Website Wednesday

Website Wednesday: ReadWorks

Image result for readworksby Jackie Longan, DASD K-5 Instructional Coach

I love when I am able to share a website that’s easy-to-navigate with resources that are practical, customizable, and best of all… FREE! is one of my favorite resources for articles that I can use with students to help build background knowledge and enhance content-specific vocabulary about topics across all curricular areas.  It allows me to search and sort by grade level, subject, Lexile level, and genre.  

Additionally, ReadWorks offers article collections in its Article-A-Day” sets.  This suggested approach promotes reading one article from the set, every day, for ten minutes.  It also includes lesson and question ideas to go along with the sets.

I hope you find this resource useful, and if you get to check it out, let your Instructional Coach know what you think!


Website Wednesday: Storybird

storybirdby Kristie Burk, DASD Coordinator of Cyber and Blended Learning

Children love to write stories, but sometimes they have a difficult time getting started. Storybird is a free website that helps students write stories by providing images that can help spark creativity. Students can select the type of book that they want to create, such as a picture book or a chapter book, and the photos or illustrations they want to use. Then, they can start typing their stories.

Although the stories seem like they’re primarily aimed at younger children, older students could also use the site. Amanda Friedman, Spanish teacher at Downingtown East and West, is using Storybird with her classes.  The students will read one of the stories in Spanish first and do an activity on comprehension. Then, students will work in groups to create their own stories using the templates provided.

Website Wednesday:

wizerby Khristina Hunt, Downingtown West High School Instructional Coach

Many of you have inquired about new ed tech resources to utilize in your classrooms. So I thought I’d share a really neat one called is a site to build beautiful engaging online worksheets. But don’t be fooled – these are worksheets in name only. They truly are awesome! I’ve outlined a few key details below:

  • You can add video, audio, images and a variety of question types to the sheet
  • 1-click will let you share with students and/or upload to a Schoology assignment.
  • You’ll save time with automatic checking and grading or you can review one-by-one to give more personal feedback.
  • It’s easy to share your Wizer collection with other teachers.
  • Browse the Wizer collection of FREE digital learning resources.  Just pick one you like, customize and share out with the class
  • Students can access the worksheets with any device.

If you want to know more, don’t hesitate to reach out to your instructional coaches!


Website Wednesday:

logoby Kristie Burk, Coordinator of Blended and Cyber Learning is a great website that addresses the increased use of videos to deliver instruction. Students use to watch videos and take notes simultaneously.

Students can login to the site using their DASD Google accounts.  (This will allow their notes to save automatically to their Google Drive.)

Half of the screen contains the video that the students are watching. The other half of the screen is a blank area where students can take notes while the video plays.  What is unique about this method of note taking is that the students’ notes are synchronized with the video. If they see something that they’d like to write down at 1:40 in the video, the note will be tied to 1:40.  If the student clicks on that note later, the video will auto-magically jump to that spot.

Because the video notes are saved to a student’s Google Drive, it will be easy for him or her to share the video with you or with other students later.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

Website Wednesday: Protect kids with Google Safe Search

by Michelle Curcio, DASD K-5 Instructional Coach

Are your students protected when they search the Internet?  This is a great site to share with parents!

Google Safe Search can be used as a parental control to help protect children from inappropriate search results on a  phone, tablet, or computer.  Although it isn’t completely accurate, it does a good job of helping ensure a safe  search experience for children. Safe Search can be locked and password protected, adding another layer of reassurance for parents.   To enable Safe Search follow the directions below:


Website Wednesday: Dotstorming

lrvgncofby Kristie Burk, DASD Coordinator of Cyber and Blended Learning

Dotstorming is a great online “brainstorming” tool that you can use with your students to generate ideas.  Like Padlet, Dotstorming allows students to post a digital sticky note with text or images.  Dotstorming takes it one step further, however, by also giving students dots that they can use to vote for the ideas they like best.

There are some things that I really like about dotstorming. Teachers can rank the ideas based on how many votes they received. I also like that your participants do not need a login to join the room. Finally, I like that you can limit the number of votes (dots) that you assign.

