TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Apr 25, 2021

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 return to the Featured Sites Archive

 

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Learn With News - Learn With News

Grades
3 to 9
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Learn With News is a site from the United Kingdom that shares current event articles, each written at three different reading levels. Each article also highlights difficult words and...more
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Learn With News is a site from the United Kingdom that shares current event articles, each written at three different reading levels. Each article also highlights difficult words and features correlating activities, including vocabulary practice, conversation questions, some with videos, and more. If searching by specific levels, use the tabs on the page to sort resources into any of the three levels. Scroll through the home page to view the articles starting with the most recent or use the search feature to find information using specific terms. Because this site is from the UK, some words will contain spelling that is different than the United States version.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): differentiation (63), journalism (67), news (236), politics (100)

In the Classroom

Although created with English language learners in mind, this site is a valuable resource for any current events lessons and as a resource for non-fiction reading materials. Bookmark this site for use with any current events lessons and as a resource for finding fact-based information to use to help understand modern history. Use technology tools to help students organize their thinking and share their questions and responses. Engage students by asking them to share their opinions and encourage discussions using FlipGrid, reviewed here. Ask students to respond to the discussion question within Flipgrid using their fact-based research. Use Flipgrid's comment feature to encourage collaboration and student discussion. Extend learning by asking students (or student groups) to research information found in the articles, then share their findings through a multimedia presentation that includes student writing, videos, maps, and infographics. Have students use a presentation tool such as Sway, reviewed here, or Adobe Spark for Education, reviewed here, to share their final projects.

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OK2Ask: Engage & Inspire: Choice Boards for Differentiation - TeachersFirst

Grades
2 to 12
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This recording of an OK2Ask online professional learning session is from October 2020. You can register and immediately view the archive of the session.

Help students focus

...more
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This recording of an OK2Ask online professional learning session is from October 2020. You can register and immediately view the archive of the session.

Help students focus on building knowledge, understanding, and essential skills by empowering them to choose how they will meet their learning goals. Learning Menus or Choice Boards allow your students to complete equally active, interesting, and engaging assignments that demonstrate their comprehension of the presented material. This session will help you learn to create and use differentiated choice boards based on Tomlinson's model for differentiation. As a result of this session, teachers will: 1. Understand Tomlinson's model for differentiation; 2. Learn about the use of choice boards for both instructional and assessment purposes; and 3. Plan for the use of choice boards as part of instruction. This session is appropriate for teachers at all technology levels.

tag(s): differentiation (63), Formative Assessment (36), professional development (262)

In the Classroom

The archive of this teacher-friendly, hands-on webinar will empower and inspire you to use learning technology in the classroom and for professional productivity. As appropriate, specific classroom examples and ideas have been shared. View the session with a few of your teaching colleagues to find and share new ideas. Find additional information and links to tools at the session resource page. Learn more about OK2Ask and upcoming sessions here.

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Amazing Things Happen! An Introduction to Autism - amazingthingshappen.tv

Grades
K to 12
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This 5 minute YouTube video provides a simple explanation of autism created for parents and teachers to share with students. Simple animations demonstrate how the brains of autistic...more
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This 5 minute YouTube video provides a simple explanation of autism created for parents and teachers to share with students. Simple animations demonstrate how the brains of autistic persons receive information differently. The video also offers simple tips for supporting those with autism. The videos are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, then they may not be viewable.

tag(s): autism (13), brain (51), disabilities (25), Special Needs (45)

In the Classroom

Share this short video with your class as part of any discussions on autism. Stop the video at different points along the way to discuss the information and develop knowledge of how to understand and work with autistic students. Consider enhancing classroom technology use and giving all students a chance to voice their opinions (even the shy and quiet ones) by using a tool like Backchannel Chat, reviewed here. Backchannel Chat is an easy tool to manage if you are starting the process of integrating technology into your classroom. If you and your students are more advanced with technology, you may want to modify technology use in your classroom with a tool such as Vibby, reviewed here, where you AND your students can annotate, highlight, and ask questions or make observations about the content of the video. This video is also perfect for use during staff meetings as an introduction to considering tools and guidelines for working with autistic students. Include a link to this video on your class webpage to share with parents.

