Graphic Organizer Resources from TeachersFirst

Whether you call them concept maps, mind maps, KWLs, or graphic organizers, these visual diagrams show relationships between concepts and provide a powerful tool for learning and connecting new ideas. Creating graphic organizers also helps today's visual learners build reading comprehension. This collection of reviewed resources includes tools for creating graphic organizers and many suggestions for ways to use them in teaching almost any subject or grade. Be sure to read the "In the Classroom" suggestions for examples of ways to use graphic organizers as part of a lesson or unit.

 

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Introducing Text Structures in Writing (5th Grade) - Utah Education Network

Grades
4 to 6
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Introducing Text Structures in Writing is a comprehensive lesson plan to introduce the idea that science writing organizes in identifiable patterns called text structures. Common Core...more
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Introducing Text Structures in Writing is a comprehensive lesson plan to introduce the idea that science writing organizes in identifiable patterns called text structures. Common Core Reading/LA Standards focus on these text structures in informational texts. Use the provided links to many materials such as word cards, sentence strips, definitions, and graphic organizers to print materials in PDF format. Lists include suggested books for different text structures such as sequence, description, and compare and contrast. Use extension and assessment ideas as additions to the lesson plan. Although labeled for 5th grade, this lesson would be appropriate for use in any classroom learning to read and understand non-fiction and informational text.

tag(s): process writing (43), reading comprehension (131), reading strategies (61), sequencing (30), writers workshop (35), writing (358)

In the Classroom

Print materials included with this lesson and use as an addition to a current writing and reading comprehension units. This would make an excellent addition to standardized test preparations to help students analyze and assess readings provided during testing. Extend this lesson beyond science texts. Use lesson components and ideas for social studies and all other non-fiction reading materials.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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inklewriter - Joseph Humfrey and Jon Ingold

Grades
4 to 12
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Create interactive, choose your own adventure (branching) style stories with inklewriter. This site is ideal for anyone to create a story and then share with others via a unique URL....more
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Create interactive, choose your own adventure (branching) style stories with inklewriter. This site is ideal for anyone to create a story and then share with others via a unique URL. These stories allow for others to create their own path or choose an existing one. Begin by choosing to read stories or create your own. Type parts of the story including the title, author, beginning, introduction, and add sections as needed. After each paragraph is the option to create different outcomes of the story, offering choices the reader makes. The site contains excellent tutorials for getting started with stories. When finished, share the URL for your story using Twitter or Facebook or copy the URL to share and bookmark as you wish. Of course, your "story" need not be fiction! You could also write an opinion piece with branches for people to ask click on questions about facets of your argument! NOTE: When you click to begin writing, you should click SIGN IN and choose to make a new account. Do this before you start writing in order to be able to save. The tool will then save your work as you go along. Although you do not HAVE to sign in before you start, it is risky to sign up later! Here is a sample to show just ONE way to use Inklewriter besides the obvious use for storytelling. Inklewriter has also made it easier for teachers to sign up students WITHOUT student email addresses. Read the directions about how to do this on the landing page by scrolling down and finding "Sign-up and email addresses."
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): creative writing (156), digital storytelling (146), narrative (18), persuasive writing (56)

In the Classroom

View stories on the site together to understand the components of the site and discuss how different choices in characters and settings lead to different story outcomes. (Be sure to preview stories before sharing, since there is "public"' content.) Watch the tutorials together on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) before students begin to write stories. Use a graphic organizer to "map out" the story before writing. Create a short story together as a class to become familiar using the site. Assign a group of students to create an interactive story each week to share on your classroom website or blog. Have students create a story map before beginning a story on inklewriter; use a tool such as 25 Language Arts Graphic Organizers, reviewed here. Create class stories to teach about literature, geography, reading comprehension, history, science concepts, and more. As a more "serious" approach, use Inklewriter to present opinion pieces where you take a position and allow readers to click on questions about it. They could also click on statements expressing opposing views so you can write counterarguments to their points. This could end up being a powerful way to present an argument and evidence as required by Common Core writing standards. A graphic organizer for planning and organizing evidence is a must! Teachers of gifted could use this for students to develop elaborate fictional or informational pieces. If you work with students who struggle, scaffold with a template for them to organize their thoughts.

