Teach, learn, and communicate with “TLC”


This one-stop “Teaching and Learning Center” has been designed by a team of educators who’ve selected the cream of the crop from the plethora of education resources on the internet. Web links and resources supply strategies, activities, and ideas that integrate technology into the curriculum, and thematic units provide teachers with tools for daily instruction. Games, stories, and activities have been organized according to conceptual themes. The site’s creator, an educational company called ALFY, has generated dozens of ideas for web-linked classroom activities based on these themes and has added lesson plans to complement them. The Lesson Builder enables users to create and save lesson plans easily with a ready-made lesson template, and ALFY’s Library consists of lesson plans based on children’s books and recommendations of appropriate literature categorized by grade level. The ALFY children’s web portal itself was designed to make web-surfing simple for even the youngest learners, ages 3-9. It’s vibrant and colorful, with activities like the Brain Train, which concentrates on spatial relations for very young kids; Music Mania, which allows users to play simulated instruments; and Storyville, which allows kids to interact with different adventure stories.


Copyright information for the digital age


Started by a self-proclaimed “frustrated educator” who felt the need for more information on copyright laws as they relate to educational technology use, this site helps teachers and administrators figure out what is OK to take from different web sites—and what material is considered off-limits. According to the author, Technology 4U President Phil Reinhardt, “Schools and organizations have been sued. Internet and CD-ROM technology have made access to information incredibly simple—and just as simple to duplicate or even alter and illegally place on the internet in another form.” Because this is a problem that has come up in schools just in the past few years, there are few strict laws or guidelines to follow regarding copyright laws and the internet. Reinhardt tries to dispel the fog by explaining the “Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia,” a document created in 1996 to address the ambiguities inherent in the Copyright Act of 1976. He also gives accepted standards and instructions on how to properly cite web sites. For educators who wish to teach responsible internet use to their students, this site is a great tool.


“Digital Bridges” spans the knowledge gap surrounding videoconferencing


This web site from the Northwest Education Technology Consortium provides K-12 teachers with the information they need to use videoconferencing technology for instruction, communication, collaboration, and professional development. “Digital Bridges” includes best-practice examples of videoconferencing in the classroom, information about planning and implementing a videoconferencing element in schools, and resources to help teachers understand how videoconferencing technology works. The site helps educators calculate the amount of time and effort they’ll need to implement a videoconferencing solution, determine the essential components, address staffing issues, and correct logistical concerns. Users can choose from between two tracks: Teacher/Curriculum Planner or Administrator/Decision-Maker. Many sections include detailed examples from specific schools that have created videoconferencing Digital Bridges themselves.


“Connect for Kids” helps link kids to their communities


The Connect for Kids web site is a virtual encyclopedia of information for adults who want to make their communities better places for kids. Browse through 101 tips to do at home, school, or work to make the lives of children healthier and happier, or read insightful and entertaining articles on a wide variety of topics, including the teen years, after-school programs, and voting. The site provides information, reports, data, public opinion, and book reviews. The Connect for Kids team is made up of children’s experts, journalists, and communications specialists and is headquartered at the nonprofit Benton Foundation in Washington, D.C.


Build technology funding with help from “FundingFactory.com”


FundingFactory.com is a new school fundraising web site that provides information about high-value fundraising programs to help increase student access to technology. One program involves collecting and recycling empty laser and inkjet cartridges from the community to earn points that schools can use to get free technology products. Another FundingFactory.com activity lets individuals and businesses support the schools of their choice by shopping through the MaxBack.com web site. Vendors, linked through MaxBack.com, offer rebates that can be directly credited to a particular school. Schools can participate in these programs by registering at no charge on the FundingFactory.com web site.


“Star*Tip” broadcasts the facts about digital TV


Star*Tip is designed to provide educators, public television workers, and policymakers with the tools they need to make informed decisions about the digital future. The site is geared toward nontechnological types who find themselves caught up in the revolution that’s transforming educational technology and broadcast TV. Get a clear understanding of the difference between analog and digital technologies, complete with pictures in a surprisingly interesting online tutorial. It explores the larger telecommunication issues driving the change in broadcast television and addresses the need for, and the possible outcomes of, such a change. Terms such as “convergence,” “interactivity,” and “next generation” are popping up all over the place, and the Star*Tip Forum creates a place to ask questions and share information about these topics. The site also is in the process of developing a glossary of useful technical terms, a selection of frequently asked questions, and a list of resources. Star*Tip is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Star Schools Program.


