TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Nov 17, 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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The ReDistricting Game - USC Annenberg Center

Grades
8 to 12
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Learn, explore, and discover the realities of political redistricting through this intriguing game. Explore how abuses undermine the system and learn about reform initiatives. Play...more
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Learn, explore, and discover the realities of political redistricting through this intriguing game. Explore how abuses undermine the system and learn about reform initiatives. Play each of the five missions in the fictional location of Jefferson. Choose from basic or advanced levels. To move through each mission, you must achieve mission goals and receive approval of the legislature as well as the governor. Following that, the plan must pass any court challenges before receiving approval.

tag(s): congress (33), maps (287), politics (98)

In the Classroom

This game is a MUST during any unit on the electoral process or about Congress and Congressional districts! Introduce the ReDistricting Game on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Allow older students to explore on their own or in small groups. Take screen shots of different redistricting options and have students share their experiences in mapping out favorable and non-approved districts. Challenge students to create presentations arguing why their redistricting plans are the best. Use a tool such as Infinite Canvas (reviewed here) to create online montages using images, slideshows, and more.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Pinstamatic - Pinstamatic.com

Grades
K to 12
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Love to use Pinterest but wish you could pin text, links, and other non-image items? Enter Pinstamatic. This site can...more
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Love to use Pinterest but wish you could pin text, links, and other non-image items? Enter Pinstamatic. This site can jazz up more than images. Add quotes, links, and more with this simple tool. It is also helpful for the graphically challenged. Be sure you are logged into Pinterest, and then go to Pinstamatic. Choose from Sticky, Spotify, Quote, Twitter, Calendar, or Location. Enter text, URL, or other information and click preview. When you like the way it looks, click Pin.

tag(s): bookmarks (60)

In the Classroom

Expand classroom use of Pinterest to include Twitter items, quotes, and more. Make pinboards for different subjects or units where you collect videos, images, classroom blogs and websites, etc. In lower grades, pinboard make links more accessible for non-readers. Share your pinboards with students and parents by putting the link on your class website. Create pinboards highlighting topics being studied in class for use as study guides. Challenge your older students to curate their own pinboards as a research project. Use Pinterest to show their hobbies/passions, wise quotes, healthy recipes, art/lyrics, or travel Itinerary. Need your students to register for email to use Pinterest? Read tips for safely managing email registrations here.

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Infinite Oz - Syfy and Verizon Wireless

Grades
6 to 12
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This is an extraordinary piece of digital art that consists of zooming dreamscapes. Get lost in this never ending series of landscapes. As the interactive zooms in, aspects of it ...more
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This is an extraordinary piece of digital art that consists of zooming dreamscapes. Get lost in this never ending series of landscapes. As the interactive zooms in, aspects of it come into sharper focus. Use the slider to make it move faster or slower (even in reverse!) Use the dial on the upper left side to control your options.

tag(s): images (261)

In the Classroom

Share this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Use this to inspire other digital art work or as a creative writing prompt. In English class, talk about the motifs that are common in fantasy/science fiction and how to describe them using words instead of visuals. In art class, look for styles of drawing, line, color, and other design elements that "mean" fantasy to viewers. Allow students the opportunity to focus on an aspect or aspects of the visuals to inspire their writing. Turn off the sound and imagine the narrative, sounds, or music to accompany the images. Inspire poetry visually. Challenge artists to make a zoomable image of their own and "zoom" into it as they record a screencast accompanied by their own narration or music. Try Screencast-o-matic, reviewed here, to record the zooming narrative.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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The Rhythm Trainer - John Blank

Grades
1 to 8
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Learn and practice rhythm with the Rhythm Trainer's two modes of play. Choose the A mode to click on rhythms heard. Choose B mode to see a rhythm notation and ...more
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Learn and practice rhythm with the Rhythm Trainer's two modes of play. Choose the A mode to click on rhythms heard. Choose B mode to see a rhythm notation and choose the matching audio clip. Choose from slow or fast tempos and to include or exclude rhythm choices.

tag(s): musical notation (32), rhythm (20)

In the Classroom

Make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers and use it as a center. Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have students explore this site independently or in small groups. Use as an example, and have students create their own rhythms. Play and have other students identify what they hear. Share this site on your class website for those students taking private lessons. This is excellent practice!
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Text Compactor - Knowledge by Design Inc.

