GradesK to 5
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RIF, the long-established organization for promoting reading, offers this site for school-aged readers and their parents. Young readers may join (or not) and access activities to do...more
RIF, the long-established organization for promoting reading, offers this site for school-aged readers and their parents. Young readers may join (or not) and access activities to do alone or with family (Activity Lab), book ideas (Book Zone), writing starters and contests (Express Yourself), and educational games (Game Station). Many of the activities are ready to go in a classroom or at home. Several of the activities are available in both English and Spanish. New writing activities appear monthly, including story starters for members to complete. Feature authors and new additions make this site worth a look every month.
In the ClassroomMany of the games would be terrific as literacy centers or on an interactive whiteboard or projector to reinforce basics. Make this link available on your class web page for parents, students, and younger siblings to access from home. Parent notifications on games and contests with prizes and required parental consent for students to join make this a very safe site. Teachers may want to offer some of the writing contests as regular classroom activities or for enrichment or to adapt them for use with newer technologies. The visual poetry idea, for example, would work well as an interactive book created using Bookemon, reviewed here. Each student could make a visual poem and illustration in a whole-class book.
Grades2 to 12
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Use this tool to "draw" on and label any map available through Google Maps, including maps of the night sky! No registration or email required! Create a colorful, personalized map ...more
Use this tool to "draw" on and label any map available through Google Maps, including maps of the night sky! No registration or email required! Create a colorful, personalized map with added scribbles and labels. Add your choice of placemarker labels for geology locations, people, etc. There are even little icons available to use. Your drawing or "Scribble Map" is then available to share by URL, email, or print. Slightly more savvy users can download, save as a kml file (readable in Google Maps or Google Earth), or embed the map in another site. The tools include sharing the map on Facebook and Twitter, as well. Add images by pasting in their urls. Drawing tools include lines, circles, place pointers, text labels, and color/size/transparency controls for all tools. Place pointers can be edited by selecting them (arrow tool), then clicking the small pencil. This site does include Google Ads and all the normal controls of Google maps, including satellite, map, terrain, hybrid views and Night Sky. See a sample Scribble Map created by the TeachersFirst editors (drag the map with your mouse!). Explore the tools and MENU options at the top left when you start out. Try the different Maps views (lower right) and zoom controls. Search for a starter location using the search at the top left, just below the tools. There is no help available, but it is easy to do basic maps. Share, save, etc. by clicking Menu (top left). When you first save a map, it will ask you to create a password for that map to use to edit it later. Note that if you SAVE a map and share it by URL, those accessing it will be able to use the tools and change the map. If you want them to see it without changing it, you will need to embed it in a blog, wiki, or other web site. The map ID can be changed and customized by simply typing in your own choice of ID when you are saving the map.
This site includes advertising.
This site includes advertising.
In the ClassroomStudents and teachers will want to keep a written record or map URLS and passwords for future reference. Model this for students so they do not lose hours of work! Teachers can prepare partially-made maps or maps for students to make corrections and changes by giving the students the URL, then having them SAVE the map with a NEW ID. To SAVE the map with a new name and URL, click "Save map" in the menu, then enter your OWN map ID. Students could use a code including their initials, such as SJ12-3-09 for a map made by Sally Jones on Dec 3, 2009. Teachers should PASSWORD protect their originals so changes can only be saved under a new name. Similarly, if a student saves the map with a map password, they don't have to worry about other students vandalizing their work. But they DO need to remember the password! Wise teachers will keep a class list of maps and passwords for forgetful students! In primary grades, make maps of your local community together on your interactive whiteboard as you teach basic map skills. Create your own "key" with symbols you choose for playgrounds, etc. Have students help map locations of favorite playgrounds, grandparents' houses, stores, etc. as they gain basic understanding of map skills. Make sure you allow students to operate the tools! Save the map and share it as a link from your class web site (or embed it there). Keep names generic so it is "safe." Other ideas to challenge gifted student beyond the curriculum or elevate challenge for small groups include: natural resource maps, immigration maps, maps of civil war battles day by day, maps of key sites in the life of a famous person, artist, or author, maps of the settings in a novel, landform maps of a continent or state, "My life" maps of places important to an elementary student's family, annotated watershed maps of pollution sources, maps of the water cycle, maps of constellations in the night sky created by students to demonstrate understanding, maps of a dream community to be built in a vacant area (desert), including the water sources, etc. that will be needed, maps of a redesigned city/town on top of its current map. Teachers can provide map challenges or templates to be completed or corrected, including maps where students must label distances and cardinal directions between points (using map scale and skills). Or provide a teacher-created map with labels in the wrong places for students to correct the landforms, resources, etc. What will YOU do with Scribble Maps?
