“Banned Books Online” takes a hard line on censorship


In a tribute to freedom of thought and speech, “Banned Books Online” offers a representation of texts that have been–or still are–kept from readers by nervous authorities. The site was created by free speech advocate John Ockerbloom and includes a section called “Unfit for Schools and Minors?” which should be of special interest to educators. Ockerbloom notes that Merrimack, N.H., schools pulled Twelfth Night from the curriculum in 1996 as a violation of the district’s ban on alternative lifestyles, for example, and he includes a link to a site that chronicles attacks on Mark Twain, whose Huckleberry Finn remains one of the most censored books in American schools.


A close up look at classroom videoconferencing


Created by elementary school teacher Hazel Jobe, this site offers an introduction to videoconferencing in schools. Here you’ll find all the information you need to get started, including a description of the required equipment, a link to the CU-See Me site (where you can download free videoconferencing software), a list of reflectors (which you’ll need if you want to link to more than one site at a time), a directory of other schools using videoconferencing, and suggestions for using videoconferencing in the classroom gathered from other teachers.


“Search Engine Watch” might be just what you’ve been searching for


This useful site from internet consultant Danny Sullivan looks at search engines from a number of perspectives. Web site publishers will like “Webmaster’s Guide to Search Engines,” which explains how search engines work and tells you what you can do to improve the number and position of search engine hits to your sites. Teachers and librarians will appreciate “Search Engine Facts and Fun,” which offers advice on performing web searches more effectively. There’s also a list of child-friendly search engines and directories.


“Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators” continues to delight


Technology coordinator Kathy Schrock first published this site in 1995, and it just keeps getting better. Besides links to curriculum resources in all subject areas, the site includes information about search engines, HTML, web site evaluation tools, and a host of other topics for using the internet in the classroom. Frequent visitors will want to check out the “New Sites This Month” section to view Schrock’s list of latest additions.


Here’s your chance to help build a virtual eSchool


IT consultant David Warlick created this web project as a chance for educators to share their visions of what 21st century schools should be like. The “New Century School House” is a virtual building stripped of all relics of industrial-age education. Visitors to the site can pick a room and re-purpose it by describing what students and teachers would do there and what physical components (infrastructure, furniture, media, equipment, lighting, et.c) would be necessary for those activities. Or you can read other people’s ideas and post your own comments.


Take a page from the best school sites


If you’re looking for ideas to help you construct your school or district’s web site, you should check out this one. Compiled by web consultant Dyann Schmidel, it’s a composite of exemplary web pages created by districts from around the country. Schmidel includes ideas for welcoming visitors to your home page, showcasing statistics or awards that your district is proud of, keeping the community informed of upcoming events, and reaching out to the community for its support. Some of the many highlights include a school floor plan from Attleboro (Mass.) High School, tips for parent involvement from Horizon Middle School in Aurora, Colo., and an alumni eMail and search network from Kailua High School in Hawaii.


“The Fractory” manufactures fun with mathematics


This remarkable site, an “interactive tool for creating and exploring fractals,” was an entry in this year’s ThinkQuest contest submitted by three students who will be ninth graders this fall. The “Fractal Gallery” contains images and descriptions of different types of fractals. In the “Make Your Own Fractals” section, you can generate your own fractal designs by entering values within a fixed parameter. The site also explains “why fractals are more than just pretty pictures” and demonstrates the mathematics behind them.


Classes using “MainXchange” know how to pick a winner


MainXchange Inc. is an internet stock market game. By downloading and playing this free market simulation, students can learn how the stock market works. The free software includes a personal portfolio, online “personal consultants” to help students pick stocks, and links to real-time business news from CNN so students can track trends and research companies. Students can even compete for prizes. If you don’t mind the commercial aspect of the game, it’s a useful tool for teaching high school students about the world of business and investing.


“The Fight for Equal Rights” spotlights black Civil War soldiers


The National Archives and Records Administration has produced this site for using original source documents to teach the history of black soldiers in the Civil War. An annotated text includes links to photographs and original documents such as soldiers’ letters, recruiting posters, and a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation to reveal how black military service and freedom converged. The site includes suggested classroom activities as well.


“Wayback Machine: California, 1848” is one prospect that pans out


Discovery Online’s Wayback Machine takes visitors on a virtual trip back in time to 1848 and the California Gold Rush. You’ll meet the figures who shaped the era through authentic drawings and photographs and listen to them tell their stories through sound files. At the end there’s a list of links to other journeys in the Wayback series, such as the Battle of Antietam and the Brinks robbery.