TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Jul 15, 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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Skoolbo - Shane Hill

Grades
K to 5
15 Favorites 1  Comments
Skoolbo is a multi-platform math and literacy program designed to help 4 to 10 year-olds learn to read and gain confidence with numbers. The multiplayer games incorporate beautifully...more
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Skoolbo is a multi-platform math and literacy program designed to help 4 to 10 year-olds learn to read and gain confidence with numbers. The multiplayer games incorporate beautifully designed 3D worlds, individualized avatars and a highly effective rewards system. As children answer more questions, they can earn badges, superhero costumes and certificates, questions adjust to challenge students based on responses. Teachers and parents receive comprehensive, individually customized reports detailing not only strengths and weaknesses, but also suggested activities for student improvement. Enter class information including student names and parent emails to view results, summaries, and more. Add multiple classes as needed. Registration requires email information to access and use all areas of Skoolbo and download software to play games. There are some premium features available, but they are not required to enjoy most of the benefits of this site. Only the videos require Flash. Another feature is a free Zalairos Adventures ebook every two weeks, downloadable through iTunes.

tag(s): addition (252), DAT device agnostic tool (192), division (172), ebooks (40), fluency (23), game based learning (101), grammar (217), literacy (102), multiplication (227), numbers (203), patterns (84), phonics (75), preK (275), puzzles (208), spelling (168), subtraction (209), time (144), vocabulary development (126)

In the Classroom

Enroll your class in Skoolbo then create a link to the site on classroom computers. Monitor students' progress and provide parents with up to date information. Share this site with parents through your classroom website or newsletter as a resource for practicing math and literacy skills at home. Assign practice on the site for weekly homework. One great benefit of the site is the report containing suggested activities for student improvement, share this information with parents as an aid to improving student performance. If you have access to iPads in your classroom, download the app from the site for students to access on the mobile device. Find the teacher's guide by clicking on Core Skills and scrolling to the bottom of that page. This is in PDF format, and you can begin using the Skoolbo site and see an overview of skills covered.

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Melissa, , Grades: 0 - 5

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Latin.Comics - Magister Cummings

Grades
6 to 12
4 Favorites 0  Comments
Liven up your Latin class with this collection of comics about Roman culture and mythology, created using a tool called ComicLife and shared on Scribd. The comics archive includes...more
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Liven up your Latin class with this collection of comics about Roman culture and mythology, created using a tool called ComicLife and shared on Scribd. The comics archive includes simple survival vocabulary, cultural tidbits, history, classic writers, Latin grammar, classical medicine, and Roman infrastructure, all presented in an easy-to-use format. Bookmark this site to easily check for new comics. Comics are available for downloading and printing as pdfs. The site listing the comics doesn't have advertising, but when you click on to the comic, that page has advertising.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), latin (22), myths and legends (25), romans (35)

In the Classroom

Check back often to see if these offerings match what your Latin or even Greek class is studying. This is great for English teachers who are teaching classical myths or social studies teachers teaching ancient Rome. Have students create their own comics to explain additional Latin or mythology topics using comic creation tools from this collection.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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About.Me - Tony Conrad, Ryan Freitas, Tim Young

Grades
6 to 12
5 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Promote yourself for college or future jobs by creating your own "me portfolio" website. No matter your age or stage in life, in today's world you are what Google shows ...more
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Promote yourself for college or future jobs by creating your own "me portfolio" website. No matter your age or stage in life, in today's world you are what Google shows about you. Take control of your online presence to show your chosen audience what YOU want them to know. You are more than your FaceBook persona or Linked In profile. About.Me allows you to create a "hub" with links to your online projects you want visitors to see. Upload a photo, write a short piece about your interests, then link to your online content and social networks. There is also an Assets page where you can download the About.Me logo and colors to add to other pages and projects you have on the web so visitors will link back to the hub and discover your other projects. Before creating your About.Me website, you might want to read about "branding" yourself on the Student Branding Blog reviewed here. The information on the Branding Blog applies to any adult, too. The Terms of Use for About.Me prohibits creating fictitious personas.

tag(s): college (43), internet safety (117), portfolios (25), social networking (113)

