“NotationStation” sounds like music to our ears
NotationStation.net, by the Philadelphia-based music portal company GVOX, was developed with a simple goal in mindto provide music teachers with a free and easy way to publish their music lessons online, and to offer kids an exciting new way to learn and experience music. Divided into teacher, student, and parent sections, NotationStation.net is an easy-to-use interactive learning center that revolutionizes the way music is taught. Teachers can use this site to create customized music lessons for kids, and students can use it to create online compositions, free of charge through the MusicTime Online service. To get the full benefit of the NotationStation.net service, however, educators must sign up for their own class space on the site. Benefits of signing up include a personalized class site that provides the teacher with unlimited space for posting lessons and notation files. Students can access those lessons 24 hours a day using a private class code. Another benefit is the Lesson Library, which allows users to searchand add tothe vast archive of lessons posted by other educators at NotationStation.net. The site also allows students to post their compositions and homework instantly to their class site for review. The Class Roster automatically keeps track of all students logging into a class and all of their submissions. In addition, free MusicTime Deluxe softwarenormally a $69 valueallows teachers to view and create files offline.
“Firstgov.gov”: A web site of the people, by the people, for the people
In an internet webcast in September, President Clinton announced the launch of a new one-stop government web site for all citizens.
“Computers and the internet are revolutionizing the way we work, live, relate to each other and the rest of the world. They also have the potential to fundamentally transform and improve the way government serves the American people,” he said. The purpose of this web site, according to Clinton, is to allow usersoverwhelmed with the 27 million web pages of government information nowto link to the Federal Information Service or any government service quickly and easily. Users can log on without having to know the name of the agency or the program that offers the specific service they are looking for. “So, go to www.firstgov.gov, and you’re just a few mouse clicks away from web sites where you can apply for student loans or reserve a camp ground in a national park,” Clinton said. The site, created by Dr. Eric Brewer of Inktomi, uses one of the private sector’s most successful search engine technologies. “Out of gratitude and patriotism, [Brewer] developed and donated the search engine for firstgov.gov,” Clinton said. It’s a great site for civics and government teachers, as well as teachers of all subjects.
“Never Again”: Fifth-graders explore the subject of slavery
When Eric Ensey discovered that his history textbook contained only three pages on slavery, the Seattle elementary school teacher got his fifth-grade class to create an online project that explored the subject in greater depth. This well-put-together site features all original content written by Ensey’s students. Their work has been picked up by one of the nation’s leading web sites on African American culture, Africana.com, and has received attention from other schools and researchers from Tennessee to South Africa. The work of the 27 students and their teacher includes essays and drawings about African Americans and the heroic deeds of people such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Abraham Lincoln. The site also addresses topics such as the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the daily life of slaves. The students’ work caught the attention of a teacher in South Africa, and Ensey’s class is starting a pen pal project with the school overseas.
“A Biography of America” personifies
the country’s experience
Created by Annenberg/CPBa partnership between the Annenberg Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) dedicated to using telecommunications media to advance excellent teaching in American schoolsthis web site is based on the PBS series A Biography of America and its 26 chronological video programs but can be used independently as a rich resource for students and teachers at all levels. The site shares its primary goal with the Biography of America series: to help promote critical thinking skills among teachers and students. Each of the chronological sections on the web site lists key events of the time period covered, a map relevant to the era, a transcript of the video program from the original series, an extensive bibliography, and an annotated set of links. In addition, four interactive features tell the American story in a clear and authoritative way. “Image as History” activities help viewers interpret historical paintings, drawings, photographs, or maps. “You Decide” scenarios allow visitors to participate in debates in which authentic arguments from historical sources help guide the final outcome. “Interactive Maps” illustrate the geographic, infrastructure, and demographic changes that have occurred in America. “Interactive Timelines” allow visitors to compare and contrast thematically-based timelines.
