Today’s post is another teacher freebie gathered to help enrich learning through multimedia web tools. These links provide your students opportunities to virtually experience some of the world’s finest art, science, and historical museums. Some sites are image galleries, some are learning games, and others are unique multisensory journeys through the past.
It’s important to differentiate the difference between virtual field trips and online exhibits. Virtual field trips allow the student to explore a museum on the web, as if he were physically at the location. Many museums are now utilizing Second Life for such adventures, and I’ll pull a list of those on another post. Online exhibits, on the other hand, are virtual kiosks of learning. Imagine stopping at one of the exhibits in a museum rather than touring the entire building.
The criteria to make the list included:
Interactivity – does the site allow the student to do something other than read text?
Visually Stimulating – does the site draw the student to explore more?
Content Validity – will the content support state standards?
Coolness factor – would this be a site teachers would talk about and share with others?
To help navigate through these links, I've listed curriculum units these links could support in red. Hopefully this will help you discover some new and innovative sites to use with your interactive white board or with students in a lab.
Of course, even with this list, there are probably some that I have missed. If you would like to suggest another link, please post it in the comments. Thank you.
View the Links
Mastering effective web research skills certainly takes time and practice. Learning to "think" like a search engine or playing the keyword game is similar to learning a foreign language, which can leave a teacher or student overwhelmed. We have all been there more than once. Luckily there are some wonderful tools to help.
Below are a list of reference links categorized by resource and grade levels making it easy for everyone. Do you have elementary students researching rainforest animals? Scroll down to National Geographic's Creature Feature. How about high school students gathering current event stories? Look for the links from the daily political cartoons or CNN Student News. Also in the list are bibliography generators, conversion tools, biography databases, encyclopedias, weather data links, and more.
You will also see Google tips in purple explaining how many of these reference tools can be used in a simple Google search. They are easy to implement and only require one stop to Google.
I would highly recommend teachers to pull some of these links and place them on their classroom webpages. As students conduct research, providing them with direct links will give them the scaffold they need to research effectively and efficiently.
Click Here to View the Links
Do you get excited for professional development days? I'll let you reflect on that a moment....what meetings do you attend? What opportunities do you get to grow as a professional? What technology training do you receive? What conversations do you have?
Can you recall a great professional development day? Was it hands-on? Engaging? Fun?
Now imagine a Teacher Field Trip Day. The Science department spends a day at a museum doing hands-on experiments and research. The K-2 teachers visit a local children’s museum to learn about a new exhibit on frogs. The Language Arts teachers spend the day with the educational department at the Art Museum discovering how to incorporate art and poetry. The health teachers visit a hospital to meet with nutritionists and psychologists on teen health. The elementary PE teachers travel to a dance studio to learn folk dances for a spring unit. The social studies teachers visit three historical landmarks and mark them with GPS for a student project.
The power of teachers being able to receive professional development from local resources is amazing, but where would you start putting a day like this together?
Start with investigating what resources are within an hour? Zoos? Museums? Universities? Health Clubs? Major Industries? Many of these have community outreaches and some specifically for teachers that few know exist. Call them to see what opportunities are available. You might be surprised to find they are very willing to partner with you for classroom projects. Even if your student field trip budgets have been reduced, these contacts might be able to Skype or UStream into your classroom for free.
Take a look at your curriculum standards. How would you improve your classroom instruction by participating in a teacher field trip?
Brainstorm what you need to learn. You might need to learn a specific skill (a dance, how to use a new piece of equipment, how the GIS society uses GPS) or need to discover how the professional world is using new technologies (forensic scientists, robotics, Auto CAD, graphic design, banking systems).
Consider forming a partnership with the resource. Would that person be an expert in the field for a student project? Could your students gather data for that resource (we had 5th graders gather data on bagworms at a local nature center for an entire year)? Does that resource sponsor a charity your students could support through a community service project?
Build a plan to use the new information in your classroom while your enthusiasm is high. Teacher field trips are rare opportunities, so take advantage of the knowledge as much as possible.
Now consider if you were paid to take an in depth Teacher Field Trip to one of America's landmarks. Would you volunteer to take a workshop at Ellis Island? The Constitution Center? Pearl Harbor? The National Gallery of Art? On a sailboat at sea? Believe it or not, these opportunities do exist!
Here are a few:
Today’s topic again focuses on another valuable teacher freebie, and free is in my price range. How about you? Today’s post gives each of us a rare professional development opportunity – learning from other teachers who teach the same curriculum as you. Think about it. Wouldn’t the idea of having just a first grade teacher conference be phenomenal? How about a drama teacher conference? Or one for middle school English teachers? What sort of conversations would you have? What resources would you share?
Now think about the possibility of peering inside another teacher’s classroom to see what wonderful projects and activities were happening. Could you take an idea or two back to your room? Absolutely! That’s the power of following educational blogs.
What I’ve pulled for you today are blogs divided by subject and grade level for you to quickly reference, but I do encourage you to explore blogs outside of your curriculum, as well. Some are classroom blogs. Others are teacher reflections. A few are teaching strategies with classroom resources, and there are even some from outside education, but relate to your curriculum.
I cannot guarantee you will be able to reference all of these blogs while at school, as I am aware many school filters limit access to blogs. Please, do not let that discourage you from investigating, however. Take the time to check these out. Hopefully you will find inspiration and wonderful ideas.
If you own a blog or know of another one that would fall under this list, please consider adding it to the comments. The better the list, the better we all will benefit.
Click Here to View the Links
Today I’m offering some great free online photo editors. Though there are a heap of editors online that do very advanced Photoshop like enhancements, today I’m sharing for of the easiest and most intuitive tools available. Even if you are a novice to photo editing, these are great tools for you too. The images used with these tools come from a travel buddy project I helped manage a couple of years ago. I’ll be writing on travel buddy projects next week.
If you want to use your digital photos on classroom wikis or blogs, you will need to know a bit about image sizing and pixels. For websites, I recommend 320x240. It’s a nice 4 inch image that won’t take too much space yet it is easy to view. This image size conversion calculator will give you a good visual on image sizes in a web space. If you click the preview button, you will see how large the image will be on a website.
If you are simply wanting to resize an image to send as an email attachment, I suggest 640x480. That prevents folks from having to scroll to the right and down three times in order to see the image. Am I the only one who gets frustrated with those? :)
Click Here to View the Links with Photo Examples