TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Apr 5, 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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White House Student Film Festival: Official Selections - The White House

Grades
4 to 12
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Marvel at the talent of U.S. K-12 student video makers and at the powerful messages they capture in these top 15 videos from the 2015 annual student film festival sponsored ...more
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Marvel at the talent of U.S. K-12 student video makers and at the powerful messages they capture in these top 15 videos from the 2015 annual student film festival sponsored by the White House. All the videos focus on themes related to citizenship, volunteerism, community, giving back, service, social justice, or other themes of character and caring. See what students can do with today's technology (even phone or tablet camera), good writing, and a creative desire to communicate a message in three minutes or less. Watch them all or select one or two. You are guaranteed to be impressed by the film makers and to be uplifted by this positive example of what today's youth can do. Don't miss the Archer Hadley Story as an example of the power of one and a revealing look at what "accessibility" really means. If this contest repeats in future years, encourage budding film makers to enter! The general time frame for making videos and entering is October- February. Many of the already-created videos require 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.

tag(s): communities (35), competitions (14), disabilities (20), media literacy (56), service projects (25), video (251)

In the Classroom

Share this collection in social studies or career classes as part of a lesson about giving back to your community. Have student groups select one video and describe its message in one sentence. Then challenge them to think of a citizenship message they would like to deliver on video. Take some class time to analyze why these videos "work": the camera shots, the voices and words, the music. Have groups write a script of their own (digital writing for Common Core!) and produce it as part of a school video festival. If you have a service club in your school or community, they might be willing to help sponsor the festival. Teachers of gifted can use this idea for independent student projects.

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Numeracy Tasks - Peter Liljedahl

Grades
K to 12
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Numeracy Tasks offers a large selection of open-ended problems for grades K-12. Choose from titles sorted by grade level (K-3, 4-6, 7-9, or 10-12). Each task is listed individually....more
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Numeracy Tasks offers a large selection of open-ended problems for grades K-12. Choose from titles sorted by grade level (K-3, 4-6, 7-9, or 10-12). Each task is listed individually. Click to download the Word document including instructions and any necessary materials. Although this site is rather "plain vanilla," there are some very engaging topics: Cell Phone Plans, Nine Hole Golf Course, Building a Garden, Trip to the Waterslides, and many more.

tag(s): number sense (97), problem solving (258)

In the Classroom

Bookmark and save Numeracy Tasks for use throughout the year for group projects or math centers. Share with tutors and parents to use as enrichment in problem solving. Share some of the activities with students to do for extra credit or for summer enrichment.

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Mental Floss - Felix Dennis

Grades
6 to 12
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Discover "random, interesting, amazing facts, quizzes, and trivia" at Mental Floss. This magazine-style offering features new posts daily on topics from science, history, culture, and...more
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Discover "random, interesting, amazing facts, quizzes, and trivia" at Mental Floss. This magazine-style offering features new posts daily on topics from science, history, culture, and more. For example, read about 6 Articles of Clothing That Caused Riots! Access the archives via the ALSO ON MENTAL FLOSS links near the bottom of the page for even more offerings. Any reader is guaranteed to learn something new and come away wanting to learn more. Find answers to imponderables or odd thoughts. Sections include Innovations, Words, Lists, and Quizzes with subareas for history, science, pop culture, etc. Click Videos to visit Mental Floss's YouTube channel or related videos. Articles are quick tidbits that invite you to share and learn. 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): animals (277), famous people (19), grammar (217), quizzes (95), trivia (17)

In the Classroom

Share Mental Floss on your class web page in any science, history, health, or reading class in middle school and up. Use it as a place for students to discover research topics related to your subject or as prompts for blog posts to get kids writing about something that interests them. Make a regular extra credit offering for students to write a blog post responding to something they learn here. If you have trouble getting students to read informational text, use these factoids as introductions to draw their interest before offering a longer article. Use these articles as starters for information literacy activities. Have partners research to find a corroborating (or debunking) source for the trivia offered here. English teachers will love some of the quick articles on misused or frequently misspelled words. Invite your students in any subject to find an article related to your subject and to create a poster version of that tip or tale using a tool such as Web Poster Wizard (reviewed here).

