Teacher Timesavers, Tools and Tips
By Linda C. Joseph Columbus Public Schools
Library of Congress
[Editor's note: URLs mentioned in this article appear
in the table below.]
Summer is rapidly approaching. It is time to rest, relax, and leisurely
explore new Web sites that offer timesaving tools, practical tips, appealing
clipart, and free or inexpensive software programs that work like magic. Begin
your next school year with a digital folder full of new ideas, worksheets,
puzzles, and software tools that will liven up your lessons.
ADWARE AND SPYWARE CONTROL TOOLS
Has your Web browser ever been hijacked by Xupiter or Bonzi Buddy? Do you
blame your students for changing the school home page to a shopping site? Do
pop-up windows drive you crazy? Put an end to these annoying intrusions with
software tools that will track down these pests and remove them.
Ad-Aware Standard (free for noncommercial use) scans your computer memory,
registry, and hard drives for aggressive advertising and tracking components
and allows you to select which ones to remove. The Plus version ($26.95) adds
real-time monitoring and blocking to prevent a first-time invasion. The Professional
version ($39.95) gives the user customizable control over how Ad-Aware deals
with other programs and processes on their system. It is compatible with Windows
98/ME/NT40, Windows 2000, and Windows XP Home and Professional.
Pop-Up Stopper and Pop-Up Zapper
Panicware offers several versions of Pop-Up Stopper for Windows and Pop-Up
Zapper for Mac. A side-by-side comparison chart will assist you in making a
decision about which one is right for you. Pop-Up Stopper Free controls pop-up
and pop-under windows in Netscape and Internet Explorer. Pop-Up Zapper ($20)
for Macintosh controls most pop-up ads in Internet Explorer.
Spybot Search and Destroy
Spybot is a free program that scans your hard drive for adbots. These pesky
modules are responsible for displaying ads that can appear in the background,
in the top window, or pop up unexpectedly every few seconds. Spybot removes
adware, spyware, keyloggers, Trojans, and usage tracks. It also blocks ActiveX
downloads, tracking cookies, and threatening downloads. It zapped Xupiter with
no problem. Two user modes are available: easy, for beginners, and advanced,
for the professional who wants more control. Spybot runs on Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP
and is available in many languages.
Now that you have some tips on how to eradicate pests from taking over your
browser, let's examine some Web-based tools that will assist you in your daily
The Internet is changing, and many sites that were free are now charging.
At $29.95 per year, eBoard is still a bargain for posting notes, photographs,
homework assignments, and lists of Web sites for your students. The step-by-step
instructions are a snap. Schools can obtain discounted group pricing with a
customized design. The service is hosted and managed by eBoard, but appears
as a seamless piece of your existing Web site. All you do is add a link!
Communicate with students and parents via SchoolNotes, a free bulletin board
service for teachers. Use the Flashcard feature to add lists of reading words,
foreign language words, chemistry words, math problems, and spelling words
that students can review online. Edgate, a supplier of information technology
and services, and its partners NASSP, ACTE, DECA, USA TODAY, Family Education
Network, Encyclopedia Britannica, Smithsonian Institution, Flying Rhinoceros,
and Griffin Publishing Group support SchoolNotes.
Awesome Clipart for Kids
This is truly an awesome site! Teacher- and family- friendly clipart, coloring
pages, backgrounds, banners, fonts, icons, worksheets and wallpaper are ready
for browsing and free for Web pages or your school publication.
You will love the graphics offered for teachers and students at this Web
site. From colorful alphabets to cartoon dinosaurs, an array of graphics is
at your fingertips for all sorts of uses.
Store all of your bookmarks or favorites in one place. Begin by uploading
your current bookmark file. Easy-to-follow instructions are provided. Then,
access the files from any computer connected to the Internet. Registration
is free. Features include adding, editing, sorting, moving, and deleting links
and folders as well as setting passwords for visitors. This is also a great
tool for creating safe sites for your students to visit.
MyBookmarks began as a private service then expanded into the public sector
in 1998. The site offers limited space for bookmarks. You can add, edit, sort,
move, and delete links and folders. In addition, the site offers Remark, a
utility for Windows. Remark runs in your taskbar and works MyBookmarks.com.
It allows one click access to your bookmarks, exporting and importing to and
from Netscape, Internet Explorer, and AOL, and an easier way to add bookmarks.
