Best new instructional resources on the internet

“Cells Alive” brings cell biology to life is a wonderful resource for the biology teacher who wants to provide students with examples of all types of single-celled organisms, including ones few students would want to handle in class. (Check out the E. coli bacteria or the strep virus!) Complete with 3-D models of animal cells, plant cells, and bacterial cells, the site allows students to drag their mouse over a specific organelle to receive a detailed definition of that cell part. Colorful pictures include close-ups of prostate cancer cells, microphage, red blood cells, and staph aureua, to name a few. The site also allows kids to view different cells through BioCams, video clips that repeat regular intervals in order to convey information on biological rhythms. Kids can view these clips to get an idea of how long it takes a colony of cancer cells or bacteria to double in a petri dish, in real time. even includes a self-test to assess how much students have learned while visiting the site. A biology boon!

“African Voices” speaks for an entire continent’s history

From the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, this site explores Africa’s past, the history of the land and its people. Its topics, which are presented in themes, address various forms of wealth, working, and living in Africa; more themes will be added in the coming months. The “History” section looks at Mali, the slave trade, and colonialism, and allows users to journey from the origins of humankind to current challenges for today’s Africa. Visitors can view the art of Yoruba sculptor Lemidi Fekeye, explore Africa’s past on an interactive timeline, and discover the diversity of life that is Africa today. The “Learning Center” contains an excellent hotlist of African resources, including selections from books, CDs, and audiocassettes that explore African people, art, music, history, and culture. Some sections of the site use browser plug-ins to enhance your experience, so make sure yours are installed.

“The Cave of Lascaux” unearths an archeological marvel

A Webby Award 2000 winner, this site from the Ministry of Culture in France lets students take a virtual tour of the Paleolithic cave wall paintings of Lascaux. The site gives background information on the cave’s discovery in 1940 by four French teens and allows virtual visitors to check out stone-age paintings blocked from public tours since 1963 due to creeping erosion. Students of all ages can explore the caves, learn more about the images in the paintings, and discover the materials used by the artists 15,000 years ago. Visitors are encouraged to take a virtual tour of the cave and examine first-hand the Great Hall of the Bulls, the Chamber of Engravings, the Chamber of the Felines, and the Shaft of the Dead Men. The Cave of Lascaux web site allows students to discover all facets of one of the true marvels of the world, from the artistic methods used by Paleolithic humans to the geological composition of the caves. The site is available in English, French, Spanish, and German.

Dip into “Dive and Discover” for undersea treasures

Daily quizzes and updates on the latest undersea research are available from this project sponsored by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The institute’s current journey is exploring a mid-ocean ridge projection along the East Pacific Rise, off the western coast of Central America. Students can see geologic forces and theories such as plate tectonics in action. The site features five interactive expeditions, which students can follow as they actually happen by receiving daily updates on the geologic and marine discoveries. Dive and Discover’s first voyage takes you to the Gulf of California, the sliver of ocean separating Baja, California, from mainland Mexico. Deep beneath the blue waters lie even more stunning biological and geological wonders. Here, part of the global mid-ocean ridge system where the Earth’s crust is born can be found. Large fractures, called transform faults, cut across the sea floor, where new ocean crust emerges and boiling sea water jets out of hydrothermal vents. The third and most recent expedition concluded May 10, 2000, and two more are planned for the next school year. Anyone interested in marine geology should check out this site.

Judge for yourself: “The Supreme Court” is one terrific resource

The new Supreme Court web site is considered a positive step by those who argue for greater public access to the court’s procedures—and an educational windfall to government and civics teachers. Since 1991, the court has made its opinions available electronically to legal publishers and universities that subscribe to a system called Project Hermes, but most information still was distributed in hard copy—until now. The site provides downloadable PDF files containing all sorts of historical information about the highest judicial body in the United States, as well as recent court opinions, readings on constitutional interpretation, biographies of former and current court justices, and information about the Supreme Court building and many other aspects of the court. Future additions to the extensive site will include an updated docket and calendar for those who want to keep abreast of the latest developments, as well as court rules and information about visiting the court.


