Sep 3, 2010


Footnote is a collection of over 68,000,000 historical documents.  The collection can be browsed by topic or searched by keywords.  Users can add annotations, comment, connect documents, or add a spotlight.  Once the annotations or comments have been made, users can then print, download, or share the document with others via email, link, or embedding it into a website or blog.  Footnote is a great way for students to interact with primary source documents.

Aug 28, 2010

More with Twitter

Twitter is a microblogging service that allows people to share information with short posts (140 character maximum).  In the classroom, Twitter can be used as a tool for summarizing, sharing information about what is going on in the classroom, or posting announcements. Students can write tweets to summarize what they have learned during a lesson or to take notes. After each section of a video or reading, students could write a tweet to show their understanding of the material. Here is a quick, basic Twitter template I created for students to write their tweets (.pdf file). 

Related posts: Twitter, Ideas to Inspire

Aug 25, 2010


GeoGreeting finds satelitte images of buildings and objects around the world that look like letters.  Users can type messages or just a single word.  It is a great visual for students to see their words in a different way.  The completed word or message can then be shared with others using a link.

Spin & Spell

Spin and Spell is an interactive, animated spelling game for children ages 4-8.  Users choose words from one of the seven categories- in and around the home, what we wear, what we eat, how we get there, and the animal kingdom.  Then, users click on a picture to hear the word.  They then use their mouse to click on the letters to spell the word.  Users can also click on the "Pick a word for me" button to hear a random word on the page. 

NASA PlanetQuest Historic Timeline

NASA has numerous resources for educators including the PlanetQuest Historic Timeline.  This interactive, multimedia timline begins in 500 BC and traces the search for extrasolar planets from philosophical beliefs to modern discoveries.  The timeline can be autoplayed or users can explore on their own.  Users can also browse through the timeline using three different categories - technology, discoveries, and thought/ culture.

Aug 24, 2010

Facebook Statuses for Historical Figures

What if historical figures had Facebook? What would George Washington post after he became president? Who would comment or "like" his post? 

Students could create faux Facebook pages for historical figures with comments and "likes" from relevant people during that time.  They could also make faux profile pages, event pages, or groups to show their understanding of different people, events, or organizations in the past. 

Jul 23, 2010

Microsoft Education Resources

The Microsoft Education website has several free lesson plans, resources, and guides for teachers.  Resources on the site include free software and applications, and templates.

The lesson plans can be used to teach specific content-related concepts as well as introducing or practicing using different Microsoft software programs.  Users can search for lesson plans and how-to articles by title, software program/ Microsoft product, and/or grade level.   Users can also browse the lesson plans and how-to articles by subject area.  Lesson plan ideas and how-to documents include using Microsoft Excel to create a timeline, creating a class newsletter with Microsoft Publisher, and telling a story using Windows Live Movie Maker.

Jul 22, 2010

Math and the Movies

Video clips can be a great way to "hook" student attention at the beginning of a lesson.  Here are a few websites with video clips from television shows or movies that involve math, lesson ideas, and lists of movies with math scenes. 

  • Mathematics in Movies is a collection of movie clips with math-related content.  It is created by Oliver Knill from the Department of Mathematics at Harvard University.  Movie clips can be viewed using Flash player (.swf) files or Quicktime. 
  • Math and the Movies Resource List includes information about different movie scenes that pertain to mathematics.  A brief synopsis of the story line, a description of the math problem/concept, and a related lesson or worksheet.
  • Simpsons Math has text transcripts of math-related scenes from television episodes, images from the show, and classroom activity sheets.
  • Mathematical Fiction is a list of books, plays movies, and television shows that involve math concepts.  Users can browse the list by media type, genre, topic, title, or year. 

Library of Congress: American Memory

The Library of Congress American Memory Project is a collection of over 70 collections of digitized documents, photographs, audio clips, and movies.  Users can browse through the collections by topic, search for a paricular item, or browse through all of the collections.  The Library of Congress also has resources and lessons for teachers using primary source documents.

MegaPenny Project

The MegaPenny Project helps students visualize large numbers using pennies.  The site shows different amounts of pennies from a single penny up to a quintillion pennies.  Users can see the value of the pennies, size of the pile, weight, and area.


