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Common Core Conversations - Kristina Holzweiss

Grades
1 to 12
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Common Core Conversations is your place to find Common Core resources. The Standards, Resources from state education departments, free resources in all subject areas, using tech tools...more
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Common Core Conversations is your place to find Common Core resources. The Standards, Resources from state education departments, free resources in all subject areas, using tech tools for learning the standards, and a section for parent information provides a great basis for your Common Core needs. Resources include: ESL/ELL, library, careers, family and consumer sciences. Join the online community to join in the conversations.

tag(s): commoncore (94)

In the Classroom

Common Core Conversations provides ideas and resources to assure your lessons contain Common Core Standards necessities. Investigate a resource for yourself every week or to share at your professional growth development. Be sure to document your new ideas under professional growth for your evaluation. When hosting professional growth development, begin here.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Teaching Text Features - Lerner Publishing Group

Grades
3 to 8
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The Common Core Standards in every grade level has a standard using text features. Each grade level builds upon the knowledge from the previous grade. Lerner publishers has created...more
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The Common Core Standards in every grade level has a standard using text features. Each grade level builds upon the knowledge from the previous grade. Lerner publishers has created a PDF source (chart) for teaching text features to meet Common Core Standards. Each grade level provides features found in social studies and science content area texts. Lerner Sources (charts) are organized by features that help understand the organization of the text, text features for visual aids, and text features that point out important information. An example of each text feature along with the purpose follows. Each is given in a downloadable, color PDF chart.

tag(s): charts and graphs (195), commoncore (94), reading comprehension (116), reading strategies (45)

In the Classroom

When beginning your study on text features, show the charts with an interactive whiteboard or projector. Now go further and use a nonfiction book and find these features. Print the chart and use for student reference. Keep bookmarked on your website, so students can refer back to the chart to aid comprehension. Use this guide when students write their own informational pieces. Keep handy during research projects.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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CurriConnects Booklist: Adventures in Summer - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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This collection of books is all about summer! Summertime brings many adventures: vacations, camp, wild weather, fireworks, and more! Travel aboard a cruise ship, explore a mysterious...more
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This collection of books is all about summer! Summertime brings many adventures: vacations, camp, wild weather, fireworks, and more! Travel aboard a cruise ship, explore a mysterious island, learn about summer weather, meet some tiny creatures living in hotels, and make this a summer reading adventure to remember. This collection of books offers both fiction and information texts. CurriConnects thematic book lists include ISBN numbers for ordering or searching, interest grade levels, ESL levels and Lexiles'® to match student independent reading levels to challenge, not frustrate. For more on text complexity and Lexiles'®, see this information from the Lexile Framework. Don't miss other CurriConnects themes being added regularly. If your library does not have the books, try interlibrary loan!

tag(s): book lists (128), independent reading (128), summer (12)

In the Classroom

This collection is perfect to share with students (and families) prior to the summer break. Keep minds fresh during the summer. Allow students (or partners) to choose their own book. If you want to "spice" up your final month of school, allow students to start summer (in their minds). These books provide experience with both fiction and nonfiction informational texts. They often require students to draw inferences about the "facts." Allow students (or partners) to choose their own book. Share this list with your school library/media specialist or public library, as well, for them to "pull" books in support of your end of school-year reading. Extend the experience by having students create visual presentations of the concepts they learn. Challenge students to create a presentation using Prezi (reviewed here) or Zoho Show (similar to Powerpoint, but easier and free) - reviewed here.

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CurriConnects Booklist: Award Winning Books - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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There are many awards for excellent children's books. This collection of books includes winners of many awards, including the Caldecott Medal, Newbery Medal, Boston Globe/Horn Book...more
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There are many awards for excellent children's books. This collection of books includes winners of many awards, including the Caldecott Medal, Newbery Medal, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, and the Coretta Scott King Book Award. Although the topics vary, the level of quality is consistently the same. CurriConnects thematic book lists include ISBN numbers for ordering or searching, interest grade levels, ESL levels and Lexiles'® to match student independent reading levels to challenge, not frustrate. For more on text complexity and Lexiles'®, see this information from the Lexile Framework. Don't miss other CurriConnects themes being added regularly. If your library does not have the books, try interlibrary loan!

tag(s): authors (120), book lists (128), independent reading (128)

In the Classroom

Develop your students' love of reading using these fabulous books. This collection could accompany a unit about famous authors and texts. These books provide experience with both fiction and nonfiction informational texts. This list is ideal for book reports or projects. Allow students (or partners) to choose their own book. Challenge students to create presentation or small group projects to share their story. Share this list with your school library/media specialist or public library, as well, for them to "pull" books in support of your units.

