TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Nov 23, 2014

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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Smithsonian Quests - Smithsonian Institution

Grades
5 to 12
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Smithsonian Quests allows any learner the opportunity to explore their interests through investigative activities. Through exploration and collaboration, the quests challenge learners...more
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Smithsonian Quests allows any learner the opportunity to explore their interests through investigative activities. Through exploration and collaboration, the quests challenge learners and reward them with digital badges for accomplishments. Quests on history, science, and the humanities use Smithsonian resources and online education conferences for various subject areas to provide personal learning experiences. Each badge has an average of three activities to complete. There is flexibility to select several formats as proof of completion for the quest. Submit completed work to the Smithsonian Education Advisory committee, and they provide individual feedback as well as a badge. At the time of submission, there is an invitation to participate in a discussion about the quest with other learners. Many of the activities in the quests provide the opportunity to develop skills necessary to be successful in today's world. Profile pages for participants display the badges they have earned by completing quests. Learners are encouraged not to use their real name when completing the Smithsonian Quest registration. Students ages 13 and under must have parent permission to register on the site. Be sure to watch the introductory video housed on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, it 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 (227), biodiversity (39), civil rights (94), climate change (50), coral (14), environment (287), fossils (41), immigration (49), museums (37), presidents (114), space (174), virtual field trips (39), water (113), webquests (30)

In the Classroom

Create Smithsonian Quests accounts for individual students or the entire class. Use the quests to extend classroom learning opportunities or to provide students the opportunity to pursue their interests. Have students make a multimedia presentation using one of the many TeachersFirst Edge tools, reviewed here. Encourage students to explore creative media to submit proof of their work. Smithsonian Quests is a fabulous opportunity for gifted students to explore topics of interest. Bookmark this site on class computers or set up a learning station and use Smithsonian Quests as an activity for students to complete when regular classroom assignments are completed. Reward students with your own badges using a site such as ClassBadges, reviewed here.

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The Sports Network 2 - Classroom, Inc.

Grades
7 to 9
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Sports Network 2 uses the exhilaration of a newsroom to offer practice in reading informational text and using critical thinking skills. Take on the role of a sports news show ...more
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Sports Network 2 uses the exhilaration of a newsroom to offer practice in reading informational text and using critical thinking skills. Take on the role of a sports news show producer and learn about the real-world job of broadcasting and communications. There is a very thorough Teachers Guide to read online, or you can save the guide in PDF format on your computer. There is an eighth-grade assessment for the Common Core Standards for Reading in English Language Arts and Literacy of Informational Text. The activity comes with a glossary. Rolling the mouse over a word or phrase will also give a definition. Explore the videos and teacher notes for each section of the program. The videos are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, 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. The goals embedded in Sports Network 2 are college and career readiness. The program works with Linux, Mac, and Windows.

tag(s): critical thinking (66), reading comprehension (88)

In the Classroom

Teachers sign up for the full program using their email, and then set up student accounts. The quickest way to understand and get started with SportsNetwork 2 is to click on the video. View the Teacher and Student Resources link in the middle of the page. Use the ten minute demo to introduce this site on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have students complete this 20-hour learning game on their own in class or as homework, too. Students print out reports to show completion of each section. The text portions might be challenging for ESL/ELL students or struggling readers. Pair weaker readers with strong readers as necessary. Completion of the activity could be scheduled by giving each student time on the class computers or scheduling the computer lab several days a week for part of the period.

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CCSS Text Selection Toolkit - Odell Education

Grades
2 to 12
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Find tips to implement the Common Core standards in grades 2-12. The 26-page guide for text selection is downloadable in PDF format. There is also an interactive online review form...more
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Find tips to implement the Common Core standards in grades 2-12. The 26-page guide for text selection is downloadable in PDF format. There is also an interactive online review form (editable pdf) for evaluating texts. Click Literacy Curriculum on the left menu to access four units for grades 6-12 that highlight a core literacy proficiency. They provide instructional sequences, handouts, tools, and texts for developing deeper understanding, independent writing skills, and critical thinking in students. The units include Reading Closely for Textual Details, Making Evidenced Based Claims, Building Evidence Based Arguments, and Research to Deepen Understanding.

tag(s): commoncore (54), persuasive writing (44), professional development (74), reading comprehension (88), writing (316)

In the Classroom

Bookmark this program to use with units throughout the school year. Use as a text selection guide to build your knowledge and implementation of the Common Core standards. Use the guide for choosing Common Core suitable texts. Create lesson plans for favorite books, poems, articles and more.

