Saturday, November 28, 2009

Teachers First, Sites for November!

Following are some sites recommended for by Teachers First.  If you look closely, you will notice they span grades K-12.  Each site is summarized and then it is followed with classroom suggestions.  Check them out!  They are great resources.  Enjoy!

Featured Sites Archive

Here are this week's features. Clicking the "more resources like this" link below each listing will present a list of our most recent additions for the same subject area and grade level .
Sliding Block Puzzle Page - Grades 1 - 12 - permalink
Challenge basic counting skills and problem solving using classic sliding puzzles. Not only will you find numerical sliding puzzles, but also colorful shape puzzles. Java applets make an interactive version of each puzzle appear below the "goal" you are trying to reach. There is also a targeted number of moves to reach the goal. There are many different types of puzzles, some more familiar than others. Be sure to be patient as puzzles load. Sometimes the interactive (drag to slide) portion does not appear right away. 10414
In the Classroom:
Share these puzzles on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) as a mind-bending challenge. Help students develop problem-solving skills such as thinking several steps ahead by offering the link on your class web page. Higher level and gifted math students can try to determine a formula for calculating the number of moves it may take to solve a puzzle. Give awards to students who accomplish the "goal" in the stated number of moves, then ask them to explain their strategy or think aloud as they repeat it on an interactive whiteboard. Offer a puzzle club for your mathematical/logical thinkers or simply develop visual thinking skills by sharing these challenges.

For similar resources, click the appropriate keyword: puzzles | logic |
Cybersmart - Grades 0 - 12 - permalink
Although there are many websites about internet safety, this site is unique in its detailed sections for user groups including young children, children, teens, parents, libraries, and schools. Each section contains age-appropriate interactive activities, quizzes, tips students can understand, information on online devices the student might be using, and information on social networking for older students. Since the site is from Australia, you may notice some slight language differences, but all the other information is pertinent, helpful, and recognizable. 10410
In the Classroom:
Share the activities with your students on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students work in cooperative learning groups to investigate various parts of this site. Challenge students to create online posters about internet safety on paper or do it together as a class using a tool such as Project Poster (reviewed here or PicLits (reviewed here. Or use another online poster creator, such as Wallwisher, (reviewed here). You may also want to share this link with parents via your class web page.

For similar resources, click the appropriate keyword: internet safety | social networking | social networks |
Caves at Lascaux - Grades 6 - 12 - permalink
This latest redesign of the Lascaux tour offered by the French government takes viewers on a video tour of the famous French caves. As you walk along, pop-ups label the drawings being viewed. An outline map on the right lower side of the screen shows the path the "walker" is taking, and also demonstrates where the viewer is at any given part of the tour. In addition to the video walk, information about the caves appears in "Chapters" which students can click on. The original version of this site is in French. The left sidebar offers the options of viewing the site in French, English, German, or Spanish. This link automatically opens to the English version of the site. 10408
In the Classroom:
Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Since many of the functions work on mouse-over -- not click -- you may want to use a human being to operate the actual computer mouse, since many whiteboards do not “know” where you are mousing until you click! Then have students explore this site independently or in small groups. This is a great addition to French or Art class. Challenge students in your class to narrate an image orally in French as they present it on the big screen or have them create their own narrated “cave paintings” using a tool such as Voicethread, reviewed here.

For similar resources, click the appropriate keyword: Lascaux caves | maps | iconography | france | Europe | cave paintings |
ESL Holidays Lessons - Grades 1 - 8 - permalink
Look no further for holiday activities for your ESL and ELL students (or for reading/listening comprehension activities you can use with all learners! This site lists conventional and unusual holidays by month. Click the holiday you would like to feature to find a complete lesson including a tape script, an oral recording of the script, and a variety of review exercises. The printable activities include matching, several varieties of fill-in-the-blank, word choices, spelling, reordering events and sentences from the holiday information, and writing activities. An online clickable reading activity presents parts of sentences, so students must select which sentence part comes first. The screen changes when the correct part comes up, and students select the next part. 10409
In the Classroom:
Use this site to help ESL/ELL students improve listening, reading, writing, and cultural knowledge. Invite an ESL/ELL student to present a holiday from their home country to the class using an interactive whiteboard or projector. Many of the review activities would also work well as reading comprehension practice on interactive whiteboard, especially if students use highlighters and pens to mark up the text passage to locate key terms, etc.