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Sway - Microsoft

Grades
3 to 12
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Use Sway to create interactive presentations across all devices. Drag and drop content from your device, social networks, and the web directly onto your Sway canvas. Log in using your...more
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Use Sway to create interactive presentations across all devices. Drag and drop content from your device, social networks, and the web directly onto your Sway canvas. Log in using your Microsoft account to begin or create a new account using your email and a password. Add content to your storyline using links to add text, images, and media. Change the look of your Sway using the Mood and Remix tools to change the color palette, layout, and fonts. When finished, click the Share button for options to share to Facebook, Twitter, URL, or copy the embed code. The introduction video is hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, then it may not be viewable. You could always view the video at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (199), slides (63), visualizations (14)

In the Classroom

Use Sway as an alternative to Prezi or PowerPoint presentations. Sway is perfect for use in your BYOD or 1:1 classroom. Use during your presentations to increase student interest and interaction. Check understanding of your ESL/ELL students by having them respond or pose questions throughout the presentation. Share with students for them to use during their own presentations, inviting other students to comment and answer questions. During Open House night with parents, demonstrate how Sway provides interaction. Use Sway during professional development presentations to invite discussions from colleagues.

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Hstry - Thomas Ketchell, Jonathan Ketchell, Yoran Brondsema, Steven Chi

Grades
2 to 12
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Create an interactive timeline, view the Timeline of the Month, or browse through Hstry's library of ready-made timelines. The Hstry timelines in the library are the creation of Hstry's...more
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Create an interactive timeline, view the Timeline of the Month, or browse through Hstry's library of ready-made timelines. The Hstry timelines in the library are the creation of Hstry's team of historians and teachers and are Common Core Standards aligned. When creating a timeline, it can include video, audio, a quiz, and comments and questions from viewers. Sign up with your email and get a link to start with a walk-through tutorial to help set up classes, students, and timelines. Students will need the class code. There is a part of the site that has timelines and lessons bundled for a fee. This review is for the free part of this tool. Hstry will work on any device.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): american revolution (86), civil war (145), DAT device agnostic tool (199), immigration (58), photosynthesis (33), timelines (62), womens suffrage (26), world war 1 (54)

In the Classroom

Use an interactive whiteboard or projector to share timelines about historical events and more. Have students create timelines for research projects. Create author biographies, animal life cycles, or timelines of events and causes of wars. Challenge students to create a timeline of the plot of a novel. If you teach chemistry, have students create illustrated sequences explaining oxidation or reduction (or both). Have elementary students interview grandparents and create a class timeline about their grandparents for Grandparents' Day. In world language classes, have students create a timeline of their family in the language to master using vocabulary about relatives, jobs, and more (and verb tenses!). Students learn about photo selection, detail writing, chronological order, and more while creating the timelines of their choice. Making a timeline is also a good way to review the history of a current event or cultural developments.

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Twittalert - Atomic Productions

Grades
8 to 12
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Enjoy checking your Twitter feed without wasting time by flipping browser tabs. Twittalert is like an SMS or IM window that will pop up on your PC screen and stay ...more
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Enjoy checking your Twitter feed without wasting time by flipping browser tabs. Twittalert is like an SMS or IM window that will pop up on your PC screen and stay there about 11 seconds. Quickly scan the Tweet and get on with your work. The app can be easily deleted by exiting the program and deleting the unzipped download folder. When you want to use it again, just download it once more. At the time of this review, the app is only available for Windows.

tag(s): chat (51), microblogging (44), social networking (112), twitter (50)

In the Classroom

On Twitter follow hashtags for current events. View the information in real-time by projecting Twittalert on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Construct a question about events occurring elsewhere in the world to read student perspectives. Use a class Twitter account to set up chats with classes in other schools using this tool. Create a focused chat session based upon a particular question, such as the constitutionality of a law or the environmental impact of fracking project answers as they come in using Twittalert. Use Titttalert to interact and follow other classrooms and projects anywhere in the world in real-time. Looking for more ways to use Twitter in the classroom? Read more about Twitter at TeachersFirst's Twitter for Teachers page.

