Educators Using the Web

As with any other teaching tool, different teachers use the World Wide Web in different ways. However, most teachers' use of web resources falls into one or more of the categories described in the rest of this section.

Professional Resource
Many teachers use the web to find resources for themselves. Information provided by professional organizations like the National Council for Teachers of English or ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education are useful for communicating and sharing ideas with other teachers. Teachers also seek materials to enhance the teaching, such as the recent research in teaching methodologies or sample lesson plans for new ideas. Educational Journals and Magazines are also resources that benefit teachers as lifelong learners.

Example: If I were interested in finding the latest professional development material for English teachers, I might start with the National Council of Teachers of English home page at: http://www.ncte.org


The National Council of Teachers of English web site

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Source for Classroom Materials
Even if your classroom is relatively (or extremely) low-tech, you can still find a staggering number of materials that can be used in your class, as long as you have access to an Internet-connected computer and a printer at some other location in your school or at home.

For example, if you're an elementary school teacher or librarian who's reading Dr. Seuss to your kids, you don't need a computer in your classroom to download the Cat in the Hat bookmark for students to color—you just need to print it once, from anywhere, and then make copies for all the students in your class. (The URL for the Dr. Seuss Web site is http://www.seussville.com.) If you're a science teacher, you may not be able to show up-to-the-second pictures from the space shuttle in your classroom, but you can certainly print copies of the pictures from the previous day.


You don't need a computer in your classroom to let your students color in their own Dr. Seuss bookmarks—print it anywhere and make Xerox copies

Another option for teachers who have computers in their classroom but don't have Internet access is to download all the pages of a useful web site and place them on your in-class computer. You can then use your web browser to view and navigate among the local copies of these materials, without requiring any kind of telecommunications access.

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Online Research and Exploration
In online research and exploration, students can be involved in choosing the web sites and their own knowledge and understanding of a topic. This method of using the web for instructional purposes definitely requires that you have at least one computer with Internet access available in your classroom.
When you hear about incorporating the web into the curriculum, this is the strategy most commonly used.

For example, a history class working on genealogy might use any of the hundreds of online genealogical resources. Many sites, like the one shown below, contain links to genealogical web sites containing information about hundreds of surnames and thousands of people.


A genealogical web site

Another example of a web site that offers a rich database of information is:
The Nine Planets: A Multimedia Tour of the Solar System
http://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/nineplanets/nineplanets/nineplanets.html
  

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A Communications and Publishing Medium
A growing trend in educational telecommunications is to "publish" student projects which showcase activities at the school and also promote the academic work that is going on in their classrooms.

Student projects on the web include electronic versions of school newspapers and magazines, online art galleries of student work, and multimedia presentations on a wide variety of course-related topics. For example, the 6th, 7th and 8th grades at Rice School/La Escuela Rice in Houston created the Galileo Life Line which can be found at: http://www.rice.edu/armadillo/Rice/Galileo/time.line.html


The Galileo Life Line, created by 6th-8th grade students

These kinds of projects aren't just ways for a school to showcase the innovative uses of technology in the classroom. Involving students in publishing examples of their work is an excellent way to get students to think critically about a topic as they search for the best methods to present their understanding of the topic to other people. (You may remember Bloom's Taxonomy where publishing projects move students into the realms of analysis and synthesis.) And, in general, research shows that students who write for a real audience—any real audience—tend do a better job than those who are simply writing for the teacher to grade.

The web is an ideal medium for student publishing for a number of reasons:

Immediacy. As soon as the project is finished, it can be published. There's no need to wait for copies to be run off in the main office or at the printer's.

Benefits of Hypermedia. Working with multiple modes of delivering information helps students develop and deliver an understanding of the topic. While a traditional paper-based report might include images (possibly even in color), it certainly can't include animation, videos, sounds, or links to other related documents.

