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Congress.org - C-Q Roll Call, Inc

Grades
9 to 12
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Congress.org is a product of the larger group of news publications that include Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call, both long-time sources of news about Washington politics. The...more
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Congress.org is a product of the larger group of news publications that include Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call, both long-time sources of news about Washington politics. The site collects news stories, letters to congress and statements from political advocacy groups in one place for the reader to survey. The site is as non-partisan as possible, and it's possible you will find links to statements from the National Rifle Association next to those from the the Society of Friends. There is also a running accounting of recent votes in Congress for those trying to keep up with current legislation. Be aware, however, that one portion of the site includes letters to Members of Congress written by subscribers; previewing in advance is advised.

tag(s): congress (31), elections (76), house of representatives (9), senate (9)

In the Classroom

Consider placing this site on your class web page for students to use in researching political viewpoints, both in relation to upcoming elections and in ongoing political debate. It's a site for true politics junkies, but will be useful for those who are looking for concise information collected in a readable, easy-to-access format. Use the site during your study of the legislative branch and have groups follow congressional groups of individuals, creating a timeline of their activities using a tool such as History in Motion,

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Math Solutions - Math Solutions

Grades
K to 12
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This site provides many resources for math teachers of all grades and includes lesson plans, articles, classroom and administrator questions and answers, and helpful links - all located...more
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This site provides many resources for math teachers of all grades and includes lesson plans, articles, classroom and administrator questions and answers, and helpful links - all located under the "helpful tool" tab at the top of the site. Click to find elementary resources, algebra, calculus, and other "basic math." Free webinars are also available within the site. Math Solutions was founded by Marilyn Burns, who is known as one of the foremost experts in elementary math instruction. Although much of the website is devoted to materials and Professional Development for sale, there are many resources available for free that are extremely helpful for classroom teachers. One such resource is the classroom lessons portion. Lessons are in ready to print PDF format making them easy to review and use for planning. Sample classroom conversations are often included along with samples of student work and suggestions for use in the classroom. This site also sells many resource materials, so links to these materials are included for alternative resources within the lesson. No need to buy, however! Teachers can sign up to receive the free monthly newsletter containing information about new materials on the Math Solutions site.

tag(s): problem solving (289)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plans; also search for plans in grades higher and lower that can be modified to meet your students' needs. Display student work included with the lesson plans on your interactive whiteboard or projector as conversation starters in your classroom - allow students to discuss other students' work to increase understanding of concepts.

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Ice Ice Maybe - Manga High

Grades
2 to 6
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Guide penguins across the ice with this logic and estimation game. Reach the target level and move on to a higher level. Teachers can create a free account and register ...more
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Guide penguins across the ice with this logic and estimation game. Reach the target level and move on to a higher level. Teachers can create a free account and register students to save high scores, although it isn't necessary to play the game.

tag(s): estimation (48), logic (235), problem solving (289)

In the Classroom

Save as a shortcut on classroom computers to use as a center. Encourage students to problem solve to get the penguins further along the ice and achieve higher levels. Share this link on your class website so students can practice logic and estimation while at home.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Fire: Estimating Percent - Shodor

Grades
6 to 8
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Practice estimating skills with number and percent on this website. After inputting a fractional probability of the "burn," click on the forest for the fire to take place. Based on...more
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Practice estimating skills with number and percent on this website. After inputting a fractional probability of the "burn," click on the forest for the fire to take place. Based on the number of trees burned, input the estimate of number or percent of trees burned. Choices are also available for how close the estimate should be - close, really close, or almost perfect. Be sure to check on the link for instructors that provides an exploration worksheet, links to standards, items for classroom discussion, and links to similar resources.

tag(s): estimation (48), fractions (225), percent (81), probability (137), test prep (96)