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Learn English with Jokes and Riddles - Jacob Richman

Grades
K to 12
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Everyone loves a good joke or riddle, and you do not need any bells and whistles to get one across. At this site find ten categories and over 300 jokes ...more
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Everyone loves a good joke or riddle, and you do not need any bells and whistles to get one across. At this site find ten categories and over 300 jokes and riddles all free to use. Enjoy the jokes sequentially, choose a category, or take your chances with a random pick. All jokes and riddles are suitable for all age groups.

tag(s): humor (15), riddles (15)

In the Classroom

Jokes and riddles make excellent language exercises, and kids love them. Once the students have guessed the answer, use the sentences for grammar practice by identifying parts of speech, subject and predicate, and even diagramming. Younger students and ESL/ELL students can learn new vocabulary words, too. The twist and/or play on words will surely attract your gifted students. Once you have gone through several of these, encourage students to create their own and share with the class. If you would like to take this one step further, see the TeachersFirst review forI Spy Riddle Rhymes with Jean Marzollo reviewed here.

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Grammar Check - grammarcheck.net

Grades
5 to 12
7 Favorites 2  Comments
Instantly grammar check any piece of writing using GrammarCheck's editor. Simply copy/paste your text into this website, and receive instant feedback. Click on the color coded information...more
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Instantly grammar check any piece of writing using GrammarCheck's editor. Simply copy/paste your text into this website, and receive instant feedback. Click on the color coded information and find style suggestions, spelling errors, and grammar suggestions. There is a premium option with more features.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): editing (61), proofreading (19), writing (359)

In the Classroom

Use this highly visual revision program with your students who are ready to refine and improve their writing. Use GrammarCheck for revision after editing of grammar and mechanics is complete. Partner an advanced writer with one not so advanced and have them use GrammarCheck to improve their styles. Put the link to this site on your class web page for students and parents to use from home. Remind seniors to use it for their college essays. Use this tool to polish your professional writing, parent newsletters, blog posts, and papers for grad classes!

Comments

I love it, it is helpful to improve writing. Elesio Catalla, , Grades: 0 - 12
Elesio Catalla, , Grades: 0 - 12

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Visual Writing Prompts - visualprompts.weebly.com

Grades
3 to 12
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Visual Writing Prompts provides a considerable choice of creative writing prompts using Flickr images. Each prompt has an unusual image along with basic information such as the Creative...more
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Visual Writing Prompts provides a considerable choice of creative writing prompts using Flickr images. Each prompt has an unusual image along with basic information such as the Creative Commons Credit and appropriate age groups. In addition, the Prompt Explanation gives added discussion questions. Scroll through the prompts using arrows or by genre, grade, or subject. Although each image has an icon to download the prompt, it either didn't work or was in a zip file at the time of this review. There is really no need to download the prompts.

tag(s): creative writing (166), descriptive writing (41), expository writing (44), letter writing (21), persuasive writing (55), poetry (228), writing (359)

In the Classroom

Bookmark and save Visual Writing Prompts for use with creative writing assignments, journaling, or debate. Sort by genre to find prompts to match different writing styles. Have students create blogs to share their writing using Throwww, here. This site allows you to create "quick and easy" blogs to be used one time only. A unique URL is provided and this site is as easy as using a basic Word program!

