As I spent time planning for 2010, I also took time to look back over the fifty-one subjects I reviewed in 2009. I chose these five sites as representative of the best of the best. Keep in mind, unlike the Oscars, these are not sites that were new in 2009, just culled from my archive of educational website reviews done during the year. Happy New Year to you and yours!
The Environmental Literacy Council website is a huge library of K-12 lessons, articles and news about environmental studies, including subjects such as global climate change, biodiversity, energy, and land use. Topics can be accessed via the subject menu on the left-hand side, from the site map, or via the site search. Each article concludes with an outstanding collection of Recommended Resources, making this site a terrific first stop for further research and one of my picks for middle-school and high-school students writing papers or doing science fair projects.
"Mrs. P is concerned because fewer and fewer kids are reading these days. Also, according to recent reports Mrs. P has seen, it is becoming harder and harder for many parents to find the time to read to their children." Storyteller Mrs. P (played by actress Kathy Kinney) is my video pick of the year, with her classic children's stories, read along options, engaging personal anecdotes, animated games and clever presentation. If you have a high speed connection, you can turn on more even more animated fun by clicking on Start Here, and selecting options such as "Bookcase titles say funny things."
Woo hoo! Multiplication.com is one of yearly picks because of the unique themes that make their games super fun. For example, in Pizza Pizazz you are presented with a problem, such as 8 x 9, a pizza, and a restaurant full of tables waiting for their order. To earn a point, you need to deliver your pizza to table number 72. Other fun concepts include Math Models ("Mix and match clothes to come up with your favorite outfit. The more math problems you get right, the more clothes you have to choose from.") and Color Creations ("Unlock the colors to paint the pictures by answering the problems correctly.")
Published by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and Teachers College at Columbia University, I've included The New Deal Network because of the depth of its collection. "At the core of the New Deal Network is a database of primary source materials â€“ photographs, political cartoons, and texts (speeches, letters, and other historic documents) â€“ gathered from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Library of Congress, and other sources. Currently there are over 20,000 items in this database, many of them previously accessible only to scholars."
Operation Migration includes photos, field journals, lots of sound files, population counts, and a kids section. The site navigation, however, is not up to par, so use the site map to find your way around. "What is aircraft-led migration? This technique relies on the birds' natural instinct called imprinting. Imprinting means the just-hatched waterfowl chick immediately trusts the first object it sees and follows the object. As soon as the chicks hatch, they bond with their parents and become inseparable. The OM team acts as surrogate parents, helping the birds imprint on the aircraft and conditioning them to fly with it."