In the Classroom

Counselors and teachers could work together to have high school students make About.Me the place they use as a "branding" home for themselves online. Start by making your own About.me page to mange your own professional presence and use as an example. Suggest to students that they use a "me portfolio" on About.Me for college apps, employment apps, etc. You might want to have students look at the "branding" suggestions from the Student Branding Blog before creating their page. Using About.Me is also the perfect opportunity to talk with students about their online presence and how outsiders might interpret what they decide to post on About.Me or any social network. Along with that discussion you'll want to review Internet safety and privacy. Consider using Internet Safety: Rules of the Road for Kids reviewed here. If you teach gifted students (13+) who are working beyond your regular curriculum, start by having them create a real world presence using About.Me, with parent permission of course. Use this space for them to publish links to their best work, especially projects that take on a life of their own long after the assignment ends. Have a student interested in international politics? Maybe STEM cell research? Have the share the class project that got the started along with essays about where they see themselves in ten years or portfolios of their related accomplishments, including those outside of school. This portfolio site is not something to "pile up" with everything. It is for them to present their best face to the public. Encourage them to take ownership of it.

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Lalo.li - Franz Enzenhofer

Grades
K to 12
1 Favorites 1  Comments
  
Type a message and Lalo.li will read it aloud using a voice synthesizer. Adjust message quality using the word gap, speed, amplitude, and pitch icons. Just click on the circle ...more
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Type a message and Lalo.li will read it aloud using a voice synthesizer. Adjust message quality using the word gap, speed, amplitude, and pitch icons. Just click on the circle and turn to change the quality. Copy and paste the URL to share your audio message or use links to share via social networking such as Facebook and Twitter. Here is a sample . At the time of this review, the site only worked using Firefox or Chrome.

tag(s): text to speech (17)

In the Classroom

This would be great for ESL/ELL learners; have them type a short sentence and listen to the playback to verify that the sentence is correct. It would also be a great practice for beginning readers. Use your interactive whiteboard and have the class tell a very brief story or say a sentence. After typing the sentence into the program, user a pointer for each word as the synthesizer reads it, or have students take turns pointing out the words. Share tonight's homework on your class web page as a link to an audio reminder simply by typing or pasting in the assignment and copying the link to place it on your web page.

Comments

When I tried to use it with Safari on a new Mac in 10.7, it said I needed to use only Firefox or Chrome Too bad.

Note from the editorial staff: thank you for your comment. We have added this information to the review.
Constance, RI, Grades: 0 - 12

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Knoema - Knoema

Grades
9 to 12
3 Favorites 1  Comments
 
This easy to use site is a large collection of maps and data sets for access by the public. Find maps, data, and charts for almost all countries. Choose from ...more
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This easy to use site is a large collection of maps and data sets for access by the public. Find maps, data, and charts for almost all countries. Choose from data categories that include Per Capita Income, Government Debt, Housing, Energy Consumption, Agricultural Production, and more. Select a data set to view. Choose the available countries from the drop-down. Export, download, or embed the data into your blog or site. Peruse community boards for information on statistics and apps for sharing (Facebook and Twitter) on Knoema. Upload data and create presentations and pages with the data simply and easily. Find tutorials about all you can do with Knoema here.

tag(s): charts and graphs (195), countries (77), data (149), maps (287), statistics (122)

In the Classroom

Use in Social Studies or World Cultures to compare economic indicators of countries. Create data sets and visualizations of environmental data around the world. Use data in the writing of papers or creation of presentations on the country statistics such as GDP or exported goods. Trying to find meaningful data to include in an infographic? Knoema has it! Math teachers can use data sets for practice activities with statistics.

