TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of May 5, 2013

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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Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek - John Branch, New York Times

Grades
8 to 12
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Experience the true story of a deadly avalanche and its aftermath through this 2013 Pulitzer Prize winning multimedia feature article. Rich with metaphors and imagery interwoven with...more
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Experience the true story of a deadly avalanche and its aftermath through this 2013 Pulitzer Prize winning multimedia feature article. Rich with metaphors and imagery interwoven with the narrative, the online article includes interactive maps, videos, and photographs. Discover the science behind avalanches in this exquisite example of informational text and narrative. The article sidebars share related slideshows and more. The story is long but well worth the time to fully experience.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): descriptive writing (41), disasters (39), journalism (46), snow (21)

In the Classroom

Include this story (or portions of it) during your science study of motion, gravity, or weather with secondary students. (Our check of reading level found it to be approximately 8th grade). Experience the text on a projector or interactive whiteboard to annotate figures of speech that tell us even more than some of the images. Read and analyze it as an informational text in English class. (it's viewable on tablets, too!). Discuss how the author uses media as part of the writing instead of as an add-on. For journalism and other writing classes, you may want to have your students read the accompanying article How We Made Snow Fall to analyze how the interactive and graphics departments at the New York Times worked with the text of the story to make the graphics and video a seamless part of the "reading". Challenge student groups to investigate a true story of a weather event or other actual occurrence through a combination of media and writing, explaining the science concepts along the way. Share their projects using one of the multimedia tools available from the TeachersFirst Edge. Expecting a snow day? Share this on your class web page for your literature or science class as a productive way to spend the day. Teachers of gifted can share this as an example of a project that can draw on a student's interests in science, art, and writing. Challenge students to try one. If you teach journalism, you could make the two articles an entire unit as you discuss the changing role of print vs. web-based writing in the 21st century.
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Circuit Lab - Circuitlab.com

Grades
9 to 12
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Use this free tool to easily build and test circuits in your browser! Those without thorough understanding about circuitry can start with pre-made "Quick Start" circuits. The on screen...more
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Use this free tool to easily build and test circuits in your browser! Those without thorough understanding about circuitry can start with pre-made "Quick Start" circuits. The on screen build box has basic circuitry elements available to create quick circuits. Copy and paste circuit parts from other circuits (including those found in the online community) to your circuit. Share your circuit with others by URL. This tool is easy to use. There is a Getting Started video to help with the functions of the tool. Click simulate to test the circuit. Create an account to save your circuits to Your Workbench. At the time of this review, CircuitLab was supported on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. The site notes that some users have reported success with Opera and Apple Safari. Be sure to test this site in your browser before you plan to share it.

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

In the Classroom

Share how to use this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Create circuits and share with others in the class. Assign specific circuits to be built with various elements such as diodes, resistors, etc. as part of a project or in testing student knowledge. Students can research when various circuits are required or applicable in real life.
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360Cities - 360 Cities s.r.o.

Grades
K to 12
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The 360Cities panoramas are a new way to showcase places, businesses, and events from around the world. Looking for a new virtual field trip? 360Cities will have your students spinning...more
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The 360Cities panoramas are a new way to showcase places, businesses, and events from around the world. Looking for a new virtual field trip? 360Cities will have your students spinning in circles with excitement. The pictures are out of this world! View 360 degree panoramic pictures from Mars or under the sea. Travel to snowy mountain tops and many more of the Internet's largest collection of uploaded panoramic images. 360Cities panoramic aerial shots are also available as well as navigable views of cities, natural landscapes, and more. The most popular panoramic pictures are listed for your convenience. This website has panoramic views of all Seven Wonders of the World, which include the Colosseum in Rome, The Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan, The Taj Mahal in India, Machu Picchu in Peru, Christ Redeemer in Rio, and Chichen Itza in Mexico. Are you looking for a site to showcase your own panoramic shots or do you want to learn how to take panoramic shots? 360Cities "how to" section offers tools to create and upload your own panoramic pictures. View the existing pictures for free or use an email address to create a free account to upload your own panoramic pictures. Paid upgrades are available. 360Cities also has an app for iOS devices. View the 360Cities blog linked on the site for more information.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): images (265), landforms (45), landmarks (26), virtual field trips (48)

In the Classroom

The 360Cities panoramic pictures provide a vivid visual experience to enhance any lesson. Students can search and view the panoramic setting of a reading passage or novel. Need to paint a picture for students about a historical topic? View the image on 360Cities. Activate schema with these vivid images. Bring Science to life as you explore the many natural wonders of our world and even space. Explore these exciting worlds through the panoramic pictures. Visit businesses and famous landmarks around the world for a free virtual tour. Looking for creative writing prompts? Use the images for poems or story starters. Teaching geometry? Have students locate geometric figures in the pictures. Provide students an image and challenge them to create a virtual tour as they explore the image. Use web 2.0 tools or the students' artistic talents to create travel brochures for the panoramic pictures. Record the tours as a screencast or present orally. Use the "how-to" section to have your students create their own panoramic pictures. Take a panoramic shot of your classroom to post on your website or blog. Use DSLR cameras or cell phones to create your panoramic pictures.

