuss those lines of inquiry and the thinking that led to them. ¬†If you happen to follow the IB Primary Years Program, this fits in great to “Where are we in place and time” inquiry.

Here is Today would also be a useful visual on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer where a class can observe and explore together during discussion.  The way that the site compares time is seriously smart.

Here is Today could launch an interesting creative writing assignment.  Invite each student to explore the site and to choose a view.  The story should be written based on the point of view and time that they chose.  This could be a new way to explore setting, time and theme.

Tips:  Here is Today reminds me a little bit of the Scale of Life site that I wrote about here.  Using these sites together could be pretty epic.  Talk about a great sense of our place in the universe!

Are you using Here is Today in your classroom?  Share your experience in the comments below!

Living Math Book List: Fiction for (almost) every math concept

Happy New Year!!¬† You may have noticed…I took a tech break for the holidays!¬† There may not have been an abundance of posts and sharing happening, but I was still collecting away and have more resources than ever to share in 2012.¬† Thank you all for making my 2011 such a wonderful year to be a part of!

What it is:¬† You know what I love?¬† Reading and books. Particularly fiction.¬† Living Math Book List is a fantastic site that introduces books (mostly fiction) for every math concept (okay, almost every math concept!).¬† The site is SO easy to use, just click on the “Search categories” tab and choose the math topic your students are working on.¬† A list of books with links to Amazon is at the ready.¬† The site is being updated regularly so new books pop into the different categories on occasion.¬† Isn’t it great to stumble on a new jem-of-a-book that you can use in your classroom? I love teaching through story, and Living Math Book List makes it easy to bring stories into your math class.¬† Including books in math gives students who struggle with math concepts a new vantage point and understanding.¬† It makes math meaningful by showing students why they learn the math concepts they do and how math really is all around us.¬† You have to love that!¬† Topics include: addition, angles, area, calendars, capacity, combinations, comparisons, counting, skip counting, data collection, division, doubling numbers, equal sets, equations, estimation, even/odd, fractions, graphing, making predictions, matching, measurement, metrics, money, multiplication, negative numbers, opposites, ordinal numbers, patterns, percentages, perimeter, place value, positional words, probability, problem solving, proportions, ratio, reading a schedule, regrouping, rounding, sequences, shapes, sizes, sorting, subtraction, symmetry, time, and weight.¬† So yeah, something for everyone!
How to integrate Living Math Book List into the classroom:  As I said, I am a big fan of reading and books.  Any time you can tie learning back to story is a win in my book.  Use the books you find on Living Math Book List to introduce new concepts, to enrich students interaction with a concept, as a launching point for writing their own math-related fiction, or just to expose students to a new way of thinking about the math they are learning.  The books make a great classroom read-aloud or can be used as a math center during a unit.
At Anastasis Academy, we made sure to have plenty of these types of math books available to students during silent reading.  They really enjoy reading them with a partner and pointing out the math concepts they recognize along the way.

Tips: Embed the link to Living Math Book List on your class website or blog, this will make it easy for you, and your students, to find math-related books any time.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Living Book List in  your classroom!

What’s the Time Mr. Wolf

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What it is: What’s the Time Mr. Wolf is a fun sequencing and time activities for students in kindergarten or first grade.¬† (I was just looking for one of these for a Treasures unit in first grade, great timing!).¬† In this game, students are asked to sequence pictures based on the time of day that they happened.¬† After sorting the photos, students must choose the correct time-of-day description to match the photo.¬† Finally, students are given analogue clocks with various times on them.¬† Students have to choose the correct clock to match the narration of the story. ¬†

How to integrate What’s the Time Mr. Wolf into the classroom: What’s the Time Mr. Wolf is a great short activity that helps students practice sequencing, recognizing time-of-day high frequency words, and reading an analogue clock.¬† The activity is narrated and builds listening and direction-following auditory skills.¬†¬† What’s the Time Mr. Wolf is a short and sweet activity that students can complete independently.¬† The game includes progress monitoring and provides students immediate feedback as they interact with it.

Tips: What’s the Time Mr. Wolf is another free game from Sherston.¬† They also sell this game as part of a complete software package.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using What’s the Time Mr. Wolf in your classroom.

Math Live

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What it is: In honor of World Math Day (which takes place tomorrow 3/3/10) I decided to pass on a fantastic math website that I learned about from The Techie Classroom Blog (one of the amazing blogs taking part in the edublogger alliance).¬† Math Live has a collection of animated cartoons that teach students math concepts.¬† 3rd through 6th grade students can learn about numbers, patterns and relations, shape and space, and statistics and probability.¬† These cartoons are extremely high quality and teach key math concepts through story.¬† Students can watch videos on place value, multiples, factors, primes, proper fractions, equivalent fractions, comparing and ordering fractions, comparing and ordering decimals, addition and subtraction of decimals, multiplication of whole numbers, division of whole numbers, multiplication and division of decimals, patterns, area and perimeter, volume, time, triangles, polygons, sides, tessellations, ordered pairs, displaying data, probability and estimating.¬† The videos show students real-world applications of math concepts.¬† The videos are chunked really well and stop periodically so that students can think about and discuss their thoughts on the math concept.¬† The videos have outstanding visuals that explain the concepts succinctly.¬† Each video is accompanied by an Activity Sheet (read worksheet), an assessment, and Teacher/Parent Notes.¬† The Teacher Notes include a great section with “Common mistakes students make” to help teachers avoid common pitfalls when teaching.¬† They also include great ideas for additional practice of the concepts.¬† Math Live gives students an excellent animated, interactive math glossary.¬† As students are viewing a video lesson, they can access either the master glossary (with all of the sites vocabulary) or visit the lesson glossary (with only the vocabulary from the lesson).¬† I am really impressed with the glossary.