Have students create online holiday posters on paper or do it together as a class using a tool such as Project Poster (reviewed here or PicLits (reviewed here. Share this site with families of your ESL/ELL students to learn more about American holidays.

For similar resources, click the appropriate keyword: holidays | popular culture |
Automotivator - Grades 0 - 12 - permalink
Teachers First Edge Review: For slightly adventurous technology users. Create your own motivational poster easily and effortlessly. Choose a random picture, one from the Internet, or one chosen from your computer. Choose colors to border the picture and the type of text to be used. Enter your text and preview the result. Once complete, save to flickr, your computer, or print using a separate site. Remember you can use a saved image in PowerPoint shows and on a class wiki, as well. 10401
In the Classroom:
Skills required: You need to know how to browse and upload a file from your computer or find the URL of an image already on the web (one you can legally use, of course!).

Safety/Security: Be aware: there are some advertisements on this site. Also, make sure students are aware of copyright laws. Use this site to encourage proper use of photographs that students have the authorization to use. Model including appropriate photo credits on the posters.

Classroom use: Younger students can use this tool together as a whole-class activity or simply enjoy the posters their teacher creates. Have students create a picture about what has been studied with a caption of what has been learned. For example, create posters about predators and prey or classifications of animals. Students can create a poster of a study skill or learning activity that helps them learn. Create a caption that explains how the student learns the best. Every subject area can use this resource to create interesting presentation posters for display or as springboards to talk about what was learned. For example, in Biology, students could create a poster about a cell part with a clever caption about the importance of the job. In Literature or History, students can create posters about the perspectives of others in the story or at that time of history. Rather than a traditional research project. Have cooperative learning groups use this site to show their knowledge in any subject area. Ask students to apply concepts such as constitutional rights by illustrating them in poster images with captions. Teachers can create bulletin board images, as well. Have a classroom motivation poster competition to start off the school year! Share the winners on your class wiki or in a PowerPoint presentation at back to school night/open house. As special occasions approach, have students bring in or take a digital picture they can make into a poster as a family gift with their own inspirational saying.

For similar resources, click the appropriate keyword: posters | motivation | firstday | speocc |
Autopsy - Grades 8 - 12 - permalink
This interactive site shows how parts of an actual autopsy are done. The site does have a disclaimer that the content may be too graphic for some viewers. However, the "person" is a computer drawn, faceless character. You can click through the site, screen by screen, following the onscreen instructions to complete the autopsy. This includes removing the organs and weighing them. The site also includes a short video about an actual forensic scientist. Average metric weight of some human organs is also included in the site. 10423
In the Classroom:
This site could be used as an alternative to dissection, an enrichment activity, or as part of a unit that uses crime scene investigation as part of its delivery technique. Anatomy classes could use this practice and review for quizzes or tests on the human body organs and systems. Show the site using the interactive whiteboard or projector as an introduction to human anatomy or to dissection. If you teach high school biology, this would be a great site during Halloween season, as well: teach anatomy with a creepy feature!

For similar resources, click the appropriate keyword: Autopsy | Anatomy | forensics | death | halloween |
Tramline Virtual Field Trips - Grades 1 - 12 - permalink
This website is dedicated to delivering a variety of virtual field trips. The trips are listed by content. Each trip contains objectives, concepts, and terms to know. There are lesson plans linked in the Teacher Resource section of the page, and extra information on the topic. The trips themselves are a lot like guided web quests. The websites that are used in the field trips show good variety. And standards are even provided! The trips include grade levels. Examples of topics include hurricanes, dinosaurs, deserts, natural wonders, dark ages, and American Presidency. 10373
In the Classroom:
Virtual field trips from this website could be used on the interactive whiteboard or projector as a whole class activity. A better use could be to create a question sheet that mirrors the trip and have students work through the field trip at their own pace in lab, either with partners or individually. Follow up by challenging student groups to create an interactive guidebook to their topic using a tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here. With younger students, make a class book together.

