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Scratch - Lifelong Kindergarten Group, MIT Media Lab

Grades
1 to 12
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Want to get in touch with your inner child? Get Scratch! Warning: The use of this application is quite fun and engaging! Scratch is a downloaded program that creates interactive ...more
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Want to get in touch with your inner child? Get Scratch! Warning: The use of this application is quite fun and engaging! Scratch is a downloaded program that creates interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art. This application can be used for bringing simple ideas and projects to life. It has great use as a paint program without using the animations. Downloads/install files are available for Mac or PC. Other links include a Getting Started pdf, Help screens to show what each block controls and how to use, and a Reference Guide which provides an overview of the interface. A support page is also available for help in using the application.

Material created can only be viewed within the program. Drawings are not saved as a jpg or pic file. However, a "snapshot" of the screen can be created by using these keys in Mac: apple, shift, and 4 and click/drag to surround the portion to save. In PC use: control/print screen. These snapshots can be uploaded or used as a picture in other applications.

tag(s): animation (63), drawing (78)

In the Classroom

Quick start: Click stage and in the center pane, click on backgrounds. Click on paint to make a new background. Different colors, pens, and materials can be used to create the background or an image can be brought in from your computer. Objects in Scratch are called a Sprite and can be added in by choosing the folders below the screen. By clicking the script tab, blocks can be moved in to create motion, add sounds (even record your own message), and change the look of the Sprite. Blocks are linked on to each other to create a series of events. A control block dragged to the top of the blocks control which key starts the event. Advanced options include adding variables and other controls.

Be sure to check with your Technology Department, as many districts require authorization to download or install new applications. Projects can be shared online; however an account is required.

Work is saved to the computer itself and only shared online via an account. To avoid problems concerning content made by outsiders or issues with sharing, save the work locally and either create your own gallery on a supervised class website/wiki or set up a single account where you share the "best" projects online via your own log-in. Remind students of the school's Acceptable Use Policy and consequences of violations, if you do allow them to join/share. Images used should adhere to all copyright rules. Use pictures taken in class or those with Creative Commons licensing (and provide attribution!).

Practical tips: Students quickly catch on to this program when allowed to play and easily see what they can make from it. Provide a simple assignment with defined rules/tasks to learn the tools. Younger students may familiarize themselves more easily working with a partner. Have students use a storyboard to write down what they will do/draw/say in their creation in order to keep tabs on what students and their creations.

Possible uses: For the lower grades, Scratch provides unlimited possibilities. Use as a new way to show vocabulary usage. Use the paint program to add information to a picture from your class field trip or science experiment. Use Scratch to help in storytelling a concept in a new and unique way, such as how rocks are formed. In the upper grades, use Scratch to show complex material in a new way. For example, students can draw DNA and show replication, etc. through their drawings and storytelling. Draw the different movements of landforms in plate tectonics. Draw or illustrate solutions to Math problems.

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Ten Creative Writing Activities - Traci Gradner

Grades
4 to 12
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This site offers ten widely-varied creative writing activities that range in level from upper elementary grades through high school. In some way, they all help the students be invested...more
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This site offers ten widely-varied creative writing activities that range in level from upper elementary grades through high school. In some way, they all help the students be invested in their writing by making the topic personal, from "found treasures" to "show and tell" which works as well (although differently) with high school students as elementary ones.

tag(s): creative writing (166), writing (359)

In the Classroom

These are great activities to have at the tip of your fingers for days when inspiration just runs dry or you are looking for a new approach to creative writing. You might have each student bring in one thing for your "found treasures" bag and then pull them out at random for a class story. The "jumble story" idea is also great because you can substitute current events or topical characters or settings.

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Calibrated Peer Review - University of California

Grades
9 to 12
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This site offers teachers the option of having students do writing assignments on the web. It also offers students the chance to comment on the writings of their classmates. After ...more
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This site offers teachers the option of having students do writing assignments on the web. It also offers students the chance to comment on the writings of their classmates. After registering as an institution administrator or just a class administrator, the instructor can put up the writing assignment and attach relevant links, graphics, and other references. Although the lesson plan is part of the overall site offerings, the student responses are not visible to anyone but the class administrator. Another option for the teacher is to browse the lesson plans already created by other teachers and use them if so desired. This site works with Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. You also must have cookies enabled in your web browser.