Zamzar is a free resource that allows you to convert your files to different formats. You can convert documents, images, audio, and video files. Zamzar also allows you to convert and download video files from online hosting services such as YouTube. Once a file has been converted you will recieve an email with a link to your file. These files can then be downloaded onto your computer.

Jul 21, 2010


Scriblink is a free online digital whiteboard where users can collaborate in real-time.

"Sorta like pen and paper, minus the dead trees, plastic, and the inconvenience of being at the same place at the same time."  - Scriblink About page
When you go to the Scriblink homepage, you will see a blank Scriblink board.  This board is private and only people that you invite can view your board.  Collaborators can be invited by email or by sending them a link to your whiteboard.  No registration is required for this site.

Users can choose from a variety of tools to write on their digital whiteboard.  These tools include a pen, line tool, shapes, text boxes, a grid, and an eraser.  Users can also change the size of the pen/tools and the color. 

There is an on-screen chat window that can be used to communicate with other users.  Collaborators can also communicate with one another using the VOIP conferencing tool. 

Once you are finished with your project you can print, email, send, or save the file.

Study Like a Scholar, Scholar

"Study Like a Scholar, Scholar" by New Spice

Jul 20, 2010


Picnik is a free online photo editing tool.  Users can upload photos and then rotate, crop, or resize the image.  Exposure, red-eye, and color can be adjusted as well.  Users can also add special effects, text, graphics, speech bubbles, and frames.  The finished image can be downloaded or emailed to another person.  Possible ideas for the classroom include writing activities, annotating current or historical images, and adding speech bubbles to pictures of important historical figures.

Related post: Six-Word Memoirs

Bart's Chalkboard

From "No Loan Again, Naturally" (Season 20, Episode 12)

Colonial Williamsburg: Life in the 18th Century

Colonial Williamsburg: Life in the 18th Century is a resource for images, biographies, articles, and descriptions of life in the colonies.  The site is divided into several different sections including people, places, life, clothing, and gardens.  In the section about the people of colonial Williamsburg, users can browse biographies of people by gender, race, occupation, or family.  The section about places in colonial Williamsburg include different types of buildings and a virtual tour.  This site also has a section with resources for teachers.

Jul 14, 2010

Graphic Organizers

Need a graphic organizer?  Check out these sites for downloadable organizers and interactive web tools.
Related post: Brainstorming Tool

Jul 13, 2010

Story Starters

Scholastic's Story Starters is a writing prompt generator.  Users choose a grade level, then click the spin lever to create the prompt.  Each prompt consists of four sections.  Users can change the word or phrase in a section of the prompt by clicking on the "spin this wheel" button below each part.

Here are a few prompts that were created:
  • Describe an outfit for an orange milkshake who sneaks into the movies.
  • Write a quick fairytale about a grouchy plant who likes to sing.
  • Write a postcard to a lonely flamingo who travels in a time machine.
  • Write a myth about a self-conscious weasel who gets lost in the Amazon.
  • Write a brief biography about a know-it-all screenwriter who is the worst singer in the world.
Then, users can click the "next" button if they want to type their story using the interactive tool.  They will then be able to choose a format for their story (notebook, letter, newspaper, or postcard).  Users can create drawings for their writing as well.  Stories can then be printed out.

Jul 10, 2010

Our Courts

Our Courts is a web-based education project to help students learn more about civics and inspire them to become more active participants in our government.  It was developed to carry out Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's vision for improving civics education.

Our Courts has resources for teachers including lessons about the Constitution, foundations of the government, and persuasive writing. There are also videos, lesson plans, and information about the Supreme Court, state governments, and tribal governments. 

