TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Nov 20, 2022

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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Innovation Generation - Discovery Education

Grades
2 to 12
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Inspire the "maker" in your students using the resources at Innovation Generation. Transport students through a series of virtual field trips that guide them through the design process...more
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Inspire the "maker" in your students using the resources at Innovation Generation. Transport students through a series of virtual field trips that guide them through the design process shared by Stanley Black & Decker employees. Download the Educator Guide that shares correlations to Next Generation Science Standards, an overview of the maker program, and suggested classroom activities.

tag(s): careers (132), crafts (48), engineering (111), makerspace (43), STEM (228), virtual field trips (71)

In the Classroom

Engage students in the design process and makerspace thinking by sharing the resources found on Innovation Generation. The Educator Guide includes several student handouts; use PDF Converter, reviewed here, or another file conversion tool to enable digital document annotation instead of paper versions. Enhance the learning process using Google Jamboard, reviewed here, to offer collaborative opportunities for students to share ideas and reflections based on the recommended questions and activities in the Educator Guide. As a final learning extension, develop a collection of makerspace activities for students to interact with within your classroom. Browse through the Makerspace Resources Special Topics page located here, to find many ideas and resources to get started.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Engineer for the Week - Meta

Grades
5 to 12
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Engineer for the Week offers three projects introducing engineering and STEM learning to students aged 11 through 18. Students work alongside adult facilitators to build technology...more
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Engineer for the Week offers three projects introducing engineering and STEM learning to students aged 11 through 18. Students work alongside adult facilitators to build technology prototypes that teach various engineering skills. As students participate in Chatbot for Change, they produce a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to converse with users. Another project, Play for Impact, offers the chance to create a game with block-based coding. The final project, Products with Purpose, challenges students to develop a product prototype using everyday materials. All projects require mentoring provided by a facilitator that meets several easy requirements; no coding or programming skills are needed! Learn more by signing up for an upcoming introductory webinar. Webinars are offered a few times each month, some in English and a few in Spanish; find upcoming dates by choosing the "Facilitate" link in the upper left corner and scrolling down to the bottom of the page.

tag(s): coding (77), computational thinking (38), critical thinking (105), design (85), problem solving (219), Project Based Learning (13), STEM (228)

In the Classroom

Engineer for the Week is an excellent opportunity to provide real-world STEM learning to students. Most projects suggest a participation time of 15-20 hours and a time commitment of 15 hours by the facilitator. Share the Facilitator Checklist with parents and community members to find volunteers to support the program as an in-school activity or after-school program. Directions for the programs include different phases labeled as "prep," "sprint," and "finish." As students begin the program, use an organizational tool such as Netboard, reviewed here, to share images, resources, notes, and other information to prepare for the project. During the sprint phase, students collaborate to test and practice different ideas. Enhance student learning by asking students to share their reflections and ideas using rawshorts, reviewed here. As students celebrate and share their accomplishments, further enhance learning by using Sway, reviewed here, to share and document student learning using text, images, videos, and links to research information.

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Verizon Innotive Learning HQ - Verizon

Grades
K to 12
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Innovative Learning HQ shares professional development resources in technology for educators, classroom lessons designed to bring STEM education to bridge the digital divide across...more
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Innovative Learning HQ shares professional development resources in technology for educators, classroom lessons designed to bring STEM education to bridge the digital divide across under-resourced communities, and various AR/VR apps. Create a free account to access over 100 lesson plans and professional development sessions that provide micro-credentials. Browse the featured resources or select activities by content area. Most activities provide a focus on virtual reality or augmented reality and include a facilitator's guide, introductory videos, and student activity worksheets. In addition, lessons offer options for teaching to different grade level bands that form a progression of learning. Tasks include correlation to Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core Standards, and ISTE Standards. Finally, professional development courses provide coaching, collaboration, blended learning, and more learning opportunities. The on-demand modules are approximately 3-4 hours in length and offer the chance to apply for a micro-credential certificate upon completion.

tag(s): animals (265), animation (63), augmented reality (6), biographies (95), cells (81), coding (77), digital storytelling (135), engineering (111), graphic design (48), maps (211), musical notation (36), Problem Based Learning (12), problem solving (219), robotics (24), STEM (228), sustainability (36), Teacher Utilities (128)