Ease of access. Student projects on the web can be seen by a much wider audience than traditional methods of publishing. Families, other teachers, administrators, and anyone else across the world with web access and interest in the topic or simply an interest in your class' activities can see what your students are up to. Additionally, you can provide and even solicit commentary and feedback through a simple "mailto:" link.

 

Communication Tools For Teachers
Whether they are called Newsgroups, HyperGroups, Discussion Boards, or Bulletin Boards, these asynchronous posting and replying message boards, viewable on a web page, provide information to teachers and students over a variety of topics.
Classroom Connect, a website for K-12 educators and students, is dedicated to teaching about the use and resources of the Internet. The subscription magazine and website http://www.classroomconnect.com makes available to its members several newsgroups for both teachers and students.

Email: One of the most popular forms of electronic communications is email. Email is a form of asynchronous communication. When teaching you might consider having two email accounts, one for your professional life and one for your personal life. Most school districts provide email for their teachers and support staff.


Chat: A form of synchronous communication is chat.
Chat is an excellent way to meet people all around the world. Before you begin chat-ting make sure that both you and your students are aware of all the dangers associated with this form of electronic communication. Also, make sure you are aware of the policies of your school district in regards to chat-ting.
Simple rules to follow include not using your real name or any identifying information, including where you live. Sometimes adults pretend to be children in chat rooms. A place to look for information on this is the site Chat Danger http://www.chatdanger.com/.
Here are some chats for both students and teachers found at ClassroomConnect http://www.classroomconnect.com.

Look also at the ePALS site http://www.epals.com. You can also setup your own free chat room at ePALS.com.

 

Listserv and Email Lists: ClassroomConnect also makes available through its website Email lists. Email lists are mailing lists; when you mail your question or response to the list you are mailing everyone who participates on the list. A listserv or a email list is similar to bulk mail.
If you are interested in joining a listserv check out the descriptions of ones available to you at ClassroomConnect http://www.classroomconnect.com.

Also refer to the Liszt site http://www.liszt.com for a list of almost every listserv available for joining. You can also setup your own free listserv at liszt.com with TopicaExchange.

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Even if your school or classroom does not have access to a web server, a number of sites let students and teachers share their creations with each other by publishing their work online.

For example, take a look at:

KidNews.com
http://www.kidnews.com

and

Schoolnotes.com 
http://www.schoolnotes.com/
A free web-page building and hosting site on the internet for teachers. It allows teachers and administrators to create rudimentary web pages that are easy to update and maintain. The system is ingenious in that is based upon school zip code. A student simply goes to the site and enters the zip code that his or her school is located within (normally the zip code of his or her house). The student is then provided with a scrollable list of all teachers within that zip code and links to their pages. It does not list them by school, but by alphabetical-ordered teacher names. Thus, the entry of a zip code brings to the front a list of every teacher a student might have who has a page - this is by far superior to an alphabetical or keyword search which would only bring up one teacher at a time. It also removes the burden from schoolnotes.com of cataloging and databasing every individual school or even school district - just readily available zip codes. A teacher can update his or her website easily and quickly, allowing for nightly homework postings, if desired. Also, schoolnotes.com allows teachers to create “flashcards,” a web-based program very similar to PowerPoint presentation software.

Quia.com
http://www.quia.com/

Quia is a 2nd generation schoolnotes.com program. It does everything schoolnotes.com does and much more. Not only can a teacher create and continuously update his or her webpage, but the teacher can also create online tests and games with which students can interact. The best part is that it is very easy.  Quia.com personnel had non-tekkies in mind when they designed the user interface.  To create the games you first view the different game formats available in a trial fashion, choosing the format that best matches your needs. Second, you are led to an entirely different area of Quia.com where you compose the questions and/or riddles (with their corresponding answers) that you want students to answer and solve. The computer then creates your game or test for you.

 

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Internet Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are something students enjoy. When used for instruction, an Internet scavenger hunt focuses on a subject that the teacher is introducing. The difference between a scavenger hunt and a guided tour is that the scavenger hunt is designed to introduce students to using search engines to find information on the Internet. Scavenger hunts are meant to be fun activities that the students can enjoy. They not only can learn about the subject matter and learn about search engines but can build strategies that will help them use the material they find.

