TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of May 29, 2016

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 go to the Featured Sites Archive

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Word Writer - BoomWriter

Grades
2 to 8
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Develop vocabulary through interactive activities with a 21st Century twist! This interactive offered by BoomWriter, reviewed here, offers an exciting...more
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Develop vocabulary through interactive activities with a 21st Century twist! This interactive offered by BoomWriter, reviewed here, offers an exciting vocabulary development application useful in all content areas. Choose specific words to incorporate into a writing project. Specify a word limit and list any other guidelines desired. You can create a story or sentences to submit. WordWriter then tracks the use of selected words and checks off each vocabulary word typed. After submission and approval of all writing projects, WordWriter offers the option for an anonymous peer review portion of the process and members vote for the piece they feel best uses the vocabulary. Another great feature of the program is vocabulary word crowdsourcing. You can see the most popular words for a particular grade added by other teachers from around the world!

tag(s): creative writing (166), digital storytelling (129), interactive stories (32), vocabulary (322), vocabulary development (127)

In the Classroom

Use this site to excite students as writers while still incorporating classroom goals of vocabulary development. Encourage students to read other students' writing for ideas about what makes a story interesting. Create a friendly competition within your grade level by starting a book and choosing a winner. Create new books in any content area and use for review throughout the year.

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Story Wars - StoryWars.net

Grades
3 to 10
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Story Wars offers an online collaborative writing tool and experience. Choose from stories that have already been started and write the next chapter, or begin your own story and allow...more
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Story Wars offers an online collaborative writing tool and experience. Choose from stories that have already been started and write the next chapter, or begin your own story and allow others to write new chapters. Owners of each story approve additional chapters before inclusion in their story. Our editors suggest previewing the story before sharing with your class, since site (or adult) moderation is not mentioned. At the time of this review, our editors saw nothing inappropriate.

tag(s): creative writing (166), digital storytelling (129)

In the Classroom

Create your own class story starter then have students add on additional chapters. Ask each student to create a story and have other students add to their classmate's writing. Create a link to completed stories on classroom computers as a reading center for younger students. If your class has a pen pal or works with a "little buddies" class throughout the year, use Story Wars as an enjoyable writing project together. In science or social studies class, have students write nonfiction pieces for others to complete with historically or scientifically accurate information. Make recounting history or explaining science interactive and social! In world language class, promote written language and vocabulary development by creating cooperative stories. For English vocabulary development, have students use the words of the week in a new chapter of a continuing story.

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Vidtionary - vidtionary.com

Grades
K to 12
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Vidtionary is a video dictionary defining words through images (and videos). The short videos include the word said aloud and shown in print, with sound effects or engaging music in...more
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Vidtionary is a video dictionary defining words through images (and videos). The short videos include the word said aloud and shown in print, with sound effects or engaging music in the background. Browse entries using the search bar or view featured collections. Browse alphabetically or explore collections. Because of the wide range of topics and difficulty levels, these vocabulary words could be used with any age. Video lengths run less than one minute per definition, many as short as 10-15 seconds. Originally designed to teach English to speakers of Korean and Japanese, the visual nature of the site appeals to all language learners.

tag(s): dictionaries (55), vocabulary (322), vocabulary development (127)

In the Classroom

While this site is ideal for any student learning new vocabulary, it is especially useful for ESL/ELL students or speech/language students with vocabulary deficits. Share selected videos in primary grades to help students see how new words are defined and spelled. Challenge your gifted students to find new vocabulary words to share with the class. Use in any classroom as a model (sharing on your interactive whiteboard or projector). Then assign cooperative learning groups to create Vidtionary inspired videos of their own to explain curriculum terms, world language vocabulary, or SAT words. Use a tool like Moovly, reviewed here, and share them on a site such as TeacherTube, reviewed here.