In the Classroom

Discover the many ready-to-go free resources offered through Innovative Learning HQ in classroom lessons and for your professional development needs. If unsure of how to find assignments for your grade level, visit your dashboard to find recommended activities. After selecting tasks for students, use the provided modules to deliver instruction. Most activities are perfect for use in computer labs, a computer center, or a blended learning activity.
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CS Intro - Microsoft

Grades
6 to 12
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CS Intro is a series of three semester-length coding lessons designed to teach developers coding starting from the basics. Lessons begin with the basics of creating games using block...more
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CS Intro is a series of three semester-length coding lessons designed to teach developers coding starting from the basics. Lessons begin with the basics of creating games using block and script programming functions. Use the menu bar on the top left corner to navigate the site. The final course transitions learning from block and script programming to using JavaScript and ends with a final project of developing and building a complete game. Also included on the CS Intro page are beginning and intermediate tutorials for programming skills with TinkerGen's GameGo. Be sure to click the link on the landing page to check out the courses for CS Intro on Flip, reviewed here.

tag(s): coding (77), computers (97), STEM (228), tutorials (47)

In the Classroom

Share these courses and tutorials with students who are interested in computer programming or as part of an after-school programming offering. Encourage students to keep notes to use as they continue along their learning path or as a reflection upon their work using Google Documents or Microsoft Word. Encourage students to include screenshots to annotate as part of their reflective process, one option is to use Awesome Screenshot, reviewed here, to annotate their image, and include links to additional resources used in the coding process. Extend learning with a final project; in addition to students sharing their completed games, ask them to create a series of tutorials for other interested students using FlexClip, reviewed here, or rawshorts, reviewed here.

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Turtle Academy - TurtleAcademy

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4 to 12
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Turtle Academy offers lessons in LOGO programming language for beginner programmers. Select the Lessons link from the top left to begin and follow lesson activities. For those with...more
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Turtle Academy offers lessons in LOGO programming language for beginner programmers. Select the Lessons link from the top left to begin and follow lesson activities. For those with some programming experience, this site allows you to select any portion of lessons as a starting point. In addition to lessons, take advantage of Turtle Academy's playground to create, share, and save programs.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): coding (77), computers (97), logic (164), STEM (228)

In the Classroom

Share Turtle Academy with students as part of a computer coding center. The ability to select different portions of lessons makes this a great tool for both novice and experienced programmers. Ask more proficient students to become advisors to newer programmers and share their knowledge and skills. Begin using this site by demonstrating lessons and activities on an interactive whiteboard or with a projector. Modify student learning and understanding by asking them to create video explainers for different skills using a tool like rawshorts, reviewed here, then share videos on your class website for student use at any time. Looking for other coding activities for your classroom? Find more at TeachersFirst's Coding in the Classroom special topic page.

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Makerbot - Thingiverse: Education - Makerbot Industries, LLC

Grades
K to 12
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Thingiverse offers over 15,000 3D printing designs and enough lesson plans to keep a classroom busy all school year. All free! Discover lessons for K-5, 6-8, 9-12 and university levels....more
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Thingiverse offers over 15,000 3D printing designs and enough lesson plans to keep a classroom busy all school year. All free! Discover lessons for K-5, 6-8, 9-12 and university levels. Also, find lessons categorized by subject. By clicking on any of these categories, you can then search the new page by both grade level and subject i.e. K-5 and Special Education. Click Explore or use the search bar from the top and find Quick Projects, Building Bridges, and Featured Projects. If you are really into 3D and want to design your own project, you can do that at Thingiverse, too. Thingiverse's 3D printing documents from this tool only work on MakerBot or Stratasys printers.

tag(s): artists (76), computational thinking (38), critical thinking (105), design (85), fashion (10), makerspace (43), printables (35)

In the Classroom

Whether you are a STEM or STEAM educator or teach woods or metal shop, there is something here for everyone. Are you setting up a makerspace and want to include 3D projects? Find more than you can imagine at Thingiverse. Many lessons address Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards, too. History, math, and language arts teachers may enjoy Cryptography: Sending Secret Messages and could extend it into a cross-curricular project; look at Egyptian Hieroglyphs - Making a Cartouche, too. ELA teachers, take a look at the Book Report project to create 3D Keychains having elements of the character's personality and challenges. Art teachers be sure to check out Art Connector Set SVG Conversion Project where your students can turn their drawing into a sculpture! These are just a few of the many lesson plans and projects to look into on Thingiverse. Cut down the time it takes to discover interesting projects by allowing time in class for students to explore in categories selected by you.

