TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of May 18, 2014

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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Creating Community and Getting Inspired with Blog Hops and Events - Krista Stevens/WordPress

Grades
4 to 12
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Discover blog ideas galore from the "friendly writers" at Wordpress, especially these ideas for connecting your blog with other bloggers via special events, such as "blog hops." A blog...more
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Discover blog ideas galore from the "friendly writers" at Wordpress, especially these ideas for connecting your blog with other bloggers via special events, such as "blog hops." A blog hop is simply a response to the same prompt during a fixed time frame, with links to the other bloggers' responses so you can "hop" to read the many takes on the topic from the original post or prompt. Share writing around a common theme, image, quote, or topic by checking out the offerings compiled here. Note that this collection is intended for the general blogging public (not schools), so some topics may not be school-appropriate. On the other hand, making contact with "real world" people blogging about how they write, do photography, stay fit, and more. Click on the link to the updated list of blogging events to find inspiration and connection, sorted by general areas of interest. Don't miss the detailed information about how to Start and/or Participate in a Blog Hop.

tag(s): blogs (88), writing prompts (92)

In the Classroom

In its simplest use, this is a place to find and READ blogs on curriculum-related topics. You can also find questions and prompts for your students to write about offline. Never again will you need to hunt for writing prompts or ways to connect your science or social studies students with the outside world. Of course this is a time to discuss proper netiquette and digital citizenship/safety for interacting with "strangers." If you do not yet have a class or student blogs, you might want to begin with Blog Basics for the Classroom. Be SURE you get parent permission. If your students have blogs, use these ideas as a model for your own weekly or biweekly blog hops on curriculum topics. Since your math students need to write about their problem solving strategies for Common Core, why not make it more fun with a blog hop? Trying to fire up interest in local history? Pose a blog hop prompt asking which local landmark could be replaced with a shopping mall. Looking for students to support arguments with evidence? Spark an environmental question for a blog hop. Browse some of the special topic blog events for discussions related to your current curriculum. For example, connect your plant study unit with gardeners' blogging events. If you teach gifted students, this is the ideal way to connect your students (even reluctant writers) with an outside world that will raise their level of writing and thinking. If you can connect with other teachers who have gifted students, perhaps via the #gtchat Twitter chat, you can set up a regular connection among students in several locations.. in science, social studies, math, or writing classes. Your gifted ones may pull in other blogging classmates, as well!

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scistuchat - Adam Taylor

Grades
6 to 12
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This grass roots effort by a Tennessee science teacher spawned a monthly Twitter chat between high school science students in MANY locations and practicing scientists in the "real world."...more
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This grass roots effort by a Tennessee science teacher spawned a monthly Twitter chat between high school science students in MANY locations and practicing scientists in the "real world." The site looks plain vanilla, but the topic is dynamite! Find information, preparation, and topics for upcoming chats, basic information about the chat formats, chat archives, past pre-chat prep resources, and Twitter handles for the scientists and teachers who participate in the chats. Don't forget to follow @2footgiraffe, the instigating teacher, and click through to his blog for some of the back story on how he was able to convince school administration to unblock Twitter (and other tales of tech challenges). The TeachersFirst editors met Mr. Taylor at the ISTE conference and knew this was a resource our users would want to know about.

tag(s): twitter (50)

In the Classroom

Even if you do not choose to join this particular Twitter chat with practitioners in the field, mark this simple site as a professional development resource to learn how to plan and organize successful Twitter chats between your students and the outside world. If you teach another discipline, try searching on Wefollow, reviewed here for people in the field that connect to your curriculum: writers, artists, curators, engineers, and more. Need to learn more about Twitter? Start with help from TeachersFirst's Twitter for Teachers page. Extend the curriculum for your gifted students by having them help organize a chat with professionals and write the questions.

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Riding the Winds with Kalani - University of Illinois Extension

Grades
K to 3
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Take a Ride with Kalani, the weather balloon, to learn all about weather. Learn about the sun, seasons, and clouds. Turn the sound on or off to hear the weather ...more
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Take a Ride with Kalani, the weather balloon, to learn all about weather. Learn about the sun, seasons, and clouds. Turn the sound on or off to hear the weather story or read on you own. Choose from many different activities and games to supplement and enhance information in the weather story. Teacher Resources include suggested activities, links to worksheets and coloring pages, and correlation to Illinois State Standards. Choose from several language options to view and hear the site in English, Spanish, Chinese, or Korean.

tag(s): seasons (37), sun (71), temperature (29), weather (188)

