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Traci's List of Ten: Literature - Traci Gardner

Grades
6 to 12
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This is an idea site for those who teach literature. It is a plain vanilla site that offers ten interesting ways to involve students beyond mere essay writing on any ...more
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This is an idea site for those who teach literature. It is a plain vanilla site that offers ten interesting ways to involve students beyond mere essay writing on any piece of literature. Some of these ways are new twists on old ideas and several of them are rather innovative. Definitely worth a look if you are tired of reading the same things over and over. Although this site was created in 1998, the ideas are still relevant today.

tag(s): literature (275)

In the Classroom

The mix-n-match element of this particular list makes it interesting for students working on a novel or a longer story that could deal with several of these elements. Take one or two of the ideas and split them up among a class. Create a debate, complete with slide show, or webquest to involve students in the text.

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TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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There is nothing twicky about a wiki. Learn about this online collaboration tool: what a wiki is, how you might use it in your classroom, how to explain it to ...more
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There is nothing twicky about a wiki. Learn about this online collaboration tool: what a wiki is, how you might use it in your classroom, how to explain it to parents and administration, and how to get started. There are over 50 examples of activities you can do with a wiki and links to a free tool to get started. A fresh revision of the Walk-Through in 2008 includes comparison reviews of the top three wiki tools for education. We even give you the downloadable handout to send home.

tag(s): wikis (20)

In the Classroom

This is listed as a TeachersFirst "edge" entry, but our step-by-step walk-through takes the edge off and makes your wiki a walk in the park. Check it out now, while there is still FREE classroom wiki space available from the three wiki tools we review in detail.
 

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KidsWWrite - Kalamalka Institute for Working Writers

Grades
1 to 10
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This e-magazine features work by children from ages 5 - 16 from all around the world. The student writings are divided into three age levels (5-8, 9-12, and 13-16). The ...more
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This e-magazine features work by children from ages 5 - 16 from all around the world. The student writings are divided into three age levels (5-8, 9-12, and 13-16). The writing includes both poetry and stories. Students can also submit book reviews of favorite works and also art. The book reviews are anecdotal and personal and also include a drawing or copy of the book cover. If students wish to search for stories on a certain topic, a search box and archives are available.

tag(s): creative writing (169), writing (365)

In the Classroom

Share samples of students' writing on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Be sure to preview for content inappropriate for your classroom. Have your students create cover art and write stories, book reviews, or poetry to submit to this site. Of course you will want written parent permission before submitting student work to this online magazine. Students should submit their work without identifiable names and location, according to your school policy.If your school prohibits using blogs to post student writing, this is a middle ground alternative to get their works in front of a wider audience.

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An Academic Writing Module: Paragraphs - Alison Hoffmann, Barbara Griffiths and Irina Elgort

Grades
7 to 12
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This site offers writing exercises for students' self-directed study. The exercises cover topic sentences, building paragraphs, incorporating sources (always good for practice in writing...more
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This site offers writing exercises for students' self-directed study. The exercises cover topic sentences, building paragraphs, incorporating sources (always good for practice in writing research essays or papers), and types of paragraphs. There is a sample essay that students are encouraged to read after doing the exercises, but it offers both a sample essay and an analysis of the writing and content. This site requires that Javascript be enabled web browser. You can find directions at the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): paragraph writing (17), sentences (52), writing (365)

In the Classroom

This site offers the option for students to work independently on their basic writing. These exercises are a little more advanced than some on the web; however, they are especially good for high school students. It would make an interesting exercise to work through some of the examples as a class on interactive whiteboard, and then offer students the sample essay to analyze themselves or on the whiteboard before showing the final analysis on the site.

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Constructing the Paragraph - Dr. Elizabeth Hanson-Smith

Grades
7 to 10
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For students learning or struggling with creating effective paragraphs, this site is helpful, since it allows students to self-test and then go through the steps themselves. It includes...more
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For students learning or struggling with creating effective paragraphs, this site is helpful, since it allows students to self-test and then go through the steps themselves. It includes topic sentences, topics and comments, support statements, transitions, and organization. It is appropriate for any level of student who still needs help with the basic principle of writing a paragraph. The presentation is "plain vanilla" but effective.

tag(s): paragraph writing (17), writing (365)

In the Classroom

Perfect for middle school students who can work ahead independently or for high school students who are still struggling a bit, this site gives you the option of having students practice on their own, particularly through the self-testing stage. This would be great as a learning station on writing for students.

