Best new instructional resources on the internet

Draw on “Virtual Blackboard” for your internet curriculum

“Virtual Blackboard” is a free service to K-12 teachers developed by online educational publisher Tramline Inc. and sponsored by the AT&T Learning Network. The site contains a series of curriculum modules that introduce educators to internet teaching methods and student learning objectives organized around specific curriculum topics. Each module includes an overview of the topic; numerous teaching and learning activities; and a “Virtual Web Tour” of internet resources that can be used immediately by teachers and students in the classroom. Current modules include “Flight,” “The American Presidents,” “Windows on the World” (a virtual exploration of international travel), “Author, Author” (an introduction to writing through works of children’s literature), “Dinosaurs,” and “Insects and Minibeasts.” New modules in various subjects are added regularly to the site, according to its publisher. Virtual Blackboard also provides tools for creating your own web modules, including Tramline’s “TourMaker” software, a powerful, low-cost program that allows teachers and students to make guided internet presentations and create an atmosphere that makes internet exploration focused, safe, and productive.

Troll this site for resources on oceans and weather

This site from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides web resources on weather, oceans and seacoasts, satellites and space, and long-term climate change. A “Marine Careers” page, for example, includes overviews of the fields of marine biology, oceanography, and ocean engineering; a look at what the future is likely to hold for careers in these fields; information on salaries in various marine science fields; and links to a wide range of additional resources. A page from the National Snow and Ice Data Center gives information on snow cover, avalanches, glaciers, ice sheets, freshwater ice, sea ice, ground ice, permafrost, atmospheric ice, paleoglaciology, and ice cores. Other resources include an “El Nino Theme Page”; information from the National Climatic Data Center; frequently asked questions on global warming; real-time satellite imagery; archive images and movies spanning the history of the NOAA satellite program; and a radar mosaic of weather patterns.

“Nature Science Update” is a natural fit for the classroom

This site from Nature magazine provides the latest research as reported by the journal’s science writing team, updated daily. Teachers can also search the site’s archives for stories by date or category. There are more than two years of archived materials for you to peruse here, but the best application of the site in classrooms might be in tracking the daily nature science headlines with your students. Recent stories have covered a method of restoring sight in which brain cells are injected into the fluid of the eye; how technology developed for the manufacture of airplane parts is being hijacked to produce the next generation of biomedical materials; and research that explains why fizzy drinks are so alluring that they constitute a $55 billion-a-year industry.

“Perseus Project” is destined to become a classic

The Perseus Project is an evolving digital library of resources for the study of the ancient world and beyond, produced and managed by the Tufts University Classics Department. Resources include an overview of Greek culture and history; texts and translations of ancient works; images and descriptions of vases, coins, sculpture, buildings, and archeological sites; articles on Greek and Roman mythology; and teachers’ help guides for using the Perseus Project web site in the classroom.

Let your planning revolve around “” is a new online education community and retail store with classroom supplies, education news, and curriculum resources to encourage, recognize, and reward teaching excellence. Here, teachers can find lesson plans, conduct research, check out continuing education opportunities, buy classroom supplies and software, share their successes, and tackle their personal to-do lists. What drives is a strong desire to do as much of the online work as possible for educators, according to Pete Molino, the site’s co-founder. Each day, gathers the best online education resources so educators’ online time is well spent. A “Classroom” section provides links to lesson plans, curriculum materials, and project ideas; it also gives a brief description of the resources and labels them as free or available for purchase. Regular “Teacher Features” include “Excellence in Teaching” citations, a “Product of the Week,” a “Resource of the Week,” and “Stellar [Web] Sites.”


Research and management resources for the K-12 decision maker

Improve your “Teacher Quality” with help from this site

The U.S. Department of Education’s “Teacher Quality” web site is devoted to cultivating the most basic educational resource that communities can provide for their children: good teachers. As the site explains, over the next decade schools will need to hire 2.2 million teachers, more than half of whom will be first-time teachers. Many schools already face shortages of qualified teachers, especially in high-poverty communities and in subjects such as math and science. To remedy this situation, the Teacher Quality site provides information to help policymakers and educators recruit and prepare high-quality teachers; expand professional development opportunities for teachers; raise teaching standards; and more. It also includes classroom resources, research, and information for anyone who is interested in becoming a teacher.

