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.
This site, produced by Scholastic, is a nice tool to use in helping teachers to select books. It includes leveled searches based on the “Level System” your school uses. Another nifty feature is the “Book Alike” search, which allows you to look for books which are similar to certain ones the student already likes. For the latter, the teacher can even use a toggle switch to indicate whether to search for books at an easier, harder, or equivalent level to the book cited. A Book Wizard widget can be added to your website or blog for students and parents to utilize as well.
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.
Socrative is a student response system that pretty allows you to use any device with internet access, instead of having to purchase expensive separate hand-helds. Once registered (and it is free), the teacher can create quizzes, exercises, and quick exit tickets. It could be used in “real time” by students who each have an iPod Touch/iPad or laptop, teams of students who share an internet enabled device, or even by students at home or rotating through one computer in a classroom center. I used this on a regular basis with my students last year, and they loved it. I appreciated getting instant feedback on what they knew or how they felt about a topic. They enjoyed making it into a game with the “Space Race” feature that showed their team rockets moving forward on our classroom screen as they answered questions correctly. The teacher can have a spreadsheet with the results sent by an e-mail when the quizzes are completed, and graphs can be viewed by the entire class of the results. Many of these things can be done using Google Forms, but Socrative makes it easier and more fun for the students.
UPDATE 9/23/12: Class Dojo now has an app that allows you to easily access your classes to add and subtract points from your iOS mobile device. Click here for more info!
Class Dojo is a website that also has a mobile platform, meaning that you can access it from a classroom computer, laptop, smartphone, or any other device with Internet access. The purpose of this site is behavior management, and there are several features that would make this a great teacher tool. Once you receive the link (you need to enter your email in order to obtain a free account), you can then enter the names of your students. If you have multiple classes, you can enter each one separately. To increase the appeal to the students, you can even choose an avatar for each individual name. Then, you can type in the names of the targeted behaviors you would like to reward. There is also a column for negative behaviors.
Once you have everything set up, it is a simple matter to click the mouse or tap a screen every time a behavior is observed. The site keeps track of each student’s tally, and you can even print out a report of the class behavior or each student’s performance.
This is a great site for classroom management, making it easy to differentiate and to motivate a variety of students.
I have been using Thinking Blocks for several years with students who are working ahead of their peers in class. It allows students to use blocks to model word problems. Because the site includes all four operations, I think that it would be a great resource for reinforcement as well as for enrichment. It easily allows for independent learning as it has videos that introduce each topic and an easy way to track progress. There is even a printable certificate once a level is completed.
Thinkfinity has been one of my “go-to” sites for many years, ever since its infant stage as Marco Polo. It is a wonderful resource for teachers use for finding interesting lesson ideas based on national standards. It has several content partners, including “Read, Write, Think” and “Illuminations“. You can choose certain partners to search, the grade level, the standards, etc…Whenever you are looking for a new idea to add a spark to your lesson, this is definitely one place you should visit.