Website(s) of the Week: Financial Literacy Month

Edutopia – Games to teach financial literacy

April is financial literacy month, and the website Edutopia has put together three interactive websites that combine financial savvy and fun games for students to practice and improve upon their financial knowledge. Check out the article for descriptions on each of the three sites selected. Here are my thoughts on the sites:

Bite Club

This site is based on the idea of running/managing a night club for vampires. The game asks students to manage both club income and expenses. And, to add a little realism the site also adds some hefty debt into your financial portfolio right from the get-go in the form of student loans and credit card debt, both of which have high interest rates. What I like best is that the game can be played with or without a login (creating an account will let students save their place and keep track of their progress).

bite club game screenshot

Gen i Revolution

From the Council for Economic Education, this site is geared toward middle school level students, and is designed more as a follow-up activity where students put their knowledge and skills to use. While not as interactive as Bite Club, this site does challenge students to have a mastery of financial terms and problem-solving skills. The site provides tutorial videos to help students orient themselves to the game. An account is required in order to play.

Gen i Revolution screenshot

Financial Football

Thanks to a partnership between Visa and the NFL, this site uses financial literacy questions to advance the game. Students choose their teams, their age bracket which will determine the level of difficulty, and how long their game play will be. At each turn students have a preset list of plays to choose from, then must answer a multiple choice question before the play is carried out. A correct answer will result in a play completion; an incorrect answer will result in an incomplete or worse, possible interception. There is no login required to play, but students will need to be patient with some of the animation as the site sees a lot of activity.

Financial Football screenshot

Website of the Week: U.S. Electoral Compass (Gr. 6-12)

U.S. Electoral Compass – How do political priorities change from state to state?

Hosted by the The Guardian News and designed by the social media monitoring experts Brandwatch, this interactive ‘compass’ displays the percentages with which Twitter and online news sites were talking about certain issues in the weeks and months leading up to the 2012 Presidential election in the United States. To activate the compass, choose a state from the list on the left-hand side of the page, then select a date between July 2nd and November 12th from the timeline along the bottom. This will then activate the electoral compass and display data on 30 different policy topics and issues. Change the compass results by selecting another date on the timeline and/or by choosing a different state.

The compass separates the results by political party; results in red represent conversations that included candidate Mitt Romney, results in blue represent those that mentioned Barack Obama. Along the right-hand side of the compass you will find the list of policy topics ranked by importance in that state, as well as some basic biographical information on that state.

INTEGRATE

  • This site has a lot of potential for several compare-&-contrast activities over time and by state.
  • Start a discussion with students about the role of social media in our electoral process and where they and/or their parents went to consume information about the election.
  • Since the site doesn’t tell us from which news organizations they pulled their data from, ask students to evaluate the credibility of these results.

Thanks goes to FreeTech4Teachers.com for sharing this find.

Website of the Week: The Battle of Gettysburg (Gr. 6-12)

The Battle of Gettysburg – U.S. Army

From www.army.mil, this site provides a brief overview of the Civil War battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The site uses photographs, audio narration, sound effects, and an animated map depicting troop movements to tell the story. Included in the narration are brief biographies of both military leaders as well as the experiences of common folk during the battle. Use the links at the bottom of the interface to access additional information on weaponry, battle statistics, and an epilogue to these events.

INTEGRATE:

  • Use this site to introduce this event in the Civil War timeline, asking students to pick out people and events to conduct further studies of in the future.
  • While this is only a brief overview of the battle, this site could be a helpful tool for students who are absent from class and need to keep up as the unit progresses.

Screenshot of the site interface window

Website of the Week: YTTM (Gr. 3-12)

YTTM – YouTube Time Machine

Back in 2010 I reviewed YTTM which at the time had just debuted and was still in beta testing. Now here we are, it’s 2013 and YTTM is out of testing and continuing to provide a unique way to access streaming video content. YTTM combines the growing library of videos from YouTube with that of a timeline that stretches from present day all the way back to 1860. Obviously there were no videos (or YouTube for that matter) back then, but the timeline is based on the year the video was made OR the year that the video content is related to. At each year marker, the site tells you how many video sources it is pulling from and also allows you to filter videos by up to seven categories.