Using a search engine is an important skill for students to learn. Even students who have surfed the web at home may not be skilled in using search engines or directories. However, care must be taken when implementing a scavenger hunt exercise. Without some sort of filtering software or direct supervision, students can intentionally or accidentally stumble onto inappropriate materials. Therefore, it may be preferable to pick out several websites and limit the students to only trying to find the answers to the scavenger hunt within those sites that the teacher has chosen. Of course this decision depends on the level of the students, the amount of teacher supervision, and the availability of filtering software.

To design a scavenger hunt for the classroom, a teacher would construct questions that relate to a topic being studied in the classroom. If the teacher has collected a series of links on Earthquakes for example, she could pre-screen the sites for interesting questions to use in a scavenger hunt. Below are some educational web sites that have links to pre-made scavenger hunts. 

The Scavenger Hunt Page
http://lserver.aea14.k12.ia.us/scavenger.html

WebHound Scavenger Hunt
http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/webhound/hunt.html

EarthDay Scavenger Hunt
http://www.stemnet.nf.ca/~dfurey/earthday/index1.htm

A World Wide Web Scavenger Hunt
http://deil.lang.uiuc.edu/web.pages/www.scavengerhunt.html

Egyptian Scavenger Hunt
http://www.yrambam.org/webquest/Egyptian%20Scavenger%20Hunt.htm

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Ask an Expert Resources

There are many websites that contain material from experts on how to design curriculum products or other materials. Teachers can go to these websites and see how experts in the field of curriculum development, for example, develop a curriculum.  Teachers can get advice, hints or step-by-step instructions on how to develop curriculum material, use the Internet in the classroom, or any other advice. Some available experts are listed below.

In addition to teachers getting expert advice about classroom material, remember that the web allows students the opportunity to communicate with experts in any number of different fields. A student might go to the United States Geological Survey's Ask-A-Geologist web page (http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/docs/ask-a-ge.html/) to ask a real geologist questions on subject ranging from volcanoes and earthquakes to rocks, mountains, lakes, and rivers.

Judi Harris, an Instructional Technology professor at the University of Texas, has written extensively on the role of telecollaboration between students and experts in the field. Some of her web materials are listed below.

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Virtual Field Trips

There are wonderfully rich, detailed "electronic field trips" available on the web such as the one provided by The Colonial WIlliamsburg Society (http://www.history.org/)in Williamsburg, Virginia, where web visitors can interact with "colonists" and take a virtual tour the park.

 


Electronic field trip from Colonial Williamsburg

This type of activity can be used in the one-computer classroom or in a lab setting where students have access to multiple computers. Online field trips to art galleries and museums are especially helpful in locations where access to actual sites is limited.

Another good virtual field trip can be made to Philadelphia, to visit:
The Franklin Institute Science Museum
http://sln.fi.edu/tfi/welcome.html

 

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Lesson Plans, Classroom Activities

Thousands of lesson plans on every topic you can imagine for every age level are published by education professionals on the web. Most of these lesson plans do not involve using the Internet as part of your instruction. You simply use the Internet to find new material to use in the classroom. No matter what your subject area, you can almost certainly find something to help you teach your class.

Lesson plan archives are a specific type of Internet resource and deserve a little more emphasis. There are countless number of lesson plans on the Internet When many of these plans are brought together and stored for public use, they are typically referred to as an Archive.

It's also important to remember that even though a lesson plan may be on the Internet and part of one of these archives, that by itself does not necessarily mean that it is a GOOD lesson plan. Remember, no one really governs the Internet, so don't just assume that the lesson plan is well prepared and useful simply because it's freely available online. The best strategy might be to begin your search for lesson plans with sites where you have some familiarity.

