Potpourri: An Eclectic Group of URLs

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TeachersFirst.com: The Source for Learning, Inc (http://www.sourceforlearning.org/) is the originator of this site.  It is a non-profit organization focusing on web resources for students, teachers, and parents. The TeachersFirst site is designed for teachers.  Some of its resources include:

  • Resources by subject and grade.  I clicked on chemistry for the middle grades and found “Study Jams Science” which led me to a karaoke lesson on photosynthesis (http://www.teachersfirst.com/getsource.cfm?id=11974).  This section looks like it has great resources for building prior knowledge, providing activities for learning centers, and ideas for advisory time.
  • TeacherFirst Update (http://www.teachersfirst.com/update.cfm) Interesting connections to features such Dates That Matter (http://www.teachersfirst.com/dtm/), a quick activity about each date of the year.  Formatted as questions, this section looks like a fun sponge activity that would help to build students’ background knowledge.
  • What’s Hot includes Edge: Safe Web 2.0 in the Classroom (http://www.teachersfirst.com/content/edge.cfm).  Some of the entries include 20 Web Cam Activates for ESL/EFL, 25+ Tools for Accounting and Budgeting, and Awesome Highlighter.  Each of the sites listed here has a review and cautionary notes.  Lots of things to explore!

High-school smarty-pants may not be best collegian: A Tufts study finds wisdom and creativity are better predictors of success. http://www.pressherald.com/opinion/high-school-smarty-pants-may-not-be-best-collegian_2010-11-28.html This op-ed piece, written by Robert Sternberg, was in Sunday’s Portland Press Herald (11/28/10).  He details how Tufts has included questions that require critical and creative thinking as part of their admissions process. The example he cites is “Use one of the following topics to create a short story: a. The Spam Filter, b. Seventeen Minutes Ago . . . ; c. Two by Two; d. Facebook; e. Now There’s the Rub ; f. No Whip Half-Caf Latte; g. The Eleventh Commandment.” Sternberg and his colleagues have studied Tufts’ student results for five years and report these findings. “After controlling for high school grades and SATs, Tufts’ new admissions questions improved prediction of college grades. They also helped forecast which students would shine as active campus citizens and leaders, and virtually eliminated the admissions edge enjoyed by some ethnic groups.”  Gosh, those were the types of activities we used to do with students back before the days of NCLB.  This piece is great evidence for anyone who would like to spend more time in their classes stretching their students’ minds instead of doing test prep.
Jason Ohler’s Art, Storytelling, Technology and Education website (http://www.jasonohler.com/storytelling/index.cfm): Ohler works with teachers and students on a variety of technology related projects around the country.  Storytelling is one of his favorite activities.  On his site he has set-by-step procedures for bringing storytelling to your classroom.  FLASH-storytelling is not just a language arts activity-it’s appropriate for any subject and any grade level!
New Social Software Tries to Make Studying Feel Like Facebook (http://chronicle.com/article/New-Social-Software-Tries-to/125542/):  This article appears in The Chronicle of Higher Education and explores sites popping up that make use of social networking formats to entice students to sign up for  study groups.  Many are for profit companies and new ethical questions are arising.  This is an informational article and is worth reading.  Educators need to be thinking about this trend and how it affects student learning and teaching.
Math Playground (http://www.mathplayground.com/): This site is full of games designed to reinforce math skills.  Topics include: computation, factions, equivalent values, decimals, algebra, area and perimeter, plus many more.  There are also math movies.  I watched the one on prime factorization (http://www.mathplayground.com/howto_primefactorization.html)-it was very well done!   I’m sure I studied prime factorization in the last century, however I sure couldn’t explain it.  After watching the movie, I think I could teach it!!!  This site looks like a great resource for instruction, review, learning centers, and differentiation.

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