TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Sep 7, 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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Spark 101 - Spark101

Grades
7 to 12
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Ignite interest in STEM and bridge the gap between learning in the classroom and the real world! Peruse from a variety of short 10 minute interactive videos that highlight real-world...more
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Ignite interest in STEM and bridge the gap between learning in the classroom and the real world! Peruse from a variety of short 10 minute interactive videos that highlight real-world problems. Videos are aligned to STEM curricula throughout the US and contributed by partnerships with businesses, government agencies, non-profits, and academic institutions. Use the resources to engage your students in problem-solving and inquiry based learning. Videos and resources are found in the Science, Technology, and Math tabs. Be sure to click the Educator tab for downloadable resources to help you Plan, Engage, and Inspire with your students. While looking at the materials in the Educator tab, find a Best Practices webinar date you can attend (held monthly). This one hour training session is instrumental in using the interactive video and instructional materials to facilitate inquiry based learning effectively and increase 21st century skills in your students. Each video includes resources developed by Industry, lessons by educators, and education pathways for students seeking careers in certain STEM careers.

tag(s): STEM (134)

In the Classroom

The most difficult part of teaching science is finding time to develop effective problem-solving, good inquiry learning, and connecting learning to STEM careers. Use Spark 101 resources to make this easier. Participate in a training video to effectively use any of the resources offered on the site. Be sure to view the Spark 101 Lesson Plan Supports (in the educator tab) for templates and lesson plans. Download other resources to engage students in learning before introducing the videos. The student engagement focus in the videos engage students in creative and collaborative thinking. Search for videos that can be used for a variety of content. Examples include Species Diversity and River Quality, Using Tower Cranes to Solve Engineering Problems, and Using Expected Value to Determine Health Insurance Premiums. After sharing the video, use other resources for students to collaboratively solve problems. Share these videos from industry when students ask "When will I use this?" Use these resources also in your Gifted program or Science Club.

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Function Carnival - Dan Meyer and Christopher Danielson

Grades
6 to 12
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Function Carnival is a wonderful challenge to draw graphs to represent what is happening in animated videos. View the very short video then draw a graph representing the action in ...more
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Function Carnival is a wonderful challenge to draw graphs to represent what is happening in animated videos. View the very short video then draw a graph representing the action in the video. Watch the video that results from your graph to compare how well you represented the action. Use controls to adjust your graph. Seeing immediate feedback shows if the graph represents the correct motion, and if not, your video shows your inaccuracies. You can continue making adjustments to the graph until both videos match. Begin by creating a class and choosing a basic, advanced, or custom "carnival. " Share student instructions including URL and class code to begin. Be sure to view tips and information about the site to make the most of all features.

tag(s): charts and graphs (195), functions (70), modeling (9), motion (59), STEM (134)

In the Classroom

Function Carnival is perfect for teaching modeling and observation for math or science BYOD classrooms. Share directions on your interactive whiteboard or projector and allow students to work on graphs at their individual pace. Features built into this site allow students to see areas that need adjustment in their graphs. Be sure to include this site on your class web page for students to access both in and outside of class for practice. Have students take a picture of each graph and the result, then create annotated images including text boxes and related links using a tool such as Thinglink, reviewed here. Their explanations can describe why the slope of the graph changes, for example, when a parachute opens on the falling object.

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21 Bad Ways to Start Your School Year - Jill Hare

Grades
K to 12
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Everyone wants to start a new school year on the right foot. Be sure to avoid these behaviors that might get you in hot water with your students and colleagues. ...more
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Everyone wants to start a new school year on the right foot. Be sure to avoid these behaviors that might get you in hot water with your students and colleagues. This quick slide show reminds us to put down social media in the classroom, dress appropriately, and to get to know students before dumping big assignments on them. Although the information is common knowledge, the information has relevant reminders for both new and returning teachers. Most topics also include a related article link to find more information.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): back to school (58), newbies (18), professional development (123)

In the Classroom

Share this slide show with student teachers as a reminder on appropriate professional behavior. Use the slide show as a tongue in cheek reminder to senior staff members when preparing for back to school. Instead of presenting 21 bad ways to start the school year, turn this slide show around with 21 good ways to start the school year. Use a tool like Zoho Show (similar to Powerpoint, but easier and free) - reviewed here) to create your presentation. You may want to view this yourself for some friendly reminders. Why not challenge you students to create their own "21 Ways to start the year off right"?

