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Friday, May 9, 2014

Free Friday: Interactive Sites Weebly

Whether you are familiar with an interactive whiteboard, or not, the site Interactive Sites for Education, created and maintained by Karen Ogren is an invaluable resource in the elementary classroom. Karen has graciously compiled a multitude of online games and activities based on their subject matter for use by teachers and students.



(Screen capture from interactivesites.weebly.com)

In my classroom, I typically have used this resource when planning for review stations in math or literacy workstations in reading. These opportunities take advantage of the Smartboard that is used on a daily basis in my classroom. Due to the variety of games and activities on this Weebly, I am able to change the game and, in most circumstances, the level of difficulty and time limitations in order to differentiate for each group of learners that visits the station. In conjunction with the Smartboard the bank of games and activities has also proven a fun way to introduce new concepts or give students a quick check-in assessment throughout a unit. For example, I would pull up one of the activities, tweak the settings to the grade level content I want to assess, and then have each student take one turn as they go to line up for specials, lunch, recess, etc.

My students have also greatly enjoyed visiting these games and activities while in the computer lab. Since the site is so well organized by subject area, it makes it easy to direct students to one content area or skill and have them select an activity from within that space. This allows the students to enjoy the freedom and responsibility of making their own choices, while you are able to ensure that the content they are accessing if educationally beneficial. I also appreciate that the site is devoid of detracting ads and other animated graphics/content.

In regards to functionality from a teacher's standpoint, I do wish the "buttons" on the site for specific games had the activity title listed as a caption. It would cut down on having to click on every link to figure out exactly what the game is and entails. At the same time, that may have been Ogren's purpose in omitting titles; she may be trying to steer us away from the easy trap of judging a book, or in this case a website, by it's cover!

When you do visit Ogren's site, I imagine she would appreciate it if you took note of her message at the bottom of the home page and assisted her in rooting out dead or broken links. Happy exploring!

Preview of next week's Free Friday resources: a look at several great resources to meet the ISTE Creativity and Innovation Standards!
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Every Friday I am going to feature some of the free technology tools and resources I use regularly in my classroom. On occasion there will also be a free printable or lesson resource produced by me included! Be sure to check back next Friday for the next featured tool/resource! If you are looking for a resource for a particular purpose or content area, I'd love to hear about it!