There are also three interactive games on the site.  These are simulation games and require users to analyze parts of the Constitution, determine the best argument, and apply these concepts to real world situations. 
  • Do I Have a Right? - In this game users run their own law firm.  Clients come into the firm and users must listen to their case, determine if they have a right to go to court, and then match them up with a lawyer that best understands their issue and the Constitutional amendment that gives them that protection or right.  Teachers can download a game guide (.pdf) as well as a lesson plan about interpreting the Constitution.
  • Argument Wars - Users debate historical Supreme Court Cases by determining which argument is best and supporting them.  The cases you can choose from include New Jersey v. TLO, Brown v. Board, Miranda v. Arizona, Gideon v. Wainwright, and Texas v. Johnson.  Teachers can also download a game guide (.pdf) and lesson plan (.pdf)  for this game.
  • Supreme Decision - In this game users assume the role of a law clerk and must listen to the judges' deliberations, learn about the issues, and determine which side of the issue they agree with.  This game helps users to learn more about how the Supreme Court works.  Teachers can download a game guide (.pdf) and lesson plan for this game as well.

Math Slice

On the Math Slice website users can play math games and puzzles like Math Tree (factor trees), Drive Thru (decimal addition/consumer application problems), and Math Wheel (math terms).  Users can also create custom math worksheets on topics such as money, rounding, scientific notation, solving equations, and fractions.

Jul 9, 2010

National Park Service - Webrangers

The National Park Service Webrangers site has interactive activities about the US National Parks.  Users can search for activities by category, keyword, or difficulty level.  Activity categories include people, animals, history, parks, nature, science, and puzzles.  Users can sign up to be a webranger or view activities as a guest.  Here are a few activities from the site.
  • Photo Explore - View old photographs to learn more about people and places from the past.
  • Railroad Connections - Learn about how trains connect to the national parks by solving mysteries.
  • Yesterday and Today - Compare tools from the past to tools we use now.

Jul 1, 2010

Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online

Merriam-Webster's Visual Dictionary Online has 6,000 images and over 20,000 terms and definitions that are divided into themes.  Users can browse through the 15 themes or search for terms or images.  Some images are of individual terms and others are detailed diagrams.  This is great tool to help understand complex definitions and to explain the mechanics of different objects.

Jun 30, 2010

Exploratorium Snacks

Exploratorium Science Snacks are different science experiments that are similar to exhibits at the Exploratorium Museum.  They can be used to explore many different science topics such as convection currents, momentum, circuits, and molecules. 
The Exploratorium Museum website also has over 500 online activities, exhibits, photo essays, and videos to explore.  These resources are divided into different categories - astronomy and space, culture, earth, everyday science, human body, listening, living things, material world, mind, and seeing. 

Book Reviews, Author Info, and More

Jun 29, 2010


Storybird is a free website where users can create their own stories or read stories that other authors create.  Users can start a Storybird by looking through the gallery of artwork or by themes.  If you choose to begin a story based on artwork, you choose which gallery to begin with and add selected images to your book.  Themes are keywords associated with the different artwork.  Adding artwork to your story is easy with the drag and drop tool.  Images can be placed in various positions on the page.  Text can be added by clicking on the textbox.  Users can also collaborate with others to create a story.

Click on the video below for more information about how to set up a Storybird account and how to begin a story.

Storybird Quick Tour from Storybird on Vimeo.

Jun 28, 2010

Visual Thesaurus Word Lists

The Visual Thesaurus site also has various word lists created by users.  The lists cover a variety of topics including sports, food, books, movies, and historical documents.  For each word in a list there are links to other lists that the word can be found in. 

These word lists can be used for spelling words, vocabulary units, alongside a novel study, as writing prompts, or during social studies units.  Students could also make lists of their own or make changes to current lists to make them better.  Here are a few of the interesting lists on the site:

Jun 27, 2010

Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus & VocabGrabber.

Visual Thesaurus is another web tool that shows dictionary and thesaurus entries graphically in a web format.  Visual Thesaurus is a paid service, however users can try it out for free.  After you type in a word into the search box, results will show up in a web.  Words are color coded by part of speech.  If you click on one of the words in the web, search results for that word will be shown.  Synonyms are connected to the searched word by gray lines and antonyms are connected by red dotted lines.  The search results for the word "find" is shown to the left.

VocabGrabber a free tool on the Visual Thesaurus website.  This tool analyzes a piece of text shows the results as a word cloud.  Users can then sort the text by relevance, alphabetically, number of occurrences, or familiarity.  You can also show words in certain subject areas such as geography, people, math, science, etc. If you click on any of the resuts, you can see related words in a web format.  The image below shows the results for Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.