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EasyWrite - Deekshith Allamaneni

Grades
K to 12
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EasyWrite is a simple to use writing tool for creating easy to understand content. Just type your text into the text box and begin writing. EasyWrite highlights words not found ...more
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EasyWrite is a simple to use writing tool for creating easy to understand content. Just type your text into the text box and begin writing. EasyWrite highlights words not found in the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language. At the time of this review, EasyWrite worked best with Chrome or Mozilla FireFox.

tag(s): digital storytelling (129), editing (80), independent reading (105), process writing (38), vocabulary (231), writers workshop (32), writing (283)

In the Classroom

Have students use EasyWrite to retell difficult text in an easy to understand way. Retell Shakespeare passages in simple English or breakdown complicated directions into simple terms. EasyWrite is perfect for use with ENL/ESL or special education students. Choose any complex or difficult text and break it into simpler terms for easier understanding. Do this by adding a free browser extension to classroom computers and devices. Use a tool such as Grammarly (at the time of this review worked for Chrome, Safari, Edge, and FireFox), reviewed here, or After the Deadline (will work with Internet Explorer also), reviewed here. Turn the theory of EasyWrite upside down - have students paste their writing projects into EasyWrite. If there are only a few highlighted words, have them develop more interesting and complex writing passages. Have students take a screenshot of their original work to include with a final draft.

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From Text to Speech - Borislav D

Grades
K to 12
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Convert any text to audio with this very easy to use tool. Copy and paste, or type text to begin. Select the language from the several available choices, choose a ...more
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Convert any text to audio with this very easy to use tool. Copy and paste, or type text to begin. Select the language from the several available choices, choose a voice and pace of reading. When finished, create your audio file to listen to online or download as an MP3.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): french (70), german (44), italian (26), listening (70), portuguese (18), russian (21), spanish (94), text to speech (16)

In the Classroom

Share with world language learners to hear text spoken in the native language. Use this site with ENL/ESL students to convert small pieces of text to their native language. Use the speed options to slow down speech for ENL/ESL students. Mark this site on your teacher web page for your ENL/ESL students to hear something read or pronounced both in and outside of class. Use From Text to Speech with students who have difficulty reading, especially when working with more challenging passages and text. Include a link to this site on your class website for students to use when learning new vocabulary in a different language.

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Thrively - Thrively

Grades
1 to 12
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Thrively is a free tool that gives strengths and interests assessments in an engaging and entertaining way. Based on twenty-three factors and developed for children, you receive a profile...more
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Thrively is a free tool that gives strengths and interests assessments in an engaging and entertaining way. Based on twenty-three factors and developed for children, you receive a profile that is personal, positive, and celebrates each child's core strengths and unique talents. Children, teachers, and parents all have a dashboard displaying activities and videos selected specifically for the child's strengths and interests. Explore a comprehensive activity index with over 120,000 activities and hundreds of videos designed to inspire. The videos feature interesting ideas, leaders, and a range of insights into careers and opportunities that are a good fit for the child's unique strengths. The Activity Boards are a way to discover and research the activities and collect them all in one place. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): back to school (56), differentiation (63), multiple intelligences (8), social and emotional learning (56), Special Needs (45), Teacher Utilities (114)

In the Classroom

Begin your school year with a more personal touch, by knowing what your students' interests are. On the teacher dashboard, examine each student and match interest to activities to differentiate instruction. Students can explore careers, apps, and activities matching their profile. With interest and strengths targeted, you can sail smoothly into a highly engaged class of individualized learning. During career explorations, open up worlds of possibilities for students and families to begin planning a successful path. Add a link to this tool to your class website for possible enrichment activities for families. Offer suggestions to parents for enriching after school activities found around your area.

