TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Sep 11, 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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Follow the Peach - Roald Dahl Nominee Limited/Quentin Blake

Grades
2 to 6
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Follow that Peach! celebrates the 50th anniversary of James and the Giant Peach. This site extends the Roald Dahl book by sending the peach on further adventures around the world. ...more
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Follow that Peach! celebrates the 50th anniversary of James and the Giant Peach. This site extends the Roald Dahl book by sending the peach on further adventures around the world. With Follow that Peach! you can send a virtual peach or download a paper Peach-gram to send through the mail.

tag(s): authors (118), literature (275)

In the Classroom

This site provides a great way for you to extend your literature unit and to bring in geography and math. Send both a virtual and paper peach. Have students calculate how far each peach has traveled. Hang a world map and have students mark each place the peach has visited. At the end of the project have students choose a place that their peach visited and do a presentation on their place of choice. Have students make a multimedia presentation using one of many TeachersFirst Edge tools reviewed here. Teachers and librarians be sure to check out the teacher tips sections.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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WordSift - Stanford University

Grades
4 to 12
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WordSift helps anyone easily sift through texts -- just copy and paste any text into WordSift and you can engage in a verbal quick-capture! The program helps to quickly identify ...more
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WordSift helps anyone easily sift through texts -- just copy and paste any text into WordSift and you can engage in a verbal quick-capture! The program helps to quickly identify important words that appear in the text. After entering text several items will appear, first a word cloud will display the 50 most frequently used words in the text. The most frequently used word will display as a word web in a visual thesaurus. Google image and video search results are also shown. One interesting feature is the ability to click on any of the words in the word cloud to display it in the thesaurus and Google image and video searches. A great way to understand the WordSift tool is to try one of the sample texts offered, such as Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Be sure to check out the "About" link to discover many ideas for use in the classroom. Tips and videos are also available as guides. If you type in a shorter sentence, the site still creates a word cloud using their own related words (not in your original text). Be aware of the advertisements that appear with the word clouds. Advise students not to click on the ads.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): dictionaries (55), reading comprehension (114), reading strategies (43), thesaurus (24), vocabulary (323), vocabulary development (126), word clouds (10), word study (80)

In the Classroom

This is a classic tool to promote "before reading" strategies and vocabulary development. Use WordSift to preview text to be used in class and define vocabulary before reading to increase reading comprehension. Have students use WordSift with different portions of text to identify key words and vocabulary for class presentations. Use WordSift to discuss different meanings of words using images presented through the site. This site isn't only for English teachers, share with Science and Social Studies teachers to use in their classrooms with reading texts in their content areas. ESL/ELL and learning support teachers will want to share this as a support for any reading assigned in regular classes. Be sure to show students how to copy/paste to WordSift texts from informational web pages and news stories on the web, as well. Share this link as a Favorite on your public page so students can use it anytime.

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Little Lilly Polka Dot - Wendy Grimm

Grades
K to 1
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This site offers several resources for early readers including alphabet learning tools, number matches, and a story book. In Learning Tools, students roll over letters of the alphabet...more
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This site offers several resources for early readers including alphabet learning tools, number matches, and a story book. In Learning Tools, students roll over letters of the alphabet to hear the letter names (turn up the speakers). The games portion has a very simple number puzzle to put numbers 1-4 into place. The activities section has printable coloring pages. Be sure to check out the book, a story about Lilly Polka Dot and her fear of going to the doctor. The book provides audio or the sound can be turned off for someone else to read.

tag(s): alphabet (92), numbers (203), phonics (75)

In the Classroom

Share the book on your interactive whiteboard or projector during a health unit for students to learn that going to the doctor isn't scary. Create links to the alphabet and number activities on classroom computers for students to practice. Write (and decorate) your own Lilly Polka Dot stories. Provide this link on your class website for students (and parents) to easily access at home.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Sand Dollar City - DoughMain

