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The Futures Channel: Real World Movies - The Futures Channel

Grades
4 to 12
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Looking to show math, science, and STEM in real life? Look no further! This site has real world applications in video form. The clips tend to be five minutes or ...more
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Looking to show math, science, and STEM in real life? Look no further! This site has real world applications in video form. The clips tend to be five minutes or less. Videos are arranged into topic areas such as architecture, sports and many others. Learn about bicycle design, wind sails, recycling, creating an advertising team, and MUCH more. It is a good collection of video clips focused on the real math and science behind jobs that people do in real life.

tag(s): agriculture (54), architecture (83), business (58), environment (317), sports (96), STEM (134), transportation (40)

In the Classroom

The clips are brief which makes them ideal for introductions to math lessons or science lessons utilizing the interactive whiteboard or projector. Also, a lesson could be developed in math showing students what a clip of math in a real world movie looks like, and then have students use research to create their own short video clips. Share the videos using a tool such as Teachers.TV reviewed here.
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Nik's Daily English Activities - Nik Peachey

Grades
6 to 12
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This site, designed for independent autonomous ESL/ELL learning, offers a daily activity in blog format. Links to supporting activities related to the current blog's topic include videos,...more
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This site, designed for independent autonomous ESL/ELL learning, offers a daily activity in blog format. Links to supporting activities related to the current blog's topic include videos, music, listening, reading, and pronunciation. In addition to viewing the current blog topic, students may search the Top 10 Activities on the right hand side of the page and/or look at the blog archive. A search feature also allows learners to search for blogs with their desired topic or feature. Be aware: this site does include some advertisements.

tag(s): blogs (88), listening (91), pronunciation (44)

In the Classroom

Put this link on your class website for those ambitious ESL/ELL students desirous of more practice. Set up a point system for students to earn individual credit for their work. Make a handout about the blog and send it home with your students at the end of the school year for summer use. Check out the "Links for Teachers" section which offers suggestions about how to incorporate second language learning into your classroom using technology.
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Equal Exchange's Fair Trade Curriculum & Educational Resources - Equal Exchange

Grades
4 to 10
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This collection of pdf lesson plans centers around 3 main topics: how we get our food, what the Fair Trade movement is doing for farmers and eaters, and what coops ...more
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This collection of pdf lesson plans centers around 3 main topics: how we get our food, what the Fair Trade movement is doing for farmers and eaters, and what coops are. The complete curriculum is downloadable and printable, and the daily lessons at this site offer support and extra activities. One lesson, translated for Spanish teachers, offers students an activity so they can understand "What's Fair?" One of the most exciting parts of the website is a collection of videos of Dominican children talking in Spanish about cocoa production! The lesson plans include a variety of activities for students and include projects in math, writing, civics, research, geography, art, music, and international culture.

tag(s): air (163)

In the Classroom

Use these lessons as part of a unit in social studies, Family and Consumer Science, or several other subjects. Take your students on a visit to a local food coop or invite one of their members to speak to your class live or via Skype (explained here.). Have students do a project comparing coop grocery sales with the more commercial establishments. Maybe even have student groups create an online Venn Diagram comparing the two using a site such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here). If you have international students from the Dominican Republic or other cocoa producing countries, share this site with them and allow them to compare what the students say on the video to their own experiences. Create your own videotaped interviews with food growers or their families. Share the videos using a tool such as Teachers.TV reviewed here.
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Compfight - Compfight

Grades
K to 12
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Discover a slick way to find Creative Commons pictures (pictures you are ALLOWED to use without copyright problems, simply by giving credit). Compfight searches Flickr pictures and...more
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Discover a slick way to find Creative Commons pictures (pictures you are ALLOWED to use without copyright problems, simply by giving credit). Compfight searches Flickr pictures and locates those with licenses that permit use in other activities and projects. Enter text or tags, and Compfight does the rest, providing thumbnail images for you to choose from. After you search, be sure you have checked the box in the LEFT sidebar of the search results, specifying that you want Creative Commons images, NOT commercial ones. Click to search again, if necessary. Choose from the results that appear below the dotted line. (Those above the line are images you must pay for!) Click on the image you like and double-check the license information under item 1 to be sure it is available for non-commercial use with attribution and can be used for "derivative works." Click the image itself to copy and paste its URL to use in image credits. Remember that Creative Commons DOES require that you give proper credit!

