TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Jun 29, 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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OECD Better Life Index - OECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

Grades
8 to 12
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Explore statistics and data about what it takes to be happy in different locations. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you have the best life? Of ...more
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Explore statistics and data about what it takes to be happy in different locations. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you have the best life? Of course, it all depends on what you think contributes to a better life. The OECD presents the opportunity to choose from among 11 indices related to happiness. Rank them in order of importance to you, and then see graphically which countries in the world have the best quality of life based on those considerations. Want to have a high income? Then the United States ranks first in that category. Is the cost and quality of available housing what matters? Norway ranks first in that category. Other indices include Environment, Education, Safety, Work-Life Balance, Health, and Jobs. A slider bar on each index allows you to select your priorities and then watch as the countries realign themselves according to your preferences.

tag(s): communities (35), cross cultural understanding (115), environment (317), politics (99), safety (92)

In the Classroom

A great classroom discussion starter, and perfect for displaying on an interactive whiteboard, the Better Life Index allows students to consider and debate what makes for a "better life." And once (or if) they can reach a consensus on those factors, where could that life be found in the world? Of course, once you discover that people are healthiest, for example, in Australia, what does that mean? Why are they healthy there? What community, government, and institutional factors make Australia healthy? Do they make choices other countries don't? This is a wonderful tool for guiding discussion about the public policy decisions made by citizens and governments, and how those decisions affect the quality of life. It would also provide powerful information for persuasive writing or debates. If you talk about utopias and dystopias, this is another way for students to decide what the criteria are for each. If you study world cultures, this site can provide a whole different lens to promote crosscultural understanding. Assign students to compare and contrast factors that matter most to them across multiple countries. Gifted students who are designing an "ideal civilization" can find meaningful data here to use as part of their plans.

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Plotly (Beta) - Jack Parmer

Grades
8 to 12
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Plot.ly is a collaborative data analysis and graphing tool. Import data from your computer. Copy and paste, drag and drop a file, or import from Google Drive or Dropbox. Create ...more
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Plot.ly is a collaborative data analysis and graphing tool. Import data from your computer. Copy and paste, drag and drop a file, or import from Google Drive or Dropbox. Create many types of graphs from your data including scatter, line, bar, area, error bar, heatmap, box, and histogram. Options include choice of colors and themes, switching back and forth from data to graphing view, and data filter options. Create your account using email or social networking logins to save completed graphs. Make graphs public or private using sharing options. At the time of this review, this site was still in Beta.

tag(s): charts and graphs (195), data (148)

In the Classroom

Plot.ly is perfect for use on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Use this site to demonstrate different types of graphs using the same data in a math or science class. Create an account and upload your own data for comparison. Challenge students to play around with Plot.ly to create and share their own graphs. Use Plot.ly as a challenge assignment with gifted students who research different data or simply need experience manipulating more sophisticated types of information.

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Robocompass - Mohamed Jaffarali, MathDisk Technologies

Grades
8 to 12
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Draw geometric constructions with the help of Robocompass's animated features. View ideas from the example list to understand how the site works. Choose one of the examples (such as...more
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Draw geometric constructions with the help of Robocompass's animated features. View ideas from the example list to understand how the site works. Choose one of the examples (such as Bisect an Angle) then click the "Play All" button to follow the step-by-step procedure in action. Stop the animation at any point and resume play when ready. In addition to using examples provided, create your own constructions using commands found in the "How to" link. Robocompass interfaces with Google memberships, allowing you to SAVE animations! For a good overview of the site, choose "Take the Tour." (The tour button only shows AFTER you have clicked a sample file or "Open Robocompass.") This option offers a video overview and explanation. If your district blocks YouTube, "Take the Tour" may not be viewable. You could always view the video at home and bring it to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the video from YouTube. The tool states it operates best in Chrome and requires WebGL. You need to enable Web GL to use it in Safari. See directions how in this blog post. iOS and Android apps are "coming soon." Imagine this one on a tablet! Note: This site uses significant bandwidth to load the animations and the tour video. Be patient.

tag(s): angles (88), charts and graphs (195), geometric shapes (163), transformations (17)

In the Classroom

If you cannot make this site work on the first try, try again. This one is worth getting tech help to make it work! Note: This site uses significant bandwidth to load the animations and the tour video. Pretest ON the devices(s) you will use in class before planning to use it for a lesson! Display Robocompass on your interactive whiteboard or projector to demonstrate geometric constructions. Provide a link on your class website or blog for students to view constructions at home. This site is perfect to excite your gifted students! Challenge students to create and share their own constructions for other geometric purposes such as transformations. Even art teachers may find this tool useful for demonstrating perspective and more.

