GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse 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.
GradesK to 12
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tag(s): speaking (24)
In the ClassroomAccess 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.
Grades6 to 12
tag(s): writing (361)
In the ClassroomAfter 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).
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomHave 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.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): literature (274)
In the ClassroomThis 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.
Grades3 to 10
In the ClassroomBrainstorm 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.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): images (269)
In the ClassroomStudents 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.
GradesK to 12
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.
In the ClassroomYou 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.
Includes Interaction w general public/ public galleries with unmoderated content
Includes social features, such as "friends," comments, ratings by others
Requires registration/log-in (WITH email)
Products can be shared by URL
Multiple users can collaborate on the same project
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomBe 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.
Grades2 to 12
tag(s): dictionaries (56)
In the ClassroomImagine 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.
Grades2 to 12
tag(s): spelling (169)
In the ClassroomChallenge 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!
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomDownload 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
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomShare 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.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomThe 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.
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomThis site is ideal for your interactive whiteboard or projector, learning station, or on individual computers (with headsets). Use this site to keep your students up to date on current events. Have students compare the different versions of the same news stories to try and ferret out the facts and the way points of view affect reporting. Project the scripts on an interactive whiteboard to have students highlight language choices that provide a certain slant. ESL/ELL students will benefit from listening to the short news clips and being able to see the transcript of the report. Have your ESL/ELL students write their own comprehension questions and answers based on the podcast to check their own comprehension and to exchange with classmates. Use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here) to compare the differences in two newspapers' versions of the same news. Have ESL/ELL students present the news from a newspaper familiar to them if possible by having them prepare an introduction and questions. Learning support students can use the transcripts and videos in combination to understand and report weekly current events assignments for social studies class.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): literature (274)
In the ClassroomPlan a series of author visits or one special virtual visit to motivate your club or class to read! Have students prepare questions in advance and maybe even dress as a favorite character if you plan to use video. Make the best of your short visit by refining questions in advance and having everything ready to run with no wasted time. Have students step up to the microphone quietly and smoothly to ask their questions.
Since authors book up easily and may not respond quickly to email, you should plan well in advance to arrange such a visit.
Some technical tips: Share the Skype screen on a projector or whiteboard so more students can see it. Be sure to turn up your speakers and connect a microphone (even a cheap one) to the computer handling the Skype call. Pretest your visit by having a virtual visit from a friend outside of the school, loading Skype and using the same equipment you plan to use for the real visit. You may need to request that the school unblock Skype for your use during a specific time frame, since many schools do not allow such a "pull" on the network without special permission. Once you have a successful test, make a diagram of what you did so you will remember and can share with other teachers. Once you master the set-up, you can do it over and over! Need to learn more about Skype? Read TeachersFirst's review here. Learn other ideas for using Skype in your classroom
Grades7 to 12
Unfortunately, the categories include "erotic," so this site is NOT recommended for students to access on their own in your classroom or by your assignment!
tag(s): poetry (227)
In the ClassroomShare specific poems and recordings as well as the overall format of this poetry site during your unit on poetry. Project it or use an interactive whiteboard and the various tools to highlight, annotate, and more. Then challenge students to create their own WeLikeThesePoems blog using the same model: collect the poems (from copyright-safe sources), record a reading of them, and include a critique or statement explaining why they like the poems. Use a whole-class blog, but allow each student to contribute and to comment on the contributions of others. Allow students to "tag" poems they like with their initials, so anyone can "see" their list of like by clicking on that category tag. Not sure about how blogs work? Start from TeachersFirst's Blog Basics to learn how.
Grades1 to 12
In the ClassroomIf using a phone, understanding calling plans and additional charges is needed. You must know how to use embed codes to place audio files within your blog, wiki, or website. No login is required! Simply click the "Get Yours It's Free" button. Choose the method to create the audio and preview and edit the file. Enter your email address to receive a link to your file. Click on the link to grab widgets. Copy the code and place in your blog or website.
The tool does not show which work is attributable to which student. You may want to require that students mark their contributions in order to get credit. Consider using a class email account set up for this purpose. Be sure students understand the appropriate use of this email account.
Classroom use: Use this service to record audio of passages used in class, homework assignments, and other written material. Young students can practice reading aloud at this site (and listen to themselves), showing improvement in fluency as the year goes on. Have students use this site in place of a traditional book report. Have cooperative learning groups create a news broadcast and share it using this site. Use this site with ESL/ELL students just learning the English language. Use this site in world language classes for students to hear and learn the pronunciations. Place the embed code in a site that students can access outside of class for review, identifying directions, and listening to text. Speech and language teachers can use this tool to record student articulation and demonstrate progress through the year.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomAs an example, use a verb from Bloom' taxonomy such as "evaluate." Click on the part of the sentence at the top, in parenthesis, to enter your content such as "patterns of environmental issues." Choose the resource you want students to use, the product you want them to make, and the number of students in a group by clicking on the tabs. Example objective: Students will evaluate the patterns of environmental issues using websites to create a news report in groups of two. Save your objective by copying and pasting it into any document or online tool. The Differentiator will give you many project ideas that you may not have thought of yourself, and serves as a welcome reminder of different activities and expectations you can use in your classroom. Take a look at this site at the beginning of the school year or when creating a new unit (or project). Find new ways to differentiate for your gifted students using this creative and powerful tool. If your gifted students test out of your current math lessons, use this site to find new material to challenge their minds. This site is deceptively quick and simple, but it could be very useful when writing detailed, powerful lesson plans.
GradesK to 12
Important note: As with many dictionaries, students will be able to find words that are not appropriate for the classroom. A quick check of the web browser's History will tell you what they have been looking up should you notice a bit too much "interest" in looking up words! Wordnik does add an exclamation point graphic next to inappropriate (swear) words.
If you register, you can add notes to each entry for future use, report typos, and enter information about words. You can also create personal wordlists and more.
As a "social" word tool, Wordnik, is a site for any technology user and could serve as a vocabulary hub for your individual students to become wordaholics by sharing, exploring, commenting, and more -- all about words!
In the ClassroomUse wordnik when students are stumped with definitions or uses of a word. Demonstrate how context clues can help readers understand meanings. Increase vocabulary by finding words that are giving students problems during a lesson and assigning those words to be examined by students. Use wordnik to find words of the day. Students can use wordnik to find examples of the word and create technology or conventional displays of information. Have students create online posters displaying their new vocabulary words. Encourage ESL/ELL students and those with weaker vocabulary to use Wordnik often, possibly creating personal word lists, recording pronunciations, or sharing words with each other (see safety concerns). Use an online poster creator, such as Glogster, (reviewed here). Another technology infused idea: create an online glossary book as a class (or in cooperative learning groups) using a tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here.
Since the general public can share, make comments, etc, on this site, use this opportunity to discuss netiquette of commenting, and other appropriate behavior on "social" sites before allowing students to establish accounts. Spell out consequences and be sure you know the usernames and passwords your students use. Less mature students may be very tempted by the opportunities to play with "bad" words or record their voices.