TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Apr 22, 2012

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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Picturing Words: The Power of Book Illustrations - Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Grades
6 to 10
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Picturing Words is an online exhibit featuring 40 illustrated, rare books from history, science, and art. The illustrated books go back to the 1400's with illuminated manuscripts from...more
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Picturing Words is an online exhibit featuring 40 illustrated, rare books from history, science, and art. The illustrated books go back to the 1400's with illuminated manuscripts from The Canon of Medicine (980-1037) up to 1996 and The Graphic Alphabet. The categories include: Inspires, Informs, or Influences. Also included is a section on the process of illustration, detailed images, and examples organized by theme. Suddenly, you will notice illustrations!

tag(s): artists (75), medieval (27), primary sources (84), renaissance (34)

In the Classroom

History and English teachers studying the Medieval time period can show the primary source of the illuminated alphabet script on The Canon of Medicine. Then have students create a mini-bio for themselves, starting with illuminating the first letter of their name. Use this site to study how the power of pictures can enhance text. The Process section explains how the Gutenberg Press used wood blocks or metal cuts along with the letterpress to print a book with images. Have your students view the "Process" part of this site, and look at several books printed in the Gutenberg time period. You may want them to further investigate the workings of the Gutenberg Press and what it took to make a book (materials and time). Then have your students make a simple, illustrated book using a program like Bookemon reviewed here. Have them use Dipity reviewed here. to display the differences between publishing then and now. Dipity will display as a flip book, timeline, map, or list. In a gifted class, try some of these activities as you discuss Gutenberg, then ask how those illustrations compare in ease and efficiency to the digital means we have to add visual enhancements today. WHich do they consider more "valuable"?

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Draw.io - JGraph, Ltd.

Grades
4 to 12
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Take a look at this online graphic organizer creator/drawing tool that requires NO membership. Although a bit "plain vanilla" in appearance, this is a wonderful tool! Research shows...more
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Take a look at this online graphic organizer creator/drawing tool that requires NO membership. Although a bit "plain vanilla" in appearance, this is a wonderful tool! Research shows that graphic organizers promote strong thinking skills and comprehension for all ages. Draw.io is a simple, free online tool for creating mind maps -- or diagrams for any purpose -- using shapes and arrows. Just drop and drag the shapes (or nodes) you want to the panel, connect the nodes by dragging the arrow, and double-click in the shape to add text. Use the simple toolbar at the top to insert images, change, bold, color and enlarge text, etc. Printing and exporting is also an option. If you click on the "Help" tab at the top, you will see "Video Tutorial" which uses flash. Draw.io uses JavaScript, not Flash, so it works on iOS devices.

tag(s): brainstorming (23), concept mapping (22), graphic organizers (42), mind map (24), venn diagrams (16), visual thinking (10)

In the Classroom

Demonstrate creating a mind map or other diagram on an interactive whiteboard or projector, and then allow students to try to create their own. Use this site for literature activities, research projects, social studies, or science topics of study. Use Draw.io to create family trees or flow charts. Learning support students could team up to map out the important concepts from a unit visually as a review activity. Use this mapping website as an alternative to a traditional test, quiz, or homework assignment in literature, social studies, or science. Have students demonstrate their understanding by creating a graphic organizer about the main points or map out a step-by-step process (life cycle). Be sure they name their organizer BEFORE they start work with their name --or code name-- so you know who did it (they could EMAIL it to you!) or have them print their results to turn them in. Anonymously share and compare different students' "views" of a unit so students can "see it through someone else's eyes."

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ChronoZoom - Microsoft Research

Grades
8 to 12
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Ready to think big? How about an interactive timeline that covers all of time from the Big Bang to today? Chronozoom is an ambitious project, just launched (at the time ...more
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Ready to think big? How about an interactive timeline that covers all of time from the Big Bang to today? Chronozoom is an ambitious project, just launched (at the time of this review), that seeks to create zoomable, interactive timelines for the entire history of time. At present, the site is still under construction, but it is visually stunning and a little overwhelming. You will need to set aside some time to watch the video tour and to tinker with the site before presenting it to students. Every move of the mouse, every click, seems to create "explosions" of graphs and timelines; you'll need to be patient and get the hang of navigation.

The site's creators freely admit that they don't really know where the project will lead, and what technologies might emerge that will help them create more content for the site. There are some caveats for using the site. First, the site assumes a particular theory of the creation of the universe, and the timeline of its existence. Second, the site can lend itself to aimless "mousing," or the temptation to simply click and move the mouse to see how the site will react, with no attention to the content at all.

tag(s): charts and graphs (195), evolution (100), timelines (62)

In the Classroom

This is a big idea, still in its early stages. Obviously it has usefulness as a way of visually demonstrating the sheer immensity of time, and the relative insignificance of human existence in comparison. You could use this site as an intro to any history or geology class simply to generate BIG questions that students want to know. Consider asking gifted students, or students interested in technology applications to imagine what the site COULD be. How would they create a visual overview of--forever? How can one prioritize what matters? But on an interactive whiteboard--WOW! If you, as current students seem to be, are comfortable with imagining the world as a series of hyperlinks rather than a linear march, this site has limitless potential.

