Do your lessons need some Spring Cleaning?? Here are some sites to keep you and your students motivated and inspired!
1. Best for Young Readers
At The Stacks, students can post book reviews, get reading recommendations, play games based on the latest series, watch “Meet the Author” videos, and more. It’s like Facebook for reading and it’s safe for school, too. Your whole school will want to participate in the “You Are What You Read” campaign, which asks users to list their five most important books.
2. Best for Lesson Plans
There are so many lesson plan databases online, but Thinkfinity stands above the rest because its content comes from the best names in learning-language arts from ReadWriteThink, math from NCTM, science from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and more.
3. Best for Finding Books
Use Book Wizard to level your classroom library, find resources for the books you teach, and create reading lists with the click of a button. You can also plug a title into the BookAlike feature to find books with an easier, similar, or more difficult reading level.
4. Best for Craft Projects
With hundreds of lessons for every grade level, you’re guaranteed to find a colorful idea for your class, such as the “Chinese Dragon Drum” for Chinese New Year or the “What Do You Love?” project for Valentine’s Day. Sign up to be a Gold Star teacher so that you’re first on the list to test new Crayola products.
5. Best for Writing
The creators of the 6+1 traits of writing offer a terrific overview of the model on their site, with research to support the program, lesson plans, writing prompts, and rubrics. You can also find writing samples to practice scoring and see how other teachers scored the same piece.
6. Best Online Dictionary
Add the children’s version of the WordsmythNow widget to your toolbar, and students can look up new vocabulary no matter where they are online.
7. Best Math games
At the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives, you’ll find activities for every area of math at every grade level. Need to teach shapes to preschoolers, for example? Try the Attribute Blocks, which challenge students to sort virtual objects. Working on functions with middle schoolers? Drop numbers into the function machine to identify the pattern.
8. Best for Geography
Zoom over the Sahara desert. Fly past the streets where your students live. Take a tour of the Eiffel Tower. You can do it all with Google Earth, the tool that makes the world feel a little bit smaller with its map-generating capabilities. If you’re new to Google Earth, the tutorials offer a great introduction.
9. Best for History
This fantastic site acts as a clearinghouse for all of the educational materials developed by government organizations. You can find primary sources, videos, and photos for just about any topic. For example, listen to “Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier” or find a timeline of Ben Franklin’s life. And it’s all free!
10. Best for Science
The National Science Teachers Association site is a goldmine for classroom teachers who may not feel as comfortable teaching geology and astronomy as they do reading and arithmetic. You’ll find journal articles, experiment ideas, and a roundup of the latest science stories in the news.
11. Best for Virtual Trips
The Smithsonian offers thousands of resources for educators, including lesson plans, virtual tours of their latest exhibits, and the opportunity to connect with experts in the field. In one lesson, “Final Farewells,” students can see a school yearbook from the Civil War era up close, and discuss how the political climate may have affected the content.
12. Best Web 2.0 Tool
Glogster bills itself as a tool for making “digital posters,” or glogs, containing pictures, text, video, links, and animation. A glog on To Kill a Mockingbird might contain a link to the Scottsboro trial, a clip from the Gregory Peck movie, and a drawing of the tree where Boo Radley leaves gifts for Scout. Fun!
13. Best for the IWB
Go here before creating any lessons for your interactive whiteboard from scratch. Chances are you’ll find an existing lesson ready to grab and go, or at least inspiration from other teachers who’ve taught the same material. Plus, the customizable Whack-A-Mole game is a must-have for test prep and review.
14. Best for Wiki Help
Wetpaint will walk you through the process of creating wikis and connect you with other teachers using them in the classroom. You’ll find great examples to share and templates for starting a book club wiki, for example, or one centered around a community service project.
15. Best for Video Clips
TeacherTube is the best source for instructional videos in a safe environment. We especially love the clips of teachers showing off the catchy rhymes they’ve made up to teach certain topics-check out the “Mrs. Burk Perimeter Rap” and the “Mr. Duey Fractions Rap.”
16. Best for Moviemaking
Moviemaking has never been easier than it is at Xtranormal, where all you have to do is write a script and choose a background and characters, and the text is transformed into a short animated clip. The classroom possibilities are endless-challenge kids to write an additional scene for a book you are reading, or have one character explain the water cycle to another.
17. Best Standards Help
Whether or not your state has adopted the Common Core, you’ll want to bookmark this site, which not only offers an overview of the new standards but provides a thoughtful framework for how the standards were determined and what we can reasonably expect students at given grade levels to achieve.
18. Best for Tough Topics
Along with an excellent blog that tackles some of the more difficult aspects of education, Teaching Tolerance offers activities and teaching kits on topics ranging from the civil rights movement to the separation of church and state.
19. Best PD On the Go
Many of the professional development series from the Annenberg Foundation are available on demand here, with videos on teaching measurement, writing workshop, and more. You’ll see master teachers at work and undoubtedly snag an idea or two for your own classroom.
20. Best Reality Check
Sometimes you want inspiration…and sometimes you just want to connect with someone who understands the frustrations of field trip forms, unmotivated colleagues, and the latest buzzword your principal mentions at least a dozen times a day. When the business of school has got you down, visit Mrs. Mimi’s blog for a sympathetic friend, a laugh, and the priceless knowledge that you are not alone.