Monday, October 20, 2008

So Many Websites, So Little Time - KK Cherney

Hello fellow Geeks!
That sounds so funny to say out loud. I never really thought about the fact that I am a tech geek until we started this cool tradition at Chets, but I guess I am one in every since of the word. Looking back at how it happened was a totally natural thing. Picture, 3 to 4 years old squatting down beside my dad as he was using the screwdriver or taking something a part. I think I sat for hours. That training evolved into a hunger to learn about how things work or don't work and finding solutions to make it work. Little did I know that my daddy was training me as a Santa's assistant. You wouldn't believe the stuff I have put together as he(Daddy Santa) slept in his bed dreaming of sugarplums dancing.

Now I think of how that laid the foundation of seeking out the latest and greatest tech tools and inspired me to seek out sites to make life easy. Speaking of websites, I probably find an average of 10-15 new cool sites a week. Sometimes I share so many in one sitting, everyone walks away on overload. I just can't help it. Today, however I will only share a few, just to get the creative juices flowing.
Finding the perfect website for students becomes a real challenge when there is so much out there to choose from. I have been a web site sleuth for a while now and I think I can share sites that are educational, challenging and at the same time exciting. A good starting point is to read the ALA suggestions of how to determine great sites for kids. The ALA has criteria that really will help you find the perfect site for your students. There are more in depth points listed that you may want to quickly review , I just wanted to hit the highlights. ALA Great Website for Kids Criteria

A. Authorship/Sponsorship: Who Put up the Site?
The name of the individual or group creating the site should be clearly stated.

B. Purpose: Every Site Has a Reason for Being There.
A site’s purpose should be clear and its content should reflect its purpose, be it to entertain, persuade, educate, or sell.

C. Design and Stability: A Great Site Has Personality and Strength of Character.
The information on the site should be easy to find and easy to use.

D. Content: A Great Site Shares Meaningful and Useful Content that Educates, Informs, or Entertains.

The title of a site should be appropriate to its purpose.
A way I determine if the students are hooked on a site is by allowing them to have 10 minutes of free time after the media mini-lesson and the checking out of books . If the site is re-visited I know that I have accomplished the mission of finding a site that they love to explore and they don't even realize they are building a great foundation of knowledge. Many times the site isn't just a game site, it just has the look. You know the look. Lots of graphics, not a lot of text, colorful, easy accessibility, great labeling for interactive play and just throw in terrific sound effects and you have a winner.

For instance, my students love this one. It is produced by the Library of Congress and it has 5 divisions that the student can visit and learn about amazing Americans, jump back in time and have a overview of history, explore the states, join America at Play and finally see, hear and sing from our American past. I can't keep them off of the Animation site. Totally interactive for that curious hungry mind.

The one thing that I can't afford when site surfing with my kids is to have a lot of advertisements on the perimeter of the homepage of the site. I try to stay away from those sites. They are such a nuisance and in some cases they lure my kids to locations that I would rather have them avoid. If I do share one of those type of sites I use the ads as a catalyst for the teachable moment and instruct them about cookies and other problems those icons may cause. It's just better to avoid those.

A great site that really shares stuff kids want to know about is the KIDSKNOWIT site. It meets all the criteria of a wonderful site for students, making education fun and its totally free. I could spend all day sharing the sites that I have surfed into and shared with CCE students.

Another example of coolness is the KBears site. It is extraordinary as it takes on the personality of a space ship called K Ship One and sails into the world of knowledge. Once you open the home page check out the Geo World link. It is great as it ramps even the older students. You will love it.
Finally, a site for you to check out for yourself .

What is the Infinite Thinking Machine?
The Infinite Thinking Machine (ITM) is designed to help teachers and students thrive in the 21st century. Through an active blog, an Internet TV show, and other media resources, the ITM shares a "bazillion practical ideas" for turning the infinite universe of information into knowledge. They showcase examples of innovative instructional methods, talk with leading experts, and share real stories from the classroom to improve how we think, learn, teach, and live.
The shows and website are an important way to spark dialogue and help educators explore a wide range of innovative ideas. They rely on the collective wisdom of many experienced educators to select interesting ideas to share, but they cannot validate these practices beyond that. Also, please keep in mind that any mention of products, ideas, websites, and organizations does not represent an endorsement by the producers or sponsors.

Don't hesitate to check back periodically on our site for all of the cool websites that I find to make your job the coolest ever.
Now, where is that screwdriver?

Written by: KK Cherney


Miss Sharpe and Miss Brown said...

Great post KK. Thank you for being such a "geek" you help all of us become better, technology-integrating teachers with each email you send us! :)

p.s. adorable picture!

Ashley Russell said...

Thanks for this post. I have already added several of your suggestions to my blog. I am sure my kids will love them! Thanks for taking the time to share.
:) Ashley Russell