September publications and SciLinks

Each month, I’ll mention some sites that relate to that month’s themes of the three K-12 NSTA journals. These are sites that illustrate what I think is a good use of the technology.
Science and Children – Animals – I’d certainly like to show younger students that there are many interesting animals in addition to the dinosaurs!
History and Biology of the Horseshoe Crab
This site shows how a clean design and chunking of the text and other features work together in to create a user-friendly site. This is appropriate for younger students, but older ones will find the information interesting as well. I spend a great deal of time on the Delaware beaches and my community is a horseshoe crab sanctuary – and yet I learned a lot from this site myself!
Classifying Critters
Anything from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is a quality site, in my experience! This is part of a really nice site for younger students on using physical characteristics to classify animals, and one I might use with the whole class. This could lead to interesting discussions.
Critter Guide
I like this one for older elementary or middle school students, in that it is a very browseable, searchable site with interesting pictures and information that is well organized. (My one criticism would be the use of Marine Life as a category, when the other categories are based on physical characteristics).
Science Scope – Reading – This is an area of professional interest to me. Reading in the science classroom was the focus of my graduate work, and I loved being able to help students learn how to read nonfiction, such as science textbooks and magazine articles (and now websites) in my classes.
Building Big
I was impressed at how this site combines text and graphics in a browseable format that lets the user pursue topics of interest. But the Build-a-Bridge feature focuses on using what has been read to create structures in an interactive segment, and the users then get feedback on their designs (and a timely topic given the issues of infrastructure after this summer’s event in Minnesota). I’ve found that most PBS sites are excellent and can be used independently of their programs.
Classroom Exploration of Oceans
These explorations have beautiful photographs and real-life stories about scientists and their studies. NOAA has an amazing number of quality sites.
Windows to the Universe
In SciLinks, there are many components of this site entered in the database separately. What appeals to me as a middle school teacher is the fact that there are three levels of text: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Sometimes the amount of information differs from level to level, and other times the text is chunked differently. Nevertheless, the site can be personalized to the student.
The Science Teacher – Weather and Climate – I’ve just finished up monitoring a summer program that had teachers creating weather maps and learning about climate change. I hope they have access to sites such as these.
Weather
This site looks at the relationship between the oceans and weather. What I like here is the section for educators that has suggestions on how to use this site in a classroom.
Weather World 2010 Project
In SciLinks, there are many individual components of this site in the database. For me, I’d save money on meteorology textbooks and use this site instead (and channel the textbook budget into purchasing a weather station!). It’s written in an interesting style so that teachers can use it for their own background knowledge, too, or teachers can use the section on “Projects and Activities.”
Weather and Climate Basics
This is a good site to let students read about the differences between weather and climate. It’s full of really good graphics.
To see many other SciLinks sites, go to www.scilinks.org. If you’re not registered, login as a Guest to check out what’s here. Or use your NSTA member number to login, or you can register (free) as a teacher/parent.
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