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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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"Have You Seen This Web Site?": The Value of Exchanging Tips About Online Resources

Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant

I love working with teachers. Part of it is the importance of the work they do and the sense of satisfaction, both professional and personal, I feel when I am able to make them more powerful and effective. But another reason is that teachers are people who feel compelled to share their best ideas. And because of this trait, it is not unusual for a teacher, generally during a break, to come up to me and say, "Have you seen this Web site, Jim?" And then they give me a URL, and very often the site they pass along is great.

Early this past winter, in a session in a middle school in New England, I was eating lunch in the workshop room. Most of the participants had left the room for lunch, but a couple of teachers had also brought along bag lunches, and we got to talking.

During the workshop, we had been discussing the importance of teachers having classroom Web page, and one of the teachers wanted to show me her husband's -- he is a music teacher in a local elementary school. So I popped his page up on the big screen via the projector (see another of my Edutopia.org blog posts for more on the importance of large-screen projection), and I navigated through the site, one that was as impressive for the program it supported as it was for its technical strengths.

And this is where I discovered a link to the Web site of music educator Phil Tulga, which includes interactive tools that use music to support learning in many curriculum areas. The first tool I played with, and the one I now use to introduce this site to others, is his Unifix Cube Drum Machine.

Visually simple, this tool uses three colors of Unifix cubes (red, yellow, and blue) to indicate a loud strike, a soft strike, and no strike. Different rhythm instruments (conga, snare, shaker, and so on) can be toggled on or off, and the resulting rhythm can be played at varying tempos and started and paused using simple, large buttons.

Several preprogrammed rhythms are included, all customizable by clicking on the individual cubes to roll from red to blue to yellow to red. The rhythms range from regional beats from around the world to mathematical rhythms like 2:3 or 2:3:4 ratios. Imagine that -- listening to a complex mathematical concept to gain understanding.

Oh, and one more thing: This kind of tool is perfect for use by students and teachers on an interactive whiteboard with a set of speakers attached to make those rhythms ring out.

Ever since I was shown this site, I have enjoyed showing it to other teachers, and I am confident many have gone on to spread it further. Maybe the tool they highlight is the Morse Code Music Maker, used to help kids hear the music in a phrase, but whatever they demonstrate, the important thing is that it is another case of teachers supporting each other in a true community of learners. It's teachers teaching teachers.

So, what Web-based resources has a colleague shown you that you are glad to know about? Or what are the online tools you point others toward, sharing, at the same time, examples of how you have used them to improve teaching and learning in your classroom? Share it here, and you never know how many others you will have informed.

After all, teach a teacher a way to help more kids, and you know what they're going to have to do with that knowledge -- teach someone else.

Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant
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Comments (13)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Jaclyn's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Doug, I completely agree with you...sharing information and materials can only enhance a teacher's effectiveness in the classroom. Why should we have to "re-invent the wheel"?

Valerie Hettenhouser's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have loved sharing ideas with my fellow teachers and have loved it when someone shares something with me. Others on the internet may guard what they see as their property fiercely ("Why did you take that Spider-man logo from my website?"), but teachers are generous with their original ideas. We teach because we want to help, and that desire spills over to our connections with fellow teachers.

One of my favorite places in http://www.thinkfinity.org/ I think the collection is amazing.

Sara Scasino's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Jim-
I loved your posting about sharing information about websites that you have discovered. I have recently received a Smartboard - which is the interactive whiteboard that you mentioned in your posting. I am overwhelmed with all of the resources that are available to use online with this technology. When planning lessons, I often search the internet for good sites to use with the board - however, the search is daunting! There are so many websites! Thanks for your information - I am headed to check out the Unifex cubes right now!

Sara

Charlotte 's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I really needed this. I am often looking for sites. I often use a Powerpoint to help with my writing and to introduce other math concepts. When I slow down a little I am going to put them on my webpage on my school's site. I am going to check out the site about the unifix cubes.

Sarah Moran's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am constantly sharing websites with fellow teachers. My favorite for early elementary is www.teachingheart.net. It has great ideas!

Carolyn's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi, Jim,
I love your blog.
I am a computer technology integration teacher, and I think sharing is the best. The only disappointment for me is that most the time my staff is so overwhelmed with all they have to do that they don't have time to investigate the sites I share with them.

My blog has lots of things to share,too, but hardly anyone reads it - no time.

I am an exiled Mainer living in CT. I grew up in Gorham, Maine and graduated from USM, then known as Gorham State College of the University of Maine.
When I moved to CT, my first assistant principal was Norm Moulton. Any relation?

Hopefully, I'll get to meet you someday on our trips to Maine.
Carolyn

Amy H.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi! I agree that when teachers put their heads together about technology, everyone is a winner! I use technology every chance that I get and am constantly welcoming input from others. I also agree with another poster that we get so busy that it is hard to check out every suggestion that we get. There are never enough hours in a day. :)

Keri's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have not had the experience of sharing favorite websites with colleagues but after reading this blog, have started to look for some interactive websites to use with my students. My goal is to be more "technologically friendly" in my classroom. I found http://www.ipl.org/div/kidspace/ which is the Internet Public Library site where kids can follow along as books are read to them or can read them independently. Also, something I did last year that my students loved was to go onto different zoo websites and let them take turns watching the animals on live cameras. They loved this as part of different animal themes. I am more interesting in interactive sites not but this is a great idea for young children.

Holly  Brashears's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Jim,
I wish more teachers would read this blog and could share their resources. I have an overwhelming list of resources that I use regularly and I would not have half of those sites if it weren't for my colleagues. I will share two great sites that teachers should use. The first is streaming.discoveryeducation.com. They have educational videos that help support my curriculum and with many videos there are teaching guides, blackline master worksheets, and curriculum standards. They also have a whole teacher's center to help you plan lessons, build quizzes, and search for lessons other teachers have created. The second site I think teachers should have to bookmark all of these fabulous sites is delicious.com (or one similar). I love this site because it allows me to add people to my network and we can share sites we add with one another. I will definitely be checking back to see what else others have added.

Jan Belanger's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This is my fist experience with reading and responding to a blog. When I discovered your blog as part of an assignment for my Masters in Education, I was excited to find one that related to my interest and need as an educator. I have tried out several of the web sights in the postings and found them helpful. Thank you for sharing. One that I use on a regular basis is http://www.interventioncentral.org/.

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