Best new instructional resources on the internet

“” posts news and features relevant to students is a brand-new web site designed especially for kids by the venerable and well-respected Washington Post. Every weekday, publishes news and feature stories from the KidsPost page of the Post’s print version. also has games, discussions, polls, and online extras you won’t find in the paper. The easy-to-navigate site is designed to bring kids the news that affects their lives, and it features daily updates on topics of interest to children. For example, a recent issue of included an article on the 2000 summer games in Sydney, the latest clothing trends for back-to-school, the meeting of the United Nations Millennium Summit, and a special report on increased scooter-related injuries. The site also offers several daily columns, such as the Polling Booth (this week’s poll question: Help for an after-school snack attack?), games, live chats on various subjects of interest to kids, and original photojournalism. It’s a great resource for educators who want their students to keep up with news and current events.

“BrainPOP” provides a burst of multimedia experience and knowledge

Remember when you were a kid and had tons of questions about anything and everything? “Why is the sky blue?” “How does an airplane fly?” “How does the internet work?” (Well, it’s unlikely you asked that last question as a kid.) The BrainPOP gang of animated characters, Tim and Moby, with a little help from Cassie, Rita, Bob, and Gary, are here to answer all of those questions. BrainPOP’s unique, award-winning health, science, and technology content is based on original, animated movies created to explain the human body and the world around us through an engaging, interactive journey for kids. With more than 80 different animated movies on a variety of health, science, and technology subjects, kids can gain important skills and information while having a great time viewing the adventures of Tim and his robot friend Moby. BrainPOP makes learning fun in a safe environment without sacrificing accurate information. The BrainPOP site is constantly developing new content based on the needs of its users and the National Science Education Standards. All of BrainPOP’s content is available for syndication, free of charge. The Movie of the Day program is a good way to beef up a school web site with daily educational content.

Don’t let this endangered species site disappear from your radar screen

Where can you find information on endangered and threatened species? What can you and your school do to help save them? Why should people care about endangered and threatened species, anyway? Where can teachers get educational materials that help explain the issues behind why animals and plants become endangered? “Kids Corner: Endangered Species,” from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, helps students and teachers find information on threatened and endangered species. In addition to providing fact sheets, activities, and suggestions about what kids can do to help, the site links to the Endangered Species Program web site, where users can find descriptions and images of threatened and endangered species, announcements of additions to the lists of threatened and endangered species, and information on programs and activities. The site also contains a “Creature Feature” section, which highlights an endangered species; a “Risky Critters” game; teacher resources; and a crossword puzzle designed to help kids learn about what they can do to stop the destruction of animal species.

This web search tutorial could be just what your students are looking for

The Ramapo Catskill Library System has put together a great site geared to help teach students how to search the web successfully for the information they need. Divided into nine “worlds,” KidsClick breaks down the intricacies of searching the nearly inexhaustible resources available to students and educators on the web. “World 1: Dictionary Lists of Subjects” introduces cyber-surfers to the many alphabetically organized lists available to help kids jump-start their web searches. “World 3: Searching Using Pictures or Numbers” helps users realize that there are many resources available besides encyclopedic texts. Worlds 4, 5, and 6 all deal with keyword searching and give lessons on how to refine keyword searches to yield the exact information that a student is looking for. World 7 addresses robots vs. humans as database builders and educates users on how to use the ever-present searchbots to their best advantage. World 8 attacks “Selection vs. Filtering in Kids Searching” and gives pointers on safe surfing, while World 9 looks at options available for multimedia searching. This site is a great source for teachers who want to help their students find new ways to explore the internet’s vast array of resources.

Disney’s “Surf Swell Island” is a haven for web safety information

One of the biggest challenges educators face when trying to integrate the internet into their classrooms is teaching kids about internet safety, privacy, and etiquette. Disney’s brand-new site, Surf Swell Island, is a delightful animated romp through a subject that could potentially bore kids to tears. Once they log on to the site, kids are taken on an animated airplane ride around Surf Swell Island with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and the rest of the Disney crew. Kids can click on different portions of the island to launch animated, interactive games designed to teach them about very serious subjects related to safe internet use. The site “tour” starts at the “Cliff of Mean Manners,” where kids are asked a series of questions about internet etiquette. Each correct answer helps to save Goofy, who is in danger of falling onto a pile of pinching crabs. Similar activities include “The Virus Caves,” “No Privacy Beach,” “Tiki Fun Stuff Village,” and “The Print Hut.” This is a wonderful way to teach younger children about their responsibilities as web-surfers, while letting them have fun at the same time.


Research and management resources for the K-12 decision maker

“YouthLearn Online” aims to empower today’s youth

YouthLearn Online is the web site of the Youth Development Collaborative (YDC) Pilot. The YDC Pilot offers youth—particularly those left out of the digital revolution—the skills, knowledge, and confidence to participate in the new economy. The Morino Institute’s two-year pilot program works with four community-based groups in Washington, D.C., to integrate the internet into out-of-school learning and other youth-related programs. YDC focuses on people, organizational capacity, and know-how, not on hardware, software, or wiring. YouthLearn Online is the fulfillment of the Morino Institute’s goal to create an online community of learners. The “Learning” segment of the site presents tools, techniques, examples, and resources for developing and implementing an out-of-school leaning program for youth that incorporates technology. “Kids Creations” presents examples of work from kids in centers around the country, including poetry, prose, film, and video. “Technologies” presents step-by-step instructions, guidelines, checklists, and resources for setting up and maintaining a networked learning center in a community-based organization.

