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.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomFind great question starters and projects for increasing critical thinking and creating higher order projects and activities. Use these question starters for writing assignments or larger projects in any content area to move beyond just knowledge. As you design project-based learning, be sure to visit this site to be sure you are putting the HOTS into student tasks!
Grades4 to 9
tag(s): idioms (44)
In the ClassroomSave this site in your favorites or make it available on your class web page for your students to use for review. After students have gone through the exercises here, encourage them to make their own idiom pages and exercises using this format as a model. Challenge cooperative learning groups to create online books including a variety of idioms. Use a tool such as Bookemon reviewed here.
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.
Grades3 to 12
Registration does require 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. This is explained here, and tells how to set up Gmail subaccounts to use for any online membership service. Using Gmail subaccounts will provide anonymous interaction within your class.
tag(s): countries (76)
In the ClassroomUse this site on a projector or interactive whiteboard to discuss and informally assess prior knowledge as you start your study of any country or culture. Another obvious use of this site is for any type of country research projects. This site allows students to explore their previous beliefs about cultures, in the "exploring your cultural baggage" section.This site is excellent for enrichment. Include it on your teacher web page for students to access both in and out of class. This site does include the ability for the general public to submit their own cultural information. Be sure to preview for content inappropriate for your classroom. You may want to limit use to whole-class activities or prohibit accessing the "add to the guide" portion of the site. ESL and ELL students will be proud to make reports to the class about their own countries using this site as backup and illustration. Share this site with language teachers who are taking students on trips beyond the U.S. or as a general resource for cultural information.
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.
GradesK to 12
NOTE: Although the videos are listed on this site, they actually "live" elsewhere on the Internet, so some videos may be blocked in your school (those on YouTube, for example). Always pretest to be sure the video you hope to use is accessible at school!
In the ClassroomShare these videos on your interactive whiteboard or projector. This is a great site to use when planning for substitute teachers, as an introduction to a new unit, or even as additional information on a specific topic.
Challenge cooperative learning groups to create their own videos about topics being studied in social studies, science, math, or nearly any other topic. Share the videos using Teachers.TV reviewed here. Include this link on your class web page for students to access outside of schools for reinforcement and further exploration of concepts.
GradesK to 12
Important note: As with many dictionaries, students will be able to find words that are not appropriate for the classroom. A quick check of the web browser's History will tell you what they have been looking up should you notice a bit too much "interest" in looking up words! Wordnik does add an exclamation point graphic next to inappropriate (swear) words.
If you register, you can add notes to each entry for future use, report typos, and enter information about words. You can also create personal wordlists and more.
As a "social" word tool, Wordnik, is a site for any technology user and could serve as a vocabulary hub for your individual students to become wordaholics by sharing, exploring, commenting, and more -- all about words!
In the ClassroomUse wordnik when students are stumped with definitions or uses of a word. Demonstrate how context clues can help readers understand meanings. Increase vocabulary by finding words that are giving students problems during a lesson and assigning those words to be examined by students. Use wordnik to find words of the day. Students can use wordnik to find examples of the word and create technology or conventional displays of information. Have students create online posters displaying their new vocabulary words. Encourage ESL/ELL students and those with weaker vocabulary to use Wordnik often, possibly creating personal word lists, recording pronunciations, or sharing words with each other (see safety concerns). Use an online poster creator, such as Glogster, (reviewed here). Another technology infused idea: create an online glossary book as a class (or in cooperative learning groups) using a tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here.
Since the general public can share, make comments, etc, on this site, use this opportunity to discuss netiquette of commenting, and other appropriate behavior on "social" sites before allowing students to establish accounts. Spell out consequences and be sure you know the usernames and passwords your students use. Less mature students may be very tempted by the opportunities to play with "bad" words or record their voices.
