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Big Huge Thesaurus - Big Huge Labs

Grades
1 to 12
6 Favorites 0  Comments
This simple-looking online thesaurus is actually MUCH more than a quick-look-up. You can find synonyms, antonyms, similar words, and rhymes for any word you enter. A click on any of...more
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This simple-looking online thesaurus is actually MUCH more than a quick-look-up. You can find synonyms, antonyms, similar words, and rhymes for any word you enter. A click on any of the words offered provides the same information for THAT word, sending you on word-paths through the English language. Innocent-looking links at the top of the page also provide hundreds of prompts for blog posts and stories, with enough choices to inspire any writer. Don't let the boring white background and plain-text presentation fool you. This tool has magic powers to make words interesting to almost anyone. The database of words used to generate this thesaurus comes from "the Princeton University WordNet database, the Carnegie Mellon Pronouncing Dictionary, and suggestions from thousands of people on the internet just like you." See a special note to teachers below regarding student behavior!

tag(s): rhymes (32), thesaurus (24), vocabulary (323), word study (78), writing (366), writing prompts (93)

In the Classroom

Keep this link handy among the resources on your class web page or wiki, and be sure to bring it up on your screen or interactive whiteboard to remind students of the rich tools it offers as you teach grammar, revision, poetry, essay-writing, or even letter and resume writing. With primary grades, share the rhyming words to help teach spelling and phonics! As students share in revising a passage or writing a poem on the interactive whiteboard, have this thesaurus available on another window to model their search for just the right word. Encourage students to look up any new vocabulary or terminology at the start of new science or social studies units so they can gain a broader "sense" of the words themselves through a constellation of synonyms and related words. Help students refine vocabulary by having them rank the various synonyms offered for a certain word, deciding which has the most positive or negative connotations. Offer the writing prompts for student journal or blog posts or creative stories. ESL/ELL students can explore new words with this tool, even practicing the rhyming sounds and noticing their varied spellings. Check out the Big Huge Labs educator account. Easily pre-register students to avoid creating logins, view and download their creations, and view the site advertisement free. You will find information about the Educator Account here.

NOTE: If students enter an inappropriate word, they WILL find classroom-inappropriate terms. As with use of any reference, your students need to know your classroom's consequences of such activity. The options are no different from students looking up body parts or pornographic terms in a print dictionary or on Google.

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Magazine Cover Maker - Big Huge Labs

Grades
3 to 12
16 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Create authentic-looking magazine covers sure to attract double-takes. Simply upload a photo to create your cover. If you do not need to SAVE the photo for online access later, you...more
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Create authentic-looking magazine covers sure to attract double-takes. Simply upload a photo to create your cover. If you do not need to SAVE the photo for online access later, you do not even need to join the site. Covers you create can be downloaded as completed images or sent via email and other sharing tools (Facebook, etc). Photos can be uploaded from your files, Flickr, your website, or other photosharing sites. Fill in your desired text for the titles and sub-titles and choose colors for them. It's that simple. Click 'Create' at the bottom and you have a magazine cover that will leave others in awe. For more creative ideas using Big Huge Labs, go to the top of the page and click on Big Huge Labs Blog or Forum. Big Huge Labs offers MANY similar tools, such as Mapmaker, reviewed here. Of course, this site offers advanced options for a fee or with free registration, but neither is necessary.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): bulletin boards (18), collages (18), firstday (25), flickr (7), images (273)

In the Classroom

You need to know how to locate your photos on your computer or photo sharing site. Click the little white boxes to change text colors, etc. as you enter desired text. SAVE your completed cover when done. Be sure to give it a meaningful name if you are creating several covers on the same computer!

Check out the Big Huge Labs educator account. Easily pre-register students to avoid creating logins, view and download their creations, and view the site advertisement free. You will find information about the Educator Account here. If you and your students simply use the tool without joining the site, there are no problems with email, profiles, etc. You do need to demonstrate the tool and specifically explain which links students should NOT use, including ads and links to social networking sites that are prohibited in your school. These may be blocked, anyway. Make sure you watch and teach copyright issues in snatching photos from the web.

