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The Story Starter, Jr. - Joel Heffner

Grades
2 to 6
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If you are looking to satisfy your appetite for creative, meaningful writing prompts to suit any young writer, this is just the place to quickly find over 700 instantly generated ...more
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If you are looking to satisfy your appetite for creative, meaningful writing prompts to suit any young writer, this is just the place to quickly find over 700 instantly generated ideas. All that you have to do is click on the "click here for your story starter" button. If you don't like the one you see, keep clicking for different story starters until you find the one that suits your fancy. Then, start writing!

tag(s): creative writing (171), writing (369), writing prompts (95)

In the Classroom

Save this site in your favorites and link to it from your class webpage. For even quicker access, save this as a favorite on your Teachersfirst membership page to come back to whenever you are planning a pre or post reading/writing assignment. (If you are not already a member, join TeacherFirst for FREE.) These creative ideas are also great to file in your "emergency" lesson plan folder for a substitute teacher or when you are just looking for a spontaneous writing or journal assignment. Students may use it the traditional way by writing the story starter sentence on a piece of paper. With access to a class set of computers students could copy and paste into a word document or class wiki page and start writing their stories, poems, or journal entries. Challenge students to share their writing aloud on a podcast using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here).

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Quiz Factor - Quiz Factor Limited

Grades
4 to 12
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Quiz Factor offers quizzes that are not about your typical "education" topics. There are both popular and specialist subjects. Some topic examples are: Animals and Nature, Cinema and...more
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Quiz Factor offers quizzes that are not about your typical "education" topics. There are both popular and specialist subjects. Some topic examples are: Animals and Nature, Cinema and Actors, Fashion and Design, History and Politics, Religion and Traditions, Science, Sports and Games, Technology and Manufacturing, and many more. At Quiz Factor you can climb the Leaderboards and win prizes. There are three types of quizzes: The Ladder, Time Trials, and True/False. You can also make your own quizzes. (At the time of this review, this feature was "coming soon.") This site is from the UK, and some questions in the General Knowledge section test facts you would know if you've been to the UK.

tag(s): animals (288), cultures (110), design (83), fashion (10), quiz (88), quizzes (100), radio (27), religions (68), sports (98), substitutes (21)

In the Classroom

Set up a computer or two in your classroom for those earlier finishers to take a quiz on a topic of their choice. Do you have students who have a deep interest in a certain topic or subject? Allow them to create a quiz for Quiz Factor. Have the student save the quiz, so you can view it before submission. This would be a great activity for some gifted students! Have students create quizzes after they have completed a research project. They could present their findings to the class, then allow the class to use their notes from the presentation to complete the quiz.

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Thunks - Get Thunking - Ian Gilbert

Grades
4 to 12
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A Thunk is a beguilingly simple-looking yes/no question that stops you in your tracks to look at the world in a whole new light. Over a thousand Thunks are included ...more
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A Thunk is a beguilingly simple-looking yes/no question that stops you in your tracks to look at the world in a whole new light. Over a thousand Thunks are included on the site with simple yes or no responses. View results easily, read comments, or submit your own comment by including your name, email (will not be displayed), and comment. Thunks can be chosen by categories such as good and bad, human condition, or friendship. At the time of this review, we found no evidence of inappropriate public comments (and we looked hard!) , but you might want to preview before turning young people loose on the site.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): logic (239), problem solving (273), questioning (33)

In the Classroom

Display a Thunk on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) as a discussion/debate starter. Have students choose a response and defend their answer. Allow students to discuss their answer throughout the week and survey responses again. Have students create their own Thunks to be discussed in class. Create a bulletin board and allow students to post comments and reactions to the question posed. Use a Thunk as a journal writing prompt. Make this page available for students who are "stuck" thinking of something to write about.