Grades
7 to 12
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This simple, free tool can shorten or summarize an otherwise long passage or text. Simply copy and paste the text passage into the text box. Specify the percentage of summarization...more
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This simple, free tool can shorten or summarize an otherwise long passage or text. Simply copy and paste the text passage into the text box. Specify the percentage of summarization (there is a slider you can drag to the percentage that you want). Text Compactor produces a shortened version below the original. Summarization of text is now easy and fast. Be sure to mention to any student using this site the importance of not plagiarizing and using only original writing. To learn more about how the tool works (and possibly consider some of its "short" comings), see "About."

tag(s): creative writing (167), descriptive writing (41), expository writing (44), paragraph writing (17), process writing (40)

In the Classroom

Use this resource when reducing original passages (not plagiarized) to fit a specific number of words or characters. Use this resource when teaching summarization. Paste in a text to summarize and discuss/brainstorm what makes a great summary. Challenge students to look for ways that the tool may have actually missed an important concept through its automated process. Have the class decide whether their own summary or the one offered by this tool is best -- and why. Use this tool as one of many angles on revision during the writing process. Have students paste in their own writing to see what ideas "show" as the most important and to consider revising to emphasize what they really intended to say. If your emails get a bit too wordy, try this tool to shorten them! Shorten your assignment descriptions to make them easier for your ESL/ELL students and lower level readers to understand.

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English With Jennifer - Jennifer Lebedev

Grades
2 to 8
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This Youtube channel is designed for English Language Learners. Find a variety of subjects: beginning and advanced English, pronunciation, various grammar points, vocabulary, writing,...more
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This Youtube channel is designed for English Language Learners. Find a variety of subjects: beginning and advanced English, pronunciation, various grammar points, vocabulary, writing, punctuation, slang, language notes, and more. You can proceed through a series chronologically and build from one lesson into the next. You can also view individual lessons. This collection, started in 2007, continues to grow steadily and offer a great variety. The explanations on the videos are clear and easy to understand. Teachers and parents can subscribe to receive more offerings and assistance as well as updates. 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): grammar (217), video (251), vocabulary development (126), writing (355)

In the Classroom

Visit Jennifer's Blog to find ideas about how to use these lessons in the classroom and to find additional support. Jennifer frequently updates the offerings. Share these videos on your interactive whiteboard or projector. FLIP your classroom and have students view the videos at home and discuss the next day in class. (This is a great option if YouTube is blocked in your school.) Use the videos to introduce a grammar or punctuation point you would like to make, and assign others in the series for homework. Look at the "Word of the Day" each morning when you begin your ESL/ELL lesson. Use the slang offerings in a similar manner. Be sure to provide this link on your class website for students (and their families) to access at home for additional English practice.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Educore Tools for Teaching the Common Core - ASCD

Grades
7 to 12
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Ready, set, Common Core! Do you need middle and high school resources for your journey into Common Core? Find current, relevant, evidence based tools and professional development in...more
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Ready, set, Common Core! Do you need middle and high school resources for your journey into Common Core? Find current, relevant, evidence based tools and professional development in three specific areas: About the Common Core, Literacy Tools, and Math Tools. With your free account, find resources and bookmark them to your favorites. A free journaling tool allows you to add relevant notes. This site features the work of the Literacy Design Collaborative, LDC, using the structure of effective and meaningful literacy across the subject areas. Examples are also provided for science and social studies. Various lessons and student handouts are included. LDC is examined in the use of Common Core. Math activities include grades 7-12 and feature concept development, formative assessments, and lessons in action.

tag(s): commoncore (92)