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101 Things You Can Do in the First Three Weeks of Class - Joyce Povlacs Lunde

Grades
K to 12
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The first three weeks of school set the tone for the entire year. Even if you didn't have a "great" first day (or week) of school, there is still time ...more
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The first three weeks of school set the tone for the entire year. Even if you didn't have a "great" first day (or week) of school, there is still time to change the mood of your classroom! This list provides many suggestions for getting off to a great start. Although created for college teachers, most content is appropriate for all grade levels. Scroll through each section to find ideas for transitioning to a new grade level, keeping students' attention, providing support, building community, and much more. Although this site is rather "plain vanilla" it is packed full of wonderful "sprinkles" to start your year off great!

tag(s): back to school (58), newbies (18), professional development (123)

In the Classroom

Use ideas from this site during back to school staff meetings to motivate teachers as they begin a new year. Share it with your student teacher before he.she gets started. Challenge yourself and other department members to check off as many items on the list as you can. Keep this list up on your computer as a reminder through the day. Revisit this site each year as a reminder of starting each school year on the right foot! Why not bookmark this site (or save in your favorites), so it is easy to find each year.

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The Square of Life - The Center for Innovation in Science and Engineering

Grades
1 to 12
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Become a part of a local and global Internet based collaborative project studying your square meter of life. This project may look "plain vanilla," but the hands-on, real world learning...more
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Become a part of a local and global Internet based collaborative project studying your square meter of life. This project may look "plain vanilla," but the hands-on, real world learning is terrific. Once you choose your square meter, document and record data of all the living and nonliving things within your square. While sharing findings look for similarities. This project takes place multiple times a year. The guide offers lesson plans, extension activities, and worksheets. Also find assessment ideas, standards, and information for urban teachers. After creating an account, submit data, view data, and participate in the discussion area. Resources include student galleries, reference materials, ask an expert, project leader, and more. Some past student contributions 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.

tag(s): ecology (135), environment (317), scientific method (64)

In the Classroom

Bring a heightened awareness to your local and global environmental education. In lower elementary grades, do the project together as a class. Teach scientific observation using a hands-on project. You could also include this as part of a civics or government class discussing the environment and public policy. This well-defined project is ready made for you. Integrate observations, documentation, measurements, deeper inspection, and ways to identify living and nonliving materials. Take photographs and record written accounts. Create presentations in PowerPoint, Prezi, reviewed here, Google presentations, reviewed here, or other presentation tools to draw in language arts standards. Expand the project to each student's backyard. Are any squares in your school or local area severely damaged environments? Brainstorm with students to find a way to change them back to their original state.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Start.me - Arjen Robijn

Grades
K to 12
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Create a customized start page including your favorite websites, RSS feeds, and social networking sites with Start.me. Choose from over 20 widgets such as bookmarks, weather, calculators,...more
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Create a customized start page including your favorite websites, RSS feeds, and social networking sites with Start.me. Choose from over 20 widgets such as bookmarks, weather, calculators, or currency converters to personalize content. Drag and drop widgets to any area on your screen. Change backgrounds using images provided or one you upload, or personalize using other options under settings. All saved information is cloud-based, so it is available from any device where you log into your account. Create multiple pages for different needs such as work, home, hobbies, etc. Add the bookmarklet to your browser to add items easily to your start page at any time. The introduction video is hosted on YouTube. If YouTube is blocked at your school, view the intro video at home to learn more!

tag(s): bookmarks (60)

In the Classroom

Create a classroom Start.me with frequently used websites and resources for classroom computers. Add pages for specific subjects or topics such as math and science, or for curriculum topics like explorers. If you work with students in several different grade levels or subjects, Start.me is the perfect organization tool for your online resources. Share login information with students for access at home and school. Students working on a group project could put the resources they find on Start.me so everyone in the group can access them. Encourage your gifted students to use this tool to curate and collect resources for extensions of the curriculum beyond the classroom, such as articles and connections with real world applications of science or resources about current events. World language teachers can collect a home page filled with cultural sites and publications in the new language so students can immerse themselves.