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TextProject - TextProject, Inc

Grades
K to 9
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TextProject offers strategies, tools, and texts to bring beginning readers and struggling readers to high literacy levels. Download materials for teaching reading, such as vocabulary...more
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TextProject offers strategies, tools, and texts to bring beginning readers and struggling readers to high literacy levels. Download materials for teaching reading, such as vocabulary lessons, word pictures, literacy lists, and reading passages. Browse the TextProject Library to find book collections, professional articles, and videos available on their YouTube Channel. Be sure to find time to explore the Classroom Materials part of the site with many printables and Teacher's Guides for use with all reading levels. If your district blocks YouTube, then the videos may not be viewable.

tag(s): commoncore (78), independent reading (105), literacy (84), reading comprehension (123), reading lists (72), reading strategies (56), vocabulary (231), vocabulary development (87)

In the Classroom

If you teach reading or are an ENL/ESL or resource teacher for students with special needs, you will want to bookmark this site! Take advantage of all of the free downloads on the site, including forms, checklists, lessons, and reading passages. Share this site with parents to help them understand the process of learning to read and finding materials for their student. Share this site during professional development sessions when discussing reading instruction and alignment to Common Core Standards. Be sure to sign up for TextProject's monthly newsletter to stay up to date with all new additions to the site.
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Great Expectations - National Braille Press

Grades
K to 5
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Promote active reading experiences using the ideas found at Great Expectations. This site is for the visually impaired, but you'll find the ideas and advice can apply to any young ...more
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Promote active reading experiences using the ideas found at Great Expectations. This site is for the visually impaired, but you'll find the ideas and advice can apply to any young reader. Use songs, tactile play, and more from the lessons developed for the three children's picture books on this site. The popular books featured areThe Day the Crayons Quit, Dragons Love Tacos, and Pete the Cat- Rocking in My School Shoes, and 5 more titles with engaging activities.

tag(s): adaptations (10), preK (231), reading comprehension (123), stories and storytelling (30)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plans when reading stories to your class. These books and activities are not only good to use with visually impaired students; any student will love the different activities. These activities will help ENL/ESL students understand some of the language employed in the books. In your regular or inclusive classroom, you may want to consider making centers for a featured book using some of the activities listed here. Challenge older students to use the ideas developed for these books with their favorite childhood book for a younger sibling or "buddy."

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CommonLit - CommonLit

Grades
4 to 12
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Access commonly taught themes for classic literature and discussion questions for that theme. Plus there are Text Sets perfect for social studies teachers! Choose a Lexile'® grade...more
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Access commonly taught themes for classic literature and discussion questions for that theme. Plus there are Text Sets perfect for social studies teachers! Choose a Lexile'® grade level for reading and download the text in PDF format or read online. Each text has a menu across the top offering Paired Texts, Related Media, a Teachers Guide, and a Parent Guide. Accompanying the text are critical thinking questions, an Assessment, and some have Guided Reading Mode. Choose the size of the font, listen to the Read Aloud (and pause it), translate to Spanish, and Highlight. Track student progress. You can search by Book, Genre, Grade Level, Literary Device, Text Set, Theme, and Spanish Texts. All of this for free! What else could one want? Well, you can also request a text, and they will negotiate with the copyright holders to have that text on their site. Take a look at their blog, too! You'll find lots of suggestions and thoughtful reflections for using nonfiction texts with your students.

tag(s): critical thinking (100), differentiation (63), literature (220), reading comprehension (123), spanish (94), Teacher Utilities (114), themes (11)

In the Classroom

CommonLit is an excellent resource for literature teachers, speech and debate teachers, and history teachers. Share the site with students on an interactive whiteboard or projector, and ask the class what themes they would like to investigate. Under each theme are two questions. Divide the class into small groups with each group investigating one of the questions for one of the themes and reading the accompanying text. Differentiate for students by having students read on the same theme, but at their reading level. Challenge individuals, pairs, or small groups to create a graphic organizer for the story they read replacing paper and pencil and using a tool like Holt Interactive Graphic Organizers, reviewed here. You could take this to another level and have two groups read different selections on the same theme, use a graphic organizer to make comparisons for how the theme was presented, and then enhance learning by challenging the groups to present their findings to the class via video. Use a simple video creator like Biteable, reviewed here. This site would also work when you have to make substitute plans unexpectedly. Just put the link in your plans and tell the sub what theme you want students to read about, or better yet, let the sub choose!
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Freckle Education - Sidharth Kakkar