Although the collection of lesson plans is heavily science oriented, there are plans from other subject areas, for high school and college. The site appears to function just fine, though the copyright date on most areas is 2001.

tag(s): editing (61), grammar (216)

In the Classroom

Use this site to teach students how to do peer editing. Besides allowing them to see their classmates' writings, it has a series of specific questions, called calibrations, which give them ways to make effective comments. After students make comments on others' essays by responding within a "calibration framework," they can read, respond to, and correct their own writings.

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Dragon Writing Prompts - Joyce Fetteroll

Grades
8 to 12
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While this site would require some supervision, the variety makes it very attractive to the writing teacher. It has prompts that are pictures, others that are quotes, still others that...more
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While this site would require some supervision, the variety makes it very attractive to the writing teacher. It has prompts that are pictures, others that are quotes, still others that give first and last lines, or simply words-- either real or made up. The categories given in the right hand column range from adopt-a-plot to year-long mystery. Both students as writers and teachers as instructors are limited only by their imaginations! Check out the site first as some schools may block what appears to be a blog site, but really is something quite different.

tag(s): creative writing (166), writing (359), writing prompts (92)

In the Classroom

Assign a small group of students to each kind of prompt category and create a writing contest for each week or month. You can create prizes, publish bulletin boards, or even create your own class online writing magazine wiki with the results.

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Literature Board Games - Gary Brooks

Grades
7 to 12
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This site is a practical explanation of how to create board games based on literature students have read. It gives the list of supplies needed and suggestions on how to ...more
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This site is a practical explanation of how to create board games based on literature students have read. It gives the list of supplies needed and suggestions on how to encourage students to be original.

tag(s): literature (275)

In the Classroom

Using this idea as a "final" evaluation of text is a good way for students to remember. A more technologically advanced idea is for students to create a PowerPoint game or other multimedia presentation. Have the students share their projects on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Board games are also a more innovative way to have students do individual book reports, particularly if several students in the class are reading the same book.

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Meg Cabot - Meggin Cabot

Grades
6 to 12
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This official website for author Meg Cabot is a tool to encourage journal writing. It has journal writing tips, downloadable journal pages, a bibliography of other journal selections,...more
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This official website for author Meg Cabot is a tool to encourage journal writing. It has journal writing tips, downloadable journal pages, a bibliography of other journal selections, an opportunity to journal with the author, and more. This website requires Adobe Acrobat. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): writing (359)

In the Classroom

Use this site to encourage daily writing. Help students improve their sentence structure and use grammar painlessly through frequent personal writing. ESL and ELL students will enjoy journal-writing as a safe place to practice without corrections. Some journal-writing can also take place on classroom blogs, though you may want to keep uncorrected student blogs behind passwords until students are comfortable with the more public setting.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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NaNoWriMo's Young Writers' Program - NaNoWriMo.org

Grades
6 to 12
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A site that is suitable for 12-year-olds and up, this offers students the chance to write a novel, either individually or as a group. The first project took place in ...more
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A site that is suitable for 12-year-olds and up, this offers students the chance to write a novel, either individually or as a group. The first project took place in 2007, but the organizers continue to post new ideas and upcoming, related events. The contest has become an annual event. By its own admission, this is about quantity, not quality, but the idea is to get words on paper. There is a section for individual students to work, but there is also a teacher lounge where you can sign up for a kit to work with a class and you can determine how you want to use the site as a prompt. All of the novel work students do remains the property of the author, so there's no problem with ownership. You do have to register for an account (student or teacher), but it is free. The site's upfront admission that much of what students write initially will be bad and the variety of ideas to get particularly reluctant writers to get words on paper make this site a winner.

tag(s): novels (24)

In the Classroom

Teachers can use this challenge to get their kids writing. It also offers the chance to be published online. Even if you don't participate in the novel project, you can use this idea on your own website or blog.

