TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Jun 29, 2014

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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OECD Better Life Index - OECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

Grades
8 to 12
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Explore statistics and data about what it takes to be happy in different locations. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you have the best life? Of ...more
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Explore statistics and data about what it takes to be happy in different locations. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you have the best life? Of course, it all depends on what you think contributes to a better life. The OECD presents the opportunity to choose from among 11 indices related to happiness. Rank them in order of importance to you, and then see graphically which countries in the world have the best quality of life based on those considerations. Want to have a high income? Then the United States ranks first in that category. Is the cost and quality of available housing what matters? Norway ranks first in that category. Other indices include Environment, Education, Safety, Work-Life Balance, Health, and Jobs. A slider bar on each index allows you to select your priorities and then watch as the countries realign themselves according to your preferences.

tag(s): communities (41), cross cultural understanding (134), environment (323), politics (106), safety (89)

In the Classroom

A great classroom discussion starter, and perfect for displaying on an interactive whiteboard, the Better Life Index allows students to consider and debate what makes for a "better life." And once (or if) they can reach a consensus on those factors, where could that life be found in the world? Of course, once you discover that people are healthiest, for example, in Australia, what does that mean? Why are they healthy there? What community, government, and institutional factors make Australia healthy? Do they make choices other countries don't? This is a wonderful tool for guiding discussion about the public policy decisions made by citizens and governments, and how those decisions affect the quality of life. It would also provide powerful information for persuasive writing or debates. If you talk about utopias and dystopias, this is another way for students to decide what the criteria are for each. If you study world cultures, this site can provide a whole different lens to promote crosscultural understanding. Assign students to compare and contrast factors that matter most to them across multiple countries. Gifted students who are designing an "ideal civilization" can find meaningful data here to use as part of their plans.

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Robocompass - Mohamed Jaffarali, MathDisk Technologies

Grades
8 to 12
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Draw geometric constructions with the help of Robocompass's animated features. View ideas from the example list to understand how the site works. Choose one of the examples (such as...more
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Draw geometric constructions with the help of Robocompass's animated features. View ideas from the example list to understand how the site works. Choose one of the examples (such as Bisect an Angle) then click the "Play All" button to follow the step-by-step procedure in action. Stop the animation at any point and resume play when ready. In addition to using examples provided, create your own constructions using commands found in the "How to" link. Robocompass interfaces with Google memberships, allowing you to SAVE animations! For a good overview of the site, choose "Take the Tour." (The tour button only shows AFTER you have clicked a sample file or "Open Robocompass.") This option offers a video overview and explanation. If your district blocks YouTube, "Take the Tour" may not be viewable. You could always view the video at home and bring it to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as Tube Offline, reviewed here, to download the video from YouTube. The tool states it operates best in Chrome and requires WebGL. You need to enable Web GL to use it in Safari. See directions how in this blog post. iOS and Android apps are "coming soon." Imagine this one on a tablet! Note: This site uses significant bandwidth to load the animations and the tour video. Be patient.

tag(s): angles (88), charts and graphs (203), geometric shapes (170), transformations (19)

In the Classroom

If you cannot make this site work on the first try, try again. This one is worth getting tech help to make it work! Note: This site uses significant bandwidth to load the animations and the tour video. Pretest ON the devices(s) you will use in class before planning to use it for a lesson! Display Robocompass on your interactive whiteboard or projector to demonstrate geometric constructions. Provide a link on your class website or blog for students to view constructions at home. This site is perfect to excite your gifted students! Challenge students to create and share their own constructions for other geometric purposes such as transformations. Even art teachers may find this tool useful for demonstrating perspective and more.

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Mathigon - The Mathematics Education Project

Grades
3 to 12
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Get lost in the world of Mathigon - a visually beautiful, interactive online library of math animations, games, illustrations, and more. Choose to begin with the World of Mathematics...more
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Get lost in the world of Mathigon - a visually beautiful, interactive online library of math animations, games, illustrations, and more. Choose to begin with the World of Mathematics e-book or explore one of several slideshows, movies, and explorations. The Mathematical Origami and Panorama math applications sections are fabulous, though a little text-heavy. Take a trip with Alice in FractalLand using Disney clips to learn about sequencing, fractals, and triangles. Explore Mathigon Ideas containing short video explanations of important math ideas using only graphics and animations. There is much to explore and see on this interesting and colorful site. Be sure to allow plenty of time to find it all! Check back often as new explorations are currently under development. If your district blocks YouTube, then parts of this site may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as Tube Offline, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube. The site operates well on any mobile browser, too!

tag(s): charts and graphs (203), fractions (231), geometric shapes (170), origami (15), probability (135), problem solving (293), tangrams (12)

