Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomTraditionally, American history has been taught as the story of the dominant European culture's triumph over more primitive Native cultures. Native American culture is too often pictured as one-dimensional rather than as a rich collection of diverse tribes and cultures. If Native women are featured at all, they may be represented only by Pocahontas and Sacajawea. This site allows a fuller exploration of the variety of Native women's cultures and would serve as an outstanding supplement to a study of the European settlement of the West. The photographs of the women's dresses are lovely and would display nicely on an interactive whiteboard or projector. The commentary would be useful for any student doing more in-depth research into Native culture. The site's focus on women's roles and culture would also fit nicely with a unit on women's history. The Resources link contains lesson plans and educational material. To extend the clothing-as -culture approach in your classroom, ask students to create a wiki showing the role of clothing in ethnic subcultures of the U.S. today or at other places and times. Middle school grades might want to work together with the art or FCS teachers on this.
Grades6 to 12
One of the nice things about this site is the easy access to the section they call "Classroom Connections." Here they provide activities for grades 6-8 and 9-12 that are specific to grade level as well as links to lesson plans if you choose to use those. Visit the Media Player link to find video clips, audio clips, text, and images. Some require RealPlayer. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
In the ClassroomBecause of the sheer variety of links offered, this is an ideal lesson to spread among a class. As a culminating activity have a "Harlem Day" where students present their information. They might dress and speak as the person they studied; they might present music, poetry, or art from that time, or even create a Harlem "nightclub" to share their information.
Why not make this lesson even more interactive and have students create video clips to share on your interactive whiteboard or projector via YouTube or TeacherTube (explained here). Other project ideas could be a blog written from the perspective of someone living in Harlem during the great depression, or a wiki written between one of the famous artists and the president at the time (Herbert Hoover, for example).
Grades2 to 12
This site includes advertising.
In the ClassroomTo view and share drawings on a projector or interactive whiteboard with your class, you do not need to join. You can even draw. collaborate, and play back a drawing without saving. For full features, join the site (free). The confirmation email is slow to arrive, so join a day or so ahead of time. We suspect that the Germany-based site has real humans checking memberships on Germany time! While you wait, you can experiment with the drawing tools or learn about them by visiting the gallery and "playing" some drawings to see how some of the tools can be set to create truly artistic images. Be sure to experiment with the tools together with your students. There is an undo tool--very important as you start out. There are no demonstration videos or help screens, so you may learn best by doing or watching what others have done. There is a forum where users discuss tools, etc. Preview before sending students here, but the advice may be very helpful.
Art teachers will love the chance to teach about design elements in a public, hands-on environment. Assign students to use only certain tools or to "variate" on a starter drawing you provide to demonstrate both creativity and mastery of the elements. Students using the tool from home could generate an actual portfolio of drawings without expending precious art materials. Have students or groups create collections or locate artworks in the galleries that demonstrate the design elements or techniques you want them to notice. Without joining the site, play selected drawings on a projector or interactive whiteboard and have students narrate what they see the artist doing.
Students in other subjects can use password protected Multidraw "rooms" (save the URL!) to create and share collaborative visual explanations of science processes, book covers for literature (with explanations for the design choices, of course), visual responses to poetry, graphics or logos for "companies" they create in a business or math class, etc. The animated playbacks of drawings could even show how to form letters in manuscript or do calligraphy (if you can do it without making a mistake!). An animated playback of a science process like the water cycle would be a great way to assess student understanding or reinforce the concepts. Challenge your gifted students to collaborate on Multidraw diagrams and playbacks to explain processes, sketch out ideas, or plan a project.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this collection to choose pieces of artwork for students to critique or compare. Students can reflect on their choice or conduct an oral critique on your interactive whiteboard or projector, describing techniques, styles, and more. Start class with a "one minute artstorm" by having a student randomly click on a thumbnail on the interactive whiteboard and having the class brainstorm characteristics or thoughts about the piece as you zoom in closer and closer. Ask them to caption it, compare it, or outline the movement of its design in the air during your one minute display. You could even ask them to debate whether or not they consider it to be "art."
