TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Jul 20, 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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Legislative Explorer - Center for American Politics and Public Policy

Grades
9 to 12
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With so much data out there, how are we, as citizens, to manage this information to make good choices? The University of Washington's Center for American Politics and Public Policy...more
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With so much data out there, how are we, as citizens, to manage this information to make good choices? The University of Washington's Center for American Politics and Public Policy takes the massive amount of information about US legislative activity from 1973 to the present and helps us visualize the progress of bills through the legislative branch. Color-coded "particles" represent each bill on an interactive field for each two-year legislative session. Set the field in motion and watch bills move through committees and onto the floor of the House or the Senate. Notice how many "particles" (each representing a bill) remain clustered in committees throughout the legislative session and how many actually make it to the President's desk and become law. The animation is much more powerful (and informative) when you select an issue, a state, a legislator, a committee, or a party from the drop down menus, but the "big picture" visuals are also informative.

tag(s): advanced placement (25), branches of government (54), congress (37)

In the Classroom

Despite being fairly wonky (political geeks will LOVE this site!), Legislative Explorer will also help civics and government teachers present the overall picture of how a bill makes its way (or doesn't) through the legislative branch. On an interactive whiteboard (or projector), the visual impact of how many bills are proposed in a session is stunning. Once past that, however, students can research the activities of their local legislators, by name or by state. What issues matter enough to them to result in bill sponsorship? Alternatively, divide students into groups and have each group research a specific committee. What bills come to that committee? How successful is that committee in moving bills to the President's desk? How does the activity in the most recent Congress compare to that from 40 years ago? Have the issues changed?

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Numbeo - Numbeo

Grades
9 to 12
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Numbeo is a crowd-sourced database of statistical information about cities across the world. It includes information about quality of life factors like cost-of-living, crime, health...more
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Numbeo is a crowd-sourced database of statistical information about cities across the world. It includes information about quality of life factors like cost-of-living, crime, health care, pollution, and traffic. Select a category and a city to view data about that location. Compare locations on that criterion. See the information displayed on a map. There is an enormous amount of data here; however, keep in mind that the data is user-generated and will only reflect what others have entered. Consequently, it is constantly being updated and revised. Numbeo provides real-time numbers that students can use to learn how to analyze statistical information and graphs.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): consumers (15), statistics (112)

In the Classroom

Send students to this site to research quality of life factors across the globe. How does the price of gas in Indonesia compare to the price of gas in their hometown? What income is required to rent an apartment in New York City? At another level of inquiry, WHY is the cost of living higher in some parts of the world than it is in others? What factors contribute to the quality of life? In a math class, use this data as "meat" to learn about comparing and displaying data. Your students will find the data interesting enough to pay attention.

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Creative Routines - Info We Trust

Grades
6 to 12
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Creative Routines, a simple infographic, analyzes the self-reported daily routines of 16 creative geniuses from history. Traditional lessons on time management are so predictable. This...more
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Creative Routines, a simple infographic, analyzes the self-reported daily routines of 16 creative geniuses from history. Traditional lessons on time management are so predictable. This infographic makes creative time management personal (and more meaningful). Did they get the recommended 8 hours of sleep? Did they exercise regularly? When were they most productive? What did they do for fun?

tag(s): biographies (85), creativity (90), gifted (65), organizational skills (95)

In the Classroom

Display the infographic on an interactive whiteboard as a springboard for discussion about time management, creativity, study (or work) habits, perseverance, or multi-tasking. Surprise! Mozart spent 0 hours checking his Facebook account! The site might also be instructive in a discussion about what habits contribute to creativity or as information about the lives of famous people. Using these 16 24-hour clocks as exemplars, students can make their own "creative routines" clocks for comparison. As you talk about creativity or study skills, encourage your students to pay attention to the time of day that is best for them to generate creative ideas, write, draw, write music, etc. They may find that altering their routine can have a positive impact on both grades and creative satisfaction.