tag(s): creative commons (21), images (265), search engines (65)

In the Classroom

Users need to be able to use good search terms to find the best pictures possible as well as knowing how to save images on their computer. Use in the classroom any time that an image is needed for projects, even if it is not going to be put on a website for others to see. Be sure students are aware that any time another person's image is used, they must give full credit for it, even if that owner cannot see it. Demonstrate Compfight on a projector or interactive whiteboard so students know how to use it. Student groups can use Compfight to collectively find the best image to use for a project. Have students create a multimedia presentation using ThinkLink, reviewed here. For example, students studying renewable energy can use Compfight to find images of various renewable energy sources, then explain them using ThingLink. Teachers can collect Creative Commons images for use on their interactive whiteboard for sorting activities (monocots and dicots, producers and consumers, etc). Never assume that your students, even the gifted ones, understand about giving proper credit and only using copyright-safe images (CC or public domain). Compfight makes it easier. Be sure to hold students accountable by including a "digital citizenship" category in your project rubric, requiring proper credit for all images. You will want to spot check a few of the URLs to be sure they are actually correct credits. Share Compfight as an important tool on your class web page, wiki, or blog so students can access it anywhere, anytime.
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Google Earth in the Classroom - Joe Wood

Grades
K to 12
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Google Earth, reviewed here, is a fabulous teaching tool. This teacher-created wiki supplements it with Google Earth Resources galore. Find links...more
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Google Earth, reviewed here, is a fabulous teaching tool. This teacher-created wiki supplements it with Google Earth Resources galore. Find links to lesson plans and files for using Google Earth in your classroom for many subjects. See a tutorial video on Google Earth, find directions for making files, and more. Ideas for using Google Earth by subject even include links to ready-made files so you need not start out by creating from scratch. See what other teachers have done and let it inspire you and your students to do more. Learn how to make kmz (placemarker) files.

tag(s): globe (14), landforms (45), landmarks (26), maps (288)

In the Classroom

Make this site part of your personal professional development or pair up with a teaching buddy to learn more about Google Earth (GE) and plan activities for your classrooms. Share the link with your students, as well, so your class can become GE experts together. Even if your access to GE is limited to a single class computer, work together with a small team of student "GEniuses" to prepare class placemarker files, then have the team teach other students, as well. If your school has personal professional development plans or allows teacher to suggest topics for professional workshops, include this link, along with other GE resources from TeachersFirst, as your inservice day agenda.
 
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Google Earth 101 for Educators - Quentin D'Souza, Teaching Hacks.com

Grades
K to 12
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Google Earth, reviewed here, is a fabulous teaching tool. This participatory wiki (part of the larger "Teaching Hacks" wiki) walks educators step...more
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Google Earth, reviewed here, is a fabulous teaching tool. This participatory wiki (part of the larger "Teaching Hacks" wiki) walks educators step by step through the how-to and why-to of Google Earth (GE). Start with the two minute video, then click through the steps at the right. You are also invited to ADD to the wiki so other teachers can learn from you! The wiki includes curriculum ideas grade by grade (listed in text form). Since the wiki originated in the Toronto area, some topics are Canadian-only, but the wiki is open to all global learners and teachers.

tag(s): globe (14), landforms (45), landmarks (26), maps (288)

In the Classroom

Plan your personal professional development on your own or with a teaching buddy to learn more about Google Earth (GE) and plan activities for your classrooms. Even if your access to GE is limited to a single class computer, work together with a small team of student "GEniuses" to prepare class placemarker files, then have the team teach other students, as well. If your school has personal professional development plans or allows teachers to suggest topics for professional workshops, include this link, along with other GE resources from TeachersFirst, as your inservice day agenda.
 

