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Happy New Year…

Happy 2008! Monday January 7th marks the end of my holiday “break”. Break is in quotations because for me, it was not a break at all. I wasn’t teaching or blogging, instead I was putting together our yearbook. The admin. decided to go digital this year. When anything goes digital,...

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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!

The Spotlit Collection- 50 of the best books for every grade level

Posted by admin | Posted in Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 18-11-2013

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Scholastic Spotlit Collection- 50 of the best books for every grade level

What it is: Scholastic Reading Club Spotlit Collection is a fantastic place to find outstanding books for preschool through middle school students.  Teachers, librarians, and book professionals came together and considered thousands of books to create a diverse list of award-winners, classics, and dynamite contemporaries.  Each grade level includes the 50 top favorites selected for that age group.  The result is a great place to start when you are searching for books to introduce students to!

How to integrate Spotlit Collection into your classroom: Scholastic’s Spotlit Collection has a wonderful selection of 50 books for each grade level in preschool through middle school.  This would be a great place to determine what you would like in your classroom library, which books to help your students hunt for in the library, and which books to introduce for classroom book groups.  If you have students reading above grade level (or several levels above/below) the Spotlight Collection can help you guide students towards appropriate books.

Challenge your students to read 10-20 of the books in the Spotlit Collection before the end of the school year.  Keep the collection handy by bookmarking it on a classroom computer.  When a student laments that they, “don’t know what to read,” they can quickly pull up the collection for some great new recommendations.

Tips: While you are visiting the collection, sign up for the Scholastic Reading Club!

What do you think?  How are you using the Spotlit Collection in your classroom?

Widbook: Online Collaborative ebook Creation

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Government, History, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0 | Posted on 15-06-2012

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Widbook – Write, read and share! from Widbook on Vimeo.

What it is:  Widbook is a new publishing platform for ebooks.  What makes this publishing platform so neat is the social aspect, it allows authors to collaborate and make suggestions.  Each user also gets their own bookshelf where they can subscribe to other author’s work.

When students start a new ebook, they can choose who can see the book when it is published, choose whether they will accept collaboration for the book, and choose if they want to accept comments for the book.  Actually writing the book is fabulously simple.  All of the onscreen tools are easy to use and intuitive as to their function.  The book can have a table of contents, multiple chapters, and pictures and video embedded right into the book.  When students are finished, they simply save the book and publish it.  The finished book gets a unique url that can be shared.

How to integrate Widbook into the classroom:  Widbook is a fantastic, simple tool for secondary students to use to create ebooks. Students can create individual published works that can be commented on by other students and the teacher.  Students can receive relevant-real time feedback not only from their teacher, but also from other students.  Students not only get practice writing their own works, they also get practice evaluating writing of their peers.

Students can use Widbook to write final drafts of any piece of writing be it an essay or creative writing assignment.  The ability to add video and images easily is wonderful.

Widbook would also be a great place for students to collaboratively create books about their learning.  Each student can add a chapter, or groups of students can create chapters together.  Instead of assigning students a textbook to read for the semester, include them in the creation of a collaborative textbook.  Provide students with a table of contents and put them to work creating a chapter for each topic/unit throughout the year.  At the end of the year, each student will have a book of their learning that they helped to create.  Much more useful than a textbook that one of the Big Six wrote that gets opened only before tests!

Are you having trouble finding a book that matches your classroom learning needs?  Create an ebook that perfectly meets your students right where they are.  Include videos and images relevant to learning.

 

***For younger students be sure to check out BoomWriter!

Tips: Older students who have Facebook accounts can choose to link their Facebook account for easy login (make sure you know your school’s policy on social networking sites being accessed at school, even if it is just to login with).

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

Mixbook: Yearbook/Storybook/Calendar/Card creator

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Art, collaboration, Create, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 07-06-2012

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What it is:  Mixbook saved us this year in a BIG way.  Being our first year as a school, we didn’t want to use a big yearbook publishing company to create our first yearbook.  We wanted to be able to get as much of the year in as possible (most yearbook companies have mid-year deadlines), we were only having 60 made (small potatoes for big yearbook companies), and we wanted to be able to print one-offs if we needed to.  We started creating in Shutterfly, it was a familiar program, most of our helpers had used it for personal books so the learning curve was small.  And then the world came crashing down. It was the day before the deadline to get our order in so that it would make it before the school year ended. Two of us logged in at the same time and apparently properly confused the system and lost the whole thing.  All 30 pages of it. After throwing a pity party, trying to get in touch with Shutterfly (unsuccessfully), and declaring that there would be no yearbook, I did what anyone would do- I took my pity party to Twitter.

