I keep a list of themed websites that are easy-in easy-out for students. They must be activities that can be accomplished enjoyably in less than ten minutes. In the parlance, these are called “sponges”. Here are 19 I think you’ll like:
- Contraction Games
- Contraction Crossword
- Contraction Practice
- Feast of Homonyms
- Grammar Gorillas
- Plural Nouns
- Suffix Match
- The Crossing–attempts to cross a gorge; some fail; all result in success
- Math Pickle–put student in a choatic situation and see how they solve the problem
Lots of kids think technology is technical, another word for complicated/difficult/math-like. Here are six art-oriented websites students can visit that will change their minds. I’ve also included a link to a long list of education-appropriate art websites
Note: Mr. Picasso Head is no longer available
Here are more online art websites:
Here are a few of the popular resources teachers are using to reinforce chemistry in MS and HS:
- Beaker–a digital beaker app
- Chemistry collection from Carnegie
- Chemistry instructional videos
- ChemmyBear–resources for Chemistry and AP Chemistry classes
- CK12 Chemistry simulations
- Concord Consortium–chemistry, earth science, engineering, life science, physics
- Crash Course: Chemistry (videos)
- EMD PTE — periodic table
- Interactive Periodic Table
- Molecules–Molecules is an application for viewing three-dimensional renderings of molecules and manipulating them using your fingers.
- NanoSpace Molecularium–virtual amusement park about atoms and molecules; from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Periodic Table of Elements–interactive
- Periodic Table videos
- PhET Simulations for chemistry and physics
- Reactions–short videos on chemistry topics
- Slow Motion Chemistry — videos on chemistry
Click here for updates to this list.
- Crash Test Simulator
- Driver Education and Training Videos
- Edriving–driving simulations
- Operation Lifesaver
- Simulated driving (fee)
Driving and Texting
- It can wait — video showing simulation of driver distracted by texting
- Texting etc–Chicken Road YouTube
- Texting–a game that gauges your distraction while driving and texting
- Texting and Driving–video on the real-life implications
- Texting While Walking–from the NYT, a video op-ed
- The Last Text –video
- Wait for it — very sad video about texting and driving
Click here for updates to this list.
June is National Internet Safety Month, thanks to a resolution passed in 2005 by the U.S. Senate. The goal is to raise awareness about online safety for all, with a special focus on kids ranging from tots to teens. Children are just as connected to the Internet as adults. This is a great list of internet cautions I got from an online efriend a few years ago. It covers all the basics, avoids boring details, and gives kids (and adults) rules to live by:
Not everything you read online is true
It used to be anything we read in print was true. We could trust newspapers, magazines and books as reliable sources of information. It’s not the same with the web. Since anyone can become published, some of the stuff you’re reading online isn’t true. Even worse, some people are just rewriting stuff they read from other people online, so you might be reading the same false information over and over again. Even Wikipedia isn’t necessarily a reliable source. If you’re researching something online, consider the source. Some poorly written, ramdom web page, isn’t necessarily a good source. However, if you find a .gov or .org site, the information has a better chance of being true. Always look at who owns the website and whether or not they have an agenda before considering whether or not certain information is true.
This is the hard part because we want to trust our friends, even our online friends. The truth is, some of the people you meet online are lying about who they really are. Sometimes adults pretend to be kids and kids pretend to be someone else. They do this for a variety of reasons; grownups might want to try and have sex with kids or frenemies might want to act like friends to get information on someone they want to bully at school or online. Unless you know someone very well and can verify their identity, don’t trust that everyone who you speak to online are who they say they are.
Some people who are pretending to be kids really aren’t. There are grownups who pretend to be kids so teens and kids won’t get creeped out talking with them. This is never a good thing. Most of the grownups who are looking to talk to kids are looking for sex. Parents need to monitor their kids’ friends list and ask questions about the friends they don’t know. It’s more prevalent than you think and it COULD happen to you.
Last year was a boom year for edtech web tools. There were so many, I couldn’t keep up. I would discover what seemed to be a fantastic tool (most likely discovered in FreeTech4Teachers, Alice Keeler, or one of the other tech ed blogs I follow), give it about five minutes to prove itself, and then, depending upon that quick review, either dig deeper or move on. If it was recommended by a colleague in my professional learning network, I gave the site about twice as long but still, that’s harsh. I certainly couldn’t prove my worth if given only five minutes!
Nevertheless, that’s how it is because there are too many options. Here’s what I wanted to find out in the five minutes:
- Is the creator someone I know and trust (add-ons by Alice Keeler always fit that requirement)?
- Is it easy to access? Meaning, does it open and load quickly without the logins I always forget?
- Is it easy to use? Meaning, are links to the most important functions on the start page? For example, in Canva, I can create a flier for my class in under five minutes because the interface is excellent.
- For more complicated tools, how steep is the learning curve? Does the site offer clear assistance in the form of videos, online training, or a helpline?
- Is the content age-appropriate for the grades I teach?
- Is it free or freemium, and if the latter, can I get a lot out of it without paying a lot? I don’t like sites that give me “a few” uses for free and then charge for more. Plus, free is important to my students who may not be able to use it at home unless there’s no cost attached.
- Is there advertising? Yes, I understand “free” probably infers ads so let me amend that to: Is it non-distracting from the purpose of the webtool?
- How current is it? Does it reflect the latest updates in standards, pedagogy, and hardware?
- Does it fulfill its intended purpose?
- Has it received awards/citations from tech ed groups I admire?
After all that, here are five websites that I discovered last year, loved, and will use to brighten the Spring months:
Here’s a great list of age-appropriate, safe websites that will inspire third graders whether they’re in your classroom or at home (check here for updates):
- Riding the Wind with Kalani
- Weather Websites
- Wild Weather Adventure
- All About America
- USA Puzzle
- 360o views from around the world
- Computer lab favorites
- How stuff works
- Quick quizzes—how much do you know?
- Thinking Skills–Riddles
- USA Puzzle
- Water Cycle–very visual; good tool for lower grades
- Water cycle–interactive
- Water cycle—label diagram
More resources for third graders
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.
- Occupational Therapy–a long list of great apps including stress, social skills building, and more
- Read&Write–for students with dyslexia or English language learners who struggle with reading and writing.
- Signed Stories–beautiful stories in sign language
- Speech Therapy and Language Apps–apps like Conversation Builder, StoryBuilder, Tense Builder, Rainbow Sentences, designed for kids who need a different approach
So much available to differentiate for every student’s special need. Here are 50 of them:
- Autism browser—Zac Browser
Throughout the year, I post websites and apps the Ask a Tech Teacher crew’s classes found useful, instructive, helpful in integrating technology into classroom lesson plans. Some, you agreed with us about; others not so much.
Here are the reviews you-all thought were the most helpful in efforts to weave tech into the classroom experience:
- Quick Review of 7 Popular Math Programs
- 4 Great Alternatives to Google Classroom
- 7 Tech Tools for PE Teachers
- 15 Websites to Teach Financial Literacy
- 28 Unique Ideas for Publishing Student Work
- How to Use Google Drawings
- 3 Apps That Encourage Students to Read
- 17 Great Research Websites for Kids
- 22 Websites and 4 Posters to Teach Mouse Skills
- 13 Ways to Use Canva in Your Classroom
Oh–would you mind adding me to your social media links? Here’s where you can find me:
Thanks! Have a wonderful 2021!