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Learn English with Pictures and Audio - Jacob Richman

Grades
2 to 12
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This site offers a pronouncing picture dictionary arranged alphabetically. Students can click on letters of the alphabet to see a selection of pictures and hear the words pronounced....more
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This site offers a pronouncing picture dictionary arranged alphabetically. Students can click on letters of the alphabet to see a selection of pictures and hear the words pronounced. They can also select "Index" which leads to an entire listing (34 total lists) of the words offered. The site continues to add new content, including videos for learning English!

tag(s): sight words (37), vocabulary (324)

In the Classroom

Share this link from your class website for ESL and ELL students to use the picture/pronouncing dictionary both in and out of the classroom. Try the videos on a classroom computer or projector with a small group. Teachers may enjoy using the print option for creating paper copies of the target word lists. ESL/ELL teachers can also assign specific lists to students so they can work individually on pronouncing and understanding the words.

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Reading For All - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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This TeachersFirst professional page includes extensive resources for Reading in the Content Areas, Graphic Organizers, Reading Strategies, Vocabulary Development, Elementary Reading,...more
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This TeachersFirst professional page includes extensive resources for Reading in the Content Areas, Graphic Organizers, Reading Strategies, Vocabulary Development, Elementary Reading, independent reading, and special topics reading lists. The page also includes a link for you to purchase books from Amazon and have TeachersFirst receive a portion of the proceeds. TeachersFirst is a free service of a non-profit since 1998. Why not shop through this link to help TeachersFirst continue its service to teachers worldwide?

tag(s): amazon (9), area (67)

In the Classroom

No matter what you teach, these resources will help you target reading and study skills for better comprehension and more.

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5 Sources for Free and Legal Images - The Blog Herald

Grades
K to 12
6 Favorites 0  Comments
These five sources provide Creative Commons images and videos for use in your blog/wiki/web site LEGALLY. Model your ethical use of media by sharing these with your blogging...more
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These five sources provide Creative Commons images and videos for use in your blog/wiki/web site LEGALLY. Model your ethical use of media by sharing these with your blogging students or using them on your whole-class blog or wiki. The sources include abstract photos and current events new stories, as well as general photos. Each has its own search/browse features. The services include: Voxant Newsroom, PicApp, GumGum, Zemanta, and PhotoDropper.

tag(s): blogs (89), images (269)

In the Classroom

Since each site has its own directions, our review team will not explain the how-to's of each here. Some require access to install a plug-in on your blog, such as wordpress. Many school blogging sites do not provide this access. Others permit embedding an image simple by copy/pasting code into your blog or wiki. Two are actually extensions you add to Firefox or Internet Explorer and may require tech department authorization or installation on school computers.

If you do allow students to join a site, be sure to adhere to school policies. As always, we recommend previewing the content available on each site before recommending it to your students. These images sites are NOT education-only, so some image content may not be classroom-appropriate. Have a policy and consequences in place before turning your students loose.

Art teachers or writing teachers can use the abstract images from the GumGum option as writing prompts or to launch discussion on design principles. If your students have individual blogs, allow them to personalize the "look" using these legal images. Be sure to model thinking aloud about why you are using a legal image source. Use news images or videos from Vixant Newsroom as prompts for current events discussions on your blog or wiki, or assign students to select a news story and write an in-depth analysis of it to accompany the image/video. English or social studies teachers teaching persuasive writing can assign students to use their multimedia skills as they present arguments both verbally and visually on a class "issues" wiki. Younger students can help select images to include on a whole-class wiki or blog then add their own writing about them. A teacher can embed a sequence of photos and ask student to tell the story that explains it. Be sure to include this link on your teacher web page for your tech-savvy teens to use as they generate projects with LEGAL images. Of course you will require them to document their sources.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Wonder How To - Wonder How To, Inc.

Grades
6 to 12
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This creative site offers "how to" videos on a WIDE variety of topics. Anyone is able to view the videos, but you must be a member (which is free) to ...more
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This creative site offers "how to" videos on a WIDE variety of topics. Anyone is able to view the videos, but you must be a member (which is free) to comment on the videos, grade the videos, or submit your own "how to" video. Topics vary; some are appropriate for the classroom - others are definitely NOT appropriate. Some of the general topics that may be useful in the middle school or high school classroom include: alcohol, autos, motorcycles, and planes, business and money, computers and programming, diet and health, education (which features a variety of science experiments and more), film and theater, language (English, Chinese, Hungarian, Russian, Finnish, sign language, Polish, and countless others), music and instruments, travel, and several other topics. Within each of these general topics, there are thousands of specific "how to" videos.

Membership is free and has many perks. You are able to comment and/or grade the video clips or even submit your own video. Registration does require some personal information: a username, password, email address, and date of birth. ALL USERS MUST BE OVER 13-years of age! Check with your administrator about allowing the students to register for this site using fictitious names. You may wish to set up a class registration instead of entering true data into the registration site. Another option is to 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.

Warning: not all videos are suitable for the classroom. Be sure to preview what you wish to share. If you choose to allow your older students to navigate this site on their own (for research or a class project), be sure to set boundaries on which videos to watch, consequences for going elsewhere, and WATCH CAREFULLY! Some videos explain "how to" do things that are unsafe or inappropriate for school-ages audiences. Wonder How To does include unobtrusive advertisements. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): aircraft (24), business (58), money (192), russian (25), sign language (8)

In the Classroom

Use these fabulous "how to" videos for informative writing projects in speech, science, or even with your gifted students. The site does provide excellent research. You may want to link directly to the specific videos you want students to see in order to avoid other, less-desirable options. Share the "how to" videos on an interactive whiteboard or projector as an anticipatory set for a new lesson. For a final project, have students create and submit their own "how to" video using YouTube or using a tool such as SchoolTube (reviewed here).

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Screencast-o-matic - Big Nerd Software

Grades
4 to 12
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Use this simple and free tool to create a video recording of your screen to upload and share on a teacher web page, wiki. blog, etc.. This is an easy ...more
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Use this simple and free tool to create a video recording of your screen to upload and share on a teacher web page, wiki. blog, etc.. This is an easy way to create a tutorial from your own computer screen. When you visit sites that have tutorials on how to use their software, you are looking at a screencast. Use this site to give specific directions on how to use different applications in and out of the classroom. Audio is not necessary for the screencasts but may be beneficial, depending upon the tutorial. An example can be found here.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): tutorials (46)

In the Classroom

Users will need to know how to use whatever computer software, website, or skill they are demonstrating. Following basic directions and managing browser windows or tabs are a must, as well as the managing settings of the computer being used. The site demonstrates how to troubleshoot problems on both PC's and Mac's.

Click "create" to start. As the screencast is being created, files will need to be written temporarily to the desktop. A security screen will pop up that asks to run the application. You will be asked to "trust" or "not trust" the security certificate. Depending upon your school's Acceptable Use Policy and computer security settings, you may not be able to complete these steps. Choose the screen size when played and whether audio will be needed (audio can be tested here as well, which is recommended: settings may need to be adjusted for different microphones.) Open a new tab or browser window and enter the web address of the site (or software) that will be the subject of your screencast. Drag the black frame by clicking the line and dragging it in order to choose what will be recorded during the screencast. The microphone icon has a green bar that shows recording levels. A green arrow showing instead of a green bar denotes that sound is not being captured. The red button is used to start recording while the black "X" stops the recording. Once you stop recording, click on your screencast tab or browser window and preview your recording. You can then either upload or discard your screencast. At this point you can create an account easily. Save your screencast to a channel of your own. Use the embed code to place your screencast into a blog, wiki, or other site. You can also use a widget code to embed the screencast player into a website. Screencasts can then be made from your other site and will save directly to your screencast channel. Screencasts can be set to different levels of privacy and comments can be turned on or off.

Teachers who must request certificate approval by tech staff may want to try this tool at home and create some sample projects to convince administration of its educational value. Unless checked to turn off comments, this site will allow comments on your work. Many districts prohibit such interaction and steps should be taken to prohibit commenting from others. When using the widget, the tool does not attribute work to specific students. You may wish to have the students identify their work while creating the screencast. Screencasts will only be able to be viewed when using an embed code in a site, wiki, or blog. By marking the screencast "searchable," it can be available to the public. Recently created screencasts do not appear on the home page of screencast-o-matic. Students are able to self-register, but you may want to keep a record of logins and passwords for students who forget.

Make how-to demos for instructions on using and navigating your class home page, class wiki or blog, or other applications you wish the students to use in creation of classroom content. By narrating how you want students to navigate through a certain site or section, you can eliminate confusion, provide an opportunity for students to use the information as a refresher for the future, and maintain a record for absent students. Software demonstrations add an increased flexibility with helping students who need it while allowing students to begin and work at their own pace. Added audio is a great asset for many students including learning support and those who might need to access the material in smaller "chunks." Use this site for students to give "tours" of their own wiki or blog page. The presentation of their web-based projects and resources can be more engaging. Use screencasts to critique or show the validity of websites, identify a resource site they believe is most valuable, or explain how to navigate an online game. Challenge your gifted students to create a screencast as a final project rather than a more traditional project. Social studies teachers could assign students to critique a political candidate's web page using a screencast. Reading/language arts teachers could have student teams analyze a web site to show biased language, etc. For a powerful writing experience, have students "think aloud" their writing choices as the record a screencast of a revision or writing session. You will probably need to model this process, but writing will NEVER be the same! Math teachers using software such as Geometer's Sketchpad could have students create their own narrated demonstrations of geometry concepts as review (and to save as future learning aids). Teachers at any level can create screencasts to demonstrate a computer skill or assignment, such as for a center in your classroom or in a computer lab. Students can replay the "tutorial" on their own from your class web page and follow the directions.

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1000 Images on the Tip of my Tongue - Centre collegial de developpement de materiel didactique

Grades
5 to 12
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This tri-lingual site: English, French, and Spanish, presents idioms organized in categories. After choosing a category, students see a list of matching expressions. They can hear...more
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This tri-lingual site: English, French, and Spanish, presents idioms organized in categories. After choosing a category, students see a list of matching expressions. They can hear the idioms pronounced and used in sentences. This site offers a new and different feature than most idiom sites: a link to an equivalent idiom in French or Spanish! The only idioms here are idioms with similar expressions in the three languages, though they are not directly translated. By clicking on Activities, students can see selected idioms in animated cartoons with sound; there is also the text of the utterance available at another click. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): idioms (44), speech (92)

In the Classroom

Use this in reading classes studying English idioms and figures of speech or in middle level French and Spanish classes to help students remember idioms in those languages by aligning them with similar expressions in English. Include the site in your class web page for easy access from computer labs or home.

Challenge your class to create an illustrated idiom wiki in English or the language you are studying, adding digital pictures to "illustrate" the idiom literally and in its figurative meaning: Ex. "feeling blue" with a photo of a person shaded blue, then one of a SAD person. Be sure to include the text and a link to the page on this site for visitors to hear the clip, as well.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Daily Lit - Daily Lit. LLC

Grades
8 to 12
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Daily Lit offers short clips of literature sent to you daily by email or by RSS feed. You can receive the episodes on a Blackberry, RSS reader, email, web-enabled cell ...more
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Daily Lit offers short clips of literature sent to you daily by email or by RSS feed. You can receive the episodes on a Blackberry, RSS reader, email, web-enabled cell phone, or any "connected" device. You students would find it "cool" to read their daily lit excerpt on the cell phones! Most offerings are classics and in the public domain, but some recent selections are available for free due to Creative Commons licenses. Most books are free but some have a charge. Since only a few pages arrive in your email at intervals you select, it takes quite a while to read a complete book. You do have the option of receiving another section when you finish your daily reading. Students can browse for books by category or search by title, author, etc. Currently hot titles are displayed on the home page. There is a Children's book category, as well, so you can have a daily reading "arrive" on your desktop RSS reader without using email, thrilling your young readers! There are also books written in various world languages.

Because this is a site for the general public, there may be some books with content not desirable for your classroom. Avoid sending students directly to the home page to see "Featured" books without previewing the page that day and/or announcing a policy about which books they are allowed to investigate.

RSS feed to a classroom RSS reader account such as Google Reader might be the safest way to control the content that "arrives" without safety/policy concerns. If you want students to receive emails from this site, check with your school's Acceptable Use Policy AND be sure to check with the parents! You may want to consider creating a Gmail account (rather than your personal or work email). 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): literature (275)

In the Classroom

Suggest this site to advanced high school students who want to increase their knowledge of classical literature. Set up an RSS feed of a foreign language book to appear on your class web page or blog or even go to student cell phones: a new episode each day without ANY work by you! Use this also when teaching classic children's titles. Be sure to check with your principal and parents first to be sure receiving this type of email is OK with everyone. Have the pages sent to your RSS reader, personal or professional email address and share the pages with your students on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students create a class wiki to discuss the current class book being read or make comments on the class blog about the episode that day. In world language classes, this is an easy way to "prompt" a writing lesson IN the language for grammar and writing practice.

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Quiz School: Create a Quiz Online - Proprofs QuizSchool

Grades
1 to 12
16 Favorites 0  Comments
   
The site calls itself the "YouTube of Quizzes." This site allows you to create ONLINE quizzes. You MUST register to use this site. Registration does require an email address, user ...more
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The site calls itself the "YouTube of Quizzes." This site allows you to create ONLINE quizzes. You MUST register to use this site. Registration does require an email address, user name, and password. Registration takes less than ten seconds, and is very simple.

Once registered, you click to create a quiz. Then you are asked to choose between a personality quiz or a scored quiz. This site offers extraordinary details. At the scored quiz, you are able to provide a title, tags, description, and choose the type of questions (multiple choice, essay, or fill in the blank). It is simple to insert images, change font styles, insert links, and even score the online quiz. You can create a pass/fail quiz, a graded quiz (with YOU determining what qualifies as an A, B, etc..). You are also able to set a time limit, issue a certificate of achievement, and fill in the possible total score.

Once students have taken the quiz, immediate feedback is provided (including a scale of all participants, the correct answers, final score, and grade). This is a fantastic tool to use to create online quizzes!

Caution: this site does include some minor advertisements. At the time of this review, all advertisements were appropriate. But it would be wise to advise students NOT to click off of the quiz onto any of the advertisements or links.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): quiz (85)

In the Classroom

Use this site to create online quizzes. Create a quiz as a review to share on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students take the quiz independently or in cooperative learning groups. Have students create their own quizzes to use for review or as a final project. Embed your quiz (or provide a link to it) on your class website.

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Pixlr - Pixlr

Grades
2 to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
 
This free, beta site is a useful photo editing service. Edited pictures are saved on the computer and are not public for viewing. Use this site to create montaged ...more
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This free, beta site is a useful photo editing service. Edited pictures are saved on the computer and are not public for viewing. Use this site to create montaged images, resize photos for emailing or use on wikis, etc, or simply because your camera files are too big to store.

tag(s): editing (66)

In the Classroom

Know how to browse to find files saved on your computer and be willing to "play" with the tools and menus, if you are unfamiliar with photo-editors.

Click Jump In to access Photoshop-type tools. Select an image saved on your computer or your desktop or create a new one. Currently, pictures cannot be accessed from online photo storage sites. The top menu contains almost any option the average user would need to edit and manipulate pictures. The menu is easy to navigate and read. Help is minimal at this time. The site is easy to use, and users of other paint and editing applications will be at ease using this site. Students will love the filter options for altering pictures. Multiple images can be edited or "montaged." When editing is complete, save the image by specifying an image name and file type (JPEG or PNG). Click "OK," and the file will be downloaded to your machine. The simple interface and fast site makes this a great editing application to try.

Use this site to add information to pictures for class and student projects and creations. Add attributions (copyright info and sources) directly to the photo. Add student responses to pictures of class experiments. Create artistic effects with student pictures. The ideas for picture taking, creating, and sharing are endless. Make this a link from your class wiki so students can cut down file sizes before uploading large photos or make edited composites to communicate their message visually. As you study propaganda, have students create propaganda images to share on a class wiki or classroom bulletin board. Art teachers will love the ability to teach photo montage without expensive software. Make creative bulletin board displays from multiple digital pictures of special events, adding text and captions right into the photo. ESL/ELL, language, and special ed teachers can ask students to label images with sentences including correct vocabulary and grammar. Have students in your reading class create visual idiom images using digital pictures.

Keep this tool handy as a link from your teacher web page for quick access any time!

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SchoolTube - Lightspeed Technologies

Grades
K to 12
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You can be as adventurous or not as you wish! This safe, free site lets students and teachers show off their talents by sharing their appropriate videos to be viewed ...more
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You can be as adventurous or not as you wish! This safe, free site lets students and teachers show off their talents by sharing their appropriate videos to be viewed all over America. With a simple registration, you can upload your classroom video, which then goes into a "holding" area. That video then awaits approval by the website's moderator before becoming available. Because of the layering of approval, this site poses no security concerns to students or schools. Not only can teachers and students upload videos, but administrators may also want to post welcome or informational videos to be viewed by parents and students. You may also wish to share some of these videos with your class. Teachers will find videos suitable for classroom instruction (and lesson plans). Use the search box at the top of the webpage to look for topics that relate to your current units of study. If your school blocks streaming video sites, consider accessing this site and choosing videos at home, using a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube, to bring them in on a USB stick for class use. Searching the site and simply viewing the videos does not require any registration or log-in. There is a link to SchoolTube Games , as well.

tag(s): video (262)

In the Classroom

If you wish to upload your own SchoolTube video, you must register as a user at the site. Registration is free. Create and save your edited videos where you can find them on your computer. (Windows Movie Maker or iMovie are great, free tools for video). Then upload to SchoolTube. You can share the video via link or by embedding it in another web page. See our editor's SchooTube video here. If the teacher is the one uploading, the only potential concerns include posting videos with identifiable information or images about your students, school, or class. Check your school policies about posting pictures of your school. If you post student videos, obtain written parent permission to post student work, again within school policies. Any student visible in a video should also have parent permission in accordance with school policies. Students can use SchoolTube to share videos with sister schools, or to broadcast weekly news from their school or classroom. Students can also produce project videos on any curriculum topic. Try making "You Are There" videos about different events in history! Teachers may want to use this site to share ideas and lesson plans with other teachers across the nation. Make "how to" videos to share with parents and friends. Embed SchoolTube's video player into your school's website and encourage parents to view school news or clips from events they were not able to attend.

