Media Matters

for Faculty/Staff - April 2015

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10 Intriguing Photographs to Teach Close Reading and Visual Thinking Skills

"Closely reading any text, whether written or visual, requires that students proceed more slowly and methodically, noticing details, making connections and asking questions. This takes practice. But it certainly helps when students want to read the text." The New York Times Learning Network has selected ten of their most popular images to spark curiosity and make students want to dig deeper. They also offer ideas from students and teachers who have engaged with these images ways to use them, or images like them, to teach close reading and visual thinking skills.

The Growth and Decline of US Newspapers 1690-2011

This interactive map of the growth and decline of newspapers in the United States was developed by Stanford University. You can use the timeline at the top of the map to see how many many newspapers there were in an area at a given time. Click one of the placemarks in the map to find a link to more information about each newspaper. Even if you are not interested in newspapers, it is impressive to see how they managed to create such a thorough graphic!

7 Learning Zones... Every Classroom Must Have!

7 Learning Zones is a beautiful visual created by Edutopia featuring an interesting system that teachers can use in their classrooms to organize and manage students' learning experiences. This system is composed of 7 zones. Each zone targets a specific area in the instructional process and suggests some examples of what it is designed for. See below...

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Phrase.It allows you to add speech bubbles and some basic Instagram-like effects to your pictures. Here's how: Just upload a picture and choose a speech bubble. Drag your speech bubble into place then type your text. You can change the font style in your speech bubbles. Click the "add more drama" button to add one of four image shading effects. When you are done adding text and drama to your images click the "preview and save" button to download a strip of your pictures. could be a good tool for students to use to create stories in a comic strip style, and it doesn't require a registration to use it.


Spent is an online game designed to teach players about the challenges of living on minimum wage (or slightly higher) employment. It's super cool and works on an iPad. The concept may be a bit difficult for middle schoolers, but I'll let you decide.

Money Math: Lessons for Life

Money Math: Lessons for Life is a four-lesson curriculum supplement for middle school math classes, teaching grade 7-9 math concepts using real-life examples from personal finance. The 86-page book is a teacher's guide with lesson plans, reproducible activity pages, and teaching tips.

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Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Journey to the Centre of the Earth is a super cool interactive infographic produced by the BBC. As you scroll down the infographic, you will see little pieces of information appear into the graphic from the sides. Each of these pieces of information is a fun fact like the maximum depth of a metal detector, the depths of sunken boats, the depths of the layers of the Earth, and the pressure you would feel at various depths below the Earth's surface. Works well on an iPad!

Exploring Ecosystems and Endangered Animals

  • Ecosystem Explorer - Produced by PBS Learning Media, this is a nice collection videos, images, and games designed to help students learn about the roles of predators and scavengers in ecosystems.
  • In Pieces - Features the stories of 30 endangered animals around the world. Each animal's story is told with text, images, and video. You'll learn about the threats to each animal, its native habit, and efforts to save each animal. Love the origami!
  • Journey North - A global study of wildlife migration and seasonal change, including sunlight, plants, and migrations.
  • WWF Together - This free app by the World Wildlife Fund teaches students about the world's most amazing animals. Stunning!
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Resources for History Teachers

Resources for History Teachers is a collection of multimedia/multicultural history learning resource for teachers, students and schools.

Ripped Apart (free Civil War iPad App)

Ripped Apart is a free iPad app from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The app is a game in which students play the role of a Smithsonian intern tasked with examining documents and photographs in order to determine where they came from and what they say about the Civil War. Through the game, students will learn learn about significant people in the Antebellum and Civil War eras. Students will learn about leading abolitionists, secessionists, and officers on both sides of the Civil War. As they move through the game, students will add notes in the app. Those notes should help them solve the mysteries in the game.

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PBS Presidents

PBS Learning Media has an awesome series of short videos about all of the Presidents of the United States. In the series, there is one short (60-90 seconds) video about each president for a total of 44 videos.

Also on YouTube:

20 Books to Read in 2015 (or during Spring Break)

TED-ED Educators share their top 5 must-reads in the categories of literature, science, math, and history. I highly recommend The Martian by Andy Weir!

Enjoy your Spring Break!

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