Archive for May, 2008

Elementary Social Studies on the Web – Guided Tour

Are you looking for great resources to help you plan and deliver social studies instruction at the elementary level? Boy, do I have the sites for you! Sit back, relax, and take this guided tour of some great places to start planning for next year. Turn up the volume on your computer so you don’t miss the audio portion many of these sites contain. Are you ready? LET’S GO!

Let’s start with primary sources. These wonderful documents of our past make the study of history come alive for many students. The following sites will help you guide students in the use and interpretation of primary source documents.

Library of Congress: What are Primary Sources?
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/start/prim_sources.html
History Matters: Making Sense of Documents
http://historymatters.gmu.edu/browse/makesense/
Integrating OurDocuments.gov Into the Classroom
http://www.ourdocuments.gov/content.php?flash=true&page=integration

Now that you have some ideas for successfully integrating primary sources into instruction, here are a wealth of sites that make primary sources available to your students with just the click of a mouse!

Library of Congress: American Memory Project
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/
The National Archives: Charters of Freedom
http://www.archives.gov/national-archives-experience/charters/charters.html
Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/declara/
Primary Documents in American History
http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/PrimDocsHome.html

Once your students become comfortable with primary sources, you may want to turn them into historical detectives. Here are some terrific resources for doing just that.

History Detectives: How-To Guides
http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/diy/index.html
History Trail: How to Do History
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/lj/how_to_do_historylj/preview.shtml

Let’s move on to geography. The National Geography standards define a geographically informed person as one who knows and understands (1) the world in spatial terms; (2) places and regions; (3) physical systems; (4) human systems; (5) environment and society; and (6) the uses of geography. Whew! That’s a tall order! The best place to start is the National Geographic site for geography standards in the classroom. You will find a wealth of lesson plans, interactive activities, and maps. For more on maps, the U.S. Geological Survey has some terrific resources online.

National Geographic Xpeditions
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/
USGS Learning Web: Lesson Plans (Scroll down to geography and maps.)
http://education.usgs.gov/common/primary.htm

Do you want to know more about specific places in your home state or in the big, wide world? Here are some sites to start with.

IPL Kidspace: Stately Knowledge
http://www.ipl.org/div/kidspace/stateknow/skhome.html
FactMonster World Geography
http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0770414.html
Time for Kids: Around the World
http://www.timeforkids.com/TFK/kids/hh/goplaces
United Nations Country at a Glance
http://cyberschoolbus.un.org/infonation/index.asp

If its maps you are looking for, look no further than these online collections.

Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/
Library of Congress Map Collections: 1500-2004
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gmdhtml/gmdhome.html
Census Bureau Map Products
http://www.census.gov/geo/www/maps/CP_MapProducts.htm
Houghton Mifflin Outline Maps
http://www.eduplace.com/ss/maps/

Let’s move on to economics. Lots of teachers are a bit uncomfortable with this topic. Here are a few sites that offer some background information that can be used by kids and teachers alike.

Social Studies for Kids: Economics
http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/subjects/economicsbasic.htm
Econopolis
http://library.thinkquest.org/3901/

Once you are familiar with economics concepts, you’ll need some ideas for the classroom. There are many wonderful resources online for teaching elementary economics concepts. Begin with the National Center for Economic Education, a site that has more than 400 lesson plan ideas for you to browse!

NCEE Online Lessons
http://www.ncee.net/resources/lessons.php
EconEdWeb
http://ecedweb.unomaha.edu/lessons/lessonsK-5.cfm
MoneyInstructor.com: Elementary Economics Lessons (Many lessons and materials are free, but you must register to access them.)
http://www.moneyinstructor.com/elementary.asp
KidsEconPosters – Literature Connections
http://www.kidseconposters.com/keb/Literature%20Connection.htm
Economics and Geography Lessons for 32 Children’s Books
http://web.archive.org/web/20071203015008/http://www.mcps.k12.md.us/curriculum/socialstd/Econ_Geog.html

Since you’ve just visited two sites that focus on children’s literature, let’s take some time now to look for a few good books to use in your social studies lessons. Here are some great sites to help you find titles that work for different concepts in social studies. Start your search with one of these searchable databases of children’s books. Enter a keyword and see what comes up. (Be careful entering keywords in the first database, as you are limited to 10 characters!)