Grades6 to 12
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomSince each site has its own directions, our review team will not explain the how-to's of each here. Some require access to install a plug-in on your blog, such as wordpress. Many school blogging sites do not provide this access. Others permit embedding an image simple by copy/pasting code into your blog or wiki. Two are actually extensions you add to Firefox or Internet Explorer and may require tech department authorization or installation on school computers.
If you do allow students to join a site, be sure to adhere to school policies. As always, we recommend previewing the content available on each site before recommending it to your students. These images sites are NOT education-only, so some image content may not be classroom-appropriate. Have a policy and consequences in place before turning your students loose.
Art teachers or writing teachers can use the abstract images from the GumGum option as writing prompts or to launch discussion on design principles. If your students have individual blogs, allow them to personalize the "look" using these legal images. Be sure to model thinking aloud about why you are using a legal image source. Use news images or videos from Vixant Newsroom as prompts for current events discussions on your blog or wiki, or assign students to select a news story and write an in-depth analysis of it to accompany the image/video. English or social studies teachers teaching persuasive writing can assign students to use their multimedia skills as they present arguments both verbally and visually on a class "issues" wiki. Younger students can help select images to include on a whole-class wiki or blog then add their own writing about them. A teacher can embed a sequence of photos and ask student to tell the story that explains it. Be sure to include this link on your teacher web page for your tech-savvy teens to use as they generate projects with LEGAL images. Of course you will require them to document their sources.
Grades6 to 12
Warning: Be sure to PREVIEW each section before you show it to the class since there is some profanity in the speech of some characters.
In the ClassroomIn light of the increase of hurricane activity, this is a wonderful resource to introduce this weather topic. Use it also in art class, graphic design, and with ESL and ELL students learning to tell stories. Use this site to introduce the world of graphic novels to students who are reluctant readers. Have your class make their own graphic novel about another catastrophic or historical event, either in groups or individually. Check with your administration to be sure it's OK to use this site at student computers since there are spaces for students to respond and also to submit their own work. If that's a problem, use it with your classroom computer and project the novel on the whiteboard (avoiding scenes with questionable vocabulary). Extend the lesson by having students create their own collaborative graphic account of a local history event or fictional tale in small groups.
Grades2 to 12
tag(s): editing (72)
In the ClassroomKnow how to browse to find files saved on your computer and be willing to "play" with the tools and menus, if you are unfamiliar with photo-editors.
Click Jump In to access Photoshop-type tools. Select an image saved on your computer or your desktop or create a new one. Currently, pictures cannot be accessed from online photo storage sites. The top menu contains almost any option the average user would need to edit and manipulate pictures. The menu is easy to navigate and read. Help is minimal at this time. The site is easy to use, and users of other paint and editing applications will be at ease using this site. Students will love the filter options for altering pictures. Multiple images can be edited or "montaged." When editing is complete, save the image by specifying an image name and file type (JPEG or PNG). Click "OK," and the file will be downloaded to your machine. The simple interface and fast site makes this a great editing application to try.
Use this site to add information to pictures for class and student projects and creations. Add attributions (copyright info and sources) directly to the photo. Add student responses to pictures of class experiments. Create artistic effects with student pictures. The ideas for picture taking, creating, and sharing are endless. Make this a link from your class wiki so students can cut down file sizes before uploading large photos or make edited composites to communicate their message visually. As you study propaganda, have students create propaganda images to share on a class wiki or classroom bulletin board. Art teachers will love the ability to teach photo montage without expensive software. Make creative bulletin board displays from multiple digital pictures of special events, adding text and captions right into the photo. ESL/ELL, language, and special ed teachers can ask students to label images with sentences including correct vocabulary and grammar. Have students in your reading class create visual idiom images using digital pictures.
Keep this tool handy as a link from your teacher web page for quick access any time!
