TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Jan 4, 2015

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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Futility Closet - Greg Ross

Grades
6 to 12
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Futility Closet is a large collection of entertaining and interesting tidbits from history, language arts, literature, and more. There are mind-stretching puzzles and many thought provoking,...more
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Futility Closet is a large collection of entertaining and interesting tidbits from history, language arts, literature, and more. There are mind-stretching puzzles and many thought provoking, true tales. The collection contains close to 8,000 tidbits (some with photos or video clips). More are added daily. Choose from categories such as hoaxes, poems, puzzles, or technology to narrow your search. Scroll through the site to find items by date added. This entertaining site will have you returning over and over to explore and find new bits of trivia! Some of the videos are hosted on YouTube. 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.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): logic (235), poetry (228), puzzles (208), trivia (17)

In the Classroom

Bookmark and save Futility Closet as a resource for thought provoking trivia throughout the year. Share one item on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) at the beginning of each class for class discussion. Allow your gifted students to explore this site independently, and perhaps even start their own blog collections. Allow students to explore the site and find interesting items to research and explore further. Use the search tool on Futility Closet to search for trivia on current lessons such as Shakespeare, angles, or any keyword - you will be surprised at your findings! Some of the "curiosities" would be great writing prompts for students to take a position and research/support with evidence. Have students share one item they find interesting and create a project using a tool such as Padlet, (reviewed here). Subscribe to Futility Closet using your RSS Feed Reader. Teacher-librarians would love to use these as research prompts. Include one during your school newscast or PTO newsletter (with proper credit to the source, of course).
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A Moment in Time - New York Times

Grades
6 to 12
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What just happened here? The New York Times offers hundreds of user-submitted photographs from all over the world, each capturing "a moment in time" on a Sunday in May, 2010. ...more
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What just happened here? The New York Times offers hundreds of user-submitted photographs from all over the world, each capturing "a moment in time" on a Sunday in May, 2010. Search by theme, and then give the virtual globe a spin to select a location from which to view your moment in time. Repeat. You won't want to stop. See the world in images from all over the world, all on the same day.

tag(s): creative writing (166), cross cultural understanding (115), debate (41), expository writing (44)

In the Classroom

Each of the "moment in time" photographs provides a wonderful thinking/writing/discussion prompt. What Just Happened Here? If it happened somewhere far away from me, how is it different from what happens in my backyard? What do I have in common with what is pictured? What don't I understand? Use this site to generate ideas for writing, for art, for debate. Use this as an avenue to open discussion about different cultures. Imagine a "moment in time" from another date, such as June 6, 1944, Sept 11, 2001, or an ordinary day in 2014. Challenge students to imagine and create their own moments in time to share.
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Fantastic Contraption - KONGREGATE

Grades
1 to 12
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Test out your logic, mechanical understanding, and creativity as you create amazing 2D contraptions! Each contraption uses wheels, wooden stationary logs, and power moving water rods...more
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Test out your logic, mechanical understanding, and creativity as you create amazing 2D contraptions! Each contraption uses wheels, wooden stationary logs, and power moving water rods to create a moving vehicle to push a target to the goal. Get a taste of the challenge by trying your hand at the introduction activity. Then begin your regular contraption. Each level adds more challenge. Use the delete button, and try again until you succeed. Registration is not required to use this site. However, more options are available if you register (FREE). As you progress through a level, earn points and badges. Save your designs and send your best designs to your friends using a specific url. You can turn off the (rather annoying) music by clicking the speaker icon.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): creativity (108), energy (198), gifted (96), inventors and inventions (97), logic (235), machines (30), motion (59), problem solving (272), STEM (134)