In the Classroom

Find the resources that are right for you, and begin to implement and dig deeper into Common Core. Discover recommended best practices and find practical tools to begin using today. From professional development to ready to use lessons, keep yourself current and stretch your students to go further. Be sure to bookmark this site (or save it in your favorites).
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Brilliant - Sue Khim

Grades
8 to 12
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Brilliant provides challenges for anyone with a passion for mathematics or physics. Create an account, enter your interests, and take a short diagnostic test to receive an assigned...more
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Brilliant provides challenges for anyone with a passion for mathematics or physics. Create an account, enter your interests, and take a short diagnostic test to receive an assigned level in either subject. You must create an account using an email address or Facebook. Each week, you will receive new problem sets based on your assigned level. If you answer correctly within three attempts, you receive points toward prizes or academic opportunities. Warning: This site can get addictive.

tag(s): problem solving (258), STEM (124)

In the Classroom

Use when differentiating in the classroom or as a resource for gifted students. Allow students to create their own account, take placement tests, and problem-solve the challenges each week. Have students share problems and their problem solving process with classmates via podcasts demonstrating their understanding of one of the concepts. Use a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here). Create your own account; then share problems on your website or blog using the share feature offered on the site. If you plan to have students register using their own email accounts, read tips for safely managing email registrations here.

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Arctic Theme Page - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Grades
4 to 12
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Stuck out in the cold learning about the Arctic? Vetting information can be like trying to dig in permafrost. The Arctic Theme Page is a cool resource to provide your ...more
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Stuck out in the cold learning about the Arctic? Vetting information can be like trying to dig in permafrost. The Arctic Theme Page is a cool resource to provide your students in-depth information and analysis on the Arctic. The site may have a stark, snowy look, but it is quite useful. The data is from reputable scientific sources, and the information is presented in easy to understand narratives. View data on the Arctic report card page, which provides evidence of the sustained change in the Arctic environmental system. Detailed data is also available on the ice, atmosphere, and the ocean. View detailed information on the vegetation and wildlife of the Arctic. View the North Pole web cam in the gallery as well as vivid images and YouTube videos that make you feel as if you're really there. Use the General Interest tab on the site to access the Education links to explore the Arctic in more detail. Tons of other links are also available to meet any explorer's need. The FAQ page answers many questions about the Arctic and is a great place to start learning. Read the many essays by Arctic experts on key issues in the Arctic. Graphics accompany some of the essays to support understanding. This site meets the needs of diverse learners exploring the Arctic. If your district blocks YouTube, 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): arctic (44), biomes (116)

In the Classroom

The Arctic Theme Page is a great resource for students doing research. Use data on the all of the characteristics of the Arctic to analyze trends. Research information on vegetation, wildlife, atmosphere, geography of the arctic, and the Arctic environment. The gallery of images and videos provide a great visual representation of the Arctic. Use the videos to assist lower-level readers with finding information. The FAQ page is great to guide initial research and basic learning. Ask the Expert essays provide a clear analysis of specific questions about the Arctic. The essays allow students to narrow their focus and learn more in-depth information on the Arctic. Use the photographs for creative writing prompts on adventures that integrate science content on the Arctic. Ask the Expert essays provide great nonfiction support for any science curriculum. The General Interest tab has a ton of links to engage any student.
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Our very own star: The Sun - NASA

Grades
2 to 8
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Use this interactive to learn about the Sun. Learn how far the Sun is from Earth, about solar flares, solar wind, and more. Follow through to the end to find ...more
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Use this interactive to learn about the Sun. Learn how far the Sun is from Earth, about solar flares, solar wind, and more. Follow through to the end to find links for more information.

tag(s): solar system (118), sun (71)

In the Classroom

Use this Interactive to share basic information about the Sun that students can discuss in groups or in a class discussion. This Interactive can be used on an Interactive Whiteboard or on individual computers. After using this resource, brainstorm additional questions for research. Students can create presentations to share the information that they research and learn. Have students make a multimedia presentation using one of the many TeachersFirst Edge tools reviewed here.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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The Economics of Seinfeld - Linda Ghent, Alan Grant and George Lesica

