ONLINE TREASURES TO ENERGIZE LESSON PLANNING
Fall 1996, Vol. 8 No. 1
by Regina Quinn
Houghton Mifflin's Education Place
Are you always looking for fresh ideas to enhance your lessons? Do you find yourself searching through book after book for activities to supplement your curriculum? Now with just a click of the mouse you can find more ideas and materials than you ever imagined. Houghton Mifflin's Education Place on the World Wide Web is designed to support and supplement their reading and language arts program called Invitations to Literacy. Their site provides numerous helpful resources for teachers and parents, and plenty of creative learning activities for children.
Benefits for Elementary Classes
The teachers and students at New Hope-Solebury Elementary School in Bucks County, Pennsylvania are finding this site to be indispensable. Sue Zerby, a third grade teacher at the school, likes to use the site to find creative activities that she incorporates into her lessons. She has been able to find cross-curricular activities for both current and future themes. The Education Place home page offers many options. There are branches to specific subjects such as math, reading/language arts, social studies, and technology. The technology section, for example, includes reviews of popular educational software programs so teachers can read reviews of software before spending money on titles for their classroom. Or a teacher can click on the menu item called the Project Center which leads to suggestions for imaginative classroom projects which use the vast resources of the Internet. A click on Activity Search provides a lengthy list of non-electronic classroom activities that relate to desired subjects and grade levels. The Link Library provides direct links to other sites on the Internet which provide information and resources for each subject and theme. From the Link Library classses can go on virtual field trips to places like the White House, the Grand Canyon or Williamsburg, VA.
Motivating Learning Activities
Houghton Mifflin's Education Place is not just for teachers. Children will love to play some of the learning games which are included under each subject. For example, Sue Zerby's third grade class loved playing the reading/language arts game called Wacky Web Tales which is an electronic version of the old paper and pencil Mad Libs. When they finish a tale, they can post their creation on the site for students around the world to read. They also enjoy Fake Out!, a game of definitions. When they go to the Math Center they work on solving challenging brain teasers. On some days they take online field trips. One of their favorite activities was visiting the White House for Kids page, which they accessed directly from the Houghton Mifflin site, and writing a letter to Sox, the First Cat (they are eagerly awaiting a reply). The Kids' After School Clubhouse provides a place for children to locate a list of books on their reading level, read "kid reviews" of the books, and have an opportunity to send in a book review of their own.
The Parent Connection
Houghton Mifflin did not forget the important role parents play in the education of their children. There is a special Parents' Place that provides information on topics such as Understanding Beginning Writing and Guiding Your child's TV Viewing. Resources for further information are provided. Parents can also search through the Activity Center to find ideas for home activities which relate to the theme of the stories their children are reading in school.
As you can see, there is so much to choose from, you may be at the computer all night! But, with practical sites like the Education Place, you will never be at a loss for ideas or a place to find new ones.
Regina Quinn is a graduate student in the Department of Special Education at The College of New Jersey.
The professional development area of Resource Village offers the latest
information on using the Internet with students. Educators also have
access to an online help service, Cyber Scout, that searches the Web for
sites that match an educator's individual curriculum.
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