Children’s Picture Book Database
http://www.lib.muohio.edu/pictbks/
Database of Award Winning Children’s Literature
http://www.dawcl.com/search.asp

In addition to these sites, you can also find annotations for social studies books online. The National Council for the Social Studies, in conjunction with the Children’s Book Council, publishes a list of notable trade books each year. Also, PBS Teacher Source updates its list of social studies books monthly. Check out the new recommendations and search the archive.

Notable Trade Books for Young People
http://www.socialstudies.org/resources/notable/
PBS TeacherSource Recommended Books for Social Studies
http://www.pbs.org/teachers/bookslinks/bookspages/socialstudies.html

Let’s go back to content and think a bit about civics. This is the area of the social studies curriculum where we teach about citizenship, democracy, and how our government works. Start with Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government, a truly comprehensive site that is written at a variety of grade levels, making it appealing to kids of all ages.

Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids
http://bensguide.gpo.gov/
Congress for Kids
http://congressforkids.net/
Kids in the House
http://clerkkids.house.gov/
infoUSA
http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/
Children’s Books and Web Sites About the U.S. Government
http://www.corzine.senate.gov/reference/bibliography/kids/kids.htm

The last big content area, and the one that first comes to mind when folks hear the words “social studies,” is history. I would need several more pages just to list all the great sites that are out there for the study of history. Since I can’t possibly do this area justice, let’s start by focusing on some comprehensive sites and those that offer quick “today in history” facts.

Kidipede: History for Kids
http://www.historyforkids.org/
Browse the World at Mr.Dowling.com
http://www.mrdowling.com/index.html
BBC History for Kids
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/forkids/
BBC Ancient History
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/
America’s Story
http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi
Freedom: A History of US
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/historyofus/index.html
The History Channel: This Day in History
http://www.historychannel.com/tdih/tdih.jsp?category=leadstory
Infoplease: This Day in History
http://www.infoplease.com/dayinhistory

Now that you have reviewed varied topics within the social studies, it’s probably time to find a lesson plan. Here are some sites that offer a wide range of lessons and activity ideas.

Educator’s Desk Reference: Social Studies Lesson Plans
http://www.eduref.org/cgi-bin/lessons.cgi/Social_Studies
Academy Curriculum Exchange: K-5 Social Studies
http://ofcn.org/cyber.serv/academy/ace/soc/elem.html
UEN Resources: K-2 Core Lesson Plans (Scroll to content to find social studies lessons.)
http://www.uen.org/Lessonplan/LPview.cgi?core=1209
UEN Resources: 3-6 Social Studies Lessons
http://www.uen.org/Lessonplan/LPview.cgi?core=4

So, your lessons are planned and you have all your resources ready. How are you going to assess student learning? Here are some sites with ideas for evaluating student work, developing rubrics, and more.

Social Studies: Classroom Based Assessment
http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/WASL/socialstudies/default.aspx
Authentic Assessment of Social Studies
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/MI_Auth_12350_7.AssmtMan.pdf
Alternative Assessments in Geography
http://www.coe.ilstu.edu/iga/interact/index.htm

Are you interested in making a home-school connection? Here are some resources to involve parents.

Early Childhood: Where Learning Begins – Geography
http://www.ed.gov/pubs/Geography/index.html
Helping Your Child Become a Responsible Citizen
http://www.ed.gov/print/parents/academic/help/citizen/index.html
Helping Your Child Learn Geography
http://www.ed.gov/pubs/parents/Geography/index.html
Helping Your Child Learn History
http://www.ed.gov/pubs/parents/History/index.html
How to Help Children Become Geographically Literate
http://ccge.org/programs/geoliteracy/docs/children_geographically_literate.pdf
Parents Helping Children Learn Social Studies
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/Parents_Helping_Students_12344_7.pdf

By now you should realize that there are so many resources on the web for social studies, that I can’t possibly include them all here. I hope this tour helped you find some resources you can use and excited you about the possibilities of using online resources for both planning and delivering instruction.

