The Best Resources for Elementary Schools
Secret Builders (http://secretbuilders.com/teachers.html) Secret builders is a virtual world for kids (age 8-12) that introduces them to fictional characters from history and literature. Secret builder has historical characters for students to interact with including Jane Austen, Bach, Alexander Bell, Emily Bronte, Confucius, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Hafez, Magellan, Omar Khxyam, Mozart, Isaac Newton, Rumi, and Lao Tzu just to name a few. Students can actually visit the historical figures house, learn more about them, interact with them by asking questions in a virtual chat (answered as the character would answer), and take a quiz to find out how much they know about this historical figure. Secret Builders allows kids to get up close and personal with history and literature in ways not previously possible. It allows them to gain a better understanding of historical figures that a textbook offers. Secret Builders has additional school friendly features like areas for students to write, collaboratively draw and share, and play educational puzzle games. Secret Builders also has a great Internet safety quiz that tests students on their knowledge of what online behavior should look like. Secret Builders has a Teacher’s Console where teachers can add and manage their students from one central location. Teachers can set up an online reward system for students where they can unlock special Secret Builder features by completing “quests” that you assign. For example, you may be studying Thomas Edison in class. You could send students on a quest to find and learn about Thomas Edison and give the reward to those students that correctly complete the quiz. Secret Builders is an excellent way to bring history to life for your students. They will understand historical and literary figures better as they interact with them and other students in this virtual world. Students can interact with and “interview” the historical figures they encounter, they can then write an article about the historical figure in the Secret Builder’s virtual newspaper, Writers Block. Students younger than 13 years old can access this site after signed up by a teacher (See Teacher’s Console). Storybird (http://storybird.com) Story bird is a fun collaborative storytelling website. Storybird makes it easy to create and tell stories digitally. Students and teachers can create stories together by combining imaginative artwork and text. The final product can be printed, watched on screen, played with like a toy, or share in an online library with the world. Storybird “promotes imagination, literacy, and self-confidence.” Creating, sharing, and reading a Storybird is free. The imaginative artwork will have your students imaginations soaring and lead to enthusiastic writing. Students can work together in teams to create stories. Students will feed off of each others ideas, creating more creative stories and learning together. Storybird is also a fantastic place to create a classroom story, each student can contribute pages to the story. The final product can be easily share with family and friends in the online library. Storybird can be used by teachers to make “special” stories for students. They can include students as characters, emphasize classroom themes or curriculum, and be created for specific reading levels. Encourage your students to create and share their stories on Storybird, open up your classroom computer during DEAR time for students to read the stories their classmates have created. Storybird has free class accounts that allow students to use Storybird without providing an email address. Students of all ages can use storybird. 18
A guide to educational technology for teachers, administrators, and students.