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Famous Scientists - famousscientists.org

Grades
6 to 12
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Know your Einstein from your Eddington with this informative site that profiles some of the greatest scientists. Learn about their contributions to science and society and how their...more
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Know your Einstein from your Eddington with this informative site that profiles some of the greatest scientists. Learn about their contributions to science and society and how their discoveries affect us today. Don't click on the underlined words; this does NOT provide definitions. Instead it brings up advertisements.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): inventors and inventions (85), scientists (70)

In the Classroom

The reading level of this site is rather challenging. Have weaker readers work together with stronger ones. While discussing scientists and inventors, use this site as a resource for gathering information. Have small groups of students research scientists from the same time period. Have them research their contributions including reactions of others to their discovery or invention. Research why these inventions were particularly important and the scientific knowledge that changed as a result. Have them present their findings to the class by creating a multimedia presentation using one of the many TeachersFirst Edge tools reviewed here. Then, if you would like to take your students critical thinking up a notch, you could have the small groups compare the different inventions and decide how and why the earlier inventions had to come before a later invention could be developed. For this you might want to have students use a collaborative graphic organizer like Canva, reviewed here, and have them report out their thoughts and discoveries to the class.

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Night Zookeeper - Joshua Davidson

Grades
K to 5
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Enter a fantastical online world in which you create your own magical animals. Read and create stories, play games, create fascinating (and funny) facts about your new animal, and more...more
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Enter a fantastical online world in which you create your own magical animals. Read and create stories, play games, create fascinating (and funny) facts about your new animal, and more while learning about animals. Explore creative writing and art activities. Read the story of the night zookeeper or listen by choosing the audio play button. Your completed animals can be uploaded to include with the story and suggestions are offered for describing the animals such as where does the animal live, and tell about what makes it special. You can also download a sample unit that includes literacy and art lesson plans. Simple registration of a username and password is required to access activities.

tag(s): creative writing (156), creativity (116), digital storytelling (146)

In the Classroom

Share this site on classroom computers for students to read and listen to the Night Zookeeper story then encourage students to create their own animal to be added to the zoo. Use the included graphic organizer to help students design their animal. Create a link to the site on classroom computers and allow students to explore and discover site activities. Use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here) to create a visual comparison of animals included in the zoo or imaginary animals vs. real animals.

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Draw.io - JGraph, Ltd.

Grades
4 to 12
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Take a look at this online graphic organizer creator/drawing tool that requires NO membership. Although a bit "plain vanilla" in appearance, this is a wonderful tool! Research shows...more
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Take a look at this online graphic organizer creator/drawing tool that requires NO membership. Although a bit "plain vanilla" in appearance, this is a wonderful tool! Research shows that graphic organizers promote strong thinking skills and comprehension for all ages. Draw.io is a simple, free online tool for creating mind maps -- or diagrams for any purpose -- using shapes and arrows. Just drop and drag the shapes (or nodes) you want to the panel, connect the nodes by dragging the arrow, and double-click in the shape to add text. Use the simple toolbar at the top to insert images, change, bold, color and enlarge text, etc. Printing and exporting is also an option. If you click on the "Help" tab at the top, you will see "Video Tutorial" which uses flash. Draw.io uses JavaScript, not Flash, so it works on iOS devices.

tag(s): brainstorming (21), concept mapping (18), graphic organizers (42), mind map (25), venn diagrams (19), visual thinking (9)

In the Classroom

Demonstrate creating a mind map or other diagram on an interactive whiteboard or projector, and then allow students to try to create their own. Use this site for literature activities, research projects, social studies, or science topics of study. Use Draw.io to create family trees or flow charts. Learning support students could team up to map out the important concepts from a unit visually as a review activity. Use this mapping website as an alternative to a traditional test, quiz, or homework assignment in literature, social studies, or science. Have students demonstrate their understanding by creating a graphic organizer about the main points or map out a step-by-step process (life cycle). Be sure they name their organizer BEFORE they start work with their name --or code name-- so you know who did it (they could EMAIL it to you!) or have them print their results to turn them in. Anonymously share and compare different students' "views" of a unit so students can "see it through someone else's eyes."