In the Classroom

In the classroom, develop logic, perseverance, and creativity for your gifted and high achieving students. These activities could be used with all learning levels. Use this activity as part of a unit on inventions or as a lead in to a Maker's Faire. Introduce this activity on your interactive whiteboard or projector and you will have all students hooked! Your ESL/ELL students and weaker readers will be on equal footing with their peers since this site requires very little reading after the introduction. Capture the attention of your students by gamifying science and logic. Continue with class discussions of movement, energy, logic, and strategy. Use as a stepping stone to begin a unit on geometry, energy, or motion. In elementary science classes, include this activity for students who have mastered required curriculum to go beyond the basics of simple machines and motion. Have students add a written explanation of the contraption to take sequencing to a new level. (A screenshot would help them illustrate their writing.) After drawing a scaled model, create the contraption using real objects. Discover the types of energy and movement that are in the model. Organize a contraption competition. Share this link on your class website for students (and their parents) to "tinker" with at home.
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Wordless News - Maria Fabrizio

Grades
5 to 12
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"See" daily news headlines in illustration form on this clever blog created by illustrator/designer Maria Fabrizio. Each day she chooses a headline to illustrate in a sort of visual...more
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"See" daily news headlines in illustration form on this clever blog created by illustrator/designer Maria Fabrizio. Each day she chooses a headline to illustrate in a sort of visual riddle, and she also includes the link to the article that inspired it. The result: an engaging visual prompt that tempts your guess at one of the day's top stories. The news sources vary among various mainstream U.S. news sources, such as the New York Times, NBC, NPR, or USA Today. Challenge yourself to stay up to date and think visually. Cycle back through the daily entries since early 2013 or search by clickable tags to see the breadth of news represented here and find related stories. You can also sign up to receive the daily stories via email.

tag(s): news (261), visual thinking (10)

In the Classroom

Encourage students to connect with current events by sharing the daily post (or one per week) on your projector or interactive whiteboard as students enter homeroom or settle in for the start of class. If you teach reading, this is the perfect way to entice students to READ informational texts with a visual image in mind, adding a purpose to their reading of non-fiction. This is a very creative way to practice close reading, as students look for the reasons behind the illustrator's choices. Extend the activity by challenging students in reading OR social studies classes to create their own Wordless News illustrations to reflect a news story they find on their own. Share the challenges on a class wiki for other students to "guess" and include the links to the stories. Art teachers can use this blog as an example of the many ways artists find inspiration in everyday life. Even the very young can "draw" a news story they read. ESL/ELL teachers can use these illustrations to build speaking vocabulary as students discuss and guess the news stories and practice their language skills reading the actual text. Use this blog in social studies class to inspire historic " wordless news" stories with accompanying articles written by students (or primary source stories from the time). What would the illustration and article be like for the Emancipation Proclamation?

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Composite Number Tree - Jeffrey Ventrella

Grades
4 to 12
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"See" factors and divisors in the form of a tree. Watch the Number Tree grow as each number (0-99) falls from the sky and attaches to a branch based on ...more
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"See" factors and divisors in the form of a tree. Watch the Number Tree grow as each number (0-99) falls from the sky and attaches to a branch based on the divisors of the number. Read some thoughts and questions about the growing tree in the information below. Although simple, this is a powerful visual for anyone exploring properties of numbers and building number sense.

tag(s): factoring (31), factors (42), multiples (35), number sense (96), numbers (203), prime numbers (31)

In the Classroom

Use the Number Tree as an excellent math conversation starter or journal prompt. Have students analyze numbers on each branch to identify the property that groups them together. Use the tree to discuss factors or multiples. Discuss questions on the site such as why the tree is bushier on the left side than on the right. Challenge students to grow the tree beyond 99 to higher numbers. Help your very concrete learners by having them "build" a similar number tree on your classroom wall using sticky notes. Color code the prime number notes as a special color so students "see" them. Try this activity on the 100th day of school to envision 100 a whole new way-- even in upper grades! Challenge your more capable students to create number trees with numbers from 500 to 599 or even higher.

