Best new instructional resources on the internet
“Book Adventure” leads students on a reading revolution
Created by the Sylvan Learning Foundation, Book Adventure is a free online reading incentive program for elementary schools. The site uses technology to lead students back to the library and to encourage them to read longer, more frequently, and with greater comprehension. With help from the site’s mascots, Rex Reader and Baily Bookmark, students create tailor-made book lists from more than 3,000 recommended titles. Students go off-line to read the books on their lists, then return to Book Adventure, where they earn points by answering questions on the site’s Quiz-O-Matic. They also receive awards, prizes, and other incentives for their reading success. With parental consent, these rewards can include prizes from corporate sponsors, including barnesandnoble.com, Lycos, and Houghton Mifflin.
“PBS TeacherSource” provides standards-based lesson plans
PBS Online’s neighborhood for K-12 educators, PBS TeacherSource is the first web site to correlate its classroom activities to 46 sets of national and state curriculum standards, according to PBS. To find a specific resource among the site’s inventory of more than 1,200 lesson plans, teachers select a topic and grade level and are given a suggested list of relevant activities–many of which are designed for use with PBS classroom television programs, such as The American Experience and Nova. Working from their refined list, teachers can choose the most appropriate plans and immediately correlate them to an ever-growing pool of widely used state and national standards, PBS said. The site uses the patented search technology of MediaSeek Technologies to match educational titles to standards and learning needs.
“Hands-On Universe” lets students work with real telescope images
Hands-On Universe (HOU) is an educational program that enables students to investigate the universe while applying tools and concepts from science, math, and technology. Using the internet, students request observations from an automated telescope, download images from a large image archive, and analyze them with the aid of user-friendly image-processing software. HOU also provides a comprehensive curriculum that integrates many of the topics and skills outlined in the national goals for science and math education into open-ended astronomical investigations. To join HOU, educators must attend a workshop to learn to use the software, curriculum, and collaboration tools. Workshops are generally run for a week in the summer with follow up one-day sessions in the fall, led by teacher resource agents who typically are HOU classroom teachers themselves. HOU is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy.
“At the Tomb of Tutankhamen” puts students in the middle of history
“1923: Luxor, Egypt–As news breaks of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen, National Geographic foreign correspondent Maynard O. Williams dashes to Egypt. ‘There is drama in the very air of the place,’ says Williams, ‘and I want to be there recording it for the Geographic.'” So begins this outstanding multimedia site that documents the tomb’s discovery. Through Williams’ personal account and photographs as they appeared in the pages of National Geographic earlier this century, students get a glimpse inside the pharaoh’s tomb. Clips from an IMAX film called “Mysteries of Egypt,” available for viewing with RealPlayer 5.0 or Quicktime 3.0, supplement the presentation. This site was chosen by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, as a 1999 Notable Children’s Web Site.
“Evidence: The True Witness” uses science to solve a mystery
Developed by students from California and South Australia as part of the annual ThinkQuest contest, this site contains detailed information about the field of forensic science. Students can tour a reference section to learn about topics such as ballistics, DNA fingerprinting, and pathology, then put their knowledge to the test by taking on the role of detective K.C. Rodgers to figure out who kidnapped Susie Van Konkel, by analyzing evidence and interviewing suspects. Students can also find out what it takes to become a forensics scientist and read interviews with real-life scientists in the field.
“Radio Days” takes students to a bygone era
This web quest by Cynthia Matzat, a middle school English teacher for the Branson, Mo., Public Schools, encourages students to research the “Golden Age of Radio” using the internet. Taking on the roles of playwright, advertising executive, or foley artist (sound effects specialist), students learn about Abbott and Costello, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Red Skelton, and other radio performers through web-based histories and sound files. After constructing an online time line documenting the history of radio drama, students then write, produce, and record their own radio drama, complete with ads and sound effects.
“Nye Labs Online” features lessons from the Science Guy
This companion site to the popular children’s TV show Bill Nye the Science Guy offers teachers’ guides to more than 100 episodes, plus an extensive list of suggested reading, video clips of episodes in RealVideo format, and a Demo of the Day (like repeatedly stretching a rubber band between your hands to demonstrate heat energy generated by the friction of rubber molecules). In addition, a feature called “Did you know that” flashes fun science trivia at the bottom of your browser window.
Research and management resources for the K-12 decision maker
“Keeping Schools and Communities Safe”: Once again, it’s a relevant topic
In the aftermath of the Littleton, Colo., school shooting, the U.S. Department of Education unveiled a web site designed as a clearinghouse for school safety information and resources. The site features publications, funding opportunities, and organizations that can help keep schools and communities safe. Documents include the 1998 Annual Report on School Safety, “Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools,” a guide to conflict resolution, and a guide to protecting students from harassment and hate crimes. There are also links to federal grant programs for school safety and organizations such as the National Alliance for Safe Schools and the Center for the Prevention of School Violence.
“Coping with School Violence” helps both students and adults
This collection of articles and information from the award-winning FamilyEducation Network provides timely advice and support for school communities shaken by the tragedy in Colorado. Resources include articles and expert advice from child psychologists on talking with young children about violence, a discussion of warning signs in troubled kids, a “School Violence Prevention Checklist,” and a message board for sharing ideas on making schools safe. The site’s resources are organized according to age group for convenience.
“Schwab Foundation for Learning” creates an online support network
In 1989, discount broker Charles R. Schwab and his wife, Helen, established the Parents and Educators Resource Center as a community service to give families information and support on learning disabilities. The Schwab Foundation for Learning now extends the center’s services nationwide to provide these valuable resources to
parents and educators through the internet. In addition to a variety of online reference materials, the site allows parents and other adults with questions about caring for students with learning differences to receive individual responses from “professional resource consultants” via eMail. The site also provides lesson plans; online bulletin boards so parents, teachers, and clinicians can post messages; a list of recommended books and videos; and a free copy of the “LD Matters” quarterly newsletter.
“Teacher Change: Improving K-12 Mathematics” adds up to excellence
The Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education has launched this web site designed for local, state, regional, and national leaders who are working with teachers to improve the teaching and learning of K-12 mathematics. The site includes reports from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), professional development workshop activities, journal articles on teacher change, teacher narratives, and an overview of school change written by international authorities Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves. The professional development activities, created by the Match and Science Consortium at the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, include facilitator notes, handouts, and PowerPoint presentations.
“Catalyst” could spark changes in teaching and learning
Created by the University of Washington (UW) to help its faculty use educational technology, this “integrated collection of resources, training, tools, templates, and support” includes ideas for teaching with technology, step-by-step guides to common tasks like creating a class web site or PowerPoint presentation, and instructor profiles to let educators see what others are doing with technology. Though some of the tools are designed specifically for UW staff, such as the templates for online courses and surveys, there’s still plenty of information of use to K-12 schools here.