Monday, May 17, 2010

I Love it on the Internet

I love the Internet. I don't know how I lived so much of my life without it. All that information -- vital information; trivial information; useless information; misinformation; fabulous, fascinating, conversation starting (and stopping!) information -- right at my fingertips. Can there be anything more exciting, more fun, more stimulating than the Internet for those of us who are writers -- or readers or thinkers or information junkies or Jeopardy wanna-be's or lifelong learners or...especially, most especially...educators? I don't think so.

Oh, I hear you leery luddites out there muttering among yourselves. "What's so great about the Internet?" you say. "It's dirty and dangerous and overwhelming and unreliable and underregulated -- and it's impossible to tell the truth from the lies, the art from the porn, the facts from the propaganda, the chaff from the wheat." Common complaints, I know -- and not without some truth to them. But the good stuff -- oh, the great stuff! -- makes even sorting through the other stuff oh-so-worth the effort! Check out these great new sites, for example....

Ranger Rick on the Great Oil Spill: This website, developed by the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools team, provides lots of information and activities parents and teachers can use to help kids understand the implications of the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Live the Adventure: Designed to help 'tweens ages 8 to 12 become more discerning consumers, this FTC website includes an advertising game, a curriculum tied to national standards in language arts and social studies, a library of fictional ads, and activities for parents and kids to do together.

History and the Headlines: The Enduring Legend of Robin Hood: Are your students studying folklore -- or just off to see the new Robin Hood movie? Either way, this site from ABC-CLIO's free collection of online resources provides primary source documents and images, discussion questions, and thought provoking essays by noted scholars. A great -- and highly engaging -- teaching tool!

Discovery Education has just announced the launch of Explore the Blue, an online initiative designed to encourage youth participation in summer water activities and Aquatic conservation efforts. The website includes such activities as model boat building, research projects, journal writing exercises, and map reading activities.

The San Diego Zoo Education website isn't new, but the people at the zoo provide so many excellent resources -- and so often add more -- you should never go too long between visits. Their latest free resource is the Elephant Odyssey Curriculum that provides information and activities about the animals that roamed Southern California 12,000 years ago -- and their living cousins found all over the world today. A Mammoth resource!

Are you looking for an end-of-year activity to inspire your students to do their best? Invite them to (virtually) follow 13-year-old Jordan Romero as he attempts to become the youngest climber ever to scale Mount Everest. Before they begin the climb, kids can read Jordan's story at Will Jordan Romero Make It to the 'Top of the World'?

Still sceptical of the value of Internet resources -- or of your students' ability to distinguish the good from the bad? Invite them to complete Hoax or Not, a terrific WebQuest on Internet Hoaxes.

And please share your favorite websites with us!

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