Comments

Awesome for so many topics. Blog post ideas! Love the layout and diversity. Patricia, NJ, Grades: 6 - 12

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David Rumsey Historical Map Collection - Cartography Associates

Grades
6 to 12
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In an age where digital maps are ubiquitous and take us down to house-by-house detail, we can forget how difficult it was to create accurate maps before satellite imaging. Historical...more
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In an age where digital maps are ubiquitous and take us down to house-by-house detail, we can forget how difficult it was to create accurate maps before satellite imaging. Historical maps are another tool for understanding the frame of reference of those who lived before us, and are important primary source documents. This collection includes over 50,000 historical maps, with an emphasis on 18th and 19th century maps of North and South America. The collection can be viewed from several platforms. Over 120 of the maps can be accessed using the Google Maps interface. A Georeferencer utility allows you to view a historical map laid over a modern map of the same area. And finally, the site's LUNA browser allows you to view multiple maps together, create embeddable links or Web Widgets that can be used in other applications, create slide shows of collections of maps, and annotate specific maps in the collection.

tag(s): 1700s (23), 1800s (44), map skills (80), maps (287), north america (20), south america (39)

In the Classroom

Use this historical map collection to highlight contemporary views of places featured in your history, literature, or geography lessons. Consider asking students to create a slideshow of maps that show how a location has changed over time, or how political boundaries have changed. Use a tool like Zoho Show (similar to Powerpoint, but easier and free) - reviewed here. Help students understand how culture influences map making and what historical maps can tell us other than information on geography.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Hacktivity Kits - Mozilla

Grades
8 to 12
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What better way to learn than through making? Collaborate and make items for the web using these webmaker tools. These Hacktivity Kits are easy for anyone to organize a session ...more
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What better way to learn than through making? Collaborate and make items for the web using these webmaker tools. These Hacktivity Kits are easy for anyone to organize a session and learn about creating items for the Internet. Use these kits to facilitate classes that focus on webmaking. Each section includes what you will need to consider to prepare for using the kits. Kits include sample lessons, projects, and activities. Find documents (cheat sheet for HTML!) that can be printed in each of the Resources sections. Use activities that assess progress and even provide badges. Each kit has a Big Picture, Objectives, Questions, and all related material. Find a variety of kits: X-Ray Goggles, Popcorn, Thimble, Online Storytelling, Revolutions in Media, Make It Share It, and more. As the name suggests, the Hacktivity kits can be hacked as well. Choose the parts that work for your class and expand upon others when more resources are needed. Since the products are created for the web, the tools used to make them are web applications. The recommended browsers include Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Note: It is important that all browsers be updated to the latest versions in order to use the web application effectively. Be sure to click "View Additional Resources" for one page documents including readings, cheat sheets, checklists, how-to's, and FAQ's. Click "View All Hacktivities" for simple activities such as Icebreakers. Explore Hands on Hacking, to delve deeper into the material.

tag(s): digital storytelling (135), images (261), stories and storytelling (30), video (251)

In the Classroom

Share this site and the possibilities on your interactive whiteboard or projector. These kits would be good for gifted students interested in web creation. Use these kits in an advanced Technology class or club. Know a talented student who is interested in web creation (or think he/she might be)? Create a spark for web creation in the next generation! Share this link on your class website for students to explore on their own.
 

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Formative - goformative.com

Grades
K to 12
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Looking for real-time feed back from your classes? Use tests and quizzes to get immediate feedback with this tool. You can even upload a document to Formative for students to ...more
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Looking for real-time feed back from your classes? Use tests and quizzes to get immediate feedback with this tool. You can even upload a document to Formative for students to annotate. Enter questions that require a variety of answers including true/false, text answers, or student drawings. It will even mark answers for you! Setup a marking key and view instant data on who is correct. Students can create an account to get access to the materials you create. The site works on all devices. Formative is aligned to many standards including Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and many other common standards. Create a free account. All assignments are organized in the dashboard. Click on New Assignment to begin and choose to start from scratch or upload a document. Choose the type of question and even add content such as text, whiteboard, or YouTube videos. Be sure to set up a key for automatic grading and watch the live results as they come in.

tag(s): commoncore (92), DAT device agnostic tool (193), polls and surveys (47), quizzes (95)

In the Classroom

Use this tool at the beginning of chapters or units to identify information students are already familiar with. Be sure to use this tool to check for understanding. Use as an exit slip, to identify material that needs to be retaught, or to locate specific students that need remediation. Students can easily see the choices and choose answers using a browser on a laptop or any device. Use this formative assessment tool to create pretests to offer to gifted students to "test out" of already learned material. Make it a class challenge! Project your quiz to the entire classroom using a whiteboard or projector. Use this tool often to obtain a snapshot of each student's understanding of content. Use this tool to give students the opportunity to predict the content of tomorrow's lesson based upon today's.