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Animated English Idioms - in2English

Grades
5 to 12
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Animated English Idioms has a series of fairly high level English idioms explained. Each idiom is first illustrated with a cartoon video. Then the definition of the idiom ...more
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Animated English Idioms has a series of fairly high level English idioms explained. Each idiom is first illustrated with a cartoon video. Then the definition of the idiom appears. Students can replay it or return to the first screen to see another idiom illustrated. To return to the main page click on the English Idioms link at the top of the page. After watching the first two pages of idioms, students can select idiom activities: drag and drop review of idioms. Access the idioms activities (designated by letters) by simply clicking on the small number (1), (2), (3), or (4) at the bottom of the page. These exercises are. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): idioms (44), vocabulary (324)

In the Classroom

Assign this site to your ESL and ELL or language arts students so they can learn one new idiom each day or as an assignment during your idioms unit. Or display the idioms on an interactive whiteboard or projector at the beginning of class. Challenge your students to figure out what the idiom means, before you share the definition available at the site. Have your students create their own idioms using pictures and words. Why not put them on an idiom wiki?
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Remember The Milk - Remember the Milk.com

Grades
K to 12
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Your busy life needs a manager. Now you have one: RememberTheMilk.com (also known as RTM). Don't worry about missing a date; any or all of these applications or programs will ...more
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Your busy life needs a manager. Now you have one: RememberTheMilk.com (also known as RTM). Don't worry about missing a date; any or all of these applications or programs will remind you: email, SMS, and instant messenger (AIM, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, Skype and Yahoo) are all supported. Set up a free account in minutes. Secondary students will embrace this tool to remind them of tests or assignments or sporting events. List making has made it to a whole new level.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (159), organizational skills (122), time (144)

In the Classroom

Read the Blog at this site to learn many cool ways to interact with your personal computer an devices using RTM. Learning support teachers and teachers of disorganized gifted students may want to "model" using such an online tool to help middle and high school students learn better personal organization. Make a demo account for a "mythical" student and organize him/her together so students can see how it works. You will have to check school policies and access to some of the messaging tools, however, since some may be prohibited in your school. Learning support and gifted teachers will welcome this online tool as an engaging way for students to become better-organized. Give students a tech tool, and they just might try it!

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Wiki Woman: How a Web Tool Saved My Career - Edutopia

Grades
K to 12
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Do you ever think you are the only veteran teacher who is tired of doing the same thing in your classroom? Do you wonder how to take on a massive ...more
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Do you ever think you are the only veteran teacher who is tired of doing the same thing in your classroom? Do you wonder how to take on a massive change and learn new technology tools to implement the change? This article in Edutopia magazine (online and print) features Louise Maine, one of TeachersFirst's review team members, and tells the story of the changes she made to her teaching style after 20 years in the classroom. The companion article , also in this Edutopia issue, provides specific how-to-do-this advice on making a class wiki the center of your class. Louise used the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through and our Wiki Warranty template at the start of her journey, and look where the path has lead!

tag(s): wikis (20)

In the Classroom

Take the time to read this article to build your own confidence to make a big change in your teaching -- one step at a time. Better yet, share it with your colleagues as the starting point for a teacher-conducted inservice where you work together to implement change. Not allowed to conduct your own inservice? Take the article to your principal and ask for a pilot cohort within your school to work on wikis together, starting from this article and the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through. All you need is the confidence to ask. If Louise can do it, you can, too, no matter what grade/subject you teach.

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Web Poster Wizard - 4Teachers.org

Grades
K to 12
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Use this terrific online tool for your students to create posters or short reports in a poster format. Create lessons, worksheets, or class pages and instantly publish them online using...more
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Use this terrific online tool for your students to create posters or short reports in a poster format. Create lessons, worksheets, or class pages and instantly publish them online using this free Web Poster Wizard. The teacher sets up an account (for free), and follows simple directions so students can upload images and write about their project or pictures. The site even includes management tools so you can keep separate classes of students and see their work by class.

Plan to spend some time reading through the directions and trying out this tool before you assign it to students. Teachers and students must register and login each time they use this tool. Students can share the URL for their posters with grandparents or parents to show off their good work!

