TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Jan 25, 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 go to the Featured Sites Archive

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PBS Newshour Extra - PBS NewsHour Productions LLC

Grades
7 to 12
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Find news and resources for grades 7-12 at PBS Newshour Extra. Search the site by Subject Area, Videos, Arts and Media, Science, and more. Explore news articles written for students...more
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Find news and resources for grades 7-12 at PBS Newshour Extra. Search the site by Subject Area, Videos, Arts and Media, Science, and more. Explore news articles written for students with the background and context needed to understand complex topics. The Daily Videos are ad-free and have related stories along the right side of the page. Read the current events news stories and follow the Extra Twitter feed. Don't miss the many free lesson plans including current events, American history, health, government, holidays, and more. Lesson plans are all aligned to the Common Core standards. Lesson plan topics vary from "Personal reflections on the poetry of Maya Angelou" to "Selma to Montgomery: An introduction to the 1965 marches" and countless others! Look for the Student Voices and Student Reporting Labs for those who would like to be published or to help a local PBS station produce the news.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): civil rights (95), elections (63), holocaust (39), news (170), poetry (217), video (185)

In the Classroom

Watch the news together on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Allow students to watch independently on laptops or at a learning station. Use any video or article as a current events writing prompt. Challenge students to create blog posts about them using Throwww ( reviewed here). Throwww allows you to create "quick and easy" blog posts for one-time use only. Don't forget the many free lesson plans (already aligned to Common Core standards). Click on the Lesson Plans link to explore the countless topics available (Poetry, Veterans, Elections, Ebola, Civil Rights, and more). For articles and videos about conflicts and tension, you might want to have your students engage in a debate using a tool such as ProConIt, reviewed here. Keep your class up-to-date on the news using this site. Provide this link on your class website for students (and families) to access both in and out of your classroom.
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Nearpod - Nearpod

Grades
5 to 12
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Use this free slide-based multimedia app to put lessons and other material on any web browser OR iOs and Android devices. Build your own presentations using pre-made templates. The...more
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Use this free slide-based multimedia app to put lessons and other material on any web browser OR iOs and Android devices. Build your own presentations using pre-made templates. The site does offer some ready-made presentations (some free). Many of the video and text presentations are from Khan Academy and include questions to answer as you work through the presentations. What is the best part of Nearpod? Teachers control the pace of the lesson, and students do not move to the next screen until advanced by the teacher. Use the teacher version of the app to push out the presentation to your students. Every student uses their own student app to follow the screens and answer the questions. This provides immediate feedback about every student. The feedback can be emailed to the teacher for later review. This formative assessment tool is invaluable and a unique part of the app. The tool also includes drawing for students to work out problems. Teachers are able to identify students who are not "on task" and not working within the app when a little red light pops up. Absent students are able to complete the assignment at home.

tag(s): assessment (69), classroom management (92), DAT device agnostic tool (92), multimedia (36), slides (52)

In the Classroom

This is an exciting way to begin an iPad (or BYOD) integration into the classroom. Though it may be difficult to determine the best pacing of the lesson, the ability to slow down the advancement of the next screen allows more time to digest the information. Be aware that students needing more time may be very frustrated as the screen may advance before they are able to finish. Start small by uploading presentations and using JPEG and other images. Add interactive elements such as polls and videos. Grab students attention by using the first slide to deliver a piece of humorous information. Create guided learning stations and push out several presentations to different devices as students move through the various lessons to be learned. This technique can be helpful for struggling learners. Use this tool to help reinforce the most difficult parts of the lesson. Use the app to create schedules for training, clubs, and more. For English, learn about grammar rules, sentence structure, and other elements necessary for good writing. For ESL/ELL classes and world languages, practice various vocabulary words and learn tenses of verbs. Learn vocabulary and basic scientific concepts in any science class or facts about historical periods in history classes. This app is a valuable tool in any classroom.

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Statue of Liberty Virtual Tour - National Park Service

Grades
K to 12
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Can't take a field trip to NYC? Visit the Statue of Liberty virtually! View the virtual tour, multimedia presentations, live web cam, and photo gallery for Lady Liberty. The history...more
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Can't take a field trip to NYC? Visit the Statue of Liberty virtually! View the virtual tour, multimedia presentations, live web cam, and photo gallery for Lady Liberty. The history of the Statue of Liberty is accompanied by information on the Junior Ranger program for kids. There are also lesson plans and activity ideas for teachers. See the site for specific instructions on how to use this interactive.

tag(s): american revolution (69), art history (58), landmarks (24), virtual field trips (40)