PBS asks kids to read “Between the Lions”


This site is designed to accompany and expand upon the new PBS television show “Between the Lions,” and it’s a great tool for teachers of 4- to 9-year-olds as well. Educators are encouraged to visit the page titled “How to Use This Site” in order to become familiar with the educational resources this extensive site offers. Each week, it provides kids with a new story about a lion family that runs a very unique library where “characters pop off the pages of books, vowels sing, and words take on a life of their own.” The series combines innovative puppetry, animation, live action, and music to achieve its educational mission of helping young children learn to read. The web curriculum mirrors that of the show and is interactive, allowing kids to read stories, play games, and complete activities designed to foster a long-lasted and strong foundation for a life of literacy. The colorful site helps introduce the foundation skills for reading and literacy, such as phonics, letter-sound knowledge, and basic concepts about print. Teachers can use the Literacy Tips, Recommended Books, and Things to Print in their weekly-updated “Between the Lions” lesson plans.


Dole distributes an abundance of information on nutrition


This site is an excellent resource for science or health teachers who want to impart the necessity of nutritious, well-balanced diets to their students. The “Dole 5-a-Day” site is colorful, graphically pleasing, and extremely easy to navigate for even the youngest web surfers. Users can go to the “Fruit & Vegetable Encyclopedia” and learn about the four major varieties of potatoes, how the mango was introduced to Florida farmers in 1860, and how farmers grow and harvest broccoli. Cartoon characters like Annie and Arthur Asparagus, Courtney Cauliflower, and Kevin Kiwi host each fruit’s or vegetable’s page. The site also features nutrition facts on every fruit and vegetable—from the carambola to the prickly pear. Kids can then surf to the Classroom Fun portion of the extensive Dole site and explore environmental and nutritional activities and lessons. The site also provides teachers with several curriculum ideas for language arts, math, science, and social studies classes, using Dole’s online resources.


Explore the secrets behind “Mystic Places”


This fun social studies site allows kids to explore the mysteries of three of the most mysterious and enigmatic places on earth—Stonehenge, Easter Island, and the Peruvian Nazca Lines. Each mystic place is examined in detail, and current theories as to why they exist are presented alongside expert evidence and debunked myths and theories. Students can learn about the Polynesian islanders who created 887 huge stones statues—or moai, as they’re called—on remote Easter Island around 1,500 years ago. They can also discover the secrets of England’s Stonehenge, once believed to be the site of ancient druid rituals, and now believed to have been built more than 4,000 years ago by Neolithic humans, before the invention of the wheel. Mystic Places also attempts to disseminate information about the Nazca lines of southwest Peru: huge, unexplained drawings in the earth (called geoglyphs) representing animals and geometric designs. This Discovery Channel site is well-designed, easy to navigate, and features some stunning photographs of the world’s most mysterious locations.


“Oceanography” distills ocean environments down to their basics


This site is a wonderful resource for the geology or biology teacher who wants to teach kids about the many components of the living oceans. The Office of Naval Research’s Science and Technology Focus Site on Oceanography presents research that is the foundation for technologies used by sailors and Marines every day. The easy-to-understand and visually pleasing web site provides kids and teachers with succinct descriptions of the “Ocean in Motion,” including how and why waves, tides, and currents work, and outlines the many various “Ocean Habitats,” such as coral reefs and kelp forests. A section on marine mammals describes the many interesting characteristics that set ocean mammals apart from other animals, as well as adaptive features for watery living and information about migration and world distribution. Facts about the composition of ocean water, ocean regions, current oceanic research and discoveries, and learning activities help round out the site. All sections are vividly illustrated with photographs and detailed, understandable diagrams. According to the site, more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with oceans. This is a great place for educators to help kids discover that watery world.