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Happy Teacher Appreciation Week Goodies from Learning a-z

What it is: It’s teacher appreciation week!  One thing that I quickly learned in starting a school, teachers ARE the school. I always appreciate companies that recognize and honor this.  Learning a-z is holding an Open House during teacher appreciation weeks which gives you free access to all 6 of their sites for the whole week.  It also happens to be their 10 year anniversary, to celebrate they are giving away 10 free licenses each day of this week.  Learning A-Z is an excellent resource that I have used for ages.  Sites include: Reading A-Z which is a great collection of printable and projectable books and resources for 27 different levels; Raz-Kids which is a student-centered site where kids can practice reading online; Vocabulary a-z where you will find 12,000+ pre-made vocabulary words where you can build custom lists for students; Science a-z which delivers science curriculum resources across more than 60 units and includes three reading levels for each; Writing a-z which contains everything you need to teach writing in your classroom; and Reading-Tutors which provides more that 400 reading resource packets to use for one-on-one tutoring. Be sure to take advantage of these great resources that are being offered FREE to you this week (May 7-11). How to integrate Learning A-Z Open House into the classroom: The materials and resources at Learning A-Z are wonderful.  I like the way they are available at the touch of a button so that you can instantly customize resources and lessons for students on the fly.  Learning A-Z is like an instant boost to your classroom library.  Students have additional resources that they can access both at school and at home.  When I was a new teacher, Learning A-Z was a lifeline!  I didn’t have a great classroom library built up yet and I didn’t have the money to go out and build it up immediately.  Learning A-Z helped me give students exactly what they needed, when they needed it.  My second grade students loved the printed books, they would often color them, take them home and read them over and over again.  It gave them a sense of ownership over their reading. Learning A-Z resources are great book-buddies for home.  One year, I podcasted all of these (I wish I had saved them so I could share!) and sent my students home with the book and an iPod nano so they could read along at home.  This was wonderful for the kids that didn’t have someone reliable at home to read with. I also used the Learning A-Z resources as part of my literacy and science tub work.  You can learn more about tub work here.  The resources can be used for individual students or for a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Be sure to set up your classroom computers with these resources for your students this week! Tips: Learning A-Z isn’t always a free resource, but they always offer some free material for you to access.  You may find after this week that you would like a subscription.  Be sure to register for the license give away…great end of the year present! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Learning A-Z in  your classroom!

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What do you love: Google’s multi-search search engine

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Blogs, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 23-04-2012

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What it is: What do you love is a nifty little search space from Google that I ran across today.  Apparently I’m late on this one, everyone was blogging about it a year ago!  Ah well, can’t win ’em all.  With What do you love, students can type in a search term and instantly get results grid-style from Google images, create an alert, find patents, look at trends, email someone about the topic, explore the search in 3d with SketchUp, find books, watch videos, translate into 57 languages, organize a debate, find blog posts, maps, call someone, start a discussion group, plan an event, view it in Google Earth, create a instant bookmark to the search, or make the search mobile.  This is a super way to help students organize and view information and options for sharing from one place.

How to integrate What do you love into the classroom:  What do you love is a great tool for helping students learn about how searches work.  Students can instantly see a variety of search options and can begin comparing/contrasting results from the different streams.  Ask students to consider which types of searches lend themselves to each type of search (images, video, web, blogs, maps, etc.).  It is nice to have a one-stop shop of search results all within one page like this.  Students can quickly look at the top items from each available stream and decide from that one point which option best fits their search needs.

As a teacher, this search option is incredibly valuable for the time it saves.  Working on a new thematic unit or unit of inquiry?  Type it into the search terms and immediately find related books, videos, and other resources to help you maximize your time and effort.

I think that the trends are fascinating to look at and speculate about.  Are your students studying current events or an event in history (Titanic anyone)?  It is really interesting to see how the trend of the search topic changes over time.  Ask students to speculate and think critically about the rise and fall of certain topics.

Did you know that Google will help you organize and start a debate with moderation?  Me either.  It is a pretty neat little service that gives everyone a voice and lets students gather input from a large audience.  This could be a great way for students to get help with brainstorming, collecting public opinion or in preparation for a presentation they are giving.  This is an option I would only use at the high school level (it is for 13 and above).  I haven’t played with it long enough to receive inappropriate responses, but I’m sure they slip through.  This is also a great way for students to get more opinions or input about a topic they love.  Right now the top topic on the Moderator site is about Minecraft.  This is HUGE with our students right now, they cannot get enough!

What do you love would be a great site to bookmark on your projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard so that students can do searches about topics they are interested in as a class.  Using What do you love this way gives you the opportunity to help students wade through results and practice discernment in what is accurate and good information for the topic being searched.  I don’t know about you, but YouTube is the first place my students head when they are going to learn something new.  I think this is because the video medium is preferred over the text results where they have to wade through information to find what they are looking for.  Most students tell me they go to YouTube first because it is easy to know within a few seconds whether a video is going to give them the information that they want (forget deciding if it is a credible source).  YouTube IS a wonderful place to learn something new, I often go there myself, but it is nice for them to see other results along side the video.  As educators it is our job to teach students how to be discerning about the information they collect and how to use that information appropriately as it relates to the task they have been given.

Tips: Fair warning, this is a search engine.  You can’t always guarantee that what a student searches will come up with appropriate results.  I often remind students that if they come across anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused they should tell a trusted adult so that we can sit down and help them work through what they found and offer recommendations for a better search.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using What do you love in  your classroom!

Comments (1)

Wow! This is terrific! Don’t worry, you’re not the only educator that finds this new. I can’t wait to try this out and share with my students and their parents. Thanks for all the great ideas and information you share.

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