Comments

I absolutely love Knoema! They also have World Data Atlas (Chrome Web Store app for free) - chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/world-data-atlas/knlgfedckdhkgjinnhogmhkbcjpmmhko that I strongly advise to use. Olga, , Grades: 0 - 12

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Animated Shakespeare - Cambio

Grades
6 to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Cliffs Notes Films brings its study guides of the greatest classics to life in a more entertaining, interactive, and relatable format for today's generation. The first six films are...more
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Cliffs Notes Films brings its study guides of the greatest classics to life in a more entertaining, interactive, and relatable format for today's generation. The first six films are interactive, irreverent pop-cultural mash-ups of the most popular Shakespeare classics like Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Narrated by "Cliff," a bookish super-hero-cum-narrator who guides the audience through each tome. Click on characters to learn more about the basic plots, themes, and characters.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): hamlet (13), julius caesar (7), macbeth (11), midsummer nights dream (5), othello (6), romeo and juliet (6), shakespeare (131)

In the Classroom

It is always a challenge to get students to read actual literature texts instead of the "easier" versions. Share Animated Shakespeare on your classroom whiteboard or as a link on your website for student use at home. View these short films before reading the real Shakespeare in class to motivate student interest. Challenge them to find things in the real play that the animated synopsis left out, especially subtleties. View again at the end of reading; stop the video before clicking on characters and places and have students provide important details of the plot or about the characters before moving on. Challenge students to create a talking avatar for a character in the play they are reading. Have them use a photo or other image (legally reproducible). Have students use the avatars to describe another character or event from the play. Use a site such as Blabberize (reviewed here).

Interested in "Flipping" your classroom? Post the URL for the video you want your students to view at home. Show students the page under the film where they can read about the characters and themes and take a little quiz. Ask them to come in the next day with questions they have about the story.

After perusing a video and the accompanying materials on Animated Shakespeare, have your students read and view the same play on Schmoop's Picture This reviewed here. Have a discussion about the differences between the two. Then ask students to write a compare/contrast response to the two different presentations of the same story.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Discover Design: A Student Design Experience - Chicago Architecture Foundation

Grades
8 to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Learn about architectural design and construction of buildings and more and about design in general. This site also gives teens a forum to post design ideas and receive feedback from...more
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Learn about architectural design and construction of buildings and more and about design in general. This site also gives teens a forum to post design ideas and receive feedback from others their age as well as teachers and design professionals. Discover Design also promotes a challenge every year for student teams to create an innovative remake of something (lunchroom, food stand, locker, etc.) at their school. The registration deadline is in the first week in April with final project due the second to last week in May. Judging begins the last week of May and ends the second week of June. View the contest requirements and rules in great detail with forms on the site. Use this site for lessons and information without an account, but to use the forum tool you need to create a user account.

tag(s): architecture (83), engineering (118), measurement (163), modeling (9)

In the Classroom

Teach students about applied science and math through the use of design. Students will see real life applications, get energized about a possible career, and go beyond repetitious facts or abstract theories. Use this site to spark ideas for your students. Use one of the smaller past challenges for your class. Have students compete to create a new student locker or lunch tray. Have them do research and design prototypes. Have students display their work locally for the school and community. Judge work by the public or by classmates on a rubric. Even if you are not part of the larger Maker's Faire movement, your students can be involved in hands-on design and innovation.

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Refraction: Teaching Fractions Through Gameplay - Erik Andersen

Grades
4 to 7
10 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Refraction is an online game for teaching fractions. Partition lasers to power spaceships that contain various animals stuck in space. Animal spaceships require different fractions...more
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Refraction is an online game for teaching fractions. Partition lasers to power spaceships that contain various animals stuck in space. Animal spaceships require different fractions of the lasers, and pieces split and bend the lasers to reach the animals to satisfy these requirements. These mechanics can teach many important fraction concepts, such as equal partitioning, addition, multiplication, mixed numbers, improper fractions, and common denominators.

tag(s): fractions (239), mixed numbers (14)

In the Classroom

This game is perfect for use on your interactive whiteboard or on classroom computers. Discuss different options for using lasers and the effect they will have when used. Present the site to a couple of "tech savvy" students before presenting to the whole class. These students become helpers to answer questions others may have with using the game.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Instant Classroom Seating Chart - Instant Classroom

Grades
K to 12
10 Favorites 0  Comments
This free site makes classroom management easier by letting you create a seating chart easily. There is also a Random Name Generator and a Classroom Group Maker. You can create ...more
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This free site makes classroom management easier by letting you create a seating chart easily. There is also a Random Name Generator and a Classroom Group Maker. You can create many groups with up to 100 students in each group.

