TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Aug 28, 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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Learning to Give - Points of Light Institute

Grades
K to 12
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The goal of this site is to educate youth about philanthropy and giving their time and knowledge for the global good. To do this, they offer over 1400 free lesson ...more
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The goal of this site is to educate youth about philanthropy and giving their time and knowledge for the global good. To do this, they offer over 1400 free lesson plans for teachers, parents, and community leaders. Lessons are coded to state standards and can be searched by grade level, keyword, subject, or academic or philanthropy standard. Some lessons are geared toward private or religious schools and are clearly labeled as such. Lessons include subject, key concepts, vocabulary, objectives, materials needed, approximate time, procedures, extensions, handouts, and much more. An example of a grade 3-5 lesson would be Cool Kids Compost which explores responsible use of resources by gathering data about lunchroom waste. Don't let the concept of philanthropy keep you from exploring the site, there are many great classroom lessons available for all subjects.

tag(s): african american (113), animal homes (41), animals (276), charts and graphs (195), colonial america (107), communities (35), data (148), diversity (36), ecology (135), environment (317), heroes (24), money (192), recycling (57)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a resource for all subject matters, search for subject and browse resources. Share with other teachers in your building or district including teachers of the arts. Get your students involved! Challenge cooperative learning groups to create a multimedia presentation using one of many TeachersFirst Edge tools reviewed here discussing one of the topics at this site.

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Story Blocks - Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy

Grades
K to 1
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This early literacy site contains many video clips to assist parents and teachers in getting students ready to read. Rhymes and songs are modeled for use with younger children. ...more
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This early literacy site contains many video clips to assist parents and teachers in getting students ready to read. Rhymes and songs are modeled for use with younger children. Each aspect of literacy is explained before you hear the targeted text. Materials are available in both Spanish and English.

tag(s): literacy (103), poetry (228), rhymes (33), songs (52)

In the Classroom

Use the songs and chants on these videos to interest children in reading. Many songs and rhymes have actions that the children can do while saying the text. Have the children lead the class once they are familiar with offerings. Project the rhymes on your interactive whiteboard and follow along with the motions on the screen. Write down some of the words in the song and use them as sight words for the week. Have student helpers hold up the "sight word" as it is shared. Choose 3-5 new words from each rhyme. Share this site with ESL and learning support staff.

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Interactive Whiteboard Resources - Woodland Grange Primary School

Grades
K to 8
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This site offers a growing bank of resources for elementary teachers to use with interactive whiteboards or projectors. If you don't have a whiteboard, files can be opened on computers...more
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This site offers a growing bank of resources for elementary teachers to use with interactive whiteboards or projectors. If you don't have a whiteboard, files can be opened on computers for individual use. Files include Excel, Flash, PowerPoint, Word and other formats to download. Use the links at the top of the page to find the appropriate grade range beginning with preschool (foundation) through KS3 (roughly equivalent to middle school). Within each grade level are resources divided by topic such as mathematics, literacy or science. Be sure to check out the "Amusements" section as it isn't just for fun; this category includes activities such as jumbled words and memory games. Sign up for the free mailing list to be notified when new activities are added. You can also add your own resources to the site for others to use. While testing this site, the editor noticed a few of the links either take extremely long to open or don't work at all. However, we still felt this was a great find, since nearly everything else worked perfectly.

tag(s): fluency (23), iwb (31), literacy (103), number sense (96), numbers (203)

In the Classroom

Introduce activities to your classroom then use this site as a learning center (use on computer if you don't have an interactive whiteboard.) These activities are perfect for at-home practice so share the site with parents through your classroom newsletter or blog and include practice for homework.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Little Bird Tales - Little Wings

Grades
K to 8
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It's as easy as one, two, three to create an online story book that uses your own artwork, photographs, text, and voice. Little Bird also has an "art pad" so ...more
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It's as easy as one, two, three to create an online story book that uses your own artwork, photographs, text, and voice. Little Bird also has an "art pad" so you don't have to scan and upload drawings; you can create the drawings in the program. Little Bird Tales has a short video explaining each step on the home page. Once the stories are complete, you can place a link to the story on a web page or wiki, or email it to parents, students, etc. This is a great way to publish student writing. This program is free and was created specifically for ages 3 to 14 as a safe, advertisement free web environment.