Grades3 to 12
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Use this site to find some GREAT word searches that are ready to go! Whatever topic you are looking for, you just might find a word search here. If you ...more
Use this site to find some GREAT word searches that are ready to go! Whatever topic you are looking for, you just might find a word search here. If you can't find one, make your OWN ONLINE word search. What a fantastic tool to use and/or create in any subject!
In the ClassroomShare the relevant word searches on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have cooperative learning groups practice spelling or vocabulary words by creating their own word search. List this site on your class website for students to use both in and out of the classroom. This is a great one for those word search lovers in your class. Why not have students use a whole-class account to make their own word searches to challenge each other with new vocabulary and terms?
GradesK to 4
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This site offers "ready to read" fractured fairy tales and a tool to write your own fractured fairy tales. Students can write a fractured version of Jack in the Beanstalk, ...more
This site offers "ready to read" fractured fairy tales and a tool to write your own fractured fairy tales. Students can write a fractured version of Jack in the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, or The Princess and the Pea. This site prompts students to choose names for characters, the setting of the story, point of view, the problem, and ending of the story. You type up your own story and you are able to print the finished story.
In the ClassroomShare an example of the fractured fairy tales on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Use this site to introduce the creativity of fractured fairy tales as you teach story mapping and narrative patterns. Have students work individually or with a partner to write their own fractured fairy tale. Set up this site as a learning center for students to use for creative writing during your folk tale or fairy tale unit.
GradesK to 6
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Find free interactives in Math, Logic, and Language Arts using this colorful site. Choose your grade level (K-6) and then your specific topic. Some examples of topics include: Time...more
Find free interactives in Math, Logic, and Language Arts using this colorful site. Choose your grade level (K-6) and then your specific topic. Some examples of topics include: Time and Money, Problem Solving, Reading and Comprehension, Range, Mean, Median, and Mode, Grammar, Literature, and countless others. Find help in the homework help section along the right side of the site. You may also do a more generalized search by using the links for "Popular," "Math," or "Language Arts." Many of the activities have been created by other sites or educators (you may even notice some familiar characters, such as Big Bird). Some activities may have ads appearing beside them. Students should be advised to ignore these ads.
In the ClassroomShare this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Make it a kinesthetic "center" for students to explore using your interactive whiteboard. Use these activities to strengthen skills, provide practice, and identify weaknesses. For example, use math games that teach graphing, analyzing, and counting. There is a wide variety of topics here, so be sure to peruse this site before your new unit or lesson! Using examples on this site, students can create their own homework help using a wiki, blog, or other site to help others. Allow students to "rate" the games using stars or smiley faces and comment on how the game helps them learn. Play a variety of word and other language arts games. Be sure to list this link on your class website or wiki for students to access both in and out of the classroom.
GradesK to 12
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Discover a slick way to find Creative Commons pictures (pictures you are ALLOWED to use without copyright problems, simply by giving credit). Compfight searches Flickr pictures and...more
Discover a slick way to find Creative Commons pictures (pictures you are ALLOWED to use without copyright problems, simply by giving credit). Compfight searches Flickr pictures and locates those with licenses that permit use in other activities and projects. Enter text or tags, and Compfight does the rest, providing thumbnail images for you to choose from. After you search, be sure you have checked the box in the LEFT sidebar of the search results, specifying that you want Creative Commons images, NOT commercial ones. Click to search again, if necessary. Choose from the results that appear below the dotted line. (Those above the line are images you must pay for!) Click on the image you like and double-check the license information under item 1 to be sure it is available for non-commercial use with attribution and can be used for "derivative works." Click the image itself to copy and paste its URL to use in image credits. Remember that Creative Commons DOES require that you give proper credit!