Parent permission advised before posting student work created using this tool
Includes Interaction w general public/ public galleries with unmoderated content
Includes social features, such as "friends," comments, ratings by others
Requires registration/log-in (WITH email)
Products can be embedded
Products can be shared by URL
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomStart out at the "for educators" link for some great ideas to create an interdisciplinary lesson using Picasso in art, social studies, language arts, or math class. Use this site for research projects. In art class, use your interactive whiteboard or projector to show students an up close look at several of Picasso's paintings. Analyze and notate the paintings' composition using the whiteboard tools!
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomThis is a great way to utilize classroom trash while teaching students to go green! Once they get started, the students will probably supply their own enormous list of ideas for recycling trash and the ideas may be infectious...watch it snowball into other classrooms and into their homes! Teachers will be receiving unique recycled projects every day in those primary grades!
List this project in your class newsletter or on your class website. Suggest parents donate items listed on the Trash Matcher such as socks, sheets, dryer sheets and much more. Make sure to note that everything donated should be cleaned thoroughly prior to sending it to the classroom! Document your new green classroom/school with digital pictures and student writings on a class wiki and share the link with local newspapers! Secondary teachers can use this site for service project ideas for Key Club. student council, and more.
Grades2 to 12
Creature Creator is a free download but is a limited version of the original purchased program. The purchased program provides many more choices for the features and environments used to make the creatures. The download is available for both PC and Mac.
In the ClassroomUser needs to be able to download and install the free program. Easy to use interface. Start with a blob, which you manipulate into a shape, pulling its spinal cord in any direction with the mouse, before adding a head, limbs and various optional extra body parts. Choose your part by using the onscreen catalog. Manipulate it further by changing the position of joints or through adding or deleting segments. Add a background and move your creature by dragging your mouse for it to follow. Continue to alter your creature to get the movement or features needed.
Pressing "H" brings up the spore guide which includes topic categories such as "Welcome to Spore," "Getting Started," "Build Mode," "Test Drive," and "Paint Mode."
Check your district policy on downloading and installing of programs. Check with your IT department. Teachers who must request software installation by tech staff may want to try this tool at home and create some sample projects to convince administration of its educational value.
Uploading pictures and videos of creations to You Tube or the spore site may expose students to advertising as well as inappropriately created creatures. You may want to send students directly to URLs for their own projects, maintain the creatures on the classroom computer itself, or use Teacher Tube to upload the creations. Uploading creatures enables outsider comments without teacher control. Outsiders can interact or mark the creations as favorites. Many school policies prohibit such interaction, so be sure to check your school policy. You will want to discuss these features in the context of Internet Safety or establish specific written class rules and consequences for interacting with outsiders. Student work can be saved as a picture and printed, as well, for sharing and showing. Check your school policies on whether student work may be displayed online and what information is permitted, then enforce that policy with your students.
The tool does not show which work is attributable to each student. You may want to require student initials on projects in order to get credit.
Use Creature creator to create an unusual creature as a class project. Create a classification system of all the class creatures to demonstrate biology classification skills. When discussing the groupings in the Animal Kingdom, use Creature Creator to create a new organism for that group. Use the tool to create a class creature with adaptations to a specific environment. Have students create a creature and then write a story or poem about it and how it lives. Have students create a creature as a self-portrait of personality or other traits the students possess. Students can design and draw habitats that would house their creation including the calculation of the volume and area the housing would require. Use a classroom projector or white board to share/create creatures in class and discuss specific features of the creatures.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomClick "Start Here" to type the subject of your concept map. Hitting your Enter key creates a new level (branch) within the map. Tab creates an additional branch on the same level as the current topic. Experiment with the small icons on each "element" to change colors, drag, make new connections, etc. Save and set sharing (read-only or open access) in the area at the right. You can "send" a read-only link via email or copy the embed code from the Menu at lower right), but you cannot find the URL directly from your map. "Send" it to yourself via email to copy the actual URL.
