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From lack of motivation to Schooltopia (a resolution you will want to

January is the month of resolutions. The dawn of a new year when the possibility for change is fresh, and aspirations of doing better is rampant. The idea of a clean slate, or cleaning of the slate. Unfortunately for me, January has always been the time of the year when I feel the least amount of motivation...

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And the winner is….

Posted by admin | Posted in General | Posted on 08-12-2013

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Josh Allen, Congratulations Josh!

 

Koostik give away: iLearn Technology #technologymadenatural

Thank you to all who helped spread the word and entered the Koostik giveaway contest!

It isn’t too late to place an order for Christmas, I have it on good authority that the Koostik elves are busy in the workshop.

Last day to enter for a Koostik! #technologymadenatural

Posted by admin | Posted in General | Posted on 06-12-2013

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Koostik give away: iLearn Technology #technologymadenatural

Today is your last chance to enter the Koostik giveaway! Winner will be announced tomorrow ūüôā¬† The winner should receive their Koostik just in time for the holidays. Happy things.
Details for this giveaway below:

I‚Äôm particularly fond of small business shopping because my family has always owned small businesses. My dad is the ultimate craftsman. He is always dreaming up new inventions and he uses one of my favorite mediums to carry out those inventions: beautiful cuts of wood. There is something about having wood in your home, it evokes feelings of warmth and a connection to nature. When my dad started Koostik, I was especially excited because it connects technology (which you know I love) with the natural beauty of wood. These are not just functional, they are truly pieces of art. Each Koostik is handmade and unique.¬† Because no cut of wood is exactly the same, each one has a slightly different feel.¬† Every time I visit the shop I want to take more product home.¬† I constantly get the, ‚Äúbut Kelly, you already have a Pivot.‚ÄĚ My response, ‚ÄúI know but it isn‚Äôt THIS Pivot in the Ambrosia Maple!‚ÄĚ

Koostik is a true small business.  My dad works on the woodwork with a few other guys in his shop, and my mom does the finishing and packaging. My brother works sales and does all the photography and website design. There is a passion and attention to detail that you find in small businesses that just doesn’t exist anywhere else. I support small business because I appreciate that attention to detail. I appreciate the craftsmanship and passion that go into every product. I like knowing that I am supporting a neighbor, a family.

I’m offering a giveaway for the Koostik product of your choice. Sorry international friends, this one is for US citizens only! To enter you will need to do one (or all) of the following:

A winner will be chosen on December 7, 2013.  Hurry and get as many entries in as you can! The winner will be announced on iLearn Technology and contacted through the social media that you used to enter.

 

Support Small Business Saturday: Koostik #technologymadenatural

Posted by admin | Posted in General | Posted on 30-11-2013

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Two give aways in two days. That is pretty awesome!

Koostik give away: iLearn Technology #technologymadenatural

 

Today is support small business Saturday in the United States.¬† I’m particularly fond of this cause for shopping because my family has always owned small businesses. My dad is the ultimate craftsman. He is always dreaming up new inventions and he uses one of my favorite mediums to carry out those inventions: beautiful cuts of wood. There is something about having wood in your home, it evokes feelings of warmth and a connection to nature. When my dad started Koostik, I was especially excited because it connects technology (which you know I love) with the natural beauty of wood. These are not just functional, they are truly pieces of art. Each Koostik is handmade and unique.¬† Because no cut of wood is exactly the same, each one has a slightly different feel.¬† Every time I visit the shop I want to take more product home.¬† I constantly get the, “but Kelly, you already have a Pivot.” My response, “I know but it isn’t THIS Pivot in the Ambrosia Maple!”

Koostik is a true small business.¬† My dad works on the woodwork with a few other guys in his shop, and my mom does the finishing and packaging. My brother works sales and does all the photography and website design. There is a passion and attention to detail that you find in small businesses that just doesn’t exist anywhere else. I support small business because I appreciate that attention to detail. I appreciate the craftsmanship and passion that go into every product. I like knowing that I am supporting a neighbor, a family.