Have students create magazine covers of themselves as a getting to know you activity and classroom bulletin board. Print and laminate magazine covers to make them appear even more authentic. Or share the images (WITHOUT student names) on your class wiki or web page. When doing reports for any subject, have students create magazine covers that mimic the real thing instead of boring plain covers. Make covers about famous Americans, scientists, or historic figures. Make covers about objects, as well. Assign students to research a vegetable and create a cover about its nutrients, recipes, and more as part of your nutrition unit! Guidance teachers or principals can feature exemplary students using this tool. Bulletin board creativity will skyrocket using Big Huge Labs Magazine Cover. Why not offer a rotating PowerPoint slide show of student-made magazine covers for parents to view as they wait in the hallway for conferences?

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Visual Blooms - Mike FIsher

Grades
K to 12
13 Favorites 1  Comments
This wiki is all about applying Blooms Taxonomy to learning tasks using web 2.0 tools. If you know you would like to challenge students to APPLY new knowledge, for example ...more
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This wiki is all about applying Blooms Taxonomy to learning tasks using web 2.0 tools. If you know you would like to challenge students to APPLY new knowledge, for example map skills, look at the Applying page for ideas and tools to use. Participate in this wiki project by making comments and suggestions in the Discussion tab. The offerings for each level are far from exhaustive, but that is exactly the point of this teacher-to-teacher wiki: to involve you and your professional judgment, too. Follow the sidebar link to Blooms Rubrics (a separate but related wiki) to find examples (links) of rubrics teachers are using to assess different visual Blooms projects. As you launch into more and more student-centered learning projects and want to be sure you are getting your "bang for your web-buck" in terms of learning and thinking, this resource can get your thinking juices flowing.

tag(s): blooms taxonomy (9), rubrics (32)

In the Classroom

Mark this one in your Favorites, and make it a goal to try one of the tools at each level of this visual Blooms taxonomy during this school year. Take advantage of work and experience done by teaching colleagues by viewing rubrics, tool suggestions, and more on this site. Before you try a tool, you can learn more about it by reading a review on TeachersFirst. Search the tool name on our keyword search or browse through our Edge reviews for detailed suggestions about implementing the tool in your classroom safely and within school policies.

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david, TX, Grades: 9 - 12

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Spin and spell - Spin and spell.com

Grades
K to 6
2 Favorites 0  Comments
 
This site offers spelling practice through an engaging interactive! Choose a category (In and Around Home, What We Wear, What We Eat, How We Get There, or The Animal Kingdom) ...more
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This site offers spelling practice through an engaging interactive! Choose a category (In and Around Home, What We Wear, What We Eat, How We Get There, or The Animal Kingdom) and then click on a picture. Choose the first letter of the word and watch the wheel spin. Click "submit" when done spelling for a spelling check. Choose "Pick a word for me" to receive random words to spell.

tag(s): spelling (168)

In the Classroom

Use this activity with an interactive whiteboard or projector for class spelling. Students can work on spelling as individuals, groups, or whole class activities. Use specific pictures to practice spelling and learn spelling rules that can be applied to other words. Use this site as a language arts learning center to practice spelling. Speech and language teachers and ESL/ELL teachers can use the categories of common vocabulary to teach both words and spelling. Share this link on your class website for students to practice spelling at home.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Automotivator - Zach Beane

Grades
K to 12
5 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Create your own motivational poster easily and effortlessly. Choose a random picture, one from the Internet, or one chosen from your computer. Choose colors to border the picture and...more
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Create your own motivational poster easily and effortlessly. Choose a random picture, one from the Internet, or one chosen from your computer. Choose colors to border the picture and the type of text to be used. Enter your text and preview the result. Once complete, save to Flickr, your computer, or print using a separate site. Remember you can use a saved image in PowerPoint shows and on a class wiki, as well.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): firstday (25), images (273), photography (158), posters (39)

In the Classroom

You need to know how to browse and upload a file from your computer or find the URL of an image already on the web (one you can legally use, of course!).

Make sure students are aware of copyright laws. Use this site to encourage proper use of photographs that students have the authorization to use. Model including appropriate photo credits on the posters.

