Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomThis is a fabulous resource for augmenting generic textbook accounts of history with primary source material. Whether we like it or not, our students are more visual than we were; they will love the film clips and photo montages from recent events. Use these on an interactive whiteboard or projector for full impact (although the film clips are fairly small to maintain resolution). If you teach social studies, this is a site you'll want to bookmark and visit often. English teachers will want to use the teenage diaries as inspiration for creative writing assignments, or even as a source of ideas for college admissions essays. Challenge students to create their own visual complements to the audio essays using a tool such as Canva, reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomSave this site in your favorites to integrate new technologies for 21st century learning. Then make a point of stopping to explore the new ideas on this site regularly -- or whenever you need inspiration. Challenge yourself to start by using one of these new writing ideas per marking period. You may get hooked. Teaching writing is undoubtedly undergoing a huge change, and the models, tips, and information from Digital Is can help you discover how to use digital writing as a means to develop critical thinking, strategies, and skills that enrich learning beyond just the traditional. An added bonus to trying these ideas is that your students will see writing as something "now" not something "required." Make digital writing part of your teaching vocabulary.
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomAsk students to write their own questions about snow and research the information on this site. This is a perfect site to include with any winter activities. Ask students to locate the places mentioned in the gallery on a map. Have students research a historic snowstorm from a specific geographical location and use an online mapping tool to tell the class about the winter event (and location). Try a tool such as Click2Map, reviewed here. Use the site when teaching a unit on weather (or winter Olympics) for factual information about snow using the resources link. Extend the snow "storm" by investigating everything there is to know about snowflakes at Snowflake Bentley, reviewed here, and Snow Crystals, reviewed here.
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomStart 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.
Grades2 to 12
tag(s): writing (364)
In the ClassroomUsing photos as prompts is good for the students who have writers block, are having problems visualizing what they want to convey in words, or for young writers just starting out. Giving students a photo helps them to form a story and makes their ideas more concrete. Use your projector or interactive whiteboard to project one of the photographs and have students envision the photo as a video that has been put on pause. Ask students to come up with ideas for what happened in the video before it was paused, and what will happen once the video is on "play" again. Have students annotate the picture with the ideas the class comes up with using FotoFlexor, reviewed here, and then let them get started writing their story to go with the photo. You could do several of these and make a class book of the students' writing. For this you might want to use Book Creator reviewed here, to publish student writing and to give your writers workshop publishing a professional flare.
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomYou can easily click on the current month and display a particular journal entry starter on your whiteboard or choose to project a few to provide your students with options. They can be used to "get the ball rolling" at the beginning of class, as daily or weekly warm-up activities to practice general writing or skills that you are focusing on, preparing for state assessments, free-writing, or as an "anytime" or "when you're finished with your work" activity. They can be easily printed to use as "emergency" or substitute lesson plans.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomCreate a Madlib using Madlibber and share it with your class using your interactive white board and projector to reinforce curriculum topics such as types of plants or famous inventors. Either show the students how to make one about the curriculum topic, or have students operate the board/computer while others suggest words to fill in the blanks in one you have prepared. Madlibs can be used in so may ways: teaching parts of speech, reviewing for a quiz, introducing a new subject, or even as a "Cloze" reading story. Use this site as a station on one of the computers in your class. Put the direct web address (URL) for your Madlibber on your class web page, since some of the public Madlibbers may not be appropriate for your students. Give extra credit to those who work outside school to create classroom-appropriate madlibbers for others to use as review (and share the direct links on your class web page).
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomHelp your students demonstrate their ability to generate words related to themes, categories, synonyms and antonyms, or use this clever tool to see how many words students can create that begin or end with a given prefix or suffix, or various parts of speech. Try "verb" as the big word and fill with small verbs! Try "vertebrate" as the big word and fill it with the names of many vertebrates. Enter "smog" as the big word with human behaviors that generate smog as the small words. Create visual poems depicting a feeling or abstract noun as the big word and lists of thought-provoking "small" words. Bookmark this site in your favorites and make it available on your class web page for easy access when students are working on a class cluster of computers or in the computer lab. If students want to save or print their images, they must first capture it as a screenshot (Prnt Scrn key in Windows, Command+shift+4 in Mac). Paste the screenshot into a PowerPoint slide or word document to play with it further. More advanced technology users may then want to paste it into an image editing program to crop it, save it, or print it.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this site when discussing world cultures or economics. Use this site as an anticipatory set or "activator" to introduce a unit or lesson on a projector or interactive whiteboard. To avoid displaying certain content, you can selectively take screenshots (CTRL+PrtScrn on Windows, Command+Shft+4 on Mac) or copy images temporarily into PowerPoint slides or a whiteboard file-- with credit--to show them alone. Use it to jump off into a discussion or unit on some of the countries displayed here. Have students create original photo essays online following this model, using Have students create original photo essays online following this model, using Slidestory, reviewed here. Slidestory allows you to narrate the slides and images. Challenge students to find photos and then narrate the photos as if in a news report. To find Creative Commons images for student projects (with credit, of course), try Compfight, reviewed here. Other areas where this website might be useful are when you do units on world education, world poverty, etc. Have students do comparison/contrast essays using these photos as introductions to the differences between classrooms. Or have students compare/contrast using a site such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here). The many small details that differ from place to place would make getting details and examples easy. Ask students also to extrapolate differences in teaching methods just by viewing these photos.