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Flippity - Flippity.net

Grades
6 to 12
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Easily create flashcards from Google spreadsheet data using Flippity. Simple directions offer clear instruction about downloading the template and entering data terms. Publish data...more
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Easily create flashcards from Google spreadsheet data using Flippity. Simple directions offer clear instruction about downloading the template and entering data terms. Publish data and receive the url for viewing and sharing your flashcard set. Completed sets offer options for viewing either side of cards, moving through the set, and reloading/reshuffling the set. While registration is not required for this tool, you do need a Google account. Flippity also offers several other activities you may find useful such as Quiz Show, Spelling Words, Mad Lib, Badge Tracker, and others.

tag(s): flash cards (45), game based learning (95), quiz (81), quizzes (93), test prep (95), vocabulary (322), vocabulary development (127)

In the Classroom

This is a fantastic tool for vocabulary development in any subject area! Create flashcards for your classes or have them make their own using individual or a whole class Google account. Use them as an introduction to a concept, then again in the practice of the concept, and again as a final review. It is a nice three-for-one deal! Use with science terms or for standardized test preparation. Have students create flashcards and share with each other to quiz themselves within their own groups. Encourage students in upper grades to create their own spreadsheet and flash card sets. 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 before tests. Have students create flash card sets to "test" classmates on what they "teach" in oral reports. Create and collect sets of vocabulary cards for your world language or ESL/ELL classes.

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Games to Learn English - Owen Dwyer

Grades
K to 8
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Games to Learn English is a collection of games for ESL/ELL students or any student learning the basics of English and/or reading. Created for students of English language learners,...more
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Games to Learn English is a collection of games for ESL/ELL students or any student learning the basics of English and/or reading. Created for students of English language learners, the many activities focus on developing vocabulary, comprehension, grammar, word order, and spelling skills. Choose from interactives such as Fast Hands and Concentration to begin. Each activity includes directions for play and scoring explanations, and most have playing speed options.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): game based learning (95), preK (276), sentences (52), sequencing (32), spelling (169), vocabulary (322), vocabulary development (127)

In the Classroom

Although created for English language learners, this is an excellent site to develop vocabulary (and computer skills) for younger students. It also helps with speech/language vocabulary development and grammar reinforcement for special ed. Share this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Complete the activities as a class with a student operating the board. Create a link on classroom computers and challenge students to increase their speed in completing games.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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TV411 - Vocabulary - Education Development Center, Inc.

Grades
4 to 12
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Find entertaining videos, web lessons, and downloads to support learning about dictionaries, thesaurus, and "How Words Work." Each video includes a short description of content and...more
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Find entertaining videos, web lessons, and downloads to support learning about dictionaries, thesaurus, and "How Words Work." Each video includes a short description of content and the skills addressed. Most videos are approximately three minutes long and include links to related web lessons and print downloads. This site was originally created for adult basic literacy students. However, many of these lessons could be useful with younger students learning the basics of vocabulary. Preview the video for appropriateness before sharing with younger students.

tag(s): antonyms (26), dictionaries (55), prefixes (16), reading comprehension (113), root words (13), spelling (169), suffixes (14), synonyms (38), thesaurus (24), vocabulary (322), vocabulary development (127), word study (80)

In the Classroom

Any vocabulary development unit needs to include lessons about how dictionaries and thesaurus' work. View videos on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) as part of your dictionary/word-study unit. Use on an as-needed basis to address classroom deficiencies in particular areas. Have students complete the web lessons on their own during computer center time. Create links to particular videos on your class website or blog for students to view at home. Check out the Teachers portion of the site to find activities for specific skills along with ideas for using the videos in the classroom. Challenge students to create a talking avatar using a photo or other image (legally permitted to be reproduced). The avatars can be used to provide suggestions on improving vocabulary and writing skills. Use a site such as Blabberize, reviewed here.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Word Root of the Day Archive - Membean - Ragav Satish, Brett Brunner, Micah Elliott