Younger students can use this tool together as a whole-class activity or simply enjoy the posters their teacher creates. Have students create a picture about what has been studied with a caption of what has been learned. For example, create posters about predators and prey or classifications of animals. Students can create a poster of a study skill or learning activity that helps them learn. Create a caption that explains how the student learns the best. Every subject area can use this resource to create interesting presentation posters for display or as springboards to talk about what was learned. For example, in Biology, students could create a poster about a cell part with a clever caption about the importance of the job. In Literature or History, students can create posters about the perspectives of others in the story or at that time of history. Rather than a traditional research project. Have cooperative learning groups use this site to show their knowledge in any subject area. Ask students to apply concepts such as constitutional rights by illustrating them in poster images with captions. Teachers can create bulletin board images, as well. Have a classroom motivation poster competition to start off the school year! Share the winners on your class wiki or in a PowerPoint presentation at back to school night/open house. As special occasions approach, have students bring in or take a digital picture they can make into a poster as a family gift with their own inspirational saying.

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Watch Know Learn - Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi

Grades
K to 12
10 Favorites 0  Comments
   
What is Watch Know? Short for "You Watch, You Know," it provides explanations for students. Finding bits of information to help students can be frustrating as resources are disorganized...more
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What is Watch Know? Short for "You Watch, You Know," it provides explanations for students. Finding bits of information to help students can be frustrating as resources are disorganized on the web and may be hard to find." Watch Know" is a free site that organizes small video clips to help with the understanding of a variety of topics in subject areas. Search by age (3-18+). You can click and drag the age filter to the youngest and oldest ages to include. Videos are also organized by sequence of topics taught. The site is an ongoing project with input from educators and organizations interested in education of children. Registration is not required to view the videos. Creating and saving videos to the site, as well as commenting, require registration. You can monitor site recent changes and additions using the "Change Log."

tag(s): computers (100), crafts (43), decimals (124), environment (322), ethics (17), fractions (226), holidays (151), scientific method (66), vocabulary development (128), writing (366)

In the Classroom

Search for videos relevant to your upcoming units or share the link with older students to search on their own. Use clips as engaging openings to units or as a review at the end. Have students identify the main points in the video and relate it back to class information. Students can use the examples on the site to create their own videos about a topic they have studied that could be beneficial to others.

If you do join the site to submit videos (for more adventurous technology users), we recommend uploading, commenting, and participating in the project (the creation and growth of WatchKnow) as a whole-class collaborative activity. If your students create videos, critique them locally before submitting them to the site as the "bests" from your class.

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Reading is Fundamental - Parent Resources - Reading is Fundamental (RIF)

Grades
K to 8
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The celebrated RIF program offers this site for parents to support their children's literacy. You will find resources from infancy to the teenage years and some for the entire family....more
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The celebrated RIF program offers this site for parents to support their children's literacy. You will find resources from infancy to the teenage years and some for the entire family. While there is more available for younger children (through elementary school), the Whole Family area and some of the activities are enjoyable for teens, as well. Click to find practical tips to support your growing readers, monthly features, interactive books, activities for family heritage, authors, polls, a personal bookshelf to collect book recommendations, and more. You can even search for activities by age and activity type.

tag(s): authors (121), literacy (107)

In the Classroom

Provide this link to parents in support of your in-school reading program. Struggling students can use RIF's Reading Planet (reviewed here) or Leading to Reading (reviewed here) activities both at home and at school to provide the repetition and review they need for skill mastery. Be sure to share this link before school breaks so parents can support literacy at home to prevent "summer slide."
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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RIF Kids: Reading Planet - Reading is Fundamental (RIF)

Grades
K to 5
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RIF, the long-established organization for promoting reading, offers this site for school-aged readers and their parents. Young readers may join (or not) and access activities to do...more
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RIF, the long-established organization for promoting reading, offers this site for school-aged readers and their parents. Young readers may join (or not) and access activities to do alone or with family (Activity Lab), book ideas (Book Zone), writing starters and contests (Express Yourself), and educational games (Game Station). Many of the activities are ready to go in a classroom or at home. Several of the activities are available in both English and Spanish. New writing activities appear monthly, including story starters for members to complete. Feature authors and new additions make this site worth a look every month.

