Best new instructional resources on the internet

Relive history with Time’s “100 Most Important People of the 20th Century”

As we approach the end of an era, it’s time for a little reflection. And who better to reflect on events of the past than Time magazine? In five special web presentations throughout 1999–Leaders & Revolutionaries, Artists & Entertainers, Builders & Titans, Scientists & Healers, and Heroes & Inspirations–Time is profiling 100 remarkable people who have changed the world in the past century, for better or worse. Each category features 20 profiles complete with audio and video clips, interactive timelines, quizzes, polls, and links to related web sites. Since every list is subject to debate, Time also offers a glimpse into the selection process and its accompanying debate among the magazine’s editors as to who should be selected–a debate your teachers may want to continue with their students in the classroom. The project culminates with Time’s selection of a Person of the Century in December.

Open up “The Why Files” and match wits with scientists

Created by the University of Wisconsin graduate school with funding from the National Institute for Science Education, this site explores the science behind each week’s headlines. The Feb. 18 edition, for example, featured the story, “12 Rufino Tamayo paintings purloined in Mexico City,” while examining how science can be used to help solve art crimes. Visitors to the site could learn about carbon dating and find out that the Greek mathematician Archimedes was among the first to use science to uncover a forgery: He discovered that a king’s golden crown was a fake by determining its density through water displacement. As an added bonus, the site contains an archive of “Cool Science Images” along with an explanation of each.

Bring the internet into your classroom with “Wired@School”

When online learning specialists at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute Science Museum were considering new ways to help educators use the internet in the classroom, they decided to turn to the experts themselves: teachers. Through a program called “Wired@School,” nine elementary and middle school educators across North America were tapped to serve as “online fellows” by creating web pages for teachers and students that would be hosted by the Franklin Institute. Fellows were chosen for their presence in the online community and their experience using the internet in their teaching. Each was asked to contribute three projects for the program’s web site. Examples of their projects include “Rock Hounds,” a lesson in geology from Tammy Payton of Loogootee, Ind., and “Tresures@Sea,” a resource for exploring the ocean through literature from Hazel Jobe of Lewisburg, Tenn.

Tease your brain with the Exploratorium’s “Online Exhibits”

The Exploratorium, San Francisco’s museum of science, art, and human perception, has set up an archive of its most popular online exhibits. There are plenty of brain-teasing interactive projects to stimulate your eyes and mind here: Learn how the human eye works to produce optical illusions, see how hollow plastic models of the human vocal tract can turn the squawk of a duck into vowel sounds, find out if you have what it takes to hit a 90 m.p.h. fastball or recognize an ordinary penny. While you’re at this site, check out the Exploratorium’s main page for additional online projects, such as the one on “Memory.”

Explore an ancient culture with “Ancient Egypt Webquest”

Created by fourth-grade teacher Matthew Durant of Natick, Mass., this web project is an excellent example of how the internet can be used to foster student-directed learning in the classroom. While engaging in this webquest to find the burial mask of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutenkamen, students learn about the daily life of ancient Egyptians, the games Egyptian children played, mummies, King Tut himself, and hieroglyphics. The site also contains links to fun facts and activities, facts about archeology, a glossary of ancient Egyptian terms, and cool Egyptian graphics.


Research and management resources for the K-12 decision maker

“The Brain Station” is a cerebral celebration

It’s billed as a comprehensive site for educational resources–but this site is so much more than that. Where else can you find links to sites from the U.S. Department of Education and NASA mixed with sites like “Anagram Genius,” where you can submit your name online and receive 200 anagrams by eMail? The beauty of “The Brain Station” is that it’s got something for just about everyone. For teachers, there are links to top curriculum resources; for technology decision makers, links to shareware and sites such as “Bob Bowman’s Guide to Free Educational Technology”; for parents, resources such as “Cool Sites for Kids” and “NetLingo”; and for students, homework help and college planning resources. A section called “Mind Candy” even provides fun, yet brain-stimulating diversions. If you’re not careful, you could lose yourself for hours exploring the possibilities here.