“Life on the Rocky Shore” pools together valuable resources
“Life on the Rocky Shore” contains so much informationand is so easy to usethat it almost seems impossible that kids created it. But, according to Alex, one of the site’s designers and creators, “My name is Alex and I am in the fifth grade. I am ten years old and I like to play PokËmon on my Gameboy. I live about 20 miles away from the beach and that is why I wanted to do [this] ThinkQuest [entry] on tide pools.” This web site, created for the international ThinkQuest Junior web site design contest, helps students explore tide pools and learn more about oceans and the creatures within. Activities range from interactive quizzes to ideas for a paper mache tide pool. Several tide tables and links to major aquariums are included. Categories such as Animals, Tides, Tide Pool Safety, and Activities allow young users to explore all areas on this fascinating ecosystem in their own terms. It’s a great site for teaching elementary and middle school earth science.
Research and management resources for the K-12 decision maker
“Teacher Radio” airs news and advice for educators
Global children’s publishing and media company Scholastic Inc. recently announced the launch of Teacher Radio, a half-hour, magazine style program that airs Monday through Thursday via the internet. Each show focuses on topics of interest to teachers, including interviews with authors and education experts (such as math expert Marilyn Burns), advice and inspiring stories from fellow teachers, humor from the classroom, news about education, and reviews of books and educational software. The program’s hosts are Nina Jaffe, faculty member of the Bank Street College of Education and an internationally-known storyteller, and Lou Giansante, a Peabody award-winning radio producer and former educator. The show can be heard each day at the listener’s convenience using streaming audio technology, or you can listen to past shows from the site’s archive.
Encourage technology use among girls with “Girlstart.org”
Girlstart, formerly SmartGrrls, is an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting math, science, and technology-related skills for girls from age one on. The group’s redesigned site features homework help, a birthday club, fun and games, smart stuff experiments, and a “For Parents” section. According to the site’s creators, Girlstart provides a supportive and empowering atmosphere in which girls perform hands-on experiments with robots, microscopes, environmental science, math, engineering, and technology. After-school and Saturday technology camps are held on-site at the group’s Girls Technology Center in Austin for girls ages 10 to 14 (unless otherwise noted in specific program descriptions). Girlstart affiliate programs usually are held on middle school campuses and target girls in grades six through eight. Details about the group’s various programs can be found by clicking on the links provided at the site.
“State Test Prep Center” gets high marks for its usefulness
A survey of parents with children ages 7-15 enrolled in public school revealed that while most parents understand the importance of standardized testing, many are confused about the details. For example, more than 30 percent of parents did not know when, or if, their kids were scheduled to take standardized tests this year. Online educational store SmarterKids.com, which commissioned the study, has responded by providing what it calls “the first free online test prep center on the web,” giving parents and educators essential standardized testing information for all 50 states. The State Test Prep Center features easy-to-use tools, timely information, and a forum where parents can pose questions about standardized testing to SmarterKids.com’s assessment experts. Parents also can enter their child’s test scores to get personalized product recommendations for helping their child improve specific skills in preparation for upcoming testing. The site heavily markets software and other teaching aids, but the TestFacts section is a great resource for educators to send to parents who are curious about state tests.
Learn to use the internet in class
with Dell’s “The Web School”
The Web School is Dell’s newest addition to its K-12 site, an online resource for educators who want to go back to school (virtually) to expand their knowledge of the internet and its uses within the classroom. The Web School is designed to help teachers jump-start their creative thinking about ways to bring classroom instruction to life. Educators who enroll are given a resource to help them learn the internet in order to conduct research, develop lesson plans, and facilitate classroom discussions. Dell developed the Web School after a recent Dell-commissioned study determined that students believe the internet will have a significant impact on their professional lives. The company hopes to bring teachers along in the internet learning curve so they, in turn, can help students prepare for careers that undoubtedly will require some use of technology and the internet.
“Quia.com” is a clearinghouse of educational material
Quia is pronounced key-uh and is short for “Quintessential Instructional Archive.” This research site provides a variety of educational services, including a directory of thousands of online games and quizzes in more than 40 subject areas and templates for creating online games such as flashcards, matching, concentration, word search, and hangman. The site also includes information on tools for creating online quizzes, quiz administration and reporting tools, and free teacher home pages. Quia claims to help teachers teach better by giving them the tools to create, customize, and share learning activities, and it helps students learn more by bringing the resources of hundreds of thousands of educators together in one place. According to Quia Corp. President Paul Mishkin, “Our goal was to create a resource on the internet where teachers can create their own instructional material and share it with other educators.” Activities already available on the site range from lessons in Chinese, to medicine, to music, to geography.