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Visual Patterns - visualpatterns.org

Grades
4 to 12
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Explore over 111 different visual patterns and determine what the 43rd step in the pattern would be. Find the equation, use a table, or draw it! This is a fun ...more
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Explore over 111 different visual patterns and determine what the 43rd step in the pattern would be. Find the equation, use a table, or draw it! This is a fun way to work with patterns, equations, problem solving, and geometry. There is a teacher tab with an explanation about assigning patterns to students and an idea for a form to create for students to fill out. Some patterns have a link with additional information.

tag(s): equations (155), geometric shapes (163), patterns (85), problem solving (272)

In the Classroom

Introduce the concept of visual patterns on an interactive whiteboard or projector with the whole group. Give the practice problem and discover ways to solve while using pictures, words, and equations. Break into small groups and give a challenge. Assign individually for challenges. Have students create their own visual pattern while describing the geometrical terms the pattern employs. Add to students' math portfolios.

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TinEye Labs - Idee, Inc.

Grades
2 to 12
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Search Creative Commons images by COLOR(s)! Choose up to five colors. As you choose each color, the tiled squares fill with a myriad of images that include that color. Click ...more
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Search Creative Commons images by COLOR(s)! Choose up to five colors. As you choose each color, the tiled squares fill with a myriad of images that include that color. Click a second color to view images that have both colors in them. Choose up to five colors. Click on "Next" in the lower right hand corner to view more pages of images. Click on the image you like to go to its Flickr site. Use CTRL-click (or right click) to view the different sizes of images and download pictures. Our editors did not notice any inappropriate photos. However, we highly recommend previewing this site before sharing with students. You will want to discuss what to do in the unlikely event that an image comes up that is not classroom appropriate. As with all Creative Commons images on Flickr, you will want to look at the details of the license to be sure you can use any image as you intend to. Some have limited use (such as no "derivative works"). Click the Rights link at the right when viewing an individual image to see the specifics.

tag(s): colors (79), creative commons (21), design (83), graphic design (35), images (266), media literacy (58), psychology (64)

In the Classroom

Use this tool when you seek specific color(s) to coordinate with a presentation or other class project. Use it to talk about the emotional impact of different colors, such as during a psychology unit on perception, a media literacy lesson on advertising color, or a discussion of color schemes in art class. Be sure to discuss the ethical use of images with proper credit, including Creative Common images. Start by having students carefully NAME files as they download and save them (include the photographer's name and a title). Remind them that they still need to give credit even if it is Creative Commons. This is a great site for looking at contrast, analogous and complementary color schemes, and other artistic expressions. Use TinEye Labs to uncover various elements of graphic design found in images. Art teachers will love the many options for demonstrating different color palettes on a projector or interactive whiteboard. Use the photo examples from Tineye Labs together with a tool such as Kuler, reviewed here, or Colour Lovers, reviewed here, to play hands-on with digital color. Share this with your gifted students who are especially interested in art or design.

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Here is Today - Whitevinyl

Grades
1 to 12
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Here is Today offers a visual look at time. Click Okay+ to the next step in time - from today to this month. Click again to go to the year, ...more
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Here is Today offers a visual look at time. Click Okay+ to the next step in time - from today to this month. Click again to go to the year, and keep moving through eras of geologic time until the creation of the universe millions of years ago. Each step includes an arrow pointing to this day in relation to the rest of the timeline.

tag(s): 20th century (51), calendars (44), cells (102), earth (228), geologic time (9), timelines (62)

In the Classroom

View on your interactive whiteboard or projector to help students visualize and gain perspective of events over time. Here is Today would be great to use when studying dinosaurs, in biology class, in Earth science or geology units, or just as part of a philosophical discussion on the world today. This is a great tool to share with students where "our time" fits into the continuum of the earth's 'life." This site could be used with younger students as well. Share the easier concepts (day, month, year) visually during your calendar math lessons. Extend the concept of proportionality by having older math students create simple visual timelines to scale showing their own life vs the life of the United States and other major, longer periods.

