TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Jun 26, 2011

Here are this week's features. Clicking the tags in the description area of each listing will present a list of other resources with this topic. | Click here to return to the Featured Sites Archive

 

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ThumbScribes

Grades
3 to 12
3 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Want to create a class or group poem, story, or novella-- even a song? At ThumbScribes (in beta) you can do that easily. There are many genres from which to ...more
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Want to create a class or group poem, story, or novella-- even a song? At ThumbScribes (in beta) you can do that easily. There are many genres from which to choose, and you can be public or private. When using ThumbScribes privately, you will invite your students via email to join in the writing. Scribes are collaborative works, created and passed between ThumbScribes' authors, where each adds a new section to the story, poem, novella, etc.

tag(s): poetry (229), writing (355)

In the Classroom

Challenge your students to collaboratively write a story, poem, or novella using Thumbscribes. Use ThumbScribes in conjunction with Story Writing Tips for Kids (reviewed here), to have students write create a story together. Write a story or poem about a topic being taught in science, a current event, math concept, biography of a hero, or nearly any other subject area. Create a class book at the beginning of the school year to collaboratively share what your students did during the summer months.

Through the "Sneak Peak" you can read any public poem, story, etc. In order to write or "co+create" you will need a screen name and e-mail. Once you've signed up, you can start by creating a new scribe. All you need to do is click on the "Start Writing" button at the top of the page.

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Drop Event - dropevent.com

Grades
K to 12
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This fabulous site allows you to post and share photos related to a certain event with others. Create an "event" and share the link for others to upload photos. Only ...more
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This fabulous site allows you to post and share photos related to a certain event with others. Create an "event" and share the link for others to upload photos. Only the creator of the event must register on the site. All others upload without registering. Email photos to the event site as well. Set permissions for instant sharing or moderate pictures before they show on the Drop Event site. Choose to make your event public or private. Note: If public, it will show up in Drop Event searches and be visible to others. When you create your event, answer questions to create your free account. Note: Most recent events appear on the main page of this site. Be sure to check for appropriate content before showing to students. Consider directing students to the URL of the actual event page.

tag(s): images (261), photography (160)

In the Classroom

This site is great for students to upload photos from field trips or other events. Keep track of project accomplishments by uploading pictures of the process. Have a class project such as DNA models or types of plants? Get them out of the classroom by taking pictures and uploading them to Drop Event. Make a collection for local history or photos of lab results during a bridge-building or pumpkin seed counting activity. Collect images that students can then use in Thinglink, reviewed here, "lab reports" about their discoveries. Place the link to the event page you have created and invite parents to view the creations. Take snapshots to create a Day In The Life event for your classroom. What better way to share memories! Have parent volunteers? Have them upload their pictures too! Whatever project or event you have, sharing and collaborating with Drop Event is easy and fun!

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BookRix - Gunner Siewert

Grades
3 to 12
4 Favorites 0  Comments
 
BookRix is a very cool program for readers and writers! You don't even have to register to read or listen to a book. It's all free. If you or your ...more
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BookRix is a very cool program for readers and writers! You don't even have to register to read or listen to a book. It's all free. If you or your students are aspiring authors, you can register and publish your writing here, again for free.

tag(s): audio books (32), creative writing (167), writing (355)

In the Classroom

There are several ways you can use this site. For young readers and writers: Select a story from the children's book area. Use your whiteboard or projector and select a story to read with your students. Then as a class, have the students change the ending of the story, or write a sequel. You can then publish this class book on BookRix. Older students can publish their poems, short stories, current event articles, persuasive writing for an issue they are into... for free. Some teachers have their students write novels for National Novel Writing Month, and at BookRix they will be able to publish them. Don't miss the great collection of audio books at TeachersFirst, found here.

Books are tagged, so you can search by keywords. You can also go to the "Books" tab and search by "Popular Categories." Click on the "See all" to find the "Children's Books" category. If your intent is to publish yours or your student's writing, then you will need to know how to navigate the site. You have three choices for the book format: text only, illustrated book, and audio book.

