Web Site Treasures
By Linda C. Joseph Columbus Public Schools
Library of Congress
[Editor's note: URLs mentioned in this article appear
in the table below.]
being shipwrecked on a deserted, barren island with
30 students. You find an old barracks completely decked
out with beds, cooking paraphernalia, and food. It will
be a few days before you are rescued. The waters are
shark-invested, so no swimming is allowed. With nothing
else to do, your students begin searching for buried
treasure. They are convinced a pirate ship must have
landed on this island. After digging in several locations,
a large, water-tight crate is discovered. Aha! The treasure
chest has been found. Inside are 31 laptop computers
(batteries fully charged) with wireless connectivity,
five PDAs with probes, and a digital camera. You dig
out a copy of the current issue of MultiMedia Schools
magazine from your knapsack and turn to the "CyberBee"
column. With a smile on your face, you know how to turn
these treasures into golden learning experiences. Even
if you are not on a desert island, you can help your
students discover a treasure-trove of information by
visiting these Web sites.
Over 7,500 artists are represented with links to more than 100,00 works.
You can search artists by name, artworks by title, or art museums by name/place.
A search for Winslow Homer returned the date of the artist, a short quote,
over three dozens links directly to his paintings in museums, related Web sites,
and articles about him. In addition, there is a Today in Art History feature
that is loaded with information.
Pop-Up and Moveable Books
The University of North Texas has prepared a virtual tour of pop-up books
from the 19th century to present. There are many wonderful illustrations, including
a few animations that give you an idea of how the movements would appear in
the book. This is a must-visit site if you are planning any lessons about pop-up
RIF Reading Planet
The focus of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is to develop children and family
literacy programs. Reading Planet is chock full of activities geared toward
the elementary grades. Students can write book reviews, illustrate stories,
write stories, send postcards, and participate in polls. If students do not
have a clue about what books they might like to read, send them to the Super
Sorter. After answering a series of questions, they are given a list of books
and activities related to their interests.
Learning in the Palm of Your Hand
The Center for Highly Interactive Computing in Education (Hi-CE) at the University
of Michigan is one of the best sites on the Web for free Palm software. Learn
how viruses spread by playing Cooties. Draw and write using Sketchy and Free
Write. Create practice drills with Bubble Blasters. In addition there are loads
of ideas for using hand-held technology in the classroom.
No matter whether you are 4 or 104, you will be fascinated with this creative
environment. It's a place for kids to compose music and play with musical instrumentation.
In addition, there are music games and puzzles. Turn up the volume and have
New York Philharmonic Kidzone
Make your own instrument, meet musicians, play Mozart's Minuet game, and
learn about composers at this kid-friendly site. When you enter the page, you
find yourself in a balcony seat listening to the orchestra warm up. From here,
you can choose all sorts of areas to explorefrom the instrument storage
room to the composer's gallery. Book your tickets now for a visit to a great
Fun Brain is one of the most popular sites for elementary teachers and students.
There are games, quizzes, and standards guides. Some of the games include Change
Maker, Fresh Baked Fractions, and Guess the Number.
Keep your students on their toes with this self-paced math challenge sponsored
by MathCounts and Compaq Computer. Begin at base camp and progress up the mountain
of problems until you reach the summit and success. Problems are randomly selected
so your students will be able to play several times.
Pattern Blocks was inspired by the No Matter What Shape Your Fractions Are
In site developed by Cynthia Lanius. In this Java program, four different pattern
blocks or manipulatives can be dragged onto a grid and moved around. The purpose
of this activity is to familiarize students with different shapes, their relations,
and their properties. Easy-to-understand instructions are provided along with
links to fraction activities.
Many activities are provided for physical education teachers to use in their
daily instruction, including interdisciplinary lessons. A few of the other
topics covered are adapted physical education, assessment ideas, and positive
learning climates. Be sure to read the Kids Quote of the Day; it will make
P.E.4LIFE is a national, nonprofit advocacy organization for promoting quality,
daily physical education programs for America's youth. A free community action
kit is available for the price of postage. The P.E.4LIFE: Community Action
Kit includes PowerPoint presentations, handouts, sample letters, and a dynamic,
7-minute video that highlights the benefits of quality physical education.
