TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Mar 8, 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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World Water Monitoring Challenge - World Water Monitoring Challenge (WWMC)

Grades
5 to 12
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Join others in over 50 countries around the world in the World Water Monitoring Challenge. The official kickoff for World Water Day is on March 22. However, the challenge continues...more
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Join others in over 50 countries around the world in the World Water Monitoring Challenge. The official kickoff for World Water Day is on March 22. However, the challenge continues through December 31. Register to monitor any lake, stream, bay, or any other nearby body of water with safe access. Follow directions to test and monitor your water. There are test kits available for purchase. However, you can create your own. Share data by logging into the site. Visit the Resources page to find activity worksheets, handouts, guides, and lesson plans.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): earth day (112), environment (317), water (130)

In the Classroom

Sign up your classroom or science club to participate in the World Water Monitoring Challenge. Follow directions on the site for how to collect and submit data. Take advantage of lesson plans found on the site in both English and Spanish. Use the lessons and resources as part of an environmental or Earth Day unit. Challenge students to create a presentation using Prezi (reviewed here) sharing their findings.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Google Science Fair - Google

Grades
7 to 12
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Get your creative juices flowing! It is time for the Google Science Fair, a yearly competition for ages 13 to 18 years old. Find a Competition Overview with a description ...more
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Get your creative juices flowing! It is time for the Google Science Fair, a yearly competition for ages 13 to 18 years old. Find a Competition Overview with a description of the prizes, past winners, key dates, and judges. Students must have a Google Student Account. The Teacher and Parent's section has ideas for involving young participants and how to support them. There are also lesson plans (by grade levels), posters (in PDF format), and more. Get inspired by watching the Google Science Fair Channel on YouTube! Encourage the young inventors you know, and they might win one of the many fabulous prizes. The yearly submission deadline is around mid-May. Regional winners are announced in July. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos 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): computers (78), engineering (118), science fairs (25), scientific method (64), social networking (113)

In the Classroom

Why not take the next step in science fairs? Let Google walk you through this competition! Introduce the project to students using your interactive whiteboard or projector. A particularly useful start for students is the Idea Springboard. Here young innovators can get help generating ideas for a science fair project across all scientific fields! Be sure to post a link to the Google Science Fair on your class webpage for students to share with their parents at home.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Wonkblog: Kurt Vonnegut graphed the world's most popular stories (blog post) - Ana Swanson/Washington Post

Grades
5 to 12
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Read about and see "graphs" of famous stories as sketched by author Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007). This blog post includes an embedded YouTube video of Vonnegut explaining his "graphs"...more
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Read about and see "graphs" of famous stories as sketched by author Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007). This blog post includes an embedded YouTube video of Vonnegut explaining his "graphs" of classic story "shapes" as well as examples for each. The video is old and grainy, but quite entertaining. Shapes/graphs include "Man in a Hole," "Boy Meets Girl," and even the classic creation story. You need not have read the exact examples he provides to understand -- and start wondering about the "shape" of stories you know. Even younger readers could understand these concepts if you explain them in simplest terms. The graphs, or story shapes, are shown as infographics redrawn by Maya Eilam. You can view the full infographic of the graphs/story shapes as a single image herehere. Some 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.
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tag(s): authors (118), creative writing (167), infographics (42), narrative (24), stories and storytelling (30)

In the Classroom

Explore the patterns of story and narratives in our culture and beyond using this visual approach to story mapping. In a high school language arts class, watch the video of Vonnegut explaining story shapes (about 4 minutes) and challenge student partners or groups to think of other examples of that story map, even from movies or television shows. Then turn the class loose to make their own graphic representation of a literary piece you have read recently - or of a movie that is popular right now. If you have an interactive whiteboard, have students direct a student "emcee" to do the drawing as the class gives instructions. With younger students, you may need to talk as a class to be sure students are able to grasp the abstract patterns shown in the graphs, and the video may be too adult level for them to understand without a slower discussion. Once your class (of any level) seems to grasp the idea, post story shapes on your class wiki or web page (with proper credit) so students can add their own examples of tales they have read or watched that fit the pattern. If you give them extra credit for noticing such stories in their own lives, they will internalize the idea of narrative patterns. You could also make a story shape bulletin board where students can add index cards with names of books/tales they read under each pattern. If you are promoting narrative writing, use these story patterns as a way to help students get ideas for where a storyline can go so it has a beginning, middle, and end.