In the ClassroomUsers need to be able to use good search terms to find the best pictures possible as well as knowing how to save images on their computer. Use in the classroom any time that an image is needed for projects, even if it is not going to be put on a website for others to see. Be sure students are aware that any time another person's image is used, they must give full credit for it, even if that owner cannot see it. Demonstrate Compfight on a projector or interactive whiteboard so students know how to use it. Student groups can use Compfight to collectively find the best image to use for a project. Have students create a multimedia presentation using ThinkLink, reviewed here. For example, students studying renewable energy can use Compfight to find images of various renewable energy sources, then explain them using ThingLink. Teachers can collect Creative Commons images for use on their interactive whiteboard for sorting activities (monocots and dicots, producers and consumers, etc). Never assume that your students, even the gifted ones, understand about giving proper credit and only using copyright-safe images (CC or public domain). Compfight makes it easier. Be sure to hold students accountable by including a "digital citizenship" category in your project rubric, requiring proper credit for all images. You will want to spot check a few of the URLs to be sure they are actually correct credits. Share Compfight as an important tool on your class web page, wiki, or blog so students can access it anywhere, anytime.
Google Earth, reviewed here, is a fabulous teaching tool. This teacher-created wiki supplements it with Google Earth Resources galore. Find links to lesson plans and files for using Google Earth in your classroom for many subjects. See a tutorial video on Google Earth, find directions for making files, and more. Ideas for using Google Earth by subject even include links to ready-made files so you need not start out by creating from scratch. See what other teachers have done and let it inspire you and your students to do more. Learn how to make kmz (placemarker) files.
In the ClassroomMake this site part of your personal professional development or pair up with a teaching buddy to learn more about Google Earth (GE) and plan activities for your classrooms. Share the link with your students, as well, so your class can become GE experts together. Even if your access to GE is limited to a single class computer, work together with a small team of student "GEniuses" to prepare class placemarker files, then have the team teach other students, as well. If your school has personal professional development plans or allows teacher to suggest topics for professional workshops, include this link, along with other GE resources from TeachersFirst, as your inservice day agenda.
Google Earth, reviewed here, is a fabulous teaching tool. This participatory wiki (part of the larger "Teaching Hacks" wiki) walks educators step by step through the how-to and why-to of Google Earth (GE). Start with the two minute video, then click through the steps at the right. You are also invited to ADD to the wiki so other teachers can learn from you! The wiki includes curriculum ideas grade by grade (listed in text form). Since the wiki originated in the Toronto area, some topics are Canadian-only, but the wiki is open to all global learners and teachers.
In the ClassroomPlan your personal professional development on your own or with a teaching buddy to learn more about Google Earth (GE) and plan activities for your classrooms. Even if your access to GE is limited to a single class computer, work together with a small team of student "GEniuses" to prepare class placemarker files, then have the team teach other students, as well. If your school has personal professional development plans or allows teachers to suggest topics for professional workshops, include this link, along with other GE resources from TeachersFirst, as your inservice day agenda.
GradesK to 12
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Bring the world into your classroom with Google Earth. This interactive view of the Earth (and more) is available on all web browsers. Find landforms, geographic locations features,...more
Bring the world into your classroom with Google Earth. This interactive view of the Earth (and more) is available on all web browsers. Find landforms, geographic locations features, pictures, and more from around the world using this satellite-powered software. As you spin the globe, you can tilt to view locations at an angle to show elevation, click to play a "tour" or "fly" from one location to another, or simply open tours and placemarker files created by others. Once you are comfortable, try making tours and placemarkers of your own.
In the ClassroomUse tutorials from this site to learn more, or try some Google Earth files from TeachersFirst's Globetracker's Mission to get a taste of what the program can do. Get started by exploring the different LAYERS available in the left side and searching a location you know. Locate and try the tools to drag, tilt, zoom, and even measure distance. Extensive user forums are available through the help menus.