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Google Earth - Google

Grades
K to 12
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Bring the world into your classroom with Google Earth. This interactive view of the Earth (and more) is free for download. Find landforms, geographic locations features, pictures, and...more
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Bring the world into your classroom with Google Earth. This interactive view of the Earth (and more) is free for download. Find landforms, geographic locations features, pictures, and more from around the world using this satellite-powered software. As you spin the globe, you can tilt to view locations at an angle to show elevation, click to play a "tour" or "fly" from one location to another, or simply open tours and placemarker files created by others. Once you are comfortable, try making tours and placemarkers of your own. Note: this software uses more than the usual "bandwidth" to stay connected to the Internet while you are using it, so dial-up and slow connections will not work. Some schools block this tool because of the bandwidth needed, but teachers should not let this stop you from requesting this software to use in whole-class or group settings.

tag(s): climate (92), earth (228), landforms (45), landmarks (26), news (261), oceans (148)

In the Classroom

Use tutorials from this site to learn more, or try some Google Earth files from TeachersFirst's Globetracker's Mission to get a taste of what the program can do. Get started by exploring the different LAYERS available in the left side and searching a location you know. Locate and try the tools to drag, tilt, zoom, and even measure distance. Extensive user forums are available through the help menus.

Placemarker files created by you "live" on the computer where you make or save them and are not shared on the web. Note that your computer will ask whether you wish to save your "temporary places" (any places you have marked during a session) each time you close Google Earth. If many students use that computer, you may find you have a disorganized mess of saved places. Be sure to direct students to either name their saved places logically and file them into folders or NOT to save them to My Places! Students and teachers can create placemarker (.kmz or .kml) files and share them as email attachments, files on a USB "stick," or any other means you would use to share a file, just like a Word document.

Another practical tip: if students are using Google Earth on several machines at the same time, you may put a heavy load on your school network. Plan accordingly, perhaps having groups alternate their Google Earth time if it becomes sluggish.

Use Google Earth to teach geography or simply give location context to class readings or current events, especially on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Ex. you can tilt to show the peaks scaled by Lewis and Clark or volcanoes that rise in the Aleutians. Have students show the locations of historic events or literary settings and create placemarkers with links to learn more. Placemarker text is editable by going to the placemarker's "properties" or "info," so students can enter the text description, place title, and any inks they want to include, such as a link to a certain passage of text, an image of a character, or news image/article for a current events map. Students who know html code can get even more sophisticated in what they include in placemarkers. Have students/groups create and play a "tour" of critical locations for global warming, a comparison of volcanoes, or a family history of immigration. Navigate the important locations in a work of literature using Google Lit Trips or search the web for placemarker files connected to civil war battles, natural resources, and more. Turn layers on and off to look at population centers and transportation systems. Teach the concept of scale/proportion using a tactile experience on an interactive whiteboard and the scale and measurement tools. See more ideas at the teacher-created Google Earth 101 wiki reviewed here. Even if you do not venture into creating your own placemarker files, there are many already made and available for use by teachers and students. TeachersFirst's Globetracker's Mission includes a weekly file to follow the Mission.

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Voki - Oddcast

Grades
K to 12
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Create a free, animated speaking character that represents yourself for a blog, wiki, or any website. Voki can also be emailed to others and downloaded to phones. Appropriate for student...more
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Create a free, animated speaking character that represents yourself for a blog, wiki, or any website. Voki can also be emailed to others and downloaded to phones. Appropriate for student use in grades 6-12 but for teachers at all levels.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): speaking (24)

In the Classroom

Access to a microphone is required to record a voice. There is an option to use text to voice (however, it does not have great sound.) Import audio from a file or use a cell phone instead to capture audio. Only one minute of audio can be recorded so be brief. Students need to carefully think of their narrative before recording. Users must be able to copy and paste html code for use in an external site.

Use the controls to create your character's style, click customization to further refine your character, change your background, and add your voice. Keep in mind that animated backgrounds may take longer to load on your site. When done, click publish to view and copy the embed code which can then be used on a blog, wiki, or web pages.