In honor of Support Small Business Saturday, I’m offering a giveaway for the Koostik product of your choice. Sorry international friends, this one is for US citizens only! To enter you will need to do one (or all) of the following:

A winner will be chosen on December 6, 2013.  Hurry and get as many entries in as you can! The winner will be announced on iLearn Technology and contacted through the social media that you used to enter.

 

Don’t want to wait to see if you’ve won? Koostik is currently running a sale for 30% off all products and 50% the Mini Koo! The sale runs through Cyber Monday (December 2). You could be the star of the holidays with your awesome Koostik gift giving skills!

Apprenticing students in the art of learning

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 31-10-2013

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I’m of the opinion that the apprenticeship model should be the basis for education.¬† This is one of the cornerstones of Anastasis philosophy, that we apprentice students in the art of learning.¬† The goal then, is to teach students how to be learners by modelling what it means to be a learner.¬† I’m not sure how one can be a teacher and not be a learner.

As a young child, I was apprenticed as a learner.¬† My parents were masters at encouraging curiosity.¬† They themselves are inquirers.¬† They showed me what it meant to passionately pursue understanding of the world around me.¬† It never felt like school.¬† As long as I can remember, my parents have owned their own businesses.¬† When I was growing up, they owned and operated a kitchen remodel business.¬† I spent summers “playing” at work.¬† This was my first interaction with using a computer.¬† I spent hours pretending to talk on the phone to a client and then designing their kitchen using the office Apple IIe.¬† It was really exciting when I got to use the blue print machine in the insanely scary basement of the office.¬† Later, my dad started a model rocket company.¬† He made model rocket kits completely out of wood.¬† This led to an excitement about physics, making, and entrepreneurship.¬† My parents involved my brother and I in each part of the process.¬† I spent many hours sewing bags for the rockets to be packaged in.¬† When my brother decided that skateboarding was life, my parents started a skateboard company.¬† This time I learned about screen printing, graphic design, and skate culture.¬† My families most recent pursuit of passion is at Koostik.¬† My dad started this company after discovering that he could amplify sound by putting his iPhone in a Styrofoam cup.¬† He immediately began to tinker in the garage, using his passion for woodworking to create speakers for the iPhone that worked 100% through acoustics.

This was learning at its absolute best.  It gave purpose to all of the things that I learned in school.  My parents taught me how to pursue curiosity, passion and crazy ideas.  They showed me that learning is a life long adventure.

I often get dropped-jaw stares when I tell people that I started a school.¬† The immediate follow-up questions begin: how did you do it, what classes did you take to prepare you, what professional development on starting a school did you get, where did you find the money?¬† My answer is always the same, I was raised to do this.¬† My parents taught me how to do this by demonstrating what it means to be a learner.¬† They taught me how to do this by showing me how passions and ideas are pursued.¬† Many that I talk to consider starting a school risky or scary.¬† For me the scarier thing would be to sit by and watch kids go through an education system that isn’t in their best interest.¬† The scarier thing is to do what every one else is doing.

I was raised to do this.

My hope for students everywhere: that they would have teachers in their lives who would apprentice them in the art of learning.

Thank you mom and dad for showing me what passionate learning looks like!

 

P.S.¬† If you haven’t seen the gorgeous work that my dad does, check out Koostik.¬† Each of the products is made by hand.¬† My dad is constantly sending me photos of new ideas he is tinkering with.¬† LOVE that!¬† Koostik has a contest that ends TONIGHT where you can enter to win product.¬† I saw the prize pack in person today.¬† The photos don’t do it justice.¬† Everything is gorgeous!¬† My dad is pretty much the master at choosing just the right piece of wood and working with the grain to really make each piece stand out as a masterpiece.¬† It is truly (functional) art.¬† Details for how to enter here.

Koostik prize package!

 

 

24 of Our Favorite Apps at Anastasis Academy!