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Alternative to... - alternativeto.net

Grades
K to 12
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Use Alternative to... and find a new alternative to one of your favorite online tools. Use the social-network powered database to suggest the new application. Find featured applications...more
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Use Alternative to... and find a new alternative to one of your favorite online tools. Use the social-network powered database to suggest the new application. Find featured applications ready to view. Use the tabs below to find the applications with the "Most views," "Most likes," "Recent," or even those that do not have an alternative. Join/follow the site to vote on favorite and alternative apps as well as uploading new applications to be considered.

tag(s): social networking (113)

In the Classroom

Click on one of the applications to see a great list of alternatives that may meet your needs or those of your students. Offer this site as a means for students to differentiate and express their understanding of the content in different ways. In a technology class, provide time for groups to explore the variety of options and report on ease of use and features for each. Be sure to check whether the sites listed are blocked by any filters in your school first.

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Study boost - Studyboost.com

Grades
9 to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
  
This site allows you to meet your students where they spend their lives (text messaging, Facebook, chat, etc..). Looking to help students with study review questions? Create a list...more
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This site allows you to meet your students where they spend their lives (text messaging, Facebook, chat, etc..). Looking to help students with study review questions? Create a list of questions and answers that students can answer using SMS texts or through Facebook and other chat services. Add Studyboosts's text number to your phone and send a text with the verification code to begin using the service. For chat, friend or add Studyboost as a contact using the verification code as well. Follow the easy to understand introduction video on using Studyboost. Text or enter into chat the word Go to begin. Use the other simple commands to continue through the questions.

tag(s): chat (52), quizzes (95)

In the Classroom

Create study questions for chapter, unit, or final exams. Ask student groups to create questions that can then be entered into this service. Be sure to provide questions to students who are unable or not permitted to use Studyboost with texts or chats.

Familiarity with texting and using chat is needed to view the questions and answers. Be sure to check out the video for the very simple to follow directions. Use the manage tab to manage account, friends, messaging tools, and study groups. Click on the home tab for getting started information and to search Public batches. Search and invite friends. Click Create a new batch to enter questions and answers. Students can customize how the questions and answers are received including the frequency of the questions.
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Daytum - Ryan Case and Nicholas Feltron

Grades
K to 12
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Are you looking to collect and analyze class data easily? Choose from 16 different ways to view data. Decide the items you wish to count (the free plan allows up ...more
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Are you looking to collect and analyze class data easily? Choose from 16 different ways to view data. Decide the items you wish to count (the free plan allows up to 1000 different things to be counted.) Also determine the category the items can be placed into (use up to 24 different categories in the free account.) Add a statement panel to your display panel to add notes and make comments about the data. Be sure to click the How To at the bottom of the home page to learn how to use the Daytum site. Also click the "Watch A Screencast" link for additional help. Data can also be collected via text or Twitter tweets.

tag(s): data (149), infographics (42), statistics (122), visualizations (14)

In the Classroom

Some of the best data to collect is anything that is a habit: types of drinks students drink at home, hours watching TV/playing games/doing homework, meals/fast food, etc. Use the site to collect data from other students or classes for a Math, Social Studies, or Psychology class. Use Daytum for a Science class by counting animals at a feeder, recycling efforts, amount of paper used in the classroom, days of rain/no rain, etc. Anything that can be counted can be used by Daytum! Be sure to identify students who will be counters and recorders of the data.

Before using Daytum, be sure to follow the directions on the How To page. Be sure to decide the goal first and the data to be collected. Having an idea of the kind of data to be collected as well as how it will be displayed is necessary before using. This tool is best used as a class activity rather than creating individual accounts. Create a class account and use a class computer or computer attached to a projector or whiteboard to collect data as students enter the room. Set up the parameters of the data to be collected (or enlist the help of an ambitious student.)

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Simple Diagrams - Daniel McQuillen

Grades
5 to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Simple Diagrams is a free download desktop application useful to create diagrams and flowcharts. This easy-to-use tool turns ideas and concepts into a visual explanation. You merely...more
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Simple Diagrams is a free download desktop application useful to create diagrams and flowcharts. This easy-to-use tool turns ideas and concepts into a visual explanation. You merely drag and drop icons from the available library onto either a chalkboard or a whiteboard background. Insert personal photos or type written notes on virtual index cards or post-its directly into a diagram. Select colors, adjust alignment, magnify or minimize images and arrange content in layers. One annoying feature of the free version is that it is constantly asking users to upgrade to the paid full version. The free version does not allow you to save their diagram but it is possible to export work as a PNG file on your computer. Insert the PNG file directly into a presentation or interactive whiteboard lesson. Simple Diagrams uses an Adobe AIR platform and runs smoothly on Mac, Windows, and Linux.