Monitor all aspects of student production and use for appropriateness and copyright. If concerned about using student email, consider creating a class account for students to use. Be sure that students understand not to change the Voki of other students if using a class account. Check your school district policy about using emails or identifying student information on the Internet.

Introduce and share this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Use this free site to record a greeting for students that can be seen on the start page of your blog, wiki, or website. Record online assignment information that is spoken by the Voki (always more pleasing to look at than the teacher!). Use this to share homework assignments, a message from you (via a substitute), and more. Use a character that is interesting or matches the assignment you may be leaving. Use Voki to record two different opinions or viewpoints and create a poll of students to view reactions. Use the Voki in Math by posing possible solutions to problems and create a class discussion or poll to determine which one is the actual answer. As students are working on projects, create a Voki that provides hints and tips for students. Allow students to use Voki to provide peer assessment to others. Consider using Voki in place of other assignments such as "What I did this summer vacation..." or "Here is information about me..." Use in any language class to record narratives or translations. Students can create a variety of Voki recordings over time which can show their learning of a language over time. Create classroom newscasts using student(s) on a rotating basis. Use Voki for vocabulary exercises which can be created by students or the teacher. The possibilities for this tool are endless. The quick and engaging nature of this tool offers unlimited uses.

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The Brainstormer - Andrew Bosley

Grades
6 to 12
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Stumped for different ways to get students to write a unique story or think about plot development? Spin the wheel on Brainstormer: a free word generator that can offer unique ...more
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Stumped for different ways to get students to write a unique story or think about plot development? Spin the wheel on Brainstormer: a free word generator that can offer unique ways to develop prompts. Click the center button to let the wheel spin. Three words will be chosen that can be used to develop a story or to get over writer's block.

tag(s): writing (358)

In the Classroom

After clicking the wheel, use the three words to develop your own prompt or give students the option to use the words in any way that they see fit. Alternately, use the three words to create posters or other multimedia pieces. As a class, use the Brainstormer on your interactive whiteboard to develop a story map/plot diagram using the conflict suggested by a class "spin." Help students to appreciate narrative patterns from the author's side. Have students click on the button on individual computers to create a variety of writing prompts in your classroom. Share the stories by having students read them aloud during a podcast, created using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here).
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Letters About Literature - Center for the Book: Library of Congress

Grades
2 to 12
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This site accepts students' letters to their favorite authors, describing why they liked their book(s). Each student may write only one letter. Students can write to any author, living...more
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This site accepts students' letters to their favorite authors, describing why they liked their book(s). Each student may write only one letter. Students can write to any author, living or dead. Each year, judging of the letters takes place in December. So this is a great site during the fall months! On the site, there are links to a teacher's guide for helping the students write the letter and lesson plans about the letter writing.

tag(s): authors (120), letter writing (21), literature (275), writing (358)

In the Classroom

Have your class read some of the award-winning letters from other years on the overhead projector, interactive whiteboard, or projector. Talk about what the winning characteristics are. Share the suggestions the site makes to encourage your writers to use clear and metaphorical language. Use this site to teach your students proper letter writing skills. Check out the Letter Generator for some ideas, reviewed here. Check with your administration to see what their guidelines are for submitting contest entries, particularly submitting names and addresses of students. The site is quite flexible about those types of requirements. Have the class share their letters and create a "referral" library for students looking for outside reading materials. Have your international students share letters about international writers to encourage broader reading interests. Why not use the letters to create a class online book of letters, using a tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here.
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A Book and A Hug - Barb Langridge

Grades
K to 12
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This well-designed website has books for 8 levels of readers from picture books to adult-level subjects in 17 general categories. Search using the advanced search function or browse...more
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This well-designed website has books for 8 levels of readers from picture books to adult-level subjects in 17 general categories. Search using the advanced search function or browse through the favorites. Look for fiction or non-fiction, parts of series, and best of all books for reluctant readers. All books feature a summary and also an illustration taken from the book. The descriptions of the books are very enticing and often include quotes from the text.

tag(s): literature (275)

In the Classroom

This is a great source for finding and showing students how to find independent reading. Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Since students often ask for books like Harry Potter, for example, put this link on your class web page. Show students how to click on the keywords once they find a category they like. When students ask for another book in the same series, this is a great place to start looking. Allowing reluctant readers to search and find their own book is a way to build investment in their reading future. Encourage students to write their own reviews of favorite books not found here. Use the site for a lesson in citing sources and punctuating quotations.

