GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomDownload and install the Skype software. If you are not allowed to install software on school computers, ask to have a single laptop available that is Skype-capable so you can borrow it or else explain to your principal that you are planning a series of Skype visits in your classroom so your techies will install it in your classroom. You will need a computer with built-in or separate microphone and speakers and optional webcam. If you plan to use a webcam, you must know how to start it. A single teacher-controlled Skype account will work in most school settings.
If you prefer written directions go to Help >> Step by Step Help to get started. Or ask a student to show you (without seeing your password). You will need to explore the tools in Skype to locate where to enter the SKYPE name of the person you wish to call, start the call, and answer calls. Do NOT set your copy of Skype to "remember me" on a school computer! If students are to participate in the Skype call, you may want to have a "hot seat" at the Skyping computer so they can sit at a mike so their questions will pick up better for the person at the other end.
Be sure to set Skype so it does not open every time you start up the computer. Manually start the program when needed and do not leave an obvious Skype icon on the desktop for "clever" students to find. Protect your password -- do not post it on the computer. A teacher-controlled account is best for Skype classroom use to prevent unauthorized calls by students. Your user name will show on the screen for students to see, so be aware of that when you create your account.
Anything you can do by telephone or video call you can do on a projector with your entire class. Connect the Skyping computer to a projector or whiteboard for the entire class to see if you are using video. (The video will be fuzzy, but good enough to follow a person's face.) Use Skype to talk to authors (check out their web sites or this blog for contact information). Have students write questions in advance. Use your contacts, web page "contact us" emails, and parent contacts to find others willing to Skype into your classroom. Interview scientists or government officials, deployed military personnel, or classes far away in a different culture or language. Younger students can compare weather, family life, community events, and more. Learn other ideas for using Skype in your classroom
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomThe sky is the limit for potential and possibilities with this website. There are some minor warnings. If you want to allow your students to post to a blog, you will need to create a class and then have them enroll. The great news is that is free. As the teacher, you can moderate or delete posts before they are public. There are lessons available on the site as well as a "Teacher's Lounge" where lesson ideas can be exchanged. In a language arts classroom, students could be assigned to read and blog as a weekly writing assignment. The teacher can assign a specific article or have students choose. Have students read their articles on a podcast using podOmatic, reviewed here. In science, articles from this site could be used to supplement science textbook reading with current articles that better interest students. Articles are short and provide quick practice pieces for non-fiction reading comprehension. Project a story and ask students to write their own sentence for the main idea or to summarize. These quick pieces would fit well on your interactive whiteboard. SmithsonianTweenTribune Espanol allows students to read daily news articles in Spanish and post comments about the stories they read. Teachers moderate all comments before the comments are posted.
Grades4 to 12
tag(s): critical thinking (110)
In the ClassroomFollow the guide to lesson plans for great activities on "Deductive and Inductive Reasoning," "The Language of Deception," and "Background Beliefs" among many others. Attachments for each activity include student and teacher handouts. Use these lessons for 21st century literacy skills as well as for traditional reading comprehension activities made relevant to today's "reading" media.
GradesK to 3
tag(s): literacy (107)
In the ClassroomIf parent involvement with homework is weak, you may want to do the activities in your classroom instead, by showing the activities daily on your whiteboard. Make a list of students who accomplished the reading tasks. Be sure to list this link on your class webpage during your school's designated Reading Month. In fact, make sure the link is on your school's homepage as well. With older students, challenge cooperative learning groups to come up with 2-3 additional classroom or home activities to do during Reading Month, or any time of the year. List the activity suggestions on your class website, blog, or wiki.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): literature (276)
In the ClassroomPlan a series of author visits or one special virtual visit to motivate your club or class to read! Have students prepare questions in advance and maybe even dress as a favorite character if you plan to use video. Make the best of your short visit by refining questions in advance and having everything ready to run with no wasted time. Have students step up to the microphone quietly and smoothly to ask their questions.
Since authors book up easily and may not respond quickly to email, you should plan well in advance to arrange such a visit.
Some technical tips: Share the Skype screen on a projector or whiteboard so more students can see it. Be sure to turn up your speakers and connect a microphone (even a cheap one) to the computer handling the Skype call. Pretest your visit by having a virtual visit from a friend outside of the school, loading Skype and using the same equipment you plan to use for the real visit. You may need to request that the school unblock Skype for your use during a specific time frame, since many schools do not allow such a "pull" on the network without special permission. Once you have a successful test, make a diagram of what you did so you will remember and can share with other teachers. Once you master the set-up, you can do it over and over! Need to learn more about Skype? Read TeachersFirst's review here. Learn other ideas for using Skype in your classroom
Grades1 to 12
In the ClassroomIf using a phone, understanding calling plans and additional charges is needed. You must know how to use embed codes to place audio files within your blog, wiki, or website. No login is required! Simply click the "Get Yours It's Free" button. Choose the method to create the audio and preview and edit the file. Enter your email address to receive a link to your file. Click on the link to grab widgets. Copy the code and place in your blog or website.
