Website and app reviews

By Nigel Paull

Website and apps reviewed for school library staff.

100 and not out

The 100th issue of Connections is a milestone for SCIS, its parent company Education Services Australia, and teacher librarians. My involvement with Connections dates back to 1997 when Lance Deveson, the SCIS manager at the time, asked me to be the editor. I had been involved in SCIS promotion in NSW schools via my role as a Senior Education Officer, Library Services, NSW Department of Education and Training.

After two years as editor, I relinquished the position but have continued to write for Connections for the past 20 years. Looking back at the first issue I edited (issue 24), I noted the introduction of SCISWeb and ‘the growing online and Internet field’. Since then, SCIS and Connections have certainly been leaders in forecasting and meeting the evolving needs of teacher librarians.

My favourite websites from the last two decades

Of course, I reviewed milestone websites and apps such as Google during this time, but the five that impressed me the most at the time of their publication (and that are still available) are:

Colin Thompson
SCIS no. 1023237

SCIS no. 1074078

The secret annex online
SCIS no. 1523007

ABC Splash
SCIS no. 1586147

SCIS no. 1562966

21 helpful apps for teachers and educators
Published by Digital Trends, this guide offers a variety of interesting and useful apps for teachers to use for lesson preparation, or in the classroom. The apps are available on iOS and Android devices, but it is recommended to check for local availability as the links provided are to the US app stores.
SCIS no. 1789136

This social network app focuses on education and learning, and encourages the sharing of knowledge. Teachers will be particularly interested in the Education section, which itself is broken into seven subsections covering a multitude of relevant topics featuring video, text, and a virtual pinboard.
SCIS no. 1751773

Making multicultural Australia for the 21st century
This authoritative website features quality educational resources regarding cultural diversity, immigration, tolerance, and anti-racism in Australian society. Features include: timelines, lesson plans for years 3–6 in a variety of subject areas, archival footage, cartoons, political speeches, and case studies.
SCIS no. 1224141

Mars science laboratory: Curiosity Rover
This website presents a remarkable amount of information about Curiosity Rover’s mission to Mars. The rover’s overall mission is to ‘determine the planet’s habitability’. Subject matter includes news, images, videos, webcasts, spacecraft details, timelines, lesson plans, and information about Mars.
SCIS no. 1789150

Developed by beyondblue and financed by the Australian Government Department of Health, MindMatters ‘aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing’ of secondary students. The program fosters positive mental health for the whole school community, and the website includes all the necessary information and resources to implement the program.
SCIS no. 1237498

National Geographic kids
This website will be suitable for younger students interested in learning about history, nature, animals, places, and science. The age-appropriate content includes short articles, videos, photos, games, and competitions.
SCIS no. 1789153

Online resources – New Zealand Association of French Teachers
The NZAFT website includes an online resource section applicable to French language teachers. Content from across the web includes lesson plans, worksheets, grammar and listening exercises, videos, quizzes, French news, and information about French culture and food.
SCIS no. 1789158

Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage
Since 2002, the Australian Government has commissioned seven reports regarding the key indicators of Indigenous disadvantage. The indicators include early childhood development, education, health, home environment, economic participation, and supportive communities. The reports examine whether positive outcomes for Indigenous Australians are being met by various policies and procedures.
SCIS no. 1698490

Periodic table
Produced by UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry, this website features an interactive periodic table that includes podcasts, videos, and information about each element. Content covers history, supply risks, element uses and properties, and references. This website is available as an iOS and Android app.
SCIS no. 1789162

Tracking ivory
This stimulating publication by National Geographic explores the cost of the illegal ivory trade to the animal world and humankind. A GPS tracker hidden inside an artificial tusk was used to track the movement of ivory and highlight the groups of smugglers, black marketeers, and armed groups involved in the trade.
SCIS no. 1789307

This website directs users to an amazing array of free F–12 educational videos. There are over 50,000 videos available in a wide range of categories, with the ability to search by age groups, subjects and keywords. Videos include descriptors and ratings, and have been selected and vetted by teachers.
SCIS no. 1789311

Your story, our history
The National Archives of Australia has a collection of ‘education resources designed to connect with life in the classroom’. Subject areas include history, government, the environment, society, and world wars. Resources include photographs, maps, and film and TV recordings; document studies; education kits; and notes for teachers.
SCIS no. 1789325

The internet sites selected in Website & app reviews are often of a professional nature and should be initially viewed by teachers and library staff to determine suitability for students. The links, content and address of these sites are subject to change.

Nigel Paull

Nigel Paull

Teacher librarian

South Grafton Public School