tag(s): classroom management (129)

In the Classroom

Use this site at the beginning of the year to create a seating chart for your classroom. Use the drag and drop technology to configure the desks the way you want them. Use the Random Name Generator to choose a student for an activity or to answer a question. If you need to create groups of 2, 3 or more, use the Classroom Group Maker to automatically split your class into even groups.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Easel.ly

Grades
5 to 12
8 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Create Infographics - easily! Click the "Start Fresh" gray square to begin using the tools. Simply drag and drop your favorite from a wide selection of customizable themes (layouts),...more
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Create Infographics - easily! Click the "Start Fresh" gray square to begin using the tools. Simply drag and drop your favorite from a wide selection of customizable themes (layouts), or start from a blank canvas. Drag and drop other needed elements or upload graphics to create your own. Enter your text and data to create your own Infographic, displaying and sharing information. Find all the needed elements and prompts along the top navigation bar. This site takes the challenge of using design principles out of the creation of an Infographic. Click Save and you will be prompted to join if you have not already. Once logged in and saved, the prompts will tell you to return to your home page (leaving the "creator" area) to choose settings for your finished infographic. You can choose public or private, share by link, download, or delete.

tag(s): data (149), infographics (42), posters (35)

In the Classroom

Use a whole class account if you are working with students under 13 or if school policies prohibit student accounts. Experiment with Easel.ly on a projector or interactive whiteboard (let the students do it!) using different design "themes," making changes without having to configure the whole Infographic. After creating Infographics as a class, review the other types to show basic design principles. Students can create Infographics of a classroom topic, relationships and definitions of major terms, information from labs, and more. Find data and information that connects your content to the outside world, such as the statistics and causes for endangered species. Consider assigning the creation of an Infographic as an assignment to understand any curriculum content and connect it with the real world. For example, show the many ways electricity is used in the world or the impact of slavery on an economy. Or have students explain an experiment and report the results with graphical information to provide meaning. Learn about food groups (now displayed as myplate) by dissecting a food, diary, or a typical school lunch in terms of meeting daily requirements (and other nutrition topics).

If your use literature circles in your classroom, making an Infographic about a novel the group read would be a great conclusion for the lit circle project, and it might entice others in the class to read the novel. Post the infographics on your web page for all your students and their parents to enjoy.

To challenge your gifted students, have them research and create infographics depicting the tough issues or "flipsides" related to your curriculum topic: Major court cases and issues involving freedom of speech (during your Constuitution unit), risks and benefits of nuclear power (in a physics class), how an author's experience influences what he/she writes, lead-ups to a current events crisis, etc.

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Scale of the Universe 2 - Cary and Michael Huang

Grades
6 to 12
4 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Scale of the Universe 2 zooms into the smallest parts of atoms and out to the largest items in the solar system. Use your mouse or click to view objects ...more
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Scale of the Universe 2 zooms into the smallest parts of atoms and out to the largest items in the solar system. Use your mouse or click to view objects that vary incredibly in size. Use this tool to get a sense of the size of the universe through the relationship between familiar and unfamiliar objects. Click on the object, and an information box pops up. Click on the musical note in the upper right corner to silence the music. Spend many hours perusing the variety of information on this site.

tag(s): atoms (55), measurement (163), planets (122), space (206)

In the Classroom

Use your projector or interactive whiteboard and spend time moving through the objects and looking at the relationships between the sizes. Be sure to instruct students on how to read powers of 10 for understanding of the sizes. This would also be a way to help students visualize the concept of scientific notation! Use the items as part of a "size scavenger hunt." Consider creating visual displays of information similar to this to show relationships between objects. Use a zooming tool such as Prezi or any other multimedia tool.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Procon - Procon.org

Grades
7 to 12
6 Favorites 2  Comments
  
Procon presents controversial issues in a non-partisan manner. Find current issues with balanced information to promote critical thinking without bias. Categories include Education,...more
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Procon presents controversial issues in a non-partisan manner. Find current issues with balanced information to promote critical thinking without bias. Categories include Education, Media & Entertainment, Sports, Science & Technology, among others. Issues can include Abortion, Euthanasia, Climate Change, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Health Care Reform, Obesity, and the Death Penalty, just to name a few. Read the information on each issue in a Pro and Con format along with background information, and included video clips. Some topics are controversial, so adults using this site with young people may want to go directly to a single issue rather than having them browse openly.

