Website of the Week: Pictolang (Gr. 5-12)

Pictolang – Language and cultural learning content through authentic imagery

Pictolang is a site dedicated to helping students with their language studies using real images from locations where the particular language is used. The site is broken down into four activity levels:

  • Visual Word Trainer – See the word, see the corresponding image
  • Picture Match Game – See the word, choose the correct matching image
  • Word Match Game – See the image, choose the correct matching word/phrase
  • Analyst Game – See the image, identify the language/culture it comes from

Once you choose a game type, you are asked to make a language selection, choosing from up to 15 possible choices including Arabic, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Ukrainian. You will also be asked to select a category topic such as clothing, food, nature, house & home, sports, and more. Your score in both number and percentage correct are kept track of at the bottom of the window.

INTEGRATE

  • This site is an obvious choice as a review tool for students to test their vocabulary acquisition while at the same time be exposed to authentic images from locations around the globe.
  • Have students create their own visual vocabulary guides from their own culture(s) using images from their communities.

screenshot-pic match game German

Website of the Week: Molecularium (Gr. 4-8)

Molecularium – An atom theme park

Provided by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Molecularium is a digital theme park dedicated to the exploration of atoms, elements, molecules, and their interesting and diverse properties. Once you enter the Hall of Atoms and Molecules, click on the center dome to view the current molecule on display. Click on the atomic symbol on the wall above to watch a video with your host Mel the computer and his friends Hydro and Oxy as they introduce you to the park. Underneath there are four images on the wall, each leading to a different area of the park that contain videos, interactive experiments, and other activities to explore. To the far left is the entrance to the theater where you can watch episodes of “Molecules to the Max!” To the far right is the entrance to the arcade, where there are five arcade-like games to choose from including Ion Storm, Electronz, Mission to Bond, and more!

INTEGRATE

  • This site is huge, with a wealth of information and activities to choose from. It would be easy to break this site up into multiple exploratory activities and spread them throughout a unit of study.
  • The site has a sign up feature if students want to be able to save their progress and create their own Atom Face. Sign-up is free and does not require an email address.

The Hall of Atoms & Molecules

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: Essential Apps for Kids & Teens (Gr. K-12)

Essential Apps for Kids & Teens: Starter kits for portable devices

From the people at Common Sense Media, this article provides an independent evaluation of the top apps to consider getting for your child or students. Apps are first divided into groups by device: (iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Android, and Kindle Fire), then by age group: (ages 2-6, 7-12, and 13-17). After you specify your device and age group, you will see a listing of the 5-10 most popular apps. Each listing comes with a description and a link to the corresponding app store for your convenience.

INTEGRATE

  • If your school and/or classroom has access to any of these portable devices, then take a look at these apps to see if any would help with the review of key concepts. If you don’t have access to devices in school, then these could be suggestions to parents as resources to help reinforce learning at home.
  • Talking up these educational apps with students can help teach them how to use their portable devices in a positive, educational way while still having fun at the same time.

iPhone App, ages 7-12

Website of the Week: Saving Squad (Gr. 2-6)

Saving Squad – Children and money

Saving Squad is an interactive website designed to help students understand the concepts of banking, earning/spending money, and overall financial management. Start by creating an avatar, then head on over to the bank to open a checking account. Afterward, travel around the map looking for opportunities to earn cash by solving a variety of problems. Problem scenarios are broken up into three difficulty levels. Access the Teachers section of the site for lesson plans that can be downloaded in PDF format. The site is free to use and students may enter as a guest without having to sign in (an account is required in order to save student progress). Please note that some of the financial symbols are in English pounds.

NOTE: For younger learners, the site creators have developed Fun to Save for students aged 5-7 years.

INTEGRATE

  • Use the word problems provided in the site to have students create their own using local prices and establishments.
  • Ask students to reflect on their reasoning for their financial choices and whether or not such choices would be fiscally responsible in today’s economy.

A screenshot of the Saving Squad game board

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: Quia Web

Quia Web Р Quintessential Instructional Archive

Quia Web is an archive of interactive tools and assessments for teachers to create and students to use to help enhance understanding and check for comprehension. Choose from up to 16 types of online activities to insert your content into and then share. Before you re-invent the wheel, check out their archive of shared activities organized into over 100 sub-categories ranging from American History to French and Greek to Speech Therapy and more. A site account (FREE) is required to create content and/or bookmark activities you’d like to save for later.

INTEGRATE

  • Many of these activities are simple and would be great for both an introduction activity as well as for review.
  • Below are screenshots from two Technology games I found on Internet Safety: Hangman and Battleship!

Hangman

Battleship!

Website of the Week: Super Teacher Tools

Super Teacher Tools: A collection of FREE Flash-based games and tools

Super Teacher Tools is a library of interactive games and tools for teachers to use to enhance the classroom experience. The list of games is impressive and include well-known titles like Classroom Jeopardy, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, and Hang Man. The site also includes several customizable tools such as:

  • Board Game, where up to 6 players can navigate a generic game board answering questions you provide.
  • A free printable Seating Chart tool.
  • Create groups of students with their handy Group Maker tool.
  • Forget the popsicle sticks or having to borrow somebody’s hat, use their Random Name Generator instead.

Most of these tools are Flash-based, so unfortunately there is no support on iOS devices (i.e. iPad / iPhone / iPod Touch).

Integrate:

  • Interactive games are always good tools to have handy in order to make review sessions more engaging.
  • Instead of the teacher providing the Q&A’s for the games, have students create this content as a way to demonstrate knowledge of the material. Students could work in groups to create their games, then swap when it comes time to play.

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

Wondermind – Play games and explore the science of the brain

Wondermind is an interactive website modeled after the classic fairytale of Alice in Wonderland. Designed with mental challenges and games, the site is aimed at teaching students about what we know (so far) about the human brain and how it works. Playing the introductory video, which contains interviews with brain scientists and multiple choice quizzes, provides students with a good foundation of knowledge prior to entering the Wondermind world. Each of the four Wondermind arenas asks students to employ a different part of their brain, from language to memory and more. Flash is required for this site.

INTEGRATE

  • This site is a great blending of games and science that should help keep students interested and invested in the activity.
  • Integrate this site with an interactive whiteboard to hit visual, auditory, and tactile learners. Divide the class into teams to see who can get the best scores on each of the brain challenges.

Website of the Week: 24/7 Science (Gr. K-8)

24/7 Science – The best projects and activities whenever you want!

From the Lawrence Hall of Science, this website is chalk full of interactive games and activities covering a wide variety of science topics. The first collection of activities are designed to be hands-on with titles like Sticky Situations and How Old is Your Penny? The second collection of activities are designed to be interactive games and challenges, organized into categories such as Arcade Games, Earth & Space, nanoZone, and Quizzes. I tried my hand at the Alien Juice Bar, where I had to serve a clientele that only consume acids, bases, or neutral drinks. The site is still under development and notes that an educational resources section is forthcoming.

INTEGRATE

  • Here is another example of a website who can suggest ideas and activities to integrate into your lessons without having to re-invent the wheel.
  • The interactive games section can act as both an introduction to a topic of study or a wrap-up activity to help students prepare for a final assessment.

Alien Juice Bar Activity: