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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


bigchalk

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Feb 23, 2004 by Teacher Education
Overview: Bigchalk is a repository of educationally relevant information for Teachers,
Librarians, Elementary Students, Middle School Students, High School Students,
and Parents. Under their heading, teachers are given links to Classroom
Management, Professional Resources, Curriculum Design, Subject Support, and
Educator Job Center. Numerous articles and other information can be accessed by
visiting each section. Also available for teachers is a searchable database of
lesson plans in all academic areas, the ability to search by elementary,
middle, or high school levels for content area information, tools for
assessment, and a section to sign up for online learning links and technology
tips. By clicking on their section, librarians find the same links as teachers,
but their section is more specific to library media specialist resources.
Elementary students may search two major sections: Success at School (i.e.,
Book Reports, Math & Science Projects, Pictures, Sounds & Videos, Reading Fun,
Reference, Study Skills) and Beyond Schoolwork (i.e., Contests To Enter, Games
To Play, Places To See, Stuff To Make, Things To Color, So You Want To Be A...,
More Activities). Also available to elementary students is a section on
Homework Help. Middle and high school students also have the homework section
and the Success at School and Beyond Schoolwork links to investigate. These
sections become increasingly more advanced with each grade level. For example,
high school students may search sections about Multimedia Resources, Oral
Presentations, Research Starters, and Career Planning. A large portion of this
site is also pertinent to parents including information about Your Child's
School, Support Your Child's Learning, Home schooling, Parents & the Internet,
Organizations & Periodicals, and Learning & Physical Disabilities.
Learning Goals: Users, including K-12 students, teachers, librarians, and parents, will be able
to search for educationally relevant lesson plans and other information to
enhance educational practice.
Target Student Population: K-12 students; librarians/media specialists, Pre-K--university educators,
parents
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basic web site operation skills.
Type of Material: Resource/Reference material.
Recommended Uses: This site could act as a reference point for prospetive teachers of all
subjects. It seems most appropriate for teaching methods courses.
Technical Requirements: To experience the audio, video, and interactivity of the virtual field trips and
expeditions, users will need three plug-ins: Flash 5.0, Quicktime and
RealPlayer 8 Basic.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The content is vast and varied. This site is a tremendous repository of
educationally-related information. Numerous links are provided for
investigating many areas of education pertinent to K-12 students, teachers,
librarians, and parents. Within the Teacher Resource area there are links for
classroom management, curriculum design, subject support, professional resources
and an educational job center that are potentially helpful for prospective and
experienced teahcers. There is a searchable database for selected subject
areas. Not all subject areas that have standards are included.
Concerns: The enormity of the site is, at times, overwhelming. Those new to the Internet
may find it difficult to locate the desired information. Also, sources of some
information are not always given. In still other items, the actual source of
the information is questionable. It should be made clear that this site has many
links that lead to educational products for purchase and that several of the
curriculum ideas and standards-based examples are only partially displayed since
they are available at cost.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This site has the potential to be a valuable resource for teacher education
students doing research on teaching methods and in other areas of education.
Learning activities could easily be created (e.g., lesson plans) and content
could also be easily integrated into lessons. Targeting a particular area of
this site for review, research, or investigation should yield much information
for debate and discussion. Having student teachers do an analysis of material
or posted information for a particular age group and comparing their findings to
state expectations/standards would allow them to make informaed educational
decisions. On-the-job teachers would find this a valuable resource to share with
students and parents.
Concerns: There is so much here that you either need to know why you are at this site and
what you need to be (re)searching or you need to have time to just explore.
Either way, in visiting this site it is recommended that you have an objective
in mind.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: This site is relatively easy to navigate once the user is familiar with its
layout. The links are labeled and can be followed with ease. The page layouts
are consistent, easy to read, and attractive to the eye. There is a site map
and a link to help at the bottom of each page. No technical support should be
needed.
Concerns: This site has not been Bobby Approved. The interactivity of the virtual field
trips and expeditions is intriguing, but getting to it through joining
bigchalk.com and then logging on takes some time. For younger students, teachers
would need to address this issue in advance for each student or for the entire
class.

Other Issues and Comments: