TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Sep 11, 2011

Here are this week's features. Clicking the tags in the description area of each listing will present a list of other resources with this topic. | Click here to return to the Featured Sites Archive

 

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WordSift - Stanford University

Grades
4 to 12
10 Favorites 0  Comments
 
WordSift helps anyone easily sift through texts -- just copy and paste any text into WordSift and you can engage in a verbal quick-capture! The program helps to quickly identify ...more
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WordSift helps anyone easily sift through texts -- just copy and paste any text into WordSift and you can engage in a verbal quick-capture! The program helps to quickly identify important words that appear in the text. After entering text several items will appear, first a word cloud will display the 50 most frequently used words in the text. The most frequently used word will display as a word web in a visual thesaurus. Google image and video search results are also shown. One interesting feature is the ability to click on any of the words in the word cloud to display it in the thesaurus and Google image and video searches. A great way to understand the WordSift tool is to try one of the sample texts offered, such as Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Be sure to check out the "About" link to discover many ideas for use in the classroom. Tips and videos are also available as guides. If you type in a shorter sentence, the site still creates a word cloud using their own related words (not in your original text). Be aware of the advertisements that appear with the word clouds. Advise students not to click on the ads.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): dictionaries (50), reading comprehension (120), reading strategies (54), thesaurus (21), vocabulary (243), vocabulary development (89), word clouds (12), word study (54)

In the Classroom

This is a classic tool to promote "before reading" strategies and vocabulary development. Use WordSift to preview text to be used in class and define vocabulary before reading to increase reading comprehension. Have students use WordSift with different portions of text to identify key words and vocabulary for class presentations. Use WordSift to discuss different meanings of words using images presented through the site. This site isn't only for English teachers, share with Science and Social Studies teachers to use in their classrooms with reading texts in their content areas. ESL/ELL and learning support teachers will want to share this as a support for any reading assigned in regular classes. Be sure to show students how to copy/paste to WordSift texts from informational web pages and news stories on the web, as well. Share this link as a Favorite on your public page so students can use it anytime.

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Energy Savvy - Aaron Goldfeder and Leo Shklovskii

Grades
6 to 12
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How energy efficient is your home? Find out here. Save money, save time, and save the environment using EnergySavvy.com. In about ten minutes, you can determine your energy savings...more
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How energy efficient is your home? Find out here. Save money, save time, and save the environment using EnergySavvy.com. In about ten minutes, you can determine your energy savings score and learn ways to save your family money and energy in your home. The questionnaire even has pictures, descriptions, and advice if you are unsure about which options to choose for each question.

tag(s): conservation (99), energy (159), environment (249)

In the Classroom

In environmental science units on conservation, try assigning this website as homework to be done together with parent or guardian help. Have students go through questions with parents and possibly even investigate their own home for evidence of energy losses and good practices. Have students email the report to their parent's address and print a copy to take to school as evidence and for further study. Or, have students' parents forward the email directly to you and print for the students. Have them calculate how much energy they could save as a class, leading them towards discussions of bigger savings overall and how little changes can make huge differences in our environment. Why not keep track of all of the data/results on a class energy saving wiki! Not comfortable with wikis? Check out the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through.

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Old Radio World - OldRadioWorld.com

Grades
4 to 12
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Find a treasury of old radio shows from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. There are seven genres from which to choose (comedy, mystery, western, drama, etc.), and each genre has ...more
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Find a treasury of old radio shows from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. There are seven genres from which to choose (comedy, mystery, western, drama, etc.), and each genre has at least ten different old radio shows for your selection. There is a miscellaneous section that has such treasures as "Voices From History," "World War II News Broadcasts," and "Fireside Chat with Franklin D. Roosevelt." Downloading of the Mp3 files takes a while, so be patient.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): 1930s (18), 1940s (14), 1950s (11), listening (76), oral history (12), radio (23), world war 2 (132)

In the Classroom

As a class, listen to a couple of radio shows, taking note of the sound effects heard. Use your interactive whiteboard or projector to list the sounds. Have the class speculate about what objects could have created each sound. Post the radio site on your web page and assign the students to determine what household objects are responsible for the sounds for homework. Back in class the next day, use your interactive white board to share the student discoveries. From here it would be natural to have your students create a two or three minute radio show for a topic being studied in history or science. Students could also turn part of a short story into reader's theater (including sound effects) and record it as a radio broadcast. Use a site such as PodOmatic, reviewed here.

