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Twurdy - twurdy.com

Grades
K to 12
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Twurdy is web search that includes a readability index! Think of the implications: Everyone has different reading abilities. Some people searching the web are seven or eight...more
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Twurdy is web search that includes a readability index! Think of the implications: Everyone has different reading abilities. Some people searching the web are seven or eight year old children, while others are in high school or beyond. Twurdy provides access to search results that suit individuals' reading levels, by providing an easy color coded system to help you quickly determine how simple or hard the page will be to understand. The beauty is that it is not an extra step! Twurdy is powered by Google. Try it right now. It only takes a few seconds. Just go to the Twurdy website (by clicking on the title in this review) and copy/paste the URL - http://www.teachersfirst.com/index.cfm in the search box. Not only will you see Twurdy's value, you will have the added bonus of discovering our TeachersFirst website if you are not already a frequent user. While this site could be independently used by intermediate and secondary students, teachers of the primary grades may also find this site useful as a professional resource.

tag(s): readability (8), search engines (65), search strategies (30)

In the Classroom

Twurdy is useful for all grades and subjects. Teachers can spend hours looking for age/grade appropriate websites to display on classroom whiteboards, include in webquests, and recommend for usage with assignments. Save valuable time by finding the information that is most appropriate for your students. This will mean that more time can be spent actually getting the assignment done, rather than clicking through material that is either too difficult or too simplistic to use. Bookmark this site in your favorites and provide the link on your class web page to save yourself and your students a lot of time finding what you are looking for. Remember that you can "organize" recommended sites for students using a tool such as LiveBinders (reviewed here, share them with readability tips using Diigo reviewed here, or even color code them by reading level for younger students using Symbaloo reviewed here.

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Wonderopolis - National Center for Family Literacy

Grades
2 to 8
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This site provides a daily "wonder" in the form of a question for students to think about. Parents and teachers can choose a topic by category or by day. Each ...more
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This site provides a daily "wonder" in the form of a question for students to think about. Parents and teachers can choose a topic by category or by day. Each question is accompanied by a video, questions to think about, links and activities that students can do. Click on the "Wonders" link to see a list of archived daily "wonders."

tag(s): creativity (109), enrichment (13)

In the Classroom

These daily wonders are perfect to use while students are waiting for homeroom to begin. You could have them projected on a whiteboard for students to work on. Use these for an enrichment/curiosity center. They are perfect for the gifted student who finishes his work early. Use the provided vocabulary in your language arts or science curriculum. Place this link on your webpage for parents to use at home. In addition, this site would be a great place for students to go for science fair ideas or research project ideas. Please note that some videos are on You Tube so be sure to check to see if the videos might be blocked in your district. Consider adding a student-submitted "wonderopolis" page on your class wiki or a bulletin board for students to post their own thoughtful questions and build creativity. Make student questioning a part of your classroom life.
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ccMixter - ArtisTech Media

Grades
K to 12
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This site allows users the opportunity to sample, interact, and mash-up music that is posted as well as upload original works. Users are also given a URL where uploaded works ...more
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This site allows users the opportunity to sample, interact, and mash-up music that is posted as well as upload original works. Users are also given a URL where uploaded works and remixes can be located and shared. Note that the public can submit works, so -- although our editors have not seen any-- the submissions could include lyrics not appropriate for listening in school.

tag(s): podcasts (52), sound (100), sounds (68)

In the Classroom

Users need to be able to record music on their own computer, locate files on their computer, and follow onscreen instructions. Parents and family can hear their student's work as long as the student shares the URL with them.

Have musically gifted students use this to create school sound tracks for the school television show or announcements. Have students create their own drama club or musical interludes for performances. In music clubs, have students record their music to their artist page, share the URL with others in the club, and remix each other's work. In music class, use as a submission space. Have students upload work to their artist page and check work digitally.

