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Scholastic’s The First Thanksgiving

What it is: Scholastic has amazing resources all year long but the interactive on The First Thanksgiving is topnotch!  Students learn about how the Pilgrims reached America, and what daily life was before the First Thanksgiving.  Students can take a tour of the Mayflower, take the virtual journey...

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Literature-Map: Help students find new authors to fall in love with

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, History, inspiration, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 05-01-2017

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Literature Map: Help students find new author to fall in love with

What it is: Literature Map is a literature recommendation system. It is really easy to discover a new author. Start by searching for an author you enjoy, and magically a map of names will appear based on what other readers of that author have read. The closer that two writers are on the map, the more likely it is that you will like both of them. Click on any name on the map to travel further and find more recommendations.

Literature Map- find your next favorite author

How to integrate Literature Map into the classroom: It’s a common problem, a student falls in LOVE with an author and devours everything the author has ever written. Then they come to the end of their journey and a sort of sadness hangs over them, there is nothing more. Enter Literature Map. Students can easily enter the name of the beloved author and discover others they are sure to love, leading them down a rabbit trail of reading utopia! Students can discover new voices, genres, and keep the love of reading alive. Literature Map is a great site to bookmark on classroom computers, in the library, or on student devices.

If your students do an author study, this site could be useful for helping them find related authors and then using Wolfram Alpha to compare the authors they find side by side.

Tips: Hat tip to @michellek107 for sharing this with Anastasis staff this week!

Photo Writing Prompt Tumblr from @JohnTSpencer

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Create, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 20-02-2012

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What it is: @johntspencer is one of my very favorite bloggers.  He makes me think, laugh, challenges me and reminds me that there is always something to push forward for in education.  If I’m honest, sometimes he even makes me crazy…usually because he is pushing my thinking into areas I’m not ready to consider yet.  How dare he call “me” out?!  To be fair, he isn’t calling me out, usually he is calling himself out and I feel the residual conviction.   John writes all over the place.  The first time I encountered his genius was a chance reading of his blog Adventures in Pencil Integration.  Brilliant.  I started following it pretty early on in it’s existence and soon found that he writes ALL over the place.  He has written several books including Drawn into Danger, Pencil Me In, Teaching Unmasked, Sages and Lunatics, and a Sustainable Start.  If you haven’t read these, you should.  John is open and honest and has a great sense of humor.  His Education Rethink blog leads you to all of his resources, blogs, books, videos and podcasts.
John has also created a resource for his students that the rest of us can use.  How nice of him!  His Photo Writing Prompt Tumblr is chalk full of images with captions designed to make students think deeply.  Browse through the collection and soon you will understand how students can’t help but pour forth their ideas in writing.  We do something similar at Anastasis but hadn’t been collecting the images on anything but our own blogs.  These prompts are a great addition to what we are doing!  Some of them are challenging, some are thoughtful, some are humorous.  Sometimes we get a really special treat and John includes his own sketches.

How to integrate Photo Writing Prompt Tumblr into the classroom:  This one is best for intermediate, jr. high and high school students.  The topics are probably a little too complex for younger students to write about (although some of them would be appropriate and some kids are really brilliant!).  Spending time writing creatively is one of the best ways to improve as a writer, to challenge and support deep thinking, and to express themselves.  I learn SO much about students through their writing.  Whether it be a blog post, an imaginative story or a letter…writing exposes them in new ways.
Use John’s Photo Writing Prompt Tumblr with your students, these can be projected for students to see while they write.  John updates the Tumblr often so you won’t be lacking for new material for your students to interact with!  Students can write in a traditional writing journal, in the form of a blog post where they link to the original post, or on a class blog together as a group writing project.
Tips:  Teach younger students? Take a cue from John and start your own writing prompt Tumbr for your students!
I’ve written about another Photo Prompt Tumblr blog that you can find here.  Incidentally, I learned about that blog from @johntspencer. That guy is full of ideas!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Photo Writing Prompt Tumbr in  your classroom!

Extreme Speed Booking:Using Technology to help kids love reading

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Evaluate, Fun & Games, inspiration, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 23-01-2012