Grades
4 to 12
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Membean has root words galore! Find interactive flashcard-style information about individual roots. Click "Read more" at the bottom of each "card" to get an impressive display of information...more
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Membean has root words galore! Find interactive flashcard-style information about individual roots. Click "Read more" at the bottom of each "card" to get an impressive display of information for that root and lots of new words. See an interactive tree with words containing that root; when you click on the word the definition appears. There is also a short summary, a podcast (aka a "root cast"), and a "Memlet." A "Memlet" separates the parts of a word and describes how they combine to make meaning. Click on any word part, with a tree icon and a star, to see other words that use that root. You will also find related roots with similar meanings, and definitions of the word's affixes. Clicking on the question marks after the "memlet" offers a video about word parts and roots. Only some or the videos require Flash. This is a remarkably powerful and unique way to learn all about words.

tag(s): prefixes (16), root words (13), suffixes (14), vocabulary (322), vocabulary development (127), word study (80)

In the Classroom

Root words are at the heart of any vocabulary development unit, or should be! Project this vocabulary website using your classroom whiteboard and projector, and share one of the root words. Have a student demonstrate how to navigate the different types of media to help them understand and learn the root. To assign certain roots for study, post their distinct URLs on your website, blog, wiki, or bookmark on the classroom computers. Once you are on the page for one of the roots, you will see a link that says "See an example word page." Show your students this example word page and analyze the parts together. Then assign individuals or small groups to develop word pages for words based on the roots you are studying. An engaging, visual way for them to present their results would be to use Sharalike, reviewed here , or Zeetings, reviewed here.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Word Hippo - Wordhippo.com

Grades
2 to 12
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Word Hippo is a word study tool for synonyms, antonyms, and more. Look for rhyming words, opposites, translations to a variety of languages, plurals, definitions and uses for the word,...more
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Word Hippo is a word study tool for synonyms, antonyms, and more. Look for rhyming words, opposites, translations to a variety of languages, plurals, definitions and uses for the word, etc. The site also makes suggestions for other words in case you might have made a typo or do not know the spelling. As with any other reference, students should be cautioned to be sure these are accurate definitions needed for the context in which they are studying the words. You will want to spell out consequences and/or supervise to be sure students are not searching for inappropriate words, but the most egregious words of bad taste do not appear to be available for search at this site.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): antonyms (26), dictionaries (55), spelling (169), synonyms (38), vocabulary (322), vocabulary development (127), word study (80)

In the Classroom

Use this site for vocabulary development and word study assignments, such as writing sentences, paragraphs, or essays using new words. Since the site permits translation, this would be a valuable tool in world language classes, ESL/ELL classes, and more. Introduce this site on an interactive whiteboard and elicit examples to show the class how quickly it works. Have students create their own word walls with synonyms, antonyms, sentences, and more for their latest vocabulary words. Try a tool such as Padlet, reviewed here, for each student to create an online "wall" with words aligned to color coded stickies for synonyms. antonyms, etc. Alternatively, have students create class challenges for their peers with color coded matching activities for the interactive whiteboard matching words to synonyms, antonyms, and an appropriate fill in the blank sentence. Share this as a favorite on your teacher public page for handy reference any time students encounter an unknown word. Even subject area teachers such as science and social studies will find this tool handy for students with weaker vocabulary levels.

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WordSift - Stanford University

Grades
4 to 12
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WordSift helps anyone easily sift through texts -- just copy and paste any text into WordSift and you can engage in a verbal quick-capture! The program helps to quickly identify ...more
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WordSift helps anyone easily sift through texts -- just copy and paste any text into WordSift and you can engage in a verbal quick-capture! The program helps to quickly identify important words that appear in the text. After entering text several items will appear, first a word cloud will display the 50 most frequently used words in the text. The most frequently used word will display as a word web in a visual thesaurus. Google image and video search results are also shown. One interesting feature is the ability to click on any of the words in the word cloud to display it in the thesaurus and Google image and video searches. A great way to understand the WordSift tool is to try one of the sample texts offered, such as Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Be sure to check out the "About" link to discover many ideas for use in the classroom. Tips and videos are also available as guides. If you type in a shorter sentence, the site still creates a word cloud using their own related words (not in your original text). Be aware of the advertisements that appear with the word clouds. Advise students not to click on the ads.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): dictionaries (55), reading comprehension (113), reading strategies (42), thesaurus (24), vocabulary (322), vocabulary development (127), word clouds (10), word study (80)

