August 11, 2011
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After a wonderful summer hiatus spent travelling with my family to Hawaii, California, and finally returning to Singapore after 2 months of living somewhat off the grid; I am penning my first post in quite some time. For those of you long time readers, welcome back to EdTechIdeas!
Being that most schools in the northern hemisphere are starting up school in the next few weeks, today’s post will highlight 3 sites that can be used as ice breakers and discussion starters. These sites can be used at any time, so for those of you half-way through the school year, they will come in handy as well.
Learn Something Every Day is a great little site that has for the past couple of years posted interesting facts on a daily basis. Teachers often have the site projected as the students enter the class and have them do a quick write about the topic.
Here’s a great idea for a classroom ice-breaker or a daily conversation starter from Google. It’s called “A Google a Day” and it’s a simple interface that takes the Google search page and adds a daily trivia question to the bottom of the screen. You do a search to find the answer and then check to see if you got it correct by clicking, “Show answer.” The answer is then displayed along with tips on the best techniques to search for it (in case you got the wrong answer).
Here’s a bunch of icebreaker activities from Education World, broken down into 12 different volumes. You’re bound to find an activity here that will get your school year off to the right start.
Best of luck to you whether you are beginning your school year or are half-way through!
April 15, 2011
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April 22 is Earth Day and in recognition of this, I’m dedicating two posts of the greatest Earth Day sites for kids and teachers. Part I can be found here. As Earth’s population nears 7 billion, teaching awareness of our environment to children has never been more important.
Environmental Kids Club is a site made by the US Environmental Protection Agency. One thing I really like about this site is that it has Daily Actions, an Environmental Tip of the Day, and a Question of the Week. There are also sections about air, water, garbage & recycling, plants & animals, you & your environment, an art room, a science room, a game room, and many other additional resources for kids and teachers.
The National Audubon Society’s education section has fun activities for kids where they can play games, watch videos of wildlife and see live webcams of nesting birds. There is also an adoption center where classes can learn about endangered animals, and how they can help. In the educator section, there are links to activities, lesson plans, and tips on how to bring nature into your classroom.
From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, EEK is a very kid-friendly site with links to information on all kinds of animals (would be a great resource for animal research), environmental issues, and a section devoted to cool things to do and read about. The Teacher Page has activities, resources, event calendar, and a news section that will help teachers keep their students informed about environmental issues.
April 8, 2011
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April 22 is Earth Day and in recognition of this, I’m highlighting several of the greatest Earth Day sites for kids and teachers. As Earth’s population nears 7 billion, teaching awareness of our environment to children has never been more important.
Eco Kids has a lot of eco-awareness games and activities to help kids gain a better understanding of environmental issues in fun way. There is a homework help section with information on a variety of earth science related fields, a contest section, and a place where kids can become EcoReporters . The Teacher Section (free registration) has lesson plans, activities, class kits, ESOL Lessons, and many other environmental-related resources.
Aside from an annoying Gilbert Gottfried sounding monkey as a mascot (kids love it), Eeko World is a fun site for kids to learn more about things they can do to take care of our world. Eeko (which stands for Environmental Education for Kids Online) features an engaging interactive environment which invites kids to explore, experiment, and collaborate as they learn about conservation and the environment. There is a parent and teacher section that explains how to use the site, as well as how to integrate Eeko World into literacy activities.
The aim of Earth Matters is to, “Assist classroom educators and schools in teaching a sustainable foods and earth systems curriculum for 4th and 5th graders and inspiring students of all ages to live more aware and sustainable lives.” To do this, Earth Matters presents in-depth, standards-based curriculum, news feeds, some informational videos, along with a few games, and ideas to become environmentally active. There are a couple of sections that are still under construction and I’m wondering if the site is currently being maintained, as the copyright date is 2006. However, the information and activities that are available, make the site a worthwhile visit.
March 31, 2011
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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.
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!
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.
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).
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).
March 18, 2011
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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 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:
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 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 Knight, Sketch’s World, Castle Quests, and Grand Prix, but there are tons more on the site, so check it out!
March 15, 2011
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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.
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.
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.
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.
March 4, 2011
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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.
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 Starters, Myth 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 Math, Science, Social 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.
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.
March 1, 2011
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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.
February 26, 2011
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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.
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.
The Houghton Mifflin Company produces Grammar Blast. Grammar Blast offers 35 interactive grammar activities for students in grades two through five.
Grammar Practice Park, produced by Harcourt School Publishers provides 12 games for students in grades three, four, and five.
February 17, 2011
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This is part II in a series dedicated to free, online writing tools for kids. You can view part I here.
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.
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.
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.
February 10, 2011
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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.
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.”
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!
Lots of great resources here for teachers. Printables like heart flashcards, heart bingo, valentine multiplication, word scrambles, and more!
Not just songs and poems, you’ll find many crafts and activities here for Valentine’s day.
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!
January 28, 2011
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This is part I in a series dedicated to free, online writing tools for kids. You can view part II here.
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.
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.
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.
January 21, 2011
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Episode 37 >> Previous Paragons
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.
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.
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.
December 10, 2010
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Episode 36 >> Previous Paragons
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:
- Download a step-by-step tutorial [pdf] for Google Docs.
- Learn about the comments and revision features of Google Docs [pdf].
- Download, print, and share the following articles [pdf] with your students:
- 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.
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.
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.