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Just Books Read Aloud - justbooksreadaloud.com

Grades
K to 6
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Just Books Read Aloud offers over 600 popular children's books being read aloud by normal (but enthusiastic) readers. Choose books sorted by authors, narrator, reading level, and much...more
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Just Books Read Aloud offers over 600 popular children's books being read aloud by normal (but enthusiastic) readers. Choose books sorted by authors, narrator, reading level, and much more. Click on the book title to go to a YouTube video generally showing the book pages, not the reader. The book's reading level shows in the top left corner on the video page. Some of the books share the text, while others only share the illustrations. If your district blocks YouTube, 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): audio books (30), guided reading (42)

In the Classroom

Create a link on classroom computers for students to listen to books at center time. Share a link to this wonderful site for parents to bookmark and use at home. View books together on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) with your class (turn up the speakers!). Discuss intonation and proper reading style to make stories interesting. This is a fabulous prereading strategy to use with ESL/ELL or learning support students. Make your own class read-aloud collection. Ask each parent and/or student to read a favorite story and upload to YouTube for all students to view. Promote reading fluency by making videos like these. If you want to avoid YouTube, try uploading your videos to a site such as TeacherTube reviewed here.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Women, Their Rights and Nothing Less - Newseum Digital Classroom

Grades
9 to 12
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The Newseum pulls together an enormous collection of primary sources about the women's suffrage movement, with rich resources for using these primary sources in an educational setting....more
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The Newseum pulls together an enormous collection of primary sources about the women's suffrage movement, with rich resources for using these primary sources in an educational setting. There is an interactive timeline, a "media map" that plots primary sources on a US map for a visual representation of the geography of the movement, and nearly a dozen lesson plans (including videos) that feature the use of primary sources to broaden understanding. The site requires registration to use, but there is no cost.

tag(s): civil rights (94), women (88), womens suffrage (14)

In the Classroom

It can be tempting to relegate resources like this one to a special unit during Women's History Month, but the primary sources here need to be integrated throughout any study of civil rights in general and the importance of universal suffrage to a modern democracy. While the sources may all be related to the fight for votes for women, much of the content is also relevant in understanding the social and political history of the United States, particularly during the 19th and early 20th century. The lesson plans are comprehensive and include printable discussion guides and worksheets, as well as extension activities. They are standards aligned and Common Core compatible. Some of the extension activities mention using tools such as Glogster. Find alternatives that may allow more extensive free access by exploring the TeachersFirst Edge .
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Novels on Location - novelsonlocation.com

Grades
6 to 12
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Find novels by choosing the geographic setting using this map-based resource. Click on any feather on the globe to view a novel set in that location -- along with a ...more
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Find novels by choosing the geographic setting using this map-based resource. Click on any feather on the globe to view a novel set in that location -- along with a short Amazon summary. To search for a particular novel, use the keyword search located near the top of the page. At the time of this review, options include over 500 books pinned on the map.

tag(s): literature (218), maps (246), novels (19), setting (9)

In the Classroom

Use Novels on Location to find novels corresponding to geography and cultural lessons. Use this site as an example to create your own novel locations map. Share the locations using Google Earth (reviewed here). Challenge your students to choose novels from several different locations to compare and discuss the role of setting in the themes of the novels.

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Easyclass - easyclass.com

Grades
8 to 12
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Easyclass is an online tool for creating and managing classes. Register for a free account, and click on Courses from the top menu and Create a Course from the next ...more
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Easyclass is an online tool for creating and managing classes. Register for a free account, and click on Courses from the top menu and Create a Course from the next page. Student lists can be added at this time, or students can use the access code to enter your class with an email. Once you create the course, you can manage tasks such as class walls, discussions, quizzes, the calendar, and create a class library. Create assignments and quizzes and get immediate feedback when tasks are complete. Be sure to watch the video and browse through the help section to find all of the features available with Easyclass. If your district blocks YouTube, the video may not be view-able. You could always view the video 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. Use this tool in several world languages. At the time of this review, the home page states that mobile access is coming soon!

tag(s): classroom management (88)

In the Classroom

Use Easyclass to manage and organize any classroom. Maintain a classroom calendar so students can easily find due dates and deadlines for homework and projects. Share information with parents to keep them up to date. Use the discussion feature as a resource for keeping students involved over long holidays or on a snow day. EasyClass is an interactive and collaborative program; have literature circles complete write ups, discussions, and final presentations about the book they read using ClassFlow. Lab partners can present their findings, and math students can demonstrate how they solved a problem.

