Friday, December 23, 2011

Taking An End of the Year Break

Phew!  How is it already December 23rd??!!

This has been a fun and exciting new venture for us!  We can't believe all that our blog has accomplished in just one year, and our first year too!

We are going to take a little siesta til January 9, 2012.

We will be back with a lot of new ideas, articles, freebies, and special highlights.


Happy Holidays to you and yours
Happy New Year!

2012 is going to be amazing.

From: Anna, Beth, Heather, Karla, Lisa, Rachel, and Rosshalde

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What It Means To Be A Teacher

By Crystal Radke

Kreative in Kinder

Growing up, my friends always told me that I would be a good kindergarten teacher. I never agreed! I always thought teaching a child to read was the most important thing you could do, and if I messed that up I could ruin them forever. Originally, I went to college to teach high school. Then, I  put school on pause, married, became a foster mom, and adopted three great kids. Finally, I returned to college in my late 20’s to fulfill my calling to become a teacher—a kindergarten teacher! Guess what? I can teach a child to read!

When I was five years old, I told my mom that when I grew up I was going to be a teacher. Family members asked me, “Are you sure? You won’t make much money.” I think if I had denied my calling, I would have denied a piece of my soul, a part of the reason I was created. I tell people teaching is not so much what I do but who I am. As a teacher, I look at things differently…everything in life is a teachable moment.

Teachers wake up every day and put on their big girl panties or big boy boxers, and they hit the ground running. They live life understanding that each day they face children who love them, dislike them, appreciate them, and go against them. Yet, no matter what these children do teachers care about their futures and love them. With each new year comes new challenges, but it also brings new victories. and I am blessed to be a part of education.

What does it mean to me to be a teacher? It means breathing, inspiring, living, loving, playing, praying, pretending, and of course TEACHING!

What is a Teacher
by Crystal Radke

Teaching every child no matter what their needs.

Extending your family, finances and time to make a difference.

Allowing others to teach you and to help you to be the best you can be.

Changing the world one child at a time.

Hugging each child, so they know they are loved.

Educating the next generation to become positive, contributing members of society.

Reminding yourself that you are making a difference even when it’s tough, time consuming, and overlooked.

What is a Teacher?

By Colleen Patton

Store Front:

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a teacher is “one whose occupation is to instruct”. That’s it? Does anyone else think the definition needs to be revised? Being a teacher is much more than instructing.

Thinking back to why I became a teacher, it had nothing to do with a desire to instruct. Instead, it had everything to do with enjoying being around children and wanting to have an impact on their lives. Yes, my general job description is to teach the standards that my state mandates and to make sure that all students are successful, but what is it that teachers really do? As a kindergarten teacher, I tie shoes, solve arguments between friends, teach children appropriate ways to behave, remind students to use manners, help students learn to work together as a team, and then I get to teach the material they need to learn.

As a kindergarten teacher, a certain part of my job includes teaching children how to behave in school along with how to get along with others. Yet, students walk away with more than social skills. Students leave at the end of the school year having developed self-confidence and critical thinking skills, as well as knowing they can be leaders.

I challenge you to think about a teacher who meant something to you and to think about what made that teacher stand out. Was it the perfect lesson she taught about Columbus? Was it the way she taught you long division? Was it that she truly cared about you? Maybe she taught you to believe in yourself. Perhaps the reason a teacher stands out in your mind is because of her character or the person she helped you to become rather than her classroom lessons and instruction. If true, what does this mean for teachers of today?

A teacher’s purpose is not only to instruct students and to disperse knowledge but to equip them with skills needed in the real world. Whether in kindergarten or high school, there are skills students learn in school that are needed later in the real world. Think about the students you teach. How many years until they graduate? Maybe 2 years, maybe 10, maybe 12 or 13. What kinds of jobs will your students find once they graduate high school or college? Chances are your students will be doing jobs not even in existence right now. As teachers, we are not merely instructing students, but we are forming thinkers, problem solvers, and leaders.

Teachers have tremendous impact on their students. They walk into classrooms with a refocused mission. Their job is not just about preparing students to pass state exams or AP tests. Their mission is to equip students with skills needed to be successful in life. Teachers show students they care, encourage them to think, help them to be great problem solvers, and transform them into leaders.

Visit Colleen’s blogspot at:  

Related Teachers Pay Teachers Products:
The LINK Math Workshop Plans   $7.99 
Cooperative Job Assignments Pack   $3.99      
Scientific Drawing Rubric   FREE!
Learning Styles: Understanding, Identifying, and Adapting    $1.00
Buggy Boogie Counting to 100   $2.00
Cupid Valentine's Day Coordinate Graphing Ordered Pairs Practice   $2.75
Hot Topics Impromptu Public Speaking Creative Writing Prompts   $2.95
Creative Critical Thinking Worksheets (21 pages) Upper-Level Blooms   $4.50
Fairy Tale Unit   $11.00

Monday, December 19, 2011