Placemarker files created by you "live" on the computer where you make or save them and are not shared on the web. Note that your computer will ask whether you wish to save your "temporary places" (any places you have marked during a session) each time you close Google Earth. If many students use that computer, you may find you have a disorganized mess of saved places. Be sure to direct students to either name their saved places logically and file them into folders or NOT to save them to My Places! Students and teachers can create placemarker (.kmz or .kml) files and share them as email attachments, files on a USB "stick," or any other means you would use to share a file, just like a Word document.
Another practical tip: if students are using Google Earth on several machines at the same time, you may put a heavy load on your school network. Plan accordingly, perhaps having groups alternate their Google Earth time if it becomes sluggish.
Use Google Earth to teach geography or simply give location context to class readings or current events, especially on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Ex. you can tilt to show the peaks scaled by Lewis and Clark or volcanoes that rise in the Aleutians. Have students show the locations of historic events or literary settings and create placemarkers with links to learn more. Placemarker text is editable by going to the placemarker's "properties" or "info," so students can enter the text description, place title, and any inks they want to include, such as a link to a certain passage of text, an image of a character, or news image/article for a current events map. Students who know html code can get even more sophisticated in what they include in placemarkers. Have students/groups create and play a "tour" of critical locations for global warming, a comparison of volcanoes, or a family history of immigration. Navigate the important locations in a work of literature using Google Lit Trips or search the web for placemarker files connected to civil war battles, natural resources, and more. Turn layers on and off to look at population centers and transportation systems. Teach the concept of scale/proportion using a tactile experience on an interactive whiteboard and the scale and measurement tools. See more ideas at the teacher-created Google Earth 101 wiki reviewed here. Even if you do not venture into creating your own placemarker files, there are many already made and available for use by teachers and students. TeachersFirst's Globetracker's Mission includes a weekly file to follow the Mission.
GradesK to 8
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HeartPower! Online is a curriculum-based program about heart health. The site provides educational information about nutrition, physical activity, living tobacco-free, and how the heart...more
HeartPower! Online is a curriculum-based program about heart health. The site provides educational information about nutrition, physical activity, living tobacco-free, and how the heart works. The curriculum guide is loaded with printables, lesson plans, stories, songs, games and other science-based resources organized according to grade level. There is no fee or registration for this site. Just click and go!
In the ClassroomThe site is so simple, you can utilize the entire pre-prepared curriculum and lesson plans or just add pieces of it to your current curriculum. Integrate the lessons into your language arts component as cross-curricular activities. The pre-K to 1st grade activities and curriculum are available in Spanish. Choose the Spanish version for ESL/ELL lessons or enrichment activities. The Spanish version would be a great supplement for secondary Spanish teachers. Have your science or health class create a Heart Health wiki or use Click2Map, reviewed here, to map out walking landmarks for your community.
GradesK to 12
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Create a free, animated speaking character that represents yourself for a blog, wiki, or any website. Voki can also be emailed to others and downloaded to phones. Appropriate for student...more
Create a free, animated speaking character that represents yourself for a blog, wiki, or any website. Voki can also be emailed to others and downloaded to phones. Appropriate for student use in grades 6-12 but for teachers at all levels.
This site includes advertising.
This site includes advertising.
tag(s): speaking (24)
In the ClassroomAccess to a microphone is required to record a voice. There is an option to use text to voice (however, it does not have great sound.) Import audio from a file or use a cell phone instead to capture audio. Only one minute of audio can be recorded so be brief. Students need to carefully think of their narrative before recording. Users must be able to copy and paste html code for use in an external site.
Use the controls to create your character's style, click customization to further refine your character, change your background, and add your voice. Keep in mind that animated backgrounds may take longer to load on your site. When done, click publish to view and copy the embed code which can then be used on a blog, wiki, or web pages.
Monitor all aspects of student production and use for appropriateness and copyright. If concerned about using student email, consider creating a class account for students to use. Be sure that students understand not to change the Voki of other students if using a class account. Check your school district policy about using emails or identifying student information on the Internet.
