GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUsers 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.
In the ClassroomMake 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.
In the ClassroomPlan 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.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse 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.
GradesK to 12
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tag(s): speaking (25)
In the ClassroomAccess 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.
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomHave the students make a cumulative map of all Hudson's voyages together in order for them to get a chance to become intimately familiar with the map making process. Try a site such as Woices (beta) (reviewed here). Woices allows students to create audio recordings AND choose a location on a map where each story takes place. Have each cooperative learning group focus on a different exploration. Compare their creations with the online map which has all four voyages combined. Assign students in a group each a few pages of an imagined journal Henry might have written on each voyage. The most interesting part will be to imagine what happened to him after people no longer heard from him! Use this site as the starting point for individual research papers. Encourage students to find other resources that contribute to their knowledge of Henry Hudson. Have students write a talk Hudson might give if he suddenly woke up today (like Rip Van Winkle). Or make it more Web 2.0 and have students write blog entries. The text passages on this site are also ideal for reading comprehension practice. Project them on an interactive whiteboard for practice in main idea, summarizing, and more.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomHave 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.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): literature (276)
In the ClassroomThis 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.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): images (276)
In the ClassroomStudents can use this site to create interesting and unique titles for projects, presentations, or blog titles. Use this site to make your lessons grab your students' attention (which isn't always easy). Decorate your classroom with intriguing signs and reminders created using this tool. Have students use this site themselves for projects, intriguing spelling practice, or more. Kindergarten teachers might like to "show" students what their names look like in multiple type fonts and to make bus list bulletin boards using these creative lettering forms. Art teachers can use this tool to demonstrate different types of letter graphics and letter collages. This might be a good link to list on your class website so families can access the site at home.
Grades8 to 12
tag(s): weather (195)
In the ClassroomStudents could be assigned different false science statements to research and design their own science news articles comparing fact and fiction. Why not make this a multimedia project and have students complete a podcast, online poster, or narrated photo! For podcasts, try PodOmatic, reviewed here. To create an online poster use a site such as Padlet (reviewed here). Challenge cooperative learning groups to find a photo related to their topic (legally permitted to be reproduced), and then label the photo by adding voice bubbles to explain what they learned using a tool such as Superlame, reviewed here. To find Creative Commons images for student projects (with credit, of course), try Compfight, reviewed here. A class could also be assigned a specific false science fact to research and participate in a class blog or message board discussion via the class web page or wiki site. Students could also use the fiction as the basis for their own "Myth busters" episodes. Reading teachers looking for passages to use in reading comprehension practice, such as finding main idea and supporting details will find these non-fiction passages informative and interesting for their students. Make a temporary copy of one of the explanations to display in your interactive whiteboard software as students highlight key ideas and separate out supporting details using the whiteboard tools. Your science teachers will LOVE you for it!
GradesK to 12
If you are creating your own, you can add images, video, or audio. Study flashcards online or share with others in created study groups. Use flashcards to learn new information (question and answer are side by side,) study (shows the question and then the answer,) or quiz themselves by entering answers. Create a game with the flashcards by using a timer and score board on the site. Share flashcard sets with others by sending a URL address or create study groups to share. View public flashcards created by others by using their search feature.
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In the ClassroomYou can access the already created flashcards without any account, email, or age requirements. However, if you wish to create flashcards, an email and birth date is required to create an account. Users must be 13 years of age or older.
Using Brainflips: Use the Deck panel to enter flashcard deck title and other basic information. Use the Card panel to add, edit, and change the order of the flashcards in the deck. Create text or multiple choice answers for each flashcard and even enter alternative answers. Click "Insert" above the question field to add images, audio, and video to flashcards.
Safety/Security: Since an email and birth date are required, consider creating a class account for teacher use or for groups of students to use. Create teacher flashcards for class use by creating card decks and providing the URL for students to use. You may want to send students to the flashcards via a direct link to the deck.
Facts, spelling words, vocabulary, definitions, foreign language, root words, historical names --- all can easily be typed into this flashcard format for any subject. Plan a system of tags for sets on related material so they can be grouped. For example: tag all geography terms "geography" and all words from the same science chapter using the chapter number or topic. You can use multiple tags, too! In the computer lab, using a projector or interactive whiteboard, walk your students through making their own sets of flashcards or using teacher created flashcards for student and group use. Students or parents can then access their electronic cards at home or anywhere with a specific URL that can be placed on any teacher blog or website. No email address is needed to use the cards, only to create the cards. Include the link to your sets on your web page for students to study before tests. Collaborate with other teachers to create useful sets for all to use. Rotate responsibility each marking period among student groups in your class to create a set for each chapter/unit/week for the rest of the class to use as review. Give a special award (or bonus points) for the most creative, complete set that marking period. Learning support teachers may want to work together with small student groups to create verbal and visual card sets to accompany the chapters they are studying. Involve the students in the process so they can reinforce new content as they create their own "study materials" with color coding, images, and more.
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 12
In the ClassroomFind images to illustrate curriculum topics, such as historical photos and cultural images. Include them in activities on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Art teachers can use images freely to illustrate design concepts. Create montages of images from eras in history, a culture, or scientific concepts to give visual learners a way to remember new content. "Harvest" images for students to use in their own projects, saving them on a local drive or computer (copying these images is OK!). Have students select an image as an inspiration for a writing assignment or blog post. Upload images to ThingLink, reviewed here, and have students critique or explain it orally in a world language, science, or social studies class. Have student groups use these copyright-safe images (with credit, of course) in their online Bookemon books, reviewed here, about a curriculum concept.
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 (265)
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 (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