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Shmoop Common Core Standards - shmoop.com

Grades
K to 12
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Still wrestling with Common Core? Let Shmoop help with math and language arts Common Core resources. Search for any standard or browse through standards links to begin. Links to each...more
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Still wrestling with Common Core? Let Shmoop help with math and language arts Common Core resources. Search for any standard or browse through standards links to begin. Links to each standard offer a tab explaining the standard and another tab with aligned resources. Resources may include videos, teaching guides, sample assignments, and more. Not all standards include resources, but most do.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): commoncore (94)

In the Classroom

Use Shmoop to find materials correlated directly to individual Common Core Standards in Math and English. Share a link to student activities on your class webpage or blog for students to practice at home. Link to activities on classroom computers for use as centers. Use assessments for planning Common Core related lessons.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Slidebean - Slidebean, Inc.

Grades
4 to 12
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Do student presentations seem to focus on the flash instead of the content? Slidebean focuses on entering the content first before the designs are chosen. To use this tool, enter ...more
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Do student presentations seem to focus on the flash instead of the content? Slidebean focuses on entering the content first before the designs are chosen. To use this tool, enter your title, then enter the content. The option to choose the template, background and other creative aspects are not available until the content has been entered. Choose between different layout styles, typography, and other visual elements and color schemes. Easily change to other schemes with a simple click of the mouse. Why use this tool? With other presentation tools, more time is taken in the creative aspects of the presentation, with less time being devoted to the content. The result is greater efficiency in creating the presentation. Presentations remain on the web and can be presented with any web browser. Note: The free version of this tool has a limited number of templates and other items and all presentations are public.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): graphic organizers (43), visualizations (14)

In the Classroom

You could map your entire lesson, chapter, or unit in one presentation using Slidebean. It would provide a great way to connect prior knowledge with the next step if you share this on your interactive whiteboard or projector throughout the unit. Post a link to your web page or give kids the URL so they can review as often as they need it. Have students create presentations using this tool for different projects, and then have them post the link to their product on a class blog or wiki. Add a peer review component and require students to comment on at least two other presentations. The possibilities are endless! Share a link to this tool on your class website as one possible tool to use when creating projects or reporting content learned. Consider using this tool for students to present what they learned throughout the unit.

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Let's Talk About Insects - University of Illinois Board of Trustees

Grades
3 to 5
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Get into the world of insects with a museum like presentation featuring insects! Start by choosing your language: English or Spanish. Uncover an animated, comprehensive, and informational...more
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Get into the world of insects with a museum like presentation featuring insects! Start by choosing your language: English or Spanish. Uncover an animated, comprehensive, and informational guide on insects. The text is read aloud paired with accompanying photos, sounds, and creepy crawlers!

tag(s): insects (69)

In the Classroom

Use this site as an informational text and audio visual presentation on insects. Share on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Share as an example for an informational report to meet Common Core standards. Analyze the presentation and create a graphic organizer to explore the main ideas and details for increased comprehension. Use the graphic organizer as an example for taking notes. Continue to use the format as an example to make multimedia presentations on other content area subjects. Have cooperative learning groups create podcasts using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here). Challenge gifted students to take their research to the next level!
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Flavors - MOO Print Limited

Grades
9 to 12
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Create a simple and beautiful web page that acts like an RSS reader for all of your social networking sites! Your web page will open to a large beautiful background. ...more
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Create a simple and beautiful web page that acts like an RSS reader for all of your social networking sites! Your web page will open to a large beautiful background. This FREE (and ad free) account includes seven layouts and brings in your content from five other services (Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad, Posterous, Netflix, Vimeo, YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Etsy, Foursquare, and others). Click "Start Your Website" to begin. Use the Edit panel along the right to begin adding information About you and adding Content from social media sources. Change aspects of the Design including layouts, backgrounds, colors, and more. Under Mobile, set the aspects of design that will be used for your page to show on mobile devices. To save your design choices, create an account and password!
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): images (266), microblogging (44), social networking (112), video (254)

In the Classroom

Use social media in the classroom? Create a class page and connect the class or school social media accounts to display everything in one place! Create a group of advanced learners to set the design choices for the site. Then, connect the social media sites and create the account. Students can view all the information created for and by the class.