In the Classroom

Riding the Winds with Kalani is perfect for use on your interactive whiteboard or projector. View the weather presentation together then allow students to complete activities as a Science Center. Use this site as a supplement to your current weather or seasons unit. This site is perfect for use with ESL/ELL students. Allow them to explore this site as it is presented to them in their native language.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Roman Numerals and Numbers - Jordan Allan

Grades
5 to 10
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Become an expert at Roman Numerals! Practice with a Roman numeral converter, chart, videos, games, quizzes, and interesting facts! Enter any number into the numeral converter to view...more
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Become an expert at Roman Numerals! Practice with a Roman numeral converter, chart, videos, games, quizzes, and interesting facts! Enter any number into the numeral converter to view the Roman Numeral. Explore one of several charts with numerals from 1-10 on up to 1-1000. Watch a video explanation about how to create numbers using the Roman number system. Other informative portions of this site include short explanations of the origins of Roman Numerals and four rules for understanding how to use Roman Numerals. 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): roman numerals (9)

In the Classroom

Bookmark and save this site to include with your unit on Roman Numerals, during study of the Roman Empire, or in Latin class. Be sure to share a link on your class website for students to review at home. Share this site as a way to review before tests. Have students upload a photo of a math problem solved using Roman Numerals they have taken and add voice bubbles to explain what they learned using a tool such as Superlame, reviewed here. Have student collect media (videos and more) demonstrating Roman Numerals found in real world situations from multiple online sources to show their research findings using a tool such as Dragontape, reviewed here.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian - Northwestern University

Grades
9 to 12
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Between 1909 and 1930, photographer Edward Curtis set out to document the life and culture of the North American Indians, and this site shares his work. Like so many of ...more
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Between 1909 and 1930, photographer Edward Curtis set out to document the life and culture of the North American Indians, and this site shares his work. Like so many of his time, he viewed Native Americans as a "primitive" race of people whose customs were a source of curiosity. As westward expansion began to destroy the culture of indigenous people, Curtis wanted to record, through photographs and narratives, what he believed was a savage and mysterious world before it disappeared. While Curtis' work represented the popular viewpoint of his time, today we recognize that it is, at best, the impressions of someone who neither understood nor particularly valued what he was recording. This digital reproduction of the entire project needs to be carefully previewed and introduced so that we don't perpetuate this way of viewing Native American life. In fact, some of the images of the ceremonial life were never intended to be seen by "outsiders," and their use today is controversial. The site does a good job of setting the context for the use of Curtis's work and helps establish respectful boundaries.

tag(s): native americans (78)

In the Classroom

We have come a long way from the study of Native Americans as a single generic group. Careful use of the images and narratives from Curtis' work can help illustrate that outdated mindset and provide a contrast to today's understanding of the contributions indigenous Americans have made to US history and culture. Share these images on your interactive whiteboard or projector as part of a guided discussion.

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Seeing America - Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester

Grades
6 to 12
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An artist sees the world and then tries to communicate that vision through his or her work. The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester presents 17 works of ...more
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An artist sees the world and then tries to communicate that vision through his or her work. The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester presents 17 works of art, each illustrating the artist's view of America. Each piece is indexed by theme such as Meeting America's People or Telling America's Stories and is accompanied by a rich set of resources including lesson plans, classroom activities, and a printable image that can be duplicated. There are works from as early as the 18th century up until the present time. An interactive timeline helps pinpoint pieces according to the dates they were created.

tag(s): art history (69), artists (75)

In the Classroom

Aside from its obvious usefulness to an art history class, consider choosing an image from an era under study in a history course --or from the time period of a piece of American literature --and incorporating a look at the time through the eyes of an artist. How did events from that time influence the artist's vision of the world? What was America like to that artist? How is that different today? These are great "plug and play" resources that can be used to design an entire unit around using one of the themes or can be as short as an activating activity at the beginning of a class. Ask: When do you think this was painted? What tells you that? What is the artist trying to tell us about his or her view of America? The only limitation here is that it's difficult to view the images in full screen; you will need to use your browser's zoom function to use the images effectively on an interactive whiteboard (or projector).
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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American Car Brochures - Hans Tangerud

Grades
6 to 12
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Cars are more than a way to get from point A to point B, and Hans Tangerud, a Norwegian car enthusiast, recognizes American's love of cars in this historic collection ...more
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Cars are more than a way to get from point A to point B, and Hans Tangerud, a Norwegian car enthusiast, recognizes American's love of cars in this historic collection of sales brochures. Cars, particularly in the United States, represent an important part of the culture. Their design, their advertising, their features all communicate something about what matters to the people who bought them. Tangerud has scanned images of American Car advertising and brochures back as far as the 1920s up through the present. A very deep resource, there are well over 100 brochures here, part of a larger site that focuses on his obsession with cars, particularly those from the US.

