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Science and Technology Office of Naval Research

What it is: The Office of Naval Research has a great interactive site filled with science and technology exploration for students.  On the site, students can explore oceanography, space, and blow the ballast.  Each section of the site has sub categories that let students narrow down their focus. ...

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8 of the Best Research Tools for Inquiry

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Classroom Management, Download, Evaluate, Inquiry, Internet Safety, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 03-01-2017

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8 of the best research tools for inquiry

As an inquiry based school, Anastasis students (and teachers) spend a LOT of time researching. Our students essentially build their own living curriculum as they follow a line of inquiry. Below are my very favorite research tools for students.

Research platforms:

1. Kiddle– This is a kid-friendly, Google Safe powered search engine. What I appreciate about Kiddle is the ease of use for younger learners. Kiddle searches safe sites that were written FOR kids. Kiddle editors hand choose sites that deliver content that is age-appropriate and written in easy to understand language. Best of all, Kiddle’s image and video searches brings about the results you would expect it to for kids. When a student innocently types in “kitten” looking for cute pictures to add to a presentation, they get actual pictures of the feline variety rather than the scantily dressed woman named “Kitten.” So, winning!

The downside to Kiddle: if you have older students doing research on social justice issues, “sex trafficking statistics in America,” they will get an “Oops” message for questionable language. It might not be robust enough as a research tool for jr. high and high school students depending on the issues being explored.

Kiddle- Safe visual search engine for kids

2. Boolify– The best thing about this Google Safe powered search engine is the way it teaches learners how to correctly use a search engine and how to refine their searches. Boolify teaches this skill by asking them to use keywords and Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) in a search to refine results using a drag/drop interface. Students drag elements and follow prompts to learn how to correctly complete a search to get the best possible results.

Boolify- teach students to search smarter

3. Wolfram Alpha– This is not really a search engine, but more of a computational knowledge engine. It is a fantastic tool for comparing information (think people in history, weather in different parts of world, etc), exploring mathematics, units and measures, data/statistical information, science, geography, technology…truly you should just go play with this knowledge computational engine because my description isn’t doing justice to the cool things it does! This is a powerful addition to inquiry. My favorite feature is the ability to compare things side by side. The nature of inquiry often has students exploring relationships between events, people, places, etc., Wolfram makes it really easy to do this!

Using Wolfram Alpha for Inquiry Research

 

4.  Creative Commons– This is a great place to search for images, videos, sounds that are listed under the Creative Commons license that lets learners find content they can share, reuse, and mix into something new. The caution I would add here for kids: Anyone can list content under the Creative Commons license and depending on the search, some questionable material may pop up. This one is best used with supervision! Creative Commons is a great place to start a conversation about licensing and using content created by others.

Creative Commons Search

Resources to help learners work through research independently

5. Michael Friermood who writes The Thinker Builder has a great graphic organizer to help learners work toward independence in their research. You can find it HERE.

Inquiry Research Graphic Organizer from The Thinker Builder

 

6. Create a culture of thinking by giving your learners the tools to help them through a variety of thinking routines. This is an awesome resource when students hit a wall with a “closed” inquiry question (one that is too narrow and has one answer). It is equally useful when students aren’t sure how they can expand their research. These thinking routines will help them “open” questions and think from new vantage points and angles that may set them off down a path of new or expanded inquiry.

Tracy Ann Clark created this fun-to-use, and great resource for helping learners explore these thinking routines…because who doesn’t love a cootie catcher?! Find it HERE.

Visible Thinking Routines Cootie Catcher Tracy Ann Clark

 

7. Anatomy of a Google Search- this PDF helps learners understand the how and why behind a search.

Download the PDF HERE.

Anatomy of a Search- Free PDF Download

8. Google Modifiers cheat sheet- this is a good one to explore with students and then hang on the wall as a reminder!

Download the PDF HERE.

Google Modifier Cheat Sheet for Students

Want to learn more about how we run our inquiry powered k-8 classrooms at Anastasis? Join us for our conference in February! 5Sigma Education Conference

The Literacy Shed: a treasure trove of ideas

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Character Education, Create, Evaluate, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Websites | Posted on 25-06-2012

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What it is:  The Literacy Shed is a fantastic blog/site I learned about on Twitter from @missmac100, thanks Carol! The Literacy Shed is maintained by primary teacher Rob Smith and is packed full of teaching ideas all related to literacy.  The site is separated into “sheds,” each with a different genre.  There are short films images and book suggestions that are each accompanied by a teaching idea that includes discussion questions and writing prompts.  The Literacy Shed has plenty of ideas to keep you going all year long!   This truly is a treasure trove that will keep you coming back again and again. You will find the following “sheds” on the Literacy Shed:

  • Fantasy
  • Ghostly
  • Other Cultures
  • Inspiration
  • Moral
  • Picture Book
  • Great Animation
  • Love
  • Inventors
  • Fairytales
  • Reading
  • Poetry
  • Adventure
  • Mystery
  • Film Trailer
  • Fun
  • Lighthouse
  • Flying Books
  • Resource
  • Non-literacy
  • Weblinks

How to integrate The Literacy Shed into the classroom: The Literacy Shed is a great one-stop-shop for inspiration and ideas to improve literacy and critical thinking in your classroom.  The ideas can be used with a variety of age groups, different ages will pick up on different themes and discussions using the same videos/images/books.  Students will become familiar with a variety of genres and become comfortable with the characteristics of each.