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Goosebumps: The Science of Fear - California Science Center

Grades
3 to 10
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Explore the science of fear with this fun and interesting site. Click on "Explore Fear Online." View "Fear and the Brain" to understand how the brain responds to fear. Learn ...more
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Explore the science of fear with this fun and interesting site. Click on "Explore Fear Online." View "Fear and the Brain" to understand how the brain responds to fear. Learn animal responses in "Fear in the Wild." Other links include "Fear and the Media," "The Fun Side of Fear," and "Dealing with Fear." Each link includes several more specific topics. There is also a Parent's Guide with some of the topics.

tag(s): brain (72), emotions (35), psychology (64), stress (14)

In the Classroom

Brainstorm situations that cause fear and identify how the brain processes this information. Explore the similarities of fear responses with the feelings when riding thrill rides. Identify as a class how people respond to fear and ways fear can help you. Creative writing students can explore different ways that people show fear so their writing can describe what fear LOOKS like instead of simply saying, "he was afraid." Why not include this site when studying Poe's tales of terror or as a curriculum-related activity during Halloween season? Check out the "Dealing with Fear" section to help students struggling with anxieties and worry. Emotional or autistic support teachers and school counselors may also find this site helpful in allowing students to understand their body's reactions to fear. Health and psychology classes can use this site to explore the physiology of fear.
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Spell with flickr - Erik Kastner

Grades
K to 12
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Looking for a clever way to display a title? Enter your words, and this site will look through flickr pictures to create titles from individual pictures. Note that ads display ...more
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Looking for a clever way to display a title? Enter your words, and this site will look through flickr pictures to create titles from individual pictures. Note that ads display throughout the site as well as while the images are loading. Simply take a snapshot of the words (use print screen for PC or command-shift-4 on a Mac) or drag each letter image to your desktop. Alternatively, use the embed code provided. Don't like one or more of the letters? Simply click each letter and a new one will be generated. See an example here.

tag(s): images (265)

In the Classroom

Students can use this site to create interesting and unique titles for projects, presentations, or blog titles. Use this site to make your lessons grab your students' attention (which isn't always easy). Decorate your classroom with intriguing signs and reminders created using this tool. Have students use this site themselves for projects, intriguing spelling practice, or more. Kindergarten teachers might like to "show" students what their names look like in multiple type fonts and to make bus list bulletin boards using these creative lettering forms. Art teachers can use this tool to demonstrate different types of letter graphics and letter collages. This might be a good link to list on your class website so families can access the site at home.

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Brainflips - Brainflips, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
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Use this free web site to create flashcards for teacher or individual student use. There is also a link to "Study Flashcards" that are already ready to go. There are ...more
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Use this free web site to create flashcards for teacher or individual student use. There is also a link to "Study Flashcards" that are already ready to go. There are literally HUNDREDS of ready to go flashcard packets: presidents, addition, algebra, music, and more.

If you are creating your own, you can add images, video, or audio. Study flashcards online or share with others in created study groups. Use flashcards to learn new information (question and answer are side by side,) study (shows the question and then the answer,) or quiz themselves by entering answers. Create a game with the flashcards by using a timer and score board on the site. Share flashcard sets with others by sending a URL address or create study groups to share. View public flashcards created by others by using their search feature.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): flash cards (46), presidents (130), word study (80)

In the Classroom

You can access the already created flashcards without any account, email, or age requirements. However, if you wish to create flashcards, an email and birth date is required to create an account. Users must be 13 years of age or older.