In the Classroom

Print out the exploration worksheet for students to complete, then discuss using your interactive whiteboard or projector. Using the interactive whiteboard, discuss why the probability of burn doesn't always equal the actual burn amount. Create a link on your classroom website, wiki, or blog for students to practice at home.
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Snappy Words-Free Visual Online Dictionary - Snappy Words.com

Grades
2 to 12
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Snappy Words visual dictionary is an easy-to-use online interactive English dictionary and thesaurus. It provides the meanings of words or phrases, generates synonyms, and draws...more
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Snappy Words visual dictionary is an easy-to-use online interactive English dictionary and thesaurus. It provides the meanings of words or phrases, generates synonyms, and draws connections to associated words. Simply type a word in the search box and click "GO." Instantly you will see a word map. An extra built in feature is the words in the visual interactive display are color coded according to parts of speech. Look up as many words as you need anytime; there is no limit on the number of searches and no registration is required. As with most online tools, teacher monitoring is strongly advised.

tag(s): maps (295), parts of speech (66), speech (92), thesaurus (23)

In the Classroom

Teachers and students on all grade levels will love usingSnappy Words for all subjects. Demonstrate it on your classroom whiteboard or projector, bookmark it in your favorites, and make it directly available to students from your class webpage. Elementary students will enjoy defining their spelling words or content area vocabulary. They can categorize their words by parts of speech or create a list of synonyms. Students can then create their own word "maps" for new vocabulary words using drawing tools or online graphic organizers like bubbl.us, reviewed here. Middle school, high school and adult learners can use it as a valuable tool for vocabulary specific to a literary work or subject area, preparing for a standardized test, or while reading assigned material or a book, poem, or article of choice. Whether you are writing content for an article, a blog, a letter, or any assignment, minimize this website and play with words to avoid repetition, choose precise meanings and kick your vocabulary up a notch! Share this one on your class web page, for sure.
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National History Day - National History Day

Grades
6 to 12
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No national social studies competition carries more respect than National History Day. Each year a new theme leads students to delve into primary research on local, regional, or national...more
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No national social studies competition carries more respect than National History Day. Each year a new theme leads students to delve into primary research on local, regional, or national issues and events. This site is the home page for the competition, complete with all materials and information needed to participate. Whether you choose to hold a History Day event within your school or to compete against others, this site will get you started. Use this site in combination with TeachersFirst's collection of History Day Resources.

tag(s): history day (24)

In the Classroom

Whether you choose to hold a History Day event within your school or to compete against others, this site will get you started. Make this a permanent link on your class web page or share it with your gifted enrichment specialist for a curriculum connection to challenge any student.

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Online-Calculator - Online-calculator.com

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K to 12
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This free, fast loading, online calculator can be viewed full screen and operated by your mouse or keyboard. Various types are available from the most basic one to the scientific ...more
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This free, fast loading, online calculator can be viewed full screen and operated by your mouse or keyboard. Various types are available from the most basic one to the scientific or BMI calculator. There is also a stopwatch tool available. If you speak a language other than English, simply click to change to the language of your choice - it's that easy.

Be aware: this site does include advertisements.

tag(s): latin (22)

In the Classroom

There are many uses for this practical online tool, beyond the obvious ones for math class. Bookmark this site on your own computer for projection on an interactive whiteboard and make the link available on your class web page for students to access from individual computers. You can shrink the calculator window in the corner of your interactive whiteboard to use as needed. Use this tool in social studies class for quickly calculating years or months from important timelines or when figuring out geographical distances. In English or L.A. classes, quickly figure out the life span of authors or how long ago a story took place. In health or science classes, use the BMI calculator or get other accurate measurements. The stopwatch tool can be useful for any in-class, timed assignment.
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Houghton Mifflin's Math Expressions - Houghton Mifflin

