Best new instructional resources on the internet

“MarcoPolo” is a site you should explore right away

Developed by Worldcom, the MarcoPolo web site provides no-cost, standards-based internet content for K-12 teachers, created by some of the nation’s leading content experts (including National Geographic and the Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge). Though it’s not a new site, new content recently has been added. Its online resources now include panel-reviewed links to top sites in many disciplines, professionally developed lesson plans, classroom activities, materials to help with daily classroom planning, and powerful search engines. A free professional development program is available to introduce educators at all grade levels to MarcoPolo and its uses in the classroom. Goals of the program include motivating educators to make internet resources an integral part of their curricula, allowing educators to become familiar with MarcoPolo and its partnership web sites, and engaging educators in the development of internet-based lesson plans using MarcoPolo resources. Users can download a leader’s guide that provides step-by-step instructions for implementing the program, an overview of instructional units, presentation notes for each unit, and reproducible handouts for distribution to program participants. The program is intended for professional development workshops with educators who already know how to use a computer. Selected elements of the program may also be distributed to individual teachers for reference or as a self-directed tutorial. While designed to help experienced internet users become proficient in teaching with internet resources, the program also covers topics of interest to those who are novices to the internet.

Take your classes on a pilgrimage to the “Chaucer Metapage”

This site is a terrific resource for teachers and students trying to understand Chaucer, or for those trying to get a feel for life in 14th- and 15th-century England. Students can visit this site to read about Chaucer’s work, hear the work read aloud in flawless Middle English, and figure out the meanings of many Middle English words found in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. This project was initiated at the 33rd International Congress of Medieval Studies by a group of medievalists interested in promoting Chaucer studies on the internet. Its aims are to organize and provide navigation aides for Chaucer resources on the web, to work toward enhancing and extending those resources, and to encourage Chaucer studies, including those undertaken via distance learning, at all levels of education. Users can also use the site to find background on Chaucer’s English, link to online texts of his works, and read criticism and extrapolations of his various writings.

“The Inaugural Classroom” is a timely resource

If all goes according to schedule, the 43rd president of the United States will be inaugurated in January. To get an idea of the importance and history surrounding this historic event, teachers can refer their students to President Clinton’s site, The Inaugural Classroom. The PBS-created site is billed as “the first web site designated especially to provide students and teachers with educational lessons and activities about the Presidential Inauguration and its importance in American history, government, and the democratic process.” Since the site was established to mark Clinton’s second inauguration in January 1997, it tends to be a bit Clinton-heavy, but there is enough bipartisan and unbiased educational material on this site to make it a great resource nonetheless. Educators can lead their children in civics units with topics ranging from “The inauguration and the Media,” “Steps in Selecting a President,” “The Constitution and the Inauguration,” and “Poetry and the Inauguration.” The site also presents lesson plans on the other two presidents elected at the turn of their century, John Adams (inaugurated in 1797) and William McKinley (inaugurated in 1897).

“” isn’t small on classroom relevance, developed by the American Society for Microbiology, provides a comprehensive resource of microbial information on the internet specifically tailored to children in the sixth grade and up. Visitors to the site will find a wealth of microbiological information and can read up on science news, try do-it-at-home microbiology activities, test their handwashing know-how, and get career information. The text is written in an easy-to-understand, conversational manner, explanations are simple, and pronunciations of tongue-twisting scientific names are sprinkled throughout. Colorful electron micrographs and illustrations bring the invisible microbial world into vivid clarity. “This web site rocks!” says Jennifer Lerson, a student who visited “I was doing a project on microbes, and this site helped so much.” Agreed Matthew Anticole, a physics teacher at Norwin High School in North Huntingdon, Pa., “The information is complete, written well, and with great graphics. In addition, there is an excellent list of activities and the career section is outstanding! I am very grateful that your organization took the time to put together a first-rate resource that uses the power of the internet to its advantage.” The site recently received a Gold Circle award from the American Society of Association Executives. These awards recognize excellence in communications programs by nonprofit organizations, and was selected from among 50 submissions for the second-highest award in the web site category.

“” archives useful links and primary source documents

MultiEducator Inc. recently announced the launch of what it describes as the largest history web site on the internet, Drawing on materials from the 21 history CD-ROMs developed by MultiEducator over the last decade, “brings history alive,” its creators say. A key component of is the timeline of major world events beginning in 10,000 B.C. and ending with 1999. Links are provided to related web sites for additional information. Particularly timely is a complete history of U.S. presidential elections, offering state-by-state tallies, and graphs of the electoral and popular vote. This section tracked the 2000 elections with updated polls and pertinent candidate information, and it continues to provide information. The election component also links to a biography section covering the lives of the American presidents and their first ladies. Another feature of the site is “Nation by Nation,” which provides historical, economic, demographic, and geographic information on all countries of the world. About 400 primary source documents are available on the site, making it a significant source for educational material.

“Kids Courier” delivers newsworthy resources for teaching literacy

The National Children’s Literacy Project, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the literacy skills of children, is offering educators a free and unique skill-building tool in the form of an elementary school newspaper. The Kids Courier newspaper is customized for each school district that participates by publishing their students’ creative works. Useful to grades two through five, the newspaper is supported by the Kids Courier web site, offering downloadable lesson plans and classroom ideas for sparking creativity through Kids Courier. The web site is a great place for teachers to go when looking for creative writing ideas, or when hoping to spark student’s interest in literature and journalism. The Literacy Project is working to support teachers with a free reading and writing resource that their younger students will find interesting and relevant, thereby enticing them to read and write with the motivation of being published. To get started with the program, educators can visit the web site or call the Literacy Project at (800) 809-5437.

