Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomBe sure to tell your students that they are NOT the "dummies" referred to in this site! Then go beyond the obvious use of this site as a reference to use it to teach informational writing, reading comprehension, or any curriculum content. Share text-based articles on a projector or interactive whiteboard and have students analyze the keywords and structure of sequential direction-writing or informational writing before they try it on their own. Use the pens and highlighters to note transitions and other ways of organizing directions, including formatting. Use articles to teach basic comprehension skills by copy/pasting sections and having students drag them into the correct sequence on the whiteboard to form logical directions. In science or social studies classes, have students view models on this site, then work in groups to write their own how-to wiki on curriculum topics such as "How to tell a fungus from a bacterium," "How to solve simultaneous equations," or "How to form a government." If you have access to video equipment, have students write scripts and produce video versions of their how-to instructions and post them on a site such as TeacherTube reviewed here.
Grades5 to 12
When you arrive at the site, click your language (there are MANY languages to choose from). Enter your gender, age, and location (optional). Then choose the "game" you wish to try. Some are more commercial (Disney, The Simpsons, or Star Trek). Others have educational value (Harry Potter, Earth, or Classic, Famous people). This is a fun and challenging activity. There are disclaimers that the "game gets smarter" the more you play because the game compiles facts over time. It is involving and fun to play. The site does include some advertisements.
tag(s): trivia (18)
In the ClassroomShare this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Teachers could have students research a person, place or thing and then use their research to play twenty questions against the computer. It could also be used as review if posted to the class wiki and then completed independently by students at home. Use this as a first day or first week activity, have students try the 20 question game about names and see if the computer can figure out their name. Use the Earth activity for geography practice in cooperative learning groups or as a class activity. In world language classes, choose the appropriate language to practice vocabulary about animals and other categories of information. As a culminating project in any class, have students create their own 20 question activity and quiz the class! You will be teaching HOTS (higher order thinking skills) as students use classification to create their questions.
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 (111)
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.
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomThis site is ideal for your interactive whiteboard or projector, learning station, or on individual computers (with headsets). Use this site to keep your students up to date on current events. Have students compare the different versions of the same news stories to try and ferret out the facts and the way points of view affect reporting. Project the scripts on an interactive whiteboard to have students highlight language choices that provide a certain slant. ESL/ELL students will benefit from listening to the short news clips and being able to see the transcript of the report. Have your ESL/ELL students write their own comprehension questions and answers based on the podcast to check their own comprehension and to exchange with classmates. Use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here) to compare the differences in two newspapers' versions of the same news. Have ESL/ELL students present the news from a newspaper familiar to them if possible by having them prepare an introduction and questions. Learning support students can use the transcripts and videos in combination to understand and report weekly current events assignments for social studies class.
Grades6 to 12
You are able to post comments. You may want to preview the comments before allowing students to view. Posting comments requires an email address. Check your school's acceptable use policy regarding student email use. 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 (260)
In the ClassroomThis site would be great for a multitude of subjects and may be best implemented with an interactive whiteboard or projector. One suggestion is to show a picture on the board as students enter the room and pose one question about it. It would create a great prompt for discussion or journaling. Students could also access pictures and create their own stories or presentations of the actual events. Students could create a news story and post it to the classroom wiki where available. Do you want to learn more about wikis? Check out the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): literature (274)
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 (120)
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).
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 (260)
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.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomMost of the graphics here are perfect for a one shot view on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Teachers should be aware that it's possible to comment on each of the graphics. Scrolling down reveals whatever someone may have sent in as a comment; preview carefully. One particular graphic, the consumer spending pie chart, would be useful in a consumer math class or "Real Life 101" class. Any of the charts could be used for real life data in a math class, or to teach students how to interpret charts and graphs, a topic appearing on most standardized state tests.
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 (120)
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.
Grades1 to 12
tag(s): poetry (227)
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.
In the ClassroomRecording of voice requires knowledge of internal and external microphones. Use the "text to speech" option for an easy way to record using a computerized voice. You do need a microphone either attached or built in to your computer to record chirbits.
Categories shown include Confessions, Jokes, and Pickup lines, among others. Though these are quite humorous, they may be inappropriate. Chirbits created become public, however by choosing "Settings" across the top, check the box to protect your chirbits and make them private. Consider creating a class chirbit with a global email. You may want to require that students initial their contributions in order to get credit. Accounts have an RSS feed where you can follow others to keep up with the chirbits created. You may allow students to self-register, but be sure to keep a written record of their passwords for when they "forget." Click on "Profile" and then the gear symbol to copy a link to share. You may want to create a word doc, Favorites folder, or other "collection" of the URLS to all your students projects in one place for easy work at grading time. Some teachers use a class wiki or blog with links to all projects from there.
Use chirbit to record quick assignments or responses. Create prompts which require clever answers such as viewpoints of famous people in your subject area. Use chirbits to record thoughts or facts of the day. Use chirbits to record how to solve problems, define vocabulary, or to understand class material. As closure at the end of class, ask a student to record a "chirbit" summary of the most important concept for the day's lesson. You could even have a competition to decide which group/pair has composed the best sentence for a chirbit recording and have them make the recording on the spot.
Parent permission advised before posting student work created using this tool
Includes Interaction w general public/ public galleries with unmoderated content
Includes social features, such as "friends," comments, ratings by others
Requires registration/log in (NO email)
Products can be embedded
Products can be shared by URL