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Woopid Video Tutorials - Brandon S. Kane

Grades
6 to 12
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This "high-tech" resource for technology training offers videos covering virtually anything from Internet for beginners through Mac and Windows operating software. Search by category...more
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This "high-tech" resource for technology training offers videos covering virtually anything from Internet for beginners through Mac and Windows operating software. Search by category or keyword, video categories include Hardware, Internet, Mac, and Windows. Within each category there are subtopics such as looking at folders or different versions of Vista. More information on specific topics can be viewed by choosing Bundles; these are several videos chosen by the team to create a broader overview of a topic. Create your own account by registering; then save videos to your favorites for easy access. Be aware: if students are exploring on their own, they may view inappropriate advertisements (such as for dating services). Allow independent exploration with caution .
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): computers (78), tutorials (47), video (251)

In the Classroom

Show videos on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) to your students before using specific software such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Bridge. Or use them as examples of informational writing. Choose one piece of technology (such as Internet Explorer) and assign students different videos to view, then have students share their learning with classmates using a tool such as SchoolTube reviewed here or a screencasting tool such as Screenr, reviewed here.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Oxford Owl Reading - Oxford University Press

Grades
K to 6
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Find pre-reading and beginning reading help for the very youngest readers through the pre-teen years. From phonics lessons to online books to story videos read by professional story...more
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Find pre-reading and beginning reading help for the very youngest readers through the pre-teen years. From phonics lessons to online books to story videos read by professional story tellers, this site offers comprehensive reading help and activities for educators and parents. There are plenty of activities that accompany the free e-books. Many other activities encourage reading. On the e-book page are also suggestions for other similar or related books. In addition, a special section addresses the problem of reluctant male readers. Assistance for instructors is also available. Accompanying book lists are arranged by level of reader interest. Although the site has links to books for purchase, there is enough free material to warrant inclusion in your reading helps lists. British English speakers read the e-books, so be prepared for the difference in accents.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): independent reading (125), preK (275), reading lists (72), reading strategies (43)

In the Classroom

Use this site as an anticipatory set or "activator" to introduce one of the free online books on a projector or interactive whiteboard. Then encourage students to use it individually or in pairs. Refer your ESL/ELL and learning support students to this site for extra, assisted reading practice.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Shmoop Snoops the Gods - Shmoop

Grades
6 to 12
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Shmoop Mythology allows you to peek into the social networking world of the gods using online profiles, walls, in-boxes and diaries of the gods. Shmoop Mythology also provides study...more
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Shmoop Mythology allows you to peek into the social networking world of the gods using online profiles, walls, in-boxes and diaries of the gods. Shmoop Mythology also provides study guides to several myths. With younger students, you may want to preview BEFORE you share. Some of the profiles may include more information that you are comfortable sharing in the classroom setting. (Those Olympians did not always behave so well.) Also, at the time of this review, nearly all links were working. However, our editor did find two links that were not active. .

tag(s): greek (41), greeks (29), myths and legends (25), romans (35)

In the Classroom

This site is perfect for use in any history, literature, or social studies class. Use the site to engage your students in the study of mythology. Use the site on an interactive whiteboard to read about a different god each day. Have students work in groups to create a similar site for a god that isn't represented. Since the site is broken down into different areas like, wall, emails and gossip, have students extend the site by creating new content for each area of the site. The site also has a nice collection of photos that can be used in reports or for other projects.

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Minyanland - Minyanville

Grades
2 to 6
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MinyanLand is a virtual community designed to engage you with games and interaction that help you understand about money. The economic system of MinyanLand mimics the real-life pricing...more
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MinyanLand is a virtual community designed to engage you with games and interaction that help you understand about money. The economic system of MinyanLand mimics the real-life pricing of general goods and services. As you participate in the system, your actions will affect the overall MinyanLand economy. To keep the economy stabilized, for instance, you must stay healthy by eating on a regular basis. MinyanLand will also offer incentives to encourage such behavior as charitable giving. You start the activity with $50,000 and a condo. You earn money by doing chores, jobs, and playing games. Games test knowledge of money and include titles such as "Paper Route" and "Where Did You Get That Money?" Spend money to buy things for your home, add rooms, or move into a new neighborhood. Registration requires an email address; however, one benefit of registering is that students can earn money by completing chores assigned by the classroom teacher who registered them.