tag(s): authors (121), puzzles (203)

In the Classroom

Many of the games would be terrific as literacy centers or on an interactive whiteboard or projector to reinforce basics. Make this link available on your class web page for parents, students, and younger siblings to access from home. Parent notifications on games and contests with prizes and required parental consent for students to join make this a very safe site. Teachers may want to offer some of the writing contests as regular classroom activities or for enrichment or to adapt them for use with newer technologies. The visual poetry idea, for example, would work well as an interactive book created using Bookemon, reviewed here. Each student could make a visual poem and illustration in a whole-class book.
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Reading is Fundamental - Educator Resources - Reading is Fundamental (RIF)

Grades
K to 5
4 Favorites 0  Comments
 
There's plenty to see in this educator's page from the long-running RIF program. There are useful tips and resources for teachers and others interested in fostering reading, writing,...more
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There's plenty to see in this educator's page from the long-running RIF program. There are useful tips and resources for teachers and others interested in fostering reading, writing, and literacy skills in young children and elementary students. There are lesson plans in pdf format, links to activities on RIF's Reading Planet site, downloadable literacy activity calendars (English and Spanish), and much more. Especially useful is the Activity search for lessons and more for different curriculum strands and ages. Though many are geared for younger children (preschool and primary grades), there are some options for upper elementary, as well, including interdisciplinary lessons to include music, etc.

tag(s): literacy (107), literature (272)

In the Classroom

Explore this site in conjunction with the student options on RIF's Reading Planet (reviewed here) and Leading to Reading (reviewed here). As you plan new literacy centers, be sure to explore the options here. You may also want to share the link to the parent area of the RIF site on your class web page so parents can promote literacy at home. Not sure if the home has Internet access? Send the monthly literacy calendars home via backpack express and offer Reading Reward points for completed activities students bring in to share with the class. Reading Rewards points can be good for a free book or extra time on the classroom computer exploring (what else?) RIF activities! Reading specialists, principals, teachers, and literacy coaches will be interested in sharing some of the articles with other professionals and paraprofessionals.

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ScribbleMaps - Scribble Maps

Grades
2 to 12
9 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Use this tool to "draw" on and label any map available through Google Maps, including maps of the night sky! No registration or email required! Create a colorful, personalized map ...more
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Use this tool to "draw" on and label any map available through Google Maps, including maps of the night sky! No registration or email required! Create a colorful, personalized map with added scribbles and labels. Add your choice of placemarker labels for geology locations, people, etc. There are even little icons available to use. Your drawing or "Scribble Map" is then available to share by URL, email, or print. Slightly more savvy users can download, save as a kml file (readable in Google Maps or Google Earth), or embed the map in another site. The tools include sharing the map on Facebook and Twitter, as well. Add images by pasting in their urls. Drawing tools include lines, circles, place pointers, text labels, and color/size/transparency controls for all tools. Place pointers can be edited by selecting them (arrow tool), then clicking the small pencil. This site does include Google Ads and all the normal controls of Google maps, including satellite, map, terrain, hybrid views and Night Sky. See a sample Scribble Map created by the TeachersFirst editors (drag the map with your mouse!). Explore the tools and MENU options at the top left when you start out. Try the different Maps views (lower right) and zoom controls. Search for a starter location using the search at the top left, just below the tools. There is no help available, but it is easy to do basic maps. Share, save, etc. by clicking Menu (top left). When you first save a map, it will ask you to create a password for that map to use to edit it later. Note that if you SAVE a map and share it by URL, those accessing it will be able to use the tools and change the map. If you want them to see it without changing it, you will need to embed it in a blog, wiki, or other web site. The map ID can be changed and customized by simply typing in your own choice of ID when you are saving the map.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): directions (18), geology (79), landforms (48), landmarks (27), map skills (81), maps (292), space (220)