tag(s): 20th century (51), advertising (33), history day (23), transportation (40)

In the Classroom

Teens are fascinated with cars. Why not give them the opportunity to research the design and features of cars from a historical era being studied in a history class, or that match the time period with that of literary work. What did the cars look like when the Joad family made its way to California? What did Jay Gatsby drive? What was the "hottest ride" during the Vietnam War? As you try to communicate the culture of an era, consider using an image or two on the whiteboard (or projector) from the appropriate year to help students envision the world of that time. Cars and the way they are advertised also speak volumes about trends in graphic design and advertising. How does automobile advertising today differ from that in the 1950s? What emotions and needs were marketers appealing to? This resource would also be great as a springboard for a National History Day project comparing car design (or advertisements) across the 20th century and linking it to events of that time period. Teacher-librarians will love this resource to teach about primary sources and actually have students be interested!

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Virtual Zoo - Charlene Hallman

Grades
K to 5
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Take a trip to a Virtual Zoo to learn all about many different animals from the comfort of your computer screen! Click the school bus to enter the zoo and ...more
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Take a trip to a Virtual Zoo to learn all about many different animals from the comfort of your computer screen! Click the school bus to enter the zoo and begin your exploration. Choose from different buildings to find out more about the residents. Learn though images, audio, videos, and maps. Visit the zookeeper's office to find standards correlations, worksheets, and ideas for assessment. This site would be useful for younger students, but an able reader would need to read the text.

tag(s): animal homes (41), animals (276), habitats (84)

In the Classroom

The Virtual Zoo is an excellent resource for use as a classroom center. Introduce the zoo on your interactive whiteboard or projector and allow students to explore on their own. Be sure to show students how to return back to the zoo page after clicking links to external sites. Visit one section of the zoo each day as part of your animal studies unit. Visit the Virtual Zoo before your "real" zoo field trip to explore animals students may find at the zoo. Although created for primary students, share with older students then have cooperative learning groups create online books using a tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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RU4Math - Radford University

Grades
2 to 6
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RU4Math is a collection of interactive math games. Topics include spatial reasoning, currency, logic, and simple equations. Each game or puzzle includes complete directions and options...more
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RU4Math is a collection of interactive math games. Topics include spatial reasoning, currency, logic, and simple equations. Each game or puzzle includes complete directions and options for help with activities.

tag(s): money (193), problem solving (272), puzzles (208)

In the Classroom

Use RU4Math puzzles on your interactive whiteboard or projector for enrichment, after-work challenges, or as part of logic and problem solving lessons. Have students discuss the problem solving steps used to solve puzzles. Be sure to include steps that were not successful too! Include puzzles on classroom computers and share on your class website or blog for play at home. The currency activity is perfect for learning to count money up to $1.00.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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2-D and 3-D Shapes - Birmingham Grid for Learning

Grades
3 to 6
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Explore the unique properties of 2 and 3 dimensional shapes with this interactive site. Choose from 2-D or 3-D to begin. Each portion of the site steps you through definitions ...more
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Explore the unique properties of 2 and 3 dimensional shapes with this interactive site. Choose from 2-D or 3-D to begin. Each portion of the site steps you through definitions and vocabulary with examples and highlights of important words. Both portions include worksheets for further exploration and constructing different shapes. Note that the site is British so uses the word "breadth" where U.S. math programs usually say "width." Some downloadable handouts are in Word format and others in pdf format. The 3-D shape downloads let you print, fold, and make your own shapes.

tag(s): geometric shapes (163)

In the Classroom

This site is perfect for use on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Explore the properties of different shapes together as you click through the included images. Print included worksheets for use at math centers or reproduce them for students to create shapes with different properties and dimensions. Use the 3-D shapes to create manipulatives such as pyramid-shaped "dice" to roll to solve math facts, name terms, or even answer questions in a non-math subject! Use markers or other decorative items for students to personalize them.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Yarp - Agility Fix, LLC

Grades
K to 12
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Send simple invitations or surveys with Yarp. Choose the type, name it, add more information, and choose responses such as Yes/No or other clever possibilities. Click "Let me see it"...more
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Send simple invitations or surveys with Yarp. Choose the type, name it, add more information, and choose responses such as Yes/No or other clever possibilities. Click "Let me see it" to view the survey. Send the link to your Yarplet to others. No membership is required to create Yarplets or to vote! Click "Save my Yarplets" for instructions to keep track of your polls and invitations when moving from one device to another. This tool will work on any mobile browser.

tag(s): data (148), polls and surveys (48)

In the Classroom

Use this tool anywhere a quick, simple poll is required (on any device!). Share polls on a projector or interactive whiteboard to discuss and informally assess prior knowledge. This is great as you start a new unit and ask questions about the material. Discuss in groups why students would choose a particular answer to uncover misconceptions. Use for daily quiz questions as a formative assessment. Use a class account to have student groups alternate to create the new poll for the next day. Place a poll on your teacher web page as a homework inspiration or to ask parent questions to increase involvement. Older students may want to include polls on their student blogs to increase reader engagement. Have students create polls for the start of project presentations. Use polls to generate data for math class (graphing), during elections, or for critical thinking activities dealing with the interpretation of statistics. Use "real" data to engage students on issues and current events that matter to them.

