Twurdy: Differentiated web searches

Twurdy (Too Wordy)
This free, web search service powered by Google, differentiates web material for students and colour codes websites from easy to difficult.
The following is information directly from the Twurdy website: 

The name "Twurdy" comes from a play on words with the question "Too Wordy?".

The philosophy
Everyone has different reading abilities. Some people searching the web are university professors and others are 5 year old children. Twurdy has been created to provide people with access to search results that suit their own readability level.

What does it do?
Twurdy uses text analysis software to "read" each page before it is displayed in the results. Then Twurdy gives each page a readability level. Twurdy then shows the readability level of the page along with a color coded system to help users determine how easy the page will be to understand.

The Goal
Twurdy's goal is to provide web searchers with information that is most appropriate for them. This will mean that 10 year olds doing school assignments don't have to click through difficult material to find something they can use. It will also mean that older students do not have to click through websites designed for kids in order to find what they are looking for.

Go Wild!

Presented by the New York Zoos and Aquarium, the website, Build Your Wild Self allows the user to select different animal body parts in order to create a new species.  You can print your Wild Self which can include a list and short description of the type of body part added such as spider crab claws, monarch butterfly wings and an African lion tail.

How can I use this in my classroom?  Here are some Saskatchewan curriculum examples.

Grade 1 ELA curriculum: Compose and Create
CC1.4  Write and share stories and short informational texts about familiar events and experiences in a minimum of five sentences.

Grade 2 ELA curriculum: Compose and Create
CC2.4  Write stories, poems, friendly letters, reports, and observations using appropriate and relevant details in clear and complete sentences and paragraphs of six sentences.

Grade 3 ELA curriculum:  Compose and Create
CC3.4  Write to communicate ideas, information, and experiences pertaining to a topic by creating easy-to-follow writing (including a short, a procedure, a letter, a story, a short script

Science 6 curriculum:  Outcome DL6.4 Examine and describe structures and behaviours that help:

  • individual living organisms survive in their environments in the short term
  • species of living organisms adapt to their environments in the long term

Google Squared Labs - Instant Table Builder

"Google Squared is an experimental tool that takes a category (like Canadian provinces, roller coasters, or digital cameras, etc.) and attempts to create a starter "square" of information, automatically fetching and organizing facts from across the web. You can modify your square by removing rows and columns you don't like--or by adding new rows and columns and having Google Squared attempt to fetch the relevant facts. Verify and correct the facts in your square by exploring the original sources and investigating other possible values. If you're happy with your square you can save it and come back to it later. Google Squared does the grunt work for you, making research fast and easy."

Myths and Legends Story Creator 2 From

This is another fantastic site offered by where students can create their own digital stories based on myths and legends. Students can choose interactive backgrounds, move objects around, change their sizes; they can also add text, sound and record their voice while telling the story and share it with others. They have also included a teachers' section supplying background information about myths and legends, storyboard templates, downloadable lesson plans in Word format, and an interactive map of selected myths from around the world.

Gurt Wurm of Shervage created by EB2N

Like Museum Box,  requires a registration process with a school contact and confirmation with an administrator before permissions will be given to create teacher and student accounts which can be enjoyed in a protected environment.

Museum Box From

This site is inspired by 18th century Anti-slavery campaigner Thomas Clarkson who travelled with a wooden box containing collected items he used to support his argument against slavery.  

Thomas Clarkson's Museum Box 

"This site provides the tools for you to build up an argument or description of an event, person or historical period by placing items in a virtual box. What items, for example, would you put in a box to describe your life; the life of a Victorian Servant or Roman soldier; or to show that slavery was wrong and unnecessary? You can display anything from a text file to a movie. You can also view and comment on the museum boxes submitted by others."

They also offer an educational support page which gives links to register your school to set up teacher and student accounts in a protected environment. Please note that the EB2N organization requires a confirmation with administration at each school before enabling a school account. The usual process is having an interested teacher or school administrator completing the online registration supplying a contact for them to confirm your school's identity.   

As with, the strongest feature is the teacher having control of his or her student's work as they have full access all the time to evaluate and check on student progress.

Maximizing Web Browsing Experience Using Google Chrome

If you're frustrated by being blocked updating Flash while using Internet Explorer and some websites will not view properly there is a simple solution..... Use Google Chrome.

Google Chrome Download Homepage

Please note that Google Chrome will be part of our new image when it's deployed in the 2011-12 school year, but some staff may want to take advantage of this browser now or at home. As this program installs to your personal "Documents and Settings" folder (which we have permission to), any staff or student has the capability to download and install this program at school.

Is Chrome Right For You?

Advantages of Using Google Chrome
Chrome Webstore Explained
Web Apps Explained
Installing Apps and Extensions in Google Chrome    (note: Create Google account to allow installation)

Some Neat Google Chrome Apps To Consider
3D Tin - 3D Modeller
Solve a Cipher - American Cryptogram Association
The Raven - Edgar Allan Poe (great for Hallow e'en)
Sort Sort Revolution - Comparing objects by different categories
Brightstorm - Thousands of free Math and Science videos
Psykopaint - convert any photo into a piece of art

SMART Notebook Tutorial Videos

SMART Notebook Software 10 Tips and Tricks

These videos help you to create interactive lessons that will engage your students.  Please use Microsoft Internet Explorer to view this set of videos.
Free SMART product training website.  More products are featured here such as SMART Response and how to use SMART Exchange to download free Notebook files.

Paper Templates

Do you require specialized graph paper or templates for storyboards? is a website that can help you create and print your specialty paper needs.

You can create custom paper of squares, triangles, and hexagons.  In addition you could make circular and polar graph paper, number lines, writing templates such as storyboards, and music templates for notation and fret boards.

All documents are in created in pdf format.  You have full control over the paper size (8.5" x 11", 11" x 17", A4, A3 etc.), grid line weight, horizontal and vertical sizes and line colour.

Better Searches, Better Results

For help in improving your internet search techniques and therefore results, you may want to try out some of the helpful ways to search for information courtesy of Google.

These tips will aid in searching for an exact phrase, excluded words, similar words, multiple words and numerical ranges.  For example, you can start a search but exclude certain words in that search.  bass -fishing  This way you will get results about a bass instrument, rather than a fish.
Using the Google search suggestions can also be used to more easily find definitions, site specific information, math answers and conversions right within the search engine.  For example, you can type a simple math equation into the Google search bar and the answer will be given directly below - no need to go to a website or calculator.

Google Search posters

Google Search help -see this for more features you can use to narrow the focus of your searches