This networked community examines “Education with New Technologies”

Developed by teachers at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, this online learning community examines the issues involved in integrating technology into classroom instruction. When you register (which is free), you receive a virtual “backpack” to help you store, organize, and think about the resources you find most useful as you explore the web site. A “Gallery” section highlights best practices for using technology to aid instruction, and a “Workshop” section helps you create or modify curriculum units that enhance teaching with new technologies, either alone or in collaboration with other registered members of the online community. The “Meeting Hall” offers discussion forums, and the “Library” includes links to articles on funding, planning, and managing technology, as well as hardware and software guides and reviews.

“MiddleWeb” puts a spin on middle school reform

Sponsored by the Focused Reporting Project, MiddleWeb is a collection of resources for educators, parents, and others interested in reforming middle school education. The “Newswatch” section tracks the top news stories concerning middle school education, while “Reforming Schools and School Systems” highlights the best practices of schools that are raising student achievement. “Why Middle Grades Reform?” includes perspectives from members of the education community, including characteristics of a “good” middle school from education consultant Anne Wheelock. A new feature called “Middle School Diaries” offers weekly glimpses into the professional experiences of two teachers who work in inner-city middle schools. There are also links to resources covering assessment, evaluation, charter schools, parent involvement, public-private partnerships, staff professional development, and more.

Deepen your understanding of science with the “Annenberg Teacher’s Lab”

Created by the Annenberg/CPB Math and Science Project, Teacher’s Lab is intended to provide educators with a deeper understanding of commonly taught math and science concepts. The labs are based on professional development series and workshops broadcast on the Annenberg/CPB Channel. Each lab combines online activities with background information, interactive polls or worksheets that participants can use in their classrooms, and links to related materials. The first lab, “A Private Universe,” is intended to help teachers discover popular misconceptions that students have about basic astronomy concepts, such as what causes the phases of the moon and why there are different seasons of the year.

Check out the NEA’s “Top 100 Children’s Books”

As part of its “Read Across America” initiative, a nationwide program to promote reading among children, the National Education Association (NEA) has compiled a list of the top 100 children’s books as recommended in a survey of 1,000 NEA members. The list is topped by E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and includes selections by Dr. Suess, Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, and other favorites. While you’re here, you should also check out the resources on the Read Across America main page–such as the “Tools You Can Use” section, which includes an article entitled, “Do’s and Don’ts of Reading Aloud to a Group of Children.”

“Snorkel: A Support Forum for K-12 Tech Leaders” will keep you from drowning

Sponsored and run by the Contra Costa County (Calif.) Office of Education, this site is designed as a place of retreat and support for K-12 technology leaders: a “survival tool, when underwater.” In a section called “Davy Jones’ Locker,” you can search a database of expert colleagues who can help you with topics such as technology planning, troubleshooting (for Macs or Windows), grants and other resources, internet use in the classroom, networking, and more. The “Sunken Treasure” section offers links to free downloads and shareware, web tools, Year 2000 resources, distance learning resources, and online technology vendors. You can also sign up for a listserv and post queries on the bulletin board forums.

Learn about disabilities at this site from Homework Central

Homework Central, one of the largest study sites on the internet, has added a special section called the Learning Disability Resource. Teachers and parents of special learners now have free access to more than 10,000 authoritative web pages dedicated exclusively to learning and physical disability issues and resources, all from one central location on the internet. Topics include assistive technology, autism, dyslexia, epilepsy, mental retardation, ADHD, cerebral palsy, hearing and visual impairment, physical disabilities, and the education of learning disabled students.


Special internet events you won’t want to miss

“Female Frontiers” follows a historic shuttle launch

April 1999

In April 1999, NASA will be sending its first woman shuttle commander, Eileen Collins, into space as commander of the STS-93 space shuttle mission. To celebrate the event, NASA has developed this web project focusing on women who are pioneers in their fields. The project features profiles of “frontier women,” interactive chats with women pioneers, and instructional materials related to the STS-93 mission. Instructional materials will be cross-curricular, encompassing social studies, science, math, and language arts as students track the STS-93 mission in progress and document the mission’s findings.