Jack Kenny's serendipitous selections of websites for learning

Screen WritingWRITING
Too often we have made writing a mechanistic routine. This site says that “hatching new ideas is what writing is all about”. It splits writing into various phases: pre-writing, writing, revising, editing and publishing. Each phase is fully detailed and there is a great deal of support all the way through. The ideas can be adapted for all ages.

The Thinkquest site has hosted and encouraged many innovative developments. This one supports the learning of LOGO, a programming language that is still as important as when it was first introduced. You can learn to program in LOGO and run your programs directly on the website, so the learning starts right away.

Screen Tree of LifeTREE OF LIFE
The Tree of Life is a joint web project, produced by biologists from across the world. With more than 2,000 web pages, it provides information about the variety of organisms on Earth, their history and their characteristics. Each page contains information about one group of organisms. And individual pages are linked one to another in the form of the evolutionary tree that connects all organisms, with the pages branching off from a group's page to the subgroups. For example, the links from the page on frogs leads one to pages on individual families of frogs, and eventually to individual species of frogs.

Picasso was one of the most prolific artists. Dr Enrique Malleen has catalogued 16,796 of the artworks. You can see them all in chronological order and gain some insight into the way that Picasso developed from his boyhood in Spain to his celebrity in France.

Screen FilmFILM
Shakespeare is considered essential in literature. What is essential in film? Every 10 years the British Film Institute magazine holds a poll of the critics and directors to discover which films are recognised as the best. This is a good place to start considering film as art, and it will certainly start argument and debate. You can look through the Top 10 lists from 1952, 1962, 1972, 1982, 1992, and 2002 to see how tastes have changed over the years. You might start to predict which films will be on the list in 2012.

At the British Library only a few people are allowed to turn the pages of the valuable, historic manuscripts in the library's collection. Thanks to the technology you can now flip through page after page of the 15th-century Sherborne Missal (pictured), the most lavishly decorated prayer book to survive the Reformation. Leaf through the pages to admire the artistry. You can zoom in on graphics to get a close-up of the script and illustration. Other books in the Turning the Pages project include a 7th-century Gospel, a 1st-century Buddhist text, and one of Leonardo da Vinci's mirror-writing notebooks.

Jack KennyJack Kenny is a freelance journalist and chair of examiners for English with Edexcel -  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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