Grades
4 to 7
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Sand Dollar City is a virtual computer activity where students manage a candy shop set in an underwater village. Players buy inventory, make store upgrades, handle expenses, etc.,...more
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Sand Dollar City is a virtual computer activity where students manage a candy shop set in an underwater village. Players buy inventory, make store upgrades, handle expenses, etc., while attempting to make their store a success. Through their adventures, they will learn real-world financial concepts including earning, spending, saving, budgeting, banking, smart shopping, credit cards, credit scores, needs and wants, and more. Interactives can only be played by registering with the site using a parent's email address and creating a username and password. The introductory video resides on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the video may not be viewable. You could always view the video at home and bring it to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the video from YouTube.

tag(s): banks (11), financial literacy (78), money (192)

In the Classroom

Create one classroom account using your teacher email and a single user name and password. Record scores weekly as different students try the activity to record growth of the candy shop. Challenge students to increase scores each week by posting recorded scores and making a graph. Send site information to parents and allow students to create accounts at home, then compare student scores each week and challenge them to make the most successful store.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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The Fun Vault! - DoughMain

Grades
K to 3
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Choose from several activities at this site created to help student learn about coins and money. Choose from games such as Pack the Piggies, Coins of the Deep, and Raining ...more
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Choose from several activities at this site created to help student learn about coins and money. Choose from games such as Pack the Piggies, Coins of the Deep, and Raining Money. Specific topics include learning coins by matching, puzzles putting coin pieces together, and finding the correct amount of money to fill a coin bank. Several options are offered to personalize to student needs such as extended time or slowing down activities. Tools are included on the site for families to help teach economic responsibility, including a chore tracker, family calendar, and an allowance and rewards tool.

tag(s): coins (8), financial literacy (78), money (192)

In the Classroom

Share the site on your interactive whiteboard or projector to demonstrate games for students then use as a center on your board or on classroom computers. Share this site on your classroom newsletter or website as a resource for students to practice money skills at home.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Energy Savvy - Aaron Goldfeder and Leo Shklovskii

Grades
6 to 12
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How energy efficient is your home? Find out here. Save money, save time, and save the environment using EnergySavvy.com. In about ten minutes, you can determine your energy savings...more
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How energy efficient is your home? Find out here. Save money, save time, and save the environment using EnergySavvy.com. In about ten minutes, you can determine your energy savings score and learn ways to save your family money and energy in your home. The questionnaire even has pictures, descriptions, and advice if you are unsure about which options to choose for each question.

tag(s): conservation (127), energy (197), environment (317)

In the Classroom

In environmental science units on conservation, try assigning this website as homework to be done together with parent or guardian help. Have students go through questions with parents and possibly even investigate their own home for evidence of energy losses and good practices. Have students email the report to their parent's address and print a copy to take to school as evidence and for further study. Or, have students' parents forward the email directly to you and print for the students. Have them calculate how much energy they could save as a class, leading them towards discussions of bigger savings overall and how little changes can make huge differences in our environment. Why not keep track of all of the data/results on a class energy saving wiki! Not comfortable with wikis? Check out the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through.

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Yudu - Yudu.com

Grades
5 to 12
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Yudu is more than an online library to read and explore. You can get your own writing published. It's as simple as uploading your PDF, Word, or PowerPoint document. These ...more
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Yudu is more than an online library to read and explore. You can get your own writing published. It's as simple as uploading your PDF, Word, or PowerPoint document. These are automatically turned into the Yudu page-turning format. You don't even have to register to read or listen to a book, magazine, podcast, or brochure. It's free. Aspiring authors can register and publish your writing here, for free. You can also publish digital content beyond digital magazines and brochures. You can publish podcasts, music, audio clips, and photos. You can use Yudu as a visual bookmarking program, too. Once registered, you can create a library to store, share, & promote your digital content. Share your digital, page-turning publications for free or you can keep them private for you, friends, and family. There is an introductory video to get you started. The Yudu "plus" version (for a fee) has additional features.

tag(s): digital storytelling (135), ebooks (40), multimedia (52), news (261), podcasts (51)

In the Classroom

If you have a classroom newsletter, this would be the perfect place for you to publish it. You can then embed it on your website or wiki for parents and students to read.

If your class is studying a certain time period and/or area in the world, have your students produce brochures or newspapers (called a magazine on Yudu) using Yudu. Have your students create their brochure using Word, and then upload it to Yudu for a very polished look. You can then publish these by embedding them, or sharing the url on your wiki or webpage for your class and their parents to view.

