Websites Worth Checking Out
Helping to Integrate Technology into Core Curriculum
(from TCEA 2008, Brenda McDonald)
(from TCEA 2008, Brenda McDonald)
- Supported by more than 30 companies, the nonprofit Partnership for 21st Century Skills offers guidance on how to define, teach and assess new-century skills.
- Think of it as “You Tube for educators.” The Carnegie Foundation’s Gallery of Teaching & Learning delivers preK-12 professional development using online video and audio clips taken straight from colleagues’ classrooms. Search or browse the Collections and Exhibitions, which cover how and what skills to teach to 21st century students.
- Find endless learning resources at Verizon’s Thinkfinity Web site. The site offers, free of charge, more than 55,000 standards-based, K-12 lesson plans and other educational resources, provided by 11 of the nation’s leading educational organizations, to teachers, students and community organizations.
- Teaching composition? Then come to The Write! Place. This Web site from Curriculum Associates is full of free online writing activities, printable graphic organizers and writing prompts, hundreds of practice lessons and plenty of Web links to correlated research, rubrics and more. Further, teachers who submit a tip, motivational idea, or success story about writing instruction receive a $50 gift certificate for the firm’s products.
- With the Mobile Prep Flashcard Library, students can study vocabulary or facts, do algebra, practice a foreign language or prepare for quizzes – using flashcards on their cell phone. Adults can also turn their “downtime into productive time.” Membership is free, and it’s easy to get started. Just enter a cell phone number at Positive Motion’s Web site. The software is sent to the phone automatically – which then calls you when it’s ready. Flashcard stacks cover many topics, and more are added weekly.
- In the online universe of Teen Second Life, educators and students will find unlimited possibilities for creating a unique learning experience. In this 3-D virtual world, students aged 13 to 17 can become any character, real or imagined; try their skill at a job; own land; build a business – and more. Residents create this ever-expanding world as they wish.
- Poetry is meant to be heard. Macworld called PENNsound an “online poetry powerhouse” for its growing library of MP3 poetry recordings. From the University of Pennsylvania, the ongoing project offers recorded readings from poets and authors.
- For its 200th anniversary, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers a special online collection of K-12 resources on the oceans, coasts and skies. Materials are organized to help students Explore, Understand and Protect these environments. An Activity Book includes 43 activities, downloadable in full or individually.
- Tailored for middle school students, the Copyright Kids Web site explains copyright law in kid-friendly language. Students may take a quiz to test their knowledge of copyright law. They may also copyright their own works. A section for parents and teachers describes the site’s contents and offers links to other resources and guidelines. The site is an initiative of The Copyright Society of the U.S.A.
- Students can literally play with math at the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (NLVM). This collection from Utah State University comprises more than 100 interactive math exercises for grades preK – 12, eModules (lessons rather than activities) for grades 2-12, and teacher-contributed lesson plans. All online materials are in Spanish as well as English, and free; an affordable CD edition adds printing and saving functionality, plus a NoteTaker plug-in.
- The fledgling Encyclopedia of Life certainly has lofty goals. It aims to “ultimately serve as an online reference source and database for every one of the 1.8 million species that are named and known on the planet.” Mash-up technology and wiki-style contributions have enabled this ambitious undertaking. It’s just getting started but check out the sample pages for a preview of this amazing resource for teaching, learning and research.
- The Open Resource Centre, offers a wealth of resources on how to use open source, Web 2.0, and other 21st century technologies to improve K-12 instruction. Browse contributor’s posts, in categories that include digital video, collaborative software, podcasting and “makes you think.”
- In Office 2007, Microsoft changed how files are saved, so older versions of Office will not be able to open the newer version’s spreadsheets, documents, or presentations. This site offers multiple options for Office 2007 converters and viewers, or alternatively, describes how to save files in the old Office format.
- BrainHoney, powered by Agilix, may be just getting started, but it’s got quite the buzz. A sample set of instructional games, for example, are engaging and innovative. The site draws on social networking’s power to create an “open-door global classroom.” Both students and teachers can use the tool to build interactive projects, lessons, activities and more, as everyone learns and shares together.
- The Concord Consortium offers free math, science, ecology and modeling open-source software for teachers and students, plus tutorials and resources. For example, the BioLogica and Dynamica modelers handle biology and physics. VideoPaper Builder simplifies the making of video-based case studies for professional development, and crossing disciplines are programs from the Consortium’s Center for Sustainable Future, designed to prompt students to think about conserving natural resources. Included are a What-If Builder writing tool, Community Planner modeler and Ecological Footprint Calculator. A searchable database of classroom-tested activities accompanies the tools.
- Curriki.org coined “wiki for curriki” to describe its library of educator generated, edited and vetted instructional content for K-12. Teachers from all over the world share everything from minilessons to full courses. The site now comprises thousands of searchable resources from 35,000 (and rising) members. Further, a new Currikulum Builder tools helps novices to build original lessons and experienced users to collect resources.
- Boasting the world’s largest online community of collaborating K-12 learners (7 million in 191 countries), ePals is well known for connecting classrooms and students. Its SchoolMail and SchoolBlog programs provide safe, secure environments. Now the firm has launched Ask ePals, a free Web service to locate resources, content, advice, tips and more.
- Thinkport is “home port” to a huge fleet of the K-12 community. From Maryland Public Television and Johns Hopkins University, the site offers a comprehensive array of K-12 resources, such as the popular Online Field Trips. It also includes Builders for lessons, projects, classroom Web sites and student activities; thousands of standards-based lessons; a multitude of videoclips; a personal calendar-and more.
- GabCast and Gcast are both web sites offering free accounts for learners of any age who want to use a cell phone or other POTS (plain old telephone system) line as a mobile recording device. In the case of GabCast, after registering for a free account users create a “channel” and are assigned a unique channel number. Users can then dial a toll free number and record up to 60 seconds of audio. Recorded audio files can then be downloaded and combined into a podcast using free digital audio editing software such as Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net)
- This URL takes you directly to the news page of the Time for Kids site. A great learning station that you never have to change is to have students visit the news page, choose an article, and then report on the news using a data gathering sheet or document. If you have time, take it one step further and allow students to audio or video record their news report. The Time for Kids site has a variety of information, links for parents and students, and games, of course.