This page serves as my online notes on general teaching resources, rather than subject specific resources. I strongly believe that good planning makes a great lesson and while my subject pages are more oriented towards the content of my lesson these resources are where I turn to for the “how to.”
I am very eager to learn from other teachers and professionals so if you have any suggestions please make a comment!
On the Sidebar to the right are Education links that I recommend. They run the gamut from theory and philosophical inspiration (e.g. Kiernan Egan or Ken Robinson) to technical assistance (e.g.Edudmic, 21st Century Teacher, or Kathy Shrock’s guide) to free quality teaching resources (e.g. Ask ERIC, Share my lesson, Thinkfinity, Education Index, etc.). I discuss some of them in more detail below. In addition to those mentioned here I have several subject specific sites listed under my subject guides.
Below I also describe some technical tools that I plan to experiment with in the classroom this year. (I am permanently indebted to Craig “The Wizard” Kapp for teaching me how to use these tools). I have only posted those I have found to be useful, or intend to try out this year. For a more complete list please see this page. As I experiment with the technical tools I will blog about the experiences and this page will be updated to reflect my findings. (For example check out this post on Social Media tools and the Classroom.)
Teachers Network, Education World, The Teaching Channel, and About Education are all sites that I have learned something valuable from and therefore would recommend for professional skills development. This page helped me better understand UBD (Understanding by Design). However, George Lucas’s new Edutopia is the one that I find myself reading regularly (although more for the articles, blogs, and links to other teachers sites than individual skills development per se).
I have been very impressed by the quality of lessons I have found on ShareMyLesson.com. Ask ERIC, Thinkfinity, Education Index, all seem to have comprehensive databases. However my first goto site tends to be NY Learns. My wife, a second grade teacher, absolutely loves TeachersPayTeachers. (Check out her store here; highly recommended).
In a different vein Webquest provides interactive lessons that students can do themselves. This is a great idea but the actual lessons are only as good as the teachers who designed them (hit and miss). I plan to try and design one myself next year as I absolutely love the idea.
There are so many other helpful education websites out there today that nobody can possibly know them all, but 21st Century Education is trying to prove that wrong by compiling this phenomenal list.
I am still shaping my ideas about educational theory but one of my favorite education professors raved about Canadian Kieran Egan, and I have to agree. The Educated Mind begins with a brilliant essay on the history of education and then becomes an utterly inspirational work. Storytelling matters. Look for a future book review blog post. Psychologist Daniel Wellingham has also been incredibly helpful to me in understanding how we learn. Check out my book review of his brilliant Why Don’t Children like School?
Documentaries & Video Clip Collections
We all know the inspiring TED talks, but TED has also produced TED-ED, which allows teachers to create and share interactive lessons using TED talks (or the talk format) online. These can be used in a flipped classroom format or in the classroom. These are a great idea, particularly if used to facilitative discussion and I will be testing this out this year. Recommended.
Public Television continues to provide amazing services for educators through not only producing wonderful education programs but also producing professional resources. I have listed my favorites to the right. Several private media companies also provide amazing resources. I like NatGeo, Discovery, and How Stuff Works. History is also good, but the recent emphasis on extreme reality shows has been somewhat disconcerting.
In addition to these sites above I have listed subject-specific sites under each of my subject resource guide pages. And, of course, it goes without saying that youtube.com continues to be the most important source for video clips.
The Fun Stuff – Visuals & Digital Story Telling
I can’t wait to try out several of these sites this year with my ESL classes. I am certain that my students will have a lot of fun with them. (Here’s a good article from my friend Craig on getting started 8 Steps to Great Digital Storytelling, and for even more check out this: For more tools check out this wiki: 50+ ways to tell a digital story.) Check back for my future reports.
Smore – A good site for making simple good looking publications like fliers or brochures. This one is good for students as it is very intuitive.
Easel.ly – This is my favorite site for making great looking visual materials. I have also used Mind.mup to produce good looking simple flow charts, for example this one from my post The Anatomy of Teaching, but I prefer Easel.ly.
Piclits – A simple image captioning program that you or students can use to make fun simple stories of captioned images.
Phrase.it lets you create comic-style bubbles on top of images and then save them to your computer–and it doesn’t require you to register for an account! Have students make comic books or use it to make an interesting presentation. Kerpoof – is another web-based storytelling tool that lets you create “comic book” style stories and animated movies. Kerpoof has a large library of free characters and background.
Zooburst – A personal favorite. Create simple 3d pop-up books with this great multi-media collage tool. I will be using this one with ESL students this fall and will report back my results.
Xtranormal – This site is a classic. We have all seen fun animated Extranomral videos on the web with the cartoon characters speaking in Siri voices. These videos are endless fun, and easily usable for students–including students at multiple language levels. (The Zimmer twins is a similar cartoon video tool.) UPDATE: Oh No! The site has gone down. This page has more information.
Storybird – Create free web-based and printed books using a gallery of high-quality artwork. Books can be embedded on a website, downloaded as PDF files or ordered as hard-cover books from the company.
Prezi – Not a conventional story telling site, but this powerpoint alternative “zooming” presentation tool is fantastic for telling stories. I have become quite fond of Prezies and have several on my blog. Be careful not to get your audience “seasick” with too many rapid perspective shifts.
Simple Editing & Presentation Tools
Audacity – An open source audio editing program that allows you to record, mix, and add special effects to your sound files.
Podomatic Minicast – A “minicast” is a short audio visual experience that you can build using your own images and sound file. Minicasts can be linked or embedded from your blog.
Animoto – An extremely simple slideshow tool that lets you make professional looking videos out of digital photographs.
The Fun Stuff – Games
In my ESL courses I use lots of simple games, both my students and I love them. (Here are a few ESL game ideas, but wow check out this list.) But as I move forward in my career I plan to explore using more complicated games for social science teaching and therefore I am keeping a close eye on developing “gamification” strategies in education. (See this blog post for a discussion of how gaming shaped my own social studies education).
Educade – A huge database of game based lesson plans and ideas for the classroom.
Quizlet – This great site lets you build simple games for studying vocabulary, or really anything. There is a large database of existing study sets people have built but I have found that it works better for some subjects (e.g. language) than others.
ClassTools.net – Another good database of games easily modified for studying. Also completely free.
SimCityEDU – I can’t wait to try this out one day.
Boring but Important – Classroom Management & Administration
Teacher Kit – This app lets you take attendance and create seating charts, record notes for each student and keep track of behavior issues with a simple tap. I plan to try out this app this year and will report back.
Moodle – The current leader in classroom management. I am looking for other software or apps so if you have suggestions please let me know.
Edmodo – Please see this blog post on Social Media tools and the Classroom for my report.