Grades
K to 8
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Freckle Education is a Common Core-aligned program with resources for math, ELA, science, and social studies for K-8 that adapts to individual student skills. Freckle has over 50,000...more
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Freckle Education is a Common Core-aligned program with resources for math, ELA, science, and social studies for K-8 that adapts to individual student skills. Freckle has over 50,000 math questions matched to all math standards and more than 500 ELA non-fiction articles that often cover social studies and science standards as well as all ELA standards. There are five reading levels offered for each article. Sign up to create a class account and add student information. Students login in through an iPad app or with the online web version and the class code. Students complete a diagnostic pre-test and then begin working at their individual level. Awards of coins for completion of levels promote student engagement and enjoyment of the program. Freckle also promotes student collaboration through their inquiry-based, cross-curricular lessons. Other features include a scratch pad for working through problems, virtual manipulatives, and individualized printables for practice. Receive detailed analytics and student reports on your dashboard. You may encounter a warning about how Freckle may not work on your browser and to use the Chrome app. For this reviewer Mozilla FireFox and Microsoft Edge seemed to work fine for a student pre-test and the teacher dashboard. This program is great for supplementing your instruction, blended learning classes, and remote learning. Freckle was titled Front Row.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): collaboration (82), differentiation (63), independent reading (105), inquiry (22), reading comprehension (123), Research (52), Teacher Utilities (114), writing (283)

In the Classroom

After creating your classroom account and adding rosters, introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. If you are lucky enough to have a class set of mobile devices, allow students to use Freckle while you work directly with individuals or small groups of students. Freckle is a great way to supplement instruction for both gifted and special needs students. Use in your blended learning class, or when teaching remotely. Visit the FAQ section for ideas for implementing Freckle in your math, ELA, social studies, or science classroom. Be sure to share login information with parents for student practice at home.
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ReadWorks - ReadWorks.org

Grades
K to 12
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ReadWorks provides a free, research-based, and Common Core-aligned reading comprehension curriculum. Search through hundreds of lesson plans organized by grade level, topic, or titles....more
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ReadWorks provides a free, research-based, and Common Core-aligned reading comprehension curriculum. Search through hundreds of lesson plans organized by grade level, topic, or titles. Register to download materials and save lessons to your folder. (A valid email and password is required). Be sure to start with the Teacher Guide to see all the many features ReadWorks offers about using and teaching the provided lessons and differentiation. For a quick start, click Find Content then select options from the right menu: Text Options - Reading Passages, Aritcle a Day, and Paired Text, Curriculum Support, Grade, Topic, Text Types - Nonfiction, Fiction, or Poetry, and Lexile. There are thousands of reading passages along with question sets to support learning activities for grades K-12. Each selection contains the text with audio, a vocabulary link, and a questions set. In the left margin, you will find related resources such as standards and related materials.

Teachers can create classes to assign reading and track assessments (which are automatically graded). After signing up with email, click on Admin from the top menu and create a class. Students join the class by using a code and their Google account. No Google account? No problem. Create a roster and provide the class code to students. Easily create assignments for the whole class, or individuals as a way to differentiate. This is a perfect tool to use for remote (or distance) teaching and learning!

tag(s): characterization (11), context clues (5), figurative language (14), guided reading (36), independent reading (105), main idea (8), parts of speech (42), plot (6), point of view (7), reading comprehension (123), reading strategies (56), sequencing (15), Teacher Utilities (114), themes (11), vocabulary (231)

In the Classroom

Show students how to sign up and log in to ReadWorks using a projector or interactive whiteboard. Complete a sample assignment together. Use ReadWorks in blended learning or flipped classrooms leaving class time for asking questions and clarifying. Post the link on your website and consider assigning the Article-A-Day for at home reading. Rotate the subjects weekly and discuss the topic the next day in class. Consider using a back channel tool such as GoSoapBox, reviewed here, for the discussion, so even your quiet and shy students feel comfortable participating, and you can get analytics after the discussion. Teachers of all subjects, but especially science and social studies, can find topics for students to read for their subject. Then challenge students to research the topic further. Redefine learning by having students submit their findings to a special class magazine using Underline, reviewed here, created for the topic. Differentiation can be accomplished easily by assigning to individual students, or you can create multiple classes, which would actually be small groups, who read at the same level or have the same topic interest.

