eSchool News Staff
June 1st, 1999


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, 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,1156,1-2179,00.html

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.


From eSchool News staff and wire service reports
June 1st, 1999


Best new instructional resources on the internet

“The Valley of the Shadow” traces two communities through the Civil War

Developed by University of Virginia history professors Edward Ayers and William Thomas with support from the National Endowment of the Humanities, this site takes two communities—one from the North and one from the South—through their respective Civil War experiences. The project collects thousands of primary sources, including newspaper accounts, letters, diaries, photographs, maps, church records, population censuses, and military records, to help students explore every dimension of the conflict and reconstruct the life stories of women, African Americans, farmers, soldiers, politicians, and families. A Teaching Materials page offers lesson plans and ideas for using the resources in your history curriculum.

“Auroras: Paintings in the Sky” sheds light on a natural wonder

“Far north in the night sky, a faint glow appears on the horizon. Green and red flames of light stretch across the sky. A glowing curtain of light forms, waving and swirling above you. As the lights fade away, the dark night closes over you once again.” That’s how this online exhibit from the Exploratorium describes the natural beauty of the Northern Lights. Through text, photographs, RealAudio clips of scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Center, and Quicktime movies of the lights, the site explains what the Aurora Borealis are, how they are created, where they can be found, and what they look like from space. A Teacher’s Page also gives ideas for using the site in the classroom.

“Which Way Is North?” provides a lesson in orientation

Created by Lehigh University Assistant Professor Alec Bodzin for North Carolina State University’s Science Junction, “Which Way Is North?” is an activity that lets students develop their geography skills—and hone their powers of observation—by exploring a variety of geological formations online using Quicktime Virtual Reality (QTVR) panoramas and topographical maps. Students can examine the panoramic landscapes by clicking and dragging a mouse over the images to pan to the left, right, up, or down. By comparing each panoramic landscape with its corresponding topographical map, students are asked to determine which area of the panorama faces north. Twelve different landscapes are provided for students’ exploration.

“ReefWatch” removes the barriers to understanding these fragile ecosystems

Sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, this site follows a group of scientists from Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, the New York Aquarium, and other research facilities as they investigate the health of the coral reefs in the Florida Keys. The site includes a presentation on why coral reef systems are endangered around the world; a journal of the scientists’ activities from July 10-19 as they made daily excursions to various research sites in the Everglades, Florida Bay, Looe Key, and the Keys wetlands; and a list of resources for further exploration of coral reef environments.

“DNA for Dinner?” mulls the topic of genetic engineering

This WebQuest developed by William E. Peace, a science teacher at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School in Massachusetts, helps students use the internet to learn about the genetic engineering of food crops. Working in groups, students research how genes in plants can be changed, why they are changed, and what the possible side effects might be in order to answer the question, “Should genetically engineered crops be specially labelled for consumers, and why?” Students are then asked to draft a law that would address the labelling of genetically engineered foods in the U.S., present their proposed legislation to the class, and eMail their state or federal representative in Congress.

“Worldware” opens the world of the internet to educators

This K-12 curriculum site from Jostens Learning Corp. costs $35 per year for a 30-user subscription, but teachers can get a free two-week trial membership to check it out. The site’s goal is to help teachers integrate the internet into their curriculum in a meaningful and useful manner. Internet-specific thematic lessons and activities are grouped by the content areas of science, mathematics, social studies, language, current events, and the arts. In the Science Center, for example, you’ll find lessons such as “Yellow Fever and the Panama Puzzle,” which takes students back to 1900 when yellow fever was everywhere. In this interactive science activity, students follow the steps Major Walter Reed took to find the cause of the disease. A section called Currents Corner provides links to students activities based on current events, such as Europe’s transition to the euro currency, and the Lesson Plan Depot lets you share lesson plans with other teachers participating in the Worldware community.


Research and management resources for the K-12 decision maker

Reduce your total cost of ownership with these technology tools

Developed by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) with funding from IBM and Intel, “Taking TCO to the Classroom” is an initiative designed to help school administrators better understand the concept of total cost of ownership (TCO) so they can plan for the long-term and other “hidden” costs associated with installing computer networks. Over the next few months, the project will seek to build awareness of the issue among those responsible for budgeting for technology. At the project’s web site, you can find tools to guide your decision-making, including a white paper that provides an overview of the topic; highlights of available research to help you budget wisely; and a downloadable presentation, called “Planning for the Total Cost of School Technology,” to help you explain the subject to school board members and stakeholders.

“” aims to streamline school purchases

A division of UCA Computer Systems of Whippany, N.J., is a portal site that seeks to streamline the school technology purchasing process by letting you compare the product specifications and prices of several different manufacturers at once, quickly and easily. Through its Academic Advantage Program, eduWonders also gives discounts to registered education customers. At its June 15 launch, the site reportedly offered discounts on some 11,000 products from 67 hardware and software makers, including Acer, Compaq, Toshiba, Microsoft, Symantec, and The Learning Company, and was expected to add another 80 or so companies to its online marketplace by the end of the summer. Products are available for just about every computer systems need, from desktops, laptops, and palmtops to modems, printers, scanners, and both general and education-specific software. For now, the site only takes credit card orders, but the company says it will have a system in place by the fall to take school purchase orders as well.

Team up with this site’s creators to learn about electronic collaboration

A joint production of the Northeast & Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University, the National School Network, and the Teacher Enhancement Electronic Community Hall, “Electronic Collaboration: A Practical Guide for Educators” features an 11-step process for making online collaborative projects successful. The guide includes explanations of various kinds of collaborations, including discussion groups, data collection and organization, document sharing, synchronous communication, and online workshops and courses; tools and web sites that can be resources for creating each of these forms of collaborative environments; tips for moderating online collaborations; and several examples of successful school-based collaborative projects.

“College Opportunities Online” helps students find the school of their choice

This new Department of Education (ED) site, which provides links to more than 9,000 colleges and universities across the U.S., was authorized by Congress last year to help students compare schools. Large universities, small liberal arts colleges, specialized colleges, community colleges, career and technical colleges, and trade schools all are represented. Students and school guidance counselors can search the site by location, type of institution, or academic program—either alone or in combination—or they can search for a college by name. Information on each school includes the contact phone numbers for general information, admissions, and financial aid; tuition and fees; student demographics, by race and gender; and degrees conferred.

“Classroom Connect” becomes an internet hub for educators

Internet-based curriculum and training provider Classroom Connect has redesigned its web site to become a comprehensive hub for educational resources. Designed to be a “home base” on the internet for educators, parents, and students, the new site features thousands of web links that are pre- researched by Classroom Connect’s cybrarians for their educational value and organized by curriculum topic and grade level; lesson plans for math, science, social studies, and language arts; surveys and posting of educator feedback on key classroom and industry issues; extracts from the Classroom Connect newsletter; a calendar of daily educational activities; a teacher contact database; teacher message boards and discussion groups; best practices topics and teaching tips; and a glossary of internet terms. Future plans for the educational hub include free eMail accounts for educators; teacher chat rooms; links to state standards web sites and databases; and a classroom-based area for students that will deliver a new curriculum topic each week.

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