tag(s): charts and graphs (195), drawing (77), graphic organizers (42)

In the Classroom

Simple Diagrams is a useful tool for any subject area. Project diagrams onto an interactive whiteboard or projector and write upon them while lecturing. Ask students to demonstrate their understanding of a lesson by creating a diagram of their own. For example, students can demonstrate the chain of events behind the French Revolution, map out battle strategies, or explain the cause and effect of Industrial Age with a diagram. Science teachers may want to ask students to explain the steps of a science experiment or explain a water cycle with a diagram. Solve word problems with diagrammatic illustrations or create family trees full of digital photographs. PE teachers may find this a great tool to use to use when discussing strategic plays or relay races. Suggest using diagrams as a study tool for finals. Simple Diagrams provides a unique opportunity for students to create a visual explanation of key concepts.

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Zooburst - zooburst.com

Grades
K to 12
9 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Create a 3D digital pop-up book that can be seen without the 3D movie glasses. Be sure to check out the Gallery to view great examples. Use ZooBurst's editing tools ...more
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Create a 3D digital pop-up book that can be seen without the 3D movie glasses. Be sure to check out the Gallery to view great examples. Use ZooBurst's editing tools with public domain (or Creative Commons) pictures or clipart to create your book. Create an account, choose a title, and read their instructions. Take your idea, manipulate with the simple to use tools, and add text, images, and animation. Edit the angle of the pop-up, speed of the pop-up, and even view your creation from a variety of angles. Use the left side panel to search the web for an image by simply entering a search term. Upload a picture from your computer easily. Click on the picture to add to your book. Drag and drop these elements into various positions in the book. Use the right side panel to change size, rotation, and color of the images. Add a chat bubble to the pictures and fill with text. Use the text box below the book to describe the scene on the page. Add new pages or switch between pages through use of the bottom window. Easily save your book and find your creations in the My Stuff link along the top. For those interested in Augmented Reality, here is a screencast that shows it in action.The free version of the tool currently allows 10 books up to 10 pages each. A free iPad app is available. Premium memberships offer more features--at a price.

tag(s): creative writing (167)

In the Classroom

Create a Zooburst book to embed in a wiki, blog, or site to provide back to school information about your class or teaching team. Introduce the teacher(s), subjects, curriculum content, contact information, sites to view, etc. Use for creative writing in any subject area. Have students: make a book to recreate a historical event (or create an alternative ending), explain a scientific term in simpler words, write their own story, or explain how a math concept can be applied in the real world. Create a book and read it to the students during story time. Use Zooburst to create an introductory story for a new concept or unit. Use as a means for students to deliver presentations, reports, or explain complex concepts. You can put together a story using digital pictures from around your school and share it with your students during story time. Or have students work on stories in groups or individually to exercise their creativity, and maybe produce the next classic children's book.

If you have a gifted one or two in your class, set up a free class Zooburst account for them to create extensions of the curriculum in Zooburst: a Civil War tale, a modern day restaging of a Shakespeare play, a biography of a famous scientist or author.

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H.S.I. - College of William & Mary School of Education

Grades
5 to 12
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H.S.I. or Historical Scene Investigation takes the work out of locating primary sources, and provides you with an interesting way for students to "investigate" history. This site presents...more
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H.S.I. or Historical Scene Investigation takes the work out of locating primary sources, and provides you with an interesting way for students to "investigate" history. This site presents "case histories" for "Dropping the Bomb," "Antonio the Slave," "Children in the Civil War," "The Boston Massacre" and many others. For each "case" there is a student view and a teacher view. The teacher view is a lesson plan with a list of objectives, additional contextual information and resources as well as instructional strategies, and suggestions for such things as age group and further questions to explore. The student view is set up as a mystery to solve. Students are presented with the situation and given a question to guide their inquiry. There are three steps for students to follow "Investigating the Evidence" where students are provided links to appropriate digital primary sources, "Searching for Clues" where students are provided with a set of questions to guide their analysis of the evidence, and "Cracking the Case" when students give their answers and cite the evidence they found to support their answers. This site is definitely the C.S.I for history!

tag(s): american revolution (86), atomic bomb (11), civil war (145), primary sources (84), slavery (72)

In the Classroom

You might want to do the first investigation as a class using your projector or interactive whiteboard. Have students help analyze and annotate the information they are learning from the primary sources. This way you can also point out different points of view on the topic so students will know to look for this in other investigations. Have students "become one of the people" in the historical event and put together a web page or "Glog" (online poster), using a site such as Glogster reviewed here portraying that person and justifying their point of view. This could be done in small groups where each student, or partners, portrays a different (or opposing) character in the event and tells the story from their point of view, citing the evidence to justify that point of view.