Students will need to know how to locate and upload a file for an image (such as a digital picture) to place it in their poster. If you allow them to use images from the web, the tool asks them to give information on their image source, as well (hooray for ethical use of the Internet!). If you use digital pictures of students, be SURE that you do NOT use full names on the site. You should get parent permission for uploading any student images, even if anonymous.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): posters (36)

In the Classroom

Some uses for this simple tool: book reports (take a digital photo of the book cover), biographical posters of famous people (images from the web), "all about me" posters, posters about community members such as veterans of World War II whom students interview and photograph, author posters, fictitious character studies, science posters on processes or terms with accompanying digital pictures to illustrate, etc. The possibilities are endless. Once students know the tool, they can use it over and over.

Teachers, make sure you select the archive option to keep student projects live online for more than a month. Use the Teacher Feature option to create one web page of your class' archived projects. You will want to put your created web page link prominently on your class homepage.

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Plurk - Plurk

Grades
9 to 12
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Plurk is a microblogging platform for quick 140 character "plurks" about what you are doing, thinking, or mentally asking. Plurks show as a timeline along with those of your friends....more
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Plurk is a microblogging platform for quick 140 character "plurks" about what you are doing, thinking, or mentally asking. Plurks show as a timeline along with those of your friends. Comments to plurks are attached to the original and conversations are easy to track and continue. Plurk brings interconnectivity between friends and is more like a social network than a blog. Registration with an email is required and managing login and password is necessary. Instant messaging and mobile blogging options are possible.

tag(s): microblogging (44)

In the Classroom

This site is not difficult to navigate. Left click on the timeline to drag it to earlier posts. Unread plurks and replies appear as a number beside each plurk and in the timeline. Along the top of the timeline are user controls. "My profile" contains your contact information and details. Upload a photo, customize the colors of your outline, or add a widget to your blog or site that contains your plurks. Use "My friends" to invite friends, create cliques that allow you to segregate who sees certain plurks, and blocking other users. "Alerts" contain friend requests sent to you. Click on "Interesting plurkers" to see plurks from everywhere which you can customize to gender, age, city, state, or country. Use "My account" to change privacy settings and set up instant messaging. Create your plurks below the timeline and use the dropdown to change your verb from "is" to "says," wishes," "feels," and many others. Hover over a person's picture or name to send a private plurk. Plurk messages can be edited but replies cannot. Pictures, images, and links can be added as well. Also below the timeline are tabs to see plurks from you and your friends, your plurks alone, and private plurks. View your Karma -- which increases with plurks and friends and unlocks new features. Use "Embed your Plurk widget" easily to your blog by simply entering your login information.

Create a written and signed classroom policy that outlines necessary privacy settings and actions that would be considered misuse. Check these regularly and take appropriate actions to enforce rules when needed. Students need to be guided in how to safely blog and share information. Students may come across questionable content if reading through the "interesting plurkers" tab. As with all social networking sites, students need to be aware of proper ways to communicate at school and at home. Teachers should be a part of all student groups to monitor use.

Students can use Plurk to discuss group work on a project, create study groups, ask for help, or communicate with those who can mentor their class or subject they are learning. Many students will find success with sending bits of information at a time and letting the conversations evolve from there. Literature teachers may want to require students to plurk their thoughts within small groups as they read chapters or acts of longer works for homework, generating discussion and active reading. Social studies teachers could assign a similar task as students read about history. Math teachers may want to encourage "plurking" as students work on longer, more complex problems. Those writing lab reports for science class may find that plurking will help them collaborate in interpreting data. Consider setting up a regular class "plurk time" in the evening on certain nights of the week or for snow days.

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Define It Fast - WordNet 3.0 Princeton University

Grades
K to 12
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The goal of this website is to become the easiest, fastest online dictionary available. Is it? Try it, you'll be impressed. An exciting tool is the audio component, allowing ...more
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The goal of this website is to become the easiest, fastest online dictionary available. Is it? Try it, you'll be impressed. An exciting tool is the audio component, allowing you to listen to the English pronunciation for selected words ( the triangular "play" button will show next to the word on the entry) . DefineItFast.com has a bookmarklet that you can drag and drop to your browser's link bar (if your computer is not "locked down" at school). When you look up definitions, highlight the word and click the linkbar button or you can directly type the word by clicking the button and click 'OK'. View the tutorial video to learn more about the bookmarklet feature. This site requires Flash, you can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

Note: The dictionary, like many real-world dictionaries, includes words that may not be classroom-appropriate. Decide how you will handle students who make inappropriate choices in using this tool.

tag(s): dictionaries (56)

