A reader tipped me off to this great list of ways to use comics in the classroom. The list is extremelly comprehensive and includes sections on the benefits of using comics in the classroom, great resources for using comics in the classroom, suggested comics for reading in the classroom, tools for creating comics in the techie classroom, creative ways to use comics in the classroom, lessons plans using comics for elementary/middle/high school classrooms, manga and anime, and free comics for educators. With 100 tips, tools, ideas, and resources, this list should convince you of the why and how of using comics as teaching tools. Enjoy! Comics in the Classroom 100 Tips, Tools, and Resources for Teachers
What it is: Help Me 2 Learn: Grammar is an outstanding way for students to learn the difference between nouns, pronouns, verbs and adjectives. Help Me 2 Learn is actually a pay for learning website, but Grammar 1 is a full demo of the grammar game for FREE! This is an incredible interactive that will help your students learn four parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adjectives. The interactive has a baseball theme and begins with some coach time where your students learn about the different parts of speech. Each part of speech is introduced by the coach and accompanied by several interactive examples. Students get a single when they learn about nouns, a double when they learn about pronouns, a triple when they learn adjectives, and a home run when they learn about verbs. There is a speed round game where students will play a game identifying parts of speech they have learned. Finally, students can do a word sort in the Home Run Derby game. This game is truly impressive, especially considering that it is FREE to use with your students!
How to integrate Help Me 2 Learn: Grammar into the classroom: Help Me 2 Learn: Grammar 1 is a great site to use in a computer lab setting. The coaching and game is paced according to student input. Students can learn at their own pace and get immediate learning feedback throughout the game. The Coach Time section of the site could be completed as a whole class with an interactive whiteboard. Students can take turns interacting with the coach time at the board. After completing Coach Time as a whole class, set up a grammar center where students can play the Speed Round, and Home Run Derby.
Tips: This site is a comprehensive way for students to learn about nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adjectives. This is a site that is worth letting students take time with individually in the computer lab setting.
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What it is: Remember Spirographs? I had a set that could keep me busy for hours. As I was searching back through websites to align with curriculum, I found the virtual Spirograph on Math Playground. Virtual Spirograph lets your students determine colors, pen positions, and the radius of the circles. Students can then draw the Spirograph adding layers. One of the best features of this fun site is the “where’s the math” button that shows a break down of the math involved in the spirograph activity.
How to integrate Virtual Spirograph into the classroom: Virtual Spirograph is a great way to teach practical (and fun) math. Students will learn about epicycloids and what happens when they adjust radius and reflector placements. Virtual Spirograph will help students visualize difficult math concepts and create fun artwork in the process. This is a great site to introduce with an interactive whiteboard or projector. Students can take turns adjusting the pen position and radii. Encourage other students in the class to predict what the epicycloids will look like based on the radii chosen and the pen position. Then click draw and discuss what actually happened. Virtual Spirograph can be set up as a math center for students to visit in the one or two computer classroom. Students can visit the center in small groups and take turns predicting the outcome as a partner adjusts the pen position and radii.
Tips: The Virtual Spirograph relies on a flash player, make sure you have one before using this site with students.
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What it is: I just learned about this site from @jdornberg on Twitter; even though I have a long list of sites waiting for a post, I had to write one on Planet in Action right now. This is an incredible site that uses Google Earth as a basis for interactive journeys around the earth. Students can take a virtual helicopter ride above the Grand Canyon, explore Mount St. Helen, sail a virtual ship in Port of Rotterdam, take a helicopter tour of Manhattan, or Disneyland Paris. As students explore, they can grab a snapshot and create their own virtual post card.