I never did hear from Shutterfly.  You know who did come to the rescue? Mixbook.  They saw my pity party tweet, apologized for our bad fortune, offered their assistance and let us know that they would be happy to help in any way they could.  I was familiar with Mixbook but hadn’t used it before. I hopped onto the Mixbook site and immediately liked what I saw:

  • The interface is incredibly easy to use.
  • It allows collaborative working and tells you when someone else is editing the book so you don’t override each other.
  • It has great templates.
  • It has great customization options.
  • The customer service is unmatched.  Honestly, any time we had a question/comment/problem they helped within minutes.  During business hours they have  a dynamite online chat support system.  When it wasn’t normal business hours their Twitter genius would get back to me. Emails were answered within hours.
  • Finished books can be viewed and shared for free online.
  • They were incredibly helpful in keeping the price of each book reasonable for us.  They extended coupon codes, gave us bulk purchase discounts, and rushed our order so that it would get to us with plenty of time to spare.
The books are GORGEOUS.  They look better than they do on screen (this hasn’t been my experience with other book companies).
Mixbook is a free online scrapbook/calendar/card creator.  With Mixbook, you aren’t limited to pre made templates, everything is fully customizable. The online design software is extremely easy to use and works the way you would expect it to (no unwelcome surprises). Mixbook is integrated with many popular photo sites including Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, etc.  You can also easily batch upload from your computer.

How to integrate Mixbook into the classroom:  As we experienced, Mixbook is a fantastic place to make school or classroom yearbooks.  Despite the short timeline, we enjoyed creating our yearbooks and are glad to have our first year commemorated so beautifully.  At the bottom of each page, we created a running timeline of everything that happened in our first year as a school.

Because it is so easy to customize each page, students could use Mixbook to create “published” portfolios or writing.  Take pictures of student work throughout the year, keep a folder for each student.  At the end of the year, students can create a Mixbook of their work.  They can include the pictures of their work and add text boxes where they reflect on their learning or explain the project.  For original writing, students can create digital or hand drawn illustrations that get scanned and uploaded to the Mixbook pages.  Students can type the story directly in Mixbook.  The finished book can be shared for free online, parents will have the option to purchase the book if they would like to.

A photo calendar would be a great way to commemorate a school year and would make an awesome end of the year gift to your students.  Each month can include projects and snapshots of what you did throughout the year.

Create specialized cards and thank you stationary for your classroom.  Any time you need it, it will be ready to go and more special for your students.

Group projects are easy to create with Mixbook.  The collaboration ability is wonderful!  You could use Mixbook with colleagues to create custom learning guides that you can get printed.

Tips: As an educator, you get an extra discount for any order of 10 items or more.  OUTSTANDING!

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

An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton: Free online

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Interactive book, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 12-04-2012

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What it is:  Dallas Clayton created An Awesome Book for his son.  The book is about the idea of dreaming BIG and never giving up.  He decided to self publish and worked hard to spread the love of reading the world over.  Since then, Clayton has offered his book free online (lucky us!) and started a foundation to give away one book for every copy of An Awesome Book he sells.

How to integrate An Awesome Book into the classroom: An Awesome Book is an awesome book about dreaming big dreams.  It is a great book that encourages kids to believe in themselves and in those fantastic dreams that they have.  An Awesome Book is wonderful for reading as a whole class on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  You could also set up An Awesome Book on classroom computers for students to read through independently.  Fantastic!

When students are finished reading, ask them to create their own awesome books with their big dreams.

Tips: To learn more about An Awesome Book and it’s creator, Dallas Clayton, check out the Very Awesome World Website.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using An Awesome Book  your classroom!

Grammaropolis: Personified Parts of Speech

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Create, Evaluate, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Music, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 05-03-2012

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What it is:  Grammaropolis is a site I have long been a fan of.  I’ve written about it in the past in these posts Grammaropolis recently got a significant upgrade with TONS of new, great features.  The site now includes character descriptions for nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions and interjections.  In addition to the great descriptions, each character includes a song, videos, book, games and, soon, quizzes.  Not all of this content is free, but there is enough free content to be useful in every classroom no matter the budget.  All of the content associated with the Noun character is free.  Every other character includes the character description and book for free.  The music, videos, quizzes and games are “extras” that are available by subscription.  You can get your classroom a Grammaropolis passport to access all of the content including the ability to follow and track your students progress within Grammaropolis.