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How to integrate Math Live into the classroom: Math is a hard subject for many students.  It can be difficult for students to understand how math relates to real life.  Math Live videos are a great way to help students break down math into manageable pieces.  It illustrates each concept very well.  Students who struggle with math are going to LOVE this site.  It allows them to pause, rewind, and revisit concepts as many times as they need to so that they can master a concept.  These videos would be an excellent way to introduce new math concepts to the whole class using a projector or interactive whiteboard.  They can also be used as a math center on classroom computers or individually in the computer lab.  Keep Math Live handy for students struggling with these concepts or to quickly access math vocabulary in the glossary.

The list of concepts covered is limited, as an extension activity, have students create their own math movie using a tool like Xtranormal or Kerpoof Movie.

Tips: Send Math Live home to parents, these videos could be a tremendous help for homework time.  Often parents struggle with explaining math to their children, this could be a big help!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Math Live in your classroom.

Number Nut


What it is:¬† Number Nut is a site all about math.¬† I love their¬† catch phrase: “enough math can make anyone nutty”.¬† This site certainly has enough math for that!¬† Topics on Number Nut include: shapes and colors, numbers and counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, order of operations, dates and times, fractions, decimals, percent values, estimation and rounding, ratios, and money math.¬† There is something for every math class here!¬† Each topic gives an overview of the math concept (kind of like the break down students would find at the beginning of a new math chapter).¬† This is followed by two interactives where students can practice their new found knowledge. Number Nut is standard aligned and has a great math glossary.


How to integrate Number Nut into the classroom:¬†¬† Number Nut is truly like an interactive math textbook, there are multiple pages for each concept and each page is followed by two interactive practice areas.¬† I love this as an alternative to math textbooks because students get immediate feedback as they work.¬† They know whether they have mastered the concept or need to keep working at it.¬† With traditional math textbooks, a student doesn’t know if they understand a concept until they turn in their math worksheet and get it back a few days later full of red marks.¬† Number Nut is good for teaching new math concepts on an interactive whiteboard or with a projector.¬† Students can read along as you explain and demonstrate new math concepts.¬† Then, students can practice on their own.¬† Ideally, Number Nut would be used in a computer lab setting where every student is using a computer.¬† This would allow students to work at their own pace and on the skills they need the most practice on.¬† Number Nut could also be used as a math center where students take turns visiting and solving problems.


Tips:   I learned about Number Nut from a tweet by @kellyhines she is full of great classroom resources and one of my favorite education follows!  Number Nut does require flash so make sure that you have the appropriate flash plugins before using this site with your class.

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

ict Numeracy Games


What it is: ict Numeracy Games are created by educator James Barrett.  These flash games are excellent for primary and beginning secondary elementary students to practice math.  You will find game themes for number facts, counting, bridging through ten, time, shape and measures, greater than and less than, multiplication and rounding, money (this is UK money), addition, subtraction, odd and even, place values, doubles, and equivalence.  Each math or numeracy theme has several games to play for practice.  Each is interactive and has instructions for integrating the game into the classroom.  All great ideas!


How to integrate ict Numeracy Games into the classroom: The ict Numeracy Games are perfect for use with an interactive whiteboard or projector and whole class instruction.  Several of the games are also great practice for students working on individual computers.  The games are all very engaging.  They teach and provide practice for basic math skills.  This is a great stop when you are looking for an interactive activity to practice a math concept.  The descriptions next to the game are very helpful and you are bound to find new ideas for integrating technology into your classroom.  


Tips:¬†There are advertisements on this site but they are unobtrusive, your students probably won’t even notice. ¬†The games are high quality enough that this shouldn’t be a¬†deterrent. ¬†


Leave a comment and share how you are using ict Numeracy Games in your classroom.


Count Us In

What it is: Count Us In is a fun basic math skill site with 15 interactive games that teach kids basic math skills. These include counting, patterning, counting, ordinal numbers, representing number with words, addition, subtraction, sorting and grouping, time, numbers, chance, halves, length, and volume. The flash based games can be played online or downloaded to a Mac or PC for offline play.

How to integrate Count Us In into the classroom:
These are great games to teach kids basic math concepts. The site is good for individual use in a computer lab, or center group use in a classroom setting. Students can work at their own level, going onto the next game after they have mastered one. The games can be used to help teach concepts or as review and practice for math skills. The site is best for k-1 students or struggling math students in second grade. The site is also perfect for an interactive whiteboard. Call students up to the board to interact with the games individually or split your class into teams to play the games.

Tips: Visit the “other activities” section of the Count Us In website for some great teacher resources including well thought out activities to use with the games on the website.

Leave a comment and share how you are using Count Us In in your classroom.