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Fuel the Brain

Grades
K to 5
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Check out this highly interactive site that offers a wealth of math activities, printables, and more for elementary students of all ages. Students will enjoy the many different Math...more
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Check out this highly interactive site that offers a wealth of math activities, printables, and more for elementary students of all ages. Students will enjoy the many different Math games such as Fact Worms (basic facts), A Lucky Place (place value), and Jelly Golf (fractions). Main topics include: Counting & Cardinality, Number & Operations, Operations & Algebraic Thinking, Measurement & Data, and Geometry. Interactives may be used without registering on the site; however, registration allows scores to be compiled and posted against other players. Be sure to check out the interactives such as Venn Diagrams as well as printables, teacher's guides, articles and seasonal resources. Activities have also been matched up to North Carolina Mathematics Standards.

tag(s): fractions (239), money (193), numbers (204), preK (279), puzzles (208)

In the Classroom

The interactives are perfect to use on interactive whiteboards or projectors. Use activities as an introduction to new units such as making change, counting on the number line, or recognizing numbers shown with base 10 blocks. Save this on your desktop on all of your classroom computers. List this link on your classroom website or blog. This is excellent enrichment and/or advancement for gifted students. It could also be used for extra practice for struggling students. This site is definitely one to save and revisit often.
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Word Games - FPS Networks Inc.

Grades
2 to 12
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Word Games has compiled many of the web's best word games into one resource. Games are categorized in several different ways such as typing, word search, puzzles, and others. In ...more
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Word Games has compiled many of the web's best word games into one resource. Games are categorized in several different ways such as typing, word search, puzzles, and others. In addition, the newest and most popular games are identified for easy access. Facebook users can "like" the site and receive daily games to play. This site provides varied activities to help increase word skills at many different levels.

Navigate carefully as this site has many advertisements! But the great interactives make it worth the hassle.

tag(s): logic (235), puzzles (208), sudoku (18)

In the Classroom

Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector then have students explore this site independently or in small groups. Make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers and use it as a center. Provide a link to these activities on your class website.
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Math Solutions - Math Solutions

Grades
K to 12
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This site provides many resources for math teachers of all grades and includes lesson plans, articles, classroom and administrator questions and answers, and helpful links - all located...more
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This site provides many resources for math teachers of all grades and includes lesson plans, articles, classroom and administrator questions and answers, and helpful links - all located under the "helpful tool" tab at the top of the site. Click to find elementary resources, algebra, calculus, and other "basic math." Free webinars are also available within the site. Math Solutions was founded by Marilyn Burns, who is known as one of the foremost experts in elementary math instruction. Although much of the website is devoted to materials and Professional Development for sale, there are many resources available for free that are extremely helpful for classroom teachers. One such resource is the classroom lessons portion. Lessons are in ready to print PDF format making them easy to review and use for planning. Sample classroom conversations are often included along with samples of student work and suggestions for use in the classroom. This site also sells many resource materials, so links to these materials are included for alternative resources within the lesson. No need to buy, however! Teachers can sign up to receive the free monthly newsletter containing information about new materials on the Math Solutions site.

tag(s): problem solving (272)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plans; also search for plans in grades higher and lower that can be modified to meet your students' needs. Display student work included with the lesson plans on your interactive whiteboard or projector as conversation starters in your classroom - allow students to discuss other students' work to increase understanding of concepts.

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Ice Ice Maybe - Manga High

Grades
2 to 6
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Guide penguins across the ice with this logic and estimation game. Reach the target level and move on to a higher level. Teachers can create a free account and register ...more
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Guide penguins across the ice with this logic and estimation game. Reach the target level and move on to a higher level. Teachers can create a free account and register students to save high scores, although it isn't necessary to play the game.

tag(s): estimation (46), logic (235), problem solving (272)

In the Classroom

Save as a shortcut on classroom computers to use as a center. Encourage students to problem solve to get the penguins further along the ice and achieve higher levels. Share this link on your class website so students can practice logic and estimation while at home.
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Snappy Words-Free Visual Online Dictionary - Snappy Words.com

