Ira Glass, the radio host of This American Life on NPR, gives his opinion of how to become great at your art. Although he is speaking of writing, this could be a great motivational tool for anyone who has ambition in a particular field. David Shiyang Liu created the typography to go along with Ira’s words.
This collection of videos on various topics is described by the author as “off the grid-for-little-kids videos and other smart stuff collected by Rion Nakaya and her three year old co-curator.” There are lots of fun, interesting, and educational productions to choose from in her archive, as well as on her main page. These videos would be great to use for research, as starting topics for writing, or just as “hooks” to get your students’ attention. The best thing is, although I guess we can never be certain of this, that most are probably appropriate for the classroom if they have been approved by a 3 year old.
This website is fun to visit for the graphics alone! It is sponsored by Raytheon, and designed specifically to engage middle school students in math and science. It offers games, scholarship information, and much more. Students can register to earn credits with their games, or they can play as guests. Even clicking on different links on this site produces interesting visuals that are sure to catch the attention of kids and grownups alike.
If you have not visited www.ted.com, or downloaded the app, please do so as soon as you can. The site is full of inspirational, though-provoking videos on a plethora of topics. Of course, it is always advisable to preview a video before you make it available to your students, but TED also includes interactive transcripts that you can skim for any objectionable content. Larry Ferlazzo had a great post recently on his blog that included various resources to accompany the TED talks, including a wiki in which teachers share their ideas for using it in the classroom.
Khan Academy is a revolutionary approach to teaching which advocates “Flipping the Classroom”. You can view the TED video below to learn about the humble beginnings of the Academy on YouTube, and the ambitious plans Mr. Khan now has for his free service. Basically, the site has hundreds of video lessons indexed in which Mr. Khan explains a variety of topics – mostly math and science related. If you have a G-mail or Facebook account, you can become a Coach. Your students, who would also have to register with one of these e-mail addresses, can complete exercises on the site at their own pace. As the Coach, you can monitor their progress using several different tools included in the registration portion of the site. Even if you don’t want to register, this is a fabulous resource for allowing students to learn at their own pace, or even for reteaching and reviewing topics.
Wonderopolis is a very engaging site that elementary school students could use to find out more about their interests. It features a Wonder of the Day, but also has a catalogue of “Wonders” listed by category. For example, under “Animals”, there is an article called, “Why do Cats Like Catnip?” This site encourages curiosity and independent research. It includes videos and fun facts that are sure to entertain and educate. There is a widget teachers could embed into their own sites and blogs.
Vocab Ahead would be an appropriate site for gifted students from 3rd grade and up. English/Language Arts teachers of secondary students would also be interested in using this site. It is designed to prepare students for the SAT and ACT tests. However, anyone who is interested in advancing his or her vocabulary skills would enjoy the free features on this site. After registering, a teacher can design individualized lists of words. Students can view short videos using the words in context, practice learning them with flash cards, and take quizzes. The customized lists can be embedded into a teacher’s website or blog. In addition, students can create their own videos for words that can be uploaded to the site. For this reason, I would advise the teacher to preview any of the videos he or she chooses to add to a list.