Best new instructional resources on the internet

Listen to America’s story at “America’s Library”

The Library of Congress has created a beautiful, easy-to-surf site for grade schoolers, including some highlights from the library’s extensive collection. Students are invited to “Meet Amazing Americans,” such as Buffalo Bill Cody, Harriet Tubman, Harry Houdini, and Thomas Jefferson. Each featured American icon is highlighted through engaging text, colorful pictures, and interesting tidbits. Site surfers can also “Jump Back in Time” by selecting from a number of important time periods in American history, such as Colonial Times (1492-1763), Civil War (1860-1865), and Depression and World War II (1929-1945). Each period includes a timeline and a narrative of important events, complete with corresponding images. “Explore the States” gives students a brief profile and a few representative images of each state, such as state birds and capitals. “Join America at Play” documents the nation’s favorite pastimes, sports, and hobbies, from baseball to quilting. And last, but not least, the “Sing, Hear, and See” portion of the site allows users to view film footage of the 1908 San Francisco earthquake and listen to recordings of children’s songs from the 1930s, among other features. A great site for teaching lower-level history lessons.

Explore the pyramids and the pharaohs at “Ancient and Modern Egypt on the Web”

What was the symbol connected to the Egyptian warrior goddess Astarte? How old was King Tut when he died? Why did the ancients revere cats? These answers and more can be found at this extensive site created by Gander Academy teacher Jim Cornish. This site is a one-stop shop for everything Egyptian, providing links to almost every useful site on ancient and modern Egypt. Students or educators who want to explore the mysteries of this once-great ancient civilization, or gain insight into the Egypt of today, may choose from one of many theme-based resources arranged topically at this site. With links to sites on the Pharaohs, the pyramids, mummies, tombs, sculptures, schools, the gods, symbols, museums, clothing, Egyptian life and art, and a variety of teaching resources, lesson plans, and tips, the site is a great place for world history teachers to start when designing their Egypt units. The site has received the endorsement of the Discovery Channel School and includes a great deal of support material to enhance Egyptian studies in the classroom.

NASA hatches a top-flight site in “BirdWorld”

It really is a bird’s world—at least, that’s what scientists from NASA say. The scientists have been recruited to help track endangered birds in their migratory treks. This site shows some of the tracking, as well as other projects involving endangered birds. With the “Charlie Brown” theme playing for kids to hum along to, web-surfers and bird-lovers alike can view papers and slides covering attempts to reintroduce and monitor several species of endangered birds. A team of researchers from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, for example, taught 13 Greater Sandhill cranes to blaze new migratory patterns by following a specially equipped truck along a new path. Amazing pictures show the research team loading the huge birds onto the trucks, tagging them for tracking, and recording the bird’s movements. The site also provides a link to an illustrated site created by National Geographic about the plight of the highly endangered Siberian crane and researchers’ attempts to halt its slide toward extinction. The Bird Data Archives even allow students to roll their mouse over a world map to receive specific information about certain birds being tracked through projects in various parts of the world.

Bone up on the human anatomy at “eSkeletons”

What better way to gain an understanding of human physiology that to view a detailed human skeleton and compare it to the skeletons of some of our closest genetic relatives? The Virtual Skeletons Project and web site is funded by the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation, as part of the Digital Libraries Initiative sponsored by the federal government. The purpose of this site is to enable students to view the bones of a human, chimpanzee, and baboon, as well as gather information about them from the project’s database. This site provides an interactive environment for examining and learning about skeletal anatomy. Special educational features include high-quality images of bones; labels of all muscles, articulations, and morphological features; and high-resolution 3-D renderings of the skeletal elements in both animation (Quicktime) and interactive virtual reality (VRML) format. Students can select a particular bone, choose the view they want, and receive descriptions of the anatomical features of each bone. A wonderful resource for anatomy or biology teachers.

Tour the Met’s art treasures on the net

Teachers of all grade levels and disciplines dream of the opportunity to show their students one of the greatest art collections in the world at New York’s legendary Metropolitan Museum of Art, but few have the funds for buses, hotels, and other travel expenses. But students can now view more than 3,500 works from some of the most well-known and influential artists of all time at the Metropolitan Museum web site. This incredibly thorough site lets students search the Met’s collection using categories such as American decorative arts, Asian art, European paintings, modern art, photographs, medieval art, and textiles. Each section includes a history of its period’s great artists, influences, and identifying characteristics, as well as background information on particular artists and specific works. The online collection is a wonderful resource for art teachers, as well as history or English teachers who want to illustrate the pervasive concepts, great thinkers, and moving images from a specific historical period or intellectual movement. And, as one would expect from the foremost art collection in the country, the graphics and text are dazzling.