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Gettysburg by the Numbers - TeachersFirst

Grades
5 to 10
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Gettysburg by the Numbers (GBTN) is a web-based, interactive experience of the Battle of Gettysburg through numbers and infographics that raise questions and invite connections. Exploring...more
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Gettysburg by the Numbers (GBTN) is a web-based, interactive experience of the Battle of Gettysburg through numbers and infographics that raise questions and invite connections. Exploring Gettysburg "by the numbers" invites you to move beyond dates and facts to questions that make the battle more meaningful and real. Dig into the numbers to imagine the weather, the clothing, the communications, the people, the weapons, and--yes -- the cleanup from three devastating, pivotal July days in 1863. Delve into the infographics and accompanying questions to connect what was then with what is now. The site includes ideas for families and for teachers to use it in the classroom. Be sure to click on the large color image of the battle to get the "big picture." Teachers will want to explore the extensive "For Teachers" section that offers materials, lesson ideas, Common Core correlations, and much more.

tag(s): civil war (145), gettysburg (26)

In the Classroom

Gettysburg exemplifies many aspects of the Civil War experience and of U.S. life during the 1860s. Use this resource as a whole class introduction to the Civil War or specifically to the Battle of Gettysburg. Extensive teacher materials include downloadable and customizable handouts for students to "get the basics" about the battle or extend their understanding through small group or individual projects on battle-related topics that interest them. Coordinate with your math teacher to reinforce concepts of proportion, percent, ratio, and graphing with real data about Gettysburg. Differentiate for your students by helping them select from more concrete or more open-ended "questions" included with each detail about the battle. You can make this a one-day "quick tour" or a week long journey. Find project ideas included in these questions. There is even a customizable project rubric in the teacher materials. Be sure to share this link on your class web page for curious students (and families) to explore on their own outside of class!

Comments

Excellent resource for research Arthur, TX, Grades: 0 - 12

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Silk - Interactive Generative Art - Yuri Vishnevsky

Grades
2 to 12
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Create magical looking artwork as you click and drag with this beautiful site. Personalize the images using the color and format links at the bottom of the screen. Choose from ...more
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Create magical looking artwork as you click and drag with this beautiful site. Personalize the images using the color and format links at the bottom of the screen. Choose from vertical or four-way symmetry or symmetry off. Include new age music to add to the magical effects or turn music off with a simple click. Share your creations through links to Twitter, Facebook, email, or copy the link. Althought there is no option to print or save a finished design, you could take a screenshot (Shift+ Command +4 on a mac or Prtscrn key on Windows) and save or paste it into a document to write about or save.

tag(s): colors (79), symmetry (55)

In the Classroom

Use this site to explore symmetry with your students on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Watch what happens when you choose from the different available options. Discuss what emotions certain colors can induce. Have students create their own artwork then print and post to a class bulletin board display (or share on your class website or blog). Challenge students to identify the type or types of symmetry shown in each design. Use this site in both art and math class while learning about symmetry. Have students take screenshots and write about their creations.

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Yummy Math - Brian Marks

Grades
5 to 9
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Yummy Math shares mathematics problems and scenarios based on things happening in the world today. In January, some of the topics related to the NFL playoffs. Yummy Math lists activities...more
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Yummy Math shares mathematics problems and scenarios based on things happening in the world today. In January, some of the topics related to the NFL playoffs. Yummy Math lists activities chronologically as well as by mathematics topic. Topics include Algebra, Number Sense, Geometry, Food Math, Sports, and many more. The site is sure to be highly motivational for students as they complete math problems based on items of current interest such as the Super Bowl, American Idol, and American candy sales. Most problems contain a printable word or pdf document with questions. Some also include video or audio clips. Especially helpful is the Contents link which provides an alphabetical listing of all activities on the site.

tag(s): number sense (96), problem solving (272), puzzles (208), sports (97)

In the Classroom

Make math relevant to any student. Assign weekly problems from the site for homework or daily classwork. Ask students to create new problems to be solved by classmates using the topic of the week or local topics of interest. Have students make a multimedia presentation using one of the many TeachersFirst Edge tools reviewed here. Use the archives to find problems available from previous months.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Color Scheme Designer - Petr Stanicek