Introduce and share this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Use this free site to record a greeting for students that can be seen on the start page of your blog, wiki, or website. Record online assignment information that is spoken by the Voki (always more pleasing to look at than the teacher!). Use this to share homework assignments, a message from you (via a substitute), and more. Use a character that is interesting or matches the assignment you may be leaving. Use Voki to record two different opinions or viewpoints and create a poll of students to view reactions. Use the Voki in Math by posing possible solutions to problems and create a class discussion or poll to determine which one is the actual answer. As students are working on projects, create a Voki that provides hints and tips for students. Allow students to use Voki to provide peer assessment to others. Consider using Voki in place of other assignments such as "What I did this summer vacation..." or "Here is information about me..." Use in any language class to record narratives or translations. Students can create a variety of Voki recordings over time which can show their learning of a language over time. Create classroom newscasts using student(s) on a rotating basis. Use Voki for vocabulary exercises which can be created by students or the teacher. The possibilities for this tool are endless. The quick and engaging nature of this tool offers unlimited uses.
Grades2 to 12
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This site accepts students' letters to their favorite authors, describing why they liked their book(s). Each student may write only one letter. Students can write to any author, living...more
This site accepts students' letters to their favorite authors, describing why they liked their book(s). Each student may write only one letter. Students can write to any author, living or dead. Each year, judging of the letters takes place in December. So this is a great site during the fall months! On the site, there are links to a teacher's guide for helping the students write the letter and lesson plans about the letter writing.
In the ClassroomHave your class read some of the award-winning letters from other years on the overhead projector, interactive whiteboard, or projector. Talk about what the winning characteristics are. Share the suggestions the site makes to encourage your writers to use clear and metaphorical language. Use this site to teach your students proper letter writing skills. Check out the Letter Generator for some ideas, reviewed here. Check with your administration to see what their guidelines are for submitting contest entries, particularly submitting names and addresses of students. The site is quite flexible about those types of requirements. Have the class share their letters and create a "referral" library for students looking for outside reading materials. Have your international students share letters about international writers to encourage broader reading interests. Why not use the letters to create a class online book of letters, using a tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
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This well-designed website has books for 8 levels of readers from picture books to adult-level subjects in 17 general categories. Search using the advanced search function or browse...more
This well-designed website has books for 8 levels of readers from picture books to adult-level subjects in 17 general categories. Search using the advanced search function or browse through the favorites. Look for fiction or non-fiction, parts of series, and best of all books for reluctant readers. All books feature a summary and also an illustration taken from the book. The descriptions of the books are very enticing and often include quotes from the text.
tag(s): literature (264)
In the ClassroomThis is a great source for finding and showing students how to find independent reading. Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Since students often ask for books like Harry Potter, for example, put this link on your class web page. Show students how to click on the keywords once they find a category they like. When students ask for another book in the same series, this is a great place to start looking. Allowing reluctant readers to search and find their own book is a way to build investment in their reading future. Encourage students to write their own reviews of favorite books not found here. Use the site for a lesson in citing sources and punctuating quotations.
GradesK to 12
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Looking for a clever way to display a title? Enter your words, and this site will look through flickr pictures to create titles from individual pictures. Note that ads display ...more
Looking for a clever way to display a title? Enter your words, and this site will look through flickr pictures to create titles from individual pictures. Note that ads display throughout the site as well as while the images are loading. Simply take a snapshot of the words (use print screen for PC or command-shift-4 on a Mac) or drag each letter image to your desktop. Alternatively, use the embed code provided. Don't like one or more of the letters? Simply click each letter and a new one will be generated. See an example here.
tag(s): images (279)
In the ClassroomStudents can use this site to create interesting and unique titles for projects, presentations, or blog titles. Use this site to make your lessons grab your students' attention (which isn't always easy). Decorate your classroom with intriguing signs and reminders created using this tool. Have students use this site themselves for projects, intriguing spelling practice, or more. Kindergarten teachers might like to "show" students what their names look like in multiple type fonts and to make bus list bulletin boards using these creative lettering forms. Art teachers can use this tool to demonstrate different types of letter graphics and letter collages. This might be a good link to list on your class website so families can access the site at home.