Grades
K to 5
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This site, created by Houghton Mifflin, goes along with their Math Expressions series. The home page offers links for teachers, students, and families. The links for teachers...more
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This site, created by Houghton Mifflin, goes along with their Math Expressions series. The home page offers links for teachers, students, and families. The links for teachers and families offer PDF printables, lesson ideas, unit by unit information, a glossary (with audio) and more. The link for students offers online manipulatives, math glossary, interactive challenges, and much more. This is a great addition to your math program whether you use Math Expressions or not. Topics depend on grade level (K-5). Some topics include counters, base ten, fractions, decimals, money, and countless others. The Math Lingo game in the student area for each grade reinforces math vocabulary.

tag(s): decimals (124), fractions (225), manipulatives (35), money (180)

In the Classroom

If using this series, check your grade level for additional ideas to help struggling students or ones who need an extra challenge. List this link on your class website for parents and students to access both in and out of class. Even if you don't use this series, you will find a plethora of math interactives by clicking on the link for Students. Make a shortcut on your computers to the student activities for your grade level. Share some of the activities (and how to USE them) on your interactive whiteboard or projector before assigning students to work independently.
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Ask Philosophers - Ask Philosophers

Grades
9 to 12
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Sometimes, right in the middle of an ordinary lesson, a student asks a question that is so profound, so abstract, that it brings the entire class to a screeching halt. ...more
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Sometimes, right in the middle of an ordinary lesson, a student asks a question that is so profound, so abstract, that it brings the entire class to a screeching halt. It's so tempting to say to the student, "We don't have time for that right now..." This site is about those big questions, and it's really very simple. Ordinary people send questions to a panel of philosophers, and the philosophers answer the questions. There are over 3000 questions answered on the site, all indexed by topic or keyword, and be aware that one of the topics is "sex." It's not pornographic, but the questions are direct.

In the Classroom

If you're looking for meaty writing prompts, this site is full of interesting and open-ended questions. The questions might also serve as a good data base for a class learning debate. It may also be helpful for students to see that philosophers use formal rules of thinking in answering their questions; they don't just say what they "feel" is right. Understanding that moral and ethical decision making is based on a set of predetermined principles is a concept that many students struggle with. This site would be useful for teaching ethical decision making with students whose thinking has progressed to the point where they are able to think more abstractly and philosophically: a gifted class perhaps? Have a class wiki dedicated to philosophy and profound questions. Not comfortable with wikis? Have no wiki worries - check out the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through.

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Futurestates - Independent Television Service

Grades
9 to 12
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You need to spend a large proportion of your time teaching concrete skills and concepts. But wrestling with the unknown "what ifs" of the future is also important in preparing ...more
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You need to spend a large proportion of your time teaching concrete skills and concepts. But wrestling with the unknown "what ifs" of the future is also important in preparing students for their lives as adults. This series of short films presents some of the most compelling "what ifs" about the future: What would happen if only the very wealthy could afford housing? What impact will immigration have? Will virtual reality become indistinguishable from true reality? While these short films (and the questions and discussions they might generate) may not fit neatly into any particular curriculum, they offer great value in helping young adults struggle with the possibilities of their future.

tag(s): computers (100), debate (45), environment (323), ethics (17), immigration (59), migration (59)

In the Classroom

These films would work well for a more unstructured gifted/talented seminar style class, a current issues class, or a Real Life 101-type class. Some may also be appropriate within an economics, biology, or environmental science curriculum. A civics class might debate the proper governmental role in resolving some of the dilemmas presented. Challenge students to create podcasts using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here), describing other possible future "what ifs."
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Puzzle Playground - Smart Kit

Grades
1 to 12
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This site includes many different types of puzzle and brain games that will keep students motivated throughout the school year! There is a TON to offer at this site. ...more
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This site includes many different types of puzzle and brain games that will keep students motivated throughout the school year! There is a TON to offer at this site. Start out easy with a memory match game, move on to strategy activities and work your way toward the Physics Puzzle activity. Interactives are sorted into categories such as word puzzles, logic, spot the difference, and much more.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): logic (235), problem solving (289), puzzles (203)