“” is a can’t-miss site is a free web site for teachers and students, presenting an engaging and beautifully animated story with educational games. The Teacher’s Area offers lots of free lesson plans, activities, and reproducible handouts. The ad-free, environmentally focused web site contains science experiments, math problem-solving activities, and the story, “A Great Catch,” by Jean Craighead George. Younger students will love the clever animation depicting the environmentally conscious adventures of Miss Maggie and her dog, Dude. The guide has lots of vocabulary development and writing suggestions built into it, as well as loads of comprehension activities. Site developers use the Word Study approach and suggest many word sorts and activities. Developers also plan to post a new story, complete with activities, about every two months. The site’s creator, Earth Adventures Ltd., an Irish company with headquarters in Middleburg, Va., was established in December 1999 with the goal of educating children on environmental issues. The site’s materials are designed to provide children with the knowledge and motivation to make educated and responsible decisions so they may protect and build a sustainable future for the planet.


Research and management resources for the K-12 decision maker

Check out this new site from the Education Commission of the States

With in-depth issue areas focusing on virtually every education issue from accountability to vouchers, important but tough-to-come-by state comparisons, national context, and unbiased quality information, this site gives anyone involved in education policy the tools needed to make informed decisions. The Education Commission of the States (ECS) recently launched this comprehensive redesign of its web site. Long considered with its education information clearinghouse to be the national leader in providing assistance to state leaders working to improve their education systems, ECS now offers more quality information online. “Quite simply, this is a web site that education policymakers should not live without,” said Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer. Geringer is former ECS chairman and co-chairs the National Governors’ Association’s eGovernance Task Force. The newly revamped ECS web site features issue sites on a wide array of education issues, from accountability to vouchers. Issue sites give users up-to-date, thoughtful, bipartisan information on key education issues, including “What States Are Doing,” “Selected Research and Readings,” “Related Issues,” “Pros and Cons,” and “ECS Projects.” The new ECS web site also offers detailed education information about each state and U.S. territory, a news and media section that offers the weekly ECS electronic newsletter, and a daily listing of the top education news stories from across the country.

“Distance Education at a Glance” is worth a look

If you’re interested in distance education and distance learning, this web site has information on all the technologies and strategies for successful planning, deployment, and evaluation of a distance learning program. In order to help teachers, administrators, facilitators, and students understand distance education, Barry Willis, the associate dean for Outreach at the University of Idaho, and the department staff present a series of guides highlighting the information detailed in his books, “Distance Education: Strategies and Tools” and “Distance Education: A Practical Guide.” On the web site, Willis presents a series of 14 guides, including an overview of distance education, teaching strategies, instructional development, evaluation, instructional television and audio, and computers in distance education. Other topics that users can learn more about include videoconferencing, using the world wide web, and copyright issues. Willis also presents a glossary of distance education terms as a reference point for readers. A great place to start for the distance education novice.

Get ideas for collaborating online with students in other countries

“The Teacher’s Guide to International Collaboration on the Internet,” a division of the U.S. Department of Education’s web site, was launched in commemoration of International Education Week, November 13-17, 2000. As an online resource, the Teacher’s Guide is intended to help teachers and their students “reach out” globally through the internet. The guide contains a variety of online resources, organized by subject areas, and tools that will help teachers get started or expand ongoing international collaborative activities. “This new education era is defined by freedom of information, a freedom that will surely enhance the power of individuals to make choices about their lives,” said Education Secretary Richard Riley in his speech, “The Growing Importance of International Education.” This site aims to provide just that, with topics of interest ranging from foreign language, to graphic arts and music, to vocational education.

Snap up these tips for using “Digital Cameras in the Classroom”

Created by an elementary school teacher, this web site provides other educators with links to sites dealing with the purchase and review of digital cameras and ideas for using digital cameras to support the curriculum. The site is fairly bare-bones, but it’s easy to use and chock full of information on issues such as “Buying digital cameras online,” “Digital camera prices,” “Advantages and disadvantages of digital cameras,” and reviews of different models and camera accessories. The site also links to sample projects by various teachers who have integrated their digicams into their classroom, as well as interesting student-centered projects using digital photography. There is even a section on student assessment that highlights the creation of electronic portfolios and outlines the best ways to use digital photography to do so. The site is a great resource for teachers or technologists who aren’t sure where to begin with digital photography.

“” aims to be a teacher’s pet

“ Everything for Education Preschool-Grade 2” is the newest member of the family of educational resource sites. The prescreened database of links provides a comprehensive cornerstone for early childhood educators using the internet. EduPuppy acts as a portal for preK-2 educators, linking directly to exceptional sites that provide wonderful content and resources for teachers and families. The easy-to-navigate site allows users to search by categories and keywords, making their web experience effective and efficient. EduPuppy links to content-rich lesson plans and educational units, technology and integration sites, educational articles and research, and early childhood theories. The site also includes developmentally appropriate special education materials. Additionally, by using the HotList feature, users will be able to create custom web pages and “HotUnits,” or online study units. also hosts a weekly eNewsletter, “EduPuppy Weekly.” The site’s creators provide the latest in early childhood education news, links to great sites, answers to questions from readers, and guest experts in the early childhood community.