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6+1 Trait Writing Lesson Plans - Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory

Grades
1 to 12
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This extensive website provides lesson plans that focus on 6 Trait Writing. The lesson plans are broken down by grade levels (1-3, 4-5, 6-8, and 9-12). You are able to ...more
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This extensive website provides lesson plans that focus on 6 Trait Writing. The lesson plans are broken down by grade levels (1-3, 4-5, 6-8, and 9-12). You are able to search the lesson plans by grade level AND the specific trait. There are lesson plans about ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions . Most of the lesson plans contain many components, such as books to use in the lesson, printable worksheets, class activities, and much more. Many of the lesson plans involve writing across the curriculum and include social studies, science topics, and other subject areas. Don't miss the useful links provided on the left-side of the page (prompts, scoring, and more). Some of the activities require Adobe Acrobat Reader. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): fluency (23), rubrics (32), six traits of writing (8), writing (359)

In the Classroom

What a fabulous website to use to focus on various traits. Use these free lesson plans to find specific lessons for your grade level on the trait that you are teaching. Why not use the traits learned in writing class to create a written assignment in another curriculum area.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Awesome Comics Webquest - Grammarman.com

Grades
4 to 12
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This complete unit gives ESL/ELL students get an opportunity to create (write and draw) a new comic character for the Grammarman comic series. (See TeachersFirst's...more
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This complete unit gives ESL/ELL students get an opportunity to create (write and draw) a new comic character for the Grammarman comic series. (See TeachersFirst's review of the broader Grammarman web site for other activities that may require less time). Students are able to research the history of comics, drawing, manga, super heroes, character development, and more. Throughout the webquest, students can check out what other students have created. After going through the 8 stages of the webquest, reading, writing, and drawing, your students can submit the finished product to the student pages so others can enjoy their creation. Notes for teachers summarize each of the 8 steps and make suggestions about how to use this webquest in a shorter time period. Eager comic creators who aren't ESL/ELL students will also enjoy a modified version of this quest. This website requires FLASH. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), drawing (78), grammar (216)

In the Classroom

Share this webquest on laptops or a classroom computer cluster for students to accomplish the "quest." Use this project in an ESL/ELL class as a cumulative review of each student's specific grammar problem. Pair ESL students with a native speaker to work on the research and drawing. This creative activity is sure to excite ESL/ELL students and native English speakers.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Kidlink - Kidlink

Grades
3 to 12
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This website provides an online connection to students from various areas of the world. There are links provided for students, families, and teachers. The website is available in various...more
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This website provides an online connection to students from various areas of the world. There are links provided for students, families, and teachers. The website is available in various languages - English, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Portuguese. Students can share stories, artwork, and more. The educational content includes life planning skills (careers), social studies (geography, government, history, etc.), writing, and many other academic areas. Free registration is required for each student and teacher. All content is monitored by volunteer moderators. What a fabulous resource to use in geography or language arts class. This website doesn't just teach students about countries throughout the world, but also allows students to interact with students of various cultures as they write and respond to each other in this safe environment.

tag(s): careers (132), cultures (105)

In the Classroom

Students need not have their own email to use this site. Kidlink explains that they are permitted to use the teacher's email address (which allows you to monitor their activities, as well). You might want to use your "extra" email account. Set up accounts for your students to communicate in your world language class or as part of your study of other continents. With younger students, you may want to communicate as a whole-class activity, composing on a projector or interactive whiteboard.

If your school policies limit your ability to use such a site, see the FAQ information and ready-to-go presentation explaining Kidlink. Share it with your principal and parents. ALWAYS get written parent permission when sharing student work/ideas online.

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Multimedia in Education - Chris Clementi

Grades
6 to 10
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This website will challenge students and teachers alike. The website is in WebQuest format, but could easily be broken down into a shorter lesson. The main topic is multimedia in ...more
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This website will challenge students and teachers alike. The website is in WebQuest format, but could easily be broken down into a shorter lesson. The main topic is multimedia in education and designing multimedia products to fit the content and the audience of the presentation. Nearly every student and/or teacher can learn something new about computer capabilities. This website is eye-opening and very well done. The "task" is to choose a topic (such as culture, weather, animals, or world issues) and to choose images and videos to complement the research topic. Students also have the option to add sound effects and music.