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KikuText - kikutext.com

Grades
K to 12
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Kikutext is a safe and easy way to send reminders to parents via text message. The site is set up so that students do not see the teachers' phone numbers ...more
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Kikutext is a safe and easy way to send reminders to parents via text message. The site is set up so that students do not see the teachers' phone numbers nor do the teachers see the students' or parents' phone numbers. Create an account easily with basic contact information, then share the class code with parents. Parents text the code to be added and begin receiving updates and to respond to text messages. Communication through this site is safe and secure. This service is free; however, standard text messaging fees apply.

tag(s): classroom management (150), parents (59)

In the Classroom

Send out whole-class reminders to parents of upcoming tests, project due dates, school events, and more. Set up this site (and parents and students numbers) during the first week of school or at Back to School night. Use this site as an alternative to conference reminder slips (and save paper). Keep parents "in the loop" about students' behavior, achievement, and more with this tool. Imagine sending a text as you discover missing homework. Suddenly, accountability steps up a notch!

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Grovo - Video Training and Online Learning - Andy Dunn & Ben Lerer

Grades
K to 12
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Grovo offers thousands of video lessons covering Internet products you love or didn't know about. There are dozens of topics ranging from email etiquette to using popular Internet sites...more
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Grovo offers thousands of video lessons covering Internet products you love or didn't know about. There are dozens of topics ranging from email etiquette to using popular Internet sites (such as Evernote, Twitter, or Dropbox). Each lesson is divided into short subtopics and is under 2 minutes long. Included with each lesson (video) is a short quiz, key takeaways, and a glossary. Email registration (free) is required to access the tutorials and features of the site. Some of the tutorials are "premium" (paid) content.

tag(s): tutorials (48)

In the Classroom

This site is a great professional resource for teachers at all grade levels. Share tutorials on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) in upper elementary to high school when introducing websites or using them for classroom projects. Make this site available as a reference for students (and parents!). You might want to create a class account for quick access. As a practical experience in informational writing, have students use these as a model to create their own online "tours" to explain their own favorite websites or those used in class using Screenr (reviewed here).
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Zotero - Center for History and New Media at George Mason University

Grades
8 to 12
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Use this "easy-to-use" tool to help collect, organize, cite, and share research sources. Downloadable versaions run as a stand-alone or as a add-on to Firefox. Once installed, the tool...more
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Use this "easy-to-use" tool to help collect, organize, cite, and share research sources. Downloadable versaions run as a stand-alone or as a add-on to Firefox. Once installed, the tool saves information several ways: through a click at the bottom of the web browser, by a click on favorite/bookmark bar, or manually. Files already on computers can be included with files saved from the internet. Items can be grouped and sorted according to individual needs. Information saved through Zotero can be accessed on any computer that has the extension installed. The site includes a helpful quick start video guide explaining features included with the program.

tag(s): citations (36), evaluating sources (14), note taking (39), primary sources (93)

In the Classroom

Depending on school computer settings, you may need to have tech support install the program for you. Use Zotero to collect and organize classroom resources. Share with older students as a resource for gathering and citing information. Demonstrate how to use the site on your interactive whiteboard including showing the quick-start video. One of the advanced features of the site is the creation of groups. Share this with students who may be capable of using the feature to collaborate with others.

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Team Fink Book Groups: Extreme Speed Booking - Anastasis Academy

Grades
4 to 12
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Get inspired and motivated to explore different books with Extreme Speed Booking. Choose the "Books" tab to find a list of books. Take two minutes to look at the first ...more
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Get inspired and motivated to explore different books with Extreme Speed Booking. Choose the "Books" tab to find a list of books. Take two minutes to look at the first book. Click to go directly to the Amazon preview of the book, including several pages of the first chapter(s). When two minutes is up, record your impressions of the book and move on to the next one on the list. There is a "share page" option on the site to record responses; however, these go back to the site owners.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): book lists (133), independent reading (129), literature (274)

In the Classroom

Inspire reluctant or hesitant readers with this site. Have the entire class participate in one session. Ring a bell every two minutes, allow one minute for quick responses, then move on to the next book. Create your own recording document similar to the one on the site using Google Docs reviewed here. Explore the Find a Book portion of the site and create your own Extreme Speed Booking site. Tailor it to your students' needs or class content using an easy to use website creator such as Weebly reviewed here or a class wiki. Have students create their own speed booking website based on books they enjoy reading. Create a graph to record students' interests in books to post for reading choices.