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Google CS First - Google

Grades
5 to 9
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Google CS First is a program to increase access and teach computer science to 4th-8th-grade students. All training and materials are free for anyone in the U.S. Materials offer lessons...more
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Google CS First is a program to increase access and teach computer science to 4th-8th-grade students. All training and materials are free for anyone in the U.S. Materials offer lessons based on themes such as storytelling, sports, social media, friends, and fashion and design. In addition to lesson materials, Google CS provides online training information for teachers/club leaders. If you are participating in Hour of Code, be sure to see their many one hour offerings.

tag(s): animation (63), coding (77), computational thinking (38), critical thinking (105), digital storytelling (135), gamification (79), musical notation (36), problem solving (219), social media (46), sports (77), stories and storytelling (36)

In the Classroom

Create a club in your classroom as part of your STEM activities, as a lunch/recess club, or an at-home activity for students. Use the flyers and presentation materials provided to create interest in the club. Differentiate clubs by student interests and abilities. Share Google CS First with your school's media or tech leader as an excellent resource for teaching coding. This site is perfect for those who want to learn more about coding, but have some hesitancy since all materials from creating a group through the lessons are free. If you still have some doubts, enlist the services of a tech-savvy high school student to help with activities as part of their volunteering requirements.

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Gridlock Buster - ITS Institute, University of Minnesota

Grades
K to 12
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Become a member of Traffic Team Alpha. Join the mission to get cars through intersections as quickly as possible by controlling traffic lights. As you complete each mission, move up...more
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Become a member of Traffic Team Alpha. Join the mission to get cars through intersections as quickly as possible by controlling traffic lights. As you complete each mission, move up to more congested intersections and improve your problem-solving skills. Read and follow the directions for priorities with each level.

tag(s): computational thinking (38), critical thinking (105), engineering (111), problem solving (219)

In the Classroom

Share Gridlock Buster on an interactive whiteboard or projector, and create a link on classroom computers. Challenge students to increase their score on each mission. Have students discuss their strategies for improving scores. Be sure to share a link on your class website for students to play at home.

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Get Caught Engineering - Wendy Goldfein and Cheryl Nelson

Grades
3 to 8
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Get Caught Engineering is an excellent resource for elementary and middle school STEM lessons and experiences. Follow the link to the blog to find many ongoing ideas for incorporating...more
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Get Caught Engineering is an excellent resource for elementary and middle school STEM lessons and experiences. Follow the link to the blog to find many ongoing ideas for incorporating engineering into classrooms, as well as an archive of past articles. Sign up with email to get all blog updates. Choose from several lessons ready to print and use. Many lessons offer quick activities using a minimum of materials, ideal for effortlessly incorporating engineering and STEM activities into any classroom!
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): computational thinking (38), engineering (111), gravity (41), problem solving (219), scientific method (47), simple machines (16), STEM (228)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plans and activities to introduce STEM activities into your classroom. Use lesson plans as ideas for starting an Engineering Night program at your school. Transform learning by having students create an annotated image of projects including text boxes and related links using a tool such as Image Annotator, reviewed here. Redefine learning by challenging cooperative learning groups to create videos explaining each step of their process using simpleshow video maker, reviewed here, and share them on a site such as TeacherTube, reviewed here.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Tinkercad - Circuits - Autodesk

Grades
4 to 12
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Create circuit diagrams easily with this tool. Drag and drop elements onto the schematic. Name each of the elements (resistors, etc.) and save schematics once you create an account....more
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Create circuit diagrams easily with this tool. Drag and drop elements onto the schematic. Name each of the elements (resistors, etc.) and save schematics once you create an account. Add layers by clicking on the Settings tab. Use the Help tab to find the most common shortcuts with this tool. This tool has been tested in Chrome which is the recommended browser. Other browsers work, though there may be some issues with how items look or perform.

tag(s): circuits (18), computational thinking (38), creativity (94), electricity (60), engineering (111), makerspace (43)

In the Classroom

This site is a great addition to any classroom lesson or unit on electricity or circuits. Try the activities as a class on your interactive whiteboard or projector, explaining what the symbols mean. Have students complete activities on their own using classroom computers. Take screenshots of the digital schematics students have created. Have students create an online presentation on electricity and circuits using using one of the many TeachersFirst Edge presentation tools. Some tool suggestions are (click on the tool name to access the review): Visme, Adobe Creative Cloud Express for Education , Kizoa, and simpleshow video maker.