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Mathigon - The Mathematics Education Project

Grades
3 to 12
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Get lost in the world of Mathigon - a visually beautiful, interactive online library of math animations, games, illustrations, and more. Choose to begin with the World of Mathematics...more
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Get lost in the world of Mathigon - a visually beautiful, interactive online library of math animations, games, illustrations, and more. Choose to begin with the World of Mathematics e-book or explore one of several slideshows, movies, and explorations. The Mathematical Origami and Panorama math applications sections are fabulous, though a little text-heavy. Take a trip with Alice in FractalLand using Disney clips to learn about sequencing, fractals, and triangles. Explore Mathigon Ideas containing short video explanations of important math ideas using only graphics and animations. There is much to explore and see on this interesting and colorful site. Be sure to allow plenty of time to find it all! Check back often as new explorations are currently under development. If your district blocks YouTube, then parts of this site 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. The site operates well on any mobile browser, too!

tag(s): charts and graphs (195), fractions (239), geometric shapes (163), origami (17), probability (130), problem solving (272), tangrams (14)

In the Classroom

If you are a math teacher at any level, this is a MUST-SEE (and share) site. Take the time to explore it for specific sections connected to your curriculum concepts. Students in a BYOD classroom can explore interactives on this mobile-friendly site. Mathigon is perfect for use on interactive whiteboards, projector, and classroom computers. Use Mathigon activities to excite and motivate math students. Some activities require reading so you may need to partner your weaker readers with a buddy. Create a link to games and activities on your class website or blog for students to explore at home. Use Mathigon with gifted learners to extend your current math curriculum.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Website Evaluator - ResearchReady.com

Grades
5 to 12
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The Website Evaluator takes you step-by-step through the process of evaluating any website. The site also creates a final report based on your input. Begin by adding the URL of ...more
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The Website Evaluator takes you step-by-step through the process of evaluating any website. The site also creates a final report based on your input. Begin by adding the URL of any website and clicking "Go." A sidebar set of questions appears alongside the site to guide you as you go. Questions consider purpose, accuracy, authority of the author and publisher, relevancy, and how recent the information is. Once finished, view responses and print or email them.

tag(s): evaluating sources (13), internet safety (108)

In the Classroom

Use the Website Evaluator as an integral part of your Internet safety, information literacy/research, or website evaluation lessons in any subject where you require online research. Demonstrate how to use the Evaluator on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Allow students to evaluate sites on their own. Share and compare printed evaluations on a classroom bulletin board or your class website (or wiki). Have students use the Evaluator to compare and contrast different websites to find the one that is the best fit for a particular need. Require that students include a site evaluation for any online source they use as part of a research project.

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Adventure '14 - Jason Elsom

Grades
K to 12
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Experience a worldwide, virtual, culture exchange in November, 2014. Adventure '14 is an opportunity to work with students from another culture. The only equipment needed is a computer,...more
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Experience a worldwide, virtual, culture exchange in November, 2014. Adventure '14 is an opportunity to work with students from another culture. The only equipment needed is a computer, webcam, reasonable Internet connection, and a projector. Signing up indicates an interest, not a commitment. Sign up requirements: contact information about the school or group, age range, and website address. Also, indicate if there is an interest in pairing up with others by subject, language, or interests. Although there are places to fill in Twitter account information, having a Twitter account is not required. Get to know about people in another culture, embrace the opportunity to work together on a global project, and create a website together (optional).

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

In the Classroom

Consider the many ways your class could collaborate. Science students can collaborate on labs, history students on research, and math students can solve some of the world's most difficult equations together. ESL/ELL students might collaborate with students who want to know about their experiences where one does not speak the language.

Partner teachers can choose a collaborative platform students can use to brainstorm ideas they have about the other country and culture before they meet. Use a projector and Lino, reviewed here, (no membership required) to discuss and informally assess prior knowledge about the culture with whom they will be working. Once the project is underway, go back to Lino occasionally, and add what they learned and whether it coincides with the students' original ideas. Ask the partner class if they will fill in the areas and ideas missed on your Lino. Also, consider asking the partner school to blog together. It is amazing the improvement you will see in student writing when they know they have an authentic audience! If you never blogged before, you might want to check out TeachersFirst Blog Basics for the Classroom. Use the blogs as a way to discuss topics related to both culture AND your curriculum: environmental topics, different types of government, or simply day to day life.