For similar resources, click the appropriate keyword: Virtual Field Trips | Shakespeare | Leonardo da Vinci | investing | oceans | marsh |
Planet Quest - Grades 7 - 12 - permalink
View a time line of findings and explorations into other habitable planets in the universe. View understandings, pictures, quotes, and other materials available from 500 BC to the present. Use the arrows that appear on the screen to scroll backward and forward. Audio and auto play can be turned on and off along the bottom of the screen. Click on the dots below the time line to jump to discoveries, technology, or thought and culture throughout the time line. Click on "Show Key Milestones" to see a bar graph type image showing key points. 10382
In the Classroom:
This site is perfect for an interactive whiteboard or projector. Learning support students and weaker readers will benefit from the audio option. Use the information here as a springboard for other discussions, blog posts, or displays about planets possibly like Earth. Identify how technology and science has changed over the years and the natural laws that were understood prior to the discoveries. Have cooperative learning groups explore a specific section of this site and create a multimedia presentation to share with the class. Challenge groups to narrate a photo (legally permissible) using a site such as Voicethread reviewed here.

For similar resources, click the appropriate keyword: exoplanet | earth | space |
Free Documentaries - Grades 8 - 12 - permalink
This website is a source of free, downloadable documentaries. It is a nonprofit site. The site explains, “you can stream interesting and provocative documentary films for free!“ Teachers will want to preview before you share with your class simply because of what “provocative” could mean. Most films are full length, but some are short. There is a helpful menu of topics on the right hand side of the computer screen. This menu makes it easy to navigate and find the type of documentary that is needed. Documentaries range from 9/11 and the London Bombing to The Road to Guantanamo to The Panama Deception to many others. 10422
In the Classroom:
Share this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. View clips relevant to your topics of study. Use this website to contrast a documentary with the facts that are being taught. Use this site as a point-counterpoint to other perspectives available on the web as part of a discussion of bias. Compare and contrast analysis of the materials versus the known facts is one good use for this website. A short documentary could be shown during class as a launch point for students to create their own documentary style video projects. Share the videos using a site such as Teachers.TV (explained here). Teachers of gifted and high achievers will great possibilities for challenging critical thinking using this site.

For similar resources, click the appropriate keyword: documentaries | movies | religion | politics |
Plagiarism Detect - Grades 6 - 12 - permalink
Use the free portion of this site to check any written content for plagiarism. An accurate analysis of a whole document is quick to complete. Registration is required to use this user-friendly plagiarism checker. An email address and birth date are required for registration. Tip: rather than using your personal or work email, create a free Gmail account to use for memberships. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service.

This site displays problem areas in a written piece so changes can be made to avoid plagiarism. A paid account is available and provides more options. 10361
In the Classroom:
Students can use this plagiarism checker to be sure they are turning in original work. Teachers can use this service to check the work of students (submitted electronically). Students should create accounts with their parents to check their work at home. Model this site to explain what plagiarism IS and how students can avoid it. The hands-on experience will help them understand this challenging concept. You might even want to provide several examples of plagiarized writing as an exercise for student to check and correct before they copy/paste their way to trouble in a research assignment.

For similar resources, click the appropriate keyword: plagiarism | intellectual honesty |
Plagiarism Checker - Grades 6 - 12 - permalink
This site allows users to check a document or web page for evidence of plagiarism for free. Type or copy/paste text from parts of the document or website and click search. Of course, you will need electronic copies of student work to easily copy/paste! Plagiarism Checker provides links to web-based text similar to that being searched. Note that this tool does not check against print material, such as books. It searches only the web for similar passages. 10360
In the Classroom:
Students can use this plagiarism checker to be sure they are turning in original work. Teachers can use this service to check the work of students (submitted electronically). Students should create accounts with their parents to check their work at home. Model this site to explain what plagiarism IS and how students can avoid it. The hands-on experience will help them understand this challenging concept. You might even want to provide several examples of plagiarized writing as an exercise for student to check and correct before they copy/paste their way to trouble in a research assignment. Another interesting exercise for researchers is to locate an article on a how-to topic, such as "How to Paint a Room," then see how many sites use the exact same text. As a class, discuss whether this proliferation is good or bad (is the web spreading misinformation, too?).

For similar resources, click the appropriate keyword: plagiarism | intellectual honesty |

Your Chance to Give Input!

I just received this information from ASCD's Smart Brief.  The article attached is well worth the read, but I think it is more crucial for you you to visit the web and give your opinion.  Maine is slightly ahead of the curve where the use of the laptops in the classrooms is concerned.  Please consider sharing your knowledge.