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Algalita - Plastic Ocean Pollution - Algalita Marine Research Foundation

Grades
4 to 12
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Explore plastic pollution in the North Pacific Ocean at this terrific site. Click Take Action on the top menu, then click "Share our program with a teacher or student+" and ...more
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Explore plastic pollution in the North Pacific Ocean at this terrific site. Click Take Action on the top menu, then click "Share our program with a teacher or student+" and scroll down that page to find Educator Resources to get the free Science Investigation Kit. Be sure to check out the Projects and Solutions to explore accomplishments of students from around the world.

tag(s): environment (317), oceans (168), plastics (7), pollution (67)

In the Classroom

Use your interactive whiteboard and projector to introduce this site. Use the Trash Tracker lesson as is or adapt for your own use. Consider having students work in groups of four, and have each group explore a different expedition (listed by year and selected by you). Have the small groups of students investigate the first several days of the selected expedition together. After that, have pairs take notes about what they learn, using Memo Notepad, reviewed here, then have partners compare notes for the days they investigated. Once they've investigated their expedition, remix the groups so you have one student from each of the different expeditions together. Have them share information and determine what was alike and different for each year. Use a graphic organizer or mind mapping tool such as WiseMapping, reviewed here, to help students keep track of the information. Once done have students access the additional resources pages (the blogs will often have more information for the expeditions), and look at the maps. Older students may want to investigate information about careers related to GIS, Conservation, and Marine Biology by using the link at the bottom of the page.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Compare & Contrast Map - Read, Write, Think - International Reading Association

Grades
3 to 12
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This interactive graphic organizer helps students develop an outline for one of three types of comparison essays: whole-to-whole, similarities-to-differences, or point-to-point. A link...more
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This interactive graphic organizer helps students develop an outline for one of three types of comparison essays: whole-to-whole, similarities-to-differences, or point-to-point. A link in the introduction to the "Comparison and Contrast Guide" gives students the chance to get definitions and look at examples before they begin working. The tool offers multiple ways to navigate information, including a graphic on the right to move around the map without having to work in a linear fashion. The finished map can be saved, e-mailed, or printed. There are many additional interactives and lesson plans (with standards included!).

tag(s): charts and graphs (196), concept mapping (18), graphic organizers (42)

In the Classroom

Use this site to introduce comparisons to your students on your interactive whiteboard or projector. After demonstrating how to use the site, create a link on classroom computers for students to make their own comparisons to be printed and shared. Divide students into 3 groups - one for each type of comparison essay - and have them create comparisons for their type, then share and compare with other students. Change student learning by having them create "annotated pictures" to illustrate the different types of comparisons using Szoter, reviewed here. Use this site with gifted students as a way for them to explore subjects more deeply than discussed in class. Use this site with ESL/ELL students to help organize information easily and as a visual representation of class material.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Colours in Cultures - Information is Beautiful: David McCandless

Grades
6 to 12
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This circular infographic shows colors connected with 85 specific emotions in a variety of cultures. What emotions do colors suggest in a culture? How does culture convey emotion through...more
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This circular infographic shows colors connected with 85 specific emotions in a variety of cultures. What emotions do colors suggest in a culture? How does culture convey emotion through color, and how does this vary from culture to culture? You can see examples of other similarly designed visualizations by clicking on "Select Visualization."

tag(s): charts and graphs (196), colors (76), cross cultural understanding (151), cultures (117), graphic organizers (42), infographics (50), psychology (65), visualizations (15)

In the Classroom

Use this site to promote visual literacy and as an example for reading graphs. Have students select another topic and make a similar graph of their own. Use one of the graph makers available at the site "Statistics - Johnnie's Math Page" (reviewed here). Look at paintings from different cultures and ask how color interacts with other artistic elements like shape, design, placement, etc. to convey meaning. Have students make an assortment of works of the same design, varying color choice depending on which culture is going to view the work. If you have student creating infographics, this chart is a must in selecting font colors and more to guide emotional impact of the graphics.