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Blooms Taxonomy, For Teachers, inspiration, iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary | Posted on 12-09-2013

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24 of our favorite apps at Anastasis Academy

 

Recently, Kelly Hodgkins from The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) interviewed me for a back to school piece on apps that teachers use in the classroom.  I not only shared our favorite apps, I also shared some iPad accessories that keep us happy.

Click here for 24 of our favorite apps at Anastasis Academy.   What are your favorite apps?

The Making of the Learning Genome Project

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Blooms Taxonomy, education reform, For Teachers, Grade Level, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 28-10-2012

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So many of you have offered tremendous support, donations and a megaphone to spread the word about the Learning Genome Project. ¬†I am so grateful! ¬†Today I thought I would lift the curtain just a bit and share a behind the scenes look at the Learning Genome Project. ¬†My plan was to do this in video form using Screenium or Screeny. Those plans were foiled when NEITHER worked even with updates. ¬†#sigh ¬†Instead, I’ll write out my story and take you on a picture journey of how it all took place. ¬†If you haven’t had a chance to lend a helping hand, it is not too late. ¬†Honestly, even $1 makes such a BIG difference! ¬†If everyone of my readers gave just $1, this would be taken care of tonight and we would be able to start the next phase of development. Click here to help out now!

I come from a family of entrepreneurs. ¬†If it doesn’t exist or it can be done better, that is what you do. ¬†This mind-set can be a bit of a curse…once I get an idea in my head, it is like a broken record that plays over and over until I do something about it. ¬†My dad is prime example of this, he started Koostik with a styrofoam cup and an iPhone. Once the idea was there, it stayed until he saw it realized…in this case that means a growing company and product in Restoration Hardware and Red Envelope. ¬†He is awesome.

For me this process started as I dug through curriculum and worked to supplement it with technology tools. ¬†The idea was to “fill” the gaps with technology tools that would make the curriculum work better for students. ¬†As I went through publisher after publisher, I started realizing that the problem wasn’t a lack of technology (if you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know that is a BIG realization for me). The real problem was that we were trying to address the needs of an incredibly diverse population of kids with a one-size-fits-all curriculum. ¬†The troubling thing for me was that I sat on the committees that made the curriculum decisions. ¬†I was sold (just like everyone else) on the premise that these curricula had “differentiated” instruction. ¬†I have come to hate that term. ¬†You know what it means? ¬†It means that curriculum companies can sell more curriculum because they add in a highlighted section that says “differentiation!” and gives a one-size bigger or one-size smaller approach to the exact same problem. ¬†As I went through all of this curriculum, I couldn’t shake the feeling that adding in a bit of technology wasn’t going to solve the problem.

As a computer teacher, I taught 435 students every week. ¬†I taught the same 435 kids for 6 years. ¬†I saw them grow up, learned what made them tick, watched the frustration grow when they didn’t understand a learning objective. ¬†These kids were amazing. They were brilliant. They all had strengths and weaknesses that made them special. They all have a different understanding and approach to the world. ¬†We were stripping all of that uniqueness away and making them learn everything the same. We were expecting that they would learn the same things, the same way, and at the same time. ¬†Ludicrous! Nothing in life or growth and development happens this way, and yet that is what our education system is built on? ¬†This was really troubling for me. ¬†I couldn’t shake that it shouldn’t be that way.

In 2010 I took a year away from teaching for health reasons. ¬†During that year, I acted as an educational consultant for many area schools. ¬†This period of time re-emphasized those stirrings that I was having about education. This curriculum wasn’t working because it assumed too much sameness. I saw brilliant, gifted kids losing their passions because it wouldn’t get them into the swanky private high school (that looked just like every other school). How sad that we ask kids to give up their areas of gifting to get to the next level of learning. ¬†Something is wrong! ¬†One day I was working my way through curriculum, supplementing the holes with technology tools. ¬†I was listening to Pandora Internet radio. ¬†A song came on that I had never heard before, by an artist that was also new to me. ¬†I frantically searched for something to write on so that I could remember this new find. ¬†I remember thinking, “how amazing that we have come to a place in history where we can use technology to predict something as personal as music.” ¬†I was truly amazed that I could put in one piece of information and through a series of algorithms, Pandora could predict other music I would like. ¬†If it can work with music, surely it could work with curriculum.