The Busy Teachers' WebSite
http://www.ceismc.gatech.edu/busyt/
Developed by Carolyn Cole, a specialist in technology and former K-12 teacher. Although this site contains compiled lists of links to educational Web sites, many of the topic areas contain links to lesson plans and classroom activities. This wonderful web site also provides a written description of each linked web page to help you determine if you would like to visit that location.

Web Sites and Resources for Teachers
http://www.csun.edu/~vceed009/index.html
The product of Vicki and Richard Sharp, professors of Elementary Education at California State University, Northridge. Organized in eight different categories, this collection provides not only links to an abundant number of web pages, but also lesson plans and suggestions for class activities in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, and bilingual/ESL. There is also a "Just for Kids" area that is aimed at children.

Electronic Archives for Teaching the American Literatures
http://www.georgetown.edu/tamlit/tamlit-home.html
A web site that contains essays, syllabi, and pedagogical strategies, plus other educational resources for literature teachers. The Electronic Archives project was created and is maintained by the Center for Electronic Projects in American Culture Studies at Georgetown University.

The History Channel Classroom
http://www.historychannel.com/classroom/classroom.html
Designed to be used in conjunction with programs form the History Channel cable television network. A number of links are provided which offer teachers resources based on the content of the The History Channel's shows.

Access Excellence
http://www.accessexcellence.org/
This site is for Health and Bioscience Teachers and Learners

Science News Online
http://www.sciencenews.org/
Science teachers may also get suggestions for classroom activities from this site, a web-based version of a weekly science magazine that has been published since 1922. New science articles appear regularly and there is an archive of articles from the early years of the publication available in the Timeline section.

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Internet Based Curricular Projects

Since the early days of the Internet, teachers have been participating in online collaborations with others who were interested in exchanging educational information. With the accession of the web as the premiere Internet resource, Internet projects are enjoying a great deal of popularity. Some of these projects cover a number of different curricular areas and may take place over a semester or even an entire school year. The following projects provide a sampling of the variety that can be covered when the Internet is used for curricular projects.

The JASON Project
http://www.jasonproject.org
The granddaddy of Internet curricular projects, this site demonstrates how students can interact with scientists in an ongoing electronic field trip. Originally founded in 1989, by Dr. Robert Ballard, after his discovery of the RMS Titanic. So many students wrote to Dr. Ballard and his team that they decided to develop curricular materials that would allow teachers and students to use the Internet to participate in global scientific explorations. Now preparing its 12th expedition, the JASON Project continues to link students with working scientists and researchers as they explore interesting locations around the world. Students take part in classroom investigations that are integrated with live broadcasts as the projects unfold.

MayaQuest
http://quest.classroom.com/
MayaQuest, (and now other quests), is an example of a well known educational project on the web. In 1995, a team of explorers on bicycle, traveled archeological sites in Mexico and Central America in an attempt to understand the Mayan civilization. Over a million Internet users, many of them students and educators, joined the team electronically, viewing pictures and discussing details of the expedition.

GOALS - Global Online Adventure Learning Site
http://www.goals.com/
A commercial site from a Burien, Washington company that attempts to use the web as an educational tool with an emphasis on science and technology. Current projects include a number of sailing expeditions around the world, with pictures and narrative reports being posted online.


The main menu of GOALS - the Global Online Adventure Learning Site

 

Why is the Mona Lisa Smiling? is a multidisciplinary science driven web-based ThinkQuest project developed by computer graphics students at high schools in the Bronx and Sweden, exploring the mystery of the Mona Lisa through scientific inquiry and presenting original music composed by Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo's Portrait of an unknown Musician has also been identified! 

There is an interactive quiz, multilingual musical postcards in 23 languages and a dozen da Vinci diversions to explore. 

You can read about our site in the New York Times:
http://library.thinkquest.org/13681/data/links/times99.htm 

This site is accessible for the hearing impaired. Click on the signing hand for Special Needs Resources. Our Lesson Plan Why is the Mona Lisa Smiling? is part of the Encarta Collection. 

The address is http://library.advanced.org/13681/data/davin2.shtml  

 

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