GradesK to 12
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Use this searchable blog to locate images within the public domain for you to use on web sites, in multimedia projects, and more. The site provides complete source information on ...more
Use this searchable blog to locate images within the public domain for you to use on web sites, in multimedia projects, and more. The site provides complete source information on each image, as well as its rationale for treating the image as "public domain." Public Domain images are not subject to copyright restrictions, so you may use them in places that do not qualify for "Fair Use," such as on open web sites, blogs, etc. Though we are not legal experts and this review should in no way be deemed to be legal advice, our editors found that the evidence of public domain seems credible on this site. The site does include extensive advertising and links to non-education topics and blogs, the collection is very useful for teachers of any level or subject. Note: Because of extensive advertising and links, teachers should spell out specific consequences for following these non-educational links and may want to limit use of this site by students to times when you can monitor directly.
In the ClassroomFind images to illustrate curriculum topics, such as historical photos and cultural images. Include them in activities on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Art teachers can use images freely to illustrate design concepts. Create montages of images from eras in history, a culture, or scientific concepts to give visual learners a way to remember new content. "Harvest" images for students to use in their own projects, saving them on a local drive or computer (copying these images is OK!). Have students select an image as an inspiration for a writing assignment or blog post. Upload images to ThingLink, reviewed here, and have students critique or explain it orally in a world language, science, or social studies class. Have student groups use these copyright-safe images (with credit, of course) in their online Bookemon books, reviewed here, about a curriculum concept.
GradesK to 4
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Read cartoon books online using this interactive site. Choose from one of six cartoon books. Choose to read the book in English, Spanish, or French and navigate through the pages ...more
Read cartoon books online using this interactive site. Choose from one of six cartoon books. Choose to read the book in English, Spanish, or French and navigate through the pages using the left and right arrows. Use the "Start Over" button to begin again or click "Read To Me" to hear audio of the pages. Want to read another book? Click "Library" to view the choices.
tag(s): comics and cartoons (61)
In the ClassroomIntroduce this site on a projector or interactive whiteboard. Have students read aloud together to practice choral reading. Use this site for D.E.A.R. reading or other free time reading (be sure to provide headsets). Allow students to choose from the books. Even non-readers can use this site! Identify information, story lines, and grammar components within the stories as groups. Create story boards that outline the telling of the stories. Enhance learning and use a graphic organizing (online) tool such as bubble.us, reviewed here. Compare and contrast stories or characters using an online Venn diagram creator, reviewed here. Students can re-write endings or the sequels that would follow these books. Redefine learning and use these books as inspiration for student-made cartoon books in world language classes using Write Comics, reviewed here. Modify learning and have the class or individuals create online books to share using a site such as Bookemon, reviewed here.
Grades4 to 9
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For idiom review, try this site. ESL/ELL and some speech/language students will find it especially useful, as they often find idiomatic language confusing. The site has multiple approaches...more
For idiom review, try this site. ESL/ELL and some speech/language students will find it especially useful, as they often find idiomatic language confusing. The site has multiple approaches to idiom retention, including picking a definition, using it in a sentence, and writing a version of the "metaphorical" meaning. A disadvantage to this site is that it does not keep the student answers online. Instead, interested students must print out the page with their work on it.
tag(s): idioms (42)
In the ClassroomSave this site in your favorites or make it available on your class web page for your students to use for review. After students have gone through the exercises here, encourage them to make their own idiom pages and exercises using this format as a model. Challenge cooperative learning groups to create online books including a variety of idioms. Use a tool such as Bookemon reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
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Every teen and college student knows Skype, the free tool for making calls from computer to computer anywhere in the world. By downloading and installing free software and setting up...more
Every teen and college student knows Skype, the free tool for making calls from computer to computer anywhere in the world. By downloading and installing free software and setting up a free account, you can talk and/or make a video call to a similarly equipped computer elsewhere in the world for free. Skype uses a lot of "bandwidth" so is not suitable for very slow networks or dial up connections. It may also be slow at high-traffic times on a good network. Some patience and pretesting is required before you can be sure it will work for your needs. Connect to classrooms, experts, authors, virtual special speakers, or interview subjects using Skype.