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Book Report Sandwich Station - Scholastic

Grades
2 to 6
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Take the old "sandwich" style book report and put a new spin on it. Enjoy using this simple book report format. After inputting your name and the name and author ...more
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Take the old "sandwich" style book report and put a new spin on it. Enjoy using this simple book report format. After inputting your name and the name and author of the book, write different parts of the book report as parts of a "sandwich." The lettuce is the plot summary, followed by the mayonnaise (plot climax), tomato, cheese, turkey, and bread. Each layer asks for a brief input. After filling in all the parts, you can select if you would like to leave room to draw a picture on the printed report. A print preview displays the completed report before you print it out. The printed version does not include the sandwich images, just the information you entered.
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tag(s): book reports (37)

In the Classroom

After reading a book as a class, demonstrate how to fill in the "layers" of the sandwich, all the while discussing the elements of fiction with your students. Share how to use this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. After that, put your students who have read the same book in pairs to create a joint book report. Alternatively, literature circle groups can use this report for a culminating project. Since the report isn't printed out in "sandwich" format, cut colored paper into the different parts of the sandwich and mount what prints. The sandwich book report is a perfect place to start upper primary, ESL/ELL, and special education students with the elements of fiction and what is required in a book report.

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Children's Music Song of the Month - Nancy Stewart

Grades
K to 4
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Download a free song each month including the audio file, sheet music, MP3 recording, and accompanying activities from Children's Music by Nancy. Also available on the site are monthly...more
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Download a free song each month including the audio file, sheet music, MP3 recording, and accompanying activities from Children's Music by Nancy. Also available on the site are monthly archives since 2006. Many songs include links to similar songs available on the site. Search by categories such as Science, Language, Holidays or alphabetically. Simple instructions for downloading resources are included on the site along with directions for making your own CD with the songs.

tag(s): holidays (151), preK (291), songs (53)

In the Classroom

Use content area songs on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) and speakers to introduce new units. For example, when beginning a unit on the Solar System, play "In Our Solar System (Bye Bye Pluto)" to introduce students to the planets' names. Share the site with your school's music teacher as a way to extend activities between subjects. Help students learn Spanish or French by learning songs from the site together. Be sure to share this link with parents. They may want to put some of the songs on the family MP3 player to enjoy on car trips.
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Reading Bear - Watch, Know, Learn

Grades
K to 2
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Reading Bear is a systematic program that teaches beginning vocabulary and concepts while introducing phonics patterns. The Getting Started video gives an overview of the program...more
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Reading Bear is a systematic program that teaches beginning vocabulary and concepts while introducing phonics patterns. The Getting Started video gives an overview of the program as it explains the software, videos, and tips for using the system. Choose from any phonics sounds or start from the beginning of the program. Then choose from different video or slideshow tutorials (such as sound it out quickly, let me sound it out, or audio and silent sentences). As sounds are pronounced, the corresponding letter is highlighted. Quizzes are available at the end of each section. Choose from different settings to adjust font, letter color, or order of presentation. At the time of this review, 16 presentations are available. The goal of the site is to create a total of 50 presentations. So check back often.

Some of the video clips are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, then they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): alphabet (89), phonics (71), preK (291)

In the Classroom

This is an excellent resource for use on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Choose from the different options when presenting letter sounds in your classroom to present letters in different formats. Create a link on classroom computers to use as a phonics center activity. Share this site with parents through your classroom website or newsletter as a wonderful way to practice and learn letter sounds at home. Use this site with ESL/ELL students. Speech pathologists and special education teachers may want to bookmark this excellent site, too.
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Wondermind - Tate Liverpool

Grades
4 to 12
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Wondermind is a set of four mini-activities with accompanying videos, illustrating the fascinating ways our brains work. Experience the activities/illustrations to help prepare for...more
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Wondermind is a set of four mini-activities with accompanying videos, illustrating the fascinating ways our brains work. Experience the activities/illustrations to help prepare for the interactive video that explains an aspect of the brain, such as how we learn language, how the brain develops from childhood to adulthood, how memory works, how we sense our own location, and how we learn self-control. Wondermind, set to the theme of Alice in Wonderland, will delight you with the quirky, clever, or just plain weird art inspired by Alice in Wonderland and used as part of the designs. The activities can be skipped if you prefer to just view the videos.