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You Quote It, You Note It - Acadia University

Grades
6 to 12
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This interactive site is meant to help students understand what is and is not actually plagiarism. It allows students to "pick" a student to walk through the tutorial with and ...more
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This interactive site is meant to help students understand what is and is not actually plagiarism. It allows students to "pick" a student to walk through the tutorial with and does a good job of explaining why something is plagiarism and how to fix it. The actual tutorial takes about 10 minutes. Although this is geared to Acadia University students, it is very pertinent to middle and high school students, as well, and very easy to understand. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): plagiarism (37)

In the Classroom

This is a great follow-up site when discussing plagiarism with students. If you have access to a computer lab, students can work independently or in pairs through the tutorial and then check each other's work.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Showing Evidence: Analyzing and Evaluating Information - Intel Education

Grades
3 to 12
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Give your students the skills to analyze and evaluate information with Intel's free "Showing Evidence tool." "Showing Evidence" provides a visual framework to help students learn how...more
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Give your students the skills to analyze and evaluate information with Intel's free "Showing Evidence tool." "Showing Evidence" provides a visual framework to help students learn how to construct well-reasoned arguments and prove their case with credible evidence. Students are prompted to consider the quality of the evidence and the strength of the evidence to support their claim. When an argument is complicated, the components of the tool help students think through justifying a claim.

This web-based tool is accompanied by detailed lesson plans designed for elementary, middle, and high school students. A variety of subject areas and projects are ready to adapt for the classroom or implement as-is. Explore the project ideas, instructional strategies, assessment tips, and research to help you plan a project of your own. Registration is free and creates a teacher workspace in which to build the class project. The password-protected workspace is accessed through the internet where students log on with the teacher-created ID, team ID, and password. Students can access the project workspace from home or though other Internet access points such as the public library.

Be sure to disable your popup blocker, as the site needs to show popup windows during the project. This site requires Flash and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Get these tools from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): debate (41), folktales (65), shakespeare (130), thinking skills (18)

In the Classroom

Teachers can use the comprehensive tutorial to learn the features of the tool and use the workspace to practice with the tool. Take advantage of the detailed unit plans that provide usable handouts and student work samples. Or just browse through several shorter project descriptions for project ideas that suit your classroom.

Make a shortcut to this site on your desktop and student computer desktops for easy access. Use the "Showing Evidence "tool to explore themes such as why do we explore, what happens next, is everything we read true, and what is freedom? Have student teams stage debates using their visual diagrams to show their thinking processes to the class using an interactive whiteboard or projector.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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ESL Reading Lessons - 5 Minute English

Grades
4 to 10
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This teaching site has a variety of short readings at various levels that could be useful in an ESL, ELL, special education, or regular ed classroom. Some of the topics ...more
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This teaching site has a variety of short readings at various levels that could be useful in an ESL, ELL, special education, or regular ed classroom. Some of the topics include sentences with grammar errors, students must figure out what is wrong with each sentence. This is excellent practice for any student learning proper grammar. True/ false comprehension questions follow the reading in most cases. Most of the answers are provided at the bottom of the website - so don't scroll too quickly. Before the reading begins, students can study difficult vocabulary words presented in an attractive format. There are full units (with many mini-lessons): grammar, reading, vocabulary, listening, pronunciation, and writing. This site does have unobtrusive advertisements, but watch out for the audio announcements when you open the site. Some of the listening activities require Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): grammar (217), listening (90), pronunciation (43), reading comprehension (115), short stories (25), vocabulary (324)

In the Classroom

Use this site if you want your students to do additional reading. Project the topic, story, and questions on an interactive whiteboard or projector for group discussion. Have your students make up their own questions to go with the site. Have your students write up a similar subject relevant to their own culture and present it, along with questions to check for comprehension. This is a fabulous site to list on your class website for students to use for at-home practice.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Ocean Life - Scholastic

Grades
K to 9
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This website offers an introduction to the Scholastic Explorer's Ocean Life project. Students travel to Costa Rica, New Zealand, and other places to explore the ocean and animals. Students...more
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This website offers an introduction to the Scholastic Explorer's Ocean Life project. Students travel to Costa Rica, New Zealand, and other places to explore the ocean and animals. Students get to learn about real-life ocean explorers. There are also interactive challenges, sure to excite your students. A detailed Teacher's Guide is included. Most of the activities are geared towards students in grades 4-9. However, there are lesson plans (with standards) for students in kindergarten through grade 9. Links to plans for older students are no longer active. Some of the activities require Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): environment (317)

In the Classroom

This site is a wonderful addition to a unit about the ocean and ecosystems. Check out the lesson plans and see what is available for your grade level. If you teach grades 4-9, be sure to check on the interactive activities available at this website - perfect for your interactive whiteboard or projector.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Snoopy - United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

Grades
3 to 8
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Find out all you can about Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang on Snoopy.com. This site provides a variety of great comic strips that can be applied to ...more
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Find out all you can about Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang on Snoopy.com. This site provides a variety of great comic strips that can be applied to many classroom lessons. The site also provides an Author Spotlight on Charles Schulz. There is also a link for fun and games with printable pages, puzzles, word problems, and other "fun" stuff. Some of the activities require Shockwave. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74)

In the Classroom

Have students utilize and manipulate comic strips for dialog-writing lessons, summarizing, predicting and retelling stories. Use comic strips for literature responses. School counselors will also like the Peanuts strips as conversation starters about feelings. You could even use an online comic strip maker, such as Make Beliefs Comix to create your own class or student comic strips after looking at some examples from Peanuts. Use your interactive whiteboard or projector to share the Fun and Games . Then have students work on individual computers or with a partner to try some of the educational activities.