Visuwords is a free online graphical dictionary that shows relationships between words in a web.  After you type a word into the search box, and a web will be created to show connected words.  The words are color coded to show the part of speech and type of connection each word has.  If you put the cursor over a word, the definition of that word will appear.  You can also zoom out to see more of the web or zoom in to see it in more detail.  The web below is for the word "smile."

Jun 26, 2010

Make Beliefs Comix

Make Beliefs Comix allows users to create simple comic strips.  Users can create 2-4 frame comics.  There are 20 characters to choose from and 25 different objects that can be added to the comic strips.  When the comics are finished, they can be printed or emailed to others.  Make Beliefs Comix can be used in a variety of ways including for vocabulary instruction, writing, social studies, math, or reflections.  A few possible ideas are listed below.

Student-created comics:
  • To illustrate their understanding of spelling/vocabulary word
  • Illustrate the importance or details of a historical event
  • Reflection about a lesson or field trip
  • Describing the character traits of characters from a novel
Teacher-created comics:
  • To introduce vocabulary words
  • Morning message
  • Instructions for an activity
  • Writing prompts

Jun 25, 2010 is free flash-based collaborative mind-mapping tool.  Users create webs of any size.  Users can use the drag and drop feature or use their keyboard to add and delete elements to their map.  Once a mind-map is created, it can be exported as a .jpg or .png file, embedded into a website/blog/wiki, or sent via a link.  Possible uses for include
  • Creating mind-maps with your class to discuss a topic
  • Brainstorming writing ideas
  • Making connections between different historical events or people
  • Development and organization of ideas for a project

Jun 19, 2010

Six-Word Memoirs

Six-word memoirs would be an interesting way for students to introduce themselves at the beginning of the school year, teachers to introduce themselves as a team for Open House, discussions about characters in novel groups, or for discussing historical figures.  There is an article by NPR about six-word memoirs with several examples.  Not all of the examples on the site are appropriate for school.  The video below includes several six-word memoirs by a high school creative writing class.

A good free online tool for editing and modifying photos is Picnik.

Jun 6, 2010

More Writing Prompts

Earlier in the year I posted links for different writing inspirations.  Here are a few more ideas.

Apr 13, 2010

Google Maps Weather Overlay

Google Maps has several different mapplets that can be added to maps including time zones, demographic information, and elevation contours.  One useful mapplet was created by The Weather Channel and allows users to overlay information about current weather on their maps.  This information includes temperature, wind speed, dew point, sky conditions, humidity, and pressure.  Users can also view current radar images on their maps.
This mapplet can be found by logging into Google Maps, then clicking on the "Browse the Directory" link.  It is also available in Google Earth.

Apr 11, 2010

The Portrait - George Washington

The Portrait - George Washington: A National Treasure is interactive online exhibit by the National Portrait Gallery. This site allows users to explore different portions of the Lansdowne portrait of George Washington.  Users can explore the portrait using three different filters: symbolic, artistic, and biographic.  Each filter contains different information about twelve parts of the portrait.  Macromedia Flash Player 5 must be installed for the interactive portrait. 

There is also a Kids Portrait page.  The interactive portrait on this page is geared toward kids and is set up as a mystery for users to solve.  Users get clues to uncover hidden parts of the portrait and learn more about the symbolism and meaning of each part.

Also included on this website are lessons and guides for teachers about George Washington's life. 

Civil War @ Smithsonian

CivilWar@Smithsonian is an exhibit by the National Portrait Gallery.  It includes digitzed artifacts from the Civil War era.  The Collections portion of this online exhibit is divided into several sections.  Within each section there is background information and digitized artifacts including paintings, weapons, statues, figurines, and more.  To view the artifcats related to each topic, click on the thumbnails icon at the top of the page.  There is also a timeline of events related to the Civil War that spans from 1859 to 1865. 

Online museum exhibits are a good way for teachers and students to access information that would typically only be available when visiting a museum.  This site also provides links to other resources on the web and in print related to the Civil War.