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Bracket Basics - Sums Math

Grades
4 to 6
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Test your memory of the order of operations at this simple interactive. Fill in the brackets using numbers provided to match the challenge number. This engaging activity provides excellent...more
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Test your memory of the order of operations at this simple interactive. Fill in the brackets using numbers provided to match the challenge number. This engaging activity provides excellent practice and challenge for learning order of operations. Drag the numbers to any box in the screen trying to provide a solution with the given answer. When ready check your answer. A step by step solution provides answers using information given. If your answer is correct, choose the next problem button. Prompts encourage you to try again if the answer is incorrect.

tag(s): order of operations (33)

In the Classroom

Use this activity on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) to demonstrate the order of operations. Encourage student board operators to provide reasons and their thinking process for choosing certain numbers. For example, " The solution is 30, so I chose 10 to be the multiplier since 30 is a multiple of 10 and the other numbers are not." Have students working on individual computers take a screenshot or upload a photo they have taken and add voice bubbles to explain their problem solving process using a tool such as Superlame, reviewed here.
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Smarty Games - smartygames.com

Grades
K to 4
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Smarty Games offers educational games for pre-kindergarten and elementary students on a variety of topics. Topics include math, reading, coloring, dress-up, and puzzles. Some specific...more
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Smarty Games offers educational games for pre-kindergarten and elementary students on a variety of topics. Topics include math, reading, coloring, dress-up, and puzzles. Some specific topics include counting, time, money, mazes, sudoku, and several others. Choose a topic to begin. Choose your specific activity within that topic (most have varied levels for differentiation). Each option includes a short description of the game and content included. Some options-- such as the dot to dot games --offer the option of printing.

tag(s): addition (251), alphabet (92), colors (79), counting (120), digital storytelling (142), division (172), fractions (239), money (193), multiplication (227), parts of speech (68), preK (279), puzzles (208), subtraction (208), sudoku (18), time (144)

In the Classroom

Smarty Games is an excellent resource for classroom computers or your interactive whiteboard/projector as a center. Create a link on classroom computers for students to explore and play games to reinforce skills. Display games or interactives on your whiteboard. Use the interactive clock located under the time section on your interactive whiteboard to demonstrate telling time. Be sure to share this site with parents via your class website or newsletter as an excellent site for educational games at home. Kids are having so much fun, they don't realize they are learning.
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Wordmark.it - wordmark.it

Grades
K to 12
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Save time when creating presentations and choosing fonts by using Wordmark.it to preview what your exact words will look like. Simply type/paste in any words, and Wordmark.it scans...more
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Save time when creating presentations and choosing fonts by using Wordmark.it to preview what your exact words will look like. Simply type/paste in any words, and Wordmark.it scans the fonts on your computers, displaying the words in each and every font style you have. Adjust font size as desired to see changes or change to positive or negative space. This site helps find the perfect font for any use in no time at all! You no longer have to guess whether the capitals will look funny or the specific letters/words might be hard to read. Art teachers can use this to demonstrate design aspects of different fonts. Sign up using email and a password to save words if desired, but this isn't necessary for general use.

In the Classroom

Share with students to use when preparing any presentation or document. Use this site when creating items for your class blog or website. Be sure to save this tool in your favorites to use for professional projects and lessons!

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Art Projects for Kids - Kathy Barbro

Grades
K to 6
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Find classroom tested art projects for K-5 and beyond at Art Projects for Kids. There are new posts (and activity ideas) nearly every day. Choose from tags listed on the ...more
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Find classroom tested art projects for K-5 and beyond at Art Projects for Kids. There are new posts (and activity ideas) nearly every day. Choose from tags listed on the site to find projects by type such as weaving or watercolor. Find projects by season and topic. Each post includes a description for completing a project, materials needed, and links to printables if required. View the included tags with each item to find suitable grades for each project and similar posts. The projects vary from "crafty" to very open-ended and expressive.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): artists (75), crafts (40), drawing (78), holidays (147), seasons (37), symmetry (55)

In the Classroom

Bookmark and save this site to find art projects and inspiration to use throughout the year. Share with your school's art teacher as a resource for projects that coordinate with classroom content. Don't have an art teacher at your school? Be sure to save this site for lots of easy to incorporate ideas. Create art projects in the style of your favorite authors using links provided. Take pictures of completed projects and create a Page Flip-Flap (reviewed here) to turn images into an online book, There is even a page-turning effect!