Federal officials look for recommendations on updated technology plan
The Department of Education has yet to receive much input as it works to create a national plan to develop future educational technology. On its Web site, the department is seeking recommendations from educators and technology experts in four areas: assessment, teaching, learning and productivity. A draft of the National Educational Technology Plan is expected by early next year. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (11/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Technology in China's Schools

I have not posted anything for a while because I have been traveling in China - serving as a U.S. representative on a delegation for the International Reading Association.  The purpose of the delegation was to foster goodwill and the exchange of ideas between the Chinese educators and our own – 22 educators from all over the U.S.  This was planned to fall several weeks prior to Obama’s visit.

The tour began in Beijing, moved to X’ian, and ended in Shanghai.  The delegation visited schools, met with educators in various roles, and exchanged ideas with teachers.

  As we all know, China is a leader in technology.  Consequently, I went, expecting to see technology embedded in all of the schools.  However, that was not my experience.  Contrary to our plans, we were allowed on only three schools campuses.  On those three, we observed the use of technology in one school, in Shanghai.  Most of the use of technology here was by the teachers in their presentation to the class - LCD projectors, laptops, powerpoint, etc.  Our national guide explained that Shanghai is way ahead of the rest of China in many ways - including education.

Reflecting on this situation, I have tried to view this from an American educators' point of view.

  1. The level of poverty and lower income in general I observed as we traveled throughout China, would in itself prohibit the purchase of computers for home use.  
  2. The government has tight control of the social networks available on the internet in China.  Facebook is outlawed as well as access to several other resources.  I experienced this myself as I traveled around China.  To read more on the topic, here is a link: 

   3.  The government has tight control over what is allowed on the internet.   
         Information available to U.S. citizens on the internet is not always 
        available to Chinese citizens.
   This situation limits the use of certain forms of technology in the classrooms.  Here in the U.S. we make a great deal of using laptops in our classrooms - especially in Maine for our 6-12 students.  We view it as a way to connect up with the rest of the world and have access to global information.  

We do this with the belief that, "Being able to read and write multiple forms of media and integrate them into a meaningful whole is the new hallmark of literacy." Jason Ohler, Orchestrating the Media Collage taken from Educational Leadership, March 2009.  

And - there is a belief that as educators we want to prepare our students for life - in the 21st century.

The comparison between the two systems raises some important questions for us as educators, especially within the context of the 21st century and the strategies required.  

Please post some comments and let us know what you think.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Web 2.0 Tools and Students!

Use of Web 2.0 tools increases student collaboration, say educators
More educators in New Jersey are utilizing the tools of Web 2.0 technology, which allows students shared access to content and more collaborative learning. While some educators caution about the downside to the latest technology -- like its propensity for distracting students -- others say wiki pages, classroom blogs, video conferences and online chats help students learn how to be creative and prepare them for college and the real world. The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.) (11/7) 

Courtesy of ASCD smart Brief

Stay tuned - webinars and other staff development opportunities coming up!

Featuring Generation YES!

Generation YES is an excellent resource for teachers who want to learn more about information literacy and how to integrate technology into their classrooms.

Here are some recommended blog sites from their November Newsletter.  Enjoy!

Ed-tech Blog Roundup
In the last newsletter we did a "back to school" technology tool list that turned out to be very popular!

This issue, we are showcasing some of the blogs we like (besides our own GenYES blog) about education reform, student voice, and technology.
Bridging Differences Diane Ravitch and Deborah Meier This blog is a treasure. These two experts disagree about much in education. But they have a cogent, civilized conversation about it in their posts. It's what every conversation online or off should aspire to be.
Stager-to-Go Gary Stager - opinionated, outspoken advocate for children and authentic technology use. Says things that need to be said, but are typically only whispered to your closest friends.
Blue Skunk Blog Doug Johnson - funny and real, authentic librarian/technologist voice from the trenches.
Practical Theory Chris Lehmann - Principal of the Science Leadership Academy, Chris grounds his innovative leadership and ed tech ideas in a deep understanding of pedagogy, progressive teaching, and ethics.
Learning is Messy Brian Crosby - real stories that illustrate the ups and downs of the classroom.
YoungerWorld Adam Fletcher -- The blog connects to a number of incredible resources all focused on supporting youth voice.
Classroom 2.0 - Actually, this is a Ning social network, but contains blogs and forums. It's a great environment for teachers new to ed tech and looking to expand their personal learning network.
ASCD Newsblast - a thoughtful selection and commentary on education headlines.
We'd love to see more blogs from GenYES and TechYES students and teachers! Send in your links and we'll put them in the next email newsletter.