Using Brainflips: Use the Deck panel to enter flashcard deck title and other basic information. Use the Card panel to add, edit, and change the order of the flashcards in the deck. Create text or multiple choice answers for each flashcard and even enter alternative answers. Click "Insert" above the question field to add images, audio, and video to flashcards.

Safety/Security: Since an email and birth date are required, consider creating a class account for teacher use or for groups of students to use. Create teacher flashcards for class use by creating card decks and providing the URL for students to use. You may want to send students to the flashcards via a direct link to the deck.

Facts, spelling words, vocabulary, definitions, foreign language, root words, historical names --- all can easily be typed into this flashcard format for any subject. Plan a system of tags for sets on related material so they can be grouped. For example: tag all geography terms "geography" and all words from the same science chapter using the chapter number or topic. You can use multiple tags, too! In the computer lab, using a projector or interactive whiteboard, walk your students through making their own sets of flashcards or using teacher created flashcards for student and group use. Students or parents can then access their electronic cards at home or anywhere with a specific URL that can be placed on any teacher blog or website. No email address is needed to use the cards, only to create the cards. Include the link to your sets on your web page for students to study before tests. Collaborate with other teachers to create useful sets for all to use. Rotate responsibility each marking period among student groups in your class to create a set for each chapter/unit/week for the rest of the class to use as review. Give a special award (or bonus points) for the most creative, complete set that marking period. Learning support teachers may want to work together with small student groups to create verbal and visual card sets to accompany the chapters they are studying. Involve the students in the process so they can reinforce new content as they create their own "study materials" with color coding, images, and more.

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Dummies.com - John Wiley & Sons

Grades
6 to 12
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Everyone knows the "for Dummies" books, but did you know there is an entire web site? This site, created by the same publisher, has text-based and video "How To" information ...more
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Everyone knows the "for Dummies" books, but did you know there is an entire web site? This site, created by the same publisher, has text-based and video "How To" information on thousands of topics, organized into general categories. It is also searchable. The education/languages area has both obvious and more obscure topics than you might expect, from To Write a Sonnet to How to Build a Bill (in the U.S. Congress). These text- based articles are great for those who follow verbal information well and often include simple diagrams. The more consumer-oriented areas of the site include videos from setting up your wireless network to carving a turkey. Click on "all videos" under the Featured video to see the video categories.

tag(s): sequencing (31), writing (358)

In the Classroom

Be sure to tell your students that they are NOT the "dummies" referred to in this site! Then go beyond the obvious use of this site as a reference to use it to teach informational writing, reading comprehension, or any curriculum content. Share text-based articles on a projector or interactive whiteboard and have students analyze the keywords and structure of sequential direction-writing or informational writing before they try it on their own. Use the pens and highlighters to note transitions and other ways of organizing directions, including formatting. Use articles to teach basic comprehension skills by copy/pasting sections and having students drag them into the correct sequence on the whiteboard to form logical directions. In science or social studies classes, have students view models on this site, then work in groups to write their own how-to wiki on curriculum topics such as "How to tell a fungus from a bacterium," "How to solve simultaneous equations," or "How to form a government." If you have access to video equipment, have students write scripts and produce video versions of their how-to instructions and post them on a site such as TeacherTube reviewed here.

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Kids Open Dictionary Builder - K12 Open Ed

Grades
2 to 12
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Kids Open Dictionary allows your students to 'use' this free dictionary, and it encourages your students to 'write' definitions as well. This wiki site invites you to edit and create...more
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Kids Open Dictionary allows your students to 'use' this free dictionary, and it encourages your students to 'write' definitions as well. This wiki site invites you to edit and create the dictionary. You may also use the Glossary tool to customize your terms for specific purposes. Choose multi-presentation modes for presenting your glossary. It's for kids, so it's safe. Their editors approve all postings before they go online. The sign up is quick. Check your school's acceptable use policy on student usage of internet sites that require a login. Registration does require an email. Rather than using your personal email, create a free Gmail account to use for memberships. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service.

tag(s): dictionaries (56)

