Grades7 to 12
This site does offer the option of signing up for RSS feeds. There are some unobtrusive advertisements at the site.
In the ClassroomThese lessons give great examples as well as "pop quizzes" as you go through them. It would be great to do these on a projector or interactive whiteboard, having students comment as you go; then you can assign their own writing to follow up. Of particular interest is the lesson on "note taking on a computer." As essential as computers are to writing these days, it may be the best place to begin. This might also be a good site to link from your class website. It is very easy for students to explore on their own and get extra help where needed. Or have small groups investigate a specific area together and then create a multimedia presentation to share with the class. Have the groups create a podcast to share using a tool such as Podomatic (reviewed here).
Grades6 to 12
Be aware: there are some "social" features of this site (see the Community links. This site also includes some advertisements.
In the ClassroomThese ideas could be grouped thematically or at random for students. You might even choose a category, print the generated results and distribute them at random among your students or post them on your class web page for students who get "stuck" starting a writing assignment at home. Doing stories of this nature could create a great bulletin board/publishing opportunity for students. Have students create a multimedia writing assignment by creating a blog entry, or adding to a class wiki related to one of the prompts.
Grades3 to 8
Click on the Teachers link to explore lessons and other resources. Your class may wish to leave comments after they listen to the stories. Check out the Gallery, which shows photos of the actual setting for the myth. Unsure of the archaic terms? Then use the glossary that's provided for each myth and legend. Flash is required and can be gotten here: TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
In the ClassroomShare this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. With younger students, use this site in your listening/computer corner for students to listen and read along the multitude of stories at this site. Your class may opt to write their own story of local myths or legends, and then submit it to this site. Have students write online legend or myth books using a tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomDemonstrate HOW to use this simple site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. This is great not only for writer's block, but also ideas for stories, poems, dramas, and group stories. In the primary grades, use this site to create writing centers. With secondary grades, have the class create a collaborative wiki using a story starter. Have students create blog entries using the story starter.
GradesK to 12
The documents are editable after conversion. Images will not be as "editable" as text. The text comes in within a text box, but can be edited. Be aware that many school email spam filters may block the Zamzar emails because they view them as "spam." If emails do not come through or you cannot download from Zamzar's link, request the converted files be sent to a home email address and bring them to school "on a stick."
Be aware: there are MANY advertisements at this site, so this many not be a site that you want students to explore independently. Also, the site mentions having to register. You do not need to register to use most of the features.
This site includes advertising.
In the ClassroomMark this tool in your favorites for easy access. Teachers should model ethical use of electronic resources (other people's work) for students. Making a "derivative work" from someone else's pdf handout should include a printed credit within the new document, giving credit for the original source, Ex. "Adapted from a handout by xxx available at www.theoriginalhandout.pdf." Such derivative use should only be done when the original copyright permits it, such as using materials that grant permission for classroom use. Be sure to give proper credit for videos and other files you save locally.
One main problem with the site is that you need to enter the email address and wait for the email to download the file. There is a nice pdf conversion site http://www.pdfaid.com where you can convert and download the file instantly. Disclaimer: I am the owner of the website.pdf, , Grades: 0 - 12
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomAlthough this site has a TON to explore, one of the best places on this site is the daily writing prompt section (find seasonal prompts at the Seasonal Items link). You can share them on your interactive whiteboard or projector with a picture and fact about the day and a question requiring a written answer. This is a great discussion starter or activating strategy with any grade level and it can already be posted when the kids enter the room or used as a prompt for blogging. Whatever subject area you teach, if you are looking for some new strategies to reach your students, check out this site.
Grades4 to 12
tag(s): writing (363)
In the ClassroomUse this as a source for any kind of daily or specialty writing you would like to do with students. Take a look and choose a few options for your students to use. Have students model them on your interactive whiteboard in conjunction with a specific writing or grammar skill. For example, choose a prompt to challenge the class to use quotation marks correctly or to add vivid verbs. Have students use the writing prompt of their choice to create a blog entry.
Grades6 to 12
The Lost Book has been developed through the efforts of many groups including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Bookcrossing.com, and Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature. Be certain to preview any video before you share, as our editors did notice one questionable word in the introduction episode. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
In the ClassroomThis is a great opportunity to work with others around the world in a controlled environment within the classroom. Every episode offers opportunities for students to PARTICIPATE in the story, rather than being passive observers. Share the "catch-up video" on your interactive whiteboard or projector (previewed, of course). Have students vote as a class or individually. Have your class create their own interactive stories. There are many creative options. Have students create a collaborative wiki with a new episode on each successive page. Or have students work in cooperative learning groups to create an online book using a tool such as Bookemon (reviewed here).
GradesK to 12
Note that all jeopardy templates created become part of the domain and can be used by others.
In the ClassroomUse any already-created game as a quick assessment of prior knowledge or review on projector or interactive whiteboard.
