TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Jun 19, 2022

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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Open-Ended Social Studies - Thomas Kenning

Grades
6 to 12
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Open-Ended History is an Open Educational Resource (OER) textbook designed to foster critical and historical thinking skills through interactive content. Find resources related to the...more
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Open-Ended History is an Open Educational Resource (OER) textbook designed to foster critical and historical thinking skills through interactive content. Find resources related to the United States and World History in many ways: browse lessons by concept, country, films, travel writing, or search the library of lessons by keyword. The lessons are designed to be used by students and include many hyperlinks, images, and videos that support the included content. In addition to the teaching materials, this site contains a beneficial blog with content that supports the site's philosophy, which is to teach students through a broader world lens.

tag(s): 1600s (17), 1700s (34), 1800s (61), 20th century (48), american revolution (73), civil war (127), colonial america (92), colonization (18), gettysburg (16), gettysburg address (13), native americans (82), OER (36), washington (23), westward expansion (36)

In the Classroom

This site is an excellent addition to any middle or high school social studies curriculum. Bookmark this site to include with your other lesson resources. Use individual lessons to supplement your lessons through a new viewpoint since many of the tasks encourage students to think of history through the eyes of a traveler. Each lesson begins with a series of focus questions to keep in mind throughout the article. Engage students in learning and provide support for focusing on important information using Read Ahead, reviewed here. This handy tool lets you transform any text into a guided reading activity that highlights critical components of the text. As students collaborate on learning activities, enhance learning by using Notejoy, reviewed here, as a collaborative note-taking tool. Ask students to add the preview questions listed before the lesson and any other focus points, then share ideas and responses in Notejoy throughout the reading and discussions of the content. As a final learning extension, ask students to use Open-Ended History as a model for telling history through the eyes of a storyteller or from the perspective of one location. Use History in Motion, reviewed here, to create interactive timelines using animated maps. Include text descriptions, images, and videos as part of your interactive timelines.
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Resources to Nurture Critical Thinking - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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Nurture critical thinking skills in your classroom using the resources shared in this collection. Critical thinking is a process that includes the ability to interpret, analyze, and...more
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Nurture critical thinking skills in your classroom using the resources shared in this collection. Critical thinking is a process that includes the ability to interpret, analyze, and evaluate information. Thinking critically requires students to infer and solve problems with an open mind. Students use critical thinking skills to observe, experience, communicate and reflect while reading and learning content. As contentious public events spill over into the classroom, teachers need to help students learn how to process perspectives that differ from their own. Use this collection as you are planning your lessons and activities.

tag(s): critical thinking (102), media literacy (86), problem solving (216)

In the Classroom

Help your students to practice critical thinking skills using these engaging resources. Share these resources with your colleagues and school parents by emailing the page or sharing the link from your school web page and in your school newsletter.

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Problem-Based Learning Resources - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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Problem-based learning is a curriculum design method that offers learners challenging, open-ended problems. The hands-on learning activities offer investigations of real-world problems....more
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Problem-based learning is a curriculum design method that offers learners challenging, open-ended problems. The hands-on learning activities offer investigations of real-world problems. Problem-based learning allows students to develop lifelong learning skills, gain work-place readiness, and improve team-work and cooperative learning strategies. View this collection to begin your journey with problem-based learning in your classroom.

tag(s): Problem Based Learning (12), problem solving (216), STEM (225)

In the Classroom

Help your students to practice problem-solving skills using these engaging resources. Share these resources with your colleagues and school parents by emailing the page or sharing the link from your school web page and in your school newsletter.

