There are many website available that can be used for instruction. I am primarily looking at sites about science. Below is a list with a short review describing the ease of navigation within the site.

  1. Interactive Sites for Education
    1. Games and interactive activities for K-5
    2. Very simple and easy to use layout with screens for each type of content on the home page. Clicking on a content area leads you to another layout of screens in which the content is further broken down. Click on your area of interest and there are a variety of activities with screenshots of each for you to click on. The screenshot make it easy for children to identify what game they want to play.
  2. Jefferson Lab
    1. activities, movies, games, science content (usually text), teacher resources
    2. There is a menu on the left hand side for teacher resources, student zone, games & puzzles, cinema, events, and science search. When you click on a link you go to a list with links to activities and a very short description of each activity. The site has a lot of information and is easy to navigate. The site doesn’t have pictures or interactives to gain your attention. The activities are all very basic. If you have a student who is easily distracted this might be a good choice.
  3. NBC Learn
    1. For all ages
    2. Go to Free Resources at the top of the page where you will find general resources as well as curated K-12 resources, Higher Ed resources, and Language resources and Current Events. Either click on the tab or show all. The resources are well set up and it is easy to find specific content. There are pictures to draw your attention to different pieces of content. It is well worth your time to spend some time on this site looking for resources.
  4. Study Jams
    1. K-8 and teacher resources
    2. The site is attractively laid out with photographs that revolve when you click to choose the topic. Descriptions of the content are written below the banner. The activities present the basic topic information and have a quiz to check for understanding.
  5. PHET: University of Colorado
    1. Elementary through College, teachers who register have access to lessons
    2. This is a repository for simulations of all kinds. The simulations are simple but very effective and easy to understand. Many of the activities are being rewritten so that they can run on smartphones and tablets if you download their app. You go through a list by content or grade level and then small pictures of the simulation are displayed to click on.
  6. USGS Education
    1. K-college resources
    2. This is a government site so there is a lot of information in small print in the sidebars on either side of the page. The page itself has pictures that bring you to their curated resources. There are resources sorted by age across the top of the page if you would rather search that way. It is easy to navigate but I think a lot of information that is presented in the sidebars is probably ignored because people just don’t want to read through the dense print to find what they want.
  7. Spatial Sci
    1. 9-college
    2. This is a very unattractive website with a lot of really good lessons. If you want to have your students use real data and applications is actual situations these lessons are fantastic. You need to make sure to read the download instructions first because there is information beyond unzip the file to use.
  8. cK12
    1. K-12 grade student and teacher resources
    2. This site is an open source textbook site. It is easy to browse and find a textbook that will enhance your curriculum. The textbooks are easy to read and the progression through them is intuitive. The quality depends on who wrote the textbook and what they added to it.
    3. As I have found out, it’s not much harder to adapt a textbook for your specific needs. You can copy, rearrange, and change the content so that you have a textbook that will exactly match the content you are teaching. You should check to see where the original content came from and read through the materials carefully before using them. There are often worksheets, videos, games, and other materials bundled with the book that will show up in your copy even if you think you have removed them. I spent last summer and fall working on developing content for my school district based on the new GSE standards and found the help for completely developing a book using some of their content fairly difficult to find. I would try to do various actions with different levels of success.
  9. NOAA games
    1. 4-12 games
    2. This site has many games that help students do anything from prepare for natural disasters, to learn about the ocean, to find out about recycling, to discovering more about energy. The site is set up with pictures and a short description of each game. Clicking on the game brings you to directions and the game. The games are at different levels of sophistication so you will wan to preview them to make sure your class will enjoy them.
  10. Wikipedia
    1. all ages
    2. I know teachers tell students, “Don’t use Wikipedia” but… they do. The text is dense and it isn’t generally attractive, so why does everyone keep going to it? The site is a gold mine of information. It has information on everything. Let’s teach them how to use it properly and show them how easy it is to change information in it. If you use it as a starting point and look at the references to double check the information can be quite accurate. And your students never realize they are learning true researching skills because once you show them how easily information can be changed they understand the need to do a quick check of the information they find. I had my students, as a class update an article in Wikipedia to show them how much work should go into the entries.

I think the Spatial Sci site and Wikipedia (image below) sites are examples of bad design. Wikipedia is popular despite the design and Spatial Sci is only going to be visited by people who are looking for very specific lessons. The NOAA site (picture as header) shows very good design. The page isn’t cluttered and it is easy to find the game you are looking for, even younger children can recognize the picture in order to quickly find their game. The cK12 site also shows good design in the textbook format they use. The material is divided, usually, into small blocks and many of the books have videos and pictures interspersed with the text to maintain interest.