“What is Photosynthesis?” throws light on an important biological process

Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Early Events in Photosynthesis has created this terrific resource for biology or earth science teachers who want to impart the significance of this biological process on their students. The site features a series of articles by experts in the field, complete with illustrations. Some articles are geared toward elementary and middle school students, while others are appropriate for college students. Biology enthusiasts can use the site to learn about photosynthetic pigments, preparing starch slides, and how photosynthesis rates are measured in nature. Students also are provided with links to interesting related sites, describing issues such as “Why do leaves turn color in the fall?,” “Using photosynthesis in high school biology classes,” “How plants cope with desert climates,” “Bacterial photosynthesis,” and “Chlorophyll fluorescence.” The “I didn’t know that!” segment also provides links to brief info-bites and amazing facts about plant processes.


Research and management resources for the K-12 decision maker

Try these technology tips from chip maker Intel

Intel Corp.’s Education Group announced its new Intel Education Destination web site at the 2000 National Educational Computing Conference in Atlanta. This site is a free, non-commercial site developed for teachers and school technologists. It offers resources to plan, implement, manage, and facilitate teaching with technology. Intel’s Education Destination addresses five topic areas: teaching with computers, technology planning, managing technology, professional development, and news. Teaching with Computers offers tools, tips, and ideas for integrating technology into the classroom, as well as information about online safety, copyright laws, standards, case studies, and lesson plans. The Technology Planning segment provides information on networking, developing technology plans, purchasing, and finding funds. The Managing Technology segment includes valuable advice about installation, management, troubleshooting, and even breathing new life into old computers. Professional Development helps guide teachers who want to gain technology know-how and pick up important skills. Finally, the News Center section provides up-to-date information on events unfolding in education and technology. Intel has proven a deep commitment to teacher technology training, and this site is a high-quality, advertisement-free resource.

See why “History Matters” at this George Mason University site

History Matters is a project of the Center for Media and Learning at the City University of New York and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Designed for teachers of high school and college U.S. History survey courses, this site serves as a gateway to web resources and offers unique teaching materials, first-person primary documents, and threaded discussions on teaching U.S. history. The designers of History Matters emphasize materials that focus on the lives of ordinary Americans and actively involve students in analyzing and interpreting evidence. The site provides an annotated list of helpful history sites, a “digital blackboard” of lessons that use existing web resources, interactive exercises, a monthly quiz, articles and resources, secrets of great history teachers, and tips on creating a history syllabus. Currently, most of the materials cover the period from 1876 to 1946, but this site is a prototype, and contributors will continue adding materials during the next year.

“Educational Web Design” will have you spinning web sites in no time

So, you want to create a fluid, interesting, and useful web site for your school or class, but you have no idea where to start or how to design a site that meets the specific needs of education? Educators at Oswego City School District in New York have developed a tool to guide first-time web designers and those hoping to improve their existing school web sites. The Educational Web Design page provides teachers with tools to help them successfully create dynamic web pages for their students. The site includes links to places where school webmasters can get free graphics, sound files, and animated GIFs. Other pages focus on helping educators understand the ins and outs of educational web design. Links to sites containing specialized components such as web counters, HTML tips, tune-up sites, and the like also can be found. The site guides users on how to create web lessons and virtual field trips, which web tools to use during production, hints for using web graphics, setting up pages for internal projects, and tips on implementing multimedia.

Check out the educational resources at “Awesome Library”

In May 1997, the Evaluation and Development Institute (EDI) began offering its database of educational resources through the Awesome Library web portal. Awesome Library organizes 14,000 carefully reviewed K-12 education resources, including the top five percent of sites for teachers, students, parents, and librarians. To be included in the Awesome Library, resources must meet strict criteria. They must have child-safe links; be useful for teachers, students, parents, or librarians; and contain actual documents, projects, pictures, and discussion groups. New sites must be current and they must load quickly. All of the resources included in the Awesome Library were reviewed for usefulness and appropriateness, but 2 percent of the site’s 14,000 resources also were given a star for being the source for many other resources on the page, very comprehensive, or unusually well-organized, or for containing essential information on a topic. A great place to start when searching for information.

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