Apr 4, 2010

Virtual Math Manipulatives

The use of manipulatives, virtual or concrete, can help students build a better understanding of math concepts.  Manipulatives also help students represent about abstract concepts in a concrete way. Teachers then help students to connect these new concepts to their background knowlege.  Some of the advantages of using virtual manipulatives over concrete manipulatives include unlimited numbers or sets of manipulatives and customization.  What are Virtual Manipulatives? by Patricia Moyer, Johnna Bolyard, and Mark Spikell discusses different types of virtual manipulatives, classroom applications, and information about evaluation of virtual manipulative sites.  Learning Mathematics with Virtual Manipulatives also has information about how to use virtual manipulatives in the classroom, efficacy of manipulatives, and information about choosing appropriate manipulatives for teaching a concept.

A few sites with virtual math manipulatives are listed below:
  • National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
    • The NLVM was created at Utah State Universtiy with funding from the National Science foundation.  Users can search for activities by concept or by grade.  Each virtual manipulative has instructions and information for parents and teachers.
  • eNLVM
  • NCTM Illuminations
    • This resource site by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics includes 105 online activivties, over 500 lessons, and links to other resources on the web.
  • Math Playground
  • Shodor Interactivate Activities
    • Users can find tools, activities, discussions, and lessons for different math concepts on this website. Activities on this site include Area Explorer, Tessellate!, Adjustable Spinner, Box Plot, and Linear Function Machine.
  • NEIRTEC Online Math Tools
  • Math Resources - Virtual Manipulatives
  • Visual Fractions
    • Models of fractions using circles and number lines.  There are also links to other games and resources for learning how to simplify, add, and subtract fractions.
  • Glencoe Virtual Manipulatives
    • Manipulatives on this site include algebra tiles, attribute blocks, base ten blocks, color tiles, two-color counters, spinners, geoboards, and a bucket balance.
  • Arcytech Educational Java Programs
    • This site includes several java applets for a variety of math concepts including
  • Math Tools
    • This site is part of the Math Forum @ Drexel and has a variety of web resources for teaching math.  Users can search the catalog to find resources including tools, lesson plans, stories, and activities.
  • BBC Schools
  • Hand Made Manipulatives
    • Although these are not virtual manipulatives, the printable manipulatives on Dr. Margo Lynn Mankus' site work well and allow all students to have their own set of manipulatives to use.

Apr 3, 2010

Our Documents

Our Documents is a website with 100 influential documents in American History.  It was created by the National Archives and Records Administration, National History Day, and USA Freedom Corps.  These documents were chosen because "they have helped shape the national character, and they reflect our diversity, our unity, and our commitment as a nation to continue our work toward forming 'a more perfect union.' "  Documents on this site include the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the patent for the cotton gin, Jefferson's secret message to Congress regarding the Lewis & Clark expedition, and the Monroe Doctrine.  Click here for a complete list of all of the documents on the site.  For each document there is detailed information, a document transcript,picture(s) of the document, and a high-resoultion downloadable PDF.  There are also extra resources for teachers including a Teacher Sourcebook with additional resources and ideas for lessons.

Apr 2, 2010

Free Web 2.0 Projects eBook

Terry Freedman's Amazing Web 2.0 Project Book is a compilation of lesson ideas and projects from 94 contributors.  The projects use a variety of web applications including Animoto, GoogleDocs, GoAnimate, Skype, VoiceThread, and Glogster.  Each project idea includes a description, challenges that had to be overcome, recommendations, and reactions/outcomes.  This is a great resource for educators learning more about using Web 2.0 applications in their classrooms.  Click here to download the free Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book.

Apr 1, 2010


Prezi is a free web-based of presentation tool.  Unlike PowerPoint, Prezi does not use slides.  There is one large canvas that the user has the freedom to organize in any way.  Users can include text, bullets, embed pictures, pdf files, and video.  Users can also create paths for viewers to follow or allow viewers to move around the canvas freely.  Prezi can be accessed online from any computer or users can download their presentation to show offline.  The presentation embedded below from the Prezi website shows some of the features that can be used when creating a prezi. 

