Grades6 to 12
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.
In the ClassroomUse 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).
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomThis site is fairly simple to use. Join the site (free) and log in. Navigation of the site is simple. Click on Tree to start your family tree (or Timeline to use that free resource. For the family tree, arrows are provided to add family members. The arrows pointing up indicate a parent, arrows to the left or right are used to add a wife/husband or brother/sister, and arrows pointing down are used to add a son or daughter.
This site allows users to set-up their family tree or timeline as PRIVATE. It allows you to control who can and can't view your profile, family tree, and other information. For more information about this feature, visit the Settings link (on the top right corner). Before you plan your family tree project, be sure to get parental permission.
Possible Uses: Use this site to create family tree projects in elementary or middle school classes. Have high school students create family trees as part of an immigration unit studying patterns in social studies classes. In science class, have students create fictitious "people" as they study genetics. With younger students, create a class timeline sharing important dates for individuals (i.e. birthdays) and class dates (field trips, tests, or other special events). Have students share their family trees on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Be sure to "advertise" this project on your class website (and newsletter, if applicable) so students have time to gather names, birthdates, and other information about family members. In world language classes, have student create a family tree using the correct vocabulary for relatives and talk about it as they share it on the interactive whiteboard. When researching famous people, reading biographies, or even reading literature have students create a family tree illustrating their discoveries about their famous person, writer, artist, musician, explorer, literary character, etc.
Parent permission advised before posting student work created using this tool
Includes Interaction w general public/ public galleries with unmoderated content
Requires registration/log-in (WITH email)
Products can be embedded
Products can be shared by URL
Multiple users can collaborate on the same project
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomUse 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.
Grades8 to 12
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 ClassroomSuggest 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.
Grades4 to 12
Be aware: this site also has advertisements for books for sale. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
tag(s): map skills (81)
In the ClassroomNavigating the site is fairly easy. Manipulate the map as you would on Google Maps (zoom, drag, etc). Simply click to read the articles, weather reports, and view the photos or video clips (teacher-previewed, of course). Use this fabulous site as an addition to your geography class or as a reference when looking up ANY world location from current events, literary settings, and more. Take your students virtually to a new location every day! Share the site on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Challenge students to write a blog as a native from the highlighted country. In world language classes, have students plot a trip or write an imaginary story of their dream trip to Spain, Mexico, France, China (or whatever country/language they are studying). Take your students on a virtual trip to the native countries where the language is spoken. Have your ESL or ELL students take the class on a virtual tour of their home country.
For a more extensive project, have your students work on "building up" the Mapdango resources available for your area using the various tools that Mapdango draws upon. Of course, you will need to work within school policies to access these tools. Add more pictures to Panoramio, contribute more detailed articles to wikipedia, etc. Be sure to include the link to YOUR town's Mapdango entry on your class web page!
Safety/Security Concerns: Registration is required to use the social features, but they are not necessary for "exploring" a location. Make sure you have a clear class policy and consequences regarding the social features of the site. This site is so rich in information that it is a good one to use to teach ethical and safe use of web resources, especially how to avoid non-essential portions of a good site.
Grades6 to 12
tag(s): spelling (166)
In the ClassroomCheck school policies about establishing a "class" log in with an official email address instead of having the students use their own. 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.
Refer students to improve their oral comprehension or applied spelling skills at this site. Teacers can also create or assign recordings for required listening and dictation, differentiating for each student's level. There are some French recordings that could be used in a world language class, as well. Why not have your students create their own recordings to challenge their classmates?
Grades1 to 12
This site requires registration (with an email address and user name). The registration page says that the site is available "by invitation only," however our reviewers found that we were able to register. This site requires Windows Media Player. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
In the ClassroomUse this site to tape read-alongs for reluctant readers, ESL, or ELL students. This site is especially useful for ESL, ELL, speech, world language, and special education classrooms. Have your students use initials or assign logical pseudonyms (Ex. MsGper2-12, MsGper2-13, etc.) for their user names. Keep your own record of their user names and passwords for accountability in case there are any problems. Make this site available on classroom computers with ear phones for any time students want to hear something read.