How to integrate Grammaropolis into the classroom:  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Grammaropolis approach to the parts of speech is completely brilliant!  I love the way Grammaropolis gives the different parts of speech a “face” and an attitude.  For those of us who learn through story, Grammaropolis gives us a unique connection to the parts of speech.  The books and videos are fabulous.  They are extremely well done, and take the characters a step further by dropping them into a story.
The characters interact true to their characteristics.  For example, in the “Noun Places” video, Noun sits looking through a photo album of places.  As he flips the pages, he names the places.  “Antarctica,” he says.  Adjective, who is sitting next to Noun, exclaims, “beautiful!”  Verb agrees, “very.”  The videos and books are so well thought out and really demonstrate to students how the parts of speech are used.  So smart!
Grammaropolis can be used as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Learn about, and explore, the different parts of speech as a class.  Choose a new part of speech character each week and encourage students to spot the part of speech character in their own writing with a colored pencil or marker that matches the character color.  Books can be read as a class on the big screen.  Each book begins with the cast of characters with a short description of each part of speech.  As you read together, discuss the way that the part of speech characteristics are revealed by their interactions with other characters.  The same can be done with the videos!
Students can play the games on classroom computers as a center, or on individual computers in a lab or 1:1 setting.  After your students familiarize themselves with the parts of speech characters, they can write their own creative stories featuring the characters.  This is great for older students!  Students will have to remember that the characters have to act in ways that are true to their nature.
Tips:  There are a few different options for a Grammaropolis subscription, the options are very reasonably priced.  Grammaropolis also has a brand new store that has some fun grammar shwag.  If you have an iDevice, check out the Grammaropolis app!

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

A must read by Seth Godin: Stop Stealing Dreams #free!

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, Grade Level, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 01-03-2012

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What it is: Seth Godin is one of my favorite authors and bloggers to read.  He so often has insight that cuts right to the heart of a matter.  What I appreciate about Seth’s writing most, is the way he can say things in a way that people can hear and accept.  Seth has a brand new digital “book” (manifesto) called Stop Stealing Dreams.  I love the dedication that he begins with: “Dedicated to every teacher who cares enough to change the system and to every student brave enough to stand up and speak up.”  The “stand up” stands out to me because that is what we aim to do every single day at Anastasis.  In fact, we chose the name Anastasis because it translates to “stand again” or “resurrection” from Greek.  That is exactly what we aim to do every single day…help kids stand again in their learning.  Now you know where our Twitter hashtag comes from. 🙂

Seth poignantly points out that “Instead of amplifying dreams, school destroys them.”  That is a hard statement for those of us in education. We sign up for this crazy ride to help dreams flourish and yet because of the system of education, end up doing precisely the opposite.  It is hidden.  We don’t set out to do this…truly we don’t.  But consider the way that we push kids through education and tell them what the most important things are for them.  Students get the message loud and clear: check these boxes, take these classes, pass these tests.  Do it so you can get into high school.  Do it so that you can go to college. Do it so that you can get a job.  What message are we really sending?  “You and your dreams are not enough.”

I don’t want to give too much of the manifesto away because I think that it is worth reading for every teacher, administrator and parent.  Seth offers this download for free.  The guy knows how to spread ideas!   The point of the manifesto is not to leave you feeling hopeless over the current situation of education, but asking questions and encouraging us to say “why not?”  Print the book out, read it on a digital device, and share it…share it widely!  The first step to a revolution is spreading the idea and opening door to the possibility.

How to integrate Stop Stealing Dreams into the classroom:  Read Stop Stealing Dreams.  Highlight it, earmark pages, write in the margins, challenge yourself.  Then share it with everyone you know.  I find that it is easy to find teachers who are ready to hear this message and act on it.  It’s been my experience that parents are a little harder to convince.  We are all “experts” on education because we have all been through it.  We have all of these assumptions that we know exactly what it should look like and even assume that the classroom model has been perfected.  This manifesto helps challenge those assumptions and come up with new ideas apart from the assumptions.
@matthewquigely had our Jr. High students download Stop Stealing Dreams today.  Students have assumptions about education too.  I’m excited to hear the kids reflections on the manifesto.  They will have a completely different view, different questions, and come up with their own fantastic ideas about how education can stop stealing dreams.   I would be interested in having the kids come up with a manifesto of their own!
Tips:  When you are finished reading Stop Stealing Dreams, I highly recommend the next books on your reading list be those mentioned in the manifesto.  If you haven’t read them, they are a must!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Stop Stealing Dreams in  your classroom!

Children’s Books Forever

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Download, Foreign Language, Interactive book, iPod, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 31-08-2011

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What it is:   Children’s Books Forever is a simple site that packs a powerful punch for instilling a love of reading at an early age.  These are free children’s books that have become classics and children’s favorite books from around the world.  The books can be used on an interactive whiteboard, power point, overhead projector, on iPads (or other iDevices), or classroom computers.  Did I mention they are free?  These fun picture books are downloadable in pdf format and are wonderful for expanding your classroom library.  New books are being added regularly to Children’s Books Forever so be sure to check back often!