Comments

I intend to use this. It sounds like a great idea. , MD, Grades: 1 - 1

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Oppia (Beta) - Oppia.org

Grades
8 to 12
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Oppia is a wonderfully interesting tool for creative learning explorations. The goal of Oppia is to create a one-on-one learning situation similar to that found in a learning dialogue....more
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Oppia is a wonderfully interesting tool for creative learning explorations. The goal of Oppia is to create a one-on-one learning situation similar to that found in a learning dialogue. As you proceed through each Oppia and enter responses, feedback stimulates thinking without providing answers. Browse the gallery to begin exploring math, languages, and programming options. Be sure to choose the "Show beta explorations" option to find many more activities with topics from "Art" to "Welcome to Oppia." The activities offer an exploration of the background and use of the website. If you feel comfortable with technology, try to create and add your own Oppia to the site. There are not many activities yet, but the possibilities for this one as both a programming challenge and an activity source make it one to watch.

tag(s): logic (235), puzzles (208), STEM (134)

In the Classroom

Assign Oppia explorations to gifted students as part of your differentiated learning lessons. Use Oppia explorations as part of your flipped classroom. Have students complete explorations and then discuss in class. Add links to (or embed) Oppia explorations on your class website or blog for students to explore at home as a review tool or as an anticipatory set or "activator" to introduce a unit or lesson. Join the Oppia Users Group to collaborate with others to create your own Oppia explorations.

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Comics Head - Next Wave Multimedia

Grades
4 to 12
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Create one frame cartoons or entire comic books -- easily! Start by uploading a funny picture and create a comic from that. You can create your comics anywhere from any ...more
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Create one frame cartoons or entire comic books -- easily! Start by uploading a funny picture and create a comic from that. You can create your comics anywhere from any device and access them from the same device or any other. The drag and drop interface ensures ease of creation. Choose from a variety of options for characters, layout options, backgrounds, props, captions, and special effects. Choose options to use and drag and drop them onto the comic page. Simply undo or delete objects, move objects backward, forward, add text captions, and zoom in and out of the page. Register with the site (email required) to save, share, and print out creations. You can create a single page comic or full book length comics. You can download as a pdf or even share as an ebook! Some of the instruction videos are hosted on YouTube. 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. Mobile apps are available, including "lite" (free) versions.

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), DAT device agnostic tool (196), digital storytelling (142)

In the Classroom

In classes with younger students, use a whole class account under teacher control. In a BYOD classroom, let students set up their own accounts and use the app versions. When studying characterization, create a dialog to show (not tell) about a character. Use the dialog box (bubbles) to explain the sequence of a story, a science concept, or school news! Create a political cartoon. Why not use the comic strips for conflict resolution or other guidance issues (such as bullying). Emotional support and autistic support teachers can work with students to create strips about appropriate interpersonal responses and/or feelings. Sometimes it is easier for students to write it down (or create pictures) than use the actual words. World language and ESL/ELL teachers can assign students to create dialog strips as an alternate to traditional written assessments. Let your creative (or gifted) students take the comics even further by making them into entire books!

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Trove - Rob Malda

Grades
7 to 12
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Discover and curate personalized news stories using Trove. Browse through ready-made Troves that may be of interest, and "follow" them. Create an account using your email or social...more
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Discover and curate personalized news stories using Trove. Browse through ready-made Troves that may be of interest, and "follow" them. Create an account using your email or social network login. Create and curate your own Trove by following the instructions on the site. This tool will work on iOs devices or on the web. At this time there is no Android app available.

tag(s): news (261), newspapers (94), social networking (112)

In the Classroom

Use Trove to create student-navigated lessons or review materials for any topic. Create a whole class Trove account to follow Troves safely under teacher supervision. Allow students to set up their own accounts if over 13 and permitted under school policies. Have students work together in groups to create their Trove on current articles they can use in a research project. Have student groups create Troves of articles in the news related to the curriculum topic you are studying. For example, collect articles about disappearing habitats, design concepts that use new engineering materials, food and religion in a certain culture, or climate change and weather. Demonstrate a new math concept using articles found on the Internet. Create a class study guide for students to access before the big science test! Include Trove as part of your current events lessons and allow students to explore articles demonstrating different points of view. Use Trove as a professional resource for following current topics in education such as standardized testing or Common Core Standards. Speaking of Common Core, the articles collected in Trove could serve as practice with informational texts. Library/media specialists can collect Troves to teach students about using media in research projects.

