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Beyond Earth Day

Guest Post by Annika Dahlgren-Ferrell

 

 

Earth Day is a day of observance/action celebrated each year on April 22 and has been going on and gaining momentum since its inception in 1970. The United Nations observes Earth Day every year on the March Equinox, which often falls (as it does this year) on March 20th. Earth Day, whenever celebrated is usually a time to reflect on the state of the environment and what steps can we take, as humans, to clean up the mess we have created.

 

Earth Day, in my mind is flawed. It’s like Valentine’s Day. Why spend one day doing what you should be doing every day? Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it’s to bring awareness and stimulate social change, but I think that we, as educators should be living by example and teaching our students things that they can be doing every day to save the earth.  Kids understand the 3 R’s (reduce, recycle, reuse). They’ve been told to go out and plant a tree,  but we never really teach them important simple things that they, and their parents, can (and should) be doing in their every day lives at home.

What You Can Do to Save the Earth During the Other 364 Days

Re-evaluate what your needs and wants are.  We live in a society where everything is at our finger tips.  It’s easy to accumulate and spend and continue the circle of consumerism which is shockingly harmful on our environment. We need to not try to live in comparison to someone else… to have the newest and latest… to have the biggest… Start living in your means and possibly below your means.  It will allow you to live free and not be tied down by your possessions. With this in mind, here is a simple list of simple things you can do to make every day Earth Day.

Miscellaneous

  • Cut your hair at home (spouses and children)
  • Use good ol’ water for cleaning the floors, counters and surfaces instead of purchasing chemical-filled cleaners.  Tip: add lemon or orange peels and white vinegar to your water
  • Plan your trip with your car so that you can get all your errands done in a certain part of town.
  • Tell people you love hand-me-downs.  Clothes, toys, dishes you can get it all by just asking people for their old stuff.  You help them unload and you get what you want.
  • Reuse vacuum bags, empty them out and reuse them.
  • Use refillable water bottles.
  • Rinse dishes in a large bowl.  With water that is left-over, water the garden and potted plants in the house.
  • Drive a dirty car or wipe it clean.
  • Don’t buy new. If you must buy, buy used.  Search online. Check out your local Salvation Army.
  • Exercise outdoors when you can, instead of using a gym membership.
  • Use things for their entire life instead of continually upgrading.
  • Use rechargeable batteries.
  • Cut up old shirts for rags (I use them as Kleenex as well).
  • Trade toys with friends/neighbors for your kids.
  • Buy in bulk when it makes sense to.

Bathroom

  • If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.
  • Use your shower towel for a week (or until it gets musty) hang it in a well ventilated spot so it can dry quickly.
  • Turn off the water when you soap up.
  • Turn off your water heater (if you have the capabilities) and turn it on right before you shower.
  • Buy refills for soaps and shampoo bottles.
  • Clean the toilet bowl with a little bit of hand soap instead of buying harsh cleaning chemicals.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.

Kitchen

  • Use coupons.
  • Bring your own cloth bags when grocery shopping.
  • Keep refrigerator door closed (open it with something in mind… don’t keep it open and ponder what it is you want to eat).
  • Run the dishwasher only when full.
  • Wash Ziploc bags and re-use them.
  • Make enough dinner so you have lunch(es) the following day(s).
  • Turn off all appliances that have lights, numbers, or timers on them.  It drains electricity.  Including the TV.  You can unplug at night and have it on during the day if that works better for you. Alternatively, put all your electronic equipment on surge protectors and just flip the switch on that instead of unplugging them.
  • Use water that is just sitting in your sink (in cups, glasses, pots and pans) to water plants.

Bedroom

  • Wash sheets once a month.
  • Use your clothes more than once before washing them (unless they are stinky and noticeably dirty of course).

Living Room

  • Use fans in summer (and turn them off when you leave the room) instead of using AC.
  • Turn thermostat up.
  • Close curtains to keep the heat out.
  • Sweater up in the winters.  Turn thermostat down and let in the natural sun light to warm things up.
  • Incredibly enough, candles increase the temp. in your home.
  • Turn off your computers and printers when they are not in use.
  • Turn off everything in a room that you aren’t using or when you leave the room.

