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Ed Tech Ideas

Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Monthly Archives: March 2011

Cool Science Sites for Kids

In celebration of Robert Bunsen’s 200th birthday, I’m dedicating this post to four cool science sites for kids.  If you’d like to see some of my other favorite science sites, click here.

1. Periodic Table of Videos

The Periodic Table of Videos is a site created and maintained by The University of Nottingham. Clicking on any of the 118 chemical elements brings you to informational videos all about that element. A great site for self-directed learning!

2. Catch the Science Bug


The educational goals of Catch the Science Bug are to, “Increase science literacy and raise environmental consciousness by adhering to national standards and guidelines for content and use different teaching methods to engage all types of learners, and encourage life-long learning by featuring scientists who model this behavior.” The site has big goals, but it hits them pretty well. By using the Science Files section, students can learn about various scientific concepts by reading, watching videos, and completing activities.

3. Science Bob

Science Bob is a fun, interactive site that has several different areas for kids to choose from. There are videos, experiments, science fair ideas, and a research help link with a plethora of fantastic links to other sites.  Don’t forget to click on the “Whatever you do, Don’t click here” button (or not).

4. Bunsen Burner Flip Chart (Promethean)

Here’s a simple flip chart that you can download for free from Promthean Planet to illustrate the flame types of a Bunsen Burner depending on valve position.  There is also a series of photographs to identify element flame tests. (Note: You must be logged in to Promethean Planet to download the chart).

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Help Japan

Here’s a great info graphic to help students learn a bit more about the Japanese disaster, and what can be done to help.

Info graphic created by Digital Surgeons

Cool Tools for Math

This is part II of a series of posts dedicated to free, online math sites to help students learn their basic facts, and to help teachers help their students. You can view part I here.

Create a Graph

Create A Graph helps students graph all sorts of data in either a bar, line, area, pie, or xy graph. To create a graph, you choose a type of graph you want to produce, enter your data, change the font and colors (optional) and then either print or save after previewing it. Students are able to save in a variety of formats including pdf, jpg, png, and others. I use this site to help my students graph data they gather when we are researching about developing countries. You can read about this unit here.

You can also download this step-by-step guide to help you along:

Cool Math for Kids

I couldn’t have a post called “Cool Math Tools” without including Cool Math for Kids.  This site has so many great games, activities, lessons, and even flash cards for math learners ages 3-12 (older students can check out Coolmath.com). There is a Teacher Section with ideas on how to use the site in your classroom, as well as continued education, resources, and a few extras.

Multiplication.com

Multiplication.com has some really fun games to help students master their basic facts. Most of the games would go well with IWBs or stand-alone computer stations, so they would be good to use as individual or group practice.  Some of my favorites include:  Math Wash Up, Space Race, Flight of the KnightSketch’s World, Castle Quests, and Grand Prix, but there are tons more on the site, so check it out!

Spelling City in the Classroom

I recently revisited Spelling City and thought it deserved another post. The layout and simplicity of Spelling City has greatly improved, and with the additions of a teacher resource section and forum, there is a lot of help for those who want to turn their students into better spellers. You begin by entering your words that you want to work on.  You can enter the words individually, in groups of 5 or 10, or you can batch import by simply doing a copy/paste from Word.

Take a Test

In the “Take a Test” section, once the words are entered, you can take a test, where each word is read and used in a sentence. You type it out, hit enter, and go on to the next word.  The site checks your answers and lets you know if you are correct.

Teach Me

Another option is to use the “Teach Me” section, where the Spelling City teacher says the word, spells it, and uses it in a sentence. Note: the computer voice is not perfect and occasionally mispronounces words.

Spelling Games

The game section of Spelling City contains nearly 2 dozen games which incorporate your words that you entered in your initial word list.  7 of these games are only for premium subscribers ($24.99/yr for a family $49.99/yr for a classroom Learn more), but there are plenty of free games to keep students busy learning their words.

Conclusion

All in all, Spelling City is a great resource to use in the classroom as part of a spelling program, or for students to use for home learning.  The site is clear, concise, engaging, and will help students learn words in a fun way.

Khan Academy

If you haven’t visited the Khan Academy or used the videos to help enhance your math lessons, watch this recent Ted Talks video.

The idea that Salman Kahn discusses about flipping the classroom is fascinating and echoes ideas that Alan November mentioned when he came to our school last fall.

5th Graders Interview History Experts Via Skype

This past Wednesday one of my 5th grade classes took part in a fantastic learning experience. Two history experts who work at the Singapore Ministry of Education were kind enough to Skype in and answer a series of 12 questions that the students came up with.  Here’s a video of what took place:

Cool Tools for Writing – Part V

This is part V in a series dedicated to free, online writing tools for kids. You can view part I here, part II here, part III here, and part IV here.