tag(s): climate change (64), critical thinking (92), debate (41), persuasive writing (54), politics (98)

In the Classroom

Using controversial topics that have more than one side is a great way to develop critical thinking and problem solving. Find issues on this site that relate to your curriculum and use them as an entry point for a new unit. Use the teaching resources found under the Teacher's Corner. Use this site to teach how to distinguish facts from opinions, using information to write essays or create speeches, or hold a class debate. Help students develop flexibility in their thinking by having them argue a side they do NOT agree with. Focus on critical thinking with your students to develop skills needed for life. Use as a whole class activity or for individual students to find an issue of interest to them. Gifted students often think deeply on such issues at an early age and will find these topics of great interest. Use this site to guide a deliberate discussion or debate.

Comments

I also love this site, but I don't see any advertising on there at all. The site is free. Not sure how they stay afloat but I'm glad they do. For me, it is better than Opposing Viewpoints database for its depth, ease of use, and lack of registration/passwords. I use it for student debates on current events, and my wife (an English teacher) uses it for persuasive essays and role play debates. , , Grades: 0 - 12
I've used this and it's great! Balanced, has good resources. Helps students see both sides of an issue. Frances, CT, Grades: 6 - 8

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Spongelab - Andrea Bielecki, Reg Bronskill and Jeremy Friedberg

Grades
8 to 12
6 Favorites 0  Comments
   
This tool is an amazing, free, online community focused on science with a large number of magnificent animations, case studies, lesson plans, graphics, and multimedia to help explain...more
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This tool is an amazing, free, online community focused on science with a large number of magnificent animations, case studies, lesson plans, graphics, and multimedia to help explain science principles. Use this place to meet others interested in science. Build a profile and add science content from the site. Teachers can transform these pieces to develop lessons and assign to classes. Content is aligned with science texts and other learning materials. Use the community area to find Spongelab related content posted on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus without leaving the site. Be sure to check out under the What's New, Explore, and Featured Content tabs. Play with the online teaching system to cluster free content together into open and shareable online presentations with notes. The system includes a detailed analytics system to track student experience with the content. One notewothy feature is that images available on the site include licensing information in the caption, so you can easily learn which images are in the public domain or Creative Commons licensed for use in your own multimedia projects! Open them, save them. and cite them to create in any multimedia tool.

tag(s): animation (59), images (261), social networking (113), video (251)

In the Classroom

The power of this site is the ability to organize and share whatever your students need to help them learn. Create lessons using ready-made content found on this site, and keep it all together in one place. This is especially helpful if you teach more than one type of science class. Use the unique science games and content for learning topics in your class. If you teach many student ability levels, you can tailor collections to meet those needs. You can also create collections of Creative Commons or public domain images that students can use to make their own science projects using multimedia tools reviewed at the TeachersFirst Edge (with citations based on the image caption info, of course). Have a student demonstrate how to do this on a projector or interactive whiteboard.

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Numbersleuth: Magnifying the Universe - Science is Beautiful

Grades
K to 12
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This site shows the scale of items from the atom to the universe by using an interactive Infographic. Choose from nine items to begin comparison. Use the blue dot to ...more
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This site shows the scale of items from the atom to the universe by using an interactive Infographic. Choose from nine items to begin comparison. Use the blue dot to zoom in and out by sliding it up and down. The dial gives the difference in size. Be sure to view the Infographic full screen.

tag(s): animals (277), atoms (55), earth (228), measurement (163), planets (122), space (206)

In the Classroom

Provide time for student groups to explore this tool, record observations, discuss information they know, and generate questions. Research information to answer questions. Use this site before discussing the metric system or conversions between various units. It can be used to discuss the use of significant figures and errors in measurements and numbers. Use it as a springboard to measuring and comparing various items that students are familiar with. Embed this on to your class site for easy access by students.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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