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomClassroom applications abound. Imagine your class chatting with pen pals in Crete or Amsterdam, and asking them current events questions. Imagine practicing foreign language skills using this tool. Send messages to experts in other countries as your class researches their culture. Travel around the world virtually, through discussions with other classrooms in foreign countries. Use two laptops and you and your ESL or ELL student can chat while learning each other's language, since all translations are on screen. Caution: As with all instant messaging, you would want to only talk with pre-approved people. This is not a program you would want your students to use unsupervised. There are forums, a blog, and chats already set up (look in your "room drawer" after you log in). Preview these to select the best venue for your class' purposes. Since the site requires a membership, you will most likely want to use a single class account so you can monitor how it is being used and avoid inappropriate contacts. If you do use student accounts, check your school policies on using student email to register and make sure classroom use is within approved school policy. This beta is constantly adding new features. Check the blog for the latest.
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomEstablishing membership requires an email account. Check your school policies about accessing/sharing student email on school computers. 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. You will want to join and explore the site before assigning students to use it so you know how to navigate.
Assign specific "lessons" for your ESL or world language students, but be aware that the free version does not permit you to monitor progress on student accounts.Therefore you will want to use this as a practice site more than a formal assessment tool. Demonstrate the navigation on your projector or interactive whiteboard before assigning students to work independently. If you have mp3 players available, you can load a listening assignment for students to "take out." Be sure to include this site on your teacher web page for students to access both in and outside of class for further practice. Refer your ESL students to this page if they are impatient to become fluent quickly.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomSearch the multitude of webquests that are "ready to go" at this site. If you are looking for a more personal touch, you can create your own webquest for each class, tailored to what you want to cover or want students to research. This site also provides a place to post a personal portfolio of your work (if you choose to include any student work, you must have written permission to do so from the student and his or her parent). You might also want students to create webquests as final products of group research projects. Be sure to provide a meaningful rubric for the essential features.
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this site as an anticipatory set or "activator" to introduce a world cultures or geography unit or lesson on an interactive whiteboard or projector. This site offers a visual approach to studying and comparing other countries and interesting research information to use for independent projects. This site is also excellent for enrichment. Include it on your teacher web page for students to access both in and out of class. Use this site to introduce the countries your ESL and ELL students represent. Have your ESL and ELL students guide the interactive picture tour for the class. World language teachers can use this site as part of their cultural studies.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomTour Ancient Mexico as a whole class activity with an interactive whiteboard or projector. If students have access to computers, let groups delve into selected topics and create travel posters and brochures as their research projects. Students can look at the cities in ruins, explore architectural styles and ceremonial uses of the buildings, and find contemporary examples.
Grades2 to 10
Be sure to turn off your pop-up blocker so you can "see" all the site content. Although the pronunciation is in British English, this is a great, high-content site. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..
In the ClassroomSave this site to your favorites so you (and your students) can easily find this site. Include this site on your teacher web page for students and parents to access as a reference and for engaging extra practice.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomTry a few words in another language with your class as you study world geography and history! This site is especially useful in ESL, ELL, and world language classrooms. Have your students plan a pretend vacation and study a few words of the target language before they go. Ask students to go beyond the games by guessing the answers before they appear on the screen.
Grades7 to 12
Teacher registration is free and students don't need email accounts or registration to access the tools. Go to http://clear.msu.edu/teaching/online/ria/index.php to click on the link for Rich Internet Applications. The tools provide great ways to create interactive audio and video language prompts, record student responses, and collect them into audio dropboxes for teacher assessment.
The website also includes an extensive library of interactive multimedia modules for language learning, practice, and assessment. The modules are based on video clips that show native speakers and nonnative speakers interacting in natural, unscripted situations.