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BBC iWonder - BBC

Grades
5 to 12
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See fascinating questions answered via videos and other media. Find questions in several categories about History, Science, Religion & Ethics, WebWise, Nature, Arts, Food, and Consumer....more
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See fascinating questions answered via videos and other media. Find questions in several categories about History, Science, Religion & Ethics, WebWise, Nature, Arts, Food, and Consumer. Of special interest is the History of World War I. Find videos and slideshows on topics like medicine and trench warfare during the war. There is a comprehensive, interactive section. Find just about anything you want to know about World War I in this iWonder section. Explore all of the diverse topics to learn deeply.

tag(s): consumers (21), earth (228), ethics (16), human body (121), inquiry (37), news (261), nutrition (154), religions (61), reptiles (11), robotics (25), space (205), water (130), world war 1 (54)

In the Classroom

Use iWonder to help build students' background knowledge or spark interest in many topics. Share the site on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Put a bookmark for this site on class computers for students to investigate at a learning station or when they finish other work early. If teaching World War I, use the interactives in that section as student learning stations, but be sure to load them ahead of time since the buffering process takes some time. An alternative is to assign the interactives for students to complete at home and discuss the next day in class (a flipped classroom idea). Teachers of gifted can offer iWonder explorations to inspire individual projects from middle elementary and up.

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Word Frog - Arcademics Skill Builders

Grades
K to 2
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Practice antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms with the word eating frog. Simply click to match the correct answer. Practice your speed and accuracy. Your final score will be shared at the...more
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Practice antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms with the word eating frog. Simply click to match the correct answer. Practice your speed and accuracy. Your final score will be shared at the end. This site is ideal for beginner readers, but you must be able to read basic sight words. Students learning what antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms mean will also find valuable practice at this site.

tag(s): antonyms (26), homonyms (12), sight words (37), synonyms (38)

In the Classroom

In the classroom, introduce, practice, or reinforce concepts of antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms on your interactive whiteboard. If you teach kindergarten, you may want to make this site a class activity so even the non-readers can easily participate. With younger students, pair up stronger readers with a weaker reader to complete the activities on the site. Offer this interactive to students during centers or for home use. This site is ideal for ESL/ELL learners to deepen their comprehension of the English language.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Dropr - dropr.com

Grades
K to 12
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Easily "drop" and create portfolios including images, video, text, and interactive artwork using Dropr. Your portfolio will look great on ANY device! Create an account using email or...more
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Easily "drop" and create portfolios including images, video, text, and interactive artwork using Dropr. Your portfolio will look great on ANY device! Create an account using email or using your Facebook, Google, or Twitter login. Follow prompts to connect your Dropr account to several social networking options. Follow instructions to personalize your page using files from your computer or connected social networking sites. When finished, easily share your portfolio with the link, embed code, or share buttons.

tag(s): careers (132), portfolios (28)

In the Classroom

Have teens and older students upload work throughout the year to create their own "me-portfolios." Create portfolios (with permission) to share younger students' work with parents and students during conferences. Use this tool to show finished projects or to show changes in a project from start to finish. Make a work prototype site and upload examples of exemplary work to share with students to set expectations for completed products before beginning a project. Create a link to this tool on your class website for students to share projects and information. (Get parent permission before posting students' work!) Have students take ownership of their own portfolios to show progress and products across several years. Have older students build portfolios to share as part of career and college preparation. Art teachers will want to share this as a portfolio option for their students.

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JFK American Experience - PBS American Experience

Grades
7 to 12
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This site accompanies an episode of the PBS production American Experience, taking a new look at the life and legacy of John F. Kennedy. It was created in remembrance of ...more
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This site accompanies an episode of the PBS production American Experience, taking a new look at the life and legacy of John F. Kennedy. It was created in remembrance of the 50th anniversary of his assassination. The site combines primary sources with more scholarly articles examining the political context of his presidency and the policies and events we associate with that presidency. The primary source collection is rich and diverse, and there is also a nice contextual timeline of world events between 1961 and 1963. The teacher reference guide is designed primarily to be used in conjunction with viewing the American Experience episode itself, but includes important questions for discussion that are appropriate even for students who have not watched the full film.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): 1960s (30), civil rights (117), kennedy (27), presidents (131)