“Distance Learning Exchange” is a clearinghouse of information and activities

The Distance Learning Exchange is an internet directory of distance learning activities developed by the Pennsylvania state government. The site provides information about a variety of distance learning activities, such as web quests, satellite teleconferences, electronic field trips, videoconferencing courses, and eMail exchanges. Basic searches may be conducted without registering, while registered users have access to more advanced services. While people turn to the phone book to find a phone number or to a search engine for a web site, there have been very few places to go to find a comprehensive list of distance learning activities. The Distance Learning Exchange provides this service for free to anyone in the world. It allows electronic learning providers to list their activities or courses and interested users to search for an activity that meets their needs—be it an internet course for a parent or an AP class for students. Approximately 200 activities already are listed, with more being added every day. Users can save and track searched activities, receive eMail notification when new activities match a saved search, suggest new activities to providers, approve contact from an activity provider, and view other distance learning links. Providers can use the site to have all of the full user functionality, add and modify activities, view details of suggested activities, and contact users by suggesting activities.

“ENC Online” features a fresh new look—and loads of additional resources

The Eisenhower National Clearinghouse (ENC) recently launched a new version of its web site, ENC Online, the popular site for math and science teachers. ENC is a project of the U.S. Department of Education and was established to provide K-12 educators with a central source of information about teaching materials, innovative ideas, and professional development. Improvements to ENC Online include additional content, a new design for faster download times, and options to sign up for free eMail services. The front page serves as a site map to the incredible wealth of content on the site, giving teachers access to hundreds of web links and teacher resources. Major categories of resources on the site are “Curriculum Resources,” “Web Links,” “Professional Resources,” and “Topics.” Through “Curriculum Resources,” teachers can search to locate all types of teaching materials in ENC’s collection. The searches allow any visitor to choose particular subject words, grade level, cost, and type of material to find exactly what they need for their classroom situation. The ENC collection contains more than 17,000 teaching materials. The “Web Links” area of the site includes ENC’s popular “Digital Dozen” feature. This monthly selection of exemplary math and science web sites can also be delivered to teachers’ eMail boxes if they choose to register with ENC. “Web Links” also include sites with lesson plans, arranged by math or science topic area. The “Professional Resources” area is intended to become a part of teachers’ professional support system. ENC has gathered some of the most popular professional resources in one “Timesavers” area for quick linking and use. Standards and state frameworks are listed conveniently by state; federally funded resources and professional development strategies are also available here. The “Topics” area arranges hundreds of articles, teacher interviews, and selected curriculum resources and web sites thematically. Key issues include inquiry and problem solving, integrating educational technology, equity, and assessment. The site is a wonderful resource for math and science educators.

“Online Poetry Classroom” creates a well-versed community of educators


This month, the Academy of American Poets will launch an online teaching community for high school poetry teachers. According to the Academy of American Poets’ home page, the goals of the Online Poetry Classroom project “are to provide high school teachers with poetry- and technology-specific professional development opportunities, to create an online community of teachers and poets dedicated to teaching poetry, and to set new benchmarks for poetry education.” The Online Poetry Classroom web site officially launches in mid-October, but educators can sign up to receive an eMail announcing the full roll-out. The site will serve as an online resource center and a place for teachers to access valuable literary and pedagogic materials, as well as participate in online discussions and classroom activities. Available materials will include poems, photos, and audio recordings of poets; biographical and bibliographical material; critical and pedagogical texts; and curricula and lesson plans.

Automate the school shopping process for your students has launched a new online teacher registry designed to simplify shopping for school supplies for both parents and students. Now, teachers can register their class list of required school supplies online in the “Back to School” area, and parents and students can access these lists and purchase items from them online, from home or from computer terminals in more than 900 Staples stores nationwide. Parents just need the teacher’s name and their Staples identification number to access their children’s supply lists. “Teachers have made their class supplies lists available in our stores for years. By putting these lists online, parents and students can quickly find and purchase the specific items they need,” said Kelly Mahoney, chief marketing officer for The Teacher Registry provides teachers with a convenient, easy-to-use way to ensure that students have the necessities for their classrooms, but it’s important to note that all profits go to Staples and the site does contain advertising. The lists are made available for parents who prefer online purchasing, but for those who prefer shopping at Staples retail stores, the lists can be printed out at home or at computer terminals in the store.

“” enters the elementary education space

Edventions, the creator of Starship School, has announced the launch of a free educational web portal specifically designed for the needs of elementary school parents, students, teachers, and administrators. provides users with information, tools, and links needed to organize busy schedules and get the most out of their time online. The site provides daily news, weather, advice, tips, and’s innovative time management application, My Tools, automatically when you get online. My Tools is a life management application that helps parents, kids, and educators keep track of dates, events, chores, and responsibilities. Need an eMail reminder from your calendar? Trying to keep track of your car pool? Interested in getting an extra credit assignment to a student or letting a parent in on a student’s progress? You can do all these things with My Tools. Another feature on the site, Starship Reporter, gives members the opportunity to share local news, community events, jokes, tips, and opinions on movies, books, and video games on the web. includes plenty of original content provided by educational experts. For instance, Marsha Arons, a contributor to the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series, writes’s “Family Matters” column, in which she shares her own experiences in raising her children. The site’s free search engine allows exploration of relevant, age-appropriate material. is a useful tool for just about everyone involved in elementary education.