How to integrate Planet in Action into the classroom: Virtual field trips just got a lot more realistic thanks to Planet in Action! Planet in Action will take students on a tour of the different virtual places or students can take control and explore on their own. This is an amazing site to use when studying famous landmarks or places. Use this site with an interactive whiteboard or a projector-connected-computer. Take your whole class on a virtual field trip to places that they are studying in class. This is an outstanding way to bring some life to lessons. Watch the recorded tour and discuss different landmarks as you see them. Then ‘hire’ a helicopter ‘pilot’ who can navigate the trip for the class. Allow students to play tour guide and explore. Create postcards and virtual tours that can be saved and re-played. In the computer lab setting, each student can create a virtual tour that can be shared with classmates (complete with a postcard greeting!). In addition to the virtual tour, students can navigate by using a Google Map to see exactly where they are in the virtual tour. In the Port of Rotterdam instead of flying using a virtual helicopter, students will actually sail a ship. Students can choose their ship, blow the whistle, and navigate from port to port seeing actual images from Google Earth. Your students will want to spend hours learning and exploring here! Integrate Planet in Action into other learning opportunities, after exploring the world virtually, students could create a brochure for the place they visisted, write a postcard, or even create a short travel video.
Tips: This site takes a few minutest to load, be patient, it is well worth it!
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What it is: Welcome to the Web is an interactive website that teaches students all about the Internet through challenges and activities. There are seven sections of activities and learning on Welcome to the Web. The first section teaches students how to use the site. Section 2 teaches students about the basic concepts involved in the Internet, it also gives some valuable practice navigating and visiting websites. Section 3 is all about staying safe online by following SMART rules, student understanding is tested using interactive activities and fun quizzes. Section 4 helps students learn more about their web browser and its features. In section 5 students will learn how to search effectively and safely in search engines. Section 6 helps students understand copyright. The last section invites students to compete in a challenge that requires them to use all of the skills they learned to catch the creator of a computer virus. When the challenge has been completed, students can print out a certificate of completion. Each section of this site comes with accompanying worksheets to be used with the site. These don’t have to be used in order to use the site effectively. Throughout the site, students can ‘hover’ the mouse over an underlined word and a definition will pop up.
How to integrate Welcome to the Web into the classroom: Welcome to the Web is an excellent road map to the Internet. Every computer lab should use Welcome to the Web to help students understand the Internet and use it effectively. The way the site is broken down into sections is extremelly helpful for a computer lab setting where students may not be able to get through the entire site in one day. Start each class for 7 periods with Welcome to the Web. If you don’t have a computer lab, students can learn about the web as a class using an interactive whiteboard or projector. Encourage all students to participate on the journey. Make a big deal of completing all of the sections on this site. I like to make my students an Internet Driver’s licenses when they have shown their understanding of Internet safety rules. This would be a great site to tie into other computer lessons!
Tips: Welcome to the Web is part of Mark Warner’s excellent site Teaching Ideas.
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What it is: Arcademic Skill Builders are educational games that help students learn basic academic math and literacy skills. The games are all research-based and standards-aligned. This site blends the fun of arcade games and key educational skills into fun online games that engage, motivate, and teach students. All games are free to play and have the option of multi-player or single player games.
How to integrate Arcademic Skill Builders into the classroom: Arcademic Skill Builders has games that will help students practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, ratios, and language arts word skills. These games can be used as a center in the classroom during math or literacy. They can also be used with the whole class in a computer lab setting. I look forward to the addition of the student tracking so that teachers can see trends in student learning and differentiate instruction and practice accordingly. These games will help excite your students about learning while building important basic learning skills.
Tips: Arcademic Skill Builders has plans to add features that will allow students to save records, teachers to differentiate instruction through the games, and pinpoint students problem areas.
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What it is: Dweeber is a social networking site for students that encourages kids to get their homework done faster and with more understanding by working with their school friends online. Dweeber was created to help students understand their strengths and talents, and help them work together more effectively with parents, mentors, and each other. The goal is to get students working together to help them learn, study and do research. Working together collaboratively this way is an important 21st century skill that we should be fostering in our classrooms. Students can invite each other to study sessions where they can work in a collaborative whiteboard type space, chat with fellow students, post successes, and send friends thank you cards for helping out. Students can learn about their unique learning style and will receive tips for working more effectively (SMART profile) these profiles can be shared among friends. Students can also earn ‘guru’ points by sharing and voting on favorite websites, helping others get homework done, and pointing out successes of other students.