In the ClassroomDownload and install the Skype software. If you are not allowed to install software on school computers, ask to have a single laptop available that is Skype-capable so you can borrow it or else explain to your principal that you are planning a series of Skype visits in your classroom so your techies will install it in your classroom. You will need a computer with built-in or separate microphone and speakers and optional webcam. If you plan to use a webcam, you must know how to start it. A single teacher-controlled Skype account will work in most school settings.
If you prefer written directions go to Help >> Step by Step Help to get started. Or ask a student to show you (without seeing your password). You will need to explore the tools in Skype to locate where to enter the SKYPE name of the person you wish to call, start the call, and answer calls. Do NOT set your copy of Skype to "remember me" on a school computer! If students are to participate in the Skype call, you may want to have a "hot seat" at the Skyping computer so they can sit at a mike so their questions will pick up better for the person at the other end.
Be sure to set Skype so it does not open every time you start up the computer. Manually start the program when needed and do not leave an obvious Skype icon on the desktop for "clever" students to find. Protect your password -- do not post it on the computer. A teacher-controlled account is best for Skype classroom use to prevent unauthorized calls by students. Your user name will show on the screen for students to see, so be aware of that when you create your account.
Anything you can do by telephone or video call you can do on a projector with your entire class. Connect the Skyping computer to a projector or whiteboard for the entire class to see if you are using video. (The video will be fuzzy, but good enough to follow a person's face.) Use Skype to talk to authors (check out their web sites or this blog for contact information). Have students write questions in advance. Use your contacts, web page "contact us" emails, and parent contacts to find others willing to Skype into your classroom. Interview scientists or government officials, deployed military personnel, or classes far away in a different culture or language. Younger students can compare weather, family life, community events, and more. Learn other ideas for using Skype in your classroom
GradesK to 12
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TweenTribune has joined with Smithsonian and now offers the news in Lexile levels for k-4, 5-8, 9-12. That is not the only change. The Smithsonian TweenTribune now has several ...more
TweenTribune has joined with Smithsonian and now offers the news in Lexile levels for k-4, 5-8, 9-12. That is not the only change. The Smithsonian TweenTribune now has several new features, including a Dashboard for assignments and classrooms, assigning a story to all with one click, and self-scoring quizzes for articles. There are now free apps for the iPad and iPhone. TweenTribune continues to include open-ended critical thinking questions and a daily quiz using multiple sources. This site is still jam packed with current news stories that are chosen by site coordinators for all reading levels. The articles are easy to read, relate to, and understand. The site is easy to navigate with a subject indexed toolbar, and it is searchable. All stories are current because the creators scour the internet weekly for age-appropriate material. It greatly reduces the pressure of searching by giving an article research tool that is much more specific than simply using a search engine.
In the ClassroomThe sky is the limit for potential and possibilities with this website. There are some minor warnings. If you want to allow your students to post to a blog, you will need to create a class and then have them enroll. The great news is that is free. As the teacher, you can moderate or delete posts before they are public. There are lessons available on the site as well as a "Teacher's Lounge" where lesson ideas can be exchanged. In a language arts classroom, students could be assigned to read and blog as a weekly writing assignment. The teacher can assign a specific article or have students choose. Have students read their articles on a podcast using podOmatic, reviewed here. In science, articles from this site could be used to supplement science textbook reading with current articles that better interest students. Articles are short and provide quick practice pieces for non-fiction reading comprehension. Project a story and ask students to write their own sentence for the main idea or to summarize. These quick pieces would fit well on your interactive whiteboard. SmithsonianTweenTribune Espanol allows students to read daily news articles in Spanish and post comments about the stories they read. Teachers moderate all comments before the comments are posted.
GradesK to 3
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Wonder no more what parents can do each day during Reading Month (March). This online calendar gives parents 31 separate primary level reading activities to do during that month or...more
Wonder no more what parents can do each day during Reading Month (March). This online calendar gives parents 31 separate primary level reading activities to do during that month or any time. Each activity explains how it fits into literacy, whether it boosts comprehension, increases fluency, or enhances vocabulary. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a pdf version of the activities.
tag(s): literacy (104)