“Substitute Teacher Homepage” is a great resource for the poor folks who regularly find themselves in charge of strange classrooms full of rowdy kids. It’s a forum where “teachers on call” can read others’ suggestions for dealing with an array of situations, from inaccurate seating charts to constant requests for bathroom passes. There are tips for filling time constructively when lesson plans aren’t provided, a comparison of wages over several school districts, and stories of real classroom experiences. There’s also a section where teachers and subs can exchange advice to make each others’ jobs easier.
Co-written by a former high school principal and a deputy commissioner of education, this site takes you through a step-by-step process for developing a school web site. It outlines why a web site is important for your school, what information should be included on your site, how to plan and build the site, how to involve the entire school community, and tips for making sure your site gets used. Note: This site is sponsored by the American School Directory (ASD) in conjunction with Apple’s K-12 division, and its aim is to get you to participate in the ASD’s web site directory service (which you are free to do, or not).
Written and produced by Andy Carvin, new media program officer for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, this site explores technology’s role in the school reform movement. Sections include “The Role of the Web in Education,” “The Information Highway Debate,” and “Education Reforms for the 21st Century.” Carvin provides many scenarios for using technology, along with examples from actual schools. There are also links to K-12 resources and an online education discussion group called WWWEDU (pronounced ‘We Do’).
National Semiconductor’s “Global Connections Online” is a free web-based internet training course for K-12 educators. A series of five 30-minute tutorials offers everything you need to know to use the internet effectively with your students. Topics include navigating and searching the world wide web, issues to consider when using the internet in the classroom, developing an internet-rich lesson plan, and designing and building a web page. The site also features an online chat room and bulletin board where trainers and teachers provide support for participants.
“Federal Resources for Educational Excellence” (FREE) is a collection of hundreds of federally supported education resources. Links organized by subject area–such as art, history, and science–lead to sites sponsored by such agencies as the National Endowment for the Arts (and Humanities), the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Peace Corps, and the Library of Congress. A section called “More for Students” offers links to kids’ pages from government agencies such as the Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Post Office. Students can find career and job information from the Department of Labor and a list of internet do’s and don’ts from the Department of Justice. One of the site’s best features is a forum called “Tell Us Your Favorite,” where teachers, students, and parents can write in with a description of their favorite web resource and how they use it.
Designed by Philip Milano, editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville and author of several articles on diversity and minority recruitment, “Y? The National Forum on People’s Differences” offers visitors the chance to confront their feelings head-on by asking difficult or embarrassing questions of people from other cultural or ethnic backgrounds. As Milano writes in the site’s introduction, “Our hope is that this sharing, done in an atmosphere of curiosity and mutual respect, can help us deepen and broaden our understanding of one another.” Topics of the questions range from why many white people assume that Asians are smarter in math and science to why some blacks prefer to be called African Americans. The discussions are edited to make them clear and hate-free, although some of the content may be too sensitive for younger viewers.
“You Be the Historian” is an interactive online exhibit presented by the Hands-on History Room of the National Museum of American History. Elementary and middle-grade students are asked to figure out what life was like 200 years ago for a family in New Castle, Del., by examining such artifacts as a flail and sickle, a mortar and pestle, tax records, and a will. Students are then asked to consider what future historians might learn about people today by examining objects in the students’ own homes. The site includes suggestions for how teachers might use the activity in the classroom.
The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School is an incredible resource for both students and teachers, though there are few graphics on the site. The project presents major historical documents in their entirety, dating back to the 12th century. Each document contains links to supporting documents, glossaries, and indices. Examples include the Code of Hammurabi (complete with definitions of strange words, people, and place names hyperlinked to a separate window within the viewing screen), the Magna Carta, charters of the original 13 colonies, and transcripts of testimony from the Nuremberg war crimes trial. You can browse the collection by century, author, or title, and you can search by keyword.
Paul Brians, professor of English at Washington State University, has published an alphabetical listing of hundreds of common errors in English. Though not everyone will agree with Brians’ interpretations of the language (“The concept of errors is a fuzzy one,” he notes), on balance it’s a very good list. Brians differentiates between commonly misused words, such as “capital” and “capitol,” and also clarifies misused phrases such as “could care less” (“If you could care less,” Brians says, “that means you care some”). There’s also a list of commonly misspelled words and a list of “non-errors,” like ending a sentence with a preposition. Used thoughtfully, it’s a useful site to start a lesson with.
Nationally renowned storyteller and language arts consultant Carol Hurst offers an extensive collection of book reviews, curriculum ideas, and activities on her site. The children’s book reviews are organized by title, author, type of book, and grade level. They include “Things to notice and talk about,” plus suggestions for classroom activities and other related books. To help educators integrate literature into the curriculum, Hurst also includes a section listing curriculum subjects, such as math and history, as well as such themes as trains and colonial America, along with recommended books and teaching techniques. Suggestions for World War II, for example, include the picture book “Baseball Saved Us,” which shows how Japanese Americans imprisoned at camps during the war used baseball as a diversion and amusement.