How to integrate Dweeber into the classroom: I really like the idea behind Dweeber. This site helps students to understand their own learning, and support fellow students in their learning. I love the way in encourages students to work collaboratively outside the classroom and celebrate each other’s successes. This site is easy to use and will make homework less painful. It has the added bonus of preparing students for the real world where they won’t always be able to work with others face to face. Encourage the use of this site in your classroom. Using a site like Dweeber will build a community of learners in your classroom. Students will support each other in learning and each will be able to shine in their areas of expertise. Statistically, homework doesn’t generally increase learning. Often it is a mindless practice that is easy for those who get it and painful for those who don’t. Those who understood the concept probably didn’t need hours of extra practice and those who didn’t get it just practiced the wrong way for hours. Why not allow students to collaborate and truly learn the material? This is a great way to keep learning and discussions going outside of the classroom.
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What it is: GeoEdu is a free software download for both Macs and PC’s. The software contains two parts, the first is an atlas with interactive maps and details for each country including the capital, flag, land and water borders, length of the coasts, the population, official languages, internet and country code, currency, international organization membership, and more. The second part of the software is a game offering more than 100,000 geography questions about worldwide geography. The game lets players give an answer or choose to answer with clues or multiple choice. After answering a question, students can view their score and look at detailed data for the territory.
How to integrate GeoEdu into the classroom: I’m not sure why school supply stores still sell the pull down atlas, with all of the amazing atlas and map tools available for free, buying a map seems so last century! GeoEdu is a bright and colorful interactive atlas with great details for each country. This free software is perfect for use with an interactive whiteboard or projector. The game included is a great way to increase student geography knowledge. Play the game as a class during geography or any time you have a few extra minutes. Keep a running score going throughout the year that can be added to easily. GeoEdu is also a great download for classroom and library computers. Use GeoEdu as a geography/atlas center where students can stop by and interact with maps and play the game.
Tips: This site does require a download so be sure to add it to your wish list before the start of school.
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What it is: Number Nut is a site all about math. I love their catch phrase: “enough math can make anyone nutty”. This site certainly has enough math for that! Topics on Number Nut include: shapes and colors, numbers and counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, order of operations, dates and times, fractions, decimals, percent values, estimation and rounding, ratios, and money math. There is something for every math class here! Each topic gives an overview of the math concept (kind of like the break down students would find at the beginning of a new math chapter). This is followed by two interactives where students can practice their new found knowledge. Number Nut is standard aligned and has a great math glossary.
How to integrate Number Nut into the classroom: Number Nut is truly like an interactive math textbook, there are multiple pages for each concept and each page is followed by two interactive practice areas. I love this as an alternative to math textbooks because students get immediate feedback as they work. They know whether they have mastered the concept or need to keep working at it. With traditional math textbooks, a student doesn’t know if they understand a concept until they turn in their math worksheet and get it back a few days later full of red marks. Number Nut is good for teaching new math concepts on an interactive whiteboard or with a projector. Students can read along as you explain and demonstrate new math concepts. Then, students can practice on their own. Ideally, Number Nut would be used in a computer lab setting where every student is using a computer. This would allow students to work at their own pace and on the skills they need the most practice on. Number Nut could also be used as a math center where students take turns visiting and solving problems.
Tips: I learned about Number Nut from a tweet by @kellyhines she is full of great classroom resources and one of my favorite education follows! Number Nut does require flash so make sure that you have the appropriate flash plugins before using this site with your class.
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What it is: 3-D Vinci is a math website that has a great free resources page for math teachers. The site has downloadable pdf lesson plans for using Google’s SketchUp to teach math concepts using designs such as tessilations. For students in grades k-12 3D Vinci has puzzles and mosaics that can be printed and solved. 3D Vinci has a YouTube channel where students can watch several ModelMetricks projects.
How to integrate 3D Vinci into the classroom: 3D concepts can be hard to grasp through 2D methods of instruction. Textbooks are especially difficult to learn 3D concepts in because there is no interaction. 3D Vinci is a great website for bringing 3D concepts to life for students. Not only can they print and interact with math in 3D, they can also learn how to create in 3D using Google’s Sketchup. This is a great way to grab students attention and excite them about math. Using Google Sketchup gives students a real-world connection to math concepts that you are teaching in class.
Tips: The site is set to add more resources sometime in June and will be co-managed with one of the leading online communities for math teachers.
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