Grades
2 to 12
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Need help determining colors for a project, website, blog, bulletin board, or (if fashion challenged like me) today's outfit? Use this great site to determine colors that look great...more
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Need help determining colors for a project, website, blog, bulletin board, or (if fashion challenged like me) today's outfit? Use this great site to determine colors that look great together for your next project. Point and click on the portion of the color wheel to pick a central hue of your choosing. Decide among the following choices: monochromatic, complementary, triad, tetrad, among others to choose a selection of colors. View examples of your choice as it would appear on a web page. Use the RGB values for entering into the color number for your web page. RGB values are six characters (numbers and letters) following a # sign. Save your scheme ID number for future reference.

tag(s): colors (79)

In the Classroom

Art teachers can teach basic design and color wheel principles using this tool on an interactive whiteboard or have students experiment with different color schemes to demonstrate their understanding of color concepts. Be aware that some monitors and projectors may not have the color responsiveness that other hardware has, making it more difficult to "see" the subtleties on this site. Use this tool for creation of coordinated website, wiki, or blog pages. Students will find an unlimited number of color schemes to choose from in the creation of their projects. Not sure what a "wiki" is? Have no wiki worries - check out the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through.

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Wordle - Jonathan Feinberg

Grades
2 to 12
17 Favorites 1  Comments
 
This site takes any quotation or poem and creates a "word cloud" (graphical display) of the words in a passage of text. Paste in any passage or the URL for ...more
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This site takes any quotation or poem and creates a "word cloud" (graphical display) of the words in a passage of text. Paste in any passage or the URL for any blog entry or web page (including newspapers online) to create a wordle of the text. If you make a Wordle, you can choose your own colors, type of display, and font. The most frequent words appear larger and darker. Students can view creations others have made or make their own with or without saving them to the database of clouds. You can also print creations, open them in a window without borders, or link to them from a home page (html code is provided for the link). This site requires Java. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page. However, this site is now a device-agnostic tool, available on the web but also available for free as both an Android and iOS app. Use it from any device or move between several devices and still access your work. App and web versions vary slightly.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (198), speech (92), vocabulary (323), word choice (26), word clouds (10)

In the Classroom

You need to know how to copy/paste. No email registration needed to create. Click Create to get started. Copy/paste text, type into a text box, or paste in the URL of the page you wish to "cloud." Play with options under Layout, Color, and Font menus to change the look. When done, choose to Print, take a screen shot of it in New Window view (PrntScrn on Windows, Command+shift+4 on Mac) or save to public gallery. Once it opens in the gallery view, be sure to copy the URL and keep a record of the exact URL of wordles you save to the Gallery. You will never be able to find them again without it! Use this tool easily in your Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) classroom since all students will be able to access it for free, no matter what device they have.

The public can enter text and create their own Wordles, some of which appear on the home page for "recent" Wordles. Teachers should preview the Gallery and home page immediately before sharing this site with a class. TeachersFirst's review team has not witnessed any objectionable examples. In today's world, a brief lesson or honest discussion on ignoring, clicking out of, or avoiding the inappropriate on the web might be worthwhile, depending on the age and maturity of your students.

This is a terrific visual tool to share on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Paste in a passage or URL for a political speech to visualize the politician's "message." Analyze advertising propaganda by visualizing the language used in TV or print ads. Create wordles of historical texts of inauguration speeches as time capsules of the issues of the day. Use this site as a way to help students see and memorize text, especially visual learners. Use it also when writing poetry or reading passages of great literature to "see" themes and motifs of repeated words and images. Have students paste in their own writing to spot repeated (and monotonous) language when teaching lessons on word choice. Students will be surprised to see what words appear to be dominant. ESL and ELL students will eagerly use this site since word order will no longer be a problem for them. Have students work in groups to create word posters of vocabulary words with related meanings, such as different ways to say "walk" or "said" and decorate your classroom with these visual reminders of the richness of language.

Another idea: use this site during the first week of school. Have students create "Wordles" about themselves and create a "Wordle" bulletin board introducing your students (and yourself). Or use Worlde for a whole-class positive statement as shown in this example. Remember that the most frequently appearing words will appear larger so plan accordingly.

Comments

So versatile and easy to use. Needs supervision because of what some people post in the galleries. Kids find it very easy to use. Nice for quick analysis of text (love to use with Shakespeare). Frances, CT, Grades: 6 - 8

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