In the Classroom

Students and teachers will want to keep a written record or map URLS and passwords for future reference. Model this for students so they do not lose hours of work! Teachers can prepare partially-made maps or maps for students to make corrections and changes by giving the students the URL, then having them SAVE the map with a NEW ID. To SAVE the map with a new name and URL, click "Save map" in the menu, then enter your OWN map ID. Students could use a code including their initials, such as SJ12-3-09 for a map made by Sally Jones on Dec 3, 2009. Teachers should PASSWORD protect their originals so changes can only be saved under a new name. Similarly, if a student saves the map with a map password, they don't have to worry about other students vandalizing their work. But they DO need to remember the password! Wise teachers will keep a class list of maps and passwords for forgetful students! In primary grades, make maps of your local community together on your interactive whiteboard as you teach basic map skills. Create your own "key" with symbols you choose for playgrounds, etc. Have students help map locations of favorite playgrounds, grandparents' houses, stores, etc. as they gain basic understanding of map skills. Make sure you allow students to operate the tools! Save the map and share it as a link from your class web site (or embed it there). Keep names generic so it is "safe." Other ideas to challenge gifted student beyond the curriculum or elevate challenge for small groups include: natural resource maps, immigration maps, maps of civil war battles day by day, maps of key sites in the life of a famous person, artist, or author, maps of the settings in a novel, landform maps of a continent or state, "My life" maps of places important to an elementary student's family, annotated watershed maps of pollution sources, maps of the water cycle, maps of constellations in the night sky created by students to demonstrate understanding, maps of a dream community to be built in a vacant area (desert), including the water sources, etc. that will be needed, maps of a redesigned city/town on top of its current map. Teachers can provide map challenges or templates to be completed or corrected, including maps where students must label distances and cardinal directions between points (using map scale and skills). Or provide a teacher-created map with labels in the wrong places for students to correct the landforms, resources, etc. What will YOU do with Scribble Maps?
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WordSearchFun.com - WordSearchFun.com

Grades
3 to 12
3 Favorites 0  Comments
Use this site to find some GREAT word searches that are ready to go! Whatever topic you are looking for, you just might find a word search here. If you ...more
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Use this site to find some GREAT word searches that are ready to go! Whatever topic you are looking for, you just might find a word search here. If you can't find one, make your OWN ONLINE word search. What a fantastic tool to use and/or create in any subject!

tag(s): photography (158), puzzles (203)

In the Classroom

Share the relevant word searches on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have cooperative learning groups practice spelling or vocabulary words by creating their own word search. List this site on your class website for students to use both in and out of the classroom. This is a great one for those word search lovers in your class. Why not have students use a whole-class account to make their own word searches to challenge each other with new vocabulary and terms?

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Fractured Fairy Tales - readwritethink

Grades
K to 4
4 Favorites 0  Comments
 
This site offers "ready to read" fractured fairy tales and a tool to write your own fractured fairy tales. Students can write a fractured version of Jack in the Beanstalk, ...more
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This site offers "ready to read" fractured fairy tales and a tool to write your own fractured fairy tales. Students can write a fractured version of Jack in the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, or The Princess and the Pea. This site prompts students to choose names for characters, the setting of the story, point of view, the problem, and ending of the story. You type up your own story and you are able to print the finished story.

tag(s): air (146), folktales (58)

In the Classroom

Share an example of the fractured fairy tales on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Use this site to introduce the creativity of fractured fairy tales as you teach story mapping and narrative patterns. Have students work individually or with a partner to write their own fractured fairy tale. Set up this site as a learning center for students to use for creative writing during your folk tale or fairy tale unit.
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Compfight - Compfight

Grades
K to 12
5 Favorites 0  Comments
Discover a slick way to find Creative Commons pictures (pictures you are ALLOWED to use without copyright problems, simply by giving credit). Compfight searches Flickr pictures and...more
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Discover a slick way to find Creative Commons pictures (pictures you are ALLOWED to use without copyright problems, simply by giving credit). Compfight searches Flickr pictures and locates those with licenses that permit use in other activities and projects. Enter text or tags, and Compfight does the rest, providing thumbnail images for you to choose from. After you search, be sure you have checked the box in the LEFT sidebar of the search results, specifying that you want Creative Commons images, NOT commercial ones. Click to search again, if necessary. Choose from the results that appear below the dotted line. (Those above the line are images you must pay for!) Click on the image you like and double-check the license information under item 1 to be sure it is available for non-commercial use with attribution and can be used for "derivative works." Click the image itself to copy and paste its URL to use in image credits. Remember that Creative Commons DOES require that you give proper credit!