To prevent others from editing your template you create a password when you start. Others will be unable to edit your created game without your password. After creating your password, you are taken to the familiar blue jeopardy screen. Here, enter the title at the top and the topics at the top of the columns. Click on a dollar amount under each topic to enter the clue and the What is... question in a pop-up box. Click done to enter the information. The dollar value square becomes blank to let you know it was completed. When done, click "Save." Click on Browse to view random template titles or enter a term into the search bar. On the "Build" page, follow the quick instructions and even browse tips for editing. When done, an internet link will be given for your Jeopardy game. Put this link in any website, blog, or wiki for students to click on and review information for study.
Use this as an introductory activity to uncover misconceptions. For example, prior to a unit on viruses, create a jeopardy game about myths and truths about viruses. Share the Jeopardy activities on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Use these as a starting point for understanding concepts in the unit. Create review games for students to learn and remember content. After making one game together as a class, allow students to make their own games to challenge each other on segments of the material. This not only provides students with material to review, but the creation of a game takes thought and understanding of the material. Be sure that students understand how to create such a game and how to choose parts carefully. Check student games prior to saving. Maintain a page of Jeopardy links for review of a wide range of curricular topics.
Grades6 to 9
tag(s): propaganda (12)
In the ClassroomBecause this is a plain vanilla site, it is easy for younger students to use. It is straightforward in both design and conclusion. You can expand this by adding other commercials sites after teaching and discussing propaganda techniques. You might have students create advertisements based on those they see and have others refute or improve those created advertisements. Have students video their commercials and share the videos on a tool such as SchoolTube (reviewed here), then allow others to comment and refute the techniques.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomTo use the pictures provided, simply chose a "group" title, such as water drops, and click to befuddlr it. If you wish to befuddlr your own pictures, you must first upload them to Flickr, so you will need to learn that simple tool. Be sure to TAG your pictures so you can FIND them again! No membership or saving are available on befuddlr. Its is an on-the-spot tool. Be sure to use your own images or copyright free images and images that are available to be built upon. If students click to choose other pictures from Flickr, they could encounter ANYTHING that someone has uploaded, so be sure to guide them to the pictures you want them to use and have a stated policy and consequence for those who wander off into inappropriate places. Flickr does have anti-porn policies, but girls in bikinis, for example, are still available! Use snapshots of animals, numbers, letters, or other pictures and have students scramble the pieces. Befuddlr a picture on your interactive whiteboard to start a language lesson! Students can create their own and provide hints using a variety of constraints such as no more than 5 words, a poem, using adjectives only, etc. in order to help those guessing the original picture. In Art, create new patterns for analysis. Use befuddled pictures to practice new vocabulary for young ones or for ESL and world language students. Accompany student poetry with befuddled pictures
GradesK to 12
tag(s): speech (92)
In the ClassroomYou need to be able to navigate controls on the website and sound levels on your computer. Copy/pasting embed codes is also a necessary skill for insertion in a website. Email the sound clip very easily.
Future saving of Vocaroos is unsure depending upon server space. Before using with students, you may wish to obtain permission from administration and/or parents. Be sure to check your school's acceptable use policy. Students should be made aware of acceptable use and consequences of misuse of the service.
Record snippets of information as reminders on your class website or instructions for students to follow. This is terrific for learning support students or non-readers! Have students describe aspects of classroom learning experiences to share with others, such as what they learned from a science experiment or found out about life in Colonial America. Record a quick message for an absentee and email the link to him/her explaining how to catch up on missing work. Create tutorial pieces that students can use as study aids (or have them create them for each other). Use this site in world language classes or for ELL students: have students record and listen to their own pronunciation or send short messages to each other to translate. Have students use this site to practice speeches before the presentation to hear their speed, tone, and words. Use this site for research presentations, instructions for a substitute, or many other possibilities. With younger students, read a short story on Vocaroo, and have student follow along using a picture book. Or have the students read their own stories into Vocaroo and email the readings to their parents! For Mothers Day, why not have students record messages for mom or grandma? Another idea: create a class wiki where parents can "find" the entire selection of Vocaroos for Mother's Day (or another holiday). Record Vocaroos of each student talking about the importance of Moms for Mother's Day or how grateful they are for certain things at Thanksgiving. Embed them all in a class wiki to share with parents. Just email the URL for the collection.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomProvide your students with this website and a good 20-minutes of exploration time. Then, have your class write journal entries through the eyes of the African-American baseball stars. Or divide up the class into cooperative learning groups. Have each group research a specific time period and share their finding with the class.
Grades6 to 12
To post any stories or poems at Language is a Virus you must be registered. The log-in process does require 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.