Student Check-List

Eco-Sites for Kids & Teachers

Eco Kids

Eeko World

Rufus’ Home

Recycle City

Earth911

The Daily Green

Kids Saving Energy

The Green Guide for Kids

Earth Matters

Annika Dahlgren-Ferrell is a Health, Nutrition and PE teacher from California who is passionate about the environment. Growing up in two cultures (Sweden and the US) she has seen her share of both environmental negligence and responsibility.

Primary Games Arena

Primary Games Arena is a fantastic games-based learning site which is divided into grades and subjects. The 15 different subjects include Math, English, Science, PE, Music, Non-English Languages (currently German, Spanish, and French), Geography, and many others. The high-interest, fun games make learning enjoyable for elementary-aged children.

11 Sites for Fraction Practice

Fraction Monkeys

Monkey Math (Great for IWBs)

Gamequarium

Tutorials, games and learning activities to help with fractions.

Math Fractions from Jefferson County Schools

Not an exciting site, aesthetically speaking, but with links to 90 different fraction games and activities, this is a great resource!

Funbrain Soccer Shootout

Learn fractions by taking penalty kicks. Old-school graphics, but there are 4 different levels to keep it interesting.

Visual Fractions Games

Interesting choice of characters for these games, but if you’re into helping Grampy and Grammy using fractions, these games are for you. Check out the more recent platform scales.

Sheppard Software

Lots of fun, free games here to help students learn about all types of fractions.

Conceptua Math

Videos and lesson plans for students and teachers to help get a better understanding of difficult concepts.

FunSchool Action Fraction

Race a car around a track by solving fraction problems in Action Fraction.

Melvin’s Make a Match

Fun game for learning about equivalent fractions.

Fresh Baked Fractions

More equivalent fraction practice.

Matching Fractions

Great matching game for IWBs or individual practice.

ABCya!

ABCya has a lot of great learning games and productivity tools for elementary students and teachers. There is a nice word cloud generator that allows students to easily save their word clouds as jpegs with no registration. There is a friendly letter creator, and a cool keyboard challenge where students need to place the keys back on a keyboard – would be great for an iwb.

Arcademic Skill Builders

Arcademic Skill Builders is a fun site that combines arcade style games with academics to make learning fun. There are 12 different subjects including addition, subtraction, fractions, time, geography, language arts, typing and more. Students can create a public or a private game (private games require students to create a password for that specific game).

At the time of this writing, teachers can sign their class up for the Plus version of Arcademic and have the ability to track student performance, create custom content, analyze problem areas, and earn attachments.

Newspaper Map, Study Jams, and Go Go News

Newspaper Map

Newspaper Map is a nice mash-up with Google Maps that pins many of the world’s newspapers in their respective locations on the map. Students and teachers can look up a specific newspaper or location, filter it by language, and then go to the site of any of the thousands of newspapers included in this site.

Study Jams

Study Jams has a fun selection of animated videos to help students with math and science concepts such as multiplication and division, algebra, fractions, geometry, landforms, solar system, matter, energy, light and sound, force and motion, animals, and much more.

Here’s a preview of one of the videos:

Go Go News

Back to current events, Go Go News is an educational site that has “big news for little people.”  Since its inception in 2006, GoGoNews has provided children with general knowledge, as well as a consciousness and awareness of the world, regardless of geography or culture. Along with the different news sections, there is a free mobile app, and they are developing GoGoTeach, to help educators integrate the site into their classrooms.

Three Great IWB Resources You’re Not Using

TeacherLed


TeacherLed
 is a site created by Spencer Riley, a UK teacher since 2002 which aims to “provide teaching and learning resources to make the use of the interactive whiteboard in the classroom easier and more productive.” The IWB activities are mostly math-based, but there are several RLA resources and some great geography interactives as well.

Promethean Planet

If you have a Promethean IWB, hopefully you are using Promethean Planet. It’s chalk-full of thousands of free, downloadable flipcharts that have been created for teachers. Whenever I set off creating a flipchart from scratch, nine times out of ten that flipchart has already been created and is on Promethean Planet. From there, it is easy to download and add your own individual flair.

TopMarks

TopMarks is a great site for finding tons of interactive IWB resources. The site is divided into subjects on the left hand side such as Math, Literacy, Science, Geography, etc. From there, you choose the age level (elementary teachers would choose “Key Stage 2”), and then select the area that you would like to focus.

Moses 2.0

How many different tech tools can you count?

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).

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.

