Website of the Week: Historic Places (Gr. 3-12)

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.

INTEGRATE

  • 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.

Screenshot - North American MapThanks goes to FreeTech4Teachers.com for sharing this find.

Website of the Week: Clouds Over Cuba (Gr. 6-12)

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.

INTEGRATE

  • 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.

Chapter 1, Act 3, changes in Cuba

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

Population Pyramids – Data on the world from 1950 to 2100

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.

INTEGRATE

  • 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.

http://populationpyramid.net/China+Hong+Kong+SAR/2005/

Population Pyramid for China in 2005

Thanks to TeachersFirst for sharing this resource.

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: MapMaker Interactive (Gr. 4-12)

MapMaker Interactive – Explore your world with map themes, data, and tools for customizing your map

MapMaker Interactive, created by National Geographic, is an interactive map tool that can be customized to display certain types of information, highlight specific areas around the world, and then share those customizations with others. Choose between six different Themes that deal with water, land, climate, population, politics, economics and more. Under each theme are a variety of information layers that you can turn on and off, changing how and what type of information the map to your right will display. Click on the Drawing tab to add your own marks to the map, helping to focus your audience on the area(s) of the map you want to draw their attention to. You can also click on the Markers tab to help add emphasis to your custom map.

Once you have finished creating your customized map, you have several options available for sharing. You can generate a link to your map which can then be emailed or posted on your website. You can print off your map; if you used a theme with a specific legend, the legend will also be printed. You may also download the map as a static image file (.png) or as an .xml file which will allow you to re-open the map for future editing.

INTEGRATE

  • Use this tool to create your own custom maps that highlight the specific areas and data that relates to your lesson. Include your map (or maps) in handout packets, links on your website, or screenshots in your presentations.
  • Start out with a generic map of a specific area, then give students the share link and ask them to label the map with relevant markers based on your unit of study (i.e. a regions natural resources, locations of important military battles, important industries found in a country, etc).
  • Have students use MapMaker Interactive to provide a visualization to go along with their own research projects.

Ocean Chlorophyll levels in the Gulf of Maine

Ocean Chlorophyll levels in the Gulf of Maine

Thanks goes to FreeTech4Teachers.com for sharing this find.

Website of the Week: From Cave Paintings to the Internet (Gr. 6-12)

From Cave Paintings to the Internet – The history in information and media

This site has organized great events and advancements in information, media, and communication into one place that can be searched and viewed in a variety of ways. Events have been cataloged going back as far as 2,500,000 BC and as recent as the year 2013. View the vast collection of information in a timeline view, by theme, or by using a Google Maps interface. Each entry comes with a detailed description of the event, the players involved, and links to additional resource materials.

INTEGRATE

  • This is a great tool for students to have in their research toolbox. When studying or researching a topic, students could use this site to gain insight into the communication and social developments that were going on in the world at the time.
  • The site currently has 3,820 entries and is being updated on a regular basis.

Screenshot of map interface

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

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: 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