Thursday, July 4, 2013

Recommended Sites - On-Line Resources that Work

"In fact, one of the saddest but most common conditions in elementary school computer labs (when they exist in the developing world), is the children are being trained to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  I consider that criminal, because children should be making things, communicating, exploring, sharing, not running office automation tools."

---Nicholas Negroponte, Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab 

One of the challenges for educators hoping to provide a 21st century learning experience for their students is to shift through the thousands of resources created for the educational market.  For me, the goal is to find free (or inexpensive) sites (or apps) that can create opportunities for my students to engage in inquiry learning with quality resources.  Here are some of my favourites.


 To Use with Your Students 



I have blogged about Kiva before Kiva is non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating poverty through micro-financing - loans are made in $25 amounts.  Their motto is Empowering people around the world with a $25 loan.  Students get to choose a loan recipient, investigate a country and its' social issues, look at loan repayment and finance...and help others globally.


Gizmos is an online website (created by Explore Learning) that has an extensive collection of math and science simulations that cover the required curriculum from Grade 3 and up.   It provides an opportunity for students to carry out simulations that my students could never replicate in class (due to lack of equipment and supplies).  I have recommended it before and I can attest to its' power in creating understanding and learning opportunities for students.

Smarter Science

Smarter Science is a great resource - its' resources include an open framework that teachers can use to support inquiry and investigation in the classroom, inquiry cards with specific lesson ideas, Science Fair resources and more.  It is well worth exploring,  (Read more about Getting Smarter About Science hereStephen Lippa, an educator from Ontario, has created resources that connect using Gizmos to the Smarter Science Framework and supports integrating the two programs.)

Discovery Education

Discovery Education is an incredible resource for the classroom.  There is an extensive and seemingly endless media library of content on any imaginable topic.  There are teacher resources, learning communities, assessment tools, virtual classrooms, account management and more.  As a resource for learning it is hard to beat the quality and volume of what is available.  The media content can be downloaded and streamed.  I have my students choose clips and do voice-overs to show what they have learned - think a travelogue for an extreme environment or another country.

Clean Air Achievers

This site has resources that can be used to teach students about the impact transportation has on the creation of greenhouse gases.  There are games and resources to support student learning including a trip tracker that allows students to measure the decrease in their contribution to the creation of greenhouse gases as they choose more environmentally friendly transportation methods.  If you are in Canada, you can arrange to have a champion visit - these are Olympic athletes who come to share experiences and make the connection between clean air and healthy outdoor activities.


 I love this app/site.  You can upload a PDF file and convert it into a book with pages that flip - lots of options for appearances and it is free (if you want to embed or download then you need the premium account).  Check out this book I made.



This is another Discovery site and it basically explains everything.  Have a question?  Search for the answer here.  There are answers to questions, countdowns, quizzes, galleries, videos and games.  It a great resource for inquisitive students and a starting (and possibly ending) point for research.

Reflex Math

Reflex Math is another Explore Learning site and one of the best I have seen for promoting math fluency.  I have blogged about the impact it has had on my students as a whole and one at-risk student in particular.   The program assessed students and teaches fact families as they progress. In twelve weeks my Grade 6 and 7 students solved over 238,000 math facts and went from a 26% fluency rate to 93%.

Action Schools BC 

This site is designed to provide elementary and middle-school educators with resources and support to promote healthy living.  The physical activity and healthy eating programs are tied to the curriculum.  Any school in British Columbia can join.  Members get professional development, student leadership training, badges, posters, lesson resources and equipment.  The resources are available in a variety of languages and are available to anyone.

Khan Academy 

Not sure how to do the math? There's an site for that. Khan Academy has a wide range of videos that explain everything from adding to calculus. Students can watch, rewind and review.  This is a great resource for flipped classrooms, to support the learning of students away on short or extended absences and for use inremediation.


SoundCloud is an online site that allows you to search and explore original music and audio clips. There are a wide range of clips - my favourites are the sounds from space submitted by astronaut Chris Hadfield. Have your child download the sounds or audio clips and create backgrounds for movies, slideshows or add to media projects. A wonderful resource.


Choose an image, create a story and publish the book. Storybird is an art-based storytelling platform that allows young writers of all ages to produce beautiful picture books that they can print or share on their devices.  Visually appealing as well.

National Geographic Kids

This is an amazing site full of videos, photos, games and other fun stuff created and delivered by National Geographic.  Homework help is even offered.  I grew up with National Geographic and I have never stopped appreciating the quality of what they offer.  This site is geared towards kids of all ages and there is a link to resources for little kids as well.  Highly recommended.


 To Support Teachers

•  Recommended Apps for Supporting 21st Century Literacy

•  Recommended Apps for Mathematical Thinking

•  Recommended Apps for Measurement in Math and Science

•  Essential Apps for Teachers

QR Code Generator

There are a lot of QR Code Generator sites and apps out there but I really like  It has 20 different data types you can choose from and allows you to create coloured QR codes or visual ones embedded in images.  Great resource for teachers interested in using these to increase students' engagement.


This is a great blog full of ideas, activities, research and recommendations for apps to use with the iPad.

21 Century Fluency Project

This site provides an explanation of the process in developing challenge-based learning experiences, an explanation of what a 21st century learning environment is and provides insight into what best practice in terms of integration is. Scholarly but well worth a read.  The site also has resources, books and a free unit plan creator app. 

Apple in Education Resources

A collection of video tutorials, classroom guides, and web pages for educators.


....and check back regularly for updates