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 12
In the ClassroomWhy search for these sites, when the links can all be found in one place? Use this site in combination with TeachersFirst's rich reviews. Students can use these links as a springboard to research and projects. Be sure to save this site in your personal favorites! There is a lot to explore. List this site on your class website and/or wiki for students to access both in and out of the classroom.
GradesK to 6
In the ClassroomShare this site on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Assign your students some of these stories to read to use as models for their own creative writing. Try the online spelling bee and ask your students to compare that to the live version! Have students read their own creative stories on a podcast. Use a tool such as PodOmatic, reviewed here, or upload illustrations and read the story on ThingLink, reviewed here.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this site to show your students that anyone can become a poet when they balk at reading poetry. Share some of the poetry on your projector or interactive whiteboard. Read some of your required poems and then look at the "Tags" and ask your students to decide where poetry written by others should be placed. Go on to ask them if they can think of other Tags to add. Since many of the poems here have holiday themes, use this as a quick activity before a holiday or to encourage students to reflect on family holiday traditions. ESL/ELL students will not have to worry so much about their grammar when embarking on poetry writing! They'll love to be thought creative. If you are permitted to "publish" your students' poetry, why not go one step further and have them narrate a picture using the words from their poem at a site such as ThingLink reviewed here. Or have students share their poems using a podcasting site such as PodOmatic (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 (261)
In the ClassroomHave students make a vocabulary list of new words they see/hear from the stories each week. Include a story from NFY every week to present a slightly different take on the television news or paper news headlines. Have your students create their own "headline" news and video the projects! Share the videos using a tool such as TeacherTube reviewed here.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomIf you have students with limited vision or certain specific qualifying learning disabilities in your class, be sure to save this useful resource in your favorites. List this link on your class website or wiki or email it to parents of these children. If possible, share this site with those teachers working with students with limited vision and qualifying disabilities.
Grades2 to 12
tag(s): authors (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).
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomDisplay favorite literary passages to compare writing styles, vocabulary level, and to do identification quizzes! Use for teaching reading skills such as main idea, looking for transitional and clue words, using context to figure out word meanings, etc. Teach grammar, parts of speech, and use of quotation marks by viewing actual literature using the interactive whiteboard or projector. Read the classics without spending a penny!
Grades2 to 12
This site includes advertising.
In the ClassroomCreate a new group by finding an already listed school or adding your own. Create flashcards easily by entering the question, answer, explanations, and mnemonics in the appropriate tabs. Students can create a profile and join or create a group.
Consider creating a class account that has a global login and password that all students can access. Students would need to be cautioned against deleting or changing flashcards created by other students. Students would not be able to join groups using this option. All projects are public. Check your school policy for posting student work online.
Create flashcards for students to study or have students create them as an assignment. Create the original questions of the flashcards and assign students to determine the answers, find links for additional information, and add hints and mnemonics to complete the deck. Have groups of students use the flashcards for study time and for critique of the flashcard deck creator(s.) No matter the topic or subject, this flashcard site has great uses for student learning. Use flash cards for terminology, test review, or reinforcement. Have students create and critique sets as the actual assessment, replacing traditional tests and quizzes.
Includes Interaction w general public/ public galleries with unmoderated content
Includes social features, such as "friends," comments, ratings by others
Requires registration/log-in (WITH email)
Products can be shared by URL
Multiple users can collaborate on the same project
GradesK to 6
The "Teachers Section" includes a treasure of information (see the tabs on the LEFT side). Some of the information on other sections of the Teacher Page involves an online course. But there is enough FREE stuff on the left side to make this site phenomenal: podcasts, videos, and many lesson topics. Find lesson plans, videos, teaching tips, research, and more about Prior Knowledge, Making Connections, Questioning, Visualizing, Inferring, Summarizing, Evaluating, Synthesizing, and Using Other Strategies. The Student portion offers interactive, technology-based activities for each of the comprehension concepts. Check out the student-created Visualizing activities, including drawing pictures and adding music using the online tools. This site requires both Flash and Adobe Acrobat. You can get both from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.