This is another easy-to-use site for accessing bookmarks from a remote location.
BINGO Card Maker
Here is a slick tool for creating BINGO games. Select from 3x3 or 5x5 cards,
insert words or math problems, and click on a button. The card is ready for
printing. Shuffle the words and print a new card.
Create certificates from pre-built templates or start from scratch. Save
the finished product for later access or print it out. The cost of membership
is $27.95 for 1 year. Try before you buy in the free area where there are a
limited number of templates.
Discovery School Teaching Tools
Discovery School offers a variety of tools to help teachers in the classroom.
At the Quiz Center, select from five options: short answer, true/false, essay,
multiple choice, and mixed type. Produce your quiz and have your students complete
it online. Generate your own crossword puzzles, math squares,word searches,
and cryptograms with Puzzlemaker. Use them with a lesson, or in your newsletters
or flyers. Make a worksheet in less than 5 minutes. Choose from an array of
vocabulary word or basic math functions worksheets. Fill in the blanks, click
a button, and print. Joining the free Customized Classroom will allow you to
save your documents and create lesson plans. Rounding out the tools at this
site are hundreds of clip art selections categorized by subject areas.
High Plains Regional Technology in Education Consortium (HPRTEC)
Web Worksheet Wizard for teachers is a way to create a simple page for the
Web. Gather your information, fill in the form, choose your fonts and colors,
click on a button, and you have a Web page. Project Poster for students provides
an easy way for them to publish their projects by inserting these elements:
page title, report title, text, an image, and links to other sites on the Web.
Both are free. Think Tank will help students in grades 3-8 develop a research
organizer to save and print. Profiler is a tool for creating and taking surveys.
This would be useful in gathering data for technology plans or collaborating
on expertise. These assistants are just a sampling of the tools you will find
at this incredible Web site.
Build puzzles, Bingo cards, word stories, and much more in the free area.
By subscribing for $19.95 per year, you will have access to the math, reading
comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary worksheets as well as test-prep materials.
Personal Educational Press
Wow! What a slick program. Create free educational worksheets such as flashcards,
game boards, and quizzes to print directly from your browser. Simply choose
a word list and an output style. Alphabet answer lists include Braille and
American Sign Language. English, Spanish, French, and German are supported.
You won't want to miss this site.
Want to make a rubric but don't have time or need some assistance? Choose
from a variety of templates and work through a 10-step process. Before you
know it, you will have created a rubric to save and print. This is a real timesaver
and a wonderful way to understand how rubrics are constructed.
MULTIMEDIA SOFTWARE TOOLS
Turn sheet music into midi files with this nifty piece of software for Windows
and Mac. Start with the lite version ($49), which scans and reads common musical
markings and plays back the music. You can then edit the file in a midi-sequencing
program, such as Cakewalk, Cubase, or Logic, to achieve better results. Once
you have mastered the lite version, move up to PhotoScore Midi ($149) or PhotoScore
Professional ($199). Both have many more features that allow a wider range
of character recognition and editing capabilities. In addition, PhotoScore
Professional transfers scanned music directly to Sibelius, a music notation
program that many music teachers use in their classrooms. Find old sheet music
in the attic or at the American Memory Web site and create an archive of music
files. When students research various eras in history, they can listen to period
Would you like to learn Macromedia Flash, but the learning curve is a bit
steep? Swish is the answer. Create intros, Web pages, or presentations with
a few clicks of the mouse. Insert photographs, clip art, and text onto the
stage. Transform these static elements into dancing animations. Mix in some
sound (WAV or MP3) to jazz it up. Link scenes together with action scripts
without knowing any programming. Then, export your project as A FLASH (SWF),
AVI, or HTML file. The step-by-step tutorials under the Help menu are some
of the best CyberBee has seen in software programs. The technical support forum
at the Swishzone Web site is superb. Download a free trial version (Windows
only) and take it for a spin or buy the full version at the educational discount
price of $16.95. With a little practice, you and your students will be creating
animated masterpieces in a flash!
ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GO
With so many cool tools to choose from, where do you begin? If you are new
to the Web, you may want to start by grabbing some clip art to jazz up worksheets
or visit Discovery School. If you have had some experience, then think about
creating a bulletin board or Web page with one of the online wizards. If you
have experience using programs, you might want to jump right in with Swish
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.