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Thinkalong - Conneticut Public

Grades
6 to 12
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Improve and build students' critical thinking skills, debate skills, and media literacy using Thinkalong. Present students with provocative questions such as "Should performance-enhancing...more
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Improve and build students' critical thinking skills, debate skills, and media literacy using Thinkalong. Present students with provocative questions such as "Should performance-enhancing drugs be allowed in professional sports? Should schools provide a laptop and internet for every student? Should social media companies be allowed to sell your data?" to name a few of the many topics. Topics focus on science, social studies, and current events. After clicking a topic, find three main categories: Teachers (a teacher's guide), Investigate (usually a graphic organizer), and Contemplate (question the authorship, format, audience purpose, etc.). However, that's not all! Under those categories, you'll find even move resources listed as Watch, Listen, Think Deep, and Contemplate (deeper thinking questions about the message); after all this, students have the opportunity to test their opinions through a structured debate in class or online with another class. Although the resource states it's for middle school students, these lessons could easily be adapted for high school.

tag(s): critical thinking (102), debate (37), inquiry (23), media literacy (86), news (232), persuasive writing (51), Research (59)

In the Classroom

Whether teaching in a classroom or online, scan the included PDF or Word documents into Google Classroom or your school student/teacher platform to share and assign to students. Enhance student learning by asking students to use highlighting and note-taking tools within their word document to provide documentation for their responses. To prepare students for Common Core Assessments on evidence and arguments, have them choose a popular topic, research it (with the materials provided) so they can provide evidence for their stance when writing about their opinion or to refute another's. The debate section is the perfect opportunity to teach students about countering an opposing opinion, deciding which is the strongest point, and then teach them how to address concerns of others in their writing or debate. For example, they can concede it is a valid point and then counter with another strong argument. Consider sharing the activities found on this site with your peers as a model for redesigning lessons you already use in your classroom (for online learning during absences and crises?). Use Padlet, reviewed here, to collaborate and share ideas, activities, and resources as you work toward incorporating inquiry lessons into your classrooms.

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The Big6 - Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz

Grades
K to 12
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The Big6 provides training and resources based on the Big6 model for problem-solving and decision making. This site also includes information for incorporating the Super3 model into...more
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The Big6 provides training and resources based on the Big6 model for problem-solving and decision making. This site also includes information for incorporating the Super3 model into the decision making process for younger students. Follow the Big6 blog as a means to stay current on the latest ideas and information related to using the Big6 model in and away from the classroom. The Big6 Resources link shares detailed information on the Big6 model along with an overview of incorporating the model as a structured month by month program. The included instructional materials include handouts, presentations, videos, and additional support materials for you to learn about and teach the Big6 model strategies.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): problem solving (216), teaching strategies (34)

In the Classroom

Share ideas from this site with peers as part of your professional development sessions. Consider creating a monthly building-wide schedule using the suggestions provided on the site. Include your ideas with parents through your website to teach them along with you and your students on methods for working through any type of decision. Use technology resources to reinforce and reflect upon the Big6 and Super3 decision-making processes. For example, use Canva Infographic Maker, reviewed here to create digital posters for each of the strategies. Include suggestions on ways for students to be successful within each strategy. Provide resources for students to match strategies such as planning. Read Write Think, reviewed here, has a large number of student interactives including a Cube Creator, reviewed here, Book Cover Creator, reviewed here, and an Essay Map, reviewed here, that provides students assistance in planning writing assignments. As students learn about and become familiar with the Big6 and Super3 process, ask them to share their ideas and reflect upon learning using blogs created with Edublog, reviewed here. Have students share their knowledge with others using a video explainer tool like simpleshow video maker, reviewed here. Be sure to share student reflections and explainers on your class website for parents and others to view!
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Case Maker - Bean Creative

Grades
6 to 8
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Case Maker is a collection of 20 civics challenges for middle school students. Share individual challenges with students using the provided Challenge Code. Once students access the...more
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Case Maker is a collection of 20 civics challenges for middle school students. Share individual challenges with students using the provided Challenge Code. Once students access the challenge, the site offers tools for adding annotations and creating case folders. Once complete, students use information as a reference for other assignments or share their work using the site's presentation mode feature. Use your free Case Maker account to modify text and associated primary sources within challenges and follow student progress. Be sure to watch the introductory videos for teachers and students.

