TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Feb 1, 2015

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 go to the Featured Sites Archive

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Better Lesson - BetterLesson

Grades
K to 12
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This site offers over 10,000 lessons aligned with the Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards. The lessons were created by 130 Master Teachers. You can browse resources...more
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This site offers over 10,000 lessons aligned with the Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards. The lessons were created by 130 Master Teachers. You can browse resources without registering. Click the blue "Browse" button to get started. Choose along the top from Common Core Math, Common Core ELA, or Next Generation Science. Lessons are arranged by grade level or Math, Language, and Science subjects. However, if you want to create your own resources, registration is required. After registering, create a class and then create a unit for that class. Finally, create a lesson for that unit, fill in an objective, select a state standard, and estimate the total time on task. Upload files (or drag and drop) to assign them to the lesson or keep them "unassigned" for later use. Additionally, simply add other users' files to your own curriculum. Search for files by keyword, age-level, and type of format. Click on a result to see every lesson plan using that file.

tag(s): commoncore (62), professional development (83)

In the Classroom

Use this site to create lessons for students to follow. Use this site to share inspirational lessons you create or to find inspiration in the work of others. Meet the Common Core goals by using the tools and lesson plans offered at this website. Though the site deals with the technical aspect of lesson planning, many ideas exist to reverse engineer to your own lessons. Create a course to maintain and tweak your lessons for your classes. Expand PD to others in your school or in other schools to learn from the best ideas of others!

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Free Training Tutorials - Barak Sofer

Grades
K to 12
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Here is your one stop for FREE training on Microsoft Word and Excel, Typing challenges, and activities in several subjects. There are activities for typing, math, spelling, and life...more
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Here is your one stop for FREE training on Microsoft Word and Excel, Typing challenges, and activities in several subjects. There are activities for typing, math, spelling, and life skills geared toward elementary and middle school students. The menu at the left provides links to all activities except Excel. Find those at the top of the page. If you find an activity you like, easily share using links on each activity via email or social networks. Some of the video clips are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, then they 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 KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): grammar (213), keyboarding (31), operations (103), parts of speech (65), spelling (167), spreadsheets (14), vocabulary (312)

In the Classroom

Make a shortcut to any activity on this site on classroom computers and use it as a center. Be sure to include this site on your class web page for students to access both in and outside of class for further practice. Train yourself on Microsoft Word or Excel using these video clips. Share the typing activities with your students to increase their speed and accuracy. Set up learning centers for the interactives available (such as nouns and verbs).
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Maps: Tools for Adventure-GIS in Action - National Geographic Society

Grades
3 to 10
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Use maps to solve problems and help animals using GIS, Geographic Information Systems. This tool layers different kinds of information on a map such as animal habitat, where people...more
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Use maps to solve problems and help animals using GIS, Geographic Information Systems. This tool layers different kinds of information on a map such as animal habitat, where people live, and problems encountered by this animal. All of the layers are added to the map to show how all of the information affects the animal. Separating the layers allows you to identify patterns we would not ordinarily see, and see how all the factors interact. The animals studied are Humpback Whale, Bald Eagle, African Elephant, Giant Panda, and Koala. To find other GIS education resources within National Geographic, just type in GIS in the search box at the top right.

tag(s): endangered species (31), habitats (72), maps (251), pollution (66)

In the Classroom

Begin your study in science with endangered animals, animal habitats, people interacting with nature, pollution, or conservation. Share this site as an interactive whiteboard or projector presentation of GIS. After examining each layer of the map, discuss how human interaction affects each animal. Discuss ways that the patterns and interactions with humans changes the animal species. Use the site as a resource for nonfiction reading material or as a source for research material for informational reports. Choose different endangered or extinct animals and use GIS as an example for each student to create their own layer project through PowerPoint, or Prezi, reviewed here. Partner this site with a fictional book on endangered animals, such as Humpback Whale Tale, to provide more background knowledge for complete comprehension. Create a public service announcement for endangered animals, pollution, or conservation. Use one of the many presentations tools reviewed at the TeachersFirst Edge. Writing prompts come alive with the provided background information on animals for either informational writing or even narrative writing. Math and social studies classes can study map and graphing skills. Add this site to a center to identify main idea and supporting details.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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ParentSquare - ParentSquare LLC