In the Classroom

This is a classic tool to promote "before reading" strategies and vocabulary development. Use WordSift to preview text to be used in class and define vocabulary before reading to increase reading comprehension. Have students use WordSift with different portions of text to identify key words and vocabulary for class presentations. Use WordSift to discuss different meanings of words using images presented through the site. This site isn't only for English teachers, share with Science and Social Studies teachers to use in their classrooms with reading texts in their content areas. ESL/ELL and learning support teachers will want to share this as a support for any reading assigned in regular classes. Be sure to show students how to copy/paste to WordSift texts from informational web pages and news stories on the web, as well. Share this link as a Favorite on your public page so students can use it anytime.

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Vocabulary.com - Vocabulary.com

Grades
7 to 12
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Vocabulary.com is an individualized vocabulary development program. Your students will select definitions for several vocabulary words. Based on their answers, the program will predict...more
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Vocabulary.com is an individualized vocabulary development program. Your students will select definitions for several vocabulary words. Based on their answers, the program will predict which vocabulary words they don't know and instruct them from there. You can also type in a word to learn the definition. With more than 40,000 questions to help your students learn new vocabulary, time will not be wasted here. The vocabulary is chosen based on words that need to be mastered for success in an academic or business environment. The program will analyze student achievement and review words that the students originally missed to make sure they are retaining the words. Vocabulary.com is for students from elementary school through graduate school. You can register with an email address or via your Facebook account. Note: as with any dictionary tool, there is content that is intended for more mature users, including matter of fact definitions of swear words. Teachers will want to manage this tool as any adult dictionary and have logical consequences for those who look up words so they can giggle, etc.

tag(s): game based learning (95), vocabulary (322), vocabulary development (127), word study (80)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a learning center or station for students who finish their work early. Be sure to mark the site on classroom computers, making it easier for students to navigate there. Or, if you have access to multiple classroom computers, you may want to start your language arts lessons with five to ten minutes of work on Vocabulary.com. Once students have learned this program they can be totally independent. This is one to list on your class website for students/parents to access at home for additional practice.

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david, TX, Grades: 9 - 12

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Knoword - Trevor Blades

Grades
5 to 12
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This "wordy" site offers word definitions with a challenge! You see the first letter of a word and its definition. You must quickly type in a word you think fits ...more
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This "wordy" site offers word definitions with a challenge! You see the first letter of a word and its definition. You must quickly type in a word you think fits the definition. The site allows you to pass if you do not know the word, but the definition of the word appears anyway (along with the answer). Once the correct word is entered, the definition changes quickly so you can accrue as many points as possible in a limited time. The site also keeps a list of words used at any interaction, so you can see the words correct and missed. Some definitions offer easier hints in their wording.

tag(s): game based learning (95), vocabulary (322), vocabulary development (127), word study (80)

In the Classroom

Try this activity at the start of class on your interactive whiteboard or projector; it's perfect for vocabulary development with a lively twist! Offer this site to your students who are trying to assess and/or improve their vocabulary for standardized tests such as the ACT or SAT. ESL/ELL students may also enjoy the challenges and additions to their vocabulary. Share this site on your class webpage or blog for students to access (and practice) at home.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Word Mayhem - Learning Planet

Grades
4 to 8
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Students can challenge their word knowledge while competing in this sixty-second, multi-media vocabulary game. Players must work quickly to click or type letters to create words from...more
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Students can challenge their word knowledge while competing in this sixty-second, multi-media vocabulary game. Players must work quickly to click or type letters to create words from a set of scrambled letters. Points are awarded based on word length, with opportunities to increase your score by deciphering scrambled words based on definitions. When the winner is revealed, the game and timer automatically reset with another chance to compete.

tag(s): game based learning (95), vocabulary (322), vocabulary development (127)

In the Classroom

Word Mayhem is a wise choice for a quick, easy to try, vocabulary development and reinforcement activity. The instructions are simplistic and students can compete against themselves or other players. When students are working on individual technology based assignments in the classroom or computer lab, this is a good link to make accessible to keep them on task and engaged when they finish the assignment a few minutes before the end of the period.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Lino - Infoteria Corporation