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

In the Classroom

MinyanLand would be great as a year-long project. Students can visit MinyanLand throughout the year in the classroom (and at home) to learn about money, investing, spending, earning, and the economy. It is a natural fit in the math classroom where students are already working with money and numbers. MinyanLand would be best in a lab or laptop cart setting where each student has access to a computer. If you don't have a lab for students, use classroom computers as a learning center. Students can take turns at the center throughout the week to interact in MinyanLand. Tips: Even if you don't want to use the virtual money in class, consider letting parents know about the opportunity to tie household chores to learning. Students can play in class and earn virtual money at home.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Energy ebook - IKT Forlaget

Grades
3 to 12
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This interactive book about energy is great for all learners. The actual "book" opens in a new window. In addition to the text and bold images, there is clickable audio ...more
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This interactive book about energy is great for all learners. The actual "book" opens in a new window. In addition to the text and bold images, there is clickable audio to make this an audio book! Easy to follow directions are on the main page before accessing the book. Click on the video icons to watch related videos. You can also download related images from some of the films for use in projects and to help build understanding. Additional resources and links within the book add more for teachers, parents, and students. Note that you can click pages to make them full screen.

tag(s): energy (197), solar energy (38), water (130)

In the Classroom

If you study energy in your science curriculum this ebook is a super resource and addition to your classroom library. Set up the ebook on classroom computers during independent reading time for some non-fiction reading material. The ebook is great for all levels of readers. Confident readers can read the book independently while struggling readers may want to read along with the audio. Use the ebook as a "big book" on an interactive whiteboard or projector to read about energy as a class or center. Brainstorm with Edistorm (reviewed here), having students add sticky notes of things they learn - or questions-- about energy on the online shared whiteboard.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Spider Scribe - spiderscribe.net

Grades
2 to 12
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SpiderScribe is an online mind mapping and brainstorming tool. Organize ideas by connecting notes, files, maps, calendar events, and more. Use this tool to collaborate and share maps...more
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SpiderScribe is an online mind mapping and brainstorming tool. Organize ideas by connecting notes, files, maps, calendar events, and more. Use this tool to collaborate and share maps online with others. SpiderScribe has an easy to use interface. Drag the various stencils (elements) to the screen to begin. Watch the demo video to understand the basics of this free tool. You will be started in less than a minute!

tag(s): brainstorming (23), graphic organizers (42), mind map (24)

In the Classroom

Have your class create organizers together, such as in a brainstorming session on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Easily add images to maps for young students, ELL learners, or non-readers to understand relationships and learn vocabulary. Or you can assign students to "map" out a chapter or story or assign groups to create study guides using this tool. Use this site for literature activities, research projects, social studies, or science topics. Use this site to create family trees or food pyramids in family and consumer science. Have students collaborate together (online) to create group mind maps or review charts before tests on a given subject. Have students organize any concepts you study; color-code concepts to show what they understand, wonder, and question; map out a story, plot line, or plan for the future; map out a step-by-step process (life cycle).

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Cite U Like - citeulike.org

Grades
9 to 12
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Use CiteULike to organize and share scholarly information for and from research. The first step is to register (email required). Simply click on Post URL to save it. Add the ...more
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Use CiteULike to organize and share scholarly information for and from research. The first step is to register (email required). Simply click on Post URL to save it. Add the app to your web browser for easy use. How easy? Click on the button, and the paper/reference will be added to your personal library. The tool extracts the citation details automatically. No more forgetting to cite materials! Access your library from any computer.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): citations (32)

In the Classroom

Use this great resource to record and organize research found on the Internet. Consider creating a class account to collect materials found throughout the school year. Be sure to talk to students about organizing information and sources. Students can maintain their own archive and show their collection at the end of the year. This tool will also be very handy for graduate projects teachers may be doing.

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NOVA Body and Brain - NOVA/PBS

Grades
3 to 12
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Find great information and interactive activities about the human body and brain on this exciting site. Choose from tabs along the top from Body and Brain as well as Nature, ...more
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Find great information and interactive activities about the human body and brain on this exciting site. Choose from tabs along the top from Body and Brain as well as Nature, Planet Earth, and more. Click on the NOVA Education tab to find great lessons and ideas to use these materials for a variety of subjects and ages. View video clips as well as slide shows and other information. Preview these resources before sharing in class. Some parents/communities may consider some material controversial or inappropriate for younger students.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): carbon dioxide (17), carbon footprint (11), earth (228), environment (317), human body (119), nuclear energy (24), nutrition (154), solar energy (38), space (206)

In the Classroom

Discover some terrific lessons about a variety of topics. For example, under Environment find a great lesson for Capturing Carbon: Where Do We Put It? Find background information to understand the material and questions for discussion that can be used with your class. Find additional resources along the side.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Interactive Biology - Leslie Samuel

Grades
7 to 12
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Interactive Biology offers many videos, study guides, and quizzes. Lecture videos featured here are from a first year biology course in high school. The site is great because it breaks...more
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Interactive Biology offers many videos, study guides, and quizzes. Lecture videos featured here are from a first year biology course in high school. The site is great because it breaks things down into simple everyday words instead of difficult, unmanageable science vocabulary. Test yourself with the interactive quizzes. Gain free access to excellent downloads by sharing your email and name with the site creator. Note that videos are hosted on YouTube.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): body systems (56), cells (102), diseases (66), human body (119), plants (143), respiration (17)

In the Classroom

Share this website with biology students on your class wiki. Or share with advanced middle school students to explore and enrich their own understanding of biology. Assign interactive quizzes as homework. Students can report results via email or by turning in evidence at school. Quizzes would make great reviews for tests. View videos and select a few to share during class to reinforce concepts. YouTube hosts most of the videos. If your district blocks YouTube, you could always view them at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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