In the Classroom

Imagine the sense of accomplishment your class will feel if you allow them to submit definitions to this site. They become the Merriam Websters in your own classroom. Definitions don't need to be perfect as the online community will continually edit them. One drawback at the present time is that not all words have definitions. This site is still "under construction" and being built upon daily. Classes can get in on the ground floor in providing definitions for these incomplete areas. Assign cooperative learning groups to explore various vocabulary words in social studies, science, math, music, or art class. Have the groups add their new vocabulary words into the "Kids Open Dictionary." You may find the usefulness of this site in the generating of definitions for now. (This will be a moot point as the dictionary becomes filled.) As you study dictionary skills, work as a class on your interactive whiteboard to write definitions together and discuss the format of dictionary entries.

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Must Pop words - Bart Bonte

Grades
2 to 12
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How quickly can you create words from letters? Challenge yourself with this simple and addictive activity. Note that when started, an advertisement plays. Click "skip this ad"! No login...more
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How quickly can you create words from letters? Challenge yourself with this simple and addictive activity. Note that when started, an advertisement plays. Click "skip this ad"! No login is required to play. Click on Play to begin. An information screen provides simple directions. As the "letter" balls fall, determine words that can be made from them. Receive points and watch the balls pop when words are created. Be aware: students are able to type inappropriate words as part of the game. Discussions of what is appropriate should occur prior to playing. Monitor student use during play.

tag(s): spelling (168)

In the Classroom

Challenge students to create as many words as possible. Alter games by creating rules (such as 5 letters or more per word) to make the game more interesting. Be sure to demonstrate this on your interactive whiteboard or projector. This is also a great way for students to practice keyboarding skills, vocabulary, and spelling skills together!
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Skype - Skype Technologies S.A.

Grades
K to 12
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Every teen and college student knows Skype, the free tool for making calls from computer to computer anywhere in the world. By downloading and installing free software and setting up...more
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Every teen and college student knows Skype, the free tool for making calls from computer to computer anywhere in the world. By downloading and installing free software and setting up a free account, you can talk and/or make a video call to a similarly equipped computer elsewhere in the world for free. Skype uses a lot of "bandwidth" so is not suitable for very slow networks or dial up connections. It may also be slow at high-traffic times on a good network. Some patience and pretesting is required before you can be sure it will work for your needs. Connect to classrooms, experts, authors, virtual special speakers, or interview subjects using Skype.

tag(s): virtual field trips (48), webcams (6)

In the Classroom

Download and install the Skype software. If you are not allowed to install software on school computers, ask to have a single laptop available that is Skype-capable so you can borrow it or else explain to your principal that you are planning a series of Skype visits in your classroom so your techies will install it in your classroom. You will need a computer with built-in or separate microphone and speakers and optional webcam. If you plan to use a webcam, you must know how to start it. A single teacher-controlled Skype account will work in most school settings.

If you prefer written directions go to Help >> Step by Step Help to get started. Or ask a student to show you (without seeing your password). You will need to explore the tools in Skype to locate where to enter the SKYPE name of the person you wish to call, start the call, and answer calls. Do NOT set your copy of Skype to "remember me" on a school computer! If students are to participate in the Skype call, you may want to have a "hot seat" at the Skyping computer so they can sit at a mike so their questions will pick up better for the person at the other end.

Be sure to set Skype so it does not open every time you start up the computer. Manually start the program when needed and do not leave an obvious Skype icon on the desktop for "clever" students to find. Protect your password -- do not post it on the computer. A teacher-controlled account is best for Skype classroom use to prevent unauthorized calls by students. Your user name will show on the screen for students to see, so be aware of that when you create your account.

