TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of May 6, 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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Quiz Factor - Quiz Factor Limited

Grades
4 to 12
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Quiz Factor offers quizzes that are not about your typical "education" topics. There are both popular and specialist subjects. Some topic examples are: Animals and Nature, Cinema and...more
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Quiz Factor offers quizzes that are not about your typical "education" topics. There are both popular and specialist subjects. Some topic examples are: Animals and Nature, Cinema and Actors, Fashion and Design, History and Politics, Religion and Traditions, Science, Sports and Games, Technology and Manufacturing, and many more. At Quiz Factor you can climb the Leaderboards and win prizes. There are three types of quizzes: The Ladder, Time Trials, and True/False. You can also make your own quizzes. (At the time of this review, this feature was "coming soon.") This site is from the UK, and some questions in the General Knowledge section test facts you would know if you've been to the UK.

tag(s): animals (276), cultures (105), design (84), fashion (10), quiz (85), quizzes (97), radio (27), religions (61), sports (96), substitutes (21)

In the Classroom

Set up a computer or two in your classroom for those earlier finishers to take a quiz on a topic of their choice. Do you have students who have a deep interest in a certain topic or subject? Allow them to create a quiz for Quiz Factor. Have the student save the quiz, so you can view it before submission. This would be a great activity for some gifted students! Have students create quizzes after they have completed a research project. They could present their findings to the class, then allow the class to use their notes from the presentation to complete the quiz.

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Thunks - Get Thunking - Ian Gilbert

Grades
4 to 12
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A Thunk is a beguilingly simple-looking yes/no question that stops you in your tracks to look at the world in a whole new light. Over a thousand Thunks are included ...more
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A Thunk is a beguilingly simple-looking yes/no question that stops you in your tracks to look at the world in a whole new light. Over a thousand Thunks are included on the site with simple yes or no responses. View results easily, read comments, or submit your own comment by including your name, email (will not be displayed), and comment. Thunks can be chosen by categories such as good and bad, human condition, or friendship. At the time of this review, we found no evidence of inappropriate public comments (and we looked hard!) , but you might want to preview before turning young people loose on the site.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): logic (235), problem solving (272), questioning (31)

In the Classroom

Display a Thunk on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) as a discussion/debate starter. Have students choose a response and defend their answer. Allow students to discuss their answer throughout the week and survey responses again. Have students create their own Thunks to be discussed in class. Create a bulletin board and allow students to post comments and reactions to the question posed. Use a Thunk as a journal writing prompt. Make this page available for students who are "stuck" thinking of something to write about.

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KikuText - kikutext.com

Grades
K to 12
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Kikutext is a safe and easy way to send reminders to parents via text message. The site is set up so that students do not see the teachers' phone numbers ...more
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Kikutext is a safe and easy way to send reminders to parents via text message. The site is set up so that students do not see the teachers' phone numbers nor do the teachers see the students' or parents' phone numbers. Create an account easily with basic contact information, then share the class code with parents. Parents text the code to be added and begin receiving updates and to respond to text messages. Communication through this site is safe and secure. This service is free; however, standard text messaging fees apply.

tag(s): classroom management (134), parents (56)

In the Classroom

Send out whole-class reminders to parents of upcoming tests, project due dates, school events, and more. Set up this site (and parents and students numbers) during the first week of school or at Back to School night. Use this site as an alternative to conference reminder slips (and save paper). Keep parents "in the loop" about students' behavior, achievement, and more with this tool. Imagine sending a text as you discover missing homework. Suddenly, accountability steps up a notch!

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Grovo - Video Training and Online Learning - Andy Dunn & Ben Lerer

Grades
K to 12
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Grovo offers thousands of video lessons covering Internet products you love or didn't know about. There are dozens of topics ranging from email etiquette to using popular Internet sites...more
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Grovo offers thousands of video lessons covering Internet products you love or didn't know about. There are dozens of topics ranging from email etiquette to using popular Internet sites (such as Evernote, Twitter, or Dropbox). Each lesson is divided into short subtopics and is under 2 minutes long. Included with each lesson (video) is a short quiz, key takeaways, and a glossary. Email registration (free) is required to access the tutorials and features of the site. Some of the tutorials are "premium" (paid) content.

tag(s): tutorials (47)