By completing this web activity, students learn about various computer programs available (such as Audacity, Movie Maker, iMovie, WMP, and Real Player). Other technology topics discussed include resizing images, identifying the differences between a jpg and gif, how to grab audio from videos, and much more. There are detailed directions available in PDF format. This website requires FLASH and Adobe, get both from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

Teachers, you might want to try some of these activities on your own. You might be surprised at how much information you will learn about computer capabilities and multimedia in education. Perhaps you can create a sample student project as an individualized professional development goal beofe doing this unit with your team.

tag(s): images (266), movies (64)

In the Classroom

What a fabulous website to use to integrate technology into your lessons (in science, social studies, LA, and other curriculum areas). Use this website as a process step the first time students research any topic so they can create an effective multimedia presentation as their final project. If you team teach (as in middle school), orient the entire team to multimedia projects using this site early in the year, so all teachers can assume the same skills in your students.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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English: Writing to Argue, Persuade, or Advise - BBC

Grades
8 to 12
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One of the most difficult types of writing for students to master is persuasive writing. While they can speak persuasively, they often have trouble writing that way. This site breaks...more
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One of the most difficult types of writing for students to master is persuasive writing. While they can speak persuasively, they often have trouble writing that way. This site breaks it down for them step by step, taking the mystery out of persuasive writing and helping them be more successful. The website explains how to get started, genre, audience, writing to persuade, writing to argue, writing to advise, and then reviews for a British exam comparable to American NCLB standardized writing prompts. There are also links (tests) that provide excellent review questions. Since this website was created by the BBC, students will notice the slight spelling differences. Also, be advised that the word "revise" in British English means "review." Enjoy stopping to figure out what an "MP" is with your American students.

tag(s): persuasive writing (55), writing (359)

In the Classroom

This information is useful to break down into smaller sections with a particular topic. Have students pick a persuasive or argumentative thesis and then set them to work on an interactive whiteboard, using the steps at this site. The "tests" at each section are very helpful in showing organization and persuasive language. Why not make the tests a class or small group review by using an interactive whiteboard or projector?

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StumbleUpon - StumbleUpon

Grades
8 to 12
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Want to "stumble upon" some great sites? Use StumbleUpon to browse websites without having to enter search terms and click through search pages. Choose categories that you are ...more
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Want to "stumble upon" some great sites? Use StumbleUpon to browse websites without having to enter search terms and click through search pages. Choose categories that you are interested in. These can be updated at any time. Choose hobbies, interests, or teaching subjects. When the StumbleUpon button on the tool bar is pressed, StumbleUpon presents a website to fit your interests. Simply click the thumbs up "I like it" or the thumbs down symbol on the tool bar to "teach" StumbleUpon what you like. StumbleUpon seeks out interesting pages you might otherwise not see. The more you Stumble and indicate your preferences, the more Stumble Upon will refine its understanding of what you like. On the StumbleUpon site, you can see your favorites, as well as the top rated websites, videos, and photos from their many "stumblers." Firefox or Internet Explorer is required.

tag(s): bookmarks (60), evaluating sources (13), social networking (112)

In the Classroom

The best use of this site is for teacher research. Hit the Stumble button once or twice a day to find new ideas and new sites for teaching. Skills needed: Join the site (free, but requires email). Download and install the tool bar for Firefox or Internet Explorer and create your "identity." Click the Stumble button. Though you may not get websites relating to just one specific topic, many in your field or interest group will come up. Bookmark these for later use. LOG OUT of Stumble Upon when you are not at your computer to avoid unauthorized use.

Be wise and choose your interests carefully. For example, if you are interested in photography, you will receive random photo sites. Though many have wonderful photos, a few may have questionable content not appropriate for education. Since StumbleUpon has other uses, such as "dating" and "friends," and the ability to see other "popular" sites, you will want to use a single class account to model and teach web site critique and evaluation as a whole class. Individual student profiles can be problematic to supervise unless your school has built a strong, enforceable Acceptable Use Policy, signed by both student and parent, that holds the STUDENT accountable for his/her behavior, not you.