Grades
K to 12
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ParentSquare combines many versatile tools into a single site for efficient and effective communication. Parents and teachers can access ParentSquare from the web or the free iOS app....more
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ParentSquare combines many versatile tools into a single site for efficient and effective communication. Parents and teachers can access ParentSquare from the web or the free iOS app. Automated email alerts notify ParentSquare members of messages on their unique homepage containing relevant information. Teachers, administrators, the PTO, and other parents with access can post messages. Appreciating and commenting are features that provide a social environment within the site. The calendar is another great feature to help everyone organize their busy schedules. Members of the community can post photos of classroom activities for everyone to view. Relevant documents and links are also easily accessible and organized to access. Simply share online fundraisers or collect volunteer requests making it effortless for everyone involved. ParentSquare is a two-way communication location to build a better school community. The first three classrooms for an account are free on ParentSquare.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): calendars (42), parents (46)

In the Classroom

ParentSquare eliminates the need to have multiple tools to communicate. Teachers, parents, administrators, and the PTO are all able to use one convenient site. School and classroom events are all located on one calendar. The files area provides an exceptional location to share documents and links. Post assignment information, PTO flyers, and school-wide documents in one location. ParentSquare users with access can share photos for everyone to view in a safe and secure space. Organize volunteers for classroom and school-wide events. Parents can take over this responsibility on the same site without the need to use another tool. Facilitate fundraisers for individual classrooms or an entire school using ParentSquare. Think outside the box with ParentSquare and delegate responsibilities for an effective school community.

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National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Science Education - Dept. of Health and Human Services/NIH

Grades
6 to 12
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Learn more about bioengineering at this interactive site. Choose from an array of science topics from the drop down menu to view frequently asked questions. Click on the Interactive...more
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Learn more about bioengineering at this interactive site. Choose from an array of science topics from the drop down menu to view frequently asked questions. Click on the Interactive Exploration to view the Bionic Man. Click on the technologies found on the image to find out how bioengineering has changed medicine. Play Who Wants To Be A Bioengineer to test yourself on bioengineering for rehabilitation and treatments in medicine. Find information about careers under the Training and Careers tab. Find Resource Links for the public, teachers and parents, and students. A few of the video clips are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, then they 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 KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): engineering (85), medicine (51), STEM (68)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a source for careers in cutting edge science and medicine. As many students play sports in school, they will be able to connect with some of the technologies mentioned on this site. Be sure to include this link on your teacher website when searching for careers or for current events. Gifted students will love to explore this site and the resources. Be sure to create a series of links for students to look at when extra time is available in class. Include this site on the list. Connect this site with initiatives for STEM education at your school.

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Sixteen Months to Sumter - American Historical Association

Grades
8 to 12
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Advanced study of history requires increased attention to primary sources. Collected here are over 1,000 newspaper editorials written in the 16 months leading up to the start of the...more
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Advanced study of history requires increased attention to primary sources. Collected here are over 1,000 newspaper editorials written in the 16 months leading up to the start of the US Civil War. Along with a useful timeline of events during the same period, the site offers search either by the location of the publication or by the name of the publication. Editorials come from newspapers across the US, not just from those in states most often associated with the Civil War. The opinion expressed may offer a fresh perspective on what people were thinking just prior to the firing on Ft. Sumter. For example, we might view Abraham Lincoln as one of the greatest of American Presidents, but an editorial from the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Daily Patriot and Union concludes with the words, "We confess we shudder as we contemplate the future in the person of this weak and ignorant man." (February 21, 1861).

tag(s): civil war (132), newspapers (49), primary sources (76)

In the Classroom

This is a wonderful resource for adding primary source material to a study of the US Civil War. It is particularly useful for advanced students, or those doing research. Consider choosing a newspaper that is located near you, if possible, and introduce students to a perspective that's close to home. Or choose editorials from two newspapers--one from the North and one from the South--written at the same time and contrast the perspectives expressed. Compare and contrast using an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here).

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Undergraduate Student Loan Calculator - The Hamilton Project

Grades
8 to 12
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The Undergraduate Student Loan Calculator shows the share of earnings necessary to service traditional loan repayment for 80 majors. Use selection boxes to choose different majors,...more
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The Undergraduate Student Loan Calculator shows the share of earnings necessary to service traditional loan repayment for 80 majors. Use selection boxes to choose different majors, loan amounts, interest, and length of term. Select approximate earnings from high, middle, or low-end of average earnings. You can also choose to work part or full-time. Compare two different majors to view the percentage of monthly income needed to pay off loans.

tag(s): calculators (39), careers (113), college (43)

In the Classroom

The Undergraduate Student Loan is perfect for use with secondary students as they explore college and career options. This is a great site for guidance counselors to have available on computers for both students and parents. Create a link on your class webpage for students to access at anytime. Display on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) as part of any career or college preparation discussions.

