I am not a fan of canned curriculum. It has some benefits and is relatively easy to teach, but there is a lack of differentiation for different learners and the activities for practice are often shallow. Treasures has some fun stories and themes but they are really lacking in their activities to practice the essential learning. The activities are often shallow and don’t change from first grade to fifth grade. The same copy from the dictionary activity is suggested for learning vocabulary for every unit in every grade level. I created the Treasures supplement as a way to help teachers provide students with multiple ways of practicing the essential learnings. I just finished the supplement for unit 1. This is the supplement for first through fifth grade.
What it is: Storybook Web is “based on popular children’s stories by authors Scoular Anderson, Debi Gliori, Mairi Hedderwick and Frank Rodgers.” There are a number of fun activities on this site including the ability to listen to the author’s reading excerpts from their stories and answering questions about how they came up with ideas for writing. Students can choose from one of eight stories, each story has a related game, word bank activity, and videos/audio for reading the story and interacting with the author.
How to integrate Storybook Web into your curriculum:Storybook Web is a fun way for students to interact with stories, making connections to the authors of the stories and the themes that they are reading about. This site helps students think like an author. It gives them an inside look at how authors think about writing. Use this site as an introduction to a writing activity. Students can watch the author videos and get an inside look at the process that a writer goes through. This can be done using a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard. Storybook Web would also make a nice addition to a writing center on classroom computers. When I taught second grade, I set up an “editing and publishing” center on my classroom computers. Here I gave students access to an online dictionary, thesaurus, word processor/publishing program, and Read Write Think. Storybook Web would be an excellent addition to a writing center. Students can go to be inspired, encouraged in the writing process, and given a place to practice their own writing. I like the word bank on Storybook Web, word choice is hard for beginning writers. By interacting with the word bank activity on Storybook Web, students will begin to think about their own word choice. You may want students to go through their own writing and pick out words that they would add to their word bank. I have found that activities like this make students think about the words they are using. Often, students will self-edit and find richer vocabulary to use in their writing.
Tips: This is an easy website for emergent readers and writers to navigate. Students can choose to have the site narrated for them or they can turn the audio off and read on their own.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Storybook Web in your classroom!
What it is: I learned about Answer Garden from an interactive post on Suzanne Whitlow’s excellent blog, Suzanne’s Blog. Answer Garden is a “new minimalistic feedback tool.” It can be used as an online answer collection tool or embedded on a website or blog. An Answer Garden is created as easily as entering a question and clicking create, no registration needed. Embed the Answer Garden on any blog, website, or social network page using the embed code provided. You can also give students a direct link to the Answer Garden. Students can post answers to your questions by entering their own answers or by clicking on and submitting existing answers. All of the answers are represented in the form of a word cloud. 25 answers are visible per garden but as students submit the same answer, that word will grow bigger. Creating an Answer Garden is SO simple. Just type in your question or brainstorm statement and click create.
How to integrate Answer Garden into the classroom:Answer Garden is a fun way for students to brainstorm, plan, and work together. Pose open-ended thinking questions on your classroom blog or website for students to answers. Use Answer Garden to host a classroom poll. Create a geography Answer Garden that gives students a place that they can describe a state or country they are learning about. Use Answer Garden during reading as a place for students to reflect on different characters, plots, settings, and themes. In history, give students a date range, event, or historical figure and let them add words to the Answer Garden that describe. In the primary classroom, type in a phoneme combination and have students submit words that fit the phoneme rule. Create an answer garden to recognize VIP students in your classroom where each child can answer with a character quality that they appreciate about that student. The possibilities are endless! This tool is SO easy to use, try it out in the Answer Garden below.
What it is:Energyville is a game sponsored by Chevron. In the game, students have to provide enough power to meet the energy demands of a city with a 5.9 million person population. As they play, they must keep the city prosperous, secure, and clean. The energy decisions that students make for the city in 2015 are based on current lifestyles and the projected energy demands and costs for developed countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. The Energyville game environment is a lot like SimCity in the way that students build and maintain the city. Students begin by dragging energy sources to the city to bring it to life. Students can choose from biomass, coal, hydro, natural gas, nuclear, petroleum, solar, and wind. As they add energy sources to the city, they can observe the impacts on the economy, environment, and security of the city. The goal is to keep the impact low. There is a comparison chart where students can view the impact of the different energy sources on the environment, economy, and security to aid them in their decision-making. As students move their mouse over the different energy sources, they can read about that energy source in the Energy Advisor panel.
How to integrate Energyville into the classroom:Energyville is an excellent simulation game that helps students to experiment with energy sources. They are able to see the way that their decisions directly affect people and the environment. Students can see how some energy sources may have a low impact on the environment but are high in cost or impact security. This is a great way for students to weigh decisions and defend their choices. Set students up in a computer lab setting where each student has their own computer. Give students a set amount of time and see which students can get the highest score (lowest impact) on their city in that time. Afterward, discuss the best and worst energy sources, and have the highest score walk the class through their strategy. If you don’t have access to a lab, you can send students to Energyville in small groups as a center activity on the classroom computers. You could also play as a whole class with an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.
Tips: There are two levels of game play. In the first level, students make decisions to meet the city’s energy demands in 2015. In the second level, they must make additional decisions to prepare for the energy demands of 2030.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Energyville in your classroom.
What it is: Can Do Street is a website that has games, lessons, and videos focused on character development for young students. The site is membership based but does have some free content. Hector’s Being Selfish is a free video on the site that teaches students what it means to be selfish. The cartoon is easy to understand and helps kids recognize selfishness and what it means to be a good friend. Throughout the video, students are given the chance to interact by answering questions.
How to integrate Hector’s Being Selfish into the classroom: Selfishness is one of those characteristics that young kids find difficult to understand. It is hard to separate wants from being a good friend and expressing empathy! This videos helps children recognize selfishness and offers ways that they can be a good friend. Character education needs to be taught, we can’t expect that all children will naturally pick it up. Kids come from different backgrounds and differing expectations at home. Hector’s Being Selfish is a good video to begin the school year with, and would be a great reminder mid-year. Watch the video as a whole class and invite students to vote on their answers throughout the video.
Tips: Each section of the Can Do Street website has a preview so you can get a feel for the types of activities they offer. If you decide on a membership, plans are very affordable from $4.95/month to $24.95 for the year.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Hector’s Being Selfish in your classroom.