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Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Tag Archives: differentiation

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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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.

Cool Tools for Writing III

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

1. Learn Something Every Day

Learn Something Every Day is a fun, simple site that is great for a morning opening activity.  In the classroom you could have this site up on the projector every morning to generate discussion or as writing prompts.

2. Grammar Blast

The Houghton Mifflin Company produces Grammar Blast. Grammar Blast offers 35 interactive grammar activities for students in grades two through five.

3. Grammar Practice Park

Grammar Practice Park, produced by Harcourt School Publishers provides 12 games for students in grades three, four, and five.

Cool Tools for Writing II

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

Vocab Ahead is a collection of short videos that give definitions, usages, and pictures associated with interesting vocabulary words.  You may subscribe to receive a vocab video of the day and there is also a section of videos by students that are fantastic.

Kerpoof is an online story and comic-creator which allows students to create comic scenes and stories, as well as animated movies, cards, drawings, doodles, and pictures.  Educators are able to sign up for a class account and assign usernames and passwords for each student to have their own individual accounts. There are no ads or inappropriate content and the art work is fun and lively.  Finished products may be saved, printed, or emailed.

One Word reminds me of a writing warm-up activity I used to do with my third grade class. The kids would choose a word and then have 1 minute to write as much as they could on that topic. We called the activity Speed Writing. They would then choose a second word and write on that, and so on. We would do this 3 or 4 times, and each time they would count their words and I would graph the results. Every time, they would write more (I would purposely give them a couple of extra seconds more each round… shhh!). My mantra during this activity was, “The more you write, the more you write.”  One Word works the same way. After clicking on Go students write as much as they can. After the minute is up, they enter their name and email and they can see what they wrote, as well as what others have written on the same topic.

Cool Tools for Writing

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

1. Storyjumper

Storyjumper allows you to create online books using a plethora of characters, scenes, and props. Teachers can, for free, create classes to register students so they each have their own account. As of this writing, there does not seem to be a limit as to how many student accounts you can create.

2. Read Write Think Printing Press

ReadWriteThink creates a lot of great educational resources. With Printing Press students can create a booklet, flyer, brochure, or newspaper fairly easily. There is a nice guide that walks you through the process and the focus is on writing. There is a place within each publication for a picture, but not one that you can add from your computer. This space is reserved for students to draw a picture after printing.

3. Grammaropolis

Grammaropolis is a fun, interactive site that helps students learn about the parts of speech.

EdTechIdeas: These 3 sites can be great tools to help struggling writers, as well as kids who love to write.  I’ve seen my students so excited about story writing with StoryJumper. The Printing Press makes it quick and easy for elementary kids to create nice looking publications, and learning about grammar and the parts of speech has never been more fun than with Grammaropolis.

Paragons of the Week – Super Teacher Tools, EdHeads, Kineticcity

Episode 37 >> Previous Paragons

1. Super Teacher Tools

Super Teacher Tools has a bunch of great teaching tools that allow teachers and students to create games, quizzes, charts and a variety of other useful things for your classroom. The most popular is a Jeopardy Review Game that you can create custom Jeopardy games for your students. EdTechIdeas: I use this site to have my students create review games for other students to play. They must first research a given topic, come up with questions and answers, and then use those facts to create a game.

2. EdHeads

EdHeads helps students learn through educational games and activities designed to meet state and national standards (US). EdTechIdeas: Students can learn about simple and compound machines, how to predict the weather,  perform virtual knee surgery, and even create a stem cell line.

3. Kineticcity

Kineticcity boasts that they have “the most amazing collection of science experiments, games, activities, challenges, and more.” Along with a pretty solid set of science related games, there are also have hands on games and activities, mind games, and activities for creative writing and art. Kids will really dig the interface. EdTechIdeas: Kineticcity is a production of The American Association for the Advancement of Science, with support from The National Science Foundation, and therefore, all of the content is US standards-based.  There is an educator section with ideas on how to start Kinetic City Club, and also an area to print out forms and leader guides. This would make a nice addition to your current science program or be a great program to start as an after school extension.

Google Body Browser

Google’s latest 3d venture, body browser, allows you to tour the inner-workings of the human body.  You can zoom in to see the muscular and skeletal systems, fly around the organs, and go inside the brain. Take a look at the video below to see how it works.
Note: As body browser is still in beta, you need to have the latest version of Google Chrome, or Firefox 4.0b1

EdTechIdeas: My 5th grade classes are currently studying human growth and development, and this will make an excellent resource for the kids to get a deeper understanding about how our bodies work.

Paragons of the Week – Collaborative Revision w/Google Docs, Learning Science, Story Home

Episode 36 >> Previous Paragons

1. Teach Collaborative Revision with Google Docs

Google Docs has recently partnered with Weekly Reader to come up with ways to help teachers teach collaborative writing to students. Two of the many features of Google Docs is the ability to have multiple people working on the same document simultaneously, and also, the intuitive ability to insert comments into a document. If you are new to Google Docs, they’ve broken this process down into four steps:

  1. Download a step-by-step tutorial [pdf] for Google Docs.
  2. Learn about the comments and revision features of Google Docs [pdf].
  3. Download, print, and share the following articles [pdf] with your students:
  4. Download the Educators Guide: Teaching Revision with Google Docs

EdTechIdeas: Google Docs is great for students to write collaborative poems, stories, book reports, movie scripts, essays, and more. Students can “hand in” their writing and the teacher can make comments and “pass it back” to the student for corrections and improvements. The nice thing about using comments is that editors can see who added what, as a time and date stamp, along with the users name is displayed along with each comment. Going further, a revision history can be accessed for any document to see who did what when.

2. Motion and Forces (Learning Science)

Part of Learningscience.org, this is great place to find games and activities that help students learn about and develop understanding of the fundamental concepts of principles of motions and forces.  There are 17 different activities listed here with explanations about what each learning tool teaches. EdTechIdeas: With high interest games like Simple Machines, Energy Skate Park (very cool), Galileo Drops the Ball, and Projectile Motion (Blast a Buick out of a canon – who wouldn’t like that?), Motion and Forces really come alive and are made understandable for students.

3. The Story Home

The Story Home is a site where students can go to hear free audio stories of original and classic tales. You can search for specific stories, or choose from the many different categories (animal stories, fairy tales, holiday stories, and a bunch more).   EdTechIdeas: The Story Home would be a great listening center. If you’re lacking in computers, subscribe to the podcast, put some stories on an iPod, add one of these, and you’re good to go. Have students write in their own words what they listened to. Re-write the ending to a story. After listening to a few stories, have your students record their own stories (original or classic) and turn them into podcasts for all to enjoy.


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