In the Classroom

In the age of shrinking opportunities for field trips, jump right in! Find suggested lesson plans by going to the Teachers area and clicking on Celebrate a Symbol. Find out about the partnership between the United States and France and how they collaborated together. Explore partnerships between countries. Add this amazing piece of art into a unit about American Revolution and determine its significance.
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Battle Tactics - Animated History

Grades
5 to 12
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This complex history lesson about the Revolutionary War shows the battlefield. It goes on to explain various aspects both orally and in text. Click anywhere on the screen (picture)...more
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This complex history lesson about the Revolutionary War shows the battlefield. It goes on to explain various aspects both orally and in text. Click anywhere on the screen (picture) to learn more about that specific area (or topic). You can also click on the "Choose an item from the menu" in the upper right corner. There you will find information about weaponry, tactics, descriptions of both armies involved, and information about the soldier himself. There is an option to print the spoken/printed text.

tag(s): american revolution (69)

In the Classroom

Bookmark this site as a way to review what students are learning about the Revolutionary War. Share this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students create their own comics to illustrate and expand on what they have learned. Use a comic-creation tools from the TeachersFirst collection.
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Lord of the Rings Project - Emil Johannson

Grades
7 to 12
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Explore this timeline and map of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Click on the red circles to read a sequence of events for the ...more
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Explore this timeline and map of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Click on the red circles to read a sequence of events for the location. Please note: there are two different timelines. The timeline on the right menu is a Timeline of Events. The timeline on the top menu is a Timeline of the History of Middle-earth.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): independent reading (101), novels (20)

In the Classroom

Share this site when giving a book talk for The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings to help create interest in the books. Share the map (or timelines) on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Post the link to this site on your class web page for students who are reading Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit. Help your students to understand the story and places.

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Polar Palooza - Geoff Haines-Stiles Productions, Inc.

Grades
3 to 9
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Bring some polar science into your classroom! Find vodcasts (video podcasts) of penguins, polar bears, and more in the video podcasts section of this site. Be sure to review the ...more
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Bring some polar science into your classroom! Find vodcasts (video podcasts) of penguins, polar bears, and more in the video podcasts section of this site. Be sure to review the activities in the Educators Update. Learn the science of polar regions from the physical properties of melting ice to the adaptations of the animals that call the polar region their home. Meet the contributors to the site in the Travelers section.

tag(s): adaptations (13), animals (234), antarctica (22), arctic (36), polar (17)

In the Classroom

Plan a Polar Palooza with your classes! Students can brainstorm questions they have about the polar regions. For example, How do polar animals stay warm in their environment? Choose from activities in the Educators Corner such as "Life in the Cold and Dark" from the drop down menu. Activity pages include background information, objectives, activities to engage students, and exploration activities. Blubber Gloves is a great activity to learn about the physical adaptations of polar animals. Combine winter art projects with the Polar Palooza activities in class. For example, create a collage of animals that have blubber for warmth or a display of polar adaptations. Display artwork online using tools such as Artsonia, reviewed here or Dropr, reviewed here. In music, create handmade instruments that can mimic polar animals and create a one of a kind instrumental score! Record and publish music along with artwork using Roxio, reviewed here. Create awareness campaigns about polar animals and changes being seen as a result of climate change. Try combining activities with other subject areas for a cross-curricular unit. Try some nonfiction reading that focuses on polar animals or encourage students to create their own short stories complete with artwork using a tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here.
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MathABC - MathABC.com

Grades
K to 7
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Don't miss this incredible wealth of math information! Find activities divided up by grade level, including instructional videos. Use the instructional videos to learn the skills required...more
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Don't miss this incredible wealth of math information! Find activities divided up by grade level, including instructional videos. Use the instructional videos to learn the skills required for each practice. Choose Kindergarten through sixth grade by clicking the Practice button. Then, pick a particular skill at that grade level. Each skill (such as Addition, Subtraction, Time, Fractions, Measures, etc.) has multiple practice activities that are rated by difficulty with stars. Increase the difficulty by starting with one-star items and working towards the five-star items. Click on instructional video if you get stuck to view a screencast video of how to solve the problems. These videos 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.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): addition (222), decimals (124), division (152), fractions (222), measurement (149), money (179), multiplication (203), numbers (190), percent (76), subtraction (185), time (138)

In the Classroom

Bookmark and save this tool for use throughout the school year when teaching and practicing math lessons. Share this tool on your class website for students to practice math skills. View Instructional Videos together on your interactive whiteboard or projector to show how to solve the Math problems. Students can work on Math skills independently, working from the easy skills to more challenging ones. This is an excellent site to use to differentiate your math class. Offer your gifted students the opportunity to work on new skills. Your learning support students can use this tool to review skills not yet mastered. This is a perfect addition to your 1-1/BYOD classroom. Use this site with or without creating a login. Consider pairing students who excel at math skills with those who struggle.
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Climate Time Machine - NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory/CIT