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Oh Noah - PBSkidsGO

Grades
K to 8
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Help Noah learn Spanish with Abuela, Coco, and Pequeno, his Spanish speaking friends. Navigate through interactive games and adventure videos using both Spanish and English. Don't miss...more
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Help Noah learn Spanish with Abuela, Coco, and Pequeno, his Spanish speaking friends. Navigate through interactive games and adventure videos using both Spanish and English. Don't miss the free printables. Find Noah engaged in dialogue saying words in English, a character repeats in Spanish, and Noah repeats the Spanish word. Print-out activities include: coloring a playground by Spanish numbers, learning the names of tools and eating utensils in Spanish, practice Spanish colors, and play Spanish Bingo. Turn on closed captioning to see the Spanish word as it is spoken.

tag(s): cinco de mayo (12), spanish (108)

In the Classroom

Add this site to your ESL/ELL classroom computers. Challenge your English speaking students to learn Spanish. Add this information to a flashcard tool such as FlashCard Maker, reviewed here, and let the Spanish begin. Add as an option to your choice (centers) menus to keep students engaged and learning new content. During a multicultural celebration, keep this bookmarked on computers. Share this link on your class website for students to learn more Spanish vocabulary.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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3D City - loth/ Micropolis JS

Grades
8 to 12
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Plan, build, and manage your own 3D city using this shareware game. The tools are similar to SimCity, though simpler. You have a budget, collect taxes, build residential, industrial,...more
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Plan, build, and manage your own 3D city using this shareware game. The tools are similar to SimCity, though simpler. You have a budget, collect taxes, build residential, industrial, and commercial districts, and try to respond to the needs of your community before a crisis occurs. Messages at the lower left tell you of current needs. The items you can add show their costs and explanations when you roll your mouse over the 3D icons. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to locate "how to" information, so you need to be observant about the constant changes in your city as you learn the tools. Even on the "easy" level, things happen fast! For example, the population keeps changing, as does your available budget, tax revenue, etc. Use the pause button at the bottom to stop and think or simply to stop and notice what has happened while everything was changing so quickly! Click "Eval" to find out what your citizens think of your decisions as "mayor." You can Save your map and reopen it using the "load map" button the next time. Maps are saved locally on your computer so test first to be sure your settings allow the saved file to stay there. Since there is no sign-in or membership, you cannot load a map you saved on another computer.

tag(s): communities (35)

In the Classroom

This simulation would fit well in a unit on how communities work or basic governmental principles. Share this simulation on an interactive whiteboard (or projector) with student operators to figure out how the tools work. For a smooth introduction, have a small group of your "techie" students figure out what the tools do and explain them to the rest of the class. Then challenge student partners or groups of three to discover how to build a successful city. Have them take screen shots of their city's successes (and failures) and post them on a class wiki or in a blog post explaining what a successful city needs and why. Then have them find local news articles about a real world example of the same issues, such as a debate over a proposed industrial zone or new taxes, and share the link as part of their wiki or blog post. Note that github, the software sharing site where this game is hosted, may be blocked in some schools, so test before you plan to use this in a classroom!! If you teach computer coding, this is a great game for your students to try as inspiration.