In science or math students could make a small magazine with pictures to describe a concept or equation to their peers, to younger students, , or as a final assessment. Instead of a book report, create a Yudu! In English (or L.A.) have students write creative stories or step by step instructions and publish them via Yudu. At the beginning of the school-year, create a class Yudu introducing everyone in the class (name, favorite subject, favorite sport, highlight of their summer, etc..). Share the books with parents online or at Back to School Night.

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Old Radio World - OldRadioWorld.com

Grades
4 to 12
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Find a treasury of old radio shows from the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's. There are seven genres from which to choose (comedy, mystery, western, drama, etc..), and each genre has ...more
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Find a treasury of old radio shows from the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's. There are seven genres from which to choose (comedy, mystery, western, drama, etc..), and each genre has at least ten different old radio shows for your selection. There is a miscellaneous section that has such treasures as "Voices From History," "World War II News Broadcasts," and "Fireside Chat with Franklin D. Roosevelt." To listen to this program you will need to have QuickTime on your computer. Download of the mp3 files takes a while, so be patient.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): 1930s (15), 1940s (13), 1950s (12), listening (92), oral history (11), radio (27), world war 2 (141)

In the Classroom

As a class, listen to a couple of radio shows, taking note about the sound effects heard. Use your interactive whiteboard or projector to list the sounds. Have the class speculate about what objects could have created each sound. Post the radio site on your web page and assign the students to determine what household objects are responsible for the sounds for homework. Back in class the next day, use your interactive white board to share the student discoveries. From here it would be natural to have your students create a two or three minute radio show for a topic being studied in history or science. Students could also turn part of a short story into reader's theater (including sound effects) and record it as a radio broadcast. Use a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here).

Another idea would be to introduce a unit on the 20th century, the Great Depression, or WWII or by having the class listen to a broadcast from that time period. Have them experience radio as it was, with everyone huddled around to listen (and no multitasking!).Talk about how the changes in entertainment formats have changed the way we interact in our homes.

To hone in on listening skills, you could create a worksheet with questions to answer, or have students take two column notes, asking questions about what they are hearing in the left column.

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Multicultural Canada: Wayang Kulit - Lynn Copeland, Simon Fraser University

Grades
3 to 12
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This unique site by Multicultural Canada is part of a digitization project that aims to tell the stories of the cultures that make up Canada. Other modules include Chinese, ...more
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This unique site by Multicultural Canada is part of a digitization project that aims to tell the stories of the cultures that make up Canada. Other modules include Chinese, Japanese, Scottish, Indonesian, Italian, Jewish, Vietnamese,and Pakistan collections are included in the learning modules. Detailed lesson plans, related resources, with rubrics are included. IN this module, Simon Fraser University shares their collection of Wayang Kulit, or shadow puppetry from Indonesia. Wayang Kulit often portrays moral or political messages. The university featured the exhibit, Crossing Oceans, Crossing Cultures, which includes the shadow puppets and stories about good and evil, respect, duty, friendship, and loyalty. The website shows some of the Wayang Kulit shadow puppets, as well as providing information on traditional stories. Photographs of several intricate shadow puppets are included. Ideas for projects using a variety of free downloads are suggested. There is also an introductory video.

tag(s): canada (30), myths and legends (25), readers theater (17), stories and storytelling (30)

In the Classroom

In language arts classes, study universal stories and myths while discovering the culture of Indonesia and shadow puppetry. Dramatize the elements of good versus evil, characterization, and plot. Discover a unique twist to Readers' Theater. Storyboarding opportunities allow for a simpler construction of a story performance with fewer background scenery or props necessary. Sound and musical accompaniments can add to the creativity of the performance. Reluctant readers through gifted learners will enjoy the flexibility and creativity of the art of shadow puppetry.