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Try the Google Yourself - BackgroundCheck.org

Grades
9 to 12
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Take the "Google Yourself" Challenge to find out what others may learn about you by searching the Internet. This infographic provides information on personal online sharing such as...more
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Take the "Google Yourself" Challenge to find out what others may learn about you by searching the Internet. This infographic provides information on personal online sharing such as the number of people with phone numbers, birth dates, photos, and other information readily available online. Take the challenge and search for your name on Google to find what personal information you have online. Find what others with your name may have online and may get confused with you. Learn also who may be looking you up on search engines and why this is important to know.
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tag(s): digital citizenship (58), infographics (42), internet safety (113)

In the Classroom

Share this infographic on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) and discuss with students as part of online safety lessons and digital citizenship. Include this site on your class web page for students and parents to access as a reference. Have students complete the challenge as an informative exercise before completing college applications.

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Comma Confusion - Compass Learning

Grades
2 to 5
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Learn about comma usage with this simple (but engaging) interactive. Help Dr. Igneous sort out confusing messages (missing commas) to save the villagers from an erupting volcano. Use...more
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Learn about comma usage with this simple (but engaging) interactive. Help Dr. Igneous sort out confusing messages (missing commas) to save the villagers from an erupting volcano. Use the arrows at the bottom of the activity to move through each part as you learn about and practice using commas in a list.

tag(s): punctuation (43)

In the Classroom

Use this site as an anticipatory set or "activator" to introduce a unit or lesson on the use of commas. Share the site on a projector or interactive whiteboard. Be sure to include this site on your class web page for students to access both in and outside of class for further practice. Have students create an online or printed comic using one of the tools and ideas included in this collection.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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CodeCombat - CodeCombat

Grades
3 to 12
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Harness the power of problem solving with CodeCombat. CodeCombat provides a unique challenge to learn code while playing an engaging game. Escape enemies or navigate a dungeon by typing...more
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Harness the power of problem solving with CodeCombat. CodeCombat provides a unique challenge to learn code while playing an engaging game. Escape enemies or navigate a dungeon by typing basic JavaScript commands. Each level of play provides a new challenge for programmers to experiment the best way to accomplish the goals of the game. Write JavaScript code to direct the character's actions, and then run the code to see what happens. Correct the code if needed to complete the level. Programmers earn accessories, XP, and achievement badges after conquering a level. A series of five stars indicates the difficulty for each level. CodeCombat never feels like a gamified coding course because it makes learning fun. The emphasis is on the game instead of the code. CodeCombat is free to play, but an email is required to create an account to save information and for the multiplayer option. A premium upgrade is available for a fee. This review is for the FREE portion only.

tag(s): coding (26), creativity (108), critical thinking (92), problem solving (258)

In the Classroom

Learning to code is an opportunity to teach students to think and problem solve. Coding is a critical digital literacy skill for the future. Create an after school coding club for students to access the site. Challenge students to write stories to accompany each level of code they complete in CodeCombat. Encourage students to create as they become more advanced in CodeCombat. Provide an environment for students to collaborate to solve the levels.

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We Are Visual Animals - Charlie Clark

Grades
9 to 12
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Witness the work of today's digital designers and read about them on this remarkable site. This blog features "visual creatives" selected and interviewed by blog creator Charlie Clark....more
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Witness the work of today's digital designers and read about them on this remarkable site. This blog features "visual creatives" selected and interviewed by blog creator Charlie Clark. See their works interspersed with questions that delve into the why behind them. Questions such as "Describe your creative process - how do you come up with an idea for a new piece?" elicit thoughtful responses that help all of us "visual animals" understand what we are seeing. New posts appear about every two weeks. The interface of the site is simple but elegant, with small icons to advance to the next post or "see" the works (an eye icon).