There is something here for every classroom and unit.  As I said, it is a treasure trove of resources!  Use the ideas in the Literacy Shed to spark meaningful discussions and writing direction for your students.  I always like to start with discussion and end with a written reflection because it gives students the opportunity to listen to other ideas, and then solidify their own ideas and reflections in writing.

Tips: You can follow the Literacy Shed on Twitter: @redgierob

Please leave a comment and share how you are using The Literacy Shed in  your classroom!

Science and Technology Office of Naval Research

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 02-04-2012

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What it is: The Office of Naval Research has a great interactive site filled with science and technology exploration for students.  On the site, students can explore oceanography, space, and blow the ballast.  Each section of the site has sub categories that let students narrow down their focus.  The majority of the site is purely informational with accompanying images and short quizzes.  My favorite portion of the site is the seasonal constellations.  It really is the star of the site (no pun intended).  The constellation interactive focuses on the constellations that can be viewed during each season.  When students click on a season, they will see the constellations and options to show/hide the pictures, lines and names of the stars.  The explanation of constellations and the seasonal impact on what students will see in the night sky is fantastic.  In the Teacher’s Corner, you will find great animations for each topic (space, oceanography, and submarines).  These are fantastic visualizations of complex concepts made simple for students.

How to integrate Science and Technology Office of Naval Research into the classroom: The Science and Technology Office of Naval Research isn’t the flashiest site I’ve seen.  In fact, it looks a whole lot like a site that was created in 1995.  I recommend it, in spite of the aged design, because of the wealth of information that it offers students and the student-friendly language and explanations it uses.  This is a great site for students to conduct a research project in the early years.  The information is concise, easy to understand, and offered in bite-size chunks.  Students can approach the topic of oceanography, submarines and space independently.
As I said above, the constellations based on season is pretty neat. It shows students the constellation and allows them to overlay the image with additional information as they want it.  If your students are studying seasons or constellations, this is a nice visual and description.  Students could explore the constellations on classroom computers, or better yet, together as a class on a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Google Sky is amazing, but sometimes it can be overwhelming with detail before students understand the basics of what they are looking for in the night sky.  The images on this site are a great first step that can lead to a next level of detail in sites like Google Sky.  I love that technology lets us bring the whole universe into our classrooms as a smaller scale planetarium.  As a side note, if you have an iPad…go download Go Skywatch now. You will thank me!
Be sure to check out the animation section, these are wonderful for introducing students to complex concepts.  The animations would be great on classroom computers as part of a science center rotation.  They are perfect for sharing with the whole class on an interactive whiteboard! At Anastasis, students keep a running vocabulary collection where they create a “glossary” that they can refer back to. They do this in Evernote, these animations are perfect for linking to within the glossaries so that they can refer back to an illustration of the word.
Tips: The Science and Technology Office of Naval Research includes a teacher resource section.  This is where you will find the Animation Gallery I mentioned above.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Science and Technology Office of Naval Research in  your classroom!

Woopid Video Tutorials

Posted by admin | Posted in inspiration, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 08-12-2008

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What it is:   Woopid is one of the best sites I have seen for technology training video tutorials.  You can find a video about nearly every gadget or computer question you may have.  The videos are very easy to search by category or keyword.  Video categories include Hardware, Internet, Mac, and Windows.  Each category has a number of sub categories, I am amazed at the number and quality of videos here! Don’t see the tutorial you need?  Send in a request and Woopid may choose your suggestion for the next training video.

 

How to integrate Woopid into the classroom:  I can’t tell you how much I learn through online tutorials like these.   The computer skills that I have did not come from a classroom, I generally learn from interacting with video and written tutorials.  I love these videos because they are easy to follow and understand.  I think teaching students how to teach themselves is a valuable skill and Woopid helps you do that.  Give students a few resource sites like Woopid, then give them a task.  Don’t teach them how to complete the task, let them use the resources to find the information they need and teach themselves.  You will be amazed at what your students can accomplish when they learn how to learn!  Woopid is also a great site to pass onto colleagues!

 

Tips:  Parents may benefit from Woopid at home, many times parents don’t know how to set up filters and parental controls on their  personal Internet, Woopid can help out!

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

Teacher Book Wizard

Posted by admin | Posted in Language Arts, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 27-03-2008

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What it is: Teacher Book Wizard is an amazing free tool from Scholastic. It provides teachers with the book search tools you have wished for. Search the 50,000 book data base (from all different publishers, not just Scholastic) with several searching options. Search options include: leveled reading (grade level, Lexie Framework, guided reading, or DRA), a quick search when you know what you are looking for, Book Alike to find similar books at the reading level you need, and a list exchange where you and other teachers can share book lists. The Teacher Book Wizard has quizzes and other resources to use with the books you find.

How to integrate Teacher Book Wizard into your curriculum: Do you have students who have one favorite book that they read over and over but never venture out to other books? Use the Book Alike feature in Teacher Book Wizard to find similar books at the correct reading level. You might just find your students a new favorite! Create your own leveled reader library in the classroom using the Leveled Reading tool. Keep track of your book lists and look through other teachers lists with the List Exchange. This is an awesome tool for teachers and librarians, you may find yourself using it on a daily basis to hunt down the perfect book for every student!

Tips: Click on the Take a Tour button for a full video tour of all that the Teacher Book Wizard has to offer.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Teacher Book Wizard in your classroom.

Sketchcast (see post below)

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Blogs, Fun & Games, Interactive book, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Video Tutorials, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 21-01-2008

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