Grades
6 to 12
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Make economics concepts come alive, have fun, and learn with The Economics of Seinfeld. This site is based on the 90s sitcom, Seinfeld, which many students are still familiar...more
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Make economics concepts come alive, have fun, and learn with The Economics of Seinfeld. This site is based on the 90s sitcom, Seinfeld, which many students are still familiar with thanks to syndication! Browse through several pages of links to clips. Each is labeled with the economic concept taught. Browse for a specific content, or view the index to find content topics and associated videos. Hosting of all videos isn't provided on this site, some offerings require visiting Hulu or other video sites to find clips. A limited number are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube or another video sharing site, 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): banks (11), currency (19), money (192)

In the Classroom

Although concepts are listed with each video, it is up to the user to find the concept in the video and make the connections. Have students watch videos then upload a photo they have taken and add voice bubbles to explain what they learned. Use a tool such as Superlame, reviewed here. Have students use this site as a point of reference and find their own examples of economics in current television programming. Have students use ClipNabber reviewed here to grab favorites from online video sources such as YouTube and Dailymotion quickly and easily, then explain them in presentations to the class.
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DropShots - WebMinds, Inc

Grades
K to 12
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DropShots is a free video/photo storage and sharing host. Create your membership using email or your Google or Facebook account. Drag and drop files from your computer to upload. Videos...more
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DropShots is a free video/photo storage and sharing host. Create your membership using email or your Google or Facebook account. Drag and drop files from your computer to upload. Videos and images are automatically sorted by date taken. Add a password so that only those who know your unique url and the password can view and access your page. Use links to easily share with social networking sites or embed onto any website. The free (basic) plan allows for up to 500 photos, 20 videos (each with a 2-minute video limit), password protection, and NO ads!
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): images (261), video (251)

In the Classroom

Create a classroom DropShots account for students to upload video projects or images for projects. Share raw materials for student multimedia projects, such as photos of lab experiments or local historic sites. Share classroom projects privately and easily from your DropShots account. In elementary classrooms, teacher can use this tool to share photos from field trips, assemblies, project presentations, and other special events. Share the password with parents only. Have older students create their own DropShots account for collaborating on multimedia projects. Consider having your students sign up using a Gmail account. Read tips for safely managing email registrations here.

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Blood - e-learning for kids

Grades
4 to 10
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Take a closer look at the blood flowing in your body with this interesting interactive. Click on each of the cells to learn a little more about the types of ...more
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Take a closer look at the blood flowing in your body with this interesting interactive. Click on each of the cells to learn a little more about the types of cells and their functions. Choose from several options at the bottom of the page to get more information. Yukky Bits provides information on some of the yuckier aspects of blood. Find out how much blood you have and all about different blood types by choosing other links.

tag(s): body systems (56), cells (102), human body (119)

In the Classroom

Share this site on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) and explore together as a class during a unit on body systems or the circulatory system. Use an online flashcard maker, like Flashcard Stash (reviewed here). Use terms provided to help students remember different types of cells and their functions. Before viewing the site have students brainstorm or collect ideas on what they know about blood on a collaborative bulletin board like Scrumblr, reviewed here (quick start- no membership required!)
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Cat At Bat - Random House

Grades
K to 3
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Practice basic phonics and rhymes with this baseball-themed game. Click on a ball that rhymes with the word on the scoreboard. If it is a rhyme, you score a home ...more
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Practice basic phonics and rhymes with this baseball-themed game. Click on a ball that rhymes with the word on the scoreboard. If it is a rhyme, you score a home run. If you do not swing because it is not a rhyme, it counts as a ball. This is a clever way to combine baseball with the idea of rhyming. This site works not only for finding rhymes but also for helping beginning readers to read sight words quickly. When students complete one game, the other team is up to bat.

tag(s): baseball (36), phonics (75), rhymes (33)

In the Classroom

Bookmark this site on your classroom computers or save it in your favorites. Share this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Put students in pairs at the computers, each representing one of the teams. Also put a link to this interactive on your class web page so students can play at home.
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