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUsers must be knowledgeable about embed codes and how to use them in a site, blog, or wiki. Be sure to test out embedding a picture on your site to anticipate problems when students use Wylio. Use Wylio to find copyright-free pictures for teacher use in any subject area or for student use as soon as they learn to copy/paste embed codes. This tool would be a great asset to a photography or art class but can be used in any subject area. Use pictures that showcase life around us or in a Math class to show various Math functions in man made structures and nature. Use this site to take your geography class around the world (virtually). Have students create presentations in any subject area and narrate the pictures rather than doing a traditional oral report. Use a site such as Slidestory, reviewed here, to narrate the pictures. Speech and language in lower grades or ESL/ELL teachers could use pictures for vocabulary development and allow students to add words or sentences to go with the pictures. In Science, find pictures that represent various concepts and encourage explanations of these concepts for better understanding.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomHelp your students understand why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and raise their awareness of discrimination and the struggle for civil rights by involving them in active viewing of A Class Divided projected on your classroom interactive whiteboard or projector. You can view the film in its entirety, or in separate chapters followed by the Discussion Questions. You may want to give students a specific task to do during the film. For example, you might ask them to listen for a particular issue or the answers to a set of questions, or take notes in preparation for one of the post-viewing activities. Replay the video or pause for discussion whenever you choose for focused, in depth exploration. Depending on your students' background knowledge and grade level, you may want to review or introduce some of the basic tenets of the United States Constitution that provide the legal grounding for equality and protection of individual rights. Explain that there are examples in American history when individuals' rights were denied and that many civil rights activists were arrested for either challenging, demonstrating, or breaking rules that they thought were unfair. Pose some of the questions for written assignments and discussion. This is a perfect lesson for Black History Month! Divide the class into groups to brainstorm situations that exist today within our own communities, and how they would feel and deal with it if they were the subjects. Students can easily create mind maps using free tools from Teachersfirst, such as TUZZit, reviewed here, or ProcessOn, reviewed here. Have students choose words from songs to explore themes of freedom and equality, using Stories Behind the Songs reviewed here. High school students could extend this to a reading and study of the final chapter of "One America in the 21st Century," the 1998 report of President Bill Clinton's Initiative on Race, which lists 10 things that every American should do to promote racial reconciliation. Ask students to add anything they think is missing and make a commitment to continue the crusade to end discrimination.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomCreate 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 Writeboard document reviewed here. A third step could be that once they've honed down the information, they could create a presentation for the class in a variety of formats: Haiku Deck 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.
Grades2 to 12
Navigate carefully as this site has many advertisements! But the great interactives make it worth the hassle.
In the ClassroomIntroduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector then have students explore this site independently or in small groups. Make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers and use it as a center. Provide a link to these activities on your class website.
Grades4 to 12
To create a new trip, you must register at the site. Registration requires a username, password, and valid email address.
tag(s): maps (295)
In the ClassroomSuggested uses on the Tripline site are to use along with moments in history such as Paul Revere's ride and Lewis and Clark's expedition to demonstrate stops along their path. Other classrooms uses would be for students to create a Tripline map of their summer vacation to use as an enhancement to a regular report, map out your favorite sports team's schedule, historic state sites, and much more.
Registration does require an email address. Tip: rather than using your personal or work email, create a free Gmail account to use for memberships. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service.
Grades6 to 12
tag(s): images (283)
In the ClassroomThis is a handy, fun tool to make available to your class. Provide a direct link from your web page or wiki and bookmark it in your favorites. The uses are endless! Students can generate words related to any of the literary themes or character traits related to love, family, or friendship, or write a poem. When studying grammar, have students fill the heart with verbs, or nouns. Use it to generate synonyms or antonyms. Another idea, have students "capture" the picture and save. Then have the students narrate their word heart using a site such as Slidestory, reviewed here. This tool allows you to narrate the slides and images.
Grades2 to 12
tag(s): book lists (131)
In the ClassroomTeachers can use this as a reference site, especially when preparing a new unit in another subject area and trying to find related independent reading or literature circle options.
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomUsers must be able to locate files on their computers to upload. Beyond that, a few clicks that follow onscreen instructions will complete the job!
Use this site as transportation to and from school when students are working on powerpoint presentations for class. This tool could be used in any subject or topic area. If Powerpoint isn't available at your school, use this site to create presentations instead of traditional book reports. Use this tool in social studies to have students create presentations about the branches of government, continents, or economics. The possibilities are endless.
Parent permission advised before posting student work created using this tool
Includes Interaction w general public/ public galleries with unmoderated content
Requires registration/log-in (WITH email)
Products can be embedded
Products can be shared by URL
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this site with ESL/ELL learners as designed. Share the lessons on your interactive whiteboard or projector. If individual computers are available, have students view the lessons independently (with headsets) and create multimedia projects to demonstrate what they have learned. Have students create an interactive online poster using Genial.ly, reviewed here. Better yet, if students get used to the video and exercise formats, have them produce similar videos teaching a few lessons about their home cultures! Share the videos using a tool such as SchoolTube, reviewed here.
Special ed teachers and those seeking combination video/text lessons to use to teach listening/reading comprehension may find these lessons valuable, as well.
Grades8 to 12
tag(s): poetry (221)