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The Biography Maker - Jamie McKenzie and the Bellingham Public Schools.

Grades
4 to 12
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Writing biographies is a staple of English and history classes. This site takes students through the process in a way that will make reading them more palatable. It will also ...more
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Writing biographies is a staple of English and history classes. This site takes students through the process in a way that will make reading them more palatable. It will also help students delve deeper into a person's life , making it memorable for them. Divided into four groups (Questioning, Learning, Synthesis, and Storytelling), it helps students understand how to take facts and apply them to a real live person. It wraps up with the six effective traits of writing, reminding students that biography writing shouldn't just be a recitation of facts. The "learning" section does link students to Yahoo encyclopedias and Google (with search hints included), so be aware of that feature. This site serves as a guide for writing a biography of anyone (including students themselves).

tag(s): questioning (32), writing (365)

In the Classroom

All material at this site is copyrighted, so it must be viewed online. For students who do best with step-by-step instructions, this site is a gem! You might have one group research authors from a particular country while others do artists, musicians, scientists, etc. A class report from each of these groups would do a good job of encapsulating a country or area of the world within any given time period. Teachers seeking independent projects for students who "test out" of a unit can assign this site's step-by-step instructions as a meaningful alternate activity.

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Kids' Vid - Mike Keating

Grades
3 to 8
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Leap into video production with help from the Kids' Vid site! Kids' Vid steps you and your students through the process with tips on scripting, storyboarding, shooting video, and editing...more
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Leap into video production with help from the Kids' Vid site! Kids' Vid steps you and your students through the process with tips on scripting, storyboarding, shooting video, and editing it into a visual masterpiece. The site has classroom ideas, short exercises for story writing and learning video shots, an online storyboard creator, and lots of useful help from experts and kids on how to make the whole process an exciting educational experience. Some of the activities require Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): tutorials (46)

In the Classroom

Start the activity by showing the student-produced videos on the web site. Use the resources on the site for a whole class jig-saw exercise. Assign small groups the task of learning one aspect of the process and then reporting and showing it to the rest of the class. Share the knowledge by creating working groups, which contain an expert from each aspect of the process. Use one of the many class ideas as practice activities for students to learn the finer points of video production before they start their masterpieces.

Video is a great tool for authentic assessment - especially for ESL, ELL, and Special Education students. Think about letting each of your students create a short video about what they know for their parent conference meeting or Open House. Explore the realm of possibilities by having students develop and ask peers a "Question of the Week" and document the responses on video. Let students produce a walking tour of the school and key personnel as an introduction for new students. Post this video on the school website, but check the district and students' Acceptable Use Policies before videoing any student faces. You may want to ask your school's funding sources to consider purchasing a few USB plug-in "flip" video cameras that cost about $100 each so students can do these projects with an "indestructible" tool.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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English Audio Topics - BBC

Grades
7 to 12
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If you have auditory learners or would like to have students listen to lessons on specific language arts topics, this is a great site. Especially captivating is the "Listening to ...more
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If you have auditory learners or would like to have students listen to lessons on specific language arts topics, this is a great site. Especially captivating is the "Listening to poems and watching a slideshow" feature. You can download the topics as MP3 or Real Audio, or you can download the scripts as PDF files. Get Adobe Acrobat and Read Player from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): literature (275), poetry (228), writing (365)

In the Classroom

If your students are struggling with a specific writing concept, this gives another weapon to deal with the problem. The poem readings accompanied by a slideshow are great, especially for students who have trouble visualizing poetry as they read it. There are a variety of ways this site can be useful as enrichment, learning stations, or as the motivator for classroom discussion. Putting the slideshows on the interactive whiteboard or projection screen allows students the opportunity of not only discussing the poem, but also the slides chosen to represent it, making an interesting and memorable humanities lesson. Extend the multimedia poetry presentations by having students create their own audio and visual poetry readings using a web page or PowerPoint slides with accompanying audio file or by making a vodcast.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips - QDTips

Grades
6 to 12
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Invite Grammar Girl into your English/Language Arts classroom! Covering the grammar rules and word choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers, Grammar Girl makes complex...more
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Invite Grammar Girl into your English/Language Arts classroom! Covering the grammar rules and word choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers, Grammar Girl makes complex grammar questions simple with memory tricks to help your students recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules. Through audio podcasts and written transcripts, get those short, friendly tips to improve student writing. Be sure to check out the "Top Ten Grammar Girl Episodes" and the "Related Grammar Girl Episodes." There is an archive link to all past episodes, an email newsletter signup option, and an RSS subscription option. Grammar Girl invites comments and questions.