I used dotstorming during a recent professional development session.  Teachers researched different implementations of blended learning around the country and posted their findings within the dotstorming room.  Then, they used their dots to “vote” for the ideas they wanted to explore further as a group.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

Website Wednesday: Google Search Like a Pro

captureby Michelle Curcio, DASD K-5 Instructional Coach and Google Certified Teacher

Searching Google happens millions of times a day.  Any Google search too, will result in millions of hits for you to peruse!  Would you like to be able search Google better?  To limit your results to just those hits you really want?  Follow the tips and tricks below and learn to search Google like a pro!  And while you are at it, have some fun with Google as well.  Happy searching!

Start with Basic Searching

Start with simple searching.  

  • Ask a basic question.  Example:  ‘Who was John F. Kennedy?’
  • Type in a simple search term.  Example: ‘Oatmeal Cookies Recipe’.
  • Don’t worry about conventions!  Google doesn’t recognize punctuation, spelling, capitals, or articles (a, an, the)  so there is no need to include them!                   Example: Instead of ‘Who was John F. Kennedy?’ try only ‘John F. Kennedy’.
  • To search for a specific location add it’s name.  Example: bakery, Exton, PA.
  • Choose words that are likely to appear on the site you’re looking for. For example, instead of saying ‘my throat hurts’, say ‘sore throat’, because those are the words a medical site would use.

Next, Use Specific Search Terms

When using some specific terms, Google will recognize the request and do the work for you! The answer or tool you need shows up right in the search results!

  • Weather: Search weather to see the weather in your location or add a city name, like ‘weather Philadelphia’, to find weather for a certain location.
  • Dictionary: Type ‘define’ in front of any word to instantly see its definition.
  • Calculations: Enter a math equation such as  3 * 9123, or solve complex graphing equations.
  • Calculator: Type the word ‘calculator’ to bring up a simple or scientific calculator that works within the browser.
  • Unit conversions: Enter any conversion, like ‘10 dollars in euros’ or ‘5000 ft to meters’.
  • Translate: Type ‘translate’ and convert any phrase from one language to another.  Choose from hundreds of languages!
  • Sports: Search for the name of your team to see a schedule, live game scores and more.
  • Song Lyrics: Follow the name of any song with the word ‘lyrics’ to see the entire song.
  • Timer & Stopwatch: Type ‘set timer’ and the amount of time and let Google count down for you!
  • Flip a Virtual Coin: Type ‘Flip a Coin’ and be sure to choose heads or tails!
  • Google Newspaper Archives:  Search newspapers archives for every newspaper ever printed with a ‘Google Newspaper Archives’ search.  Search for a topic and click ‘search archives’ Click on the image to zoom in! (note: this site is no longer being updated by Google).
  • Quick facts: Search for the name of a celebrity, location, movie, or song to find related information.


Finally, Use Symbols and Search Operators

  1. Search with the @ symbol to find social tags.  Example: @micheleacurcio
  2. Search with the $ symbol to find items for sale in your price range.                  Example: Uggs $125
  3. Use the # symbol to locate popular hashtags for trending topics.                     Example: #education
  4. When you use a dash before a word or site, it excludes sites with that information from your results. This is useful for words with multiple meanings, such as  Jaguar the car brand and jaguar the animal.                                                                        Example: jaguar speed -car or pandas
  5. When you put a word or phrase in quotes, the results will only include pages with the same words in the same order as the ones inside the quotes. Use this when looking for an exact word or phrase.  Example: “imagine all the people”
  6. Add an asterisk as a placeholder for any unknown words or wildcard terms.              Example: ‘a * saved is a * earned’.
  7. Separate numbers by two periods without spaces to see results that contain numbers in a range or the date of an event.                                                            Example: camera $50..$100 or World Series Winner..1972.
  8. Limit results to information from a particular website or domain.                              Example: Cubs
  9. To get results from multiple sites or domains, combine then with OR.              Example: Cubs OR site:.espn
  10. Find sites that are similar to a web address you already know by beginning with the word ‘related’.                                                                                                                 Example:
  11. Find pages that might use one of several words by placing ‘OR’ between them.  Example: marathon OR race
  12. Get information about a web address, including the cached version of the page, similar pages, and pages that link to the site.  Example:
  13. See what a page looks like the last time Google visited the site.                       Example:

Just Plain Fun!