There are countless possibilities at this mental mapping site. Demonstrate the tool on an interactive whiteboard or projector, and then allow students to try to create their own graphic organizers. Use this site for literature activities, research projects, social studies, or science topics of study. Use this site to create family trees. Have students collaborate together (online) to create group mind maps or review charts before tests on a given subject. Have students organize color-code concepts to show what they understand, wonder, question; map out a story, plotline, or LIFETIME; map out a step-by-step process (life cycle); map a real historical event as a choose-your-own-adventure with alternate endings(?) based on pivotal points; plan a "tour" for a "thought museum." Use this mapping website as an alternative to a traditional test, quiz, or homework assignment in literature or social studies: have students demonstrate their understanding by completing a graphic organizer about the main points. To minimize the number of maps on a free account, have students screenshot or print their results to turn them in. See more ideas in the linked example above!
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomYou need to know how to copy/paste. No email registration needed to create. Click Create to get started. Copy/paste text, type into a text box, or paste in the URL of the page you wish to "cloud." Play with options under Layout, Color, and Font menus to change the look. When done, choose to Print, take a screen shot of it in New Window view (PrntScrn on Windows, Command+shift+4 on Mac) or save to public gallery. Once it opens in the gallery view, be sure to copy the URL and keep a record of the exact URL of wordles you save to the Gallery. You will never be able to find them again without it! Use this tool easily in your Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) classroom since all students will be able to access it for free, no matter what device they have.
The public can enter text and create their own Wordles, some of which appear on the home page for "recent" Wordles. Teachers should preview the Gallery and home page immediately before sharing this site with a class. TeachersFirst's review team has not witnessed any objectionable examples. In today's world, a brief lesson or honest discussion on ignoring, clicking out of, or avoiding the inappropriate on the web might be worthwhile, depending on the age and maturity of your students.
This is a terrific visual tool to share on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Paste in a passage or URL for a political speech to visualize the politician's "message." Analyze advertising propaganda by visualizing the language used in TV or print ads. Create wordles of historical texts of inauguration speeches as time capsules of the issues of the day. Use this site as a way to help students see and memorize text, especially visual learners. Use it also when writing poetry or reading passages of great literature to "see" themes and motifs of repeated words and images. Have students paste in their own writing to spot repeated (and monotonous) language when teaching lessons on word choice. Students will be surprised to see what words appear to be dominant. ESL and ELL students will eagerly use this site since word order will no longer be a problem for them. Have students work in groups to create word posters of vocabulary words with related meanings, such as different ways to say "walk" or "said" and decorate your classroom with these visual reminders of the richness of language.
Another idea: use this site during the first week of school. Have students create "Wordles" about themselves and create a "Wordle" bulletin board introducing your students (and yourself). Or use Worlde for a whole-class positive statement as shown in this example. Remember that the most frequently appearing words will appear larger so plan accordingly.
So versatile and easy to use. Needs supervision because of what some people post in the galleries. Kids find it very easy to use. Nice for quick analysis of text (love to use with Shakespeare).Frances, CT, Grades: 6 - 8
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomSearch the multitude of webquests that are "ready to go" at this site. If you are looking for a more personal touch, you can create your own webquest for each class, tailored to what you want to cover or want students to research. This site also provides a place to post a personal portfolio of your work (if you choose to include any student work, you must have written permission to do so from the student and his or her parent). You might also want students to create webquests as final products of group research projects. Be sure to provide a meaningful rubric for the essential features.
Grades9 to 12
To use many features of the site, you must create a membership (requires email). There are many "social" features within the site that make it a potential safety issue if all students are allowed to use it on their own. See ideas for handling these concerns below.
tag(s): news (261)
In the ClassroomTry this site as a regular part of your secondary discussions on current events or choose selected "games" that connect with your current curriculum topic. For example, explore stories from African nations as you study world cultures in Africa.
Classroom teachers will want to start by conducting this activity using a whole-class account (use your "extra" email account to create a single account, monitored by you). Use the game to facilitate discussion and build students' global citizenship by allowing them to make choices and see the results. Be sure to talk about the line between fantasy and reality: which parts of these games have actually happened and which are part of the "game" hypotheses. Include the link on your teacher web page for students to access both in and out of class if you believe they are ready to handle it on their own. Check your school policies on allowing students to participate in online decision making and sharing, and obtain written parent permission before individual students are allowed to log on. As an alternative for students who may not have permission, you can pose some of the same questions and provide newspaper and news magazine articles for background. But you know which tool your students will prefer!