In the Classroom

The 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy provides an opportunity to refresh students' knowledge of JFK as a man and a President. What important policy innovations can we attribute to his Presidency? How might the remainder of the turbulent decade of the 1960s have been different had he lived? And from a different perspective, while we all want to romanticize the legacy of "Camelot" and the glamour of the Kennedy family, what were his failings? This site provides some rich primary sources to include in a discussion of the Kennedy Presidency, as well as a brief preview of the American Experience film itself. Whether you choose to view the episode with your class or not, you are certain to obtain excellent information at this site.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Reel Surfer - ReelSurfer.com

Grades
K to 12
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Find, clip, and share portions of online videos using Reel Surfer. Note that this site relies on ONLINE videos, so you may not be able to use it if your ...more
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Find, clip, and share portions of online videos using Reel Surfer. Note that this site relies on ONLINE videos, so you may not be able to use it if your school blocks services such as YouTube. Enter a keyword to search or an actual video URL to begin. Drag the stop and start markers to set the video length. Share with friends via Facebook Twitter, email, and more! No video clipping experience is necessary. Even timid technology users will find this site easy to use. Create your own "reel" using multiple videos. Create a free account to save and share videos. Reel Surfer also includes a bookmarklet to add to your browser to easily clip videos from many sites.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): video (254)

In the Classroom

Create a "reel" video for review or introduction on any topic. Use the best clips or segments from YouTube and other online sources. Grab the attention of your younger students with a brief video--without having fast forward to find the right spot! Have older students curate and create "reels" to share as part of any presentation project or for review. After watching any video, have student groups create a "reel" video with what they consider to be the most important parts of the video. Share completed videos on your class webpage for use at home.

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Discovering Ancient Egypt - Mark Millmore

Grades
4 to 9
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Explore Ancient Egypt! Choose from topics on the left such as hieroglyphs, pyramids and temples, or kings and queens. Each topic includes descriptions, maps, videos, and more to take...more
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Explore Ancient Egypt! Choose from topics on the left such as hieroglyphs, pyramids and temples, or kings and queens. Each topic includes descriptions, maps, videos, and more to take an in-depth look. Be sure to check out the cool hieroglyphic typewriter for typing names and sending or printing secret messages! The videos from this site 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.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): egypt (67), pyramids (29)

In the Classroom

The videos and information from this site would be useful during any unit on Ancient Egypt. Math teachers will also love the information about Egyptian numbers to include in a unit on different number systems. Share videos on an interactive whiteboard (or projector). Create a link on classroom computers for students to explore on their own. Have students create messages using the hieroglyphic typewriter then print (or screenshot) for others to decode. Have students create timelines using information from this site (with music, photos, videos, and more) using Capzles reviewed here.

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Artyfactory - Artyfactory.com

Grades
1 to 12
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Learn to draw, paint, or design following step-by-step tutorials from Artyfactory. Discover basic techniques of drawing and painting through Still Life lessons. Practice perspective,...more
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Learn to draw, paint, or design following step-by-step tutorials from Artyfactory. Discover basic techniques of drawing and painting through Still Life lessons. Practice perspective, proportions, drawing animals and portraits, and more. Artyfactory's slideshows are an engaging way to increase your knowledge of art, art appreciation, and design.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): africa (180), art history (70), artists (74), bulletin boards (16), design (83), egypt (67), perspective (11)

In the Classroom

In the art classroom, find ways to add technology to instruction using your projector or interactive whiteboard and demonstrating different techniques found on Artyfactory. For project based learning in any class, share this tool as a resource to add visual impact to students' research projects. Social studies teachers can include lessons about making African masks during units about that continent. Include Egyptian Hieroglyphic Alphabet, Cartouche, and Gods during a unit on the Egyptians. Science (or geometry) teachers will want to explore the lessons on visual patterns in nature as a way to capture the interest of your visual learners. Use these tutorials to integrate visual arts into any topic. Encourage your artistically inclined students to explore on their own. Explore this site before a trip to an art museum or to find inspiration for a display or culminating project in any teaching unit. You may even find some bulletin board ideas for your classroom!

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