In the Classroom

This site is a great professional resource for teachers at all grade levels. Share tutorials on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) in upper elementary to high school when introducing websites or using them for classroom projects. Make this site available as a reference for students (and parents!). You might want to create a class account for quick access. As a practical experience in informational writing, have students use these as a model to create their own online "tours" to explain their own favorite websites or those used in class using Screenr (reviewed here).
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Word Play- Spanish Vocabulary Game - 2009-2011, Wordplay Learning LLC

Grades
2 to 12
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Master the Spanish language with Wordplay! Join this free adaptive activity challenging a student, class, or even school. The software analyzes each response to every question and adjusts...more
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Master the Spanish language with Wordplay! Join this free adaptive activity challenging a student, class, or even school. The software analyzes each response to every question and adjusts to create the perfect practice for each individual. A Mastery Meter shows progress during sessions. Reviews develop long-term retention for each word. Earn points for immediate mastery and long-term retention. Teacher privileges allow monitoring of points, content, and long-term retention information for each student.

tag(s): spanish (108)

In the Classroom

Introduce on your projector or interactive whiteboard, and explain as a class. Use the ready-to-go content lessons or create your own customized lessons. The complete teacher's manual offers detailed information on student progress, lesson content, and motivation. Challenge every student at his/her level. Use as an easy customized homework assignment for what each student needs the most. Use points earned as a personal learning goal, required points for assignment grade, team, class, or even grade level challenges. Say good bye to hated paper flash cards! Join the 21 century in learning.

Comments

Sarah, ME, Grades: 7 - 12

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Team Fink Book Groups: Extreme Speed Booking - Anastasis Academy

Grades
4 to 12
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Get inspired and motivated to explore different books with Extreme Speed Booking. Choose the "Books" tab to find a list of books. Take two minutes to look at the first ...more
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Get inspired and motivated to explore different books with Extreme Speed Booking. Choose the "Books" tab to find a list of books. Take two minutes to look at the first book. Click to go directly to the Amazon preview of the book, including several pages of the first chapter(s). When two minutes is up, record your impressions of the book and move on to the next one on the list. There is a "share page" option on the site to record responses; however, these go back to the site owners.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): book lists (126), independent reading (126), literature (275)

In the Classroom

Inspire reluctant or hesitant readers with this site. Have the entire class participate in one session. Ring a bell every two minutes, allow one minute for quick responses, then move on to the next book. Create your own recording document similar to the one on the site using Google Docs reviewed here. Explore the Find a Book portion of the site and create your own Extreme Speed Booking site. Tailor it to your students' needs or class content using an easy to use website creator such as Weebly reviewed here or a class wiki. Have students create their own speed booking website based on books they enjoy reading. Create a graph to record students' interests in books to post for reading choices.

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Children's Music Song of the Month - Nancy Stewart

Grades
K to 4
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Download a free song each month including the audio file, sheet music, MP3 recording, and accompanying activities from Children's Music by Nancy. Also available on the site are monthly...more
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Download a free song each month including the audio file, sheet music, MP3 recording, and accompanying activities from Children's Music by Nancy. Also available on the site are monthly archives since 2006. Many songs include links to similar songs available on the site. Search by categories such as Science, Language, Holidays or alphabetically. Simple instructions for downloading resources are included on the site along with directions for making your own CD with the songs.

tag(s): holidays (147), preK (279), songs (52)

In the Classroom

Use content area songs on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) and speakers to introduce new units. For example, when beginning a unit on the Solar System, play "In Our Solar System (Bye Bye Pluto)" to introduce students to the planets' names. Share the site with your school's music teacher as a way to extend activities between subjects. Help students learn Spanish or French by learning songs from the site together. Be sure to share this link with parents. They may want to put some of the songs on the family MP3 player to enjoy on car trips.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Reading Bear - Watch, Know, Learn

Grades
K to 2
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Reading Bear is a systematic program that teaches beginning vocabulary and concepts while introducing phonics patterns. The Getting Started video gives an overview of the program...more
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Reading Bear is a systematic program that teaches beginning vocabulary and concepts while introducing phonics patterns. The Getting Started video gives an overview of the program as it explains the software, videos, and tips for using the system. Choose from any phonics sounds or start from the beginning of the program. Then choose from different video or slideshow tutorials (such as sound it out quickly, let me sound it out, or audio and silent sentences). As sounds are pronounced, the corresponding letter is highlighted. Quizzes are available at the end of each section. Choose from different settings to adjust font, letter color, or order of presentation. At the time of this review, 16 presentations are available. The goal of the site is to create a total of 50 presentations. So check back often.