tag(s): black history (90), civil rights (165), constitution (85), democracy (17), elections (75), freedom of speech (12), immigrants (29), immigration (58), inquiry (23), media literacy (86), politics (101), racism (71), Research (59), world war 2 (136)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free materials on this site to encourage debate and discussion within your current civics lessons and lessons on civil rights and racism. Introduce Case Maker by showing the class the student introductory video. Each lesson includes primary sources to use when responding to prompts; ask students to find and share additional primary sources to include in their response to each question. Instead of just creating a list of additional resources, engage students and augment classroom technology use by sharing additional resources using Padlet, reviewed here. Padlet offers features for adding comments; ask students to use this feature to indicate important information found on the document. Enhance learning by finding and sharing videos that support the topic being discussed. Use edpuzzle, reviewed here, to add comments and question prompts for students. Upon completing student projects, extend learning by having stidents share their thoughts through a podcast featuring students' challenge solutions. Be sure to include a group of students in each podcast featuring various points of view and their backup documentation. Try using Synth, reviewed here, to create student podcasts.

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Project Look Sharp - Project Look Sharp, Ithaca College

Grades
K to 12
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Project Look Sharp promotes media literacy education and critical thinking skills through the offering of curriculum kits for classrooms in grades K-12; to find the kits click the Free...more
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Project Look Sharp promotes media literacy education and critical thinking skills through the offering of curriculum kits for classrooms in grades K-12; to find the kits click the Free Classroom Materials button. The free kits include teacher guides, handouts, assessments, and correlating digital media. Browse through all available kits, or filter by grade level or Common Core Standard. Each kit is available for download in its entirety or download individual lessons as desired; registration is required. Lesson contents cover a variety of topics including Global Warming, Presidential Campaigns, and Social Justice. Be sure to look through other sections of the site including professional development information and links to handouts from Project Look Sharp's presentations.

tag(s): american revolution (73), climate change (77), critical thinking (102), environment (218), martin luther king (39), media literacy (86), middle east (40), nutrition (132), OER (36), presidents (115), russia (33), social media (44)

In the Classroom

Become acquainted with these free curriculum kits and lessons to integrate media literacy within content already taught in the classroom. As you teach lessons found on the site, incorporate technology to enhance learning and build student understanding by using Word Ahead, reviewed here, or WordSift, reviewed here, to introduce and develop vocabulary as a prereading strategy or older students can use either as they are reading. Incorporate images with annotations to help students understand "big picture" ideas using ThingLink, reviewed here. For younger students create a ThingLink together as a class to add text, video, and more to images. Ask older students to create their own ThingLink sharing information learned throughout your lessons. Be sure to share all of your images on your class website for students to view at any time. To transform classroom technology use and as a culminating activity, use a digital book creation tool like Book Creator, reviewed here, as an alternative assessment to quizzes or tests. Include student-created writing, ThingLink images, and add videos with student commentary within each book. Be sure to provide students with your rubric to use as a guide before turning in digital books. Find many ideas for implementing rubrics for assessment along with examples and online tools at TeachersFirst Rubrics to the Rescue, reviewed here. Whether students work individually or in groups, be sure to share your new digital library related to your lesson topic with students to review and revisit at any time!
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Media Literacy - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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Peruse this curated list to find resources related to media literacy. Media literacy is a set of skills that help people to analyze, evaluate, and create messages in a wide ...more
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Peruse this curated list to find resources related to media literacy. Media literacy is a set of skills that help people to analyze, evaluate, and create messages in a wide variety of media modes, genres, and formats. To become media literate, students must learn to raise the right questions about what they are listening to, watching, or reading. Media literacy education is about helping students become competent, critical, and literate in all media forms so that they can appropriately interpret what they see or hear rather than blindly accepting what they are told. This collection of resources includes lesson ideas, activities, and resources for teaching media literacy skills. Be sure also to check out the media literacy professional learning resources.

tag(s): critical thinking (102), cyberbullying (43), digital citizenship (78), evaluating sources (13), internet safety (110), media literacy (86), news (232), primary sources (99), professional development (286), social media (44)

In the Classroom

Today's messages come in many forms and literacy can no longer refer simply to the ability to read and write. Prepare your students to be literate citizens with this collection. Many are ideal for whole-group instruction, while others would work best on individual devices. Read the reviews to find classroom use ideas with each review. Although the list of tools is mainly geared towards grades 4-8, there are a few resources for the primary grades.