“You Can Handle Them All” gives advice on student discipline

This site provides educators with a resource for handling student misbehavior in school. It offers a complete, step-by-step approach to changing inappropriate student behavior into appropriate behavior. An overview of behavioral problems examines the root causes of misbehavior as they relate to the core needs of students, and an index of behaviors shows you how to apply the site’s four-step discipline model to more than 100 specific types of discipline problems. According to the site’s creator, a company called The MASTER Teacher, the discipline model contained in this web site will help you understand how to handle discipline concerns effectively, keep yourself in control of the situation, and teach students self-discipline, while enabling you, your colleagues, counselors, administrators, and the rest of the school team to work together for a mutually satisfying solution to student problems.

“” provides aid for after-hours programs

This new federal government web site is intended to connect educators with the resources to support after-school programs for their students. “Finding Federal Dollars” is a database of more than 100 feredal grant and loan programs that can be used to fund the creation of after-school programs and activities. “Building Strong Programs” offers community success stories and opportunities for educators to network with one other. “Publications and Clearinghouses” provides government guides, reports, research, and links, and there’s also a section on safe, fun, and educational web sites for kids and teens. You can even search the site for resources by after-school topic: food, health and safety, learning, recreation, technology, transportation, or volunteers.

Tap this resource for “Creative Teaching” tips

This site is intended to help teachers enhance their abilities and make teaching genuinely satisfying and enjoyable. Its creator, Robert Morgan, has been teaching for 30 years and has taught most subjects at most grade levels from grades 4 to college. Articles on the site include “Teaching during the information tsunami,” “Add variety to a class period and have fun,” “Considerations on developing teacher style,” “Creative ways to encourage reluctant readers,” “Great books for creative teachers,” and even “Suggestions for teaching English using Star Wars names and sentence structures.” You can also sign up for a free “Creative Teaching Tips” eMail newsletter.

“” helps students prepare for college, formerly CollegeEdge, has launched an expanded version of its web-based career and college planning service called the Education and Career Opportunities System (ECOS). The expanded system is designed to help students plan for the future, while allowing counselors and administrators to manage their students’ goals and action plans in a customized, interactive environment. Among the new features is an “Online Mentor Program” that allows the local community to help its students identify and reach their academic and career goals. Parents, friends, alumni, and local professionals contribute their expertise and give advice to students through eMail and online forums. ECOS also offers students easy access to up-to-date career, education, and financial aid information and effectively links counselors to all student data from any internet-ready computer, 24 hours a day.

Members will have access to several free resources and services, including training materials designed to help teachers learn to use and integrate Microsoft technologies into their curriculum; a “New Teachers’ Corner,” a place for those who are facing their first year in the classroom to interact, share ideas, get helpful tips and activities to use in their classes, and find mentors for eMail exchanges; a series of online interviews with notable education experts to discuss relevant topics in education; an online series that tackles key challenges schools and educators face when implementing technology into the classroom; monthly eMail summaries to all members; and contests and drawings.


“International Boiling Point Project” is sure to be hot

Sept. 13-Dec. 10, 1999

In this collaborative experiment, students from all over the world collect, share, and analyze data to determine which factor—room temperature, elevation, volume of water, or heating device—has the greatest influence on the boiling point of water. Anyone can participate in this year’s project; all students have to do is boil some water, record a bit of information, and send it to the project coordinator to include in the database of results. Then, students can analyze all of the data to answer the question: What causes a pot of water to boil? The web site includes instructions, lesson plans, curriculum standards, and more. Teachers and students are invited to join in at any time during the project’s three-month span. The project is managed by the Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education (CIESE), located at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N. J.