The tool does not show which work is attributable to which student. You may want to require that students mark their contributions in order to get credit. Consider using a class email account set up for this purpose. Be sure students understand the appropriate use of this email account.
Classroom use: Use this service to record audio of passages used in class, homework assignments, and other written material. Young students can practice reading aloud at this site (and listen to themselves), showing improvement in fluency as the year goes on. Have students use this site in place of a traditional book report. Have cooperative learning groups create a news broadcast and share it using this site. Use this site with ESL/ELL students just learning the English language. Use this site in world language classes for students to hear and learn the pronunciations. Place the embed code in a site that students can access outside of class for review, identifying directions, and listening to text. Speech and language teachers can use this tool to record student articulation and demonstrate progress through the year.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomAs an example, use a verb from Bloom' taxonomy such as "evaluate." Click on the part of the sentence at the top, in parenthesis, to enter your content such as "patterns of environmental issues." Choose the resource you want students to use, the product you want them to make, and the number of students in a group by clicking on the tabs. Example objective: Students will evaluate the patterns of environmental issues using websites to create a news report in groups of two. Save your objective by copying and pasting it into any document or online tool. The Differentiator will give you many project ideas that you may not have thought of yourself, and serves as a welcome reminder of different activities and expectations you can use in your classroom. Take a look at this site at the beginning of the school year or when creating a new unit (or project). Find new ways to differentiate for your gifted students using this creative and powerful tool. If your gifted students test out of your current math lessons, use this site to find new material to challenge their minds. This site is deceptively quick and simple, but it could be very useful when writing detailed, powerful lesson plans.
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomUse Science News for Kids as a great reading and reporting assignment. Weaker readers will need a reading buddy for some of the more challenging article. Classes in lower grades will want to read the articles together. A quick check on one article using Juicy Studio's Readability test, reviewed here, provided an approximate grade level of 6.5. Check articles before assigning to elementary students. Students can find an article of interest to read, summarize, and report to the class as part of a Science in My World unit or regular science current events activity. Have students create commercials about their topics. Video and share using a site such as SchoolTube, reviewed here. Students can use these news articles to find additional relevant information on the internet. Students may find these topics to be great independent study topics. Teach reading comprehension using these factual articles on your interactive whiteboard, asking students to highlight key words and generate a "main idea" sentence using them. Articles offer ideal practice for informational reading questions on high-stakes reading tests.
Grades2 to 12
tag(s): authors (121)
In the ClassroomIf you are looking for favorite classic stories to use in your classroom, try this site. Project the text on your interactive whiteboard as examples for grammar exercises, such as highlighting adjectives or punctuating dialog. Practice "main idea" on your whiteboard using passages from a classic. Have students choose a book using this list. Instead of traditional book reports, have students create multimedia presentations. Have cooperative learning groups create podcasts using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here). Another idea: have students create online posters using a tool such as Padlet (reviewed here).
Include this site on your website, wiki, blog, or newsletter that promotes summer reading. ESL and ELL students will appreciate having a ready source for extra reading.
Grades1 to 12
One disadvantage of the site is that you can only enter a keyword when you get to the third step. After a book list based on interests appears, then you can search by keyword to make the search zero in on specifics. When teachers or students select books for a reading list, they can then click to see the complete list of books they have selected. Clicking on a book title leads to another screen, but it does not contain a book summary; instead, it has a list of other keywords for the book along with other book data.
In the ClassroomThis site is great for teachers searching for books at specific lexile levels. Learning support and ESL/ELL teachers can find books to accompany units in content area classes but on the correct lexile level. Students can also use the site by entering their grade levels and what kind of readers they are. Use this site to differentiate the learning experience for all levels of students. Rather than having students complete traditional book reports, why not have them complete a multimedia project? Provide some choices such as a podcast, using PodoMatic (reviewed here), interactive venn diagram comparing characters (reviewed here), or online book using Bookemon (reviewed here).
GradesK to 6
In the ClassroomShare this site on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Assign your students some of these stories to read to use as models for their own creative writing. Try the online spelling bee and ask your students to compare that to the live version! Have students read their own creative stories on a podcast. Use a tool such as PodOmatic, reviewed here, or upload illustrations and read the story on ThingLink, reviewed here.
Grades4 to 10
To read/listen to the articles, you must put in an email address. Tip: rather than using your personal or work email, create a free Gmail account to use for memberships. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service.
tag(s): news (262)
In the ClassroomHave students make a vocabulary list of new words they see/hear from the stories each week. Include a story from NFY every week to present a slightly different take on the television news or paper news headlines. Have your students create their own "headline" news and video the projects! Share the videos using a tool such as TeacherTube reviewed here.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomIf you have students with limited vision or certain specific qualifying learning disabilities in your class, be sure to save this useful resource in your favorites. List this link on your class website or wiki or email it to parents of these children. If possible, share this site with those teachers working with students with limited vision and qualifying disabilities.
