Most teachers I know accept that their classes must be technology-infused. Many think that means replacing traditional tools with the tech version (for example, instead of creating a big bulky poster, use a virtual poster like Glogster). Others think using iPads to read the book is homage enough to the 21st Century teaching police. A surprising number of students — and teachers — still consider technology to be the realm of a chosen few endowed with brilliance and math/science skills. When you try to explain that technology, computers, and websites are easily accessible to anyone willing to think critically and solve problems, they laugh. Or hide.
Here are fourteen websites I use to persuade teachers that technology isn’t always about math and science, that lots of tools work flawlessly as they inspire students to new ways of learning.
This site shows the Google search engine backwards as is everything you type into the search field. This is from the creative minds at elgooG (not affiliated with Google) and only for entertainment. When you’re done giggling over the oddity of a backwards world, try some of their other geeky options included at the top of the screen like:
- Snake Game (at the top of the Backwards Google screen)
- Do a Barrel Roll –click the link and Google will do a barrel roll before beginning your search
- Tilt — click the link and Google will tilt before performing your search
Chrome Experiments is a showcase of over 1200 web experiments written by the creative coding community. They are clever and often addicting and include a mesmerizing kaleidoscope, Fluid Particles (waves of particles generated by a SketchUp type drawing you create), Searching Planet (a 3D visual of what people around the globe search for on Google), and A Year in the Life of Earth’s CO2 (shows how carbon dioxide travels around the globe over the course of one year).
Can’t say much about this without giving the secret away. Trust me, it’s worth the click.
Picture intentionally deleted — click to see.
Click one of the 256 spots in the large square to play a piano note. The challenge is to draw a pixelated picture while creating fun music. This is a great tool to practice vocabulary (have students write the word by depressing the squares and then enjoy the music).
This YouTube video is a mashup of music, background and a spirited pony who seems to dance to the music. The creators admit it was shared just to show how much fun technology can be. This link takes you to a lot more of these pony-oriented mashups.
Easter eggs are geeky oddities included in the backend programming of many (many) software and webtools. Rarely do you stumble on them, but they can be discovered by searching “Easter eggs+[the game]”. Google nerds can’t help themselves and these have become favorite insider knowledge for all Google aficionados. Here are a few:
- search ‘askew’ and the results will be appropriately tilted
- search ‘blink’ and the word will blink wherever it is found on the page
- search ‘zerg rush’ and Google O’s will attack the screen forcing you to protect your hits by clicking on the O’s
- search ‘flip a coin’ and Google will actually do that for you. Great for a virtual coin toss. This also is true if you search ‘roll the dice’.
- search ‘play dreidel’ and it’ll spin for about ten seconds
This is great for youngers and addicting to olders. It is one of those videos you share at Easter and will excite students about the entire video-technology process.
Clicking this link brings up the Google search page, but the Google logo is displayed as a guitar. Students can pluck the virtual strings to create music. If you’re creative and tenacious enough, they’ll compose a song. Google even helpfully provides the strings you should pluck to play songs like Harry Potter, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Happy Birthday.
Click to see the Google logo as a Pacman game that you can play with mouse clicks. You can also find this game by typing “Google Pacman” for a fully-active though minimised game.
Run Google Search like the old terminal DOS websites. Great for a historic look back at the computing world.
This YouTube video shows America from the perspective of a biplane swooping over all of the nation’s amazing landscape and landmarks, all to the accompaniment of motivational, upbeat music. It’s a favorite in my classes.
As you type, the program assigns music to each key. When done, you have a musical version of whatever you typed. This is somewhat like Click This Square above, but with typing skills.
This is a Google search page with an interactive ocean scene at the bottom. Students can click the water, drag through the biome, and practice their mouse basics. Also put out by elgooG.
A virtual image of the boundless extent of our Universe. You can drill down to a specific star or zoom out for a panoramic image, all backed by the most stimulating cosmic music you could hope to hear.
If you have a favorite only-for-fun website, share it below in comments. I’m always looking for more.
More fun technology:
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.