I came across this site through Open Culture which is a fantastic repository of all kinds of great free history and pop culture. The Moby Dick Big Read Project was an enormous undertaking to record all 135 chapters of the novel into an audiobook format with each of the chapters read by a different voice. Combining the voices of the known and unknown but all important this project has injected new live into one of the greatest American novels.
Looking for a fun distraction that also includes a little civic and social engineering, Traffic Simulator gives you and your students a chance to see how slight changes in road systems, driving patterns, and other factors can lead to major back-ups on our roadways.
The initial pattern on the website is a steady circle of traffic (ring road), and you can manipulate different factors such as the total number of cars on the road, the number of those that are trucks, and the acceleration of those vehicles to show how each affects the traffic in a closed system. Once you’ve played with that and messed up rush hour, you can try the other traffic patterns, such as adding an on-ramp (above), off-ramp, construction, hill, or detour to see how each can also change the traffic. Different elements can again be manipulated to test the roads and demonstrate how different factors can lead to traffic nightmares.
Explanations of some of the physics and psychology of traffic are provided through the links on the sidebar, as well as different ways to use the simulation. Traffic Simulator is a wonderful tool for seeing how traffic patterns can shift and change and what affects them, as well as providing students with some problem solving as they work through how to alleviate the traffic and find the ideal conditions for each roadway.
Looking for a fun and unique way to have students work on their critical thinking and logic skills, with a little deductive reasoning built in? These two-minute mysteries from Mystery Digest might do the trick.
The stories are designed to be read and solved in less than two minutes, and these short mysteries will test students reading comprehension (or listening, if you read them aloud) and then encourage them to think critically about the facts given to quickly solve the case. None are designed to be tricky, and all the cases can be solved based only on the facts given.
There are several ways you might use these in class. They could be part of a different warm-up exercise to change the routine a little in a math class to test logic. Use them as part of a unit on mystery and detective stories in your reading or English class. They could be templates in a creative writing class on writing short, concise stories packed with information. Just make them a fun group activity, seeing how each student group arrives at their conclusions, and if they are different.
The mysteries are divided into both easy to solve and medium difficulty stories, but they should really only be used in middle school or above (grades 6-12). If your students enjoy these, you might also want to try both the logic puzzles available and the “Case Files of Detective Nose” for some more short cases.
Culturally Authentic Picture Lexicon
The Culturally Authentic Picture Lexicon (CAPL) is a great site to use in classes to help students find pictures that are both authentic and appropriate from other cultures and countries. All the photographs held in the database were taken by natives of the culture and are organized by language and also by region. You can either browse or search the CAPL to find great photos from around the world.
One of the great benefits of the CAPL in education is that it can be used by teachers outside of simply being another repository for photos. Each picture is cataloged by language and region and contains both an English description and foreign language translation. This is an excellent way to infuse your world language curriculum into searching and project creation.
Another way many educators use the CAPL is to have students use the photos as writing prompts in world history and cultures classes, to recreate the images in art classes, to identify plants and animals in science, or to address cultural differences in Social Studies classes. The CAPL is a perfect accompaniment to a Project-Based Learning environment with endless cross-curricular possibilities.
- Visual Word Trainer – Turns the photos into flash cards so students can practice or learn vocabulary
- Picture Match Game – Given 8 images, students choose the photo that matches the word or phrase caption and are given immediate feedback.
- Word Match Game – Students see one image and find the appropriate caption or vocabulary word from 8 choices, again with immediate feedback
- Analyst Game – Students are given one image and then match the corresponding culture from 8 choices.
I highly recommend giving CAPL a try for both your world language classes, as well as social studies can history classes where you are looking for fun, exciting ways to incorporate real world images and examples for students that infuse and are steeped in modern culture.