Archive for April, 2012

Teachers First

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Teachers First provides a collection of resources for use in the classroom and for professional development. Lessons and activities are available for all grade levels and all subjects. Across the top of the home page, a series of tabs are available to access categories within the collection. Content is searchable by subject, grade level, or keyword or can be presented in a list that teachers can browse and can be shared via student computers, a projector, or a whiteboard. Classroom resources includes over 12,000 teacher-reviewed web resources. Resources include lesson plans, instructional units, and ready-to-use content. TeachersFirst Exclusives present teacher-created activities, lesson and unit plans. Professional Resources includes time-saver ideas and tips for new or substitute teachers, technology integration, reading resources, professional topics, differentiating instruction, and communicating with parents. Another excellent professional development feature is OK2ASK, which is a series of interactive webinars that cover professional development-related topics. What’s Hot provides links to the latest and most popular content from Teachers First. An exciting feature of What’s Hot is Teacher’s First Edge, a collection of links to the newest Web 2.0 tools available.

Dinosaur Math is an interesting lesson from the site for K-1 students. Students are given a worksheet and plastic dinosaurs. They count features of the dinosaur and create addition problems using the worksheet. The lesson can be completed individually or in groups. An interactive whiteboard and projector can be used to turn the worksheet into an interactive activity. Students might complete the worksheet at their desk as they take turns going to the board to complete the electronic worksheet. An electronic slide presentation is included as another alternative for use with the whiteboard. Students can use the slides to create the addition problems. The slides could also be printed, laminated and organized as a book to be used for remediation.

An example of a Teachers First professional resource is Rubrics to the Rescue. The article contains links that present an overview of rubrics: What are they? Why use them? How can students get involved in creating rubrics? Several examples of projects that use rubrics are presented for various subjects at all grade levels. Also included are links to online resources for creating rubrics.

Image: koratmember /


Brightstorm Homework Help Videos and Test Tutorials

April 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Brightstorm provides free homework help in math, science, and English. Online SAT, ACT, PSAT, and AP test prep sessions are available for purchase. Instructional videos may be searched by subject or by textbook. Searching by textbook is an amazing feature that provides links to videos that are specific to a unit, chapter, and page in the textbook of your choice. A large selection of texts are available, particularly in math and science, and students may request that additional textbooks be made available. Instructional videos feature teachers explaining concepts related to a given subject. One-on-one, fee-based tutoring services offered by educators in your area are advertised beneath each video. Links are available for information about the tutor’s areas of expertise, education, fees, and contact information.

Image: imagerymajestic /


April 23, 2012 Leave a comment

A WebQuest is a collection of weblinks that are organized to guide students through the learning process as they develop a finished product. WebQuests can be designed to be completed in a class period or to cover a month-long unit and are usually intended to be completed in groups. They are created using preselected resources so that students don’t waste class time searching for information.

What is a WebQuest? is an excellent resource for learning how to implement WebQuests in your classroom. The site explains the WebQuest concept and the basic format and presents tips for evaluating quality. To help you get started, the site includes WebQuest collections and guidelines for creating your own WebQuests. WebQuest 101 provides an excellent guided activity to help you create high-quality WebQuests. The site offers many helpful suggestions for planning and implementing WebQuests in your classroom. The site explains how to choose websites to be included in a WebQuest, how to improve a WebQuest after it has had a trial run with your students, and how to evaluate students’ finished products. This WebQuest is an example of the skillful use of Wikispaces for designing a WebQuest.

WebQuests were created by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University. Tom March was another pioneer in the development of the concept. Since 1996, San Diego State has maintained a database that contains Webquests for many subjects at all grade levels. Tom March also maintains a collection of WebQuests. Dodge developed a rubric for evaluating WebQuests which can be helpful as you select or design WebQuests to be used in your classroom.