Anything you can do by telephone or video call you can do on a projector with your entire class. Connect the Skyping computer to a projector or whiteboard for the entire class to see if you are using video. (The video will be fuzzy, but good enough to follow a person's face.) Use Skype to talk to authors (check out their web sites or this blog for contact information). Have students write questions in advance. Use your contacts, web page "contact us" emails, and parent contacts to find others willing to Skype into your classroom. Interview scientists or government officials, deployed military personnel, or classes far away in a different culture or language. Younger students can compare weather, family life, community events, and more. Learn other ideas for using Skype in your classroom

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Lightning Bug - Martin Jorgensen

Grades
4 to 12
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The title graphic on this site tells it all: "Your writing partner, helping you write a story from beginning to The End." Intended for young writers to be able to ...more
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The title graphic on this site tells it all: "Your writing partner, helping you write a story from beginning to The End." Intended for young writers to be able to use on their own, this site includes ideas and exercises to find story ideas, develop the story, improve it, finish it, and share it in writing contests or publications. The notebook paper "look" adds appeal to pages that might otherwise be text-heavy, and the tone is supportive but not condescending. There are teacher resources, including printables for writing exercises, and extensive links and ideas for the classroom. Don't miss the writing prompts in the teaching resource area under "Dozens of writing ideas for the classroom." You can also find tips on setting up writing centers in your classroom and lesson plans for teaching story writing. The quick links in the footer of the home page provide a good overview of the site's extensive topics. Note: the site does have a small book sales area and links to both Twitter and Facebook. These are likely to be blocked by your school web filter and are not essential for use of the site. If students use the site from home, their use of these social tools to learn more about writing and writers should be in accordance with their parents' permission and the tools' age policies.

tag(s): narrative (24), writing (358)

In the Classroom

Share this site both in and out of class as a place where story writers can stretch, refresh, and improve. Many of the writing lessons and activities are also well-suited to interactive whiteboards or projectors. You can plan an entire story-writing unit or simply improve on certain aspects of writing here. Share the link on your class web page for students to access when they are stumped for writing ideas. Steer your motivated writers to explore this site on their own or assign small groups to become specialists on one of the writing exercises and then teach it to the class or blog about it. Use the ideas from this site for students to write cooperative stories using a wiki or a tool such as Primary Pad, reviewed here. Encourage young writers to submit entries in writing contests listed here or to explore the site further during summer and holiday breaks.

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TweenTribune - Alan Jacobson

Grades
K to 12
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TweenTribune has joined with Smithsonian and now offers the news in Lexile levels for k-4, 5-8, 9-12. That is not the only change. The Smithsonian TweenTribune now has several ...more
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TweenTribune has joined with Smithsonian and now offers the news in Lexile levels for k-4, 5-8, 9-12. That is not the only change. The Smithsonian TweenTribune now has several new features, including a Dashboard for assignments and classrooms, assigning a story to all with one click, self-scoring quizzes for articles, and Smithsonian's STEM-based 1-minute videos. There are now free apps for the iPad and iPhone. TweenTribune continues to include open-ended critical thinking questions and a daily quiz using multiple sources. This site is still jam packed with current news stories that are chosen by site coordinators for all reading levels. The articles are easy to read, relate to, and understand. The site is easy to navigate with a subject indexed toolbar, and it is searchable. There is even a "your town" section for local news stories. All stories are current because the creators scour the internet weekly for age-appropriate material. It greatly reduces the pressure of searching by giving an article research tool that is much more specific than simply using a search engine.

tag(s): news (261), newspapers (94)

In the Classroom

The sky is the limit for potential and possibilities with this website. There are some minor warnings. If you want to allow your students to post to a blog, you will need to create a class and then have them enroll. The great news is that is free. As the teacher, you can moderate or delete posts before they are public. There are lessons available on the site as well as a "Teacher's Lounge" where lesson ideas can be exchanged. In a language arts classroom, students could be assigned to read and blog as a weekly writing assignment. The teacher can assign a specific article or have students choose. Have students read their articles on a podcast using PodOmatic (reviewed here). In science, articles from this site could be used to supplement science textbook reading with current articles that better interest students. Articles are short and provide quick practice pieces for non-fiction reading comprehension. Project a story and ask students to write their own sentence for the main idea or to summarize. These quick pieces would fit well on your interactive whiteboard. SmithsonianTweenTribune Espanol allows students to read daily news articles in Spanish and post comments about the stories they read. Teachers moderate all comments before the comments are posted.

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