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Optics For Kids - The Optical Society

Grades
3 to 12
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Learn more about the study of light with activities and experiments at Optics for Kids. Choose from the Adult or Kid links. The adult portal includes articles, experiments, and videos...more
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Learn more about the study of light with activities and experiments at Optics for Kids. Choose from the Adult or Kid links. The adult portal includes articles, experiments, and videos exploring the science of light. Activities within the kids portion include an exploration of optical illusions, explanations of terms used when discussing optics, and several activities to explore the physics of light. In the adult section, explore activities from those for young children up to most sophisticated options for those over age 15.

tag(s): light (46), optical illusions (11), optics (13), psychology (64), vision (87)

In the Classroom

Share Optics4Kids during your unit on light. Bookmark this site to find classroom experiments that explore the science of light. Have students create a word cloud of the important terms they learn from this site using a tool such as Wordle (reviewed here) or WordItOut (reviewed here). After completing an experiment, have students upload a photo they have taken and add voice bubbles to explain what they learned using a tool such as Superlame, reviewed here. Share this resource with parents as a resource for Science Fair projects and fun science projects to try at home.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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ProConIt - ProConIt

Grades
4 to 12
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Create a debate or ask specific questions of a group or the entire web using ProConit as a social evaluation tool. Questions can be pro/con, either-or choices, or open-ended evaluations...more
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Create a debate or ask specific questions of a group or the entire web using ProConit as a social evaluation tool. Questions can be pro/con, either-or choices, or open-ended evaluations of a specific topic. Get creative and write your questions to make them even more engaging. You can embed the ProConit topic in multiple web locations, such as websites or blogs, using ProConit's free widget. Get started simply by registering with your email or other social network log-in. The pubic can vote and add their own comments to the ProConits left open to the public. You can also make them private.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): critical thinking (108), debate (41), persuasive writing (55), polls and surveys (48)

In the Classroom

Create a class account that you can control if using this tool with students under 13 or if school policies prohibit student accounts. Use ProConIt on your webpage, wiki, Edmodo group reviewed here, or blog and display it in-class on your interactive whiteboard to develop critical thinking skills and evidence to support an argument (a la Common Core). Challenge students to research the topic so they can provide evidence for their stance when writing about their opinion or while refuting another's. Help students develop flexibility in their thinking by having them argue a side they do NOT agree with. Create a class account with a generic password, and have students put initials as an identifier with their opinion.

Is there anything questionable or controversial about what your students are studying in science? Studying cells? Try a debate about stem cell production. Studying astronomy? Why not have a debate about UFO's, extraterrestrial beings, the creation of the universe? Why not create a debate about whether math is a feature of the universe or a feature of human creation? For language arts and social science teachers this site is a gold mine! Create debates about politics, famous people in history, famous events in history (like what if's), current events, or social issues your students are interested in. Why not create a debate about whether students think being kind to a bully will make the bully stop bullying?

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Media Smarts - Canada's Centre for Digital and Media Literacy

Grades
6 to 12
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Media Smarts is a comprehensive Canadian site devoted to media literacy and critical thinking skills for children and youth. Browse through several topics such as digital and media...more
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Media Smarts is a comprehensive Canadian site devoted to media literacy and critical thinking skills for children and youth. Browse through several topics such as digital and media literacy to explore articles related to television, Internet, and gender issues. An extensive teacher resource section offers many lessons and resources searchable by grade, subject, and media type. Download lessons in PDF format using links in the lesson description.

tag(s): media literacy (58)

In the Classroom

Bookmark this site to explore and use with lessons related to digital and media literacy. Share articles on gender and body image with students. Have students find examples on tv and use an online poster creator, such as PicLits, reviewed here to demonstrate examples. Have students create a word cloud of the important terms they learn from this site using a tool such as Wordle, reviewed here, Tagxedo, reviewed here, or WordItOut, reviewed here. Have students create a simple infographic sharing their findings using Easel.ly, reviewed here, or Venngage, reviewed here.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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