tag(s): body systems (58), brain (72), human body (127), logic (239), psychology (66)

In the Classroom

Create a link on classroom computers for students to try the challenges and then view videos on your interactive whiteboard together. Check out the learning resources link to view a video with additional ideas for visual perception games and activities. Use as part of your Alice in Wonderland or Lewis Carroll units. If you teach psychology, anatomy, or health, this exploration will offer a new angle into how the brain works. Use the game and video about memory during a unit on study skills and discovering how students learn best. Teachers of gifted may also want to explore this site as part of a unit on the gifted mind. Learning support teachers may also want to use portions to help students better understand why their minds operate differently -- not "badly." Bright Asperger's students might be fascinated by the portion on the prefrontal cortex and how we learn self-control.
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Paradise Tossed - John Robert Ladd (Founder & Editor) and the Crew

Grades
8 to 12
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Paradise Tossed provides a starting point to break from the traditional methods of reading and writing poetry to experience the richness that technology can offer to this genre. This...more
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Paradise Tossed provides a starting point to break from the traditional methods of reading and writing poetry to experience the richness that technology can offer to this genre. This poetry and technology blog is mainly to use as a professional resource for discovering ways to merge the reading and writing of poetry with all the advantages that technology offers. There are screenshots, video clips, blog entries, and much more. Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to be a reader or writer of poetry without involving, embracing, and interacting with technology. Visit this site to find some of the best poetry resources from across the web, and tools to use with them. Although this site is not frequently updated, there is some wonderful information and resources to explore. This site was moved from its original location and left at this url in "archive" format so people could continue to use it. If it "disappears," please leave a comment notifying TeachersFirst of the "loss." That would be another (teacher) paradise "lost" !

tag(s): blogs (90), poetry (224)

In the Classroom

This site is a place that opens doors to thought provoking ideas for high school English students. Please be cautious and check with your school's policy about sharing blogs. You might want to bookmark the site for yourself, hide your pen and paper, and try some of the online tricks to look at the same old poems, or create new ones, in a whole new light. Then, show off your skills on an interactive white board. Next, it's the students turn to try it on individual computers. Have students create blogs using Throwww (reviewed here). This site allows you to create "quick and easy" blogs to be used one time only. There is no registration necessary! Paradise Tossed provides teachers with a starting point to break from the traditional methods of reading and writing poetry to experience the richness that technology can offer to this genre. Be Aware: some of the videos are hosted on YouTube. If your school blocks YouTube, then they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube.
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The Dream Flag Project - Jeff Harlan and Sandy Crow

Grades
K to 12
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The Dream Flag Project is a poetry-humanity project that fits into any unit on writing, poetry, character development, history, art, social issues, or community service. Reading, writing,...more
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The Dream Flag Project is a poetry-humanity project that fits into any unit on writing, poetry, character development, history, art, social issues, or community service. Reading, writing, critical thinking, and artistic expression activities are available for a wide range of abilities and grades. Start with Langston Hughes, "The Dream Keeper" and his collection of poetry. Explore an introduction to the Harlem Renaissance and black history or focus on goal-setting to make the dream come true. This collaborative project is created by teachers for teachers with a step-by-step approach. The resources include ideas, lesson plans, printable handouts, opportunities to collaborate, and examples.

tag(s): black history (61), poetry (224), service projects (27)

In the Classroom

Transform your classroom into a community of poets and dreamers and even choose to participate in a global project by writing and sharing poems with students around the world. Share this site during Poetry Month. You'll love seeing the pride in students as they engage in reading, writing, creating, and sharing poetry that reflects their hopes and dreams for today and the future. Introduce the extensive photos, videos, and other resources on a projector or an interactive whiteboard. There are "quick links" to an abundance of resources. The outcomes can range from poetry reading and writing to integrating music, theater, videotaping, or social networking (be sure to check with your school's policies). Have students make a multimedia presentation using one of the many TeachersFirst Edge tools reviewed here. This can be done in a sixty minute lesson or expanded to a year long theme. It's your choice!
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ICT Games - Literacy - James Barrett