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Extreme Event - Koshland Science Museum

Grades
8 to 12
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Extreme Event is a crisis problem-solving game for groups of 12 or more players with a minimum age of 12 years old. Facilitators set up a room and time for ...more
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Extreme Event is a crisis problem-solving game for groups of 12 or more players with a minimum age of 12 years old. Facilitators set up a room and time for participants, and games typically take about an hour to complete. Choose from three scenarios - hurricane, flood, or earthquake. Download all game materials from the site including PDF cards, sounds, and visual effects. The videos in the classroom activity section reside on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. Extreme Event made changes to the game and the game materials. Be sure you download the new materials to play.

tag(s): critical thinking (102), earthquakes (43), floods (11), hurricanes (28), logic (162), problem solving (216)

In the Classroom

Use the materials found on Extreme Event as a hands-on lesson in problem-solving, short and long term planning, and building community. Use an online tool such as Interactive Three Circle Venn Diagram, reviewed here, to compare and contrast different strategies needed to solve problems in different crisis situations. Challenge students to create a brochure or newsletter sharing their findings. Are you integrating technology in your class? Instead of the traditional paper brochure, enhance student learning by using Lucidpress, reviewed here, or if you are more experienced use Sway, reviewed here, and create a newsletter. If you complete this activity with different classes, share results from the different games as part of your discussions on your problem-solving decisions.
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Ask for Evidence - askforevidence.org

Grades
8 to 12
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Ask for Evidence steps in to find the facts behind product claims. Browse through stories for information on questions such as "Should we be Worried about 'Dirty' Stethoscopes?" or...more
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Ask for Evidence steps in to find the facts behind product claims. Browse through stories for information on questions such as "Should we be Worried about 'Dirty' Stethoscopes?" or "Claims about Cancer Fighting Foods." Click Guides from the top menu to find topics. Create an account to ask your own questions. Be sure to view the "Understand Evidence" part of the site to find invaluable resources about how to find and understand reliable evidence. Find "Activity Packs," "Lesson Plans," and more under Resources on the top menu. The site was created in the UK, so some of the pronunciations and spellings may differ from American English. Note: topics included may not all be classroom appropriate. Select and share specific articles if you are sharing this site with young people.

tag(s): advertising (23), critical thinking (102), evaluating sources (13), media literacy (86), politics (101), propaganda (9), questioning (30)

In the Classroom

Use this site when discussing political or advertising claims with your students. Build critical thinking and questioning skills. Share specific articles with students as young as upper elementary. Share the "Understand Evidence" portion of the site with students before they begin any investigational reports or persuasive writing pieces. Use specific articles rather than the full site with less mature students. This site will give them experience reading informational text on claims they wonder about. Partner weaker readers with others who may be able to help them read the text-heavy articles. Enhance student learning by having students create a simple infographic sharing their findings using Venngage, reviewed here. Perhaps show your students a sample infographic from the Resources menu at the top.

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Critical Thinking Puzzles - Eldhose Baby

Grades
8 to 12
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Explore this large collection of problem solving puzzles and activities, posted blog-style. Although the site is rather simple, there is much here to challenge your mind! Some puzzles...more
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Explore this large collection of problem solving puzzles and activities, posted blog-style. Although the site is rather simple, there is much here to challenge your mind! Some puzzles are geared towards mathematics skills while others involve the English language or even logic. This site only contains the problems. No hints or correct answers are included. You may post your thoughts and view comments of others; all comments are moderated. You must sign up using email to leave comments. Find previous puzzles in the Blog Archives. Please note that though comments are moderated, some may still may not be appropriate for your age group. So please preview before you share with students.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): logic (162), problem solving (216), puzzles (142)

In the Classroom

Bookmark and use Critical Thinking Puzzles in your classroom throughout the year for problem solving and logic activities. Have students or groups collect ideas and findings using Padlet, reviewed here. The Padlet application creates free online bulletin boards. If your students (or you) have trouble figuring out a solution, post the problem on your classroom bulletin board and revisit throughout the year. View the comments privately, to see if you can give your students "a clue." Why not post a "question of the week" on your class website, using a link to this page! Challenge your gifted students to create their own critical thinking puzzles to share with the class. Create an online book of puzzles using a tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here. (Have them include the solutions in the back of the online book.)

