Archive for November, 2007


While I was searching the Internet over the long Holiday Weekend, I came across Edutopia.  Edutopia is a part of the Geroge Lucas Educational Foundation.  From the website:

The George Lucas Educational Foundtion (GLEF) was founded in 1991 as a nonprofit operating foundation to celebrate and encourage innovation in schools.  Since that time, we have been documenting, disseminating, and advocating for exemplary programs in K-12 public schools to help these practices spread nationwide.

 We publish the stories of innovative teaching and learning through a variety of media – a magazine, e-newsletter, DVDs, books, and this website.  Here, you’ll find detailed articles, in-depth case studies, research summaries, short documentary segments, expert interviews, and links to hundreds of relevant resources.  You’ll also be able to participate as a member of an online community of people actively working reinvent schools for the twenty-first century. I clicked on the video page found a variety of PD videos, ranging from assessment to Community Partnerships to Parent Involvement.  I found the High Expectations Video, a 9-minute documentary on a low-income elementary school in Portland, Oregon to be very useful.  I just subscribed to their online newsletter, so I’ll see if any other great resources come up.-Melissa



Thanks to Mary Ann Zeher for another informative post on her blog Learning the Language. Through her post, I learned about Lingro. Using Lingro, English language students can look up definitions of unfamiliar words on websites in just one click!

Lingro’s about page states:

Lingro was conceived in August 2005, when Artur decided to practice his Spanish by reading Harry Potter y la piedra filosofál. As a competent but non-expert speaker, he found that looking up new vocabulary took much more time than the reading itself. Frustrated with the how slow existing online dictionaries were, he wrote a program to help him translate and learn words in their original context.

Lingro’s mission is to create an on-line environment that allows anyone learning a language to quickly look up and learn the vocabulary most important to them.


Phonics has never been this entertaining!

This morning while browsing through the Bering Strait School District Open Content Initiative link that Melissa sent me to, I discovered a link to StarfallStarfall is a website that provides interactive phonics-focused content aimed at helping young children learn how to read. It was created by a team of educators, artists, designers, animators, musicians, and engineers and made possible by the Polis-Schutz family (founders of Blue Mountain Arts publishing).

If your children need help practicing their letter sounds, click here!

For animations that help children learn how to decode, click here!

The Starfall video on chunking is hilarious!


International Digital Children’s Library–Free Online Children’s Books!

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had some time to explore the web for new reading resources. This morning I learned about the International Children’s Digital Library. This is an excellent online resource filled with illustrated books in numerous languages from around the world. The site states that the Library’s mission is:

To support the world’s children in becoming effective members of the global community – who exhibit tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages and ideas — by making the best in children’s literature available online free of charge. The Foundation pursues its vision by building a digital library of outstanding children’s books from around the world and supporting communities of children and adults in exploring and using this literature through innovative technology designed in close partnership with children for children.

To search for books, click here. Notice how the site contains both fiction and non-fiction books, as well as short picture books and longer chapter books! As a former English as a Second Language teacher and a student of Spanish, I was happy to see books like Angles Ride Bikes/Los Ángeles Andan en Bicicleta–that contain passages in both English and Spanish. The site also has books in Japanese, Farsi, Yiddish and more! This is a fabulous resource. Please spread the word!

Thanks to Kim Tabor for suggesting this site in her June 2007 Teacher Librarian article titled, “Great Educational and Fun Web Sites to Explore During the Summer.” -Anna

FreeRice: Brush up your own vocabulary and help feed a hungry person!

As you spend time over the school year preparing vocabulary lessons for your students, why not brush up on a little vocabulary yourself (and feed a hungry person or two)! Or, share this site with high school students prepping for their SATs!

My friend Michael sent me the link to FreeRice last night and all morning I’ve been hooked! The site is a essentially a multiple choice vocabulary quiz. For example, the site will present to you a word like declivitous and then you have to choose the closest definition from four choices, such as, downward-sloping, fussy, harmonious and yearly. For each definition you get correct, the United Nations World Food Program delivers 10 grains of rice to hungry people around the globe!

To learn more about FreeRice and click here.

Peer Review?

Eduwonk got me again!  I recently saw this post on teacher peer review.  In Toledo, teachers are evaluating each other, instead of principals.  What?  Maybe I am just very ready for Thanksgiving break, but seriously?  Teachers already have a full time job – they teach and manage a classroom.  Administrators also have a full time job – they manage the teachers and school processes.  Let’s not add yet another responsibility to our already overworked teachers.  Maybe if administrators did their job in the first place and hired quality professionals, they wouldn’t find themselves in this predicament to begin with.  And here is one more thought… a school where teachers are constantly thinking about being reviewed by their peers is not a school that fosters professionalism and a collaborative working environment.


BrainPOP! Who were the Pilgrims?

Last year I discovered BrainPOP–an educational site for kids filled with movies, information and activities about science, social studies, English, etc. While browsing through the site recently, I learned about BrainPOP Jr. The site states:

BrainPOP Jr. provides educational movies and homework help for K-3 students. Each animated movie has quizzes, games, vocabulary, and activities for kids. BrainPOP Jr. is a great resource for teachers and homeschools, offering lesson plans and lesson ideas that develop critical thinking and inquiry skills.

I love this site because it is filled with wonderful animations that are exciting for children (and adults) to view. Plus, resources like the reading word wall and games page are great links to send home to parents, so that they can help their children learn key vocabulary and skills at home.

Since many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving this week. Why not share this BrainPOP Jr. Thanksgiving video with your students titled, “Who were the Pilgrims?

Happy Thanksgiving! -Anna

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