If your school uses a filter (U.S. schools are required to do so by law), any streaming media and other sites may be blocked. If you "Stumble" at home and find a useful site, follow your school's technology policy to request unblocking of specific URLs that are directly related to curriculum.

Editorial comment: Be sure to SHARE your reason for using the site with administrators and school decision-makers to demonstrate why school policies should permit such powerful tools for teaching and learning. You may have to "prove" the worth of StumbleUpon by providing specific examples of the content you have found through this tool, especially since many schools prevent users from downloading and installing any software at all. Be sure to talk about -- and follow through on -- teaching students how to critique and evaluate websites as research skills. General surfing the web in the classroom is not considered best practice, and your example will speak volumes. You may need to become an expert "Stumbler" at home to build your case for accessing and demonstrating the tool at school.

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English literature: Lord of the Flies - BBC

Grades
9 to 12
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This site gives us context, plot, characters, themes, and a model essay question and answer for the novel Lord of the Flies . While the context is quite short ...more
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This site gives us context, plot, characters, themes, and a model essay question and answer for the novel Lord of the Flies . While the context is quite short (Golding's biography is all of 4 sentences!), it gives insight into some of the meaning that Golding himself took from war and his own time as a teacher. The brief plot summaries are just enough to remind students of what each chapter is about-- all the detail is in the novel. Characters and themes are presented with interactive questions and self-quizzes that students can use to review or quiz themselves. One language note: to "revise" material in the UK is the same as to "review" it in the U.S. One "revises" before a test.

tag(s): literature (275)

In the Classroom

This is a great supplementary site for pre-reading or for reviewing. An especially nice extra is the inclusion of a sample essay question and answer. It sets up the question to be answered in a five-paragraph theme and offers possible topic sentences as an outline for writing that theme. Using the sample on a projector or interactive whiteboard is a good way to help students learn how to structure their own essay answers. Have students share and critique essays on the projector or interactive whiteboard.

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English Literature: Jane Eyre - BBC

Grades
10 to 12
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This site excels at giving background to the novel, as well as reviewing plot, characters, and themes of Jane Eyre . It discusses the time period, the Gothic novel ...more
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This site excels at giving background to the novel, as well as reviewing plot, characters, and themes of Jane Eyre . It discusses the time period, the Gothic novel genre, and the background to the novel itself. Each section offers review for students then interactive quizzes to test themselves. Since this is a British site, the word "revise" is used in place of what Americans call "review."

tag(s): literature (275)

In the Classroom

A great review before a test, this site is also good for pre-reading activities to build understanding of 18th century times and novels, particularly the views of women. The sample question takes students through a step-by-step writing of an outline for an essay. On a projector or interactive whiteboard, students might write their own collaborative answers to the sample outline and then compare it with the finished model given.

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English literature: Of Mice and Men - BBC

Grades
8 to 10
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This is a good site to introduce the Of Mice and Men or to review and quiz student knowledge as they read. It offers very general, but valuable information on ...more
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This is a good site to introduce the Of Mice and Men or to review and quiz student knowledge as they read. It offers very general, but valuable information on context, including a brief Steinbeck biography, background on the depression, information on migrant workers (complete with Woody Guthrie song accompaniment), and a picture of housing. Print these brief sources or use the menus for plot, character, or theme to locate some explanations and interactive quizzes. Note to American students: "Revise" in the U.K. is the same as "Review" in the U.S. Check out the section called "Sample Question." This section helps students think about answering thoughtful questions about this novel. It provides "preparation," a sample question, and a model answer -- complete with commentary on that answer.

In the Classroom

The "sample question" is a great lesson to go over with on an interactive whiteboard or projector in class or have students work through individually or include in student blogs.