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Beenpod for Education - Dave Yoon and Sang Shin

Grades
K to 12
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Beenpod is a tool to gather, share, and organize your favorite webpages. Create your own "beens" to create collections of websites, people, and ideas. Explore pages together with a...more
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Beenpod is a tool to gather, share, and organize your favorite webpages. Create your own "beens" to create collections of websites, people, and ideas. Explore pages together with a single colleague or entire class as you pause, resume, and chat together. Educator accounts for teachers, parents, and administrators offer the ability to create student accounts. Organize groups of students into groups as small or large as desired. Be sure to read through the FAQ and view videos for an overview of Beenpod's offerings.

tag(s): bookmarks (60), organizational skills (122), social media (16)

In the Classroom

Use the "surf together" feature to explore and discuss online information as a class, small group, or with a partner classroom. Use Been to create a bank of resources to use for each content unit within your subject or classroom. Share Beens with students and let them add to the ever growing lists. Use for web treasure hunts to learn or introduce any topic within your content area. Use comments to ask questions or give directions about each site. Collect links to informational texts for students to read "closely" a la CCSS. Have students create Beens as a place to store links for a project. Share Been as a tool older students may want to use while collaborating on a project from a distance. They can browse online TOGETHER at the same time to decide which sources they want to use for a project, for example.

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SchoolsWorld.tv - SchoolsWorld

Grades
K to 12
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Find a huge collection of educational videos for students and teachers at SchoolsWorld.tv. Select Pupils/Students or Education Professionals from the menu bar at the top, a list of...more
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Find a huge collection of educational videos for students and teachers at SchoolsWorld.tv. Select Pupils/Students or Education Professionals from the menu bar at the top, a list of levels will drop down. Since this is a British site, the levels are Early Years, Primary, and Secondary. The Teachers/Professionals section also includes a Special Education section. Once you have made your selection, click on the subject in the left menu bar and allow your mouse to hover there. Age ranges will appear. There are instructional videos, interviews with experts, mini-documentaries, and demonstration videos. Clicking on the video picture will take you to that video and a text description of the program. The Pupils/Students tab offers links to lesson plans. There are also PDFs, slides, and games to use with students, although they are not available for every video. The site was created in the UK, so some of the pronunciations and spellings may differ from those in American English.
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tag(s): professional development (123), video (254)

In the Classroom

YouTube does not host these videos; you should not have a problem showing them at your school. There is no embed code. Have students go directly to the link supplied by you. While looking at your subject area on SchoolsWorld.tv, do not forget there are lesson plans under the Pupil/Student category and the Series tab. There is so much to find here that one may want to use a program like Zeeik, reviewed here, which creates collection boards for video resources. Review and choose videos to collect and curate on various boards. Share video resources or whole boards with others.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Free Tiiu Pix - Tiiu Roiser

Grades
K to 12
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Discover a large collection of free to use images for presentations, slide shows, reports, and more at Free Tiiu Pix. The creator of this site designed all images available. Go ...more
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Discover a large collection of free to use images for presentations, slide shows, reports, and more at Free Tiiu Pix. The creator of this site designed all images available. Go to the image gallery to browse images sorted by categories. The categories range from Architecture, Food, Animals, Insects, Plants and more. Right click to save images or choose optional links for different resolution sizes. In addition to the image gallery, be sure to check out the slide presentation gallery including visually appealing PowerPoint presentations on many topics. There is also a link to Learn How to Draw Your Own Clip Art with free clip art to use. These are FREE to use. However, be sure to read and understand the Terms of Use! Note: you must be 18 to use this site. So while this is an excellent site for teachers to find resources, this shouldn't be shared with students to use independently.
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tag(s): images (266), photography (160), slides (63)

In the Classroom

Bookmark Free Tiiu Pix to access images for any presentation. Create multimedia presentations for your subject or any presentation for staff or parents using one of the many TeachersFirst Edge tools reviewed here. Be sure to share Free Tiiu Pix with other teachers on your campus.