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Curriki - EnterpriseDB Postgre SQL company

Grades
K to 12
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Curriki is a nonprofit organization that encourages collaboration of teachers and learners in a global community of 211 different countries. Find resources by grade level, subject area,...more
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Curriki is a nonprofit organization that encourages collaboration of teachers and learners in a global community of 211 different countries. Find resources by grade level, subject area, or resource type (interactive, video, or podcast.) Usage type, or exercise, unit, lesson plan, or game, is another option for searching. Use the professional webinars for a better understanding of Curriki. Onsite training is another option listed. Join different groups for a more involved way to explore new areas in online learning, subject area interests, or focus questions. Be a peer reviewer offering comments or suggestions on submitted lessons, units, games, or exercises and give your input. Create collections of your resources to keep privately or share with others. Easily make lesson plans or web quests with the easy to use templates, which include graphic organizer and rubric options. Try a problem based learning unit. Join the challenge to create a video lesson for a chance at winning $5000. The focus of this site is to provide access to teachers, schools, students, or parents to many new creative ideas in a global community. Free membership includes monthly newsletters. Follow Curriki on Facebook, twitter, or blogs.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): graphic organizers (42), literacy (108), operations (117), rubrics (32)

In the Classroom

Curriki has a number of ways to benefit teachers and students. Use Curriki as a resource listed on your website for parents and students to have extra opportunities for additional practice or enrichment. Use as a way to organize your digital resources. The lesson plan and webquest templates are user friendly and promote best practices. While growing in your professional development by connecting with teachers worldwide, let your class learn with other classes worldwide. Curriki encourages you to think critically of your own lessons, but also lessons suggested.

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Cell Games - Sheppard Software

Grades
5 to 12
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Use this interactive resource to review the parts of an animal, plant, or bacterial cell. Hover over the areas of the cells to learn the parts and the functions. When ...more
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Use this interactive resource to review the parts of an animal, plant, or bacterial cell. Hover over the areas of the cells to learn the parts and the functions. When finished, follow with an activity to practice what has been learned or take the quiz!
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): animals (323), bacteria (30), cells (103), plants (175)

In the Classroom

Use this resource to introduce the unit on cells. Share this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Students can review the cells and create one of these Graphic Organizers, reviewed here, of information and then discuss the differences between the different types of cells. Use for continuous review until the cell parts are learned and students have mastered the game and the quiz.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Wisemapping - Wisemapping Corporation

Grades
8 to 12
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Create a free diagram (concept map, graphic organizer) to represent words, ideas, or tasks to aid in studying, organizing, or problem solving. Link documents to a wise map and share...more
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Create a free diagram (concept map, graphic organizer) to represent words, ideas, or tasks to aid in studying, organizing, or problem solving. Link documents to a wise map and share or embed diagrams with other maps.

tag(s): concept mapping (18), mind map (25)

In the Classroom

Users must be able to navigate the icons for editing and creating a mindmap. Icons and commands are the same as in any office and free applications that most people use. View the free demo for an introduction of using Wisemapping. Use the demo editor to play with the tools and learn what they do. Note: the demo function does not allow you to save your creation as it is a sandbox area for learning. Allow students an opportunity to learn to play first without teacher direction as each person will find different ways to use wisemapping for their best benefit. Click on a set of words to edit the words, color, font, etc. in the bubble. Drag items easily around the screen by clicking and dragging the icon to drop into a new configuration. Add "icons" and flags anywhere on your mindmap. Add a "note" to a bubble anywhere. The note appears like a little sticky note on the bubble and expands when clicked on. Add a "link" to any of the text on the wisemap that leads to any link on the web you specify. Export as a scalable vector graphic (svg), PDF document, or image file. "Share" to work collaboratively with others. Users must have a login in order to share and publish. Click on the "history" of a wisemap to view the contributions of others.

Assign sections of current curriculum topic to groups of students to map out and explain in detail. Link to outside web pages and pictures and create notes with additional study hints and information. Assign a different group to review information for accuracy and add additional information and explanations. Using this process, a wisemap of a chapter or unit can be created easily and efficiently while benefiting all learners.