Grades
K to 12
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Create online stickies to view from any online device using Lino. Click to try it first without even joining. The trial canvas has stickies explaining how to use Lino. Join ...more
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Create online stickies to view from any online device using Lino. Click to try it first without even joining. The trial canvas has stickies explaining how to use Lino. Join and create your own canvases to share stickies, reminders, files, and more. Change sticky colors from the menu in the upper right hand corner or use the easy editing tools that appear when the sticky is selected. Use the icons at the bottom of each sticky note to "peel them off," share, edit, and more. Create a group from your Lino page to share and collaborate on canvases. You can also share canvases publicly so anyone with the URL can participate. This is 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): collages (17), creative fluency (8), creativity (108), DAT device agnostic tool (182), gamification (60), note taking (31)

In the Classroom

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. Students can use this when researching alone or in groups, sharing files, videos, and pictures quickly from one computer to another. Have students write tasks for each member of the group on a sticky so that everyone has a responsibility. Show them how to copy/paste URLs for sources onto notes, too. Use Lino as your virtual word wall for vocabulary development. Use a Lino for students to submit and share questions or comments about assignments and tasks they are working on. Use it as a virtual graffiti wall for students to make connections between their world and curriculum content, such as "I wonder what the hall monitor would say finding Lady Macbeth washing her hands in the school restroom... and what Lady M would say back." (Of course, you will want to have a PG-13 policy for student comments!) Encourage students to maintain an idea collection lino for ideas and creative inspirations they may not have used yet but do not want to "lose." They can color code and organize ideas later or send the stickies to a new project board later. In writing or art classes, use lino as a virtual writer's journal or design a notebook to collect ideas, images, and even video clips. In science classes, encourage students to keep a lino board with (classroom appropriate) questions and "aside" thoughts about science concepts being studied and to use these ideas in later projects so their creative ideas are not 'lost" before project time. A lino board can also serve as a final online "display" for students to "show what they know" as the culmination of a research project. Add videos, images, and notes in a carefully arranged display not unlike an electronic bulletin board. This is also a great tool to help you stay "personally" organized. Use this site as a resource to share information with other teachers, parents, or students.

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Lingro - lingro.com

Grades
2 to 12
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This study tool and open content dictionary allows you to enter a web address (URL) and make all of the words on that page clickable for definitions and translation. A ...more
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This study tool and open content dictionary allows you to enter a web address (URL) and make all of the words on that page clickable for definitions and translation. A clicked word immediately displays its definition from the Lingro dictionary pages. The website looks visually the same within the Lingro window, but all words become clickable. You can also use Lingro to translate to and from English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Polish with more languages to be added. When students use the translation/definition tool, the site keeps a short-term record of their words and web pages, allowing them to study their own wordlists and to play games with these words. The wordlist and history feature only works short-term and at the SAME computer, unless you register, for free, to be able to take your personal history to any computer. With the translation capability, you can read websites in other languages. If you spell a word incorrectly, Lingro has a "best match" feature which finds likely definitions for your word of choice. There is also a tool to create electronic flash card type games from your saved wordlists.

Important technical note: Lingro cannot "see" words included in Flash interactives such as the "What's New" rotating content on the TeachersFirst home page. If you RIGHT click on an area of text and see "About Adobe Flash Player...," this means that the text is displayed in Flash and not "legible" to Lingro. Often pages offer a non-Flash version as an alternative.

tag(s): french (89), german (66), germany (29), italian (34), spanish (107), vocabulary (322), vocabulary development (127)

In the Classroom

When your ESL/ELL, learning support, or weaker readers do Internet research on sites above their independent reading level, have them open Lingro first and then enter the URL (web address) they wish to read. Use Lingro for vocabulary development in any subject. Mark this site as a favorite on your classroom computer or on your teacher web page so that ESL/ELL, world language students, or weaker readers can use the definition and translation feature and benefit from instantly-created word lists. If your school permits individual student accounts on web tools, this is a good one. If not, create a single teacher account to compile class word lists.

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