Another idea would be to introduce a unit on the 20th century, the Great Depression, or WWII or by having the class listen to a broadcast from that time period. Have them experience radio as it was, with everyone huddled around to listen (and no multitasking!).Talk about how the changes in entertainment formats have changed the way we interact in our homes.

To hone in on listening skills, you could create a worksheet with questions to answer, or have students take two column notes, asking questions about what they are hearing in the left column.

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Multicultural Canada: Wayang Kulit - Lynn Copeland, Simon Fraser University

Grades
3 to 12
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This unique site by Multicultural Canada is part of a digitization project that aims to tell the stories of the cultures that make up Canada. Other modules include Chinese, ...more
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This unique site by Multicultural Canada is part of a digitization project that aims to tell the stories of the cultures that make up Canada. Other modules include Chinese, Japanese, Scottish, Indonesian, Italian, Jewish, Vietnamese,and Pakistan collections are included in the learning modules. Detailed lesson plans, related resources, with rubrics are included. IN this module, Simon Fraser University shares their collection of Wayang Kulit, or shadow puppetry from Indonesia. Wayang Kulit often portrays moral or political messages. The university featured the exhibit, Crossing Oceans, Crossing Cultures, which includes the shadow puppets and stories about good and evil, respect, duty, friendship, and loyalty. The website shows some of the Wayang Kulit shadow puppets, as well as providing information on traditional stories. Photographs of several intricate shadow puppets are included. Ideas for projects using a variety of free downloads are suggested. There is also an introductory video.

tag(s): canada (25), myths and legends (25), readers theater (10), stories and storytelling (27)

In the Classroom

In language arts classes, study universal stories and myths while discovering the culture of Indonesia and shadow puppetry. Dramatize the elements of good versus evil, characterization, and plot. Discover a unique twist to Readers' Theater. Storyboarding opportunities allow for a simpler construction of a story performance with fewer background scenery or props necessary. Sound and musical accompaniments can add to the creativity of the performance. Reluctant readers through gifted learners will enjoy the flexibility and creativity of the art of shadow puppetry.

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Science Daily - ScienceDaily LLC

Grades
6 to 12
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Looking for collection of current science research articles? This is your one stop shop! Science Daily is current, searchable, and interesting! Encompassing many, if not all, areas...more
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Looking for collection of current science research articles? This is your one stop shop! Science Daily is current, searchable, and interesting! Encompassing many, if not all, areas of science, this site could make your classroom science research easy. The major categories are: Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain, Plants & Animals, Earth & Climate, Space & Time, Matter & Energy, Computers & Math, and Fossils & Ruins.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): animals (280), brain (54), climate (83), computers (101), data (137), earth (189), energy (159), fossils (38), matter (52), medicine (59), news (241), planets (123), plants (147), space (215), time (105)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a research tool or to provide practice reading informational texts in the content areas. Choose an article relevant to what you are teaching, post it on your website or wiki, and have your students discuss what the article means and how it made them think. Since the articles are heavy with text, you may want to have students work in small groups to read the article you have selected for them, and use a tool such as Mindmeister (reviewed here) or bubbl.us (reviewed here) to create a concept map of the important ideas and their details for the article. Each article has several related links. Have each group choose a different one to explore, and create a concept map to share on your interactive whiteboard or projector so all can benefit from the related articles. Once created, the concept maps can be posted as links or embedded on your teacher website or wiki for review and to share with parents. If the text of the articles is simply too challenging without some "before reading" help, show students how to preview it using WordSift, reviewed here.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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