tag(s): creative writing (166), descriptive writing (41), digital storytelling (144), expository writing (44), narrative (24), persuasive writing (55), preK (281), stories and storytelling (33), writing (359)

In the Classroom

The possibilities for using this program are limitless. Choose a story from the public section of the program, or create your own. Use your interactive whiteboard and projector to show students the story and how easy it is to put their story on this program. Little Bird can be used in science and math for students to demonstrate their knowledge of a unit learned, by explaining it in three ways: verbally, drawing, and using text. Create myths and stories in language arts classes, or students can review a book they've read. In social studies, students can create reports on a country, time period, or famous person. Students can work individually, in pairs, or in small groups. You might want to have this program open on a computer in your classroom for students to use when they are finished with other work. Share the urls of student reports and stories on your web page or wiki.

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Curiosity - Discovery Channel

Grades
8 to 12
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See fascinating questions contributed to Discovery by actual people. View the multimedia answers to understand the facts about to the question. Apply to become an expert to help answer...more
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See fascinating questions contributed to Discovery by actual people. View the multimedia answers to understand the facts about to the question. Apply to become an expert to help answer questions. Select subject topics along the bottom to view questions. Warning: there are sexually related questions. You will want to preview before sharing in class. And you may also want to make this site a teacher-lead activity only.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): questioning (31), sexuality (14)

In the Classroom

Looking for an answer to a student question? Check here first. The answer may be waiting for you! Promote scientific curiosity by featuring a question a week as a class intro. Consider creating a similar page on your class site (or wiki) sharing student questions to guide student research and presentation of answers in an engaging manner. Challenge more able students to add their own thinking questions/answers as alternatives to curriculum they have already mastered. Not comfortable with wikis? Check out the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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iNudge - Hobnox

Grades
3 to 12
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Create music simply! Use this tool to create your own music and embed it in your class blog or site. Choose from 8 instruments, and click the squares to hear ...more
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Create music simply! Use this tool to create your own music and embed it in your class blog or site. Choose from 8 instruments, and click the squares to hear sound patterns. Add more instruments to get the mix you want. Combine them, change the tempo, and add other effects. Share by URL or using the embed code.

tag(s): musical notation (35), sounds (68)

In the Classroom

Use the songs in a writing class as a story prompt. In a language class, list the adjectives and adverbs come to mind while listening to the music prompt. Create music to describe a biome or an animal or plant. Use music to represent culture or reactions to an event in history. Use music to add pizazz to a blog or site. Identify various sounds and the mood they create. View the most listened and newest iNudges found on the site.

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Squareleaf - Squareleaf.net

Grades
4 to 12
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Use this great online "sticky-note" website to get organized. Squareleaf is a simple to use online tool that uses colors and shapes to stay organized. Sort information using the color...more
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Use this great online "sticky-note" website to get organized. Squareleaf is a simple to use online tool that uses colors and shapes to stay organized. Sort information using the color coding and different shaped boxes. Separate information from your personal life and daily tasks. Easily manage daily, weekly or monthly tasks by using this simple to use tool. You can review your post-its from any web connected device.

tag(s): note taking (32)

In the Classroom

Students can easily store their notes and share with others. Use this tool to manage projects and schedule tasks. Help students organize the specific tasks necessary to finish a project. Use class discussion to decide what needs to be done and the intermediate steps to completing projects. Use different colors and shapes to manage different projects. Teachers of both gifted and learning support students can use this tool together with students to build organizational skills. Teachers can use this tool to manage and plan short term tasks, longer term units, and graduate class assignments from their busy lives.

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Class Jump - Classjump.com

Grades
7 to 12
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Looking for a free web site to communicate with parents and students? Class Jump is a free educational platform. Determine your learning goals as you set up your "classroom." Post ...more
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Looking for a free web site to communicate with parents and students? Class Jump is a free educational platform. Determine your learning goals as you set up your "classroom." Post homework and upload documents for students to access. Add events to the class calendar. Post articles of interest and links to be viewed. Receive homework and other documents from your students. Create a message board (forum) for use by all the students in your class. Upload photos and create as many albums as needed. Create an account. Creating a school identity requires a paid account. Manage multiple classes with this easy to understand interface.

tag(s): classroom management (135), forum (9), social networking (112)

In the Classroom

Manage your classroom with this resource. Use as a class hub to manage documents, photos, and files. Be sure to define the use of the message board. You may wish to create a practice student account to see what the tool looks like as a student. Be sure to share this link so students and parents can access both in and out of the classroom. Use Class Jump in teacher ed programs to show up and coming teachers how a website can enhance instruction.

