What it is: Google is more than just a search engine, at www.google.com/educators you will find Google Tools for your classroom along with great ideas others are using Google in their classrooms. Google’s classroom tools include book searches, Google Earth, maps, news, iGoogle (a place where you and your students can collect useful content from all over the web and view it in one place), web search, custom search engines, Google notebook, Blogger, Calendar, Docs and Spreadsheets (free!), Groups, page creator, picsa, SketchUp, and more! All of these tools are free to use and exceptional! Google tools make it easy to stay in contact with your students and families.
How to integrate Google for Educators into your classroom: Use Google Earth for real world geography lessons, have students pinpoint places in history and add relevant information and picture to Google Earth. Create a custom search engine for your students when research is required. Use Google groups to connect your students outside of the classroom. Create a web page for your classroom where you can easily update students and parents. Use Google Docs and Spreadsheets in place of costly word processing programs. Google Educator has fabulous ideas for integrating each of their classroom tools into the classroom.
Tips: Create your own custom searches for the elementary classroom, this will protect your students from inappropriate content that they may run across in a general web search. Use Google Docs and Spreadsheets so that students can save their work online and access it from home and school. Browse the classroom activities on Google Educator, there are some great ones!
What it is: Starfall is a free learn-to-read phonics website primarily designed for kindergarten through second grade. It is a great resource for struggling readers. Starfall offers beginning readers interactive books, games, videos (complete with fun reading strategy songs). Starfall also offers free downloads of their printed materials which include short readers, writing and phonics journals, and more. The printed materials make classroom learning more fun and inspire a love of reading and writing.
How to integrate Starfall into your reading and writing curriculum: For the one or two computer classroom use www.starfall.com as a center activity during reading and writing time. Reinforce what is learned at school by sending some of the free printed resources home. If you have access to a computer lab or mobile lab, use www.starfall.com to introduce a new phonics concept. If you have access to a projector, use the Starfall videos for whole class phonics instruction, invite students to sing along.
Tips: Students as young as kindergarten will be able to navigate this site easily on their own. Create a bookmark for www.starfall.com for fast easy access. Students will love Starfall, send the link home so that students can continue learning at home.
What it is: Artsonia is the world’s largest kids’ art museum where each student in your class can have an online art gallery displaying their masterpieces for free! Artsonia is for pre-school through high-school students. Your students will develop a new sense of pride and feel like famous artists published in a museum. Friends and family members of the student can view the artwork, join fan clubs and leave personal comments for the artists. Family can purchase custom keepsakes with their child’s artwork (mugs, t-shirts, mouse pads, coasters, note cards and more). Your school will earn 15% of the purchases! Participation is completely free for teachers, students, and schools.
How to integrate Artsonia into your curriculum: Use www.artsonia.com as an enhancement for your school’s art program or use for your classroom projects. Students will put extra effort into their work and parents will be more involved in their classroom work.
Tips: Have a digital camera handy at all times, set up a place in your room to take a close up picture of student work. This will keep you from scanning all of the work in. Upload the pictures to Artsonia and you are finished! Set aside special days when students can visit the museum in class. Students can view and leave messages for classmates.
What it is: http://bookadventure.org is a valuable tool for your reading program. Book Adventure is a FREE reading motivation program for kindergarten- eighth grade students. Students can create their own book lists from over 7,000 recommended titles, take multiple choice quizzes on the books they’ve read, and earn points and prizes for their literary successes. Teachers automatically get students quiz scores in the teacher area. You can print out automatically generated notes home with each students information plugged in. You can start online book groups where students can read and discuss their comprehension of the book with other students. This site is so easy for students and teachers alike and is a simple way to integrate technology into your classroom.
How to integrate Book Adventure into your reading curriculum: The first step is signing up at http://bookadventure.org. Order a free Teacher’s Guide from the teachers page. Whether you have a one to two computer classroom, access to a computer lab, or mobile lab, you can use this tool to enhance your current reading curriculum. Students are so motivated by this program (even the most reluctant readers)! If you have computers in your classroom you can allow students to use Book Adventure as they finish books. Create a Book Adventure sign up sheet (or use the one I provided below). As a student completes a book, they can log into Book Adventure and take a multiple choice quiz and track their points. I allow students to do this during silent reading time or free time. If you don’t have computer access in your classroom, set goals with your students so that they are all ready to use Book Adventure at the same time and use a computer lab or mobile lab.
Tips: Although Book Adventure is geared for k-8 education, it would be difficult to use in kindergarten or first grade without an adult. I have used Book Adventure with second graders very successfully.
Make a bookmark for Book Adventure so that it is easily accessible. This way your students will save time getting to the site.