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:

Great Valentine Sites for Kids and Teachers

Valentine’s Day, according to Wikipedia, is

“An annual commemoration held on February 14 celebrating love and affection between intimate companions. The day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 500 AD. It was deleted from the Roman calendar of saints in 1969 by Pope Paul VI, but its religious observance is still permitted. It is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines“). The day first became associated with
romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. Modern Valentine’s Day symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

Here are some great sites for kids and teachers to help celebrate this day of love and kindness.

1. The History of Valentine’s Day

From the History Channel, you can learn about the history of the big day, chocolate, the science of love, and find out interesting facts such as, “85% of all Valentine cards are purchased by women.”

2. Re-cycled Valentine’s Day Art

From National Geographic for Kids, learn how to turn everyday items from around your house into something heartfelt. There’s Candy Hearts Bingo, Valentine’s Day Straw Craft, Pop-up Greeting Cards, and more!

3. ABCTeach

Lots of great resources here for teachers. Printables like heart flashcards, heart bingo, valentine multiplication, word scrambles, and more!

4. Songs 4 Teachers

Not just songs and poems, you’ll find many crafts and activities here for Valentine’s day.

5. TeacherVision

Teacher Vision has a ton of great resources for teachers. There are Valentine printables, slideshows, lesson plans, quizzes, art activities, and more!

Happy Valentine’s Day from EdTechIdeas.com!

11 Great Kid-Friendly Sites to Learn About Chinese New Year

Gong Xi Fa Cai! 恭喜發財

Chinese New Year (CNY) occurs this year on the 3rd of February. In preparation for the wonderful festivities, here are some sites to help your students gain a better understanding of the significance of this holiday.

Know of other great sites for Chinese New Year? Leave ’em in the comment section below.

Xie xie! 谢谢

World Heritage Sites

Me at Machu Picchu with my dad and wife after hiking the Inca Trail - 2003

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) website is a great tool for students to learn about the 911 cultural and natural protected sites from 187 countries (as of June, 2010). The goal of UNESCO is to “encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.” This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.

EdTechIdeas: Students need to be aware that if we don’t make the effort to preserve earthly wonders, there is a good chance that they will not be around for future generation.  Exploring UNESCO’s site will help students gain a better understanding of the protected areas, and why it is important to keep them protected. They will also gain a better understanding of geography and culture. Google also has a section of their Lat-Long Blog dedicated to street views of world heritage sites, that gives students a close-up tour of many great sites.

Paragons of the Week: Mapeas, Sight Words with Samson, Qwiki

Episode 35 >> Previous Paragons

1. Mapeas

Mapeas is a Google Maps mash-up that shows news happenings from around the world. The hot-spots are divided into categories: Business, Entertainment, General, Science and Sport, so you can select which one you’d like to see, or simply see all of them at once. Each dot on the map represents a story and the numbers indicate how many stories from that particular area there are. When you click on a dot it opens up a quick description of the news event along with a video that can be played directly in the site. EdTechIdeas Social Studies teachers can use Mapeas when learning about current events and also help students understand world geography at the same time.

2. Sight Words with Samson

Sight Words with Samson allows students to learn and practice word spelling and pronunciation in a fun, easy to use way. In a four-step process students are challenged to learn words, build words, identify words, and finally, take a quiz about everything they have learned. Within each step there are 4 different levels of difficulty that contain 7 lists of high-frequency words.  EdTechIdeas: Sight Words with Samson is a fantastic site for English language learners and students in lower elementary. It could be used as a center activity as it is a very intuitive site.

3. Qwiki

Qwiki is an impressive new website that just recently rolled out their alpha phase, which means they are still in testing mode, working out some bugs. Currently, you can request access via email and they’ll send you login credentials within a day or two. What Qwiki is, is this: Do you remember the scene from Wall-e where the captain asks the computer to, “define earth?” The computer then displays tons of pictures, videos and maps while spewing out (in a pleasant sounding voice) various facts and information regarding Earth. This, in a nut shell, is what Qwiki is aiming to do, and they do it pretty nicely. Users simply enter a word into the search form and a 2-3 minute “information experience” is displayed. EdTechIdeas: Once this is out of Alpha, Qwiki will be a great research resource for quick and easy information for students studying a variety of subjects. This would also be a great example for students to mimic. Make a “Quiki” assignment where students create a short film about any given subject, pulling in a wealth of facts and media and create their own “information experience.” Below is a quick demonstration of how Qwiki works.


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