This was the birth of that niggling thought that wouldn’t go away. ¬†This was the beginning of the Learning Genome Project. ¬†I had recently been introduced to a programmer (@ianchia) through @Doremigirl on Twitter. ¬†Ian and I had shared many conversations about what education apps could look like. ¬†This time it was my turn to ask a question. ¬†I wanted to know if it was possible to program what was in my head. ¬†“Well of course.” ¬†Ian introduced me to some wireframing tools and I was off and running. ¬†Over the next months, I dreamed up how the Learning Genome would work. ¬†I thought about the students that I wanted something better for. I thought about the frustrations I had as a teacher. I dreamed about a tool that would make the whole process easier.

Teachers share something in common: we all want the very best for our students. ¬†There are a few problems with this. ¬†First, we don’t always get to choose what we will teach. Many times our school or district hands us the curriculum and says, “go.” ¬†This is not conducive to doing the best we know how for every child. ¬†Second, we don’t always know that their is a tool/lesson/resource out there that could make all the difference for each student. ¬†Third, we have a limited time to search for that perfect tool/lesson/resource. ¬†A lot of system problems to overcome. ¬†If Pandora can do this for music, I can do it for education.

I started researching how Pandora works, what happens in the background that makes my experience possible? ¬†Pandora is called the Music Genome Project because it used the Human Genome Project as its inspiration. ¬†In the Human Genome Project, genes are mapped out. ¬†In the Music Genome Project, the “genes” of music are mapped out. ¬†I called my version the Learning Genome Project. ¬†Together, we will map the genes of education, those attributes that help us find commonalities that match the right content to each student at the right time.

First, we need to collect information about the learner. If we don’t know the learner, we can’t know what content best fits their needs. ¬†This is, in short, the best student information system ever.

Next, we have to know enough about the school and the classroom to make recommendations. It does us no good to recommend an iDevice app if the school has no access to that device.

We also have to know something about the lead learner (the teacher).

After we have the profile information, it is critical to know where students are in their learning. What needs to be learned? ¬†This is the individualized learning plan…each student has one.

 

From within the ILP, teachers, students and parents can create and have input on the learning goals.  These learning goals inform what happens in the hub of the genome.

When the learning goal has been identified, the genome “hub” comes into play. This is where resources (lessons, videos, apps, experiments, activities, etc.) are matched and recommended for the student. ¬†Much like Pandora, a learning channel is created.

Teachers (and students) can expand the results to view more information about the recommendation.  From here it can be added to teacher and student planners, and materials for the curriculum can be selected.

Teachers can see all student assignments within their planner. Here they can create groups for overlaps of student learning.  They can also create whole-class events.

After a student completes an activity, they record it within their ePortfolio. ¬†This is all completely integrated. ¬†Within the portfolio they can keep notes, documents, pictures, video and badges. ¬†Badges help students have a bread trail of where they have been in their learning. ¬†Portfolio’s are forever associated with a student, from year to year it travels and grows with them. ¬†Students can also have the option of downloading their portfolio for offline viewing.

In addition to portfolios and planners, the Learning Genome Project includes wiki, blog and photo tools.

Community tools keep students, teachers and parents in collaboration.

My brother and I had many of the same teachers growing up. ¬†We are very different people with 5 years separating us. ¬†My favorite teachers were not his. ¬†We had very similar experiences, the same outstanding teachers. But some teachers connected better with me than him. ¬†How do we help every child have influence of a “favorite” teacher? ¬†I created Twitacad. ¬†Even if that teacher isn’t in the child’s school, there is a blended learning component that makes that connection possible.