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A List of Twitter Educators by Subject Area - Alice Keeler

Grades
K to 12
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Are you looking for other educators to follow on Twitter? Check out this lengthy list of educator Twitter handles arranged by subject. The easiest way to view the full document ...more
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Are you looking for other educators to follow on Twitter? Check out this lengthy list of educator Twitter handles arranged by subject. The easiest way to view the full document is to click the link located under the heading "A Twitter Win." This link leads to a Google document with headings for all content areas as well as Ed Tech, Counselors, Administrators, and more. Use the scroll bar at the bottom of the document to view all categories. Add your own Twitter handle in the appropriate category for inclusion on this document.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): social networking (82), twitter (39)

In the Classroom

Explore the site to discover and follow educators who match your interests and needs. Read the Tweets about what is happening in other classrooms to gain some fresh, new ideas. Looking for more ways to use Twitter in the classroom? If you are the only person in your building who teaches a particular subject, such as gifted or learning support, this list can help you find like minds to share ideas or to set up collaborations between your students. Read more about Twitter at TeachersFirst's Twitter for Teachers page.

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what a great resource Susan, NY, Grades: 6 - 12

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Biomimicry in Youth Education - Biomimicry 3.8 Institute

Grades
10 to 12
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Inspire your students to SEE the natural world differently! Biomimicry is the imitation of nature's best design ideas to solve human problems. This tool provides a free resource toolkit...more
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Inspire your students to SEE the natural world differently! Biomimicry is the imitation of nature's best design ideas to solve human problems. This tool provides a free resource toolkit for K-12 educators. View the desktop or mobile version of the toolkit. Immerse yourself in the lessons, videos, activities, and tools offered in this resource. Be sure to check out the links along the side that include Resource Types and Resource Audiences (Youth (K-12), and University). Be sure to notice the extensions, homework, assessments, and other ideas offered with each of the activities. Lessons in the toolkit are arranged in sections: Introduction (exploring what is Biomimicry), Exploring Nature (connecting students with nature), Case studies, Function (how strategies of other organisms can help with our own functioning), Pattern, and Design Projects (to teach the design process). Battle of the Beaks and Velcro Race Game are lesson examples in the Function section. Join the Biomomicry network and connect with others. Find examples of Biomimicry and Cool Biology topics under the Categories section of this resource. Note: Not sure what Biomimicry is? Learn more about Biomimicry in this article.

tag(s): design (81), engineering (108), STEM (214)

In the Classroom

It will be very beneficial to spend some time with the toolkit to see all that it offers. Use the resources to engage students in content that would otherwise be considered dull to some students. Use the lessons to change from teacher-led information about topics to research-driven student investigations. Use the lessons to provide a vital connection students need to the natural world that is becoming increasingly lost with each generation. Find simple activities found on the Core Concepts pages. Each section has articles and other resources for better understanding. Many of the resources encourage questioning, the creation of ideas, and formation of solutions. Other resources (such as in the Core Concepts), encourage students to look at nature differently and understand how we are part of nature and the biodiversity on Earth. Expand many of the Patterns lessons to identify how humans have copied patterns found in nature around us and how these patterns improve our designs (ex. the shape of an egg/strength of an arch). This resource would be a wonderful extension of the classroom for motivated students, especially gifted! Include it as a challenge level during a unit on plants and other science topics for your gifted middle schoolers. Assign each group a specific concept of Biomimicry to learn and understand. Enhance student learning by having students create a simple infographic sharing their findings using Venngage, reviewed here.

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ShareDrop - Cowbell Labs

Grades
3 to 12
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Frustrated when trying to transfer files from one device to another? This resource is a free service that easily transfers files between devices without creating any kind of account....more
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Frustrated when trying to transfer files from one device to another? This resource is a free service that easily transfers files between devices without creating any kind of account. Use this resource in Opera, Chrome, or Firefox (not Safari or Internet Explorer!). It will work on your laptop, desktop, tablet, or mobile device. Please note: both devices must be connected to the same wireless network. Simply drag files into ShareDrop on one device and then open it on the other. For users familiar with AirDrop on Apple products, this tool looks and works similarly.