In the Classroom

Definitely investigate the free Search Engine download that's available to make this tool even more useful. This may become your favorite dictionary-- bar none. You may want to save this site in your favorites on your class computer(s), but see the cautionary note above about the FULL database of words available.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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TeacherTube - Teacher Tube, LLC

Grades
K to 12
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Move over YouTube! Teachers now have their own place to learn and to teach: TeacherTube.com. Since this site is designed specifically for education, there is not as much concern about...more
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Move over YouTube! Teachers now have their own place to learn and to teach: TeacherTube.com. Since this site is designed specifically for education, there is not as much concern about "public" contributions and appropriateness for school! Teachers will find videos suitable for classroom instruction, such as Ben Franklin chatting with a group of students, or there are also professional videos ideal for staff training (such as Classroom Strategies for Differentiated Instruction). Search and view videos or click on the subject area that interests you, and then click on a video to view. To leave comments, save your favorites, or upload your own video, you will need to register. It's all free. Obviously, this isn't a site for students; however, there are many educational videos suitable for all subject areas that you could share with your students. If your school blocks streaming video sites, consider accessing this site and choosing videos at home, using a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube to bring them in for class use.

tag(s): video (262)

In the Classroom

If you are looking for a specific topic, save time and use the search option If you wish to add comments or upload your own Teachertube video, you must register as a user at the site. Create and save your edited videos where you can find them on your computer. (Windows Movie Maker or iMovie are great, free tools for video). Then upload to TeacherTube. You will also receive comments on your uploaded videos. If the teacher is the one uploading, the only potential concerns include posting videos with identifiable information or images about your students, school, or class. Check your school policies about posting pictures of your school. If you post student videos, obtain written parent permission to post student work, again within school policies. Any student visible in a video should also have parent permission in accordance with school policies. The most common classroom use would be viewing many videos that match curriculum content. Rap math, visit Anne Frank's historical locations, or view a grammar lesson--these are just a sampling of videos that you may want to use to enhance your curriculum lessons. Use your interactive whiteboard or projector to share the videos with the class. Use the site's videos as an anticipatory set to a new unit or lesson on a specific topic. Have your students create their own TeacherTube video together as a class on any lesson/topic that you are teaching. Have a contest for the best videos and upload the winners to the site (within school policies, of course). Once the class has videos hosted at TeacherTube, you can also embed them in your class bog or wiki for easy sharing with those in your extended online "community."

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Style and Diction Checker - Edit Central

Grades
1 to 12
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This is a simple, user-friendly, interactive web page for checking writing samples and readability levels. Type, or cut and paste, text into a specified location and watch the analysis...more
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This is a simple, user-friendly, interactive web page for checking writing samples and readability levels. Type, or cut and paste, text into a specified location and watch the analysis begin. The analysis consists of several readability scores such as Flesch reading ease, Automated readability index, Flesch-Kincaid grade level, Coleman-Liau index, Gunning fog index, and SMOG index. The site also provides total counts for the following items: characters, non-space characters, letters/numbers, words, complex words, syllables, sentences, characters per word, syllables per word, and words per sentence.

tag(s): readability (8)

In the Classroom

This site can be helpful in a variety of ways. Primary and secondary classroom teachers can check students' work or have students check their personal work by placing their own text in the box. Reading specialists, classroom teachers, ESL and ELL teachers, and special education teachers can check readability levels of various books to find the right fit for each student. E-books and on-line literature is easy to check with the cut and paste option! Note: if the text is available as a complete web page, you can also use this tool. Student word processing can also be analyzed using the Grammar tools in Word (tools menu), but these two tools yield slightly different information.

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Spore Creature Creator - Electronic Arts, Inc.

Grades
2 to 12
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Use Creature Creator to make interesting and imaginative animals. Your students may recognize it as a tool for making characters for the Spore video game, but it is actually a ...more
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Use Creature Creator to make interesting and imaginative animals. Your students may recognize it as a tool for making characters for the Spore video game, but it is actually a useful tool for learning, as well. Use a pre-made creature or create your own custom creature. Add carnivore features to your creation that include mouths, ears, eyes, arms, hands, feet, and legs. Weapons such as horns, spikes, and clubs can also be added to the creature as well as wings. Change the position of the features and alter them through unbelievable joint changes which then alter how your creature walks and moves. Paint your creation when done and place it in its woodland environment. The creature can walk, show emotion, have offspring, and make sounds. Use the software to take a picture, record a movie, and make an avatar. By adding a description and tags, your creation can be uploaded to the spore website or to a You Tube account. Here is the first Spore tutorial , which is hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, it may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

Creature Creator is a free download but is a limited version of the original purchased program. The purchased program provides many more choices for the features and environments used to make the creatures. The download is available for both PC and Mac.

tag(s): adaptations (17), animals (277), animation (65), classification (25)

In the Classroom

User needs to be able to download and install the free program. Easy to use interface. Start with a blob, which you manipulate into a shape, pulling its spinal cord in any direction with the mouse, before adding a head, limbs and various optional extra body parts. Choose your part by using the onscreen catalog. Manipulate it further by changing the position of joints or through adding or deleting segments. Add a background and move your creature by dragging your mouse for it to follow. Continue to alter your creature to get the movement or features needed.