Elementary Math on the Web – Guided Tour

Are you looking for great resources to help you plan and deliver math instruction at the elementary level? Boy, do I have the sites for you! Sit back, relax, and take this guided tour of some great places to start planning for next year. Turn up the volume on your computer so you don’t miss the audio portion many of these sites contain. Are you ready? LET’S GO!

Why don’t we start with terms. Vocabulary can be a big problem for both students and teachers. Let’s look at a great site for math vocab. This site is has resources for grades K-6. Select your grade level and check out a few terms. Don’t forget to click the speaker when you see it!

Harcourt Multimedia Math Glossary
http://www.harcourtschool.com/glossary/math2/index_temp.html

While we’re looking at resources from textbook publishers, let’s visit the Houghton Mifflin site. Select your grade level and check out all the resources available to you. You will find background information, reproducible vocabulary cards, teaching tools, leveled practice materials, resources for math investigations and math at home, connections to Weekly Reader magazine, and more! DON’T MISS the Teaching Models. The overview section provides background on the topic, while the actual model is available for your kids.

Houghton Mifflin Math

http://www.eduplace.com/math/mw/

Here’s one more site from a textbook company. Take a look at the Math Advantage site by Harcourt. Click on your grade level and then click on the Parent and Teacher View link. This will take you to a page of online learning activities (dare I say games?) with annotations describing each one.

Harcourt School Publishers – The Learning Site

http://www.harcourtschool.com/menus/l_math.html

Let’s move on to manipulatives. You’ve used them in the classroom, now try them online. Here are a few sites with interfaces that allow kids to work with familiar materials like base-10 blocks, pattern blocks, tangrams, and more. These are sites that require some experimentation and patience. You need to learn HOW to use them before you plan lessons for students. Some have instructions and help menus for teachers, while others do not. Take a look at these and see what think.

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/vlibrary.html
NCTM Illuminations Tool (searchable index)
http://illuminations.nctm.org/ActivitySearch.aspx
Educational JAVA Programs in Math
http://www.arcytech.org/java/
Harcourt Brace E-Lab Sample Activities (activities begin at grade 3)
http://www.harcourtschool.com/activity/elab2004/index_2004.html

For those of you teaching early grades, math centers can be an efficient way to allow students to explore mathematical concepts. Here are some terrific sites with a wealth of ideas and reproducibles for math instruction that is more self-directed.

CanTeach Math: A List of Ideas for Math Centres
http://www.canteach.ca/elementary/mathcentres.html
Math Tub Fun
http://www.marcias-lesson-links.com/MathTubs.html
Math Tubs (Hubbard’s Cupboard)
http://www.hubbardscupboard.org/math_tubs.html
Math Tubs (Ms. Powell)
http://www.mspowell.com/otherwebpages/centerpics6.htm
Mrs. Meacham’s Math Tubs
http://www.jmeacham.com/math/math.tubs.htm

Graphing every day is a great way to get kids thinking mathematically. Here are some great resources for expanding your use of graphs in the classroom.

Graphs Galore
http://blog.richmond.edu/openwidelookinside/archives/160

Are you looking for a good book to use during your math lesson? Here are some great sites to help you find titles that work for different topics in math. Start your search with one of these searchable databases of children’s books. Enter a keyword and see what comes up. (Be careful entering keywords in the first database, as you are limited to 10 characters!)

Children’s Picture Book Database
http://www.lib.muohio.edu/pictbks/
Database of Award Winning Children’s Literature
http://www.dawcl.com/search.asp
Connections: Connecting Books to the Virginia SOLs
http://itweb.fcps.edu/connections/index.cfm

You can also find a wealth of ideas for integrating children’s literature into math at these sites.