Wow! What a cool place to visit. Set up a free account and then construct
crosswords, word scrambles, anagrams, or secret codes. Login anytime and have
your students solve them. You can also send an e-puzzle greeting card.
Solve jigsaw puzzles online. Select a level of difficulty from six pieces
to 247 pieces for each puzzle. Upload photos and create your own jigsaw puzzles.
Share puzzles with friends and receive the puzzle of the day via e-mail.
The name says it all. This useful tool converts and calculates weights, measures,
and units. There are currently two versions: MegaConverter Original and MegaConverter2.
Both have an interactive conversion dial that is a snap to use.
Features include definitions, pronunciations, translations, explanations,
word of the day, and activities for increasing vocabulary. There is a specialty
glossary with over 50 categories of subjects. Translate foreign languages or
visit the multilingual library. Enter the game room and find crossword puzzles,
encryptions, fill-in puzzles, word jingles, and semantic scramblers. Write
your name in 10 different languages. The educational services section offers
essays from leading linguists about word histories. This is an excellent reference
site to add to your bookmarks.
Wacky Patent of the Month
Ever heard of an eye protector for chickens, audible toothbrush, or self-waiting
table? The Wacky Patent of the Month is devoted to recognizing selected inventors
and their remarkable and unconventional patented inventions. An archive of
previous months is available.
A highly interactive site that is lots of fun. Content is based on the needs
of its users and the National Science Education Standards. At present, BrainPOP.com
has over 80 original animated movies covering health, science, and technology
topics. You can view two movies per day for free. If you need to play more
than that, you can purchase a BrainPop School Pass. See the site for details.
Wild Eyed Alaska
Travel instantly to the remote Gull Island in Alaska to see puffins, kittiwakes,
and other wildlife. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute makes this adventure
possible. By using this virtual laboratory, students can experience science
firsthand instead of reading a textbook. The site features video footage, captured
by the nearby Pratt Museum, of animals rarely seen by most young people. A
narration accompanies the video describing the animals and their actions while
additional facts about the animals appear on screen.
New Deal Network
Study the Great Depression using the New Deal Network as an educational guide.
Documents, photos, the arts, letters, and created lesson plans for teachers
are included in this extensive site sponsored by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt
Institute and the Institute for Learning Technologies at Columbia University.
Particularly interesting and powerful are the letters written to Mrs. Roosevelt
by children during the Depression which are included in the Dear Mrs. Roosevelt
Memorial Hall Museum Online
The history of New England is revealed through artifacts and historic documents.
Browse the online collection to view items on a variety of topics. Use a magic
lens to transcribe written documents. View period clothing from all sides by
rotating the picture or watch a video to see how tools were used during Colonial
times. Create your own chronology of events by selecting topics and dates.
Detailed lesson plans for all grade levels are ready to use or may be adapted
to your community.
Continue to imagine that the Web sites are so engaging that students barely
notice a ship on the horizon. Rescued, they leave the island taking the treasure
of knowledge with them. Now that is a happy ending.
Be sure to visit the MultiMedia Schools home page [http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools] with
active links to all of the Web sites mentioned in this article. Then fly over
to CyberBee [http://www.cyberbee.com] for
more curriculum ideas, research tools, and activities to use with your students
Linda Joseph is the author of Net Curriculum: An Educator's Guide
to Using the Internet, published by CyberAge Books. The recipient of numerous
awards, in addition to her work in the Columbus Public Schools and the Library
of Congress, Linda is a part-time instructor for Ohio State University. Communications
to the author may be addressed to her at Columbus Public Schools, 737 East Hudson
Street, Columbus, OH 43211; 614/365-5277; firstname.lastname@example.org.