In the ClassroomLanguage teachers can create a series of audio/video prompts for their students with the program "Conversations." Learners can access the questions in practice mode or real-time mode. Students' responses to the prompts are automatically saved so that teachers can monitor their work. SMILE is a collection of templates to create interactive language practice exercises that can be accessed from web pages. A record-keeping function allows learners to log their work for their teacher to view. Go beyond paper-based worksheets by adding interactive and multimedia elements such as drag-drop matching, instant feedback, and audio recording and playback with the worksheets tools. The "Broadcasts" program lets teachers record audio files and distribute them to students for playback on the computer or on their portable media devices. Viewpoint is an audio and video repository that lets teachers record audio/video online using a microphone or webcam, or upload existing media.
Grades2 to 12
Important technical note: Lingro cannot "see" words included in Flash interactives such as the "What's New" rotating content on the TeachersFirst home page. If you RIGHT click on an area of text and see "About Adobe Flash Player...," this means that the text is displayed in Flash and not "legible" to Lingro. Often pages offer a non-Flash version as an alternative.
In the ClassroomWhen your ESL/ELL, learning support, or weaker readers do Internet research on sites above their independent reading level, have them open Lingro first and then enter the URL (web address) they wish to read. Use Lingro for vocabulary development in any subject. Mark this site as a favorite on your classroom computer or on your teacher web page so that ESL/ELL, world language students, or weaker readers can use the definition and translation feature and benefit from instantly-created word lists. If your school permits individual student accounts on web tools, this is a good one. If not, create a single teacher account to compile class word lists.
Grades2 to 12
tag(s): air (163)
In the ClassroomUse these templates with any subject you wish to review: foreign language word lists, social studies terms and concepts, science, language arts, art, music, sped, etc. These activities offer an excellent method to review information through a fun and different approach. Teachers can also have students create their own versions of review games.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomMark this site as a Favorite on your classroom computer or on your teacher web page and assign ESL/ELL students to check it weekly for a new idiomatic expression. Newer ESL and ELL students may find the translation feature helpful. The foreign language options could be useful in a German, French, Spanish, or Chinese class. Check your school policies on allowing students to participate in the forum area, and obtain written parent permission before students log on. You may want to use the forum as a whole-class activity with a teacher account. Monitor the discussion boards for a week or two before deciding if they are appropriate for your school situation.
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomTake your students on a journey around the world. Use your interactive whiteboard or projector to share specific video clips with your class. This website is also useful for individual research on numerous destinations throughout the world. Why not assign each student a different country to research. Provide time for the students to view the video clips relevant to their country. Have a class "World Day," and have students present multi-media presentations about their country. World language teachers will also love the rich options within this site.
Grades5 to 12
IMPORTANT NOTE: This site includes tools for blog users to interact (in English or Spanish). Any visitor can comment on the posts and podcasts or participate in Forums. There is also a link to a sister blog on Spanish culture. Check your school policies on students posting comments, etc. to the web and whether they are permitted to do so anonymously and/or with name or initials.
This site requires Quicktime. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..
In the ClassroomThis site is a treasure trove for Spanish teachers. It also provides a way for your ESL and ELL students to share their language and culture as the focus of a lesson, perhaps as you study other cultures. Have the ESL or ELL students and native English speakers work on understanding podcasts together. They can discuss what they understood and what they did not. You might have your Spanish speakers write out the dialogue and vocabulary selections, but be sure to have a knowledgeable adult check the Spanish before using it with your students.
To alleviate safety concerns, you might want to create a simple class policy (e.g. initials only) and obtain parent permission before inviting your class to participate in the blog, since you will not be able to monitor their submissions. The site does moderate to prevent "bad" comments from appearing online, but you do not control this moderation. ALL blog comments require an email address (kept hidden). If safety and school policy concerns limit student access, use the site as a whole-class activity and selectively choose portions for students to use. You can assign DIRECT links to podcasts by right-clicking the "Audio: download" link and copying the URL that shows in "Properties," ex. http://media.libsyn.com/media/learnrealspanish/nisbeginners20_el_kindle.mp3. Students can RIGHT-click >Save target as to download and load podcast files to their mp3 players or simply keep to listen over and over at a computer.