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Virtual Musical Instruments - Virtual Musical Instruments

Grades
K to 12
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Bring the world of music and instruments into your classroom. With Virtual Musical Instruments, you can explore the guitar, piano, pan flute, drums, or bongos. Select the instrument,...more
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Bring the world of music and instruments into your classroom. With Virtual Musical Instruments, you can explore the guitar, piano, pan flute, drums, or bongos. Select the instrument, and follow the directions for using the keyboard to play the different notes. Create different melodies using different notes or rhythms. Use the guitar tuner to be sure you are in tune. There is no record option on this tool. If you want to record your beat, there are many alternative options (such as using a cell phone, iPod, or an old-fashioned recorder.
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tag(s): music theory (41), musical instruments (47)

In the Classroom

Virtual Musical Instruments opens up the world of music into many other subjects. In music class, discover the different instruments, sounds, and rhythms the virtual instruments can produce. Allow your students to make their own compositions. Challenge them to determine a way to give the directions for their composition to another person so that they can repeat the original piece. In language arts class, discuss mood in literature. Determine the instruments used, the rhythms, and sounds needed to make that effect. During Readers' Theater, add a musical score for more excitement and engagement with further analysis of the text. Have students create a musical composition that tells a story. Now, play that musical story for the class, and turn it into a writing prompt. Use musical sounds and beats to illustrate the concepts of literature and the use of plot. Determine a melody for each character. Write to explain why each character has that musical composition. Math class brings the study of fractions with types of notes: whole note, half note, quarter note, and eighth notes. Let students create a musical sentence that represents them and write to explain why. Use whatever recording option is most practical in your classroom.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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The Migrant Trail - Marco Williams

Grades
7 to 12
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The Migrant Trail is a reality simulation with the goal of teaching about undocumented Mexican migrants and border patrol officers. See both sides of the situation. Learn what drives...more
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The Migrant Trail is a reality simulation with the goal of teaching about undocumented Mexican migrants and border patrol officers. See both sides of the situation. Learn what drives migrants to risk their lives to cross the border into the United States. Participate as a border patrol officer. Learn that they do not only apprehend migrants, but also rescue and treat those who suffer from the harsh elements encountered in trying to cross the desert. Participating in this activity is an excellent way to strengthen decision-making skills and at the same time acquire cultural understanding in order to see both sides of the issue about migration from Mexico. A documentary on PBS titled The Undocumented was the inspiration for this interactive. It is not necessary to view the film to use the interactive.

tag(s): critical thinking (92), immigrants (20), immigration (58), migration (59), problem solving (258), reading comprehension (114)

In the Classroom

Introduce this interactive to students on a projector or interactive whiteboard. You may want to start out as a border patrol officer so students will understand the underlying humanitarianism in this job. The officers in this interactive are empathetic and concerned about the health of the migrants. Have students explore individually or in pairs the different migrants, their history, and decisions they have to make while crossing the desert. Be sure to supply earbuds/headphones or have students silence the audio on the computers. There are short biographies of the migrants. Pair weaker readers with stronger readers as necessary. The Migrant Trail is an excellent way to make students think about and discuss a real-world issue in a government class. In an economy class, talk about the role of public policy in citizenship and the financial matters that drive the migrants.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Nest Watch - Cornell University

Grades
2 to 12
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Join a nationwide monitoring program designed to track the status and trends of bird biology in nesting and reproduction. Receive instructions to become a certified nest watcher, and...more
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Join a nationwide monitoring program designed to track the status and trends of bird biology in nesting and reproduction. Receive instructions to become a certified nest watcher, and report findings on a nest every 3-4 days. Enter findings in a growing database that is used to research and study birds. Receive training on how to track data and what the data could mean. Find different birds with their most recent data. Learn about various birds found in your area. Explore an interactive map of nest size, species, and area by year. Review the different nest watch chapters. There are also webcams watching nests. Some of these are hosted on YouTube. 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): birds (51), environment (317), scientific method (64)

In the Classroom

Want to involve students in a country wide scientific investigation? With Nestwatch, students participate in a genuine scientific study with a prestigious university. All background information for participating is provided, along with detailed instructions for procedural steps. Look at the trends in bird nesting over the years and have students discuss causes for the results. In cooperative learning groups, have students defend a logical reason for the results of your study in a multimedia presentation. Find a tool to create a multimedia presentation using one of many TeachersFirst Edge tools, reviewed here. Use this research style as a model for studying endangered species in your area. Read excerpts from literature to gain further background information including literature such as, Silent Spring by Rachel Carsen. In your schoolyard, choose an area to landscape for birds. Watch for other wildlife in your nest spot.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Get Caught Engineering - Wendy Goldfein and Cheryl Nelson