Grades
2 to 12
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Snappy Words visual dictionary is an easy-to-use online interactive English dictionary and thesaurus that provides the meanings of words or phrases, generates synonyms, and draws...more
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Snappy Words visual dictionary is an easy-to-use online interactive English dictionary and thesaurus that provides the meanings of words or phrases, generates synonyms, and draws connections to associated words. Simply type a word in the search box and click "GO." A word map is instantaneously created. An extra built in feature is that the words in the visual interactive display are automatically color coded according to parts of speech. Look up as many words as you need anytime; there is no limit on the number of searches and no registration is required.
As with most online tools, teacher monitoring is strongly advised.

tag(s): maps (288), parts of speech (68), speech (92), thesaurus (24)

In the Classroom

Teachers and students on all grade levels will love usingSnappy Words for all subjects. Demonstrate it on your classroom whiteboard or projector, bookmark it in your favorites, and make it directly available to students from your class webpage. Elementary students will enjoy defining their spelling words or content area vocabulary. They can categorize their words by parts of speech or create a list of synonyms. Students can then create their own word "maps" for new vocabulary words using drawing tools or online graphic organizers like bubbl.us reviewed here or webspiration reviewed here. Middle school, high school and adult learners can use it as a valuable tool for vocabulary specific to a literary work or subject area, preparing for a standardized test, or while reading assigned material or a book, poem, or article of choice. Whether you are writing content for an article, a blog, a letter, or any assignment, minimize this website and play with words to avoid repetition, choose precise meanings and kick your vocabulary up a notch! Share this one on your class web page, for sure.
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Online-Calculator - Online-calculator.com

Grades
K to 12
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This free, fast loading, online calculator can be viewed full screen and operated by your mouse or keyboard. Various types are available from the most basic one to the scientific ...more
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This free, fast loading, online calculator can be viewed full screen and operated by your mouse or keyboard. Various types are available from the most basic one to the scientific or BMI calculator. There is also a stopwatch tool available. If you speak a language other than English, simply click to change to the language of your choice - it's that easy.

Be aware: this site does include advertisements.

tag(s): latin (22)

In the Classroom

There are many uses for this practical online tool, beyond the obvious ones for math class. Bookmark this site on your own computer for projection on an interactive whiteboard and make the link available on your class web page for students to access from individual computers. You can shrink the calculator window in the corner of your interactive whiteboard to use as needed. Use this tool in social studies class for quickly calculating years or months from important timelines or when figuring out geographical distances. In English or L.A. classes, quickly figure out the life span of authors or how long ago a story took place. In health or science classes, use the BMI calculator or get other accurate measurements. The stopwatch tool can be useful for any in-class, timed assignment.
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Houghton Mifflin's Math Expressions - Houghton Mifflin

Grades
K to 5
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This site, created by Houghton Mifflin, goes along with their Math Expressions series. The home page offers links for teachers, students, and families. The links for teachers...more
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This site, created by Houghton Mifflin, goes along with their Math Expressions series. The home page offers links for teachers, students, and families. The links for teachers and families offer PDF printables, lesson ideas, unit by unit information, a glossary (with audio) and more. The link for students offers online manipulatives, math glossary, interactive challenges, and much more. This is a great addition to your math program whether you use Math Expressions or not. Topics depend on grade level (K-5). Some topics include counters, base ten, fractions, decimals, money, and countless others. The Math Lingo game in the student area for each grade reinforces math vocabulary.

tag(s): decimals (133), fractions (239), manipulatives (41), money (193)

In the Classroom

If using this series, check your grade level for additional ideas to help struggling students or ones who need an extra challenge. List this link on your class website for parents and students to access both in and out of class. Even if you don't use this series, you will find a plethora of math interactives by clicking on the link for Students. Make a shortcut on your computers to the student activities for your grade level. Share some of the activities (and how to USE them) on your interactive whiteboard or projector before assigning students to work independently.
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Mindcipher

Grades
3 to 12
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Mindcipher provides riddles and mind puzzles in various subject areas including math, logic, physics, computer science, and lateral thinking. Puzzles are categorized based on easy,...more
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Mindcipher provides riddles and mind puzzles in various subject areas including math, logic, physics, computer science, and lateral thinking. Puzzles are categorized based on easy, hard, most liked, and most commented on. Advertisements can be distracting. May work better as a resource for elementary teachers.