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Mapwing - Redbug Technologies

Grades
4 to 12
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Turn digital photos into virtual tours with interactive maps, images, and comments using Mapwing. Create the tours for free. Basic tours offer up to 20 points of entry per floor ...more
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Turn digital photos into virtual tours with interactive maps, images, and comments using Mapwing. Create the tours for free. Basic tours offer up to 20 points of entry per floor plan/map. Each area becomes interactive and includes a comment option. Add hotspots to images to view close-up areas or link to websites. Share your tour using the tour's unique URL or use the embed code to embed into your website or blog. To understand the concept, explore tours already uploaded to Mapwing.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): images (218), maps (251), slides (52), virtual field trips (40)

In the Classroom

Take a look at the already created tours available. You may find something very useful for your classroom. Share HOW to use this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Use Mapwing to create virtual tours of your classroom, school, or community. Create a tour of a future field trip location. Or if a field trip is not in the budget, take your students anywhere virtually using this tool. Create a virtual tour to share information about class pets. Challenge students to create a virtual tour to accompany research reports about states or geographic areas. Use at the beginning of the year for a new twist on "how I spent my summer" or beginning of the year introductions. Share this tool at Back to School night as you share your classroom (rules, schedules, and more) with families.

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Engineering Games - engineering-games.net

Grades
3 to 12
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Encourage an interest in the fields of engineering, construction, and critical thinking through the many interactives available at Engineering Games. Choose from several categories...more
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Encourage an interest in the fields of engineering, construction, and critical thinking through the many interactives available at Engineering Games. Choose from several categories such as Robots, Logic Games, or Electricity. Also explore popular and new games using the categories provided. Each activity includes a short description and information on how to play. Some more complex challenges encourage you to view and follow in-game tutorials before attempting to play.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): circuits (14), electricity (75), energy (168), engineering (85), logic (205), machines (31), problem solving (197), robotics (19), rockets (12), simple machines (31), STEM (68)

In the Classroom

Share these excellent STEM activities with your students. Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have students explore this site independently or in small groups to find activities of interest. Use Engineering Games to differentiate learning experiences for students based on the difficulty of games. Challenge gifted students with more difficult activities. Provide a link to games on your class web page for students to play at home.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Matisse for Kids - Baltimore Museum of Art

Grades
1 to 8
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Join Raoudi (Rowdy), the dog, to discover the art of Henri Matisse. Explore the color, pattern, props and other elements that repeat in many of Matisse's paintings. Allow Rowdy to ...more
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Join Raoudi (Rowdy), the dog, to discover the art of Henri Matisse. Explore the color, pattern, props and other elements that repeat in many of Matisse's paintings. Allow Rowdy to explain all of the artsy details. For the interactive, you match the element used in the two paintings shown. When correct, you get to keep that element in your portfolio. At the conclusion of the presentation you get to make an original masterpiece using color, patterns, or props. Print and hang your masterpiece!

tag(s): art history (58), artists (62), painting (63)

In the Classroom

Present on your interactive whiteboard or projector to bring the art of Henri Matisse to life. Use as an example to discover the elements used by different artists. Create a presentation with various artists using one of the Presentation Tools available at the TeachersFirst Edge. Extend this example into other areas such as literature, poetry, architecture, mathematics, and science. To print the results from this tool have the students use a code for their signature.

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The Center on Congress - Indiana University

Grades
7 to 12
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Indiana University's Center on Congress partners with the Library of Congress and its effort to promote teaching with primary sources to provide a rich set of resources, lesson plans,...more
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Indiana University's Center on Congress partners with the Library of Congress and its effort to promote teaching with primary sources to provide a rich set of resources, lesson plans, and activities related to the history, function, and actions of the US Congress. Activities are divided by theme, such as citizen participation, criticism of Congress, and the impact of Congress. Many activities include comics to keep your attention. There is a good overview of using primary sources in teaching. Lesson plans are tied to state standards. In addition to the lesson plans developed by the Center on Congress, there is also a bank of teacher-submitted lesson plans.

tag(s): branches of government (40), civil rights (95), comics and cartoons (72), congress (25), politics (86), primary sources (76), womens suffrage (15)

In the Classroom

Clearly, this is a great resource for those teaching civics or US government. These activities will also be useful to US History teachers, as the issues covered span important political eras. For example, there are activities related to women's suffrage, the child labor movement, the GI Bill and the development of the Interstate Highway system. Lesson plans range from those designed to cover several days, to short "Congressional moments" videos perfect for introducing a concept or sparking class discussion. A number of the lesson plans and activities are designed specifically for iPads. Of note also is the fact that the video clips on the site are not links to YouTube, so will not pose an access problem for school districts that block the site.