How to integrate Children’s Books Forever into the classroom:  I love sites that spread a love for reading while simultaneously beefing up the classroom library (and student’s home libraries).  The site is simple to use, just choose a book, download as a PDF and read.  Couldn’t be any simpler!  The books can be read in multiple languages making it a wonderful place for students who are learning a second language or speaking English as a second language.  Be sure to click on the links in the left side bar, they will lead you to additional books.  Find books for toddlers, Waldo humor books, inspirational books and more information on author Hans Wihelm in addition to the books featured on the home page.

The stories featured on Children’s Books Forever are beautifully written and illustrated.  Do your students have a pen pal or buddy in another country who speaks a different language?  Why not find a book that is featured in both languages to read and discuss together?  This is a great connecting point for students!

Bookmark Children’s Books Forever on classroom computers so that students can easily access the books during reading time.  The books can also be printed and added to the class library.  Be sure to remind your students they can access these stories from any Internet connected computer, they can keep reading at home too.

Many of the stories on Children’s Books Forever can be used for character education discussions in the primary classroom.  Project these stories on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer for a class read along.

Tips: Be sure to sign up to be notified when new books are added to Children’s Books Forever via email!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Children’s Books Forever in  your classroom!

 

FlipSnack: Turn a PDF into an embeddable Flash Flip Book

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, Interactive book, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0 | Posted on 27-05-2011

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What it is: FlipSnack lets students turn PDF documents into embeddable Flipbooks quickly and easily.  Students upload a PDF (or multiple PDFs) to be included in the book and FlipSnack instantly transforms it into an interactive flippable book.  In order to login to FlipSnack, students will need an email address (this can be a temporary email such as Tempinbox or Mailinator).  Students can also login using a Twitter account, Facebook connect, Google connect or MySpace connect.  FlipSnack has some neat options available that other pdf to embeddable book services like Issuu do not have.  Students can choose a template for their Flip including classic, hardcover, coil bound and interactive.  Student also have the ability to customize the background, size and buttons included in their embed.  Students can share their FlipSnack with a unique url, on social media sites and email, or embed it in another website.  The free version lets students embed the finished FlipSnack on a website or blog with a FlipSnack watermark.

How to integrate FlipSnack into the classroom: FlipSnack is a neat way for students (and teachers) to share pdf documents online.  Students can save their work as a PDF and upload into an interactive book that can be embedded on a blog, wiki or website.

Use your classroom computers as a student created library.  Students can upload original stories to a class FlipSnack account to create a library of student work.  During silent reading time, give students the opportunity to enjoy their peers as authors.  This is perfect for an elementary classroom that may not have the email addresses for each student to sign up for a separate account.

Create custom books for your students by combining PDF documents into one customized text-book.  These can be embedded on a class blog, website, or wiki for students to access from anywhere they have internet access.

Upload school handbooks, resources etc. to the classroom and school website for easy access by students and parents.

One of the features I enjoy about FlipSnack is the ability to view statistics for the flip books.  Find out how many views a Flip has had by day, month or all time.

Tips: I often use Issuu to share and embed PDFs.  It has been my go-to favorite for personal use.  I hesitated to use Issuu with students because of the collection of ALL user publications on the home page of the website.  Sometimes these were inappropriate for elementary students.  I like that FlipSnack doesn’t share user-created publications with little eyes.

Take a look at the FlipSnack I created for my new school, Anastasis Academy, embedded below:

 

Please leave a comment and let us know how you are using FlipSnack in your classroom!

Books Should Be Free: Free Audio Books from the Public Domain

Posted by admin | Posted in Download, Interactive book, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 25-05-2011

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What it is: Books Should Be Free is a fantastic collection of audio books that students can download and listen to for free from the public domain.  Books are easily searchable by genre, keyword, title or author.  Books can be downloaded as MP3 files, iPod or iTunes format.  Each book includes a description of the book, full text from Project Gutenberg, a Wikipedia link, and the audio download.  Students can play a snippet of the audio before deciding to download.  The collection is pretty impressive, including my favorite classics.

How to integrate Books Should Be Free into the classroom: Not every child has an extensive collection of books at home, or parents who model a love of reading.  Books Should Be Free expands every classroom and home library by giving students access to some of the most loved books of all time.  Students can download both the audio and accompanying text for a read along or simply listen to the audio file.  Audio books help students build comprehension, fluency and help students develop a love for story.  Books Should Be Free is a great way to start a Reading Buddies program at your school with some MP3 players or iPods that can go home with students loaded up with good books.

Tips: Looking for some more ebooks to expand your classroom library?  Check these out!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Books Should Be Free in your classroom!