Connecting Math and Children’s Literature
http://blog.richmond.edu/openwidelookinside/archives/20
Thematic Book Lists for Math
http://blog.richmond.edu/openwidelookinside/math-book-lists

Do you want a ready-made lesson plan to go with your book selection? Visit this site to find just that! You can select books by grade level or mathematical strand.

S.M.A.R.T. Books
http://www.k-state.edu/smartbooks/index.html

Scholastic has some terrific sites for both kids and teachers. Let’s start with the sites for students. Explore some of these great resources for your class!

Max’s Math Adventures (K-2)
http://teacher.scholastic.com/max/
Math Maven’s Mysteries (3-5)
http://teacher.scholastic.com/maven/

Now that you’ve seen some stuff for the kids, take a look at what Scholastic has for teachers!

Teacher Tools (FREE flash card factory, rubric maker, calendar, home page builder, and more!)
http://teacher.scholastic.com/tools/
Lesson Plan Database (searchable)
http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/lessonplans.jsp

Here are some additional sites that offer searchable databases or extensive lists of math lesson plans.

PBS TeacherSource: Math
http://www.pbs.org/teachers/math/
NCTM Illuminations Lesson Plans
http://illuminations.nctm.org/Lessons.aspx
UEN Resources: K-2 Core Lesson Plans (Scroll to find math lessons.)
http://www.uen.org/Lessonplan/LPview.cgi?core=1209
UEN Resources: 3-6 Math Lesson Plans
http://www.uen.org/Lessonplan/LPview.cgi?core=2

So, your lessons are planned and you have all your resources ready. How are you going to assess student learning? Here are some sites with ideas for evaluating student work, developing rubrics, and more.

Math Performance Assessment Tasks
http://www.esd112.org/smerc/mpat_detail.cfm
Balance Assessment in Mathematics
http://balancedassessment.concord.org/
K-5 Mathematics Assessment

http://www.springfield.k12.il.us/resources/math/assessment.html

For those of you looking for resources to differentiate instruction, or for those of you working with students exhibiting forms of dyscalculia, here are some sites you may find helpful.

Meeting the Needs of Gifted Students: Differentiating Mathematics and Science Instruction
http://www.nwrel.org/msec/images/resources/justgood/12.99.pdf
Mathematics and Science Instruction for Students With Learning Disabilities
http://www.nwrel.org/msec/images/resources/justgood/09.99.pdf
Teaching Mathematics and Science to English Language Learners
http://www.nwrel.org/msec/images/resources/justgood/11.99.pdf
Math Graphic Organizers for Students with Disabilities
http://www.k8accesscenter.org/training_resources/mathgraphicorganizers.asp
MathVIDS
http://fcit.usf.edu/mathvids/
Dyscalculia.com
http://www.dyscalculia.org/
LD Online: Math
http://www.ldonline.org/indepth/math
TeachingLD: Teaching How-to’s: Math
http://www.dldcec.org/teaching_how-tos/math/default.htm
The Resource Room – Math
http://www.resourceroom.net/math/index.asp

Are you interested in making a home-school connection? Here are some resources to involve parents.

Early Childhood: Where Learning Begins – Mathematics
http://www.ed.gov/pubs/EarlyMath/title.html
Engaging Families in Mathematics and Science Education
http://www.nwrel.org/msec/images/resources/justgood/06.98.pdf
Helping Your Child Learn Math
http://www.ed.gov/pubs/parents/Math/index.html
Math @ Home
http://educ.queensu.ca/~fmc/
Math Activities to Do With Your Children
http://www.learner.org/catalog/resources/activities/content/mact01.html
Top Ten Ways to Help Your Kids Do Well in Math
http://school.familyeducation.com/math/parenting/38812.html?yf_kids

By now you should realize that there are so many resources on the web for math, that I can’t possibly include them all here. I hope this tour helped you find some resources you can use and excited you about the possibilities of using online resources for both planning and delivering instruction.