Grades1 to 10
In the ClassroomShare samples of students' writing on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Be sure to preview for content inappropriate for your classroom. Have your students create cover art and write stories, book reviews, or poetry to submit to this site. Of course you will want written parent permission before submitting student work to this online magazine. Students should submit their work without identifiable names and location, according to your school policy.If your school prohibits using blogs to post student writing, this is a middle ground alternative to get their works in front of a wider audience.
Grades2 to 12
tag(s): air (148)
In the ClassroomUse these templates with any subject you wish to review: foreign language word lists, social studies terms and concepts, science, language arts, art, music, sped, etc. These activities offer an excellent method to review information through a fun and different approach. Teachers can also have students create their own versions of review games.
Grades2 to 12
This site can become slow at certain times of the day. Be patient.
tag(s): art history (80)
In the ClassroomMark this site as a Favorite for a visual writing prompt activity in the classroom; then ask students to write about the way their artwork makes them feel or what it might "be." Students will quickly grasp the basics and soon be exploring the more sophisticated possibilities of the program. This activity can be a great introduction into an abstract art lesson. Introduce terms such as non-representational or non-objective art. Show the works of Piet Mondrian and Max Ernst. Take the class on a virtual fieldtrip to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Discuss how art movements have evolved and changed our ideas of beauty and art. This site is best viewed at 1024 x 768 screen resolution. (On Windows machines, change your monitor settings by RIGHT-clicking on the desktop and going to "Prperties" > Settings).
Grades1 to 12
Material created can only be viewed within the program. Drawings are not saved as a JPG or pic file. However, a "snapshot" of the screen can be created by using these keys in Mac: apple, shift, and 4 and click/drag to surround the portion to save. In PC use: control/print screen. These snapshots can be uploaded or used as a picture in other applications.
In the ClassroomQuick start: Click stage and in the center pane, click on backgrounds. Click on paint to make a new background. Different colors, pens, and materials can be used to create the background or an image can be brought in from your computer. Objects in Scratch are called a Sprite and can be added in by choosing the folders below the screen. By clicking the script tab, blocks can be moved in to create motion, add sounds (even record your own message), and change the look of the Sprite. Blocks are linked on to each other to create a series of events. A control block dragged to the top of the blocks control which key starts the event. Advanced options include adding variables and other controls.
Be sure to check with your Technology Department, as many districts require authorization to download or install new applications. Projects can be shared online; however an account is required.
Work is saved to the computer itself and only shared online via an account. To avoid problems concerning content made by outsiders or issues with sharing, save the work locally and either create your own gallery on a supervised class website/wiki or set up a single account where you share the "best" projects online via your own log-in. Remind students of the school's Acceptable Use Policy and consequences of violations, if you do allow them to join/share. Images used should adhere to all copyright rules. Use pictures taken in class or those with Creative Commons licensing (and provide attribution!).
Practical tips: Students quickly catch on to this program when allowed to play and easily see what they can make from it. Provide a simple assignment with defined rules/tasks to learn the tools. Younger students may familiarize themselves more easily working with a partner. Have students use a storyboard to write down what they will do/draw/say in their creation in order to keep tabs on what students and their creations.
Possible uses: For the lower grades, Scratch provides unlimited possibilities. Use as a new way to show vocabulary usage. Use the paint program to add information to a picture from your class field trip or science experiment. Use Scratch to help in storytelling a concept in a new and unique way, such as how rocks are formed. In the upper grades, use Scratch to show complex material in a new way. For example, students can draw DNA and show replication, etc. through their drawings and storytelling. Draw the different movements of landforms in plate tectonics. Draw or illustrate solutions to Math problems.
Grades7 to 12
tag(s): periodic table (51)