There are countless possibilities at this mental mapping site. Demonstrate the activity 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 topic. Have students organize any concepts you study; 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. Be sure that they RENAME it before they start work to an individual name so you know who did it (they could EMAIL it to you!) or have them print their results to turn in.

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david, TX, Grades: 9 - 12

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Telescopes and Mirrors - Corning Museum of Glass

Grades
7 to 10
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"Telescopes" (brought to us by the people at the Corning Museum of Glass) is a click-thru tour of telescopes. Rich with historical information and science explanation, this activity...more
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"Telescopes" (brought to us by the people at the Corning Museum of Glass) is a click-thru tour of telescopes. Rich with historical information and science explanation, this activity is interesting in that it combines pictures, text, and different views of outer space through the different types of telescopes.

tag(s): newton (26), space (233), telescopes (9)

In the Classroom

Have students click through the site as the instructional part of the lesson which would be great for introductory physics or physical science. Students can work through the module taking notes as they proceed. Then, have students create a graphic organizer comparing both the microscope differences, and have them use the view of the telescope function. Have students draw or take screen shots using a program such as Jing (reviewed here) of the views from the different telescopes. Have students add analysis bubbles to the pictures comparing the views.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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5 Minute Mystery - Mystery Competition, LLC

Grades
4 to 12
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This mystery reading game helps increase reading comprehension and critical thinking skills in an innovative way. The basic game is free. You can sign up to have two mysteries a ...more
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This mystery reading game helps increase reading comprehension and critical thinking skills in an innovative way. The basic game is free. You can sign up to have two mysteries a week sent to you, or you can use their archive. There is a "How to Play" section where you can view a video, open pdf instructions, or look at the instructions online. After reading a mystery you select the correct sentences that are clues, and select a character that the clue either exonerates or implicates. Points are awarded for each clue you get correct. For a fee, you can get a premium account that has graphic organizers, questions, and writing suggestions, however, this review is for the free, basic version. Even with the basic program, you can look under lesson plans and find objectives and ideas for your classroom and for creating leagues.

Bonus: There's an app for that! For the iphone, of course!
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): critical thinking (124), mysteries (23), reading comprehension (131), short stories (23)

In the Classroom

Use your projector and interactive whiteboard to show your students the directions for getting points by selecting the correct clues and solving the mystery. To begin with, as a class, read a mystery and discuss what the clues might be and whether they implicate or exonerate each suspect. Once the students have volunteered their ideas for which sentences are clues, submit them to see the score. The program will highlight the answers you should have had, if you got any wrong. Model for your students a discussion about why those are the correct answers and why the ones they submitted weren't. Eventually they can have this discussion by themselves in small groups. Those of you with multiple classes will want to create a league for each class.

Eventually you can have small groups of students compete against each other by creating leagues. Have your students come to consensus about the clue sentences and who the real perpetrator is by voting using Tricider, reviewed here, or Decide Already, reviewed here.

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Nutcracker Study Guide - Inland Pacific Ballet

Grades
4 to 8
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Use this site from the New York City Ballet to find ways to introduce your students to the glorious music from Tchaikovsky's beloved holiday classic, The Nutcracker Suite. This site...more
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Use this site from the New York City Ballet to find ways to introduce your students to the glorious music from Tchaikovsky's beloved holiday classic, The Nutcracker Suite. This site offers lots of ways to incorporate the Nutcracker story and history into curriculum.

tag(s): christmas (48)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a resource during a historic examination of Christmas. Have students re-write their own version of the story using a different setting, time period, or both be sure that they consider how costumes, sets, characters, folk dances,music, landmarks, locations, events, and animals might be different. Have students consider the Dance of the Snowflakes scene in The Nutcracker. Discuss what animals they might find living in this kind of habitat? What else would you likely find living in this habitat (plants, trees, insects, etc.)? Have students record their ideas on a graphic organizer and draw pictures to go along with it, or replace the pencil and paper with a blog tool like Penzu, reviewed here. With Penzu you can add images or your own artwork as illustrations.Have students compare or contrast The Nutcracker with another folk tale, fairy tale or story they have read or are familiar with.