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GoodReads - Good Reads

Grades
10 to 12
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Goodreads--it's an intersection between Facebook, your local book club, and your neighborhood library. While it is a social networking site (and TF warns all teachers of the complications...more
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Goodreads--it's an intersection between Facebook, your local book club, and your neighborhood library. While it is a social networking site (and TF warns all teachers of the complications and dangers of encouraging such sites in a school setting), English and social science teachers, especially, will find benefit in the intellectual commentaries written about certain books. Perusing this site is like viewing the personal library of all your friends. You may want to create your own Goodreads page to prove to your students and colleagues that you take reading seriously. It will encourage your students to do likewise. You may even want to form a network of teachers to post valuable educational books for professional development. Of course, if monitored closely, your high school students will enjoy creating their own Goodreads page to promote their favorite 'good reads.' We definitely suggest that you watch the 'tour' at the top right to learn about the inner workings of this site. Don't miss the Quotes area, available by clicking "more quotes" after the featured one in the sidebar.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): authors (118), independent reading (125), quotations (24), social networking (113)

In the Classroom

Share this site to promote independent reading as a life habit or as a way to facilitate book discussion and book sharing among your mature students. Since the site is intended for the general public, not just for schools, it includes ALL books and open discussions. Be sure to have discussions about safety concerns in an online environment. You might also want to use a whole-class account to be able to monitor activity. Have students initial their own comments. Use the quotes available on this site as writing prompts or daily class starters or encourage students to "collect" their own favorite quotes about writing and other topics. For more visual students, suggest that they create an online multimedia response space for their independent reading using Glogster, reviewed here. They can include quotes, images, and responses to the books they discover via Goodreads.

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Share Care - Sharecare, Inc.

Grades
6 to 12
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Explore health questions and answers with this free site. View the most asked questions and click for specific information. Be sure to scroll left and right to view all topics. ...more
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Explore health questions and answers with this free site. View the most asked questions and click for specific information. Be sure to scroll left and right to view all topics. Click on a topic. View the answer to the question in the pop-up as well as related information and images. Answers are provided by contributors from the health field. Be aware that any health site includes topics such as reproductive health. Preview and decide whether this site is appropriate in your school community.

tag(s): body systems (56), dental health (23), diseases (66), fitness (49), human body (119), nutrition (154)

In the Classroom

Use this site to learn more about the human body. Allow students time to peruse the site and ask their own questions. Encourage students to ask their own question if they cannot find an answer. Teach critical thinking by searching further into the web for additional information and finding similar/dissenting views. Discuss the validity of information found on these sites. Create prompts that can be used to write blog posts about the various topics. Allow students to choose a topic of interest and create blog posts linking back to the content. Students can comment on each other's posts to learn health and wellness information. Challenge students to research a specific health topic and create an online, interactive poster known as a "glog," using GlogsterEDU, reviewed here.
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Easy Prompter - Michael Drob

Grades
4 to 12
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Ever think that you could look more professional if you used a teleprompter just like the President? Try this free version then! Simply copy and paste your text into the ...more
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Ever think that you could look more professional if you used a teleprompter just like the President? Try this free version then! Simply copy and paste your text into the field, highlight words if desired, and then click "Start prompt." Click play on the next screen to start the prompter. Speed up or slow down the speed of the prompter using the "+" or "-" buttons. The size of the prompter text can also be increased easily. Users must be able to copy and past text from one application to another. Player controls look much like standard video player controls. Follow the demo to watch how it is used or take a few moments to play with it. Close the site, and the information in the prompter is lost. Want to use this without the Internet? Download the program (click "standalone portable version") for free and drag to a flash drive to have anywhere.

tag(s): speeches (17)

In the Classroom

Use this site to feed information used in group or individual presentations to the class. Set this up on another computer when recording video and audio recordings. Why use this site? Information fed through the prompter can be read at a steady and consistent pace. Teachers promoting oral reading fluency can make practice more engaging by having students pretend they are newscasters. If you advise the school announcement crew, try this handy tool to make them sound and look more professional.
 
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