Free games, quizzes, and teaching tools for K. through Grade 8, linked to McREL subject standards; site sponsored by Pearson Education.
Free instructional materials that can be downloaded and printed, including e-books, lesson plans, worksheets, and clip art.
Source: Koehler, 2007 at p. 286.
There are also a number of activities that can be used in an elementary school classroom that are specifically designed for online use. For example, Lacina (2004) reports that one such popular activity is a Web Quest, which is an "authentic Web-based environment that supports inquiry learning" (p. 113). Generally speaking, Web Quests contain the following elements:
An introduction or scenario;
task that is meaningful or doable;
process for completing the task, often in groups;
Information resources to support the task;
Guidance on how to organize the information acquired;
conclusion that brings closure and reflection (Lacina, p. 113).
In fact, the entire Web publication and maintenance operation is facilitated to a great extent because most word processing suites today already include the ability to create and publish pages directly to the Web complete with the requisite HTML coding. Furthermore, a number of Web hosts provide free or virtually free Web hosting services (i.e., http://www.doteasy.com/, (http://www.bravenet.com/webhosting/)that an elementary class could use to publish their work, stories about their school, friends and teachers, and generally anything that develops as a result of their focused interest on the "look-and-feel" of their Web site. Indeed, by providing pupils with a Web site that they can "call their own," elementary classroom teachers can help make these activities all the more interesting and therefore fresh and exciting every day. As Lacina (2004) emphasize, the use of computers in the elementary classroom has been shown to be effective in promoting literacy acquisition as well as allowing educators to fine-tune learning activities to the specific needs of the pupils. According to this author, "Computer-assisted language learning, enables learners to construct meaning in a digital environment. If used appropriately, teachers can provide an environment in which learning is authentic and activities are interesting to students. Thus, students are able to construct their own knowledge, as teachers scaffold students' learning" (Lacina, p. 113).
There is even help available specifically for school teachers who are cyberphobic or need some help getting started, but these typically cost at least a modest amount per year. Online services such as yourhomework.com (http://www.yourhomework.com/)is free for all students, teachers and parents, but also provide additional premium services including assistance in Web design and maintenance. Other services also specialize in helping teachers in their efforts to publish a Web site for their class. For example, Smith and Smith (2002) report that, "TrackStar was created to assist teachers to integrate the Web more effectively into their classroom to meet the needs of all students. Each Track provides a user with a list of Web-based resources offering easy access to the content.
Taken together, the foregoing suggests that jumping on the Internet bandwagon by publishing and maintaining an elementary classroom Web site is not as hard as it used to be, and the payoff in terms of improved pupil interest in a wide array of literary activities makes the effort clearly worthwhile. More importantly, perhaps, these activities are fun. Many of these young learners would be occupied in the same types of pursuits at home, and integrating Web site publication and maintenance activities into the daily regimen helps make learning more relevant and therefore meaningful for them. All in all, a Web site for the elementary school classroom is as close to a "no-brainer" as it comes for 21st century pupils, and the sooner teachers publish one the sooner they and their young learners can reap the benefits of the online educational environment.
Brown, D. & Warschauer, M. (2006). From the university to the elementary classroom: Students' experiences in learning to integrate technology in instruction. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 14(3), 599-601.
Koehler, L. (2007). 50 essential Web sites for teachers of students with mild or moderate disabilities. Intervention in School & Clinic, 42(5), 285-286.
Lacina, J. (2004). Promoting language acquisitions: Technology and English language learners. Childhood Education, 81(2), 113-114.
Smith, S.J. & Smith, S.B. (2002). On the right track: Technology for organizing and presenting digital information. Intervention in School & Clinic, 37(5), 304.
Urquhart, V. & McIver, M. (2005). Teaching writing in the content areas. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.