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Time and Date - Steffen Thorsen

Grades
K to 12
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Time and Date is your one-stop resource for anything concerning time zones, calendars, and weather. View current time for any place in the world, explore time zone maps, and create...more
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Time and Date is your one-stop resource for anything concerning time zones, calendars, and weather. View current time for any place in the world, explore time zone maps, and create and print personalized calendars. Explore the short news articles. Calculators and timers offer countdowns to any date. Find the number of days until a chosen date or tell the date in X number of days. Other options allow you to find the weather anywhere in the world, explore sun and moon phases, and browse through upcoming holiday events. There are also many free apps available to specific sections of this site (see the Apps link). There is a LOT here to explore!
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): calculators (35), calendars (42), DAT device agnostic tool (86), moon (65), sun (65), time (134), time zones (8), weather (170)

In the Classroom

Bookmark (or save in your favorites) Time and Date on your classroom computers for students to use throughout the year. Find out the local time and temperature in countries as you study them, count down the number of days until spring break or the end of the school year. Use the stopwatch or timer/alarm for timing class activities. Create a personal classroom calendar. This is a perfect addition to your Calendar Math lessons in elementary school. Share the site on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) as you count how many days you have been in school, daily weather, or a countdown to a special occasion. The possibilities are endless using all of Time and Date's features! Include time/date conversions for online conferences you will hold with parents who are deployed or traveling in different time zones. Share meeting dates/times for Skype sessions using the time conversions so everyone is "on time." Humor your fellow teachers by warning them of the upcoming full moon and its supposed effect on student behavior!

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Gynzy - Erik Goossens and Jean-Pierre Decker

Grades
K to 6
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Embed interactive content on your website or wiki with Gynzy's free resources. Choose from 50 interactive activities for math, language arts, science, and social studies. Use the provided...more
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Embed interactive content on your website or wiki with Gynzy's free resources. Choose from 50 interactive activities for math, language arts, science, and social studies. Use the provided code under each activity to embed in your website. Be sure to follow the links within each widget until you get to "open" to actually play each game. If you don't have a website or blog, no worries, play any of the interactive activities by clicking directly through links on this website.

tag(s): addition (217), alphabet (89), alphabetical order (18), antonyms (26), base ten (10), colors (74), counting (115), decimals (118), fractions (216), geometric shapes (126), human body (93), maps (246), money (177), multiplication (198), percent (73), phonics (71), sentences (46), synonyms (38), time (134), vowels (13), word study (60)

In the Classroom

Demonstrate how to use widgets using a projector or interactive whiteboard with your students. Use these activities for center time, indoor recess, or as rewards for students. Add widgets to your class website or wiki throughout the year. Get help with embedding almost anything into your website from this informative blog, reviewed here. Challenge students to complete activities then journal and share their experience. Have students use Page Flip-Flap, reviewed here, to turn their journals (Word documents, PDFs, and images) into an online book they can embed alongside the games on a class wiki.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Homeroom - Cluster Labs, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
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Homeroom is an online tool and mobile app to share your class photos privately with parents, students, and others. Create an album and invite people to view it. Each time ...more
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Homeroom is an online tool and mobile app to share your class photos privately with parents, students, and others. Create an album and invite people to view it. Each time you update it, the members will be notified. When you populate your album with photos, you can also add a comment. Access Homeroom and upload photos on any device. Initial registration requires either using the app (iOs or Android) or registering using your Google or Facebook account or using a phone number or email. Once registered, you can access the tool using any device using your username and password. Invite others from any device or computer by phone number or email address. They will become members and will be able to update your photo albums. You will be alerted about the new content. Albums are private. Only the people with the invite have access to the photos.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (86), images (221), photography (136)

In the Classroom

Invite parents and students as you create albums of specific events such as field trips, service projects, hands-on activities, field experiences, class speakers, and more. Anywhere photos can be used to showcase achievement, this service would be a great resource. Use for any project, class explanation of concepts, experiments, or demonstrations. Resource teachers, speech teachers, or world language teachers can collect images into "albums" for students to practice/develop speech and vocabulary. In science class when having students do insect collections, instead of having them collect the actual specimens, have them take pictures using their phones or digital cameras. Have the students upload to the album at home, and then they can create a multimedia project with the pictures and statistics of the specimen. Students can snap a picture anywhere, with any device, and upload to the web to use in class or cooperative groups. This tool would be great for clubs and performance groups as well! Do you send a newsletter home to parents? Try creating a heading made from a collage of your latest class activity. Use a program such as Mosaic Maker, reviewed here, to create a collage. Though the content is private, monitor student photos and comments as nothing would be prohibited by Homeroom. You will be notified of all new content.