Grades2 to 12
tag(s): authors (121)
In the ClassroomIf you are looking for favorite classic stories to use in your classroom, try here. Make a list of those you would like for students to read online with the URLs here. Include this site on your flyer that goes home promoting summer reading. Or list the link on your class website or wiki. ESL/ELL students will appreciate having a ready source for extra reading. Rather than the "same old" book reports, have students create multimedia presentations! How about comparing two pivotal literature characters using on interactive Venn Diagram (reviewed here).
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomStudents can create custom logos for class blogs or site. Logos can also be created for use with multimedia projects and presentations. Have groups design logos for their project or for your class, then use them throughout the year to promote pride of ownership in class projects and accomplishments. During the first week of school, have students design "personal" logos that tell about themselves and include them on your class web page. Demonstrate this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have students try out the site on their own.
GradesK to 8
In the ClassroomMake a sample of each book and display them on a bulletin board. When making books throughout the year, the suggestions are readily available for your students to see. Put a sample of each in your writing center. Have an adult volunteer make a cache of blank foldable books at the beginning of the year so they are immediately available when your students finally "publish" their writing projects.
Grades1 to 12
tag(s): poetry (225)
In the ClassroomDemonstrate this site having volunteers share their poetry on your interactive whiteboard or projector. For advanced poets studying meter, discussing the multiple syllable options makes the task easier. You can also use this site as you teach common letter combinations and sounds with beginning readers. Enter a simple word such as "fish" or "bat" and Alt-click or Option-click for dozens of rhyming words to read aloud with a small group at your interactive whiteboard.
GradesK to 12
The teacher's link offers classroom activities (many interactive) that tie in with the lesson plans. There is also a link to receive FREE kits and handbooks! The "Parents" link offers activities and ideas for ages 2-17! There are online activities, recommended books, "talking points" for parents, and more. The "For Teens" link includes a wealth of resources: video clips, lessons, 10 steps to take action, downloadable posters, essays, and true stories. The Kid's link offers "read," "Explore," and "Play" options for elementary (and younger middle school) students. A "sign up" box appears when you first enter the site, click on the X to remove the box.
In the ClassroomOf course, the obvious uses for this site include preparing for Black History Month or Women's History Month, consult this site for more than that! Don't just visit the Teacher's link, but check out the kids and teens links for videos and interactive that you can share on your projector or interactive whiteboard. If you are unsure of how to approach a touchy subject with your students--either a subject from the news like the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rules, or something that is happening in your school or community, this site can provide resources for you and your students. Subscribe to Tolerance.org's emailed newsletter, or order one of the curriculum kits; the newest one is Viva la Causa about Cesar Chavez and the struggle for justice for farmworkers in the 1960s. This is a great addition to your school's anti-bully program! Take advantage of the free lesson plans, class activities, interactive, and book recommendations. This is definitely one to list on your class website!
This houses a WEALTH of resources! Thank you, Teaching TOLERANCE.Patricia, NJ, Grades: 6 - 12
Grades2 to 12
This site includes advertising.
In the ClassroomCreate a new group by finding an already listed school or adding your own. Create flashcards easily by entering the question, answer, explanations, and mnemonics in the appropriate tabs. Students can create a profile and join or create a group.
Consider creating a class account that has a global login and password that all students can access. Students would need to be cautioned against deleting or changing flashcards created by other students. Students would not be able to join groups using this option. All projects are public. Check your school policy for posting student work online.
Create flashcards for students to study or have students create them as an assignment. Create the original questions of the flashcards and assign students to determine the answers, find links for additional information, and add hints and mnemonics to complete the deck. Have groups of students use the flashcards for study time and for critique of the flashcard deck creator(s.) No matter the topic or subject, this flashcard site has great uses for student learning. Use flash cards for terminology, test review, or reinforcement. Have students create and critique sets as the actual assessment, replacing traditional tests and quizzes.
Includes Interaction w general public/ public galleries with unmoderated content
Includes social features, such as "friends," comments, ratings by others
Requires registration/log-in (WITH email)
Products can be shared by URL
Multiple users can collaborate on the same project
GradesK to 6
The "Teachers Section" includes a treasure of information (see the tabs on the LEFT side). Some of the information on other sections of the Teacher Page involves an online course. But there is enough FREE stuff on the left side to make this site phenomenal: podcasts, videos, and many lesson topics. Find lesson plans, videos, teaching tips, research, and more about Prior Knowledge, Making Connections, Questioning, Visualizing, Inferring, Summarizing, Evaluating, Synthesizing, and Using Other Strategies. The Student portion offers interactive, technology-based activities for each of the comprehension concepts. Check out the student-created Visualizing activities, including drawing pictures and adding music using the online tools. This site requires both Flash and Adobe Acrobat. You can get both from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.