In the Classroom

This site is ideal to use on classroom computers as a center. Students will think they are playing games; however, they are really expanding their logic and problem solving skills through the interactive activities. This is a great site to list on your class webpage, for students to access both in and out of the classroom. For a bonus/extra credit challenge, ask students to FIND connections between a game and topics/concepts they have been studying and to explain the connections while demonstrating the game on a projector or interactive whiteboard. Hint: start with the Physics challenge.
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Tangram House - Andrey Orlov

Grades
2 to 8
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Tangrams are a form of old Chinese puzzles that provide the opportunity for developing spatial sense and problem solving skills. Tangram House provides choices of tangram puzzles to...more
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Tangrams are a form of old Chinese puzzles that provide the opportunity for developing spatial sense and problem solving skills. Tangram House provides choices of tangram puzzles to solve using the seven basic pieces that form a square. Hints can be turned on for beginning users. Be sure to click on the Help and Settings icon to learn more about how to flip, turn, and rotate the tangram pieces.

tag(s): tangrams (13)

In the Classroom

Introduce on your interactive whiteboard or projector when beginning a geometry unit on shapes and vocabulary such as turn, flip and rotation. Challenge students to discuss how shapes are moved to form tangrams. Provide this link on your class website for students to use at home. This site is great for younger gifted students!
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Algebra Meltdown - Manga High

Grades
3 to 8
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Practice basic linear algebra with this interactive site where the players help scientists working at a nuclear generator. The scientists are impatient, so you have to be quick to solve...more
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Practice basic linear algebra with this interactive site where the players help scientists working at a nuclear generator. The scientists are impatient, so you have to be quick to solve the equations to guide the atoms through each machine on time. Be sure to check out the achievements section which provides information on math skills used at each level. There are some unobtrusive advertisements at this site. You can play without joining or register for a free, basic school account to save some scores.

In the Classroom

Have a team competition on the interactive whiteboard or projector and challenge students to move on to higher levels. Students who aren't playing will still be learning as they try to solve problems along with the players. Use the activity as an introduction to algebra skills included in the interactive, such as multiplying and dividing with negatives. Challenge students to come up with the formulas for multiplying and dividing negatives based on correct responses in the activity.
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Plastelina Logic Games

Grades
3 to 8
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Test your logic and patience with these interactive logic games. Plastelina offers the option of registration and payment for a password which allows access to all of the activities...more
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Test your logic and patience with these interactive logic games. Plastelina offers the option of registration and payment for a password which allows access to all of the activities on the site; however, many are free and can be played without registration. Free interactives are clearly marked next to the titles. At the time of this review, five activities were FREE.

tag(s): logic (235), puzzles (203)

In the Classroom

Have a team competition as students use the site on an interactive whiteboard or projector and try to see who can solve the puzzles first. Use the puzzles as a quick time filler and revisit on occasion until the puzzle is solved.
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LEGO Education Activities - LEGO Education

Grades
K to 12
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Lego Education Activities are designed to be rich, fun-filled, creative learning experiences. They offer educators a means to use LEGO sets as essential tools that engage students while...more
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Lego Education Activities are designed to be rich, fun-filled, creative learning experiences. They offer educators a means to use LEGO sets as essential tools that engage students while challenging their creativity and enhancing their knowledge and comprehension. As a thinking teacher, you only need to look on the Teachersfirst Editor's Blog here to realize what a hot topic teaching creativity is and how it fits into the classroom. From role-playing and meeting the needs of early childhood development to theme-based sets for older students, LEGO Activities offer a multi-disciplinary approach to teaching. There are also specific sets designed to cover specific subject areas, including technology curriculum. As you browse the activities, you will find obvious connections to curriculum in simple machines and other science topics, as well. Stay current and find a lot more stimulating ideas by checking out the LEGO Education and LEGO Smart Blogs available from theLego Education Activities page.

tag(s): creativity (121), critical thinking (119), logic (235), problem solving (289)