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Threaded Adventures - Kevin Hodgson

Grades
4 to 12
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A Threaded Adventure is the online version of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" story. This site will help you and your students learn about the different "branches" a story can ...more
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A Threaded Adventure is the online version of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" story. This site will help you and your students learn about the different "branches" a story can take and how to create their very own "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories online. This is perfect for those looking to integrate technology into their writing curriculum. Not only will you find directions to help you and your students create Threaded Adventures; the explanation of how to do this IS a Threaded Adventure, and you will find sample Threaded Adventures written by students. Threaded Adventures also inspire "predicting" as a reader, an essential reading strategy!

tag(s): creative writing (156), writing (358)

In the Classroom

Click on the links to read about how your students can create a Threaded Adventure. The author of the Threaded Adventure suggests the use of a wiki to have your students create their very own "Choose Your Own Adventure" because wikis are easy of use for the students. If you are unfamiliar with wikis, see TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through. Wikis can be private or public. Just be sure you have parent permission to publish student work online.

Have your students choose a favorite short story or picture book your class has already read. Use your interactive whiteboard or projector to reread the story stopping and asking students what direction the story could take if the author hadn't finished the story, or suggest some "what ifs" yourself. Use Gliffy, an online graphic organizer reviewed here, to brainstorm with your class all the different paths the story could take. Once you and the class have decided on several different paths, go to your wiki and demonstrate how to create the "Threaded Adventure" using links to different pages. When your students understand the procedure, have small groups finish writing up the Threaded Adventure themselves. Once they've completed the class Threaded Adventure, they can use a story of their own to repeat the process.

For older students, you may want to go through the process above, and then have them put their story, or parts of their story, on MixedInk reviewed here to get ideas for story branches from their classmates. They could then use Gliffy reviewed here to organize the paths of their story. Once they've made final decisions about the different directions their story will take, they would then publish it on the wiki.

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EyePlorer - eyePlorer GmbH

Grades
5 to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
  
EyePlorer is a graphic organizing information tool that you are sure to enjoy! The self proclaimed graphic knowledge engine is a way to view web-based information on a given topic....more
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EyePlorer is a graphic organizing information tool that you are sure to enjoy! The self proclaimed graphic knowledge engine is a way to view web-based information on a given topic. In this case, it uses wikipedia as its source, so the information is only as good as what wikipedia offers...in most cases, solid introductory information and organization of related concepts. In contrast to search engines such as Google and Yahoo, eyePlorer graphically lays out all of the information instead of listing text. There are dots by each concept that is related and the larger the dot, the more strongly it is related. You can access the information by scrolling over the dot, or you can go further by clicking on the related idea to go the article with additional information. Note that since the original launch of the EyePlorer tool by a different company, eyePlorer GmbH continues to work to make interaction with knowledge on the web easier. The link provided with this review takes you to the original tool, now hosted on "vionto."

tag(s): vocabulary (293), vocabulary development (112)

In the Classroom

Show this to your students on the interactive whiteboard as way to get an overview of a new concept. Have students search a specific topic such as insecticides in environmental science and then have them go through graphical exploration together. Later in the study of the same concept, have students create their own graphic organizers on the concept, linking to other articles they find on the web or to their own explanations of concepts using images and text. Use a tool such as Scribblar (reviewed here).
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Giving Thanks: A Compare-and-Contrast Lesson - Gary Hopkins for Education World

Grades
7 to 12
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This activity is a good one for the Thanksgiving season or anytime. A powerful five minute video gets students reflecting on their lives and appreciating how much they have when ...more
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This activity is a good one for the Thanksgiving season or anytime. A powerful five minute video gets students reflecting on their lives and appreciating how much they have when compared to children in other parts of the world.

tag(s): critical thinking (124), thanksgiving (29)