Some of the video clips are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, then they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos 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.

tag(s): alphabet (92), phonics (75), preK (279)

In the Classroom

This is an excellent resource for use on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Choose from the different options when presenting letter sounds in your classroom to present letters in different formats. Create a link on classroom computers to use as a phonics center activity. Share this site with parents through your classroom website or newsletter as a wonderful way to practice and learn letter sounds at home. Use this site with ESL/ELL students. Speech pathologists and special education teachers may want to bookmark this excellent site, too.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Wondermind - Tate Liverpool

Grades
4 to 12
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Wondermind is a set of four mini-activities with accompanying videos, illustrating the fascinating ways our brains work. Experience the activities/illustrations to help prepare for...more
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Wondermind is a set of four mini-activities with accompanying videos, illustrating the fascinating ways our brains work. Experience the activities/illustrations to help prepare for the interactive video that explains an aspect of the brain, such as how we learn language, how the brain develops from childhood to adulthood, how memory works, how we sense our own location, and how we learn self-control. Wondermind, set to the theme of Alice in Wonderland, will delight you with the quirky, clever, or just plain weird art inspired by Alice in Wonderland and used as part of the designs. The activities can be skipped if you prefer to just view the videos.

tag(s): body systems (57), brain (72), human body (120), logic (235), psychology (64)

In the Classroom

Create a link on classroom computers for students to try the challenges and then view videos on your interactive whiteboard together. Check out the learning resources link to view a video with additional ideas for visual perception games and activities. Use as part of your Alice in Wonderland or Lewis Carroll units. If you teach psychology, anatomy, or health, this exploration will offer a new angle into how the brain works. Use the game and video about memory during a unit on study skills and discovering how students learn best. Teachers of gifted may also want to explore this site as part of a unit on the gifted mind. Learning support teachers may also want to use portions to help students better understand why their minds operate differently -- not "badly." Bright Asperger's students might be fascinated by the portion on the prefrontal cortex and how we learn self-control.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Yong's China Quest - Lotherton Hall, Leeds Museums and Galleries

Grades
K to 7
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Yong's China Quest is an excellent learning game set in China. Learn about the country while solving puzzles in three different levels. Explore Beijing Olympic mascots, ivory figurines,...more
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Yong's China Quest is an excellent learning game set in China. Learn about the country while solving puzzles in three different levels. Explore Beijing Olympic mascots, ivory figurines, dragon robes, and the use of authentic swords while gaining wisdom to help solve puzzles. Playing is simple. Point and click to learn about China and its traditions. This link will lead you to the main page. From here, you can click Start Interactive to begin at level 1. At the bottom of the screen there are links to go to level 2 or level 3.

tag(s): china (66), cross cultural understanding (115), cultures (105)

In the Classroom

Use the activity in a center as part of your Chinese New Year lesson activities. Allow students to try the quest on your interactive whiteboard as a center activity. Keep a list of items found while solving puzzles, and have students research more information on them.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Agriculture - 4-U - Mark Thompson

Grades
K to 12
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Agriculture - 4-U offers an explanation of where and how we get our food. Though developed for the United Kingdom, much of the information also applies to the United States ...more
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Agriculture - 4-U offers an explanation of where and how we get our food. Though developed for the United Kingdom, much of the information also applies to the United States or any other country. There are sections for teachers, learners, and the "Farm Yard." The teacher portion contains many links to videos, lessons, and activities divided into student age ranges from Foundation (preschool) through Secondary. The Farm Yard contains videos and data on crops, livestock, disease, and agricultural careers. The learner portion has sections to learn about crops, livestock, and careers. Although some activities are immediately available (especially those in the learners and Farm Yard portions), you can access everything on the site after completing the free trial application (free until further notice!) requiring your name, email, and school information.

tag(s): agriculture (54), careers (132), plants (144), preK (279)