In the Classroom

Expose your students to different levels of the learning spiral by challenging them to use problem-solving skills for increasingly difficult obstacles. Students can work in small groups to foster cooperation and teamwork as they sort, graph, follow and give directions, and discuss ideas. Of course you will need some LEGOs, so you might try raiding your own children's toy boxes, include a request in your classroom newsletter for donations, look around for LEGO kits collecting dust on classroom shelves, or put it on your school's PTA wish list. Be sure to have cooperative learning groups video their activities to share with the rest of the class using a site such as SchoolTube (reviewed here).
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Twitter - Twitter, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
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Twitter users enter information to share with their "followers" by creating 140 character "tweets," and "followers" see what they are thinking, favorite links, etc., all from the brief...more
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Twitter users enter information to share with their "followers" by creating 140 character "tweets," and "followers" see what they are thinking, favorite links, etc., all from the brief "tweet." Tweets are much more than messages to share what you are eating for lunch! Use this popular microblogging and social networking tool for a great way to communicate with teaching peers and real world people you may not have a chance to otherwise meet. Reply to others to create conversations for some of the best professional development around. Each "tweet" or message may not seem extraordinary, but using the sum total of tweets from those you "meet" on Twitter can have an amazing impact. Use your profile and settings to add a bio and other information, change your security settings from public to protected, find those who follow you, and more. Post your tweets through the website, mobile devices, or myriad of applications to manage tweets and followers. Keep track of your favorite tweets by starring them. Refer to your favorites list as needed. Wish you could take back a tweet? Click the trash can beside the post to delete (however, others may have already seen and responded.) Find many opinions about Twitter on and off the Internet. Remember you will gain only as much as you put into this service. Build a network of helpful colleagues to become a better learner (and educator). Anyone can learn from Twitter, even a class of elementary students! Still not sure what Twitter is about? Find a great explanation of how it works in this review.

tag(s): microblogging (40), social media (22), social networking (111)

In the Classroom

Bring teaching and learning to new heights by using this service as a great form of professional development. At conferences, use Twitter as a backchannel to expand upon thoughts and ideas during presentations and after. Have a question to ask others' opinion about? Throw it out to Twitter to see the great perspectives given by those who follow you. Start out slowly and look at conversations that catch your eye. Follow people with experience in your areas of interest to gain from the conversations. Start off by following @teachersfirst or @cshively (our leader).

Learn about hashtags -- ways to mark, search, and follow conversations on a specific topic. For example, the #ntchat tag is for new and pre-service teachers and the #edchat hashtag is for all teachers. Participate in these chats which are scheduled at certain days and times or search for their tweets anytime. Find archived tweets from these chats to learn from some wonderful and motivated teachers when it is convenient for YOU. Use other Twitter applications to search or collect specific hashtags.

As a teaching tool, Twitter is amazing! If your school permits access, have a class account to share what you are doing with parents and especially for your class to follow people in topics you study. Studying space? Follow NASA. Studying politics and government? Follow your congressional rep or the White House. Consider using your teacher or class account to send updates to other teachers across the country or across the globe. You can also teach about responsible digital citizenship by modeling and practicing it as a class. A whole-class, teacher account is the most likely way to gain permission to use Twitter in school, especially if you can demonstrate specific projects. That can be as simple as making sure you and that teacher are FOLLOWING each other, then sending a direct message (start the tweet with D and the other teacher's twitter name) or creating a group with your own hashtag for a project such as daily weather updates. Even if you are not "following" someone, you can send them a tweet using @theirtwittername in the body of the message. This is called a "mention" but can be seen by others, too. Compare what your class is observing in today's weather, which topics you will be discussing today, or ask for another class' opinions on a current events issue. Ask for updates about local concerns, such as talking to California schools about wildfires in their area or a Maine school about a blizzard. Challenge another class to tweet the feelings of a literacy character, such as Hamlet, and respond as Ophelia, all in 140 characters or less. Have gifted students? Connect your classroom with the outside world to find greater challenges and connections beyond your regular curriculum.