tag(s): creative commons (22), images (273), search engines (63)

In the Classroom

Users need to be able to use good search terms to find the best pictures possible as well as knowing how to save images on their computer. Use in the classroom any time that an image is needed for projects, even if it is not going to be put on a website for others to see. Be sure students are aware that any time another person's image is used, they must give full credit for it, even if that owner cannot see it. Demonstrate Compfight on a projector or interactive whiteboard so students know how to use it. Student groups can use Compfight to collectively find the best image to use for a project. Have students create a multimedia presentation using ThinkLink, reviewed here. For example, students studying renewable energy can use Compfight to find images of various renewable energy sources, then explain them using ThingLink. Teachers can collect Creative Commons images for use on their interactive whiteboard for sorting activities (monocots and dicots, producers and consumers, etc). Never assume that your students, even the gifted ones, understand about giving proper credit and only using copyright-safe images (CC or public domain). Compfight makes it easier. Be sure to hold students accountable by including a "digital citizenship" category in your project rubric, requiring proper credit for all images. You will want to spot check a few of the URLs to be sure they are actually correct credits. Share Compfight as an important tool on your class web page, wiki, or blog so students can access it anywhere, anytime.
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Google Earth in the Classroom - Joe Wood

Grades
K to 12
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Google Earth, reviewed here, is a fabulous teaching tool. This teacher-created wiki supplements it with Google Earth Resources galore. Find links...more
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Google Earth, reviewed here, is a fabulous teaching tool. This teacher-created wiki supplements it with Google Earth Resources galore. Find links to lesson plans and files for using Google Earth in your classroom for many subjects. See a tutorial video on Google Earth, find directions for making files, and more. Ideas for using Google Earth by subject even include links to ready-made files so you need not start out by creating from scratch. See what other teachers have done and let it inspire you and your students to do more. Learn how to make kmz (placemarker) files.

tag(s): globe (14), landforms (48), landmarks (27), maps (292)

In the Classroom

Make this site part of your personal professional development or pair up with a teaching buddy to learn more about Google Earth (GE) and plan activities for your classrooms. Share the link with your students, as well, so your class can become GE experts together. Even if your access to GE is limited to a single class computer, work together with a small team of student "GEniuses" to prepare class placemarker files, then have the team teach other students, as well. If your school has personal professional development plans or allows teacher to suggest topics for professional workshops, include this link, along with other GE resources from TeachersFirst, as your inservice day agenda.
 
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Google Earth 101 for Educators - Quentin D'Souza, Teaching Hacks.com

Grades
K to 12
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Google Earth, reviewed here, is a fabulous teaching tool. This participatory wiki (part of the larger "Teaching Hacks" wiki) walks educators step...more
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Google Earth, reviewed here, is a fabulous teaching tool. This participatory wiki (part of the larger "Teaching Hacks" wiki) walks educators step by step through the how-to and why-to of Google Earth (GE). Start with the two minute video, then click through the steps at the right. You are also invited to ADD to the wiki so other teachers can learn from you! The wiki includes curriculum ideas grade by grade (listed in text form). Since the wiki originated in the Toronto area, some topics are Canadian-only, but the wiki is open to all global learners and teachers.

tag(s): globe (14), landforms (48), landmarks (27), maps (292)

In the Classroom

Plan your personal professional development on your own or with a teaching buddy to learn more about Google Earth (GE) and plan activities for your classrooms. Even if your access to GE is limited to a single class computer, work together with a small team of student "GEniuses" to prepare class placemarker files, then have the team teach other students, as well. If your school has personal professional development plans or allows teachers to suggest topics for professional workshops, include this link, along with other GE resources from TeachersFirst, as your inservice day agenda.
 