tag(s): problem solving (272), puzzles (208), riddles (15)

In the Classroom

Allow older students to sift through puzzles and identify one they want to solve. Have students present their problem solving strategies to the class by creating an interactive online poster ("glog") using Glogster EDU, reviewed here that showcases their thinking. Identify puzzles that younger students have the knowledge to solve, and then have them solve the puzzles with a partner. They can then showcase strategies in a glog.

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Puzzle Playground - Smart Kit

Grades
1 to 12
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This site includes many different types of puzzle and brain games that will keep students motivated throughout the school year! There is a TON to offer at this site. ...more
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This site includes many different types of puzzle and brain games that will keep students motivated throughout the school year! There is a TON to offer at this site. Start out easy with a memory match game, move on to strategy activities and work your way toward the Physics Puzzle activity. Interactives are sorted into categories such as word puzzles, logic, spot the difference, and much more.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): logic (235), problem solving (272), puzzles (208)

In the Classroom

This site is ideal to use on classroom computers as a center. Students will think they are playing games; however, they are really expanding their logic and problem solving skills through the interactive activities. This is a great site to list on your class webpage, for students to access both in and out of the classroom. For a bonus/extra credit challenge, ask students to FIND connections between a game and topics/concepts they have been studying and to explain the connections while demonstrating the game on a projector or interactive whiteboard. Hint: start with the Physics challenge.
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Algebra Meltdown - Manga High

Grades
3 to 8
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Practice basic linear algebra with this interactive site where the players help scientists working at a nuclear generator. The scientists are impatient, so you have to be quick to solve...more
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Practice basic linear algebra with this interactive site where the players help scientists working at a nuclear generator. The scientists are impatient, so you have to be quick to solve the equations to guide the atoms through each machine on time. Be sure to check out the achievements section which provides information on math skills used at each level. There are some unobtrusive advertisements at this site. You can play without joining or register for a free, basic school account to save some scores.

In the Classroom

Have a team competition on the interactive whiteboard or projector and challenge students to move on to higher levels. Students who aren't playing will still be learning as they try to solve problems along with the players. Use the activity as an introduction to algebra skills included in the interactive, such as multiplying and dividing with negatives. Challenge students to come up with the formulas for multiplying and dividing negatives based on correct responses in the activity.
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Tangram House - Andrey Orlov

Grades
2 to 8
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Tangrams are a form of old Chinese puzzles that provide the opportunity for developing spatial sense and problem solving skills. Tangram House provides choices of tangram puzzles to...more
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Tangrams are a form of old Chinese puzzles that provide the opportunity for developing spatial sense and problem solving skills. Tangram House provides choices of tangram puzzles to solve using the seven basic pieces that form a square. Hints can be turned on for beginning users. The activity can also be downloaded in a zip file to play when not connected to the internet. Be sure to click on the Help and Settings icon to learn more about how to flip, turn, and rotate the tangram pieces.

tag(s): tangrams (14)

In the Classroom

Introduce on your interactive whiteboard or projector when beginning a geometry unit on shapes and vocabulary such as turn, flip and rotation. Challenge students to discuss how shapes are moved to form tangrams. Provide this link on your class website for students to use at home. This site is great for younger gifted students!
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Plastelina Logic Games

Grades
3 to 8
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Test your logic and patience with these interactive logic games. Plastelina offers the option of registration and payment for a password which allows access to all of the activities...more
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Test your logic and patience with these interactive logic games. Plastelina offers the option of registration and payment for a password which allows access to all of the activities on the site; however, many are free and can be played without registration. Free interactives are clearly marked next to the titles. At the time of this review, five activities were FREE.

tag(s): logic (235), puzzles (208)

In the Classroom

Have a team competition as students use the site on an interactive whiteboard or projector and try to see who can solve the puzzles first. Use the puzzles as a quick time filler and revisit on occasion until the puzzle is solved.
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LEGO Education Activities - LEGO Education