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The Pit and the Pendulum Interactive Comic Book - Marc Lougee/Hand Made Heroes

Grades
8 to 12
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Learn about Edgar Allen Poe and his literature through this eerie, interactive experience. Using video, comics, and websites, the program explores the historical backdrop of "The Pit...more
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Learn about Edgar Allen Poe and his literature through this eerie, interactive experience. Using video, comics, and websites, the program explores the historical backdrop of "The Pit and the Pendulum," i.e. the Spanish Inquisition. Find the many hidden links within the comics using your mouse cursor and with a QR code reader. Be sure to allow plenty of time for exploration of the many hidden features lurking in this site! To make sure you can fully explore the site, read information for the tools needed. The links to see the film lead only to the trailer for the film and ads to purchase the DVD. These are not needed to enjoy the interactive comic.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): authors (95), graphic novels (7), literature (218)

In the Classroom

Introduce this program to your class on your interactive whiteboard or projector as an immediate attention grabber to begin your Edgar Allen Poe unit. Explore together and have students explore on their own or in groups. Provide the link on your website for students to continue to explore at home. Have students create online posters individually or in small groups to advertise their favorite part of "The Pit and The Pendulum." Use a tool such as Web Poster Wizard, reviewed here, or PicLits, reviewed here. Have students use Fakebook, reviewed here, to create a "fake" page similar in style to Facebook about a story character or Edgar Allen Poe himself.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Cool Kid Facts - CoolKidFacts

Grades
1 to 7
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Visit Cool Kid Facts to find information for just about anything in this world or even out of this world! Select from Geography, History, Science, Animals, and Human Body. There...more
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Visit Cool Kid Facts to find information for just about anything in this world or even out of this world! Select from Geography, History, Science, Animals, and Human Body. There are also topics in the right menu on the home page that range from Albert Einstein to Volcanoes and nearly everything else you can think of (alphabetically) in between. There are articles, videos, pictures, and quizzes, too. The videos are from various outside sources and are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, 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): animals (227), australia (25), brain (56), china (59), deserts (6), earth (212), egypt (62), greek (39), heart (38), human body (93), italy (13), magnetism (28), mars (39), mexico (31), moon (65), newton (22), photosynthesis (23), rainforests (11), rome (24), sun (65), tornadoes (15), tsunamis (16), volcanoes (52)

In the Classroom

Share this site with students on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) and show them all the different subjects available. Challenge students to find a topic about which they know nothing (or barely anything). This site will give them experience reading informational text on a topic they wonder about. Partner weaker readers with others who may be able to help them read the text-heavier articles. Have students read and research individually or in small groups taking notes using a simple graphic organizer from 25 Language Arts Graphic Organizers, reviewed here. Use this opportunity to teach summarizing, and citing sources. Cool Kid Facts is a great tool to build background knowledge about all sorts of topics!
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Postcard FM - David Hoffman

Grades
K to 12
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Send audio postcards to friends and family with Postcard FM. Choose a photo and MP3 from your computer and preview your postcard. Click to add a message while in the ...more
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Send audio postcards to friends and family with Postcard FM. Choose a photo and MP3 from your computer and preview your postcard. Click to add a message while in the preview. Enter the email addresses and send. No registration is necessary to use this fabulously simply tool.

tag(s): digital storytelling (86), images (221)

In the Classroom

Use Postcard FM to send quick reminders to students or parents of upcoming events. Have students send you a postcard as a simple book reports or preview of a class presentation. Send parents a weekly audio postcard with a summary of class events. (Better yet - have students create the weekly summary!) Have students create audio postcards to practice speech/language skills or ESL/ELL vocabulary. Use it in world language class for students to practice oral language and pronunciation as they send cards to each other. Create audio postcards as a thank you to school staff or a simple gift for Mothers or Fathers Day. Make postcards to announce events in the school library or sponsored by school clubs.

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ChartGizmo - ChartGizmo.com

Grades
3 to 12
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Quickly create charts for use on websites, blogs, and social media with ChartGizmo. Register using your email address. Click on New Chart and customize using information on the page....more
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Quickly create charts for use on websites, blogs, and social media with ChartGizmo. Register using your email address. Click on New Chart and customize using information on the page. Choose from several different chart types, add a title, change color, and more. Import data from Excel or add your own values. When finished, Save & Publish to choose from several options for sharing or placing on web pages. A manual and examples are available on the home page.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): charts and graphs (188), data (143), percent (73)

In the Classroom

Collect data in your classroom and quickly create a graph to represent it. Share through links or adding images to blogs, wikis, or websites. Share graphs on an interactive whiteboard or projector for better analysis of data by the class. Graph results of a test, answers from students, favorite foods, fictitious budgets, class schedules, and whatever else is applicable in your classroom. Use an informational text, and have students create a pie chart to understand how to read charts that accompany the informational texts. Have cooperative learning groups create graphs to share with the class on the class wiki. Create quick pie charts on your interactive whiteboard whenever you count class votes or encounter other data so students "see" data visualized on a regular basis; visual students will have another way to absorb the information. Keep the link handy on your web page to access it quickly in or out of class.

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