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Quandary - Learning Games Network

Grades
3 to 9
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Quandary is an online simulation in ethical decision-making while building a new colony on the planet Braxos. Face decisions without right or wrong answers but that have implications...more
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Quandary is an online simulation in ethical decision-making while building a new colony on the planet Braxos. Face decisions without right or wrong answers but that have implications on you and others in the colony. This activity was created for students ages 8-14. Login is optional to save scores or track and assess student performance or you can play as a guest. The game includes three different episodes with each containing different scenarios for decision-making. View information on the game, extension questions and more within the teachers and parents portions of the site. Find lesson plans, standards mapping (matched to Common Core ELA standards), and printable materials within the teachers section for classroom use. Don't miss the introduction videos explaining the site!

tag(s): creativity (93), critical thinking (102), ethics (23), game based learning (159), social and emotional learning (60)

In the Classroom

Try this activity on your interactive whiteboard (or projector). Create a quick poll (with no membership required) using Poll Everywhere, reviewed here, to view students' choices of actions to take throughout the game. Challenge cooperative learning groups to create videos using Adobe Creative Cloud Express Video Maker, reviewed here, explaining what they learned and sharing them on a site such as TeacherTube, reviewed here, to explain the decision-making process for different scenarios.

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Thought Questions - Marc and Angel Hack Life

Grades
5 to 12
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How do you know when you're happy? What's one bad habit that makes you miserable? Find open-ended questions on Thought Questions daily. A gorgeous photograph complements each...more
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How do you know when you're happy? What's one bad habit that makes you miserable? Find open-ended questions on Thought Questions daily. A gorgeous photograph complements each question. The site provides a space for you to answer these questions online or not. Maximize the benefits of self-reflection by taking the time to think! Visit this site daily, weekly, or monthly. There are hundreds of questions and photos to contemplate, and they post a new one daily. The public is able to answer the questions on the site, so you may want to only use this on an adult's computer.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): critical thinking (102), writing (283), writing prompts (57)

In the Classroom

This is the perfect site to start your students' day or end your day with them. Use these questions as writing prompts or quick writes. Penzu, reviewed here, is a quick and easy blog tool to replace paper and pencil and enhance learning. You may want to ask students to choose their favorite and form small groups to discuss their answers. Post some of the same questions on bulletin boards. Discussing or debating these questions would be a powerful community builder at the beginning of the year or when forming new small groups. To avoid the advertising, have your question on the screen before projecting it on your screen or whiteboard. If your class includes gifted students, they may react well to such thought-provokers. Encourage them to collect favorite prompts and responses in an "idea bin" such as Lino, reviewed here, to use at times when they are ahead of the class or need extra writing challenges.

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5 Minute Mystery - Mystery Competition, LLC

Grades
4 to 12
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This mystery reading game helps increase reading comprehension and critical thinking skills in an innovative way. The basic game is free. You can sign up to have two mysteries a ...more
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This mystery reading game helps increase reading comprehension and critical thinking skills in an innovative way. The basic game is free. You can sign up to have two mysteries a week sent to you, or you can use their archive. There is a "How to Play" section where you can read the instructions. After reading a mystery you select the correct sentences that are clues, and select a character that the clue either exonerates or implicates. Points are awarded for each clue you get correct. You can set up a leaque or several leagues to track students' performance and progress.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): critical thinking (102), mysteries (17), reading comprehension (127), short stories (18)

In the Classroom

Use your projector and interactive whiteboard to show your students the directions for getting points by selecting the correct clues and solving the mystery. To begin with, as a class, read a mystery and discuss what the clues might be and whether they implicate or exonerate each suspect. Once the students have volunteered their ideas for which sentences are clues, submit them to see the score. The program will highlight the answers you should have had, if you got any wrong. Model for your students a discussion about why those are the correct answers and why the ones they submitted weren't. Eventually they can have this discussion by themselves in small groups. Those of you with multiple classes will want to create a league for each class.

Eventually you can have small groups of students compete against each other by creating leagues. Have your students come to consensus about the clue sentences and who the real perpetrator is by voting using Tricider, reviewed here, or Vevox, reviewed here.

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