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Project Based Learning for the 21st Century - Buck Institute for Education

Grades
K to 12
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Looking for more information on Project Based Learning (PBL)? Find videos, information, and examples on this site. Though some material on this site is for sale, there are plenty of...more
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Looking for more information on Project Based Learning (PBL)? Find videos, information, and examples on this site. Though some material on this site is for sale, there are plenty of free materials. Read about PBL, watch videos, or download word or pdf documents found under the Tools section. Sign up to participate in the forum for more interaction with the content and other educators using PBL. Click the PBL Do-It Yourself bar along the right side for more information and links. Be sure to check out the tweets on the bottom of the front page for great ideas and links to use.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): assessment (100)

In the Classroom

Use these ideas in any subject area classroom. Aspects of PBL can be used in introductory activities or whole units. Use driving questions to stimulate student curiosity to know more about how curriculum applies to their lives. Use this PBL framework to give students freedom to research aspects of the content or problem of personal interest. Be sure to view the resources to adequately plan for a successful unit project that incorporates 21st century skills utilizing engaging activities and content.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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5 Minute Mystery - Mystery Competition, LLC

Grades
4 to 12
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This mystery reading game helps increase reading comprehension and critical thinking skills in an innovative way. The basic game is free. You can sign up to have two mysteries a ...more
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This mystery reading game helps increase reading comprehension and critical thinking skills in an innovative way. The basic game is free. You can sign up to have two mysteries a week sent to you, or you can use their archive. There is a "How to Play" section where you can view a video, open pdf instructions, or look at the instructions online. After reading a mystery you select the correct sentences that are clues, and select a character that the clue either exonerates or implicates. Points are awarded for each clue you get correct. For a fee, you can get a premium account that has graphic organizers, questions, and writing suggestions, however, this review is for the free, basic version. Even with the basic program, you can look under lesson plans and find objectives and ideas for your classroom and for creating leagues.

Bonus: There's an app for that! For the iphone, of course!
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): critical thinking (108), mysteries (25), reading comprehension (116), short stories (25)

In the Classroom

Use your projector and interactive whiteboard to show your students the directions for getting points by selecting the correct clues and solving the mystery. To begin with, as a class, read a mystery and discuss what the clues might be and whether they implicate or exonerate each suspect. Once the students have volunteered their ideas for which sentences are clues, submit them to see the score. The program will highlight the answers you should have had, if you got any wrong. Model for your students a discussion about why those are the correct answers and why the ones they submitted weren't. Eventually have this disscussion by themselves in small groups. Those of you with multiple classes will want to create a league for each class.

Eventually you can have small groups of students compete against each other by creating leagues. Have your students come to consensus about the clue sentences and who the real perpetrator is by voting using Thinkmeter reviewed here.

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Deviant Art Muro - Scott Jarkoff, Matthew Stephens, and Angelo Shift

Grades
9 to 12
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Create graphic murals on the computer. DeviantART muro's drawing tool runs in a web browser. It will introduce students to a slightly more complex art making process. DeviantART muro...more
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Create graphic murals on the computer. DeviantART muro's drawing tool runs in a web browser. It will introduce students to a slightly more complex art making process. DeviantART muro has six free drawing tools, color wheels, erasers, fill bucket, eyedropper, and cropping features. This drawing site also provides various tool sizes, allows for opacity adjustments, and color gradation. There are also wonderful online tutorials that range from how to use Photoshop to advanced 3D modeling.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): design (83), drawing (77), graphic design (35), painting (66), photography (160)

In the Classroom

Some previous experience with layer base design software editing is beneficial but not completely necessary. The DeviantART muro drawing tools have a higher level of sophistication, and yet are intuitive to use. There are filters and layering options within the free version. It is possible to import photographs or scanned images into various layers. Save individual files or export student work as a web page. Unfortunately, the export process does not result in a useful file format. Consider having students take a screen shot of their work instead. Clicking the devaintART logo will take students to the public art space. Here the general public has the ability to submit imagery. Although students will not be able to comment or post without an account, they can view submissions easily.

Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have students explore this site independently or in small groups. Use this site as the starting point for individual or group projects. The mural format lends itself to the drafting of school murals or stage backdrops. Consider using this long online drawing space to tell visual stories or map out a character's or historical figure's journey through time. Post a link on your class website to DeviantART muro for access outside of school.

Although users can access the muro creator without signing up for an account, high school students may want to participate in the deviantARTs free social networking site. This may be the personal learning network for juniors and seniors in high school considering a career in the arts are looking for. Students age 16 and older will benefit from an online profile account where they can create personal galleries, develop fans, and find collaborators for projects from across the globe. High school students considering jobs in graphic design, animation, film, illustration, or computer arts can build a professional portfolio to submit to employers, art schools, or potential clients. Users will also benefit from the deviantART critique section that provides constructive criticism from viewers beyond their immediate brick and mortar school. Students will need to create an account in order to use these services. If your students submit their own content (according to school policies, of course), take the time to teach safe ways to submit, commentary etiquette, and the potential for cruelty or rude behavior by anonymous viewers. You may want to monitor the discussion boards for a week or two before deciding if they are appropriate for your school situation.

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Online Writing Resources - Red River College

Grades
5 to 12
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Get ready made, 'downloadable' PowerPoints, Word documents, and online interactive exercises for plagiarism, MLA format, works cited, and grammar. The grammar collection includes such...more
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Get ready made, 'downloadable' PowerPoints, Word documents, and online interactive exercises for plagiarism, MLA format, works cited, and grammar. The grammar collection includes such topics as run-on and fragment sentences, active and passive voice, pronoun case, punctuation, and more. The interactive exercises allow students to practice concepts on their own as the program will tell them which answer is correct.

tag(s): capitalization (19), copyright (47), grammar (216), homonyms (12), homophones (17), parts of speech (68), plagiarism (35), proofreading (19), punctuation (43), sentences (52), spelling (168)

In the Classroom

Online Writing Resources allows you to introduce a concept with the PowerPoint projected on your whiteboard or projector, then, you can choose to have the students practice online with the interactive exercise(s). As a follow up you can use the Word document as class work, homework, or a quiz. Another idea would be to use the Word document or interactive exercises with the entire class where you can annotate the concept you're explaining with your projector and interactive whiteboard. Assign individual students to complete a specific module for an area of writing where they need extra practice.

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Blobz Guide To Electric Circuits - Kids Educational Websites

Grades
5 to 8
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This website is an interactive activity on how electrical circuits operate. Participants can try the activity alone or with up to four other group members. Simple, onscreen instructions...more
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This website is an interactive activity on how electrical circuits operate. Participants can try the activity alone or with up to four other group members. Simple, onscreen instructions allow students to work at their own pace. There is onscreen dialog mixed with activities. This colorful and entertaining game atmosphere will help your students learn without realizing that they are doing so. What is more fun than that?

tag(s): circuits (20), electricity (88)

In the Classroom

Try using this activity after initial vocabulary of electricity has been established in class. Have students work through one section of the site at a time (there are five total.) You might want to have students take online notes about what they are learning by using Postica (reviewed here.) Then use your interactive whiteboard or projector to discuss what they have learned as a class. Post the notes on your web page or wiki for review.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Environmental Graffiti - Chris Ingraham Brook

Grades
6 to 12
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Looking for interesting stories and tidbits about the environment and its inhabitants? Find information and facts at this blog. Click "Submit Your News" if you have interesting information...more
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Looking for interesting stories and tidbits about the environment and its inhabitants? Find information and facts at this blog. Click "Submit Your News" if you have interesting information that would be a good story. Find stories that can easily apply to any science subject.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): ecology (135), environment (317)

In the Classroom

Use these stories as writing prompts, prompts for further research, or sparks to learn about something new. Consider assigning students to find and share related information to share with the rest of their class. One idea for students to show they understand the consequences or implications of an article would be to have students write diary entries, in the first person, much the same as Diary of a Worm reviewed here. Have students publish their diary with Simplebooklet, reviewed here,to share with classmates and parents.
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