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What it is:  What makes technology SO great is the way that it can make life (and teaching) more productive and fun.  Over the years, I have found so many ways that technology can make reading more rewarding for both kids who love to read, and kids who dread reading.  Today, I created an “Extreme Speed Booking” website for @michellek107′s class at Anastasis.  I created the site quickly using Weebly, an awesome WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website editor.  Drag and drop website building is where it is at!  The idea behind the site is to introduce students to a variety of books and form classroom book groups.  How does Extreme Speed Booking work?  A whole lot like speed dating.  🙂   Students spend a little time with each book and then rate them accordingly with “I want to read more”,  “Interesting”, “Not for me”, or “I’ve already read”.  Students can also make a note of how interested they are in reading the book (maybe a 1-10 scale)?  This process introduces students to a variety of books, genres and authors.  Students may come across titles and authors they wouldn’t otherwise find.  It also helps teachers form classroom book groups that are of high-interest and investment to students because they had input.
How to integrate Extreme Speed Booking into the classroom: Extreme Speed Booking is a fun way to build book groups/literature circles.  I love this method of exposure to a variety of books, authors, and genres.
For our purposes at Anastasis, I created the Weebly website with a link to the “look inside” on Amazon.  Because all of our students have an iPad, this was the simplest way to get the book preview into the hands of the students.  Don’t have technology?  No problem!  Just make sure that you have enough copies of books so that each student can sit with the physical book during the Extreme Speed Booking sessions.  If you have classroom computers, you can do a blend of both.
Explain to your students that they will have 2 minutes with each book.  During that time, they can choose to read the introduction or first chapter, read the book jacket, or flip through and look at chapter titles and pictures.  The goal during this time is to discover whether this is a book that they would like to read.  It is okay if it isn’t a book they would want to read…the goal is to find out which book they are most excited about.  After the two minutes is up, sound a bell that signifies it is time to switch.  Before they switch, students can quickly make a note of the Title and rate the book.  Continue on until students have had 2 minutes with each book.  Collect the notes students have made and formulate book groups based on interest in the book.
I’ve added a few extra pages to our Extreme Speed Booking website including places where students can explore other books that they may like to read (Shelfari and Book Wink).  I’ve also added a form that book groups can fill out as they are reading.  The form gets emailed directly to the teacher.  Our students will probably be blogging quite a bit of reflection about their reading.  I thought it might also be useful to have a place for groups to answer questions, make comments, or update their teacher with their progress as a group.
@michellek107 created a Google form for her students to fill out while they are speed booking.  Great idea!  She is so smart.  This will make it easy to collect all of the responses in one place to form groups.
Suggestions for books:
  • Choose books from a variety of levels, make sure you have a few book options for each reading level in your classroom.
  • Choose a variety of authors and genres, this is a great way to expose students to authors and genres they don’t normally seek out on their own.
  • Set up classroom computers with some book trailer videos from a site like Book Wink…this is a great “introduction” to a book or genre and acts much like a movie trailer.
  • Choose a variety of books from ONE author.  After students have completed reading in their smaller groups, they can come back together and do an author study as a whole class; each group contributing something a little different.
  • Choose a variety of books from ONE genre.  Students can read books in the smaller groups but discuss common features of the genre as a class.
  • Choose a variety of books on a similar topic.  Students can read books in the smaller groups and then discuss the different character perspectives, author approaches, etc.  This would be really neat to do with historical fiction, Holocaust fiction, etc.
  • Use non-fiction books that reinforce topics and themes that you are using in other academic areas.
  • Use biographies of presidents, change makers, authors, etc.   Students can learn about a specific person in the smaller reading group and share what they have learned with the larger group later.
Tips:   Extreme Speed Booking is a lot of fun with tech, but equally doable without tech!  If you have access to a 1-1 tech environment, or can reserve the computer lab for a round of speed booking, you can use my technique above.  Weebly makes it very easy to do this!
If you haven’t already, check out Shelfari and create a virtual bookshelf of book recommendations for your class or school.  You can see our Shelfari shelf for Anastasis below.  If you teach 3rd-12th grade it is worth checking out Book Wink!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Extreme Speed Booking in  your classroom!

Skype an Author Network

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, inspiration, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 09-08-2009

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What it is: The Skype an Author Network is doing what technology should do, connecting students to the world.  The Skype an Author Network provides a way for teachers or librarians k-12 to connect authors, young readers, and books through virtual visits.  Students can video chat with authors while they are reading books written by the author.  There are two types of visits.  The first is free and is a 10-15 minute meet the author session.  The second option is an in depth visit.  The length and fee of visit are determined by the author.  There is a growing list of authors joining the network.  Connect your students today!

How to integrate Skype an Author Network into the classroom: Set up a virtual visit in your library or classroom today.  Before the visit, encourage your students to come up with well thought out questions before the visit.  It would also be a good idea to test Skype on your school network prior to setting up a visit.

Tips: Check back often, the list of authors is constantly growing.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Skype an Author Network in your classroom.

Virtual Author Series

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 13-03-2008

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What it is: Simon and Schuster Publishing is offering a new unique experience to schools, a virtual author series. The electronic author visit brings bestselling and award-winning authors and makes them easily accessible to students and teachers. S&S creates a website specifically for each author visit that provides teachers with background information that will help prepare students for the author visit and provides interactive material that relates to the subject discussed in the author’s book. The program also includes a series of classroom activities and curriculum binders. The live web broadcast is the culmination of the virtual author experience. The 45 minute segment will include a presentation from the author, a reading from the book, and a question and answer session in which the author answers questions from the students.

How to integrate Virtual Author Series into the classroom: Bring popular author Andrew Clements (Frindle) into your classroom by signing up at the My Visit website http://www.bsu.edu/myvisit/ You need to sign up your class ASAP if you would like to participate in the first in the Virtual Author Series which takes place on March 18th. This is an outstanding opportunity for classrooms, libraries, and schools. Bring reading to life for your students with a virtual author visit. If you, like me, are on spring break during the first author in the Virtual Author Series be sure to check back for future Virtual Author events.

Tips: Check back for future Virtual Authors. The next Virtual Author will be D.J. MacHale (PENDRAGON) on April 29, 2008. This is an awesome way to bridge literacy and technology!

Please leave a comment and tell us how the Virtual Author Series went in your class. Specifically, I want to hear all about it since I won’t be able to participate!