Grades
4 to 12
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Is there a climate change? What conditions on the Earth have changed over time? Find answers to these questions and more with this free tool. Choose from the following in ...more
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Is there a climate change? What conditions on the Earth have changed over time? Find answers to these questions and more with this free tool. Choose from the following in the menu bar: Sea Ice, Sea Level, Carbon Emissions, and Average Global Temperature. Drag the slider to show the differences in each of the four areas from 1884 to 2013. Read an explanation of consequences of these changes below the slider.

tag(s): antarctica (22), arctic (36), carbon dioxide (13), carbon footprint (10), climate (91), climate change (51), temperature (26)

In the Classroom

Want to get students attention? Begin with the Average Global Temperature on an Interactive Whiteboard or projector. Start the slider slowly at 1884 and be sure to pause and back up when global temperatures become cooler. However, be sure to point out to students that even though temperatures cycle a bit through time, as you progress to present day, much warmer temperatures persist. Follow this demonstration. How does this visualization compare to Carbon Emissions? Spend time in class looking at the Sea Level changes and list the areas that will be affected the most because of sea level rise. Create reports or posters about the various facts about those areas (populations, points of interest, culture, and history) to understand what will be lost. Have students create online posters individually or together as a class using a tool such as Web Poster Wizard (reviewed here) or PicLits (reviewed here. Create a campaign for halting climate change beginning with simple actions that EVERYONE can make. Take time to determine each student's carbon footprint and changes that matter.
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Youth Voices - UC Berkley Grad School of Education National Writing Project

Grades
K to 12
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Youth Voices is a social networking site for young writers seeking an authentic audience and a space to publish writing across a range of genres. Search the site using the ...more
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Youth Voices is a social networking site for young writers seeking an authentic audience and a space to publish writing across a range of genres. Search the site using the keyword search or scroll through articles and topics from the home page. Click on the Guides tab to find resources for teachers. Some of the topics include Argument, Booktalk, Arts & Entertainment, Our Space (K-5), From the Middle (6-8), and many others. Registration isn't required to view articles and guides. However an email address is required to write blog posts, complete missions, and join communities. Please note: that while there are limited resources available for all ages, most of the resources and topics are more appropriate for secondary students.

tag(s): blogs (74), creative writing (137), descriptive writing (32), digital storytelling (81), expository writing (33), paragraph writing (12), persuasive writing (45), process writing (35), social networking (97)

In the Classroom

Share blogs and articles found on Youth Voices as examples of peer writing. Share this site on your projector or interactive whiteboard. Use the Guides tab as an excellent, relevant resource for writing prompts and ideas for classroom use. Students become better writers when they have an authentic audience, so encourage student writers to join and become an active part of this online writing community. There is a special section for grades K-5 only and another for grades 6-8.

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Doctopus - Google

Grades
7 to 12
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Organize student Google documents with Doctopus! This tool is essential for organizing of documents both to and from students. Create a Google Doc template. Next, create a spreadsheet...more
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Organize student Google documents with Doctopus! This tool is essential for organizing of documents both to and from students. Create a Google Doc template. Next, create a spreadsheet containing the students who will be using the document. When you install Doctopus as a Chrome add-on, a Doctopus folder is created in Google Docs. Be sure that the template you create and the spreadsheet containing student names are in that folder. A script needs to be installed to pull the student names from the spreadsheet and then send them the document. Simple directions with screenshots can be found here. This is a Google Chrome add-on and is available for Windows, Mac, Chrome OS, and Linux. This add-on is not available for Windows RT, iPad, or mobile devices as of this time.

tag(s): assessment (69)

In the Classroom

Use Google Docs more effectively with this simple Chrome add-on. Though the process at first seems long, it actually makes sharing of documents easier with students. BUT it also makes the collecting of student documents easier. Use Docs for reading response journals, writing science labs, writing reports or papers, creating collaborative notes in any class, and more. What better way to comment on and improve student work!

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IFL Science - IFL Science

Grades
7 to 12
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Discover a constantly changing, blog-style collection of articles about all areas of science, designed to engage readers in science and instill a desire to learn more. The articles...more
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Discover a constantly changing, blog-style collection of articles about all areas of science, designed to engage readers in science and instill a desire to learn more. The articles are grouped into headings such as Environment, Technology, Space, Health and Medicine, The Brain, Plants and Animals, Physics, and Chemistry. Articles share recent discoveries, timely experiments to try (such as cold weather explorations during winter), and intriguing (but true) revelations about scientific mysteries. There are topics of interest to almost any reader, such as "Why Most Food Labels Are Wrong About Calories" or "How Smartphones Can Lead The Fight Against Air Pollution." Click tags to find similar articles. Note that subject material is intended for adults, though our editors found nothing objectionable in the actual articles shared by IFLScience. Avoid clicking on ads and items under "More Stories" and "From the Web," as these lead to other sites of less predictable quality. If sharing this site with teens, be sure to point out which links stay within IFLScience. The site does allow reader comments from the general public. Preview if sharing in a classroom.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): brain (57), environment (291)

