I am a homeschool parent of a teenager and a preteen. We use a combination of online and print resources. We are always looking for something new to add to our homeschool experience!
I teach ages: 12 to 17
I use Delicious to collect blogs and articles and organize them. This can be used in two different ways for an educator.
1 – To plan a unit study. It is a great bookmarking tool for finding and organizing information. Bookmarked items are organized into "stacks." Once you have items in a stack, it can be made public.
2 – To collect articles that you would like students to read. You can provide a link to your delicious page, and direct them to a particular stack. I actually had a college instructor who did this for further study, and it was helpful.
The advantage to using Evernote vs. the bookmark in your browser is that you can access it from anywhere online; you don't have to be at your own computer.
Now that I have Evernote, I use Delicious less, just because it has more options for clipping information. However, for online article bookmarking, it is great tool.
As a parent of an 11th grade student, college search and planning is one of our top priorities this year. Edu Trek provides some basic starting information for that search. Students will have to look other places to get more in-depth help, but this is a good place to start and make sure you are covering the basics.
The site claims to be neutral and comprehensive. I would definitely say that it is neutral, but not comprehensive. It has a very limited list of schools right now. Perhaps that will change in the future, as the site indicates that all listings are thoroughly reviewed before they are published. I wouldn't consider this a great college-search tool yet.
The primary use of this site should be to audit your activity and make sure that you have thought about everything such as costs, financial aid, required testing, future job market, etc.
I'd be lost without Evernote – I use it for everything. Before Evernote I had endless physical notebooks and folders and it was hard to stay organized.
As an educator, I use Evernote to find resources without getting "stuck" reading one. I can simply search and browse and capture the screens, taking notes and tagging them, so that I can put it all together later. The notes are organized into notebooks, but they can also be tagged with multiple labels for easy searching. As an information architecture junkie, this is very satisfying.
A student can also use Evernote for research. It allows them to collect a large number of resources without having to spend the time to fully read each one to decide if it is worth printing or bookmarking. They can also add their own notes and comments so that they can remember how they might want to apply the information. It is extremely user friendly, as long as you install the web clipper. Just right click and clip!
This is a great "thinking warm up tool." Sometimes my kids just don't feel like engaging, and you really have no choice using 101questions. It's not a difficult warm-up, like a puzzle or other critical thinking exercise; it just gets the wheels turning a bit.
It's basically a series of pictures and videos, and the student enters the first question that comes to mind.
This is great for the perfectionist student who hesitates to answer questions because they are afraid of being wrong. There is no right or wrong answer to this; in fact, the student doesn't enter answers, they answer questions. This application gives them some room and some freedom to open up and share.
I don't know that it is highly educational; but it does help with thinking and sharing habits.
Quizlet is a great resource and time-saver! I have been able to find several existing sets of flashcards that will help us study and review this year. It is great for high school, as there is a large collection of AP and SAT/ACT cards. I love the art history collections that already have great collections of pictures.
One the features I really like is the multiple print options. Its great that you can print these as actual flashcards, but when you have a really large set, this can be expensive. There is an option to print the terms as a vocabulary list, using less printer ink.
This site produces better-quality flash cards than other similar sites I have visited. There seems to be more structure to the way the application creates the layout. It is also easier to use. I would definitely rate Quizlet as the top site for flashcards.
I have browsed this site looking for ideas and materials. Although I found a few helpful ideas (Example: a mystery state game for geography review), it seems to be low on quality examples. I wouldn't really call it a "lesson-plan" site; it is more like a teaching tips site.
There are definitely some good materials on this site, but you have to work hard to find them. The site is not very user-friendly. It is busy, it has very small print, and the categories are odd. For example, the Language Arts category cannot be narrowed to writing, grammar, spelling, literature, etc. You have to scroll through the whole list.
I will continue to visit this site, but it will not be at the top of my list.
As a homeschool parent, any time I see "free" and "books" used together I am interested. I would say that this is the primary way that I use this site. There are a lot of classic works and test prep materials available through Google books. While the Kindle Application (mobile and desktop) also has this feature, it has less tools for organizing. Google books allows customs bookshelves, so you can organize books by subject or student.
If you are using Google Books simply to search for reference materials that you might purchase, there is still an advantage, as you are not just searching availability in one store. It is a kind of "one stop shop" for book-buying. The Google search is also "smarter" than searches on a site like Amazon. When I search for "American History," Google gives me the option of subcategories with different time periods. The same search in Amazon only brings up books related by the search word term or books that other people bought at the same time. If the purpose is research, this is one of the best ways to look for materials.
I agree that this is a "high school and above" level tool. However, it is a good one.
I use TED Talks to inspire great discussions. There are not "curriculum" videos. These are great speeches by the best thought leaders of our time. One talk often spans several subjects, so it is a great way to bring book and classroom learning to real life application. I think its best to start discussion immediately following the video, as that is when the student's thoughts are still being stirred by all that he has just seen. The discussion becomes a way to think through and interpret the idea.
They are entertaining and engaging, not lecture-like. A student who watches TED Talks will have a great understanding of current issues and emerging technologies, even if he doesn't agree with the speaker's point of view.
I actually used Moodle as a graduate student. All of my classes were conducted through this program. First, it was very easy to catch on. I joined the program two days late and didn't have time to review the tutorial that was available, and I picked it up just fine by "viewing and clicking."
I absolutely loved the variety in course content that Moodle offered. My instructors could post links to audio, video, blogs, etc. I had one instructor who left MP3 audio feedback for all of the grades, and this was a very nice touch.
The reason Moodle would work well for a high school or co-op group is that it forces thought and participation through forum discussions. When you are in a Moodle class, you can't get credit for simply showing up and sitting at a desk for an hour; you have to post and contribute to the discussion. It might be a bit of a challenge for a middle school-aged group.
The only disadvantage I could see was that it seemed that some teachers had difficulty getting the grade section set up. Although I have not used this end of the program, I can say that about 25% of my teachers had to delay or "fix" something in this section, so it is probably a little tricky to figure out at first.
However, once up and running, the grading worked great, and I could instantly see my grades, feedback, and grade average for the class.
Overall, I found Moodle to be a very effective tool.
My son uses Rosetta Stone as his primary Spanish curriculum. Overall, the "immersion" technique is very effective. However, sometimes you just need that straight translation for a word or two when trying to practice in real life. Dictionary.com is a great supplement to any Spanish program, especially an immersion-based one. The advantage to using this online translation guide instead of a printed book is the pronunciation feature. For each word, there is a speaker icon to hear the pronunciation. This ensures that the student is learning it correctly. The site is very easy to use and understand.