Research and management resources for the K-12 decision maker

Try these test-preparation tips from Creative Classroom

The May/June 2000 issue of Creative Classroom Online featured articles dealing with ideas and tips for preparing students to take—and score well on—standardized tests. The site contains articles explaining how each state stacks up in test scores, good test-taking skills, teaching to maximize test scores, and a letter to parents about standardized testing. There is also a section for kids worried about how they will score on state standardized tests, called “Test Stress Busters for Kids.” The “Testing 1, 2, 3” article offers ten suggestions on how to deal with test day, including “Keep a positive attitude,” “Get parents into the picture,” “Make sure you have everything you need for the test,” and “Get students psyched up for test-taking.” This is a great resource for the many educators and parents who want to know how to encourage their students to do their best on the increasingly important standardized tests.

“The Bullying Project” tackles a tough issue

This site was created to help young people help each other deal with the problems of bullying and teasing. According to the site’s authors, the students who helped develop the project wanted to use the power of the internet to let their peers know that young people dealing with these issues “are NOT alone. That being bullied and teased is NOT their fault and that they CAN do something about it!” Educators, schools, school boards, and other organizations that have developed resources, programs, and expertise about bullying are encouraged to contact the site so The Bullying Project can list their information to let others know where they can go for help or support. Kids can contribute their personal reflections, poems, music, drawings, photographs, and even films. The site gives personal testimony from victims and family members suffering the effects of bullying and also provides information on options for students who are picked on, such as “the gentle art of verbal self-defense.” It also offers links to web sites and media coverage on the subject. The Bullying Project is a great resource for school guidance counselors or educators concerned about students’ well-being.

Develop “Web Awareness for Teachers”

with this site

This Canadian web site provides resources to help teachers and librarians give students the skills they need to evaluate online information and to protect their privacy and their personal safety as they surf the net. Practical information and hands-on activities are included to help give kids the “cyber smarts” they need to make wise and safe online decisions. According to the site, some questions that teachers need to ask include: Are kids internet-savvy? Can they distinguish fact from opinion? Do they recognize online marketing techniques? Do they understand why they must protect their personal privacy? Can they handle inappropriate or illegal content? Supporting resources include information on acceptable use policies, finding great kids’ sites, effective online searching, filtering tools, and tracking where kids have been on the internet. The site also contains links to media literacy ideas and resources from the Media Awareness Network. The Web Awareness program has been developed with partners from the Ontario public library and education sector.

“Web Sites for Kids and Teens”

assembles the best government resources

Do federal government agencies have web sites appropriate for students? You bet, and now educators can find them all in one place. Students can choose sites for either kids or teens and explore some of the best web resources put together by various departments of the government. The kids’ sites were designed with elementary school students in mind, and middle- and high-school students will probably enjoy the teens’ sites. Both sections are subdivided into “Learning” and “Exploring the Internet” sections, and the teen sites also include a “Teen Issues” section, which includes sites that address college opportunities and funding, teen health issues, substance abuse information, teen safety, and community service and volunteering opportunities. This web site, part of the project, was developed by 17 federal agencies supported by Vice President Gore’s National Partnership for Reinventing Government and the General Services Administration.

Get easy-to-digest information at “Teacher TidBytes”

Created by teacher Linda Guterba, Teacher TidBytes is a great resource for administrators and teachers of all disciplines. An extensive list of previewed web resources for teachers is organized into topic headings such as almanacs, chemistry, lesson plans, teaching aids, museums, music, and foreign languages, to name a few. The site also includes a section on “Teacher and Student Tutorials,” which presents slide show lessons on topics such as using Netscape and Internet Explorer and integrating the internet into the regular classroom. The site also includes links to a host of other sites that provide web-integrated lesson plans, as well as the homework helper site Kid Info. It’s a good place for educators to start when they are looking for specific sites to answer their questions and address their technological needs.