Story Starters is a fun activity to inspire students to write. They first spin the story starter wheel (they can then spin individual wheels to adjust their story starter), choose a format (notebook, letter, newspaper, postcard) and then begin writing. There are options to print and draw a picture as well. There is a nice teacher section that lists objectives for the lesson as well as several ideas for integrating the activity into your current RLA focus. Being that students can’t save their work, I often just have them spin the wheels to create a starter and then simply have them write their stories in Word.  This would also be a good site to have projected on the screen (or on a classroom computer station) first thing in the morning. Each day a new student can spin the wheel and you could have a quick morning creative writing session, comparing and sharing stories.

My Storymaker allows students to create a story book with fun characters and settings. When complete, you can print, or save to the public gallery which allows you to download the file as a pdf. I recently introduced this to a 5th grade class and it went extremely well. The students created epic and creative stories and had a really fun time writing! The one drawback I found is that there is no option to save and come back to edit, so students have to start and complete their story within one class period. One idea I’ve come up with is to have the first session be an explore session where the students learn about the site, the characters, setting, etc. Then, they can write out a rough draft before the second session so that when they access the site the second time, they are ready to roll, and time is not as much of a factor.

The Super Sentence Machine helps kids develop sentence writing abilities and improve their voice and writing expression. This would be a good site to use as a whole-class activity to show students how to write more grammatically complex sentences.

3 Cool Tools for Individual Math Practice

All three of the following sites would be great to use with an IWB or at a stand-alone computer station for basic math practice.

1. Fraction Monkeys

The goal of Fraction Monkeys is to simply hang the fraction monkey into the correct loop on the number line. The game starts out easy and progresses to greater difficulty the longer you play.

2. Speed Grid

Speed Grid challenges a Player (or players) to answer a set amount of questions in a pre-selected amount of time.

3. Practice Fish

Chose a factor to work on and then solve the math problem by clicking on the correct sea creature swimming by. If you’re using this on an IWB remind students not to hit the board too hard, as they tend to get a little excited:).

Cool Tools for Writing – Part IV

This is part IV in a series dedicated to free, online writing tools for kids. You can view part I here, part II here, and part III here.

1. Writing With Writers

Part of the larger Scholastic site, Writing With Writers provides an excellent resource for writing. There is an excellent section for kids called, Computer Lab Favorites (Teacher View Here | Student View Here), that has a variety of writing tools like Story StartersMyth Brainstorming Machine, and Poetry Idea Engine; as well as learning games like, It’s Greek to Me (great for Real Spelling connections), and Fish Up Word Endings. Along with all the great writing tools and activities, there are also sections for MathScienceSocial Studies, and Spanish that require no prep and can be completed in 15-30 minutes.

2. Zoo Burst

Zoo Burst is a digital storytelling tool that allows you to create lively 3-d pop-up books with sounds and actual pop-up effects when you turn the page.  You first create a free account, and then use the simple interface and tools to begin creating your book.

3. Bitstrips

My favorite comic creator, Bitstrips allows students to create fun comics on any topic of their (or your) choice. Students can use Bitstrips for free, but the $78 annual subscription allows teachers to create a classroom with individual student accounts and create assignments that students submit to you when they are finished. EdTechIdeas: I’ve had classes recreate scenes and plot lines from books, show understanding of rainforest layers, desert environments, and historical events, teach math concepts… The possibilities are endless.

Google Art Project

A month ago, Google released the ambitions Google Art Project which uses street-view technology to allow users to virtually move around some of the world’s greatest museums and browse famous works of art. I finally had some time to sit down and give it a tour, and it’s quite impressive. With the featured artworks, you can zoom in to view the paintings at high resolution (I hoped that the mouse scroll-wheel would work for zooming, but it does not), learn about the artwork and the artist, find more works from the artists, and watch related YouTube videos produced by the museums.  Users can also create their own collections of artwork, comment on each piece, and share the entire collection with others. As of this writing, the participating museums include:

  • Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin – Germany
  • Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, Washington DC – USA
  • The Frick Collection, NYC – USA
  • Gemäldegalerie, Berlin – Germany
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC – USA
  • MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, NYC – USA
  • Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid – Spain
  • Museo Thyssen – Bornemisza, Madrid – Spain
  • Museum Kampa, Prague – Czech Republic
  • National Gallery, London – UK
  • Palace of Versailles – France
  • Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands
  • The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg – Russia
  • State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow – Russia
  • Tate Britain, London – UK
  • Uffizi Gallery, Florence – Italy
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands

EdTechIdeas: Google Art Project is an art teachers dream, or any teacher, for that matter, who wants to expose their students to artistic culture. Teachers could send students on virtual field trips where students “collect” specific pieces of art and further explore the artist of their choice.  You could create a classroom collection of artwork and have each student research an artist. Leave a comment below on a way you would use Google Art Project in your classroom.

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