tag(s): artists (75), photography (160)

In the Classroom

Share this blog with your visual arts students or students creating an online literary magazine. Use it as an example of the kind of artists statements and interviews that can make the difference between a stilted exhibit and a meaningful immersion. Encourage your high school art students to use some of the ideas and interview questions from this blog in their own visual portfolio sites to use for themselves and for college applications. Use one of the web page tools from the Edge to create personal portfolio sites. Art or photography teachers can use the works on this site to teach design principles. Share images on an interactive whiteboard or projector for students to annotate the images and talk about what makes them "work." Use images from the featured artists as visual writing prompts in English class. Use some of the artist's statements as examples to inspire more personal college essays.

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Virtual Science Hub - Global excursion

Grades
9 to 12
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Create or view Excursions to learn various science topics! Find the available Excursions by clicking on Browse. Click Educational to see the catalog topics in Mathematics, Physics,...more
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Create or view Excursions to learn various science topics! Find the available Excursions by clicking on Browse. Click Educational to see the catalog topics in Mathematics, Physics, Biology, and Technology. This site includes Excursions created by the International community. Each Excursion plays like a PowerPoint. Advance through the slides to see embedded content included as part of the Excursion. Content includes Wikipedia entries, websites, quizzes, videos, and more. Create an account to make your Excursion. Click the + sign at the top to create. Add a title, description, and tags. Click to add content (photos, videos, text, quiz, etc.) Have a PowerPoint you would like to use? Export it as a PDF file and upload to Vishub. Another upload possibility is ZIP files, among others. Easy to use tools include changing background, animation, and style. Save, preview, and publish. Favorite and comment on popular excursions. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos 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): animals (277), cells (102), environment (317), medicine (67), plants (143), solar system (118), water cycle (33)

In the Classroom

Encourage students to create an excursion about a topic being studied in science class. This tool would be an excellent alternative to a conventional PowerPoint or other presentation tools. Consider assigning projects where students teach one another using this tool. Gifted students will love learning from already created excursions or extending their learning by creating their own. This tool would be useful for blended or flipped learning. Give students time to absorb information about content. Leave class time for individualized learning.

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American Bald Eagle Foundation - Bald Eagle Foundation

Grades
1 to 12
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Fly into the Bald Eagle Foundation, in Haines Alaska, dedicated to the preservation of this national symbol. Discover eagle facts and incredible image galleries. Read more about the...more
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Fly into the Bald Eagle Foundation, in Haines Alaska, dedicated to the preservation of this national symbol. Discover eagle facts and incredible image galleries. Read more about the museum, festival, and preserve in Haines, Alaska. Be sure to click on Festival on the top menu. Find a YouTube video full of beautiful vistas for Haines, Alaska, plenty of history, and cool, unusual information about the bald eagle. If your district blocks YouTube, this video 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 videos from YouTube.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): endangered species (38), extinction (4)

In the Classroom

Study the bald eagle and its current status as no longer endangered. Use as a research site for bald eagle information. Show the video under the Festivals tab on your projector or interactive whiteboard. If you do not wish to show all scenes in the video use a program like Reel Surfer, reviewed here, to show only the portions of the video you want your students to see. Look for an animal in your area, and research it. Do a Problem Based Learning Project on creating dioramas and information for creating public awareness. Create a festival to promote the preservation of the species. Have students create commercials and posters to meet speaking and listening standards. For online posters use a program like CheckThis, reviewed here. Create a public blog for an ongoing research watch. If you have not started blogging yet, check out TeachersFirst Blog Basics.
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Breaking News - NBC News Digital Network

Grades
4 to 12
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This current events site can take you places! Type in the topic you want to read about and view a list of headlines to stories about the topic. Choose one ...more
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This current events site can take you places! Type in the topic you want to read about and view a list of headlines to stories about the topic. Choose one of the headlines to read the story that comes from a variety of news sources. Click on the globe icon on the upper right of the news page to view the world map. This shows the location of where the stories originate. Clicking on the dots on the map also take you to the stories. This tool is available on web browsers, iOS, and Android devices.
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tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (192), globe (14), maps (287), news (261), newspapers (94)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a resource for current events projects. Assign students various weeks through out the semester in which they are to be the class news reporter. The reports should keep their peers up to date and informed. Have students research what is going on via this news site, and give a small presentation at the beginning of class every day during their week. Students can do an oral presentation or create a short video summarizing the same information. View several news articles from different areas and discuss bias and point of view from other cities and countries. Choose dots on the map randomly from the various sections to see what is trending in different regions. Have students create news briefs and share them using a tool such as SchoolTube reviewed here.