Grades
K to 12
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Lego Education Activities are designed to be rich, fun-filled, creative learning experiences. They offer educators a means to use LEGO sets as essential tools that engage students while...more
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Lego Education Activities are designed to be rich, fun-filled, creative learning experiences. They offer educators a means to use LEGO sets as essential tools that engage students while challenging their creativity and enhancing their knowledge and comprehension. As a thinking teacher, you only need to look on the Teachersfirst Editor's Blog here to realize what a hot topic teaching creativity is and how it fits into the classroom. From role-playing and meeting the needs of early childhood development to theme-based sets for older students, LEGO Activities offer a multi-disciplinary approach to teaching. There are also specific sets designed to cover specific subject areas, including technology curriculum. As you browse the activities, you will find obvious connections to curriculum in simple machines and other science topics, as well. Stay current and find a lot more stimulating ideas by checking out the LEGO Education and LEGO Smart Blogs available from theLego Education Activities page.

tag(s): creativity (109), critical thinking (108), logic (235), problem solving (272)

In the Classroom

Expose your students to different levels of the learning spiral by challenging them to use problem-solving skills for increasingly difficult obstacles. Students can work in small groups to foster cooperation and teamwork as they sort, graph, follow and give directions, and discuss ideas. Of course you will need some LEGOs, so you might try raiding your own children's toy boxes, include a request in your classroom newsletter for donations, look around for LEGO kits collecting dust on classroom shelves, or put it on your school's PTA wish list. Be sure to have cooperative learning groups video their activities to share with the rest of the class using a site such as SchoolTube (reviewed here).
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Twitter - Twitter, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
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Twitter users enter information to share with their "followers" by creating 140 character "tweets," and "followers" see what they are thinking, favorite links, etc., all from the brief...more
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Twitter users enter information to share with their "followers" by creating 140 character "tweets," and "followers" see what they are thinking, favorite links, etc., all from the brief "tweet." Tweets are much more than messages to share what you are eating for lunch! Use this popular microblogging and social networking tool for a great way to communicate with teaching peers and real world people you may not have a chance to otherwise meet. Reply to others to create conversations for some of the best professional development around. Each "tweet" or message may not seem extraordinary, but using the sum total of tweets from those you "meet" on Twitter can have an amazing impact. Use your profile and settings to add a bio and other information, change your security settings from public to protected, find those who follow you, and more. Post your tweets through the website, mobile devices, or myriad of applications to manage tweets and followers. Keep track of your favorite tweets by starring them. Refer to your favorites list as needed. Wish you could take back a tweet? Click the trash can beside the post to delete (however, others may have already seen and responded.) Find many opinions about Twitter on and off the Internet. Remember you will gain only as much as you put into this service. Build a network of helpful colleagues to become a better learner (and educator). Anyone can learn from Twitter, even a class of elementary students! Still not sure what Twitter is about? Find a great explanation of how it works in this review.

tag(s): microblogging (44), social media (16), social networking (112)

In the Classroom

Bring teaching and learning to new heights by using this service as a great form of professional development. At conferences, use Twitter as a backchannel to expand upon thoughts and ideas during presentations and after. Have a question to ask others' opinion about? Throw it out to Twitter to see the great perspectives given by those who follow you. Start out slowly and look at conversations that catch your eye. Follow people with experience in your areas of interest to gain from the conversations. Start off by following @teachersfirst or @cshively (our leader).

Learn about hashtags -- ways to mark, search, and follow conversations on a specific topic. For example, the #ntchat tag is for new and pre-service teachers and the #edchat hashtag is for all teachers. Participate in these chats which are scheduled at certain days and times or search for their tweets anytime. Find archived tweets from these chats to learn from some wonderful and motivated teachers when it is convenient for YOU. Use other Twitter applications to search or collect specific hashtags.