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Google Earth - Google

Grades
K to 12
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Bring the world into your classroom with Google Earth. This interactive view of the Earth (and more) is available on all web browsers. Find landforms, geographic locations features,...more
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Bring the world into your classroom with Google Earth. This interactive view of the Earth (and more) is available on all web browsers. Find landforms, geographic locations features, pictures, and more from around the world using this satellite-powered software. As you spin the globe, you can tilt to view locations at an angle to show elevation, click to play a "tour" or "fly" from one location to another, or simply open tours and placemarker files created by others. Once you are comfortable, try making tours and placemarkers of your own.

tag(s): climate (93), earth (233), landforms (48), landmarks (27), news (262), oceans (161)

In the Classroom

Use tutorials from this site to learn more, or try some Google Earth files from TeachersFirst's Globetracker's Mission to get a taste of what the program can do. Get started by exploring the different LAYERS available in the left side and searching a location you know. Locate and try the tools to drag, tilt, zoom, and even measure distance. Extensive user forums are available through the help menus.

Placemarker files created by you "live" on the computer where you make or save them and are not shared on the web. Note that your computer will ask whether you wish to save your "temporary places" (any places you have marked during a session) each time you close Google Earth. If many students use that computer, you may find you have a disorganized mess of saved places. Be sure to direct students to either name their saved places logically and file them into folders or NOT to save them to My Places! Students and teachers can create placemarker (.kmz or .kml) files and share them as email attachments, files on a USB "stick," or any other means you would use to share a file, just like a Word document.

Another practical tip: if students are using Google Earth on several machines at the same time, you may put a heavy load on your school network. Plan accordingly, perhaps having groups alternate their Google Earth time if it becomes sluggish.

Use Google Earth to teach geography or simply give location context to class readings or current events, especially on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Ex. you can tilt to show the peaks scaled by Lewis and Clark or volcanoes that rise in the Aleutians. Have students show the locations of historic events or literary settings and create placemarkers with links to learn more. Placemarker text is editable by going to the placemarker's "properties" or "info," so students can enter the text description, place title, and any inks they want to include, such as a link to a certain passage of text, an image of a character, or news image/article for a current events map. Students who know html code can get even more sophisticated in what they include in placemarkers. Have students/groups create and play a "tour" of critical locations for global warming, a comparison of volcanoes, or a family history of immigration. Navigate the important locations in a work of literature using Google Lit Trips or search the web for placemarker files connected to civil war battles, natural resources, and more. Turn layers on and off to look at population centers and transportation systems. Teach the concept of scale/proportion using a tactile experience on an interactive whiteboard and the scale and measurement tools. See more ideas at the teacher-created Google Earth 101 wiki reviewed here. Even if you do not venture into creating your own placemarker files, there are many already made and available for use by teachers and students. TeachersFirst's Globetracker's Mission includes a weekly file to follow the Mission.

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HeartPower! Online - American Heart Association

Grades
K to 8
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HeartPower! Online is a curriculum-based program about heart health. The site provides educational information about nutrition, physical activity, living tobacco-free, and how the heart...more
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HeartPower! Online is a curriculum-based program about heart health. The site provides educational information about nutrition, physical activity, living tobacco-free, and how the heart works. The curriculum guide is loaded with printables, lesson plans, stories, songs, games and other science-based resources organized according to grade level. There is no fee or registration for this site. Just click and go!

tag(s): heart (43), nutrition (154)

In the Classroom

The site is so simple, you can utilize the entire pre-prepared curriculum and lesson plans or just add pieces of it to your current curriculum. Integrate the lessons into your language arts component as cross-curricular activities. The pre-K to 1st grade activities and curriculum are available in Spanish. Choose the Spanish version for ESL/ELL lessons or enrichment activities. The Spanish version would be a great supplement for secondary Spanish teachers. Have your science or health class create a Heart Health wiki or use Click2Map, reviewed here, to map out walking landmarks for your community.
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Voki - Oddcast

Grades
K to 12
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Create a free, animated speaking character that represents yourself for a blog, wiki, or any website. Voki can also be emailed to others and downloaded to phones. Appropriate for student...more
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Create a free, animated speaking character that represents yourself for a blog, wiki, or any website. Voki can also be emailed to others and downloaded to phones. Appropriate for student use in grades 6-12 but for teachers at all levels.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): speaking (25)

In the Classroom

Access to a microphone is required to record a voice. There is an option to use text to voice (however, it does not have great sound.) Import audio from a file or use a cell phone instead to capture audio. Only one minute of audio can be recorded so be brief. Students need to carefully think of their narrative before recording. Users must be able to copy and paste html code for use in an external site.