Teachers can sign up for free accounts with 500 MB of storage or opt for a paid subscription if they need more storage space.  There are also several reusable prezis that can be used as templates.  For more information about how to get started with Prezi, check out this How to Use Prezi guide

Prezis can be used in several different ways in the classroom.  It is a good way to present or review information in any subject area and is much more interesting than a standard presentation.

Mar 31, 2010

New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War

Slavery in New York and New York Divided are exhibits by the New York Historical Society about slavery and the impact it had on the city. 

Slavery ended in New York State in 1827, yet this victory did not sever the city's connections to enslaved labor. New York City capitalized on the expanding trade in southern cotton and sugar to become the leading American port, a global financial center, and a hotbed of pro-slavery politics. At the same time, it nurtured a determined anti-slavery movement. In less than half a century, abolitionists convinced many northerners that American slavery could not be reconciled with American freedom. Conflict between the two sides, one favorable to slavery and one opposed, was all but inevitable.

These virtual gallerys provide information from multiple perspectives, primary source documents, and information about the ties the city had to the south and the fight against slavery.  There are also additional resources for educators on the websites.

State of the Internet

The internet is changing at a rapid pace and it is an integral part of our lives.  The statistics and information in this video created by Jesse Thomas are staggering and eye-opening. 

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo.

Mar 30, 2010


Determining what to write about is often the most difficult part of the writing process.  PicLits is a creative writing site that allows users to choose an image, then select words that go along with the picture. Users can choose words from a word bank or they can choose the freestyle option and work on your own.  PicLits has a variety of pictures for users to select from.  Users can also browse the PicLits Gallery to view work that others have created.

PicLit from

Also, here are a few websites with writing prompt generators:


With students spending an increasing amount of time online and communicating digitally, cyberbullying is becoming more and more of an issue. 

What is cyberbullying?
"Cyberbullying" is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones.   -- Stop Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is even more damaging because it can happen at any time.  Many students today are creating new lives online through various social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.  Children interact in many different ways throughout the day digitally including texting, messaging, and e-mail.  The internet gives children power through anonymity and gives them more independence than they may be ready for.  They do not always believe that what they type or post is just as damaging as what is spoken.

Frontline's Growing Up Online program addresses issues regarding how the internet is transforming children's lives.  The sixth section of the video is about a 13-year old boy who was a victim of cyberbullying who took his own life in 2003.  There is also an interview with his father in which he discusses the role of cyberbullying played in the death of his son.

What can be done to help stop cyberbullying?

It is important that teachers, administrators, and parents work together to help keep students safe online and prevent cyberbullying.  Students need to be taught how to safely use technology and how to deal with situations that are inappropriate.  A few tips for teachers and parents are below.
  • Teach students how to use technology to block cyberbullies.
  • Monitor student use of computers both at home and at school.
  • Tell students to never forward harmful or cruel messages or images.
  • Encourage students to report instances of cyberbullying to a parent, teacher, or trusted adult.
  • Raise awareness in the schools and community about cyberbullying.
Other resources about cyberbullying:

Feb 7, 2010

Dynamic Paper

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Illuminations website has numerous lesson ideas and activities.  One of the tools on the Illuminations website is Dynamic Paper.  This tool can be used to create handouts for use in your classroom.  You can create customized handouts with number lines, nets of three-dimensional shapes, pattern blocks, spinners, graph paper, tessellations, number grids and more.  There are several different options for each.  After creating your handouts, they can be downloaded as JPEG or PDF files.

Jan 17, 2010

Google Labs

A few ideas from Google Labs...

Google News Timeline shows search results in a timeline format.  Users can browse results from sources including  magazines, and blogs.

Image Swirl allows users to browse through results that are visually similar.  Here are some of the results of a search for images about colonial America.

National Archives Experience Digital Vaults

The National Archives Experience: Digital Vaults has a nice online tool for students to search for  primary sources and artifacts.  Artifacts on the site include documents, maps, photographs, and drawings.  Users can create posters and videos using artifacts that they select or add to their collection.  There are also several resources for teachers including lesson ideas using primary sources.