In the Classroom

Include this site during a unit on farming or careers. You can also include it in geography class discussions about use of natural resources and regional economies. Show videos on your interactive whiteboard or create a link on classroom computers. Challenge students to create a word cloud of terms about agriculture or farming using a tool such as Wordle reviewed here. Use an online tool such as the Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here) to create a visual comparison of crops found in the United Kingdom verses those found in your area.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Convert center - Baltsoft Software

Grades
4 to 12
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This quick and easy tool converts between units of measurement. Useful in both math and science, find any kind of conversion for many different types of measures. Use the From ...more
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This quick and easy tool converts between units of measurement. Useful in both math and science, find any kind of conversion for many different types of measures. Use the From and To boxes to find your specific conversion. Find many odd and seldom used units for conversion. (This would be a great time to research where and why some units were used in the past!) Conversions to many different units are included, and a link to the results is displayed to share with others.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): conversions (22), measurement (159)

In the Classroom

Demonstrate how to use this tool on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Share this link on your class website for students to use both in and out of the classroom. Family and consumer science and world language teachers will also find the U.S. liquid measure and weight conversions handy when converting recipes from English/U.S. to metric and vice versa. Have students create infographics SHOWING the relationships between units of measure during your math or science unit on measurement.

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Squishy Circuits - AnnMarie Thomas

Grades
2 to 10
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Squishy Circuits takes the fear out of electrical engineering and replaces it with fun! Using two different home-made play dough recipes, this scientist devised a way to teach her toddler...more
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Squishy Circuits takes the fear out of electrical engineering and replaces it with fun! Using two different home-made play dough recipes, this scientist devised a way to teach her toddler about electronics. Turning her kitchen into an electrical engineering lab was easier than you may think. Two different play dough recipes provide conductors and resistors. Demonstrate how electricity moves by attaching the play dough to a battery pack and using LED lights. All ages will love "playing" with electronics. Watch the short video explanation of how this project started, and see a great demonstration by the creator of the project. Directions are available video video or as a PDF.

tag(s): circuits (20), electricity (89)

In the Classroom

Budgets are tight and times are tough, but using these activities, we can still keep the lights on electrical engineering. Have students make the play dough in lab or make it in advance for them. Color the recipes with different food colors so that you can easily identify which recipe is which. Explain how the battery packs and indicator lights work, and then let them play with the play dough and the battery packs. Please advise students of safety hazards and caution them against putting sensors directly against the battery pack. Once they have had time to play, have them identify different circuit parts using correct electrical terminology. Challenge students to create more and use their imaginations to try different situations and scenarios. Have different groups share their findings with the class, and allow the groups to share ideas to reach even further.
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Paradise Tossed - John Robert Ladd (Founder & Editor) and the Crew

Grades
8 to 12
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Paradise Tossed provides a starting point to break from the traditional methods of reading and writing poetry to experience the richness that technology can offer to this genre. This...more
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Paradise Tossed provides a starting point to break from the traditional methods of reading and writing poetry to experience the richness that technology can offer to this genre. This poetry and technology blog is mainly to use as a professional resource for discovering ways to merge the reading and writing of poetry with all the advantages that technology offers. There are screenshots, video clips, blog entries, and much more. Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to be a reader or writer of poetry without involving, embracing, and interacting with technology. Visit this site to find some of the best poetry resources from across the web, and tools to use with them. Although this site is not frequently updated, there is some wonderful information and resources to explore. This site was moved from its original location and left at this url in "archive" format so people could continue to use it. If it "disappears," please leave a comment notifying TeachersFirst of the "loss." That would be another (teacher) paradise "lost" !

tag(s): blogs (88), poetry (227)

In the Classroom

This site is a place that opens doors to thought provoking ideas for high school English students. Please be cautious and check with your school's policy about sharing blogs. You might want to bookmark the site for yourself, hide your pen and paper, and try some of the online tricks to look at the same old poems, or create new ones, in a whole new light. Then, show off your skills on an interactive white board. Next, it's the students turn to try it on individual computers. Have students create blogs using Throwww (reviewed here). This site allows you to create "quick and easy" blogs to be used one time only. There is no registration necessary! Paradise Tossed provides teachers with a starting point to break from the traditional methods of reading and writing poetry to experience the richness that technology can offer to this genre. Be Aware: some of the videos are hosted on YouTube. If your school blocks YouTube, then they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos 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.
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