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Education World takes you on a tour of a handful of great sites that provide simple forms for creating Web-based classroom pages, activities, quizzes, and much more. And, best of all, there's no HTML coding required!

Does the very thought of posting lessons and information on the Web cause your heart to race and your palms to sweat? For many teachers, the reluctance to incorporate Internet elements into the curriculum comes from the lack of knowledge and the fear of the complexity of Web page creation. Don't feel that way; lots of help is available. Many sites on the Web offer free services that help teachers make the most of wired computers -- without knowing even one little piece of HTML code!

SCHOOLNOTES.COM

SchoolNotes.com is a site that offers many possibilities for teachers and students. Teachers can post homework assignments, upcoming projects, newsletters, schedules, Web site links of interest, lecture notes, or even flashcards for study and review. All that and more can be accomplished with a simple fill-in-the-blank form.

Having four children in elementary school led Ron Bocinsky to develop SchoolNotes.com as a means for teachers to easily convey information to students and parents.

"We would like all teachers and schools, both public and private, to be aware that the SchoolNotes.com service is available to help facilitate family-school-community partnerships that strengthen education by improving communication," said Bocinsky. "We continually strive to improve SchoolNotes.com with a primary focus on keeping it simple. Our goal is to complement school Web sites with a tool that teachers can use to add information at any time."

SchoolNotes.com is being used by teachers and students at all grade levels:

  • Jay Salon, a grade 9 through 12 AP chemistry teacher in Miami, Florida, uses SchoolNotes.com for posting homework assignments and grades (by secret code), for updating a calendar of events, and for communicating with parents. After using the service to develop a set of flashcards for test review, Salon said of the experience, "to my surprise ... the students loved it! They liked being able to review on-line on a 'personal level' using the teacher's questions." When asked about his overall impression of SchoolNotes.com, Salon stated, "the results have been positive. It has increased communication between my students and parents. You have to be organized to use SchoolNotes ... because once you use it ... the students -- and parents -- will rely on it. ... For me ... it is a time saver." Take a look at Jay Salon's SchoolNotes.

  • Cal Carpenter, a middle-school social studies teacher in Massachusetts, has posted his assignments at Cal Carpenter's SchoolNotes. He includes Web links that support further investigation of social studies topics his students are studying.

  • Joe Benner, a fifth-grade teacher in Indiana posts assignments weekly at Joe Benner's SchoolNotes. He also posts a monthly calendar of events.

Teachers can also use SchoolNotes.com to post an Internet activity for their class. Internet activities are the simplest way to utilize in the classroom the fresh information resources found on the Net. Teachers can simply find a specific site or group of sites related to a topic and build an activity around the site or sites. Posting the activity on the Web makes it available to students 24 hours a day from any computer with Internet access, at school or at home. Check out a sample Endangered Animals Internet-based activity produced on SchoolNotes.

After you've taken a look at some of the ways teachers are using SchoolNotes.com, visit the Testimonials page to see what other SchoolNotes users are saying about the service. You'll find Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the site too.

FILAMENTALITY

Filamentality, developed by the Pacific Bell Fellows, has been around for a while but is still a godsend for the busy teacher or the Internet newbie. With its fill-in-the-blank format, teachers can create treasure hunts, subject samplers, scrapbooks, hotlists, and WebQuests. Those activities can even be hosted on the Pacific Bell site as long as they're updated regularly. Just register and choose a password to begin your activity. It doesn't have to be completed in one session; it can be worked on over a period of time. The site also includes excellent guides for teachers, students, librarians, and trainers. Six Paths to China is an outstanding example of how the Internet can support learning in the classroom. It includes an example of each of the Filamentality formats.

TRACKSTAR

TrackStar, a free service of the South Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium, helps educators easily create learning activities for their students. The created Track will guide the student through a set of URLs with annotations for exploration. You can make your own Track by completing the creation form. You can also edit and modify an existing track to make it fit your needs. If you'd like to browse what others have done, the Tracks are categorized by subject area, or you can search by keyword for Tracks on a specific subject. There is a complete Help section and a TrackStar Forum for sharing ideas about this tool with others. Browse through the following sites to see activities produced with TrackStar.

  • Learning About Dinosaurs is an elementary Track with guiding questions for exploration of each URL listed.

  • Amazing Rainforests directs students to use a journal to record information about the plants, animals, and people of tropical rain forests. A section on contrasting and comparing the weather conditions of the tropical and temperate rain forests is also included.

  • Fun With Numbers involves students in some exciting ways to study math.

  • Touring Paris is a secondary Track that requires students to make all the arrangements for a trip to Paris for a week and compute the total cost.

  • The Holocaust focuses on the ramifications and lasting effects of the Holocaust. It uses photographs, articles, and quotes from survivors to provide students with an understanding of the Holocaust era.

ED TECH TOOLS

For interactive quizzes, Ed Tech Tools is the answer. If you answer a series of questions about the quiz design and enter certain information, the QuizCenter will generate your quiz. QuizCenter can score the quiz on-line, give your students feedback, and send you the results via e-mail. See how many of the dinosaurs you recognize in Dinosaur! The Quiz Menu provides a list of the QuizCenter topics available on-line.

THE QUIZ LAB

The Quiz Lab, at Funbrain.com, is another quiz tool available free to teachers who register. Its simple format makes it easy for teachers to provide practice and review for students of all ages. Students can even make up their own quizzes for other students to use. Quiz lab will grade quizzes automatically and e-mail the scores to the teacher. It will also gather useful data about a class and track student performance throughout the year. Students can access the quizzes on-line at any time to review skills.

Article by Hazel Jobe
Education World®
Copyright © 1999 Education World

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04/05/1999

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