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Probabilistic Learning Activities Network - David Kay Harris

Grades
8 to 12
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This site offers 30 probability activities based on questions. Answers are deliberately left out. The reasoning behind the site and the activities is thoroughly explained in the Teacher...more
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This site offers 30 probability activities based on questions. Answers are deliberately left out. The reasoning behind the site and the activities is thoroughly explained in the Teacher Support Section. Two different types of activities are offered - essential questions which are more generally and offer exploration of conceptual understanding, and QHE which are based on a hypothesis-experiment-instruction model. The activities include Java applet interactives. There is also a student support section which links to a student forum. Use of the forum isn't necessary to complete the activities on the site. In addition, there is a technology support link that offers information on technology found on the site such as information embedded onto Excel spreadsheets. The site is aligned to the IB curriculum but can be used elsewhere.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): probability (130), problem solving (258)

In the Classroom

Introduce the site on your interactive whiteboard or projector then assign students various portions of the site to explore or discuss within small groups. This site is great for gifted students to proceed at their own pace, allowing them many different activities to explore different types of probabilities through activities and essential questions.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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NFB Kids: The Mission - NFB one

Grades
2 to 8
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Go to the Mission for a great science adventure. Missions involve many concepts in physical science, such as motion and forces. Music can be turned off using the checkbox below. ...more
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Go to the Mission for a great science adventure. Missions involve many concepts in physical science, such as motion and forces. Music can be turned off using the checkbox below. Hover over the eclectic array of devices in "The Lab" to see movement or to enter a portion of the lab. Read the beginning screens carefully for pointers on completing each mission. View related links and other materials in "The Desk." Learn about scientists, scientific facts, and other interesting information in "The Library." While playing the games, help screens do not appear to guide you. You are sent back to the start of the game or the section.

At the time of this review, the link to "Your Log" (at the lab) was not active. You may want students to use "traditional" paper to take notes for their log.

Note that the small black bar across the top of the screen takes you to other NFB ites and may lead students off track. The one notable option is to click "Francais" at top right and discover the same activities in French!

tag(s): electricity (88), elements (36), forces (44), magnetism (35), motion (58), rockets (14), space (206)

In the Classroom

Use these great interactives for individual work or as a group activity. For example, use the "Eyes on the Sky Mission Game" to explore the forces and fuels needed to launch a rocket, identification of various space objects, and other skills. The "Keep your Cool Mission" activity requires players to fill the compressor with freon and put all the articles back in place.

Many topics related to physical science can be researched and discussed from these activities. Discuss forces and motion, different types of fuels, how various appliances work, etc. Bring in related environmental and societal issues, especially changes throughout the years. Research various types of rocket design throughout the years and the technical advancements that caused these changes.

Have students complete multimedia research projects to share their findings. Challenge cooperative learning groups to create an online book using a tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here.

French teachers will enjoy the various French language versions of the games to give students practice following instructions and applied language in engaging activities. Great practice!
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Science Daily - ScienceDaily LLC

Grades
6 to 12
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Looking for collection of current science research articles? This is your one stop shop! Science Daily is current, searchable, and interesting! Encompassing many, if not all, areas...more
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Looking for collection of current science research articles? This is your one stop shop! Science Daily is current, searchable, and interesting! Encompassing many, if not all, areas of science, this site could make your classroom science research easy. The major categories are: Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain, Plants & Animals, Earth & Climate, Space & Time, Matter & Energy, Computers & Math, and Fossils & Ruins.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): animals (277), brain (70), climate (92), computers (78), data (149), earth (228), energy (197), fossils (44), matter (56), medicine (67), news (261), planets (122), plants (143), space (206), time (144)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a research tool or to provide practice reading informational texts in the content areas. Choose an article relevant to what you are teaching, post it on your website or wiki, and have your students discuss what the article means and how it made them think. Since the articles are heavy with text, you may want to have students work in small groups to read the article you have selected for them, and use a tool such as Mindmeister (reviewed here) or bubbl.us (reviewed here) to create a concept map of the important ideas and their details for the article. Each article has several related links. Have each group choose a different one to explore, and create a concept map to share on your interactive whiteboard or projector so all can benefit from the related articles. Once created, the concept maps can be posted as links or embedded on your teacher website or wiki for review and to share with parents. If the text of the articles is simply too challenging without some "before reading" help, show students how to preview it using WordSift, reviewed here.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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