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Symphonical - Bjorn Haugland

Grades
6 to 12
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Get organized using Symphonical, an easy to use application made of whiteboards and sticky notes. Sign up to use the site using your email, Facebook, or Google+ login. Choose the ...more
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Get organized using Symphonical, an easy to use application made of whiteboards and sticky notes. Sign up to use the site using your email, Facebook, or Google+ login. Choose the type of wall you want to use: calendar, meeting agenda, or prioritized to-do's. Create your own wall if you don't see an option that works for your needs. Add notes and information as desired. Collaborate with others easily. Change colors of notes to represent priorities, to designate users, or to sort and categorize information. Drag and drop notes to different boxes on your whiteboard as desired. Click on category titles to change information. Add columns or rows or move columns. Share walls with participants, setting options including private or public viewing and allowing viewers to participate on the wall.

tag(s): brainstorming (23), bulletin boards (16), organizational skills (122)

In the Classroom

Use this resource to track steps for accomplishing a project. This is great for improving organizational skills! Increase communication among members of a group. Use with individual students to identify educational goals (such as emotional support or learning support goals) and help set steps for reaching these goals. Keep track of assignments easily with one click. Share documents and other material through the sticky notes. Teachers of gifted but disorganized students or learning support students can draw these students into better organizational skills using this engaging tool.

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UtellStory - utellstory.com

Grades
1 to 12
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UtellStory is a multimedia storytelling and sharing community. Easily create and share stories with audio, image, video, and words. Create an account using email information or login...more
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UtellStory is a multimedia storytelling and sharing community. Easily create and share stories with audio, image, video, and words. Create an account using email information or login with Facebook to begin. Upload slide(s) from your computer, create a text slide, or insert YouTube or Vimeo video links. Free accounts may make up to 24 slides. Arrange slides in your preferred order after upload. Add background audio or change background style. Record your own audio for each slide or choose from existing mp3 files on your computer. Insert when finished. Audio in the free version is up to 30 seconds per slide. Preview and make changes as desired. Save to your account and return if not finished. When complete, choose from publish as a story or publish as a topic. Publish as a topic allows others to share and add to the story. Share your story using your custom URL, embed into your website or blog using the code provided, or share using social media buttons provided. This site could be used with all ages. However, with younger students, an adult would need to offer a lot of support. At the time of this review, all of the stories on the homepage were "kid-appropriate." However, be sure to preview before you share! The educator tools for managing student registrations are not free.

tag(s): digital storytelling (142), images (265), multimedia (57), slides (63)

In the Classroom

UtellStory is a great way for students to create and share short stories about things that they photograph. Have students take pictures during field trips to use in an UtellStory report about what they saw and learned on the trip. Photograph steps of a science experiment. Or have students search for Creative Commons and Public Domain images to use as part of an audio slideshow biography about a notable person in history or tell the story of the water cycle or other process. Try using 4 Free Photos, reviewed here, or Compfight, reviewed here, to find free images. Create a UtellStory to use for review of classroom topics or to demonstrate how to perform different steps in a math problem. Have students create UtellStory presentations demonstrating learning in any subject area such as Civil War Events, different characteristics of animals, etc. Create a UtellStory for your elementary classroom: upload a picture that each student has drawn and have students narrate the picture in their own words.

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Szoter - szoter.com

Grades
K to 12
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Szoter is an online tool for annotating images stored on your computer or screenshots from your computer. Use this site directly on the web or download the Adobe Air version ...more
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Szoter is an online tool for annotating images stored on your computer or screenshots from your computer. Use this site directly on the web or download the Adobe Air version that runs on your desktop. Launch then choose from options to annotate such as load local image, capture camera image, make screenshot, or load image url. After your image loads, choose from editing options such as scaling image, drawing tools such as lines, arrows, and circles, and add text. When finished, save to your computer or publish and share to Twitter, Facebook, or copy the url provided.

tag(s): digital storytelling (142), images (265)

In the Classroom

Capture a screenshot of websites or software and annotate with directions for student use. Have students label and identify objects in an image. Label parts of a plant, continents, landforms, etc. Practice new words in a different language by asking students to label and identify objects in that language. Create a storyboard using several annotated images as a story starter. Art students can annotate images to point out design elements or annotate images of their own work to talk about the creative decisions they made. Share annotated Szoter images on your class website or blog to tell about a field trip or class event.