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Teach Parents Tech - Google

Grades
2 to 12
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Teach Parents Tech is a tongue in cheek method for helping parents (and others) learn basic technology tasks. Simply fill out the spots in this online form to send a ...more
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Teach Parents Tech is a tongue in cheek method for helping parents (and others) learn basic technology tasks. Simply fill out the spots in this online form to send a helpful email to anyone. Information includes short "how to" videos about various tech tasks. Options range from computer basics such as copy and paste up to creating an online calendar to resizing and sharing images and many more.

tag(s): computers (94), internet safety (108), tutorials (47)

In the Classroom

Bookmark Teach Parents Tech for use anytime you want to share a how-to video on computer tasks. Challenge your students to use it to encourage their own parents. Students can also use it as a model to create their own encouraging videos and how-to tips for both parents and teachers! Promote digital writing by having student groups script and create a "Teach Teachers Tech" video collection and web site to encourage their more hesitant teachers (or principal). Share this resource with students who are just learning to work with images, create calendars, translate text, and much more. Share password creation tips with parents for use at home. There are many possibilities so be sure to bookmark this site for use throughout the year! Share a link on your class website or blog for students to access and share when "helping" parents and grandparents.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Foodopoly - Food and Water Watch

Grades
5 to 12
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Think you know about food and the food system responsible for growing, processing, and getting it to your table? Begin with the quiz to see what you really know. Along ...more
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Think you know about food and the food system responsible for growing, processing, and getting it to your table? Begin with the quiz to see what you really know. Along with the right answers, you will receive background information and some shocking statistics. View the Get The Facts tab to access an assortment of Infographics about what is in the grocery aisles.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): nutrition (154)

In the Classroom

Begin with the quiz to see what students know. Share the quiz on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students take the quiz independently in a BYOD classroom (or computer lab/laptops). As they take the quiz, students can note items that interest or disturb them. Begin a class discussion with the most interesting or shocking items they learned from taking the quiz. Research the history of the Farm Bill, the FDA, or the USDA. Compare diets of today and of the past, and identify differences and medical issues (good or bad.) Create a debate about monopolies in food production and lack of oversight in the food industry. Have students investigate one food aisle and share what they learn.

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GeoSettr - Create your own GeoGuessr Challenge - GeoSettr.com

Grades
4 to 12
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Create your own GeoGuessr game using five Google Map street view locations. NO membership is required! These challenges show actual views of mystery locations for people to guess where...more
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Create your own GeoGuessr game using five Google Map street view locations. NO membership is required! These challenges show actual views of mystery locations for people to guess where they are. (See this review of GeoGuessr to see how the challenges work.) Move the person to the desired map location to set a location for each round. When complete, GeoSettr generates a URL that will take people to your unique GeoGuessr page.

tag(s): map skills (80), maps (288)

In the Classroom

Make geography come to life by gamifying it! Create (or have students create) landform games (what do these locations have in common), culture games, travel collections, etc. Use this tool to explore world cultures (or languages), geography, historical locations, famous battle locations, and more. Demonstrate how to create a game, then have students create and play games of their own. Pair this activity with What Was There, reviewed here, and have students use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram, reviewed here, to compare and contrast changes over time.

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Meeting Words - Meetingwords.com

Grades
5 to 12
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Use this simple, online collaborative writing editor with up to 32 people! No registration is required. Create a free meeting room, and share the link with others or send an ...more
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Use this simple, online collaborative writing editor with up to 32 people! No registration is required. Create a free meeting room, and share the link with others or send an invitation email. Use the chat space along the right to comment to one another, perhaps explaining why you made the changes you made to the text. Save versions, view and revert to earlier versions, import/export, and use simple editing tools. Be sure to use or edit at least once per week, if you intend to keep your project. The site is clear on its intention to be a real-time collaboration tool among up to 32 people, not meant for long-term storage. "Pads" may be deleted if they haven't been edited in more than seven days. Be sure to mark the url for your pad as a Favorite or send it to yourself so you can find it again (before the seven days run out).

tag(s): editing (60), proofreading (19), writing (358)

In the Classroom

Have your students set up collaborative groups for projects, lab data, and more. Anything students can do on a single computer, they can do collaboratively on this tool, accessing their work from any online computer. Be sure to test out this tool before using with your class. It may be a good idea to set up the groups with the teacher as a "member" but have students work from home for group projects. Make sure you are protecting the safety of student work and identity and are within your school's Acceptable Use Policy.

Create an innovative, exciting revision experience for students to suggest revisions to each other's writing and instantly engage in the peer review process by using Meetingwords. This tool facilitates teacher comments on student essays by not having to wait until students turn in their papers. Have them share links with you to their works in progress. Check essays online, monitor progress, and even make suggestions for revisions to provide feedback along the way and drive successful evidence support, proofreading, and editing skills. Challenge gifted students on their drafts and push their thinking further, adding questions or responses. Since most if us do not have time to provide such individual challenge throughout the writing process, why not connect them with other gifted students to collaborate and debate beyond just your classroom? Obviously, this tool is also fabulous for collaboration among students or teachers creating a shared writing piece at any level. You could even use it for parent input into draft IEPs.

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