Pressing "H" brings up the spore guide which includes topic categories such as "Welcome to Spore," "Getting Started," "Build Mode," "Test Drive," and "Paint Mode."

Check your district policy on downloading and installing of programs. Check with your IT department. Teachers who must request software installation by tech staff may want to try this tool at home and create some sample projects to convince administration of its educational value.

Uploading pictures and videos of creations to You Tube or the spore site may expose students to advertising as well as inappropriately created creatures. You may want to send students directly to URLs for their own projects, maintain the creatures on the classroom computer itself, or use Teacher Tube to upload the creations. Uploading creatures enables outsider comments without teacher control. Outsiders can interact or mark the creations as favorites. Many school policies prohibit such interaction, so be sure to check your school policy. You will want to discuss these features in the context of Internet Safety or establish specific written class rules and consequences for interacting with outsiders. Student work can be saved as a picture and printed, as well, for sharing and showing. Check your school policies on whether student work may be displayed online and what information is permitted, then enforce that policy with your students.

The tool does not show which work is attributable to each student. You may want to require student initials on projects in order to get credit.

Use Creature creator to create an unusual creature as a class project. Create a classification system of all the class creatures to demonstrate biology classification skills. When discussing the groupings in the Animal Kingdom, use Creature Creator to create a new organism for that group. Use the tool to create a class creature with adaptations to a specific environment. Have students create a creature and then write a story or poem about it and how it lives. Have students create a creature as a self-portrait of personality or other traits the students possess. Students can design and draw habitats that would house their creation including the calculation of the volume and area the housing would require. Use a classroom projector or white board to share/create creatures in class and discuss specific features of the creatures.

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bubbl.us - Kirill Edelman and Levon Amelyan

Grades
K to 12
14 Favorites 1  Comments
 
This simple and free online tool allows you to brainstorm ideas and create concept maps with no special software! Bubble.us features some highly interactive abilities: saving your mind...more
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This simple and free online tool allows you to brainstorm ideas and create concept maps with no special software! Bubble.us features some highly interactive abilities: saving your mind map as an image, sharing (emailing) your work with a friend, printing your organizer, creating colorful mind map organizers, embedding your work into a website or blog, and working with friends. You are able to "play" at this site without registering; however registration is necessary for saving, embedding, emailing, and other features. NOTE: the free version only allows you to SAVE three maps, so you will want to save your completed maps as images, then deleted them from your membership to make room for more freebies. Here is an example of a bubbl.us map embedded in a page. Click and drag on the background to read more, or try the zoom controls to see more or less.

tag(s): brainstorming (24), graphic organizers (42), mind map (25)

In the Classroom

Click "Start Here" to type the subject of your concept map. Hitting your Enter key creates a new level (branch) within the map. Tab creates an additional branch on the same level as the current topic. Experiment with the small icons on each "element" to change colors, drag, make new connections, etc. Save and set sharing (read-only or open access) in the area at the right. You can "send" a read-only link via email or copy the embed code from the Menu at lower right), but you cannot find the URL directly from your map. "Send" it to yourself via email to copy the actual URL.

There are countless possibilities at this mental mapping site. Demonstrate the tool on an interactive whiteboard or projector, and then allow students to try to create their own graphic organizers. Use this site for literature activities, research projects, social studies, or science topics of study. Use this site to create family trees. Have students collaborate together (online) to create group mind maps or review charts before tests on a given subject. Have students organize color-code concepts to show what they understand, wonder, question; map out a story, plotline, or LIFETIME; map out a step-by-step process (life cycle); map a real historical event as a choose-your-own-adventure with alternate endings(?) based on pivotal points; plan a "tour" for a "thought museum." Use this mapping website as an alternative to a traditional test, quiz, or homework assignment in literature or social studies: have students demonstrate their understanding by completing a graphic organizer about the main points. To minimize the number of maps on a free account, have students screenshot or print their results to turn them in. See more ideas in the linked example above!

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david, TX, Grades: 9 - 12

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