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Tinkercad - Tinkercad, Inc.

Grades
3 to 12
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Create 3D models with Tinkercad's easy drag and drop interface. Move objects into and out of other objects and zoom in and out with ease. Tinkercad is a free site ...more
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Create 3D models with Tinkercad's easy drag and drop interface. Move objects into and out of other objects and zoom in and out with ease. Tinkercad is a free site using a browser-based CAD program (no download required). Create a free account to follow activities and learn new skills. Share your creations on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Want to save a picture? Use the screen shot function (command//shift/4 in a Mac or print screen in a PC). To print in 3D, you must use other applications or have access to a 3D printer. All designs made in Tinkercad are public. Others can copy and use your designs. (The Creative Commons license is another useful part of Tinkercad.)

tag(s): computational thinking (38), creativity (94), drawing (60), measurement (128), modeling (7)

In the Classroom

Bring out the budding engineer, scientist, or designer in your students. Create simple models or use one created by others in Tinkercad. Give ample time for students to play with the variety of shapes and letters. As they become proficient, create a 3D model science fair for products that solve problems. As part of a multidisciplinary unit in science, technology, economics, math, social studies, and English classes, use this site to create a culminating design project.

Have the final design project be a new museum or historical/tourist attraction to commemorate a local hero/heroine. In English classes, have students create a written grant for the design proposal. In economics, have the students discover how to construct the project for the best possible cost. In math and science classes, have the students "build" the project with accurate measurements. Then as a follow up, have students use Google Earth reviewed here to predict the environmental impact of the new construction. Or, in technology education or industrial arts class, use this as a way to submit project drafts for construction.

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Scratch - Lifelong Kindergarten Group, MIT Media Lab

Grades
1 to 12
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Want to get in touch with your inner child? Get Scratch! Warning: The use of this application is quite fun and engaging! Scratch is a downloadable program that creates interactive ...more
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Want to get in touch with your inner child? Get Scratch! Warning: The use of this application is quite fun and engaging! Scratch is a downloadable program that creates interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art. This application can be used for bringing simple ideas and projects to life. It has great use as a paint program without using the animations. Download/install files are available for Mac or PC. Menu tabs include an Idea tab where you will find a Getting Started Tutorial, Activity Guides, Coding Cards, and Starter Projects. A FAQs and support page are also available for help in using the application.

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.

tag(s): animation (63), coding (77), computational thinking (38), critical thinking (105), design (85), drawing (60), problem solving (219), STEM (228)

In the Classroom

Be sure to "play" with this program before you present it to students; or, you could have computer savy students in your class pair up with not so savy students to investigate together. There are many tabs, folders; and icons to investigate. You (or students) could click Create and in the center pane, click on the tutorial. To begin your creation follow the steps in the tutorial. Once you have the idea, choose your own features from the menu on the left, and on the bottom right are two more menus; Look for the cat icon and the backdrops. 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.

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Gapminder - Gapminder

Grades
7 to 12
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Gapminder is an interactive site designed to present world demographic information in a highly visual way. Using either a world map, or a chart with "bubbles" sized according to each...more
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Gapminder is an interactive site designed to present world demographic information in a highly visual way. Using either a world map, or a chart with "bubbles" sized according to each country's population, users can track 30 years of change in a wide variety of economic and social indicators (for example, population size, percentage of GNP dedicated to military spending, proportion of girls in school, infant mortality). Math teachers can use the site to demonstrate data analysis skills with meaningful data. Slides will save to your Google drive. Be sure to check out the Resources from the top menu

tag(s): data (133), demographics (13)

In the Classroom

The site would be best used on an interactive whiteboard, although computer-savvy students could access it individually. The world data presented might supplement lessons in economics, civics, world cultures, current events or modern history. Teachers should plan to spend a chunk of time previewing the site before using, however, as the interface is not entirely intuitive. There is a tutorial, but it will take some experimentation to discover the various ways to manipulate the data and present it graphically. There is also this page of ideas specifically for teachers. You can compare individual countries, or zoom into geographic regions. "Mature" teachers who learned bar graphs and pie charts may find the choices a little overwhelming, but with a little noodling around, will be able to graphically illustrate concepts in ways never before possible. Challenge your students to retrieve and use some of the data in support of an essay thesis, oral presentation, or debate.

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