In the Classroom

Start off by asking students to write a journal entry to answer and explain, "Do you ever think that you might have it easier compared to some other kids?" Show the video on your classroom whiteboard or projector. Have students use one of TeachersFirst online compare/contrast graphic organizers such as the Venn Diagram tool, reviewed here, to juxtapose their way of life with the way of life of people their age who have very little compared to them. Teenagers need reality checks when it comes to their wants versus their needs. As a follow-up, have students work in groups to brainstorm ways that they could actually make a difference for children who endure lives of poverty. Check with your school nurse or social worker to see if there is a family in the community that could use some extra kindness and have your students come up with a plan that your class could put into action right now. Have them look at Do Something, reviewed here, to get an idea of what type of activities are already out there and are successful. Use Dotstorming, reviewed here, to comment and vote on different ideas. Alternatively, you and your students could check out Day of Service, reviewed here, to find volunteer opportunities in your area. Let them experience the enduring lesson and joy that comes from helping others.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Up the Creek - New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy

Grades
8 to 11
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Up the Creek is an informative, cartooned look at biodiversity. While the cartoon is made in and for New Zealand, the concepts and ideas are still good for teaching biodiversity ...more
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Up the Creek is an informative, cartooned look at biodiversity. While the cartoon is made in and for New Zealand, the concepts and ideas are still good for teaching biodiversity anywhere. In fact, since this is in a slightly different setting than the United States, it is interesting to see that the environmental protection practices tend to be the same. There are some native, Maori words and unfamiliar terms for North American kids, however they can easily be understood through context clues or having students research them from the computer.

tag(s): biodiversity (34), diversity (34), environment (317)

In the Classroom

Try having students work through the cartoon tour of the New Zealand environment, having them keep a graphic organizer comparing the biodiversity and environmental practices to those that are practiced in their community or state. Challenge students to compare using a tool such as the Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram, reviewed here. Have students research unfamiliar terms. Perhaps share what you are doing in science with a cultures class and work with them to create a mini culture lesson to pair up with your biodiversity lesson.

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Spicynodes - IDEA

Grades
6 to 12
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Create a website map or mindmap easily with this free site. Create a login (requires an email address.) Add interest to your site as visitors choose a node and new ...more
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Create a website map or mindmap easily with this free site. Create a login (requires an email address.) Add interest to your site as visitors choose a node and new options open up for them. Spicynodes is a mindmap but all portions are not displayed until they are clicked on, activating greater interactivity to your sitemap or mindmap.

tag(s): graphic organizers (42), mind map (25)

In the Classroom

Create a new map by entering the details such as a title. Choose from the template styles given. Preview the template, zoom in and out, and scroll around the mindmap using the simple tools. Click the "Edit Content" tab to change each node in your mindmap. Edit the name of the node, the description, and upload or link to a picture. Nodes can also link to a You tube video. When done, click preview to not only see the finished mindmap, but to publish on the Spicynodes site or copy the embed code for placing on a wiki, blog, or other site.

There are countless possibilities at this mental mapping site. Demonstrate the activity 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. Create a site map that guides users throughout the features of your class website.

Collaborative Projects: Have small groups research together a topic such as unsolved mysteries of the world, planets, legends from their countries, plants, famous mathematicians, or any topic that can be broken down into parts. Each student would have their own node and color and would then upload pictures, videos, links, and other information they have found about their part of the topic. If the whole class is researching a topic, students with the "like" assignments could get together to share information and create their part of the small group node (also know as jigsaw in cooperative learning). Once all the nodes are completed, the original small group would share information with each other. There are a variety of ways students could use this mindmap. You could just leave it at the small group share out. Or, you could have the groups decide what information is important enough to present to the class and put their ideas on a Ryeboard document, reviewed here. A third step could be that once they've honed down the information, they could modify their learning and create a presentation for the class in a variety of formats: LiveSlides, reviewed here, or Animoto, reviewed here are only two of the many presentation formats we have reviewed on TeachersFirst.

Student project ideas: Have students... organize any concepts you study; 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. Be sure that they RENAME it before they start work to an individual name so you know who did it (they could EMAIL it to you!) or have them print their results to turn them in.

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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 (292), parts of speech (66), speech (87), 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.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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