Once the students are familiar with the site use Symbaloo Learning Paths, reviewed here, to assign reading to groups at the same reading level. Older students, once they know their reading level, can their select reading and create their own Symbaloo Learning Paths. Check these to make sure students include all types of reading, and that they are challenging themselves. After several selections, ask older students to choose the topic they were most interested in, find resources to learn more about the topic, then extend their learning by presenting their findings using a multimedia tool such as (click on the tool name to access the review): Canva Infographic Maker, Lucidpress, Powtoon, or Biteable.
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The Differentiator - Ian Byrd

Grades
K to 12
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Differentiating activities for all learners has become easier with this tool. Use this free Bloom's Taxonomy tool, created by an educator, to develop great objectives for differentiated...more
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Differentiating activities for all learners has become easier with this tool. Use this free Bloom's Taxonomy tool, created by an educator, to develop great objectives for differentiated instruction. Move through developing your goal on this site by choosing a level of Bloom's Taxonomy and a thinking skill. Then move on to your content, resources, finished product expected, and what kind of grouping you want. These are all tabs at the top of the page. Watch the sentence at the top of the screen change as you create your objective.

tag(s): blooms taxonomy (5), critical thinking (100), differentiation (63), newbies (14)

In the Classroom

As an example, use a verb from Bloom' taxonomy such as "evaluate." Click on the part of the sentence at the top, in parenthesis, to enter your content such as "patterns of environmental issues." Choose the resource you want students to use, the product you want them to make, and the number of students in a group by clicking on the tabs. Example objective: Students will evaluate the patterns of environmental issues using websites to create a news report in groups of two. Save your objective by copying and pasting it into any document or online tool. The Differentiator will give you many project ideas that you may not have thought of yourself, and serves as a welcome reminder of different activities and expectations you can use in your classroom. Take a look at this site at the beginning of the school year or when creating a new unit (or project). Find new ways to differentiate for your gifted students using this creative and powerful tool. If your gifted students test out of your current math lessons, use this site to find new material to challenge their minds. This site is deceptively quick and simple, but it could be very useful when writing detailed, powerful lesson plans.

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Autism Spectrum Disorders and Asperger's Resources - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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This collection of reviewed resources will help you to better understand these students with special challenges and find strategies for working with them in your classroom. ...more
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This collection of reviewed resources will help you to better understand these students with special challenges and find strategies for working with them in your classroom.

tag(s): aspergers (5), autism (13), preK (231), Special Needs (45)

In the Classroom

Share this collection with parents and colleagues using the "email this" link.

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Autism Society of America - ASA

Grades
K to 12
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This information clearing house, the self-described "voice of the autism community" provides much-needed information on autism and related disorders. At this site you can explore What...more
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This information clearing house, the self-described "voice of the autism community" provides much-needed information on autism and related disorders. At this site you can explore What is Autism, Living with Autism, Public Policy (including Education), and more! Click the drop-down menus to see all the categories to explore. You can also sign up to receive e-newsletters, learn about fundraising opportunities, and find many tips for parents and teachers. This site is recommended in articles by the National Association of School Psychologists, a helpful endorsement in distinguishing among many web sites dealing with autism.

tag(s): aspergers (5), autism (13), behavior (43), Special Needs (45)

In the Classroom

Use this site to learn the basics about autism. No classroom teacher can be expected to be an expert on autism, but this site may help you understand some of what you see and some of the more recent information about autism, especially since few teachers receive much training about this in their teacher-ed programs. If you have students in your classes with autism, ask your principal if you can spend part of an inservice day reading and exploring this and other TeachersFirst resources listings on autism. This independent study may save your sanity and benefit students who really need our understanding. This is a great resource to provide to parents!

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