Grades
3 to 8
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Get Caught Engineering is an excellent resource for elementary and middle school STEM lessons and experiences. Follow the link to the blog to find many ongoing ideas for incorporating...more
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Get Caught Engineering is an excellent resource for elementary and middle school STEM lessons and experiences. Follow the link to the blog to find many ongoing ideas for incorporating engineering into classrooms, as well as an archive of past articles. Sign up with email to get all blog updates. Choose from several lessons ready to print and use. Many lessons offer quick activities using a minimum of materials, ideal for effortlessly incorporating engineering and STEM activities into any classroom!
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): engineering (118), gravity (45), problem solving (258), scientific method (64), simple machines (36), STEM (124)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plans and activities to introduce STEM activities into your classroom. Use lesson plans as ideas for starting an Engineering Night program at your school. Have students create an annotated image of projects including text boxes and related links using a tool such as Thinglink, reviewed here. Challenge cooperative learning groups to create videos and share them on a site such as TeacherTube reviewed here.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Kahrds - VIP Learning

Grades
3 to 12
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Kahrds is a learning system based on flashcards you create and then integrate into several game options. Use your Kahrds as flashcards, crosswords, quizzes, hangman, or a quick type...more
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Kahrds is a learning system based on flashcards you create and then integrate into several game options. Use your Kahrds as flashcards, crosswords, quizzes, hangman, or a quick type activity where the definition is given and you type in the word. Create an account to begin. Create a set of Kahrds. Choose a category and decide on visibility. Options include public, private, or limited viewing. Create your Kahrds by inserting a word and its definition. Add as many words as you like until the set is complete. Most games require a minimum of 5 or more Kahrds in a set. Share sets using the link provided when saving a set. This tool will work on any device that can access the website. Kahrds will work on any device with an Internet connection. Some of the explanation/introduction 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.

tag(s): crosswords (18), flash cards (45), game based learning (101), quiz (85), quizzes (95), word study (80)

In the Classroom

Create flashcards for your classes -- or have them make their own. Try using them as an introduction to a concept, then again in the practice of the concept, and one more time as a final review. This would be great for teaching Latin prefixes and suffixes, words used in science terms, or for standardized test preparation. Try having students create flashcards and share with each other to quiz themselves within their groups. Show them how to carefully read through their classroom notes and underline the most important word or words in a sentence. Then have them leave out the most important words for their flashcards. Learning support teachers might want to have small groups create cards together to review together before tests. Have students create flashcard sets to "test" classmates on what they "teach" in oral reports.

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Autodesk Digital STEAM Workshop - Autodesk, Inc.

Grades
9 to 12
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Do you want to use STEM with better learning through design? Bring project based learning through design along with science, technology, engineering, math, AND art with this tool. The...more
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Do you want to use STEM with better learning through design? Bring project based learning through design along with science, technology, engineering, math, AND art with this tool. The Digital STEAM Workshop is a curriculum using Autodesk products, such as AutoCAD and Inventor. Worried you do not know how to use the software? Don't fear! The student materials include extensive information about completing the projects. These projects are real world, engaging challenges for students. Teacher resources are extensive and include project briefs, lesson plans, pre/post tests, and extensive materials for students. Be sure to note the available materials includes prerequisites, ideas for differentiation, extension ideas, and STEAM connections. Be sure to check the For Educators section, as well as the How-To videos. Teacher materials are available as a download. Be sure to look over all the information on the site including the free download link for the software found in the upper right corner. Discuss the installation and use of the software with your Administration or Technology departments to see if it will work on school computers. 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): animation (59), architecture (83), engineering (118), STEM (124), sustainability (19)

In the Classroom

View the basic information. "Start Here" is a good place to start! Choose from the three different levels of information and projects. Be sure to view the lessons and materials under the Teacher Resources section. Select from projects labeled Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced as appropriate. Use a project from the curriculum in place of one activity normally planned through the year. As you become comfortable with using authentic project-based curriculum, consider adding more. Choose from subjects: Architecture, Animation, Engineering, Manufacturing, Maker, STEAM, or Sustainability. These activities would be wonderful challenges for gifted students. Consider looking at student curriculum and creating a class that fits a STEAM model. Incorporate many of these activities into the curriculum. Use projects such as Urban Planning in a variety of different courses in school.

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