The only downside to the site is that the videos are displayed randomly, so it can be difficult to locate a video later unless you can remember its title. If you are in the position where you’d like to recall a video from YTTM in the future, click the YouTube logo found in the bottom-right corner of the player. This will transfer you to YouTube.com and the original video post, where you can either bookmark the page or copy-&-paste the share link for the video.

INTEGRATE

  • This site lends itself quite nicely to the task of comparing and contrasting a variety of visual and media components such as imagery, dialog, etc.
  • Use the Search bar in the top-right corner of the interface to look for videos on a particular theme. When I did a search for ‘president’ I was able to find video footage of President McKinley’s inauguration for a second term circa 1901.

Website of the Week: Jigidi (Gr. 4-12)

Jigidi – Free online jigsaw puzzles

The concept is simple; visit this site for access to an ever growing library of jigsaw puzzles created by people like you. Search for puzzles based on a theme such as seasonal, mosaics, machines, plants, animals, and more. You can also search by puzzle difficulty where easy is 60 pieces or less and challenging puzzles have 240 plus pieces. In the puzzle workspace, you can zoom in or out to give yourself more room to work. Turn on ‘full screen’ mode to remove all other distractions and focus on the challenge at hand. The site requires the Flash plug-in to make the puzzles interactive.

If you create an account, then you can upload your own images to make your own jigsaw puzzles to share. This will also remove ads from the puzzle pages. An account is free and does not require an email address to register.

INTEGRATE

  • Create jigsaw puzzles using images relating to your current unit of study for students as either an introductory activity or a fun review game. Challenge students to see who can finish your puzzle the fastest.
  • Have students upload their own images or take pictures of student work to then be shared in puzzle form with parents.

an example of a jigidi jigsaw puzzle in full screen mode

Website of the Week: The Economics of Seinfeld (Gr. 7-12)

The Economics of Seinfeld – Connecting video clips to economic concepts

The Economics of Seinfeld has put together a listing of video clips from the popular “show about nothing” known as Seinfeld to help illustrate a variety of economic concepts and topics. The site has connected over 100 video clips to economic concepts such as intellectual property rights, unlimited wants, supply & demand, movement along a demand curve, trade-offs and more. Each video post is accompanied by a description of the clip, the season the episode aired, the duration of the clip, and comments from other users to help expand the discussion.

INTEGRATE:

  • Please note that the site does not host the actual video clips but rather links to them from other sources, so it would be advisable to take the video clip(s) you would like to use in class for a test drive.
  • Ask students to investigate other popular shows and series to find examples to help illustrate the concepts being discussed in class.

For more information, please visit Richard Byrne over at FreeTechnology4Teachers.com

Website of the Week: The Literacy Shed (Gr. K-12)

The Literacy Shed – Where storytelling and technology meet

The Literacy Shed is a collection of visual resources gathered over a ten year period by a fellow educator and primary school teacher. The goal of the site is to use digital media resources to help facilitate discussions about plot, character development, scene construction, voice, etc. Each ‘shed’ comes with a list of suggested discussion topics, then a list of writing prompts and possible ways students can explore or expand upon the theme. There are currently over 30 sheds to choose from with themes such as The Ghostly Shed, The Inventors Shed, The Authors Shed, and many more.

INTEGRATE:

  • One of may fondest memories of writing class was when my teacher did a whole unit on writing the conclusion to unique and sometimes weird scenarios. With this site students who are struggling with writer’s block can get a little extra push to jump-start their imaginations.
  • Encourage students to look beyond the traditional paper and pencil to continue the stories, utilizing mediums such as a podcast, iMovie, eBook, and more.