Twitacad offers teachers and students a platform for sharing, communicating, and learning.  It is all tied in to the Learning Genome. Everything works together.  Virtual teachers are listed as teachers for parents, students and other teachers to interact with.

The Learning Genome Project has assessment tools built in.  Assessment is based on mastery of a skill or concept.  This is directly related to what is happening in the student portfolio so that students, teachers and parents can view evidences of the learning.

How does content, resources, tools, lessons, apps, videos, etc. get into the genome?  It gets tagged with its learning attributes by incredible teachers around the world like you.  We all contribute to this project and we all benefit from it.

The hub (resource aggregation) portion of the Genome is free to everyone.  Every child deserves an education tailored to them.  Additional portions of the Learning Genome Project (planners, ePortfolios, blogs, wikis, Twitacad) will be a subscription based service.

The Learning Genome Project is not curriculum. ¬†It is a sorting tool that pulls the best options for every child. ¬†Teachers will be able to sort results based on price, Bloom’s Taxonomy level, standard, subject, and type of resource. ¬†This will tell you what curricular resources will best meet every child’s needs. ¬†Every time a resource is used, it gets rated by both student and teacher. Resources that are highest rated will be recommended first.

This is truly a quick overview of the Learning Genome project. ¬†There are so many intricacies and features that will make it revolutionary to education. ¬†The one hang up? I need help funding it! ¬†Sure, I could go and get some venture capitalists to fund it. The problem: I want the force that drives what happens to the Learning Genome Project to be what is best for kids…not what best impacts the bottom line. ¬†I believe that if we all put a little into this project, that we can create something revolutionary. ¬†We can all have a part in transforming education for the world.

I hope you will join me. ¬†I hope that you will realize that $1 and a few minutes is a small price to pay for a resource that has the potential to reach every child in the world. ¬†This is a small price to pay for our future. ¬†We can do this. ¬†Please click here and donate now…then spread the word to everyone you know and encourage them to do the same.

Odds n’ ends

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, General | Posted on 07-12-2011

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This is a random one… so fair warning!

#1¬† An enormous THANK YOU to those who nominated iLearn Technology for the Edublog awards (also known as the Eddies).¬† It is enormously encouraging to be recognized for this little “hobby” I started almost 5 years ago.¬† You all push me forward, challenge me, encourage me and keep me striving for what’s best for kids.¬† I appreciate you!¬† The Edublog awards is a great place to learn about new edu resources that are worth keeping track of. Take a look at the nominees for instant inspiration!

#2¬† I am addicted to Pinterest. Addicted. Sometimes I don’t blog because I spend 3 hours lost in Pinning goodness. If you haven’t checked out Pinterest, now is the time. Now, if only I could tear myself away from Pinterest to actually DO those things I pin. ūüôā¬† You can find my boards by searching “Kelly Tenkely”.

#3¬† On Saturday I will be hosting the first annual “Staci” awards (pronounced Sta cee).¬† Those of you who are fans of the Office will remember the Dunder Mifflin “Dundie” awards.¬† We have the Anastasis Staci awards. It is going to be epic.¬† We have some pretty amazing (read hilarious) awards to give out to our teachers and board members.¬† When you build a dream team staff, get togethers are a WHOLE lot more fun!¬† The jury is still out for picture sharing from the event…there is no telling what will happen.

#4  Speaking of Board Members, we have an incredible board at Anastasis. They are incredibly supportive and approved our desire to send ALL of our staff to EduCon this year!  Philly, I hope you are ready for our awesome. Bam.

#5  Only the best for our Board Members, since they all have iPhones, this is the Christmas gift I am giving this year.  Koostik makes iPhone speakers (amplifies sound without power) out of gorgeous wood.

Full disclosure: I’m a big fan of the creator of Koostik.¬† I like to call him dad. He is a genius. And really talented.¬† And practically perfect in every way (anyone pick up on that Mary Poppins reference?).