In the Classroom

Share this site for students to explore informational articles related to what they are currently studying or to explore the many aspects of science not included in standard school curriculum. Challenge student partners to find an article they enjoy and share it creatively as a poster or mock interview with the scientists involved. They can use a simple tool such as Magazine Cover Maker (reviewed here) or actually make a video "interview" and share it on TeacherTube (reviewed here). Have your gifted students explore articles to extend required curriculum. Use this site for career day explorations about the many places where scientists work.

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Build a Snowflake - Peter Hawkes

Grades
K to 10
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Create virtual snowflakes using the simple tools of this Flash-based interactive. Click New Snowflake to access the tools. Be sure to watch the sample snowflake first to understand...more
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Create virtual snowflakes using the simple tools of this Flash-based interactive. Click New Snowflake to access the tools. Be sure to watch the sample snowflake first to understand how to drag the nodes on the starter triangle. Click to add and drag nodes on each line of the triangle. Preview to see your shape replicated and rotated to make a full snowflake using radial symmetry. You can edit it to change how it looks. Add as many nodes as you wish to make more complex designs. Click to name and save your snowflake. You can also print it. Animate the snowflakes to see your creations "falling." Note that "saving" simply puts the snowflake information in the browser cache on your computer and may not actually "save" once you close your browser, depending on the computer settings. "Send to a friend" emails ONLY the website address (not your flake) for your friend to try the snowflake tool.

tag(s): snow (21), symmetry (51), weather (175)

In the Classroom

Explore geometric constructions or simply enjoy some winter fun with this tool. In math, geometry, or art class, explore what happens when a shape is repeated radially. Use this to demonstrate radial symmetry, figure/ground relationships, and the impact of obtuse/acute angles in creating snowflake shapes. Have students create flakes when studying angles. They can screenshot or print them, then write an explanation of why the angles they used created a successful flake. They can even create comparisons of two flakes. With younger students, use the snowflake builder as a writing prompt for a winter story or in lessons on crystals, weather, and more. Save printer ink by taking screenshots (Printscrn button on Windows or ShIft+Command+4 on Mac) to paste the flake images into a slideshow or save as images on your computer. Be sure to share this one on your class website for snow days!
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Sight Words - Gajan Retnasaba

Grades
K to 3
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Sight Words offers a comprehensive resource of techniques, teaching activities, lessons, and materials for teaching young children to read. Begin your exploration by choosing the teaching...more
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Sight Words offers a comprehensive resource of techniques, teaching activities, lessons, and materials for teaching young children to read. Begin your exploration by choosing the teaching link. Explore the information and instructions for all teaching strategies employed in lessons. View videos, read blog posts, create and print your own flashcards, and more! Explore the history of Dolch and Fry sight words. Take a visit to Sight Word Games to find great ideas for your classroom: Bingo, Fly Swat, Fishing, Bean Bag Toss, and more... all related to sight words, of course. Some of the video clips 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): flash cards (45), preK (240), reading strategies (29), sight words (33)

In the Classroom

Sight Words is an excellent resource to share with parents. Include a link to this site on your class website and newsletters. Share this site with classroom tutors and helpers for use when working with students. Share this link with student teachers as an excellent resource for beginning reading instruction. Find ideas to implement in your classroom. Create flashcards for your students. Try the Sight Word Games in your own classroom as a learning center or even whole class games!
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Email Game - Baydin, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
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Need inspiration to manage your email inbox? The Email Game makes this task easy and fun! Simply enter your email address and login. Take action on each email message within ...more
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Need inspiration to manage your email inbox? The Email Game makes this task easy and fun! Simply enter your email address and login. Take action on each email message within the 45 seconds given. The clock counts down, prompting you to work through your email. Note the different smiley face emoticons as you work to determine your progress. Though some might find the countdown stressful, the action of the clock reduces other distractions and your focus is on email alone. Sometimes it is best to read and react to emails rather than being distracted by videos, etc.

tag(s): organizational skills (98)

In the Classroom

For those facing an inbox with a substantial number of emails, this tool may be an easy way to reduce or get to Inbox Zero. Afraid there are resources in emails that you might lose by deleting? Archive those that have other resources that you need to spend more time on. Use when you have a bunch of new emails to get through (such as early in the morning). Try to beat your score each successive time. Share this tool with your older students to use to organize their email accounts.

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