In the Classroom

This would be a good tool to use in a computer lab or with laptop carts, iPads, or Chromebooks where students don't have email addresses or Google Accounts for sharing work with their teachers or each other. Students and teachers simply go to the ShareDrop site. When students are ready to share their work with their teachers, they can drag it into the ShareDrop page on their laptops, desktops, or tablets. For those interested in security, files are not actually uploaded to a server. Instead, ShareDrop is a peer to peer connection. Teachers can "push out" files to students quickly and easily using this tool. During curriculum development and other professional development activities, members of a specific department (or even school-wide) can share resources and documents easily to each other. This is a MUST in 1:1 and BYOD classrooms! Student groups working on projects in class can gather and share files easily.

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Fracking Across the United States - Earth Justice Org.

Grades
6 to 12
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View this interactive Google map to discover where "fraccidents" have occurred and a description of what happened. A "fraccident" is when something goes wrong at a fracking site. Hydraulic...more
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View this interactive Google map to discover where "fraccidents" have occurred and a description of what happened. A "fraccident" is when something goes wrong at a fracking site. Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" is drilling to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas. Fracking is a controversial technology, and this site is one organization's efforts to slow the pace of industrial gas development. So you will notice some bias. Find out if anything like this has happened near you. At the bottom of the page is a video, "Finding Their Way." It is about a Williamsport, PA couple who developed strategies to stop industrial gas development in Rider Park, land consisting of forests, rivers, and fields. The video also gives statistics about how quickly fracking wells were built in Pennsylvania from 2007 - 2010.

tag(s): disasters (37), energy (144), environment (232), geology (64), natural resources (40), oil (29), resources (87)

In the Classroom

Introduce this site on an interactive whiteboard or projector during a study of fossil fuels, geology, or energy and government policy. Show students an overview of the interactive map and the states listed below it. Have partners select a state, click on the skull and crossbones, and read about the "fraccidents" that have happened. Have students record the state and the facts about the "fraccident" using an online bulletin board and stickies such as Lino reviewed here. At this point, have students research the positive side of fracking and/or alternative versions of what happened in this "fraccident." Students could then write argument/persuasive papers. Math students could determine the frequency of accidents from fracking over the years and predict what might happen in the states targeted for fracking in the future (listed below the map). Students could view the video at the bottom of the page and discuss the steps taken to stop fracking in Williamsport, PA.

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Smithsonian: Energy Innovation - Smithsonian

Grades
6 to 12
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Explore the leading U.S. states in the production of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." There are three parts to this interactive map. Major Shale Plays shows where...more
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Explore the leading U.S. states in the production of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." There are three parts to this interactive map. Major Shale Plays shows where extraction is considered both technically possible and profitable. In State by State Comparison, simply click on each state to show a chart of production rates and reserves. Where is Fracking Happening? provides a legend displaying Shale gas wells and Plays and Basins. Click on the map to zoom in. The accompanying article provides information about technology, earthquakes, and the liquids used in fracking.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): energy (144), environment (232), geology (64), natural resources (40), oil (29), resources (87)

In the Classroom

Introduce this site with an interactive whiteboard or projector and big screen. View together as a class to show students how the interactive map works. Have pairs of students go through the interactive maps and write down key phrases for information they learn. Then have the pairs create a word cloud of the important terms learned from this site using a tool such as Wordle, reviewed here. This site could be used in a unit on contemporary environmental issues or energy. Use it for background research for a class debate on fracking. It would also provide evidence for a Common Core-style writing piece developing an argument and supporting evidence. In a government or civics class, this information could be part of a class discussion on how government policies can affect the environment.

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