Grades
K to 5
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Check out these free interactive literacy games for the emergent learner. Practicing basic skills is an entertaining experience at ICT Games. The skills include: spelling patterns,...more
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Check out these free interactive literacy games for the emergent learner. Practicing basic skills is an entertaining experience at ICT Games. The skills include: spelling patterns, phoneme patterns, blending sounds, high frequency words, beginning science vocabulary, using rhyming to read new and unfamiliar words, and reading for understanding. It also has interactive dictionaries for the beginner through upper elementary learner. There is no registration required. Note that the site is from England, so there are minor spelling and terminology differences from U.S. English in a few games. Preview the specific game to be sure.
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tag(s): dictionaries (57), literacy (106), preK (291), reading comprehension (119), rhymes (32), spelling (168)

In the Classroom

Use your projector and interactive whiteboard to introduce the site. You might start with "The Wordy Woods," an interactive resource for displaying useful words. Start by checking the lists, and have students identify words they've already learned in class. Populate the "woods" with those first. Save this! Then, as students learn new words have them fill in the forest.

ESL/ELL students with emergent literacy skills will benefit from this site by practicing spelling and reading skills. Make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers and use it as a center. Use a program like Symbaloo, reviewed here, to create link shortcuts on your student computers. Include a link to the ITC Games on your classroom website or blog for students to practice at home. This is a great site for students to use for additional practice on a skill that is difficult.
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AskKids.com - Ask.com

Grades
2 to 8
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AskKids is more than a search engine for elementary/middle school students. Here you will see reviews for movies and games. You can ask questions and search for information by typing...more
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AskKids is more than a search engine for elementary/middle school students. Here you will see reviews for movies and games. You can ask questions and search for information by typing in keywords. AskKids organizes search results in related images, current events, and encyclopedia results. The Ask.com editorial team selected each website as child appropriate or as a relevant and practical site for reference and learning.

tag(s): search engines (64)

In the Classroom

Introduce AskKids on your interactive whiteboard or projector, showing the different options available. Then have students explore this site independently or in small groups. They can learn how to use a search engine, and how to ask questions to get the best results, by looking at this site with guidance from an adult. Post a link to AskKids.com on your webpage for easy access for students and parents. Make AskKids the home page on classroom computers for easy access.

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Skloog - Skloog, LLC

Grades
K to 12
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Use this visual bookmarking program to help you keep your online favorites/bookmarks organized. Choose to make shortcuts (tiles with the logo of the site you are bookmarking) for places...more
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Use this visual bookmarking program to help you keep your online favorites/bookmarks organized. Choose to make shortcuts (tiles with the logo of the site you are bookmarking) for places you visit repeatedly. The tiles make it visual and so easy to use! Can't find the logo? Submit a site by clicking on a button at the bottom of the home page. Access and add to your Skloog bookmarks from anywhere using any computer, your mobile phone, or email. Make Skloog one of the tools on your browser's tool bar in order to add to your favorites quickly and easily. Add or change the preset category tabs that show at the top. Search your favorites by tags, URL, or website name. An added feature is the Skloog tab in the upper right corner of the menu on your short cut page. Click to find some of Skloog's favorite sites.

tag(s): bookmarks (64), resources (112)

In the Classroom

This resource is best used as a teacher sharing tool for sharing links, RSS feeds, and other resources for students to use on specific projects or as general course links. Use this site to share with other professionals, team members, or parents. Use the categories to save bookmarks for different units you have in your classroom. Make your Skloog page the homepage for your computer, too.

Consider having a category for student use for webquests, tools you want them to use, and creative commons images, music, etc. Also, create a category where students update with suggestions from class members. Use different colored alphabet tiles on a Skloog for younger, non-reader students. For example, give each subject its own distinctive color. They will also recognize logos well before they read!

