Ducksters – Safe research portal for students
Ducksters is a safe, educational research site designed with students in mind. The site is pretty basic without a lot of flash and fanfare so students can focus more on the content they are consuming. There are no ads on the site.
To get started:
- Choose from one of the five content category buttons at the top of the site.
- Choose a more specific topic from the available links in the center square of the site.
- Use the Search box in the top-right corner if you have a specific topic in mind. Note that while the search results may look like a standard Google Search they are in fact a custom search that shows results only from Ducksters.com
How big really? – Compare & Contrast with Google Maps
From BBC Dimensions, this site provides a library of overlays that users can then place over any location around the world to compare and contrast. HBR currently has nine different categories of overlays to choose from including space, ancient worlds, and environmental disasters. Once you have chosen an overlay, specify where you would like the overlay to be placed by entering the name of a town, city, or even your own zip code!
Some questions to get the ideas flowing:
- What would it be like if the moon was sitting in your back yard?
- What would the extent of the damage be if the Gulf Oil Spill happened at your favorite swimming spot?
- What would school be like if the Roman Colosseum had been built where the athletic field is now?
Thanks to Freetech4teachers for tweeting out this great resource.
Timelapse – Landsat satellite images of climate change
With the help of Google Earth, Timelapse shows amazing growth and/or change over time on a variety of topics. See how these satellite images have been put together to show change over time in such places as: The deforestation of the Amazon rain forest, urban development around Las Vegas, the reduction of the Mendenhall Glacier, and more. The site also includes several galleries of satellite images and a summary of how satellite and mapping technology have helped us to better understand our impact on the world.
- These animated images touch on some pretty heavy topics such as global warming, urban growth, deforestation, etc. These would be great topics for students to debate on.
- Use the imagery as prompts for creative writing or persuasive essay assignments.
- Consider having students conduct their own time lapse project over the course of a week, month, or the school year.
Here’s an example
Historic Places – Maps with all historic places in the United States and Canada
Historic Places, using the power of Google Maps, has created an interactive map with points labeling over 100,000 historical places across North America. Green dots on the map represent places within Canada’s borders; red dots within the U.S. Clicking on a dot reveals the name of the historic place, its address, the state, province, or territory it is located in, and a link to more information on the place. Some sites provide more information than others, with some also providing links to other related websites when possible. Users can zoom in and out of the map, and type keywords into the search bar to look for sites in and around specific locations.
- This site could be a great resource for students conducting research on historical topics within the U.S. and Canada. Use the site to collect basic geographical information and find links to primary source websites to help jump-start their research.
Thanks goes to FreeTech4Teachers.com for sharing this find.
Clouds Over Cuba – A documentary of the Cuban Missile Crisis
Produced by the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library and Museum, this interactive site chronicles the events leading up to and following the Cuban Missile Crisis that took place in the early 1960’s. The site tells the story via a 25-minute documentary video, divided into seven chapters. Of particular note is chapter six ‘What If?’ where they look at an alternate future when we were unable to avoid a nuclear conflict. Where the site really shows its strength is in the supplemental material provided which includes documents, photos, audio clips, and film footage of people, places, and events. As you progress through the documentary, the site will add these items to your dossier for reference later. In addition, the site has a mobile component so that, with a special pin number from the site, you can access the film and items in your dossier from your mobile phone.
- This is an amazing primary reference resource for students researching topics from this era. The potential for numerous class discussions surrounding the decisions made, the people involved, and the consequences are almost boundless.
- The chapter about an alternative ending to this conflict is very powerful and emotional at times. As always, it is recommended that teachers preview the content and use their own judgement in how to use this and if any preparation should be done prior to student access.
Population Pyramids provides a simple interactive graph of population demographics based on world statistics. Use the alphabetical timeline to narrow the data range to specific regions, continents, or countries. Use the annual drop-down menu or click on the timeline graph to adjust the graphic on the left to a specific year, from 1950 up to present day and predicted results to the year 2100. Hover your cursor over the demographics chart to see the percentages based on age range and gender.
- One of the great features of the site is that it provides a link at the bottom of the page to the specific chart that has currently been selected. This can then be copied to a webpage, presentation, or worksheet for easy access by students.
- Ask students to make their own predictions about the population demographics by age, gender, or both before revealing the site results.
Thanks to TeachersFirst for sharing this resource.
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:
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).
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.
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.