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Kodable - Surfscore, Inc

Grades
K to 4
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Kodable teaches coding to young children through programming logic, sequence, loops, functions, and debugging. Create one free class account for up to 25 students with up to 45 levels....more
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Kodable teaches coding to young children through programming logic, sequence, loops, functions, and debugging. Create one free class account for up to 25 students with up to 45 levels. Find lessons with programmed curriculum, explanations of key concepts, and Common Core alignment. You can play without an account; however, results are not saved. Kodable can be used on any web browser or an iPad/iOs device.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): computers (45), logic (205), problem solving (197), STEM (68)

In the Classroom

Use this tool to learn basic coding skills. Students will quickly catch on to this program when allowed to experiment while viewing their results. Kodable is great for differentiating for students with different abilities and learning styles. Keep track of student progress through your teacher account and entering student profiles. Have more than 25 students in your class? Challenge students to work in pairs to complete the challenges.

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WE THE ECONOMY 20 Short Films You Can't Afford to Miss - Vulcan Productions/Cinelan

Grades
9 to 12
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Build your understanding of the U.S. economy through a creative, well-organized collection of short films (5-8 min) designed to explain 20 key concepts that any informed citizen needs...more
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Build your understanding of the U.S. economy through a creative, well-organized collection of short films (5-8 min) designed to explain 20 key concepts that any informed citizen needs to understand. Unlike many informational films, these are quite engaging. The collection is divided into five chapters on Economy, Money, The Role of Government, Globalization, and Inequality. All of us can better understand how our economy works from watching these films and exploring some of the follow-up discussion suggestions, even among adults. Teachers can obtain a link to free, downloadable lesson materials, activities, and extensions by filling out a form with their email address. (The email comes within a few minutes but watch your SPAM filter. It may be better to request the ink via a home email to avoid school filtering!) The teacher materials include correlations to CCSS standards in ELA, Math, and Writing. The content of the films and lessons supports many major concepts of economics and government included in state and other standards. App versions are available for both iOS and Android.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (92), money (179), supply and demand (2)

In the Classroom

Sign up to download the support materials and plan one or several lessons to demystify the economy as part of a civics/government class or an econ course. Assign students to watch films in small groups and explain the key concepts to the class using a multimedia tool from the Edge. As economic issues come up in current events or during an election cycle, use these films to explain the underlying issues.

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YouTab - YouTab

Grades
6 to 12
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Write down the chords and lyrics to your music in this wiki-style community for music artists. Tablature, or "tab," is a system for writing down guitar chords for any song, ...more
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Write down the chords and lyrics to your music in this wiki-style community for music artists. Tablature, or "tab," is a system for writing down guitar chords for any song, and YouTab provides handy online tools to do just that -- and to share music with others. You can easily find ready to play music shared by others. Be sure to read the Terms of Use and DMCA information about copyright linked from the footer. YouTab states, "YouTab respects your copyrights and the copyrights of others and therefore requires that you only annotate tablature of your own music or of music that you are licensed to annotate (such as public domain music)" and invites any copyright holder to report violation of their copyright. That said, there are many popular, current songs displayed with embedded music videos from YouTube next to the user-submitted tab and lyric notations for the song. We advise that users stick to copyright-safe use. Click to "Explore Music" or join for free to add your own. NO membership is required to view the songs, only to add your own. The song display pages can include YouTube videos of your song performances, displaying the tab and lyrics to the music as you listen to the song. The Tips and Tricks link in the footer shows how to use the tools. The lyrics display along with the chords and can flow in sync as the recorded song plays. As with any "crowd-sourced" site, there is the possibility that some songs may not be appropriate for young people. Preview first. The site does include commenting and other social features. Some videos are hosted on YouTube. If YouTube is blocked at your school, these videos won't work.

tag(s): lyrics (19), musical notation (22), poetry (217)

In the Classroom

Share YouTab with your general music or guitar students or any students interested in writing or playing music. English teachers may want to offer this musical option during a poetry unit so musically inclined students can compose lyrics with music instead of simple poetry. In any class where you use this, you will want to have a discussion about whether sites such as YouTab that publish lyrics and user-generated "notation" for songs are good or bad for professional musicians. Displaying an embedded and credited YouTube music video published by the artist is certainly legal, but what about writing out copyrighted lyrics? Encourage your musicians to write songs, create a video, and provide tab notations to spread the word about their creative endeavors. This site would be great for small ensembles or gifted musicians seeking an outlet. Be sure to get parent permission before having students share any music online!

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