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What's Your News? - Warner Brothers Entertainment

Grades
K to 3
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This "news show" aimed at 4-7 year olds introduces you to the wider world from a newsroom staffed by ants. News includes information such as the arrival of a new ...more
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This "news show" aimed at 4-7 year olds introduces you to the wider world from a newsroom staffed by ants. News includes information such as the arrival of a new sibling, friends coming for a sleepover, or purchase of a new game. Play games that teach how news is reported, watch videos from What's Your News on Nick, Jr. or print activities to make your own newspaper.

tag(s): journalism (55), news (265), newspapers (97), preK (291)

In the Classroom

This site would be great to include with a community or neighbors unit - share classroom news by posting to the site. Choose weekly classroom reporters to interview students or teachers and come up with weekly headline. Video your reporters and share them on a site such as TeacherTube reviewed here.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Night Zookeeper - Joshua Davidson

Grades
K to 5
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Enter a fantastical online world in which you create your own magical animals. Read and create stories, play games, create fascinating (and funny) facts about your new animal, and more...more
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Enter a fantastical online world in which you create your own magical animals. Read and create stories, play games, create fascinating (and funny) facts about your new animal, and more while learning about animals. Explore creative writing and art activities. Read the story of the night zookeeper or listen by choosing the audio play button. Your completed animals can be uploaded to include with the story and suggestions are offered for describing the animals such as where does the animal live, and tell about what makes it special. You can also download a sample unit that includes literacy and art lesson plans. Simple registration of a username and password is required to access activities.

tag(s): creative writing (171), creativity (119), digital storytelling (153)

In the Classroom

Share this site on classroom computers for students to read and listen to the Night Zookeeper story then encourage students to create their own animal to be added to the zoo. Use the included graphic organizer to help students design their animal. Create a link to the site on classroom computers and allow students to explore and discover site activities. Use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here) to create a visual comparison of animals included in the zoo or imaginary animals vs. real animals.

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How To Make Digital Flashcards With Google Docs Spreadsheets - MakeUseOf

Grades
4 to 12
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Want to make flashcards using tools you already know? Follow these step by step directions for making flashcards from a Google Spreadsheet. Directions also include screenshots, making...more
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Want to make flashcards using tools you already know? Follow these step by step directions for making flashcards from a Google Spreadsheet. Directions also include screenshots, making the process much easier. You need a Google Doc account and some familiarity with using spreadsheets. This site does include comments. At the time of this review, all comments were appropriate for classroom use.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): flash cards (47)

In the Classroom

Create flashcards to share with your students. Students can run them from a computer or download an app that can read the two column format of a spreadsheet to view on the go. All information for using the flashcards is explained in this resource. Use for any subject matter for any age. Challenge students to create their own flashcards to use to study for the big test! This tool can be used in ALL subject areas.

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Mugeda - mugeda.com

Grades
4 to 12
4 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Try this high interest animation tool without expensive programs, downloads, or installations. Mugeda is a free, cloud-based HTML5 animation platform, where you can create, share, and...more
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Try this high interest animation tool without expensive programs, downloads, or installations. Mugeda is a free, cloud-based HTML5 animation platform, where you can create, share, and publish HTML5 animation. Basic tutorials guide you to create content with easy to follow instructions. Animation applications include; games, ads, cartoons, tutorials, or persuasive commercials. Use tablets, PCs, smartphones, or tablets. Note that HTML5 works on iPads and iTouches, where most Flash-based sites do not.

tag(s): animation (65), comics and cartoons (69), DAT device agnostic tool (170)

In the Classroom

Bring along Mugeda in your bag of tricks to capture and intrigue all of your students. Use Mugeda to illustrate class content, support debate, persuade, and entertain. The possibilities are endless! Add the creations to your website to share with your community. Use on school news programs to add student content without cost, and make information available for all levels of student abilities. Create commercials for your content or to convey information. In history classes go back in time to envision popular opinion that made history happen. Use during campaigns to promote your side of the debate. Science fairs will never be the same. Highlight projects to create anticipation. Send messages to students using the embedded tool. This programming tool has applications in all subject areas. Gifted students, ELL/ESL students, and remedial students will be captivated by this high interest way of expressing themselves.

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