Learn much more about teaching ideas and tools for Twitter in the many resources listed on TeachersFirst Twitter for Teachers page.

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Only Connect - BBC

Grades
6 to 12
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This fast paced, highly interactive activity will keep students interested while developing vocabulary and thinking skills. Sixteen words are presented on a board, the goal is to sort...more
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This fast paced, highly interactive activity will keep students interested while developing vocabulary and thinking skills. Sixteen words are presented on a board, the goal is to sort them into four groups of four related words in three minutes and then name the word that connects all of them together. Patience and thinking outside the box are needed to be successful. There is no need to register to play for fun, and there are choices of many walls. Tournament play is also included; however, registration is required. Only Connect walls can be created for any subject or topic discussed in the classroom.

tag(s): puzzles (203), vocabulary (323)

In the Classroom

Try this activity together as a class on the interactive whiteboard or projector to encourage discussion of vocabulary presented on the wall. Ask students to create their own Only Connect wall to share with peers.
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Gymnasium For Brain - Sitalakshmi Seshadrinathan

Grades
3 to 12
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The goal of this site is to make Math fun and provide mental exercise and stimulation. 100's of warm-up puzzles are provided that require logic and problem solving to come ...more
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The goal of this site is to make Math fun and provide mental exercise and stimulation. 100's of warm-up puzzles are provided that require logic and problem solving to come up with a solution. Hints are provided as well as the solution. The Speed Math section demonstrates different "tricks" as alternatives to standard algorithms in a detailed explanation. Another section demonstrates different Math patterns and how they are formed and expanded. The Kids Corner provides simpler problem solving activities for younger students. Free membership to the site is available.

tag(s): logic (235), problem solving (289)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a resource for a problem of the day activity. Challenge students to solve and provide explanations to logic puzzles and create their own problems. Display on the interactive whiteboard or projector as a springboard to class discussion of the Mathematics involved within each of the problems.

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Measurement Tools - Angles - SmartTutor

Grades
4 to 6
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Dudley Dog is looking for his buried items and it is up to you to find them. Using a protractor, you will find the correct angle of the item based ...more
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Dudley Dog is looking for his buried items and it is up to you to find them. Using a protractor, you will find the correct angle of the item based upon location from his doghouse to help return the items. A narrated demonstration begins the activity to explain how to use the protractor and locate the angle. If the incorrect angle is given, the player can try again. If the correct angle is given, Dudley digs up his buried treasure. You can also click on a link to review the definitions for protractor and vertex. Learning objectives and covered vocabulary is presented before the start of the game.

tag(s): angles (85), measurement (171)

In the Classroom

Demonstrate the use of a protractor on your interactive whiteboard or projector with this activity. Challenge students to guess the angle before measuring with the protractor. Assess understanding of acute and obtuse angles through students' estimates of angles.
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Shape Trails - SmartTutor

Grades
1 to 4
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The goal of this game is to move the provided shape to the chest along a trail in as few moves as possible. Once the chest is reached, rotate the ...more
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The goal of this game is to move the provided shape to the chest along a trail in as few moves as possible. Once the chest is reached, rotate the shape correctly to open the chest to receive the prize inside. You choose the path to follow, and difficulty is increased as each level is reached. In addition to moving the shape along the path correctly, you will have to know the degree of the angle the shape will have to turn to go inside the chest. The activity begins with a narrative and demonstration showing how to play. Several geometric definitions are available by clicking the book link within the game.

tag(s): logic (235)

In the Classroom

Practice vocabulary of geometry terms by allowing students to play the game, as they reach each level, challenge them to define terms such as rotation, reflection and translation. Set up the activity at a computer center to practice logic and problem solving skills. Challenge students to create their own map with a path for other students to play.
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