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Wolf Quest - Minnesota Zoo

Grades
4 to 12
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This fabulous website about wolves and habitats in Yellowstone allows participants to "live" as a wolf, raise their young, explore the wilderness, go hunting, and survive. Students...more
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This fabulous website about wolves and habitats in Yellowstone allows participants to "live" as a wolf, raise their young, explore the wilderness, go hunting, and survive. Students can work alone or with partners, as they learn about wolves in the wild. Students can consult biologists, write original stories, create drawings, and more. This is the first episode; future installments are expected in late 2008. Students and/or teachers must register (free)to use the program. We recommend using a single class/teacher registration or parent/student written agreements for student registrations in order to prevent inappropriate postings "clever" students might make on the community discussion boards. There are also detailed lesson plans (click on Wolf Info > classroom activities). The lesson plans include national science standards. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): zoology (7)

In the Classroom

Introduce this free resource on interactive whiteboard or projector. The lesson plans and interactive activity are both perfect tools to drum up enthusiasm in biology class. The Game Info provides excellent descriptors and instructions for using this program. Be sure to check back for updated episodes. Include this website on your teacher web site (and the activities) as one of a set of activities on animals and their habitats to be done in class or outside. Then challenge your students to work together in documenting local animals and habitats in a class wiki or group science fair project.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Literature: What makes a good short story - Annenberg Media

Grades
6 to 10
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This website walks students through analysis of a story. It allows for discussion as a group as well as individual analysis by students of particular elements of a story. You ...more
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This website walks students through analysis of a story. It allows for discussion as a group as well as individual analysis by students of particular elements of a story. You can choose to read the story A Jury of Her Peers or print it so students can read it ahead of time. After reading the story, the website take students through the plot, character, point of view, setting, and theme analysis. One of the major points of this site is the emphasis on the text as the determining factor for stories.

tag(s): elements (36), literature (275), plot (10), point of view (9), setting (11)

In the Classroom

Since this is an interactive site, you can choose to walk students through it yourself, or you can assign them to do it independently or with a partner. With younger students it would work well to walk them through it, then assign them a different story to try themselves. For older students, you might create a blog or a podcast discussion for some "give and take" using a more difficult story than the one given here. The related resources provided on the final page of the website allow students to further research areas of the story that are peripheral but interesting to students.

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Exercise Central - Bedford St. Martin's

Grades
9 to 12
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This is a great site for all sorts of grammar and writing exercise and practice. Geared for college prep and honors/AP students, this site is perfect for individual work on ...more
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This is a great site for all sorts of grammar and writing exercise and practice. Geared for college prep and honors/AP students, this site is perfect for individual work on problem writing areas for students. The exercises in many of the links deal with sophisticated topics such as using commas in cause and effect and avoiding faulty constructions. There are diagnostics, tutorials, and hundreds of exercises for students to practice so you might even assign certain ones. There are also some great downloads such as "Straight Talk about Plagiarism" and more from the Bedford St. Martin's Handbook.

You do have to register, but it is free. Student registration requires an email address. 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 can even set up the site for students to do exercises and instructors to look at student results-- very handy if you are working with a cyber class or want to assign the work to be done outside of class.

tag(s): grammar (216), writing (359)

In the Classroom

Putting some of these exercises on an interactive whiteboard would be great for class analysis of errors and then having students create their own quizzes to test each other on the skills. If you are thinking about flipping your language arts or ELL/ESLclass, this is a terrific tool to use.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Business Writing Help - Donna Shaw

Grades
8 to 12
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This website offers tips for business writing. Specific topics include memos, letters, creating visuals, proposals, reports, resumes, cover letters, and more. This site does an excellent...more
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This website offers tips for business writing. Specific topics include memos, letters, creating visuals, proposals, reports, resumes, cover letters, and more. This site does an excellent job breaking down the complexities of business writing to enable a student to walk through each step of the process. The website features easy-to-read instructions and samples of each type of business writing. There is also a Common English Errors link that includes audio; the information is available in text format, also. The audio feature requires FLASH. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): business (58)

In the Classroom

What a fabulous resource to preview on a projector before your students work independently. Utilize the various steps and examples provided to prepare your students for the "real world." Have your students create "visuals" or "reports," and then practice their presentation skills by sharing their projects with the class or beyond. Maybe have them use this site as they work in groups to request and prepare a presentation for the school board proposing a student-friendly solution to a school problem, using the tools of "the system" for their own goals. Include the link on your teacher web page for students to use as a reference when applying for jobs, etc.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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