In the Classroom

If you are a math teacher at any level, this is a MUST-SEE (and share) site. Take the time to explore it for specific sections connected to your curriculum concepts. Students in a BYOD classroom can explore interactives on this mobile-friendly site. Mathigon is perfect for use on interactive whiteboards, projector, and classroom computers. Use Mathigon activities to excite and motivate math students. Some activities require reading so you may need to partner your weaker readers with a buddy. Create a link to games and activities on your class website or blog for students to explore at home. Use Mathigon with gifted learners to extend your current math curriculum.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Oppia - Oppia.org

Grades
8 to 12
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Oppia is a wonderfully interesting tool for creative learning explorations. The goal of Oppia is to create a one-on-one learning situation similar to that found in a learning dialogue....more
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Oppia is a wonderfully interesting tool for creative learning explorations. The goal of Oppia is to create a one-on-one learning situation similar to that found in a learning dialogue. As you proceed through each Oppia and enter responses, feedback stimulates thinking without providing answers. Browse the gallery to begin exploring math, languages, science, art, social sciences, and programming options. Be sure to choose the "Show beta explorations" option to find many more activities with topics from "Art" to "Welcome to Oppia." The activities offer an exploration of the background and use of the website. If you feel comfortable with technology, try to create and add your own Oppia to the site.

tag(s): coding (77), computational thinking (34), cooking (34), electricity (96), equations (154), fractions (231), homonyms (10), homophones (16), india (33), latin (22), light (57), logic (251), politics (106), puzzles (203), quadratics (33), ratios (66), statistics (130), STEM (209), Teacher Utilities (78)

In the Classroom

Assign Oppia explorations to gifted students as part of your differentiated learning lessons. Use Oppia explorations as part of your flipped classroom. Have students complete explorations and then discuss in class. Add links to (or embed) Oppia explorations on your class website or blog for students to explore at home as a review tool or as an anticipatory set or "activator" to introduce a unit or lesson. Join the Oppia Users Group to collaborate with others to create your own Oppia explorations.

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Foodopoly - Food and Water Watch

Grades
5 to 12
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Think you know about food and the food system responsible for growing, processing, and getting it to your table? Begin with the quiz to see what you really know. Along ...more
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Think you know about food and the food system responsible for growing, processing, and getting it to your table? Begin with the quiz to see what you really know. Along with the right answers, you will receive background information and some shocking statistics. View the Get The Facts tab to access an assortment of Infographics about what is in the grocery aisles.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): nutrition (156)

In the Classroom

Begin with the quiz to see what students know. Share the quiz on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students take the quiz independently in a BYOD classroom (or computer lab/laptops). As they take the quiz, students can note items that interest or disturb them. Begin a class discussion with the most interesting or shocking items they learned from taking the quiz. Research the history of the Farm Bill, the FDA, or the USDA. Compare diets of today and of the past, and identify differences and medical issues (good or bad.) Create a debate about monopolies in food production and lack of oversight in the food industry. Have students investigate one food aisle and share what they learn.

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Meeting Words - Meetingwords.com

Grades
5 to 12
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Use this simple, online collaborative writing editor with up to 32 people! No registration is required. Create a free meeting room, and share the link with others or send an ...more
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Use this simple, online collaborative writing editor with up to 32 people! No registration is required. Create a free meeting room, and share the link with others or send an invitation email. Use the chat space along the right to comment to one another, perhaps explaining why you made the changes you made to the text. Save versions, view and revert to earlier versions, import/export, and use simple editing tools. Be sure to use or edit at least once per week, if you intend to keep your project. The site is clear on its intention to be a real-time collaboration tool among up to 32 people, not meant for long-term storage. "Pads" may be deleted if they haven't been edited in more than seven days. Be sure to mark the url for your pad as a Favorite or send it to yourself so you can find it again (before the seven days run out).

tag(s): editing (79), proofreading (24), writing (361)

In the Classroom

Have your students set up collaborative groups for projects, lab data, and more. Anything students can do on a single computer, they can do collaboratively on this tool, accessing their work from any online computer. Be sure to test out this tool before using with your class. It may be a good idea to set up the groups with the teacher as a "member" but have students work from home for group projects. Make sure you are protecting the safety of student work and identity and are within your school's Acceptable Use Policy.

Create an innovative, exciting revision experience for students to suggest revisions to each other's writing and instantly engage in the peer review process by using Meetingwords. This tool facilitates teacher comments on student essays by not having to wait until students turn in their papers. Have them share links with you to their works in progress. Check essays online, monitor progress, and even make suggestions for revisions to provide feedback along the way and drive successful evidence support, proofreading, and editing skills. Challenge gifted students on their drafts and push their thinking further, adding questions or responses. Since most if us do not have time to provide such individual challenge throughout the writing process, why not connect them with other gifted students to collaborate and debate beyond just your classroom? Obviously, this tool is also fabulous for collaboration among students or teachers creating a shared writing piece at any level. You could even use it for parent input into draft IEPs.

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