The site includes ads and each podcast starts with a short commercial announcement. The transcript can be accessed online, sometimes with a short accompanying video that illustrates the grammar issue of the day. Grammar Girl tips can be heard as podcasts, which are played through an embedded online audio player. The podcasts can also be downloaded as Mp3 files and played through iTunes, QuickTime Player and RealPlayer installed on a local computer. You can get QuickTime and RealPlayer from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): grammar (217)

In the Classroom

Check with your Information Technology Department to make sure the site is unblocked at school. If it is blocked, consider installing the free iTunes, QuickTime Player or RealPlayer on a computer at home and downloading the Mp3 files to play later at school. External speakers connected to the computer will help broadcast the sound throughout your classroom.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This site includes tools for blog users to interact with others. Any visitor can comment on the posts and podcasts or participate in Forums. There are also links to other tip blogs on the web page. 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.

Extend the concept of Grammar Girls by having students write and produce their own Grammar Girls style podcasts to explain the grammar demons that haunt their writing.

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Viscosity - Jeff Weir

Grades
2 to 12
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Create a modern art masterpiece with Viscosity, the modern art generator! This web-based graphics program provides brushes and special effects with which to move, smudge, and swirl...more
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Create a modern art masterpiece with Viscosity, the modern art generator! This web-based graphics program provides brushes and special effects with which to move, smudge, and swirl a series of colors into abstract art. Explore the possibilities by clicking the Color button, then selecting one of the color pre-set modes. Click the Brush button, and then use the sliders to change the brush effects for size, strength, and slipperiness. Hold down the left mouse button, run the cursor over the color rectangle and watch the art happen! For more adventures in art, select brush types like sweeper, angular, mooshy, and custom. For a really whimsical finish, click the Save button to see your masterpiece hung on the wall in the living room. To save and download the work, click on the thumbnail image to open another window where you can click the word Download to save the work onto your computer. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

This site can become slow at certain times of the day. Be patient.

tag(s): art history (71)

In the Classroom

Mark this site as a Favorite for a visual writing prompt activity in the classroom; then ask students to write about the way their artwork makes them feel or what it might "be." Students will quickly grasp the basics and soon be exploring the more sophisticated possibilities of the program. This activity can be a great introduction into an abstract art lesson. Introduce terms such as non-representational or non-objective art. Show the works of Piet Mondrian and Max Ernst. Take the class on a virtual fieldtrip to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Discuss how art movements have evolved and changed our ideas of beauty and art. This site is best viewed at 1024 x 768 screen resolution. (On Windows machines, change your monitor settings by RIGHT-clicking on the desktop and going to "Prperties" > Settings).
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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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 (65), drawing (77)

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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Researching A Story - CBBC

Grades
4 to 9
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This website offers excellent tips about researching a news story. The contents include an interactive quiz, educational game, and a tutorial. Learn about the important job of a journalist...more
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This website offers excellent tips about researching a news story. The contents include an interactive quiz, educational game, and a tutorial. Learn about the important job of a journalist - getting the facts straight, and writing a trust-worthy story. The interactive challenges provide "fill in the blank" questions and specific (BBC) links to use for the research. NOTE: If you seek to join the site (for free), you must be 15 years old or younger. You do not need to join to do the interactive quiz, play the game, etc. This is a safety measure to protect children from online predators. Many of the activities require FLASH. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): careers (132), journalism (50)

In the Classroom

What an intriguing website to include in a journalism or English class. Use an interactive whiteboard or projector to share these activities with your students. Use this website as an anticipatory set for a "real world" research assignment. Write a weekly research question on your class blog and have students respond using the techniques learned through this activity.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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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 (169), writing (365)

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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Paragraph a Week - The Teacher's Desk

Grades
4 to 7
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Paragraph a Week is designed as a yearly writing program for fifth and sixth graders. It could easily be adapted to other grades or writing levels. The site provides a ...more
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Paragraph a Week is designed as a yearly writing program for fifth and sixth graders. It could easily be adapted to other grades or writing levels. The site provides a writing prompt for each week of the school year as well as set criterion for each topic. The prompts offer opportunities for students to write in various styles and in paragraph form. Rubrics, instructions, and parent letters are included. Simply print out the topic of the week and students can get busy!

tag(s): writing (365)

In the Classroom

Have students publish their completed writings on the computer. Select a few students each week to share their ideas and successes! The program includes parent participation. Include the Prompt-of-the-Week link on your class webpage and save some trees! Or use the prompts on a class blog, asking students to respond there. Students and parents will love looking back over their progress through the year in this paper-free "portfolio" of progress.

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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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