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Stop the Beetle - USDA

Grades
3 to 12
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Wanted: The Asian long-horned beetle. This insidious beetle is wreaking havoc on trees across America. The US Department of Agriculture is looking for science-minded sleuths to snoop...more
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Wanted: The Asian long-horned beetle. This insidious beetle is wreaking havoc on trees across America. The US Department of Agriculture is looking for science-minded sleuths to snoop around local flora to see if they can spot these bugs. If you are up to the challenge, be sure to report the beetles' whereabouts via the Report It link. View a map of sightings and read resources to understand why the Asian long-horned beetle is considered an invasive species. View photos depicting the telltale signs of infestation -- visible exit holes in the tree bark, a receding canopy starting at the top of the tree, and vertical fissures in the bark are just a few indications that a tree has been infiltrated. The site includes vital information about both the Asian longhorn and emerald ash borer.

tag(s): ecosystems (88), habitats (84), species (29)

In the Classroom

Identify what makes a species "invasive." Research the ecosystem in your area and identify why this pest can create loss of species there. Identify various invasive species found around the country and the world and the mechanisms that allowed them to become established in the first place. Create a campaign to teach people in the area how to identify and stop the spread of invasive species.
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America in Class - The National Humanities Center

Grades
5 to 12
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Discover American History lessons correlated to Common Core reading and social studies literacy standards, especially those that require close reading and evidence. The goal of these...more
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Discover American History lessons correlated to Common Core reading and social studies literacy standards, especially those that require close reading and evidence. The goal of these lessons is to use primary resources, background information, and the analytical strategies suggested to meet the Common Core standards. In addition to these outstanding American History lessons, also find free online seminars and secondary sources. The secondary sources, under TeacherServe, include essays on topics in American literature and history.

tag(s): abolition (7), american revolution (86), civil war (145), colonial america (107), colonization (16), democracy (12), native americans (78), primary sources (86), slavery (72), women (101)

In the Classroom

Use your interactive whiteboard or projector to help your class learn the background information and read the material through once. Work through the lesson together; then consider assigning groups of four students to go through the readings again, discovering the answers to the essential questions. Have students post the group's answers on a back channel chat program such as Today's Meet reviewed here so all groups can see all answers. Where answers differ, have students go back into the reading and cite evidence to support their answer on Today's Meet for all to see.

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The Book Drum - Book Drum, Ltd.

Grades
5 to 12
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Book Drum has the ultimate in book reviews and more for classic and contemporary fiction and nonfiction. Reviews are so colossally informative that Book Drum calls them "profiles" instead...more
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Book Drum has the ultimate in book reviews and more for classic and contemporary fiction and nonfiction. Reviews are so colossally informative that Book Drum calls them "profiles" instead of reviews. All types of readers will enjoy the interactive, visual content and attention to detail. Each "profile" has what you would expect: a summary, author information, and a review. However, that is where the "normal" stops and the colossal will begin. Some of the pages also include videos, gorgeous photos with captions and explanations, and maps of the area. The glossary defines difficult, unusual, and world language vocabulary. The most impressive feature is the Bookmarks. This is a page-by-page commentary and illustrations of the text. Head over to Book Drum and type in your favorite book title to see how informative it is. If your favorite book that is not on Book Drum, contact them and ask for a "profile" to be created or volunteer to create one for them as a contributor. Some of the videos require Flash.

tag(s): authors (120), book lists (126), book reports (36), independent reading (126), novels (24), writers workshop (31)

In the Classroom

Whether you are a high school class studying "To Kill a Mockingbird" or an elementary teacher reading Roald Dahl's "Mathilda" with your class, you will want to share with the excellent research that has gone into the "Bookmark" pages at Book Drum. For instance, in the first 25 pages Dahl's "Mathilda" mention the novels or the authors of "The Secret Garden," "Great Expectations," "A Moveable Feast," "Heart of Darkness," "Secret Agent," and "Kim." You will find explanations about the books and authors and links for more information. This is a powerful way to introduce young readers to the classics, the authors who wrote them, and general background knowledge.

If you run a reading/writing workshop with your middle or high school students or want to promote books in your library media center, introduce students to "Twilight," "The Graveyard Book" (Neil Gaiman), or any other contemporary book to help satisfy their curiosity about the places and information mentioned. If Book Drum doesn't have a "profile" on the book your literature circles are reading, have your students create a final project modeled on the Book Drum example. Use a wiki for student groups to collaborate on book profile pages. To learn more about using wikis in your classroom, check out the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through. Another good program for nonfiction literature circle projects is Meograph, (reviewed here).
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