As a teaching tool, Twitter is amazing! If your school permits access, have a class account to share what you are doing with parents and especially for your class to follow people in topics you study. Studying space? Follow NASA. Studying politics and government? Follow your congressional rep or the White House. Consider using your teacher or class account to send updates to other teachers across the country or across the globe. You can also teach about responsible digital citizenship by modeling and practicing it as a class. A whole-class, teacher account is the most likely way to gain permission to use Twitter in school, especially if you can demonstrate specific projects. That can be as simple as making sure you and that teacher are FOLLOWING each other, then sending a direct message (start the tweet with D and the other teacher's twitter name) or creating a group with your own hashtag for a project such as daily weather updates. Even if you are not "following" someone, you can send them a tweet using @theirtwittername in the body of the message. This is called a "mention" but can be seen by others, too. Compare what your class is observing in today's weather, which topics you will be discussing today, or ask for another class' opinions on a current events issue. Ask for updates about local concerns, such as talking to California schools about wildfires in their area or a Maine school about a blizzard. Challenge another class to tweet the feelings of a literacy character, such as Hamlet, and respond as Ophelia, all in 140 characters or less. Have gifted students? Connect your classroom with the outside world to find greater challenges and connections beyond your regular curriculum.

Learn much more about teaching ideas and tools for Twitter in the many resources listed on TeachersFirst Twitter for Teachers page.

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Gymnasium For Brain - Sitalakshmi Seshadrinathan

Grades
3 to 12
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The goal of this site is to make Math fun and provide mental exercise and stimulation. 100's of warm-up puzzles are provided that require logic and problem solving to come ...more
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The goal of this site is to make Math fun and provide mental exercise and stimulation. 100's of warm-up puzzles are provided that require logic and problem solving to come up with a solution. Hints are provided as well as the solution. The Speed Math section demonstrates different "tricks" as alternatives to standard algorithms in a detailed explanation. Another section demonstrates different Math patterns and how they are formed and expanded. The Kids Corner provides simpler problem solving activities for younger students. Free membership to the site is available.

tag(s): logic (235), problem solving (272)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a resource for a problem of the day activity. Challenge students to solve and provide explanations to logic puzzles and create their own problems. Display on the interactive whiteboard or projector as a springboard to class discussion of the Mathematics involved within each of the problems.

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Measurement Tools - Angles - SmartTutor

Grades
4 to 6
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Dudley Dog is looking for his buried items and it is up to you to find them. Using a protractor, you will find the correct angle of the item based ...more
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Dudley Dog is looking for his buried items and it is up to you to find them. Using a protractor, you will find the correct angle of the item based upon location from his doghouse to help return the items. A narrated demonstration begins the activity to explain how to use the protractor and locate the angle. If the incorrect angle is given, the player can try again. If the correct angle is given, Dudley digs up his buried treasure. You can also click on a link to review the definitions for protractor and vertex. Learning objectives and covered vocabulary is presented before the start of the game.

tag(s): angles (88), measurement (159)

In the Classroom

Demonstrate the use of a protractor on your interactive whiteboard or projector with this activity. Challenge students to guess the angle before measuring with the protractor. Assess understanding of acute and obtuse angles through students' estimates of angles.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Shape Trails - SmartTutor

Grades
1 to 4
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The goal of this game is to move the provided shape to the chest along a trail in as few moves as possible. Once the chest is reached, rotate the ...more
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The goal of this game is to move the provided shape to the chest along a trail in as few moves as possible. Once the chest is reached, rotate the shape correctly to open the chest to receive the prize inside. You choose the path to follow, and difficulty is increased as each level is reached. In addition to moving the shape along the path correctly, you will have to know the degree of the angle the shape will have to turn to go inside the chest. The activity begins with a narrative and demonstration showing how to play. Several geometric definitions are available by clicking the book link within the game.

tag(s): logic (235)

In the Classroom

Practice vocabulary of geometry terms by allowing students to play the game, as they reach each level, challenge them to define terms such as rotation, reflection and translation. Set up the activity at a computer center to practice logic and problem solving skills. Challenge students to create their own map with a path for other students to play.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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