Image: renjith krishnan /

Modern Teachers

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans

The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) provides a resource site that contains lesson plans, student activities, and images that may be used for educational purposes under a liberal fair use policy. There is also a MOMA iPhone app that features hours, admissions information, and directions; a calendar of upcoming events and exhibits; MOMA audio tours; and an art index of all works and artists featured in the collection. Another great feature from the site is a video which presents tips for engaging students with works of art with demonstrations of each tip.

The MOMA resource site, Modern Teachers, features a searchable database that allows educators to search for art-related lessons by guides, themes, activities, collection areas, artists, and media. Lesson plans may be saved for future reference by creating a username and password to be used to login to the site. Each lesson features objectives, an introductory discussion, an image-based discussion, and activities and projects. Lessons may be printed in .PDF format.

A search of the database for lessons related to the works of Andy Warhol revealed the lesson, Transforming Everyday Objects, featuring the work of five artists, including Andy Warhol. Each artist used everyday objects and popular culture as inspiration for the featured works. The lesson provides a narrative to be used for introducing each work of art, suggestions for leading a class discussion about each work, and art activities and projects to be completed by students.

APA and MLA Resources

April 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) provides resources for implementing guidelines from the most current edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. OWL presents guidelines in easy-to-reference format with examples of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and reference pages. OWL also provides an online MLA reference for the formatting guidelines published by the Modern Language Association (MLA).

Due to the increasing popularity of social media, citation guidelines for APA and MLA have been updated to include quotes from Facebook and Twitter. How Do you Cite a Tweet in an Academic Paper? is an article that explains MLA guidelines for Twitter references. Two articles related to citations from Twitter and Facebook are How to Cite Twitter and Facebook, Part I and How to Cite Twitter and Facebook, Part II.

Image: graur codrin /

ISTE NETS-S Implementation Wiki

April 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Image: Matt Banks /

The International Society for Technology in Education hosts the Nets for Students Implementation Wiki. The wiki is a resource that provides opportunities for educators to collaborate to design learning activities that implement NETS-S standards. Wiki topics are organized by standards and by grade level.

On the Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making page, Debbie Kritikos presented an algebra project (Scenario B) in which students created an automobile sales flyer. They used the Internet to locate the invoice price and MSRP for a new vehicle. Then, they calculated the discount, tax, and financing costs using Internet-based loan calculators. They also calculated savings between the prices by using percent of change. Then, they created an automobile advertising flyer using a template within Microsoft Word. Kritikos reported that her students identified with the realistic situation of buying a car. They learned the concept of paying interest and the fact that to afford the car of their choice, they needed to get a good job.

Another member of the wiki, Thomas Wright, noted that the scenario presented by Kritikos allowed the students to:

* Identify and define authentic problem with significant question for investigation. The students were instructed to find a car of their choice and develop a sales flyer to lure customers to buy the car.

* Plan/manage activities to develop a solution/complete a project. The students were to find ways to provide financing to customers so that they could afford the cars through discounts from invoices, tax breaks and special financing.

* Collect and analyze data to make informed decisions. The students calculated finance costs in different ways to see what would be the best rate. After comparing financing options, students decided which option would best benefit the customer.

He suggested that an additional step should be added to require students to add insurance costs to the cost of owning the car. He stated that many times, insurance can be the final step in deciding whether to buy certain types of cars. This addition would allow students to see that financing does not determine whether a customer can afford a car–insurance plays a key part, too. The scenario was made even stronger by adding Wright’s perspective.

This project is well-suited for applications in secondary math or technology. It effectively integrates technology concepts with practical math applications. In a secondary technology classroom, this project might be used for teaching a unit on desktop publishing applications.

The Daily Lane

The Daily Lane provides a round-up of contributions from educators around the world. Features of interest include headlines, education, technology. These categories provide education-related news and items of interest to educators. Publisher Nigel Lane also maintains The Inside Lane blog, which features reviews of iPad apps, tips for using Twitter, and information about other useful educational technologies. The blog also includes a link to Lane’s Diigo library of numerous educational resources.

Image: Master isolated images /