Before having students post anything on this site, check your school's Acceptable Use Policy and BE CERTAIN to obtain parental permission. Be aware this site has several advertisements and includes Twitter Buttons, Badges, Backgrounds, and Images. Be sure to provide students with specific instructions of where they MAY and may NOT go. Or make this site a whole-class activity (too bad, though, since writing is so individual).
tag(s): poetry (225)
In the ClassroomJust using the "Widgets to Cure Writer's Block" section makes writing fun. From Mad-lib poems to a random line generator this offers lots of laughs as well as creativity nudging for students. The "66 Writing Experiments of Charles Bernstein" offers a variety of activities for students from sentence combining to poetry to transcription to chronology.
Share the prompts and activities on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students work on individual computers to use these activities to cure their writer's block. Just be sure to give instructions of where they can and can't visit! Keep your pop-up blocker turned ON to avoid at least some of the annoying advertising.
GradesK to 12
NOTE: Our editors regret that PicLits occasionally allows advertising on their home page to include images that are not classroom-friendly. Teachers should preview to determine whether or not your students can ignore the ads.
"Learn It" provides learning opportunities and examples for creating captions, compound sentences, or paragraphs. Advanced lesson plans for teachers are viewed in the "Learn It" tab as well. "View the Gallery" to see already-created PicLits as well as comments and ratings. After selecting a picture (or using the one they provide) and dragging a word onto the screen, choose different forms of the word by using the drop-down menu next to the word. Move your words anywhere on the screen for creative writing. You can also click "freestyle" instead to type in your own words instead of choosing from their list. Word lists change, depending on the image selected. Note: Advertisements run alongside the PicLits screen. Caution students to ignore these. Here is an example:
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com
This site includes advertising.
In the ClassroomUsers of PicLits must be able to navigate tabs on sites, manage logins, and use URL's and embed codes to share results on websites and blogs. Play to learn the tools before or after joining. Help also provides a short-and-sweet text explanation of the tools.
Registering for a PicLits account requires the use of an email address. PicLits can be used without an account but users are unable to save or blog about their creation without an account. A class account can be created instead of individual student accounts. However, it does not show which work is attributable to which student. You may want to require that students initial their contributions in order to get credit. All work on the site can be seen without a login. All projects are public.
You may want to create a word doc, Favorites folder, or other "collection" of the URLS to all your students' projects in one place for easy work at grading time. Some teachers use a class wiki or blog with links to all projects from there. You may allow students to self-register, but be sure to keep a written record of their passwords for when they "forget." It may be worth your time to do advanced registration for your younger students or simply use a whole-class account.
Share a PicLit on your interactive whiteboard at the start of a grammar or writing lesson to discuss word choice, figures of speech, or vocabulary. Use the visual picture prompt for journal or blog writing, allowing each student to compose a unique poem or haiku. Even science classes can write about concepts illustrated in the many nature photos. Emotional support teachers will love the chance to discuss feelings and how to describe facial expressions in the pictures. Make a collection of PicLits for a curriculum topic or as a literary magazine online. ESL students can create PicLits to learn new vocabulary. Have students create PicLits for special occasions and special people (mom, dad, grandparents, school nurse, or others). Use the embed code to place your creations on many other sites, including your class wiki or blogs. Share your PicLit by using a URL or code for an embedded widget.
Parent permission advised before posting student work created using this tool
Includes Interaction w general public/ public galleries with unmoderated content
Includes social features, such as "friends," comments, ratings by others
Requires registration/log in (NO email)
Products can be embedded
Products can be shared by URL
Multiple users can collaborate on the same project
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse this site to "spruce" up Earth Day or your study of plants and trees! The Teacher's Guides are basically ready-to-go units of study. Some of the activities are more interactive than others. If you are looking for a more "technology" friendly activity, consider having students create a wiki guide to the various trees in their hometowns (or around their school). Or have them create a video "Tree Tour." Share the videos using a tool such as SchoolTube (reviewed here).
Grades4 to 7
In the ClassroomYou may want to list this link on your website for parents and students to use at home (to create some "unique" costumes). Challenge your students to create some additional "Word Play Costume" ideas. Plan a Punny Costume day as a culmination of your idioms unit! Be sure to share pictures (unidentifiable) on your class wiki or have students vote for their favorite costume picture using an embedded polling tool such as Poll Junkie (reviewed here).
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomThe possibilities at this site are endless! Take advantage of the grade-appropriate activities, interactives, lesson plans, and printables. Have students work with a partner to try out the Brainstorm Machine. Use this site to create a writing station. After studying the genre, wy not have students create illustrated virtual books of their own using a free tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here.
Grades3 to 9
In the ClassroomThis "Teacher's Guide" is ready to go and easily adaptable to various grade levels. Project the discussion questions on your interactive whiteboard or projector, have students write responses to the questions or have a class debate. Print out the activities, and use this site as a mini unit. Have students interview a family member for the "Oral History Interview," and have students learn the meaning behind their own names with the lesson, "What's In a Name."
GradesK to 12
Teachers who desire professional development and fresh ideas will want to include this site in their repertoire.