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Amazon Storybuilder - Amazon Studios

Grades
7 to 12
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Storybuilder is an online application to plan storyboards for plays, movies, and videos. Create cards to lay out on a virtual corkboard to arrange the order of your story. Add ...more
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Storybuilder is an online application to plan storyboards for plays, movies, and videos. Create cards to lay out on a virtual corkboard to arrange the order of your story. Add notes, images, and tags to organize and improve your story. Save and access your Storybuilder from any computer, tablet, or smart phone through your Amazon Studios account. Add contributors to any project who can view your work and add stickies with notes. Per the site's terms of use, it is not for use by children. You must be 18 to use the site.

tag(s): creative writing (166), digital storytelling (144), movies (65), plays (37), stories and storytelling (33)

In the Classroom

Demonstrate how to create a storyboard using Storybuilder on your interactive whiteboard or projector. As you and your students create a class story, show how to add and edit cards on your corkboard. Brainstorm together to create a storyboard for a video story as a final plan of a story, report, or poem. This is a highly engaging way to teach your students about story elements, dialogue, character development, etc. Create a storyboard of a book or short story recently finished in class as a review of the characters and story plot. Create storyboards as part of a World Languages class, and label images, or tell a story in the language they are learning. Work together to complete biographies of famous people. Tell the story of different famous events in history or explain their understanding of cell division using this easy program that produces entertaining results. Autistic or emotional support teachers can create storyboards demonstrating interpersonal behavior skills. Change your storyboard to Print view to view your cards in an easy to print and read format.

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edX - Anant Agarwal

Grades
8 to 12
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edX offers access to the best courses offered at top learning institutions - for FREE! Institutions include MIT, Harvard, and Berkley. Classes are available to complete for a Certificate...more
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edX offers access to the best courses offered at top learning institutions - for FREE! Institutions include MIT, Harvard, and Berkley. Classes are available to complete for a Certificate of Achievement or as an audit. Choose from courses with topics in many areas including computers, literature, and humanities. Each course listing offers a short description of the course, details about the university offering the course, estimated time involved, course staff, and available options for taking the course. Start any course at any time. Take the edX Demo course to get a good idea of how courses work and find out about the online learning experience.

tag(s): aeronautics (13), architecture (84), china (66), circuits (20), civil rights (117), computers (95), electricity (89), engineering (125), environment (317), evolution (100), folktales (65), greeks (30), magnetism (36), medicine (67), nutrition (154), poetry (228), psychology (64), religions (61), shakespeare (131), solar energy (38), speech (92), statistics (122), terrorism (49)

In the Classroom

Share with students on your interactive whiteboard and take the demo course together. This is perfect for use with gifted and advanced students as an option for college level courses and enrichment. Allow gifted students to enroll in courses that interest them or that provide enrichment beyond classroom content. Share with others, in your building, as a resource for professional development. Explore the topics yourself for some new, engaging topics to round out your own expertise. Allow students to enroll in a course that would fit into their career goals as an exploratory opportunity in that field.

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Common Sense for Common Core - Scholastic Inc

Grades
K to 12
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See these free Common Core resources and materials, sample lesson plans, and book lists to help you implement the Common Core Standards with success! English Language Arts, Math, Social...more
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See these free Common Core resources and materials, sample lesson plans, and book lists to help you implement the Common Core Standards with success! English Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science lesson plans span K-12. Detailed plans include teaching nonfiction within integrated content areas. Find detailed book lists by grade level, literature titles, or professional development areas. News and Resources include articles describing a variety of concerns teachers face in today's classroom including, using one iPad in a classroom, reaching every reader, math Common Core tips, and much more. Get answers to some frequently asked questions involving Common Core. Get back to the basics of Common Core through the explanatory sites. Expert videos highlight important aspects of using Common Core Standards. The Editor's Corner gives full units that span the range of the grades with titles such as War Stories, Poetry; Explore the Power of Words, and Life, Death, and Stories in Between. Still have a burning question? Submit your question and get an emailed response. Join the conversation with educators discussing different aspects of Common Core. A parent Common Core Area uses the Common Core Basics, News and Resources, and a list of books to use by grade level. The videos are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.
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tag(s): assessment (100), commoncore (94), questioning (31), test prep (96), writing (359)

In the Classroom

Bookmark this site on your computer! Find answers to all of your questions with resources to challenge your students. Share in your professional learning communities with a different area each meeting. Document your professional development growth for your evaluation. Need to explain Common Core to parents? Begin here!
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