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A Global Guide to the First World War - Guardian News and Media

Grades
8 to 12
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Get an overview of World War I through maps, audio, historical film, and archived newspaper reports. Listen as ten historians from various countries give a brief history through eclectic...more
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Get an overview of World War I through maps, audio, historical film, and archived newspaper reports. Listen as ten historians from various countries give a brief history through eclectic lenses. View the video to see soldiers transported on camels and warfare in the Alps. Choose from language options of English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic or Hindi. View interactives by clicking the pointing finger within the video. This site is a must-see for inclusion with any World War I lessons and units. Some may find some of the images disturbing. As always, it is best to preview!

tag(s): world war 1 (53)

In the Classroom

Use this site as an anticipatory set or "activator" to introduce your unit on World War I. You don't need to view the whole video at one time. Choose different segments from the bottom of the screen to break up into smaller sections. This site is excellent for enrichment. It would be perfect nonfiction reading and listening in English, social studies or world language classes. Include it on your class web page for students to access both in and out of class. Have students create a word cloud of the important terms they learn from this site using a tool such as WordItOut, reviewed here. Have students create maps of World War I events using Animaps. Students can add text, images, and location stops! Have students create timelines (with music, photos, videos, and more) using Capzles, reviewed here. Have students use Fakebook, reviewed here, to create a "fake" page similar in style to Facebook about a soldier, resident, or politician involved with World War I.

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Youcubed - Jo Boaler and Stanford University

Grades
K to 12
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Youcubed is an up and coming mathematics education site for grades K-12. See short video presentations about how to build confident, math-loving students. In addition, the site plans...more
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Youcubed is an up and coming mathematics education site for grades K-12. See short video presentations about how to build confident, math-loving students. In addition, the site plans to include tasks and lessons correlated to Common Core Standards. One interesting feature discusses mathematic tasks used by today's companies such as Google. Another section will feature information, resources, and tools for parents. This site continues to grow. Be sure to sign up with your email to receive site access and all of the latest updates. Browse through a few examples currently on the site for a preview of upcoming features. Search for lesson plans by using the word Tasks. (Don't be shy about adding comments on this TeachersFirst review as new features roll out!). Some videos are hosted on YouTube (others on Vimeo). If your district blocks YouTube, the videos 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): professional development (123), STEM (123)

In the Classroom

Sign up for email updates as this site continues to grow. Bookmark Youcubed for use as a resource throughout the year for lessons, videos, and parent information. Share videos through your class website or newsletter for students (and parents) to view at home. Share the videos or interactives on a projector or interactive whiteboard.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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XKCD - XKCD

Grades
8 to 12
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Get ready to have a good laugh at Ready for a good laugh? Come on over to XKCD, a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language. Three times a week ...more
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Get ready to have a good laugh at Ready for a good laugh? Come on over to XKCD, a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language. Three times a week find comics with stick figures featuring mathematical, scientific, and cultural humor. Dig through the archives to find the perfect one for you! Creative Commons License allows reprinting of the comics. Each comic has an individual URL that can be shared to direct students to that specific comic. Be sure to PREVIEW before you share any comics with your class. Our editors found a few that may be questionable depending on the maturity of your students.
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tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), humor (15)

In the Classroom

Add humor to your science, math, language, and current events classes to lighten the mood! Spice up professional presentations with humor, and keep your audience involved. Share the direct URL to any comic that relates to your curriculum or specific topics. Encourage students to create comics with your current content. Have students use one of the tools and ideas included in this collection. Keep your class website humorous with a few comics from XKCD.

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