Use the controls to create your character's style, click customization to further refine your character, change your background, and add your voice. Keep in mind that animated backgrounds may take longer to load on your site. When done, click publish to view and copy the embed code which can then be used on a blog, wiki, or web pages.

Monitor all aspects of student production and use for appropriateness and copyright. If concerned about using student email, consider creating a class account for students to use. Be sure that students understand not to change the Voki of other students if using a class account. Check your school district policy about using emails or identifying student information on the Internet.

Introduce and share this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Use this free site to record a greeting for students that can be seen on the start page of your blog, wiki, or website. Record online assignment information that is spoken by the Voki (always more pleasing to look at than the teacher!). Use this to share homework assignments, a message from you (via a substitute), and more. Use a character that is interesting or matches the assignment you may be leaving. Use Voki to record two different opinions or viewpoints and create a poll of students to view reactions. Use the Voki in Math by posing possible solutions to problems and create a class discussion or poll to determine which one is the actual answer. As students are working on projects, create a Voki that provides hints and tips for students. Allow students to use Voki to provide peer assessment to others. Consider using Voki in place of other assignments such as "What I did this summer vacation..." or "Here is information about me..." Use in any language class to record narratives or translations. Students can create a variety of Voki recordings over time which can show their learning of a language over time. Create classroom newscasts using student(s) on a rotating basis. Use Voki for vocabulary exercises which can be created by students or the teacher. The possibilities for this tool are endless. The quick and engaging nature of this tool offers unlimited uses.

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Letters About Literature - Center for the Book: Library of Congress

Grades
2 to 12
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This site accepts students' letters to their favorite authors, describing why they liked their book(s). Each student may write only one letter. Students can write to any author, living...more
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This site accepts students' letters to their favorite authors, describing why they liked their book(s). Each student may write only one letter. Students can write to any author, living or dead. Each year, judging of the letters takes place in December. So this is a great site during the fall months! On the site, there are links to a teacher's guide for helping the students write the letter and lesson plans about the letter writing.

tag(s): authors (121), letter writing (20), literature (272), writing (366)

In the Classroom

Have your class read some of the award-winning letters from other years on the overhead projector, interactive whiteboard, or projector. Talk about what the winning characteristics are. Share the suggestions the site makes to encourage your writers to use clear and metaphorical language. Use this site to teach your students proper letter writing skills. Check out the Letter Generator for some ideas, reviewed here. Check with your administration to see what their guidelines are for submitting contest entries, particularly submitting names and addresses of students. The site is quite flexible about those types of requirements. Have the class share their letters and create a "referral" library for students looking for outside reading materials. Have your international students share letters about international writers to encourage broader reading interests. Why not use the letters to create a class online book of letters, using a tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here.
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A Book and A Hug - Barb Langridge

Grades
K to 12
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This well-designed website has books for 8 levels of readers from picture books to adult-level subjects in 17 general categories. Search using the advanced search function or browse...more
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This well-designed website has books for 8 levels of readers from picture books to adult-level subjects in 17 general categories. Search using the advanced search function or browse through the favorites. Look for fiction or non-fiction, parts of series, and best of all books for reluctant readers. All books feature a summary and also an illustration taken from the book. The descriptions of the books are very enticing and often include quotes from the text.

tag(s): literature (272)

In the Classroom

This is a great source for finding and showing students how to find independent reading. Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Since students often ask for books like Harry Potter, for example, put this link on your class web page. Show students how to click on the keywords once they find a category they like. When students ask for another book in the same series, this is a great place to start looking. Allowing reluctant readers to search and find their own book is a way to build investment in their reading future. Encourage students to write their own reviews of favorite books not found here. Use the site for a lesson in citing sources and punctuating quotations.

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