Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Top 5 Middle School online picks!

I've now been out of school on fall break for a week and two days.  I've spent way too much time on Pinterest (my new favorite fad) and what I've found is that there is so many GREAT ideas out there that I would have died for as a new teacher, but relatively little for upper elementary grades.  This is nothing new.  Since I began teaching 6th grade six years ago, I haven't been able to much in the area of resources.  I think this is a shame because the middle grade students still enjoy stickers and the chance to color.  The difficult task is finding a way to balance the rigor of the content with the cutesy resources so readily available for primary classrooms.

So as part of my first post, I am sharing what I find to be my top 5 resources for teaching to the middle.

1. First up is a fabulous resource for math.  Not only for middle grade students, but also for students kindergarten through high school.  Illuminations is a website put out by the NCTM, and there is nothing that I've used that I didn't absolutely love!!  The activities provide depth, teacher background knowledge, suggestions for assessments, enrichment, and internet resources.

2.  Crayon Physics is a definite top pick among my students.  The demo is free and provides plenty of time to explore science without being asked to upgrade.  This site has students use the mouse to draw in parts of a picture.  The purpose is to get the ball to the star in the kid like drawing.  (It may take a while to download if you are on a network system.)

3.  The British Museum has a series of page that highlight many ancient civilizations and their culture.  These pages are appropriate (and written for students aged 9-14.)  They are each divided into different sections to include geography, religion, art, daily life, technologies, and other areas unique to the specific culture.  Usually in each section there is an interactive activity for students to do.  The best link, however is the "Staff Room" which provides great resources for the teacher.  The Main site is here, set up by theme.  Or, you can visit each of the civilizations individually:

4.  The Exploratorium is a science museum in San Francisco, but their online resources and books for middle school science are an even better than the experience in the museum itself.  For years my husband taught 8th grade science and pulled many of his labs for kids out of the Snackbook.  I also have a copy, and have to say it's a little worn out from so much use.  This link is for the science "snacks" online, and there are many, but there are even more in the book itself.

5.  Learning to type is becoming more and more important for students in the upper elementary.  Dance Mat Typing is the best free program I have found that teaches the fundamentals with a cute animal theme. There are four levels with 12 stages in all.  It goes through the traditional practice rather than "hunt and peck games" teaching students to keep their hands on the home row.  The best part is that this "game" is really appropriate for younger children as well.

There it is!  My top 5!!  Now there is definitely more out there that I will be sharing in the days to come.

Linking up to:

Fantastic Finds@Thinking of Teaching


Beth said...

Thanks so much for linking up! I love the websites.
Thinking of Teaching

Kim said...

And... WOW!
I can't keep up with all that I am getting from your site!
I can't wait to check out the new science "gadgets" you shared (I am woefully behind in science at the moment!), I have a list of websites to check out, and I just want to keep reading!
Thanks for sharing! I just know this will be a site I return to OFTEN!
YAY, you!

Finding JOY in 6th Grade

Mrs. Zrihen said...

Welcome to the teaching blog world! Glad to see a fellow middle school blogger jump on the wagon and join us :)

I see my friend Kim already welcomed you!

Looking forward to reading your future posts.

❤ Mor ❤
A Teacher's Treasure

pacrapacma said...

I can't wait to get my kids on exploratorium. I looked at how they teach about how an eye works. Very cool. Thanks for sharing these links. I'm stopping by from WE TEACH.

Mrs. Burke said...

I get so much from your site. I am a brand new blogger - mostly for my classroom and parents. Thanks so much for the wonderful links you provide. I grabbed your button. It was my first one.

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