Monday, June 13, 2011

Post 3: For the Love of Websites :)

I love fun, educational websites! I use them extensively in my classroom. Here are some of my favorites by type:

Drill and Practice: Fun4thebrain is a free website that has long lists of games for each of the four math basics, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, for drill and practice. This is a link to the multiplication games list, http://www.fun4thebrain.com/mult.html. Some of the games are simpler than others. Some of them drill the students for a while, and if the student correctly answers enough of the problems, he/she is rewarded with an old-school Nintendo-like game. My favorite one is http://www.fun4thebrain.com/SuperStars/superStars_division.html, which is a division game but is also available as a multiplication game. Sometimes I let the kids play these games on the Smart Board as we wait for the bell to ring at the end of the day or if we are waiting to go to an assembly. Students may choose to play these in the computer lab on “website days” also.

Spelling City is another favorite of mine. You can upload your own spelling lists for student access for free. Students can take spelling tests, or they can click the “Play a Game” button to play games with their spelling words. Hangmouse is my favorite; we often play it on the Smart Board as we wait for the bell to ring at the end of the day. This website is an example using one of my spelling lists, http://www.spellingcity.com/view-spelling-list.html?listId=2548052.

Tutorial: This website coaches students through different science “experiments” in an interactive fashion for free. This website, http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/ks2bitesize/science/, lists them all. I use these on the Smart Board to start a lot of my science lessons.

Simulation: This website, http://www.iknowthat.com/, has a lot of kid-friendly interactive science simulations. This particular one, http://www.iknowthat.com/com/L2?GradeLevel=-1:6&Subject=Science , was one of my students’ favorites last year. You can adjust temperatures, polar and tropical air, and humidity to discover what kind of weather those conditions would make. I usually let students independently explore one of these that are relevant to what we are studying in the computer lab because they enjoy it more and get more out of it that way. When I am pressed for time, however, I use these on the Smart Board.

Instructional Games: PBS kids is completely free. They have a wide variety of topics for all elementary ages. Some of the younger elementary games are even appropriate for older elementary. One of the Caillou games allows students to dig dinosaur bones with paleontology tools and put them together. Here is the list of all the games by topic, http://pbskids.org/games/alltopics.html . My favorite games are the ones that use Fetch, the dog. This one, http://pbskids.org/fetch/games/water/game.html , uses the states of matter to help Fetch.

Problem Solving: My all-time favorite is Poptropica, http://www.poptropica.com/ ! I’m sure most of you have heard of it. I know that some schools have banned it from their computer labs because it just looks like a video game. Personally, I think that if they have banned it, they haven’t played it. It takes a lot of problem solving and strategy to complete the Poptropica Islands. Several of them allow you to learn a great deal of content knowledge, also, like the Time Tangled Island. My favorite part is that it is free!

Cyberchase from PBS kids offers some simple games that involve problem-solving, and it also offers some Poptropica-like games also. The complete listing is listed on the Cyberchase webpage, http://pbskids.org/cyberchase/games.html . I use Poptropica and Cyberchase as classroom rewards. My students learn a lot from them but only think of them as the fun websites.

Integrated Learning Systems: Compass Learning Odyssey, http://www.compasslearningodyssey.com/, is not a free website. It is, however, a wonderful interactive website that all of my students enjoy. It allows the teacher to assign tutorials, instructional games, quizzes, and more to students. The students can work at their own pace, and any data gained from their work and quizzes are stored in the teacher’s account. I really enjoy this website a lot more than a new alternative (I will not mention the name of the new program that I do not enjoy because that probably isn’t fair to the program). I actually use this as my usual computer lab curriculum.

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