I have a BS in Elementary Education, a MS as a Reading Specialist, and have taught for 13 years, with the majority of my time spent in 5th and 6th grade. In 2006, my classroom received the Technology Rich Classroom grant which forever changed the way I teach. There is no way I could ever go back to teaching without the use of technology. Just try to pry my Elmo out of my cold, dead hands!I am married with four children, aged 14, 12, 10, and 2. In my spare time, I enjoy freelance writing, reading, watching movies, camping, traveling, and spending time with my family.
I teach: Reading, English, Math
To ages: 10 to 12
ePals is a “safe social learning network” for schools that connects learners from across the world. Sponsored by National Geographic, the Smithsonian, and Cobblestone and Cricket magazines, ePals offers opportunities to partner with classrooms across the world on a wide variety of projects. ePals also offers secure student email accounts as well as international penpal opportunities. A free site, ePals helps students create global connections with students and classrooms in over 200 countries.
Global SchoolNet is a great place for teachers to use when looking for collaborative projects. The site offers its own programs to encourage interaction among schools across the world, such as its “Doors to Diplomacy” contest. It also allows teachers to post their own classroom collaborative projects and to participate in others’ posted projects. The projects vary, from simple postcard exchanges across the United States to investigations of fairy tales throughout the world.
Education.com is an absolute clearinghouse of information for teachers. Originally created for use by involved parents, it offers free printable activities, worksheets, workbooks, and educational articles that prove themselves useful to even the most veteran teacher. I find myself turning to this site first whenever I’m looking for a new resource to use in my classroom. The site covers all age levels, from babies to high school students, and has something for everyone.
Journey North is a project-based, collaborative site where classrooms and kids can participate in scientific observations across North America. Students can track and report the growth of tulips, the migration of birds, or the amount of daylight during the year. My favorite project is the Symbolic Butterfly Migration whereby student-created butterflies “fly” to the wintering grounds in Mexico before returning home in the spring.
Puzzle Maker is a perennial favorite of both teachers and students! This free site allows users to create word puzzles such as crosswords, word searches, mazes, or cryptograms. The possibilities of this site are endless. It lends itself well to spelling lessons, as well as for creating vocabulary reviews, student-generated lessons, and fun pages.
Fodey.com allows students to write fun captions and articles that are pasted into unique templates. Students can write a news article that generates to look like an authentic news story complete with dateline and headline. It’s a great site to use for short reports based on historical fiction stories. They can also create a warning label for cigarettes or provide dialogue for a squirrel, owl, flower, or tomato, or have authentic text written by a ninja or wizard.
Story Jumper looks like an elementary writing site, but it also proves itself as a fun site for upper elementary students. On Story Jumper, students write and illustrate a story using the wide assortment of backgrounds and clipart available. The stories can be saved to the Story Jumper site and printed. For a fee, the created stories can also be ordered as a hardback book complete with dedication page.
I absolutely love this site! Initially called “Halloween Hangman,” it has since been adapted to include other holidays such as Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. A skeleton taunts the player as they work to solve the word puzzle. The correct solution results in a scatter of applause while an incorrect answer results in further taunts by the skeleton host. Not your typical hangman site, the rich vocabulary is perfect for middle grade students.
When teaching hard to understand math or science concepts, EdHeads is a great resource to make learning relevant and fun. A free site, EdHeads offers online games and activities to reinforce such complex topics as cell phone technology, simple machines, and stem cells. My students especially enjoy the virtual surgeries they can perform, such as the virtual hip replacement surgery or the deep brain stimulation surgery.
I have use Mailinator both inside the classroom and out. Sometimes students or teachers need an email address to register for a site online, but students may not have an email address and teachers may be reluctant to share their address with a yet untrusted source. Mailinator offers free, temporary email service that can be used as a “throw away” email account. No registration is necessary to use Mailinator.
There are many sites available to use to create wikis, but WetPaint is the easiest I’ve ever found. Teachers can create classroom wikis for students to use for classroom collaboration. WetPaint is a great resource to use to create a class or school resource page for students to use when using online resources. Simply create the page, post acceptable online resources for students, and set it as the computers’ homepage. It is extremely user friendly and takes only a matter of minutes to set up.
Study Island is not free, but it is an excellent site to use to reinforce skills and for test prep. The site offers opportunities to practice reading and math skills that are aligned to each state's official standards. It is currently being updated to reflect the recently adopted Common Core Standards. Students work through the practice sessions to earn blue ribbons and the privilege of playing Study Island games.
Cubert's Cube is an online writing site that offers collaborative opportunities for young writers. Students can use the online drawing tools to illustrate their stories, publish the story to the site, then send email invitations to family and friends to read and review the published writing. It is a great site for teachers to use for online portfolios and meets the recent Common Core Standards regarding collaborative writing.
Story Bird couples gorgeous artwork and student writing to create short stories, poems, or cards. Students choose one of the captivating images, then creates a story based on the image. The completed story can then be printed or shared online with family and friends. The colors and visuals on this site are rich and vibrant, so the finished product always looks professional. The sample stories alone are enough to inspire creativity and discussion among students.
Live Binders dubs itself as "your 3-ring binder for the web," and it is just that. A free site that allows you to organize your computer-based resources easily, it is also a great format to use for presentations. Live Binders allows you to choose your preferred method of organization and helps keep materials contained in one convenient location. No more digging through filing cabinets or closets, it's a great resource to help teacher organize materials within a unit.
Glogster allows users to create interactive multimedia posters. Students and teachers can compile a variety of resources, from pictures and videos to sound bites and text, to create posters on any theme imaginable. I find Glogster to be a creative way for students to synthesize information and collaborate primary sources with student analysis. Glogster has a variety of uses and is excellent for students in upper elementary and above.
I don't know who invented Pinterest, or what its intended use actually was, but it is an educator's dream! For those who have not yet had the joy of discovering Pinterest, it is an online bulletin board where users can "pin" images from across the web for later access. With a space dedicated exclusively to education ideas, Pinterest is a must-have website for any teacher.
Big Huge Labs combines your digital pictures with fun templates to create one-of-a-kind projects to enhance a wide variety of lessons. Upload your digital picture, then create magazine covers, puzzles, or posters. The site is great for creative writing prompts and completed projects can be ordered for a fee or printed for free off your computer. The site lends itself well to creative book reports or classroom created gifts for parents and grandparents.
Spelling City is a great site to help students learn their spelling words as well as a place for teachers to enrich spelling lessons. Students and teachers can enter the weekly list of spelling words to create flash cards, take a practice test, or play spelling games. Spelling City makes spelling lessons more exciting and reinforces spelling in a way that traditional drill and kill practice methods do not.
Voice Thread is a site that allows you to upload pictures, then make voice recordings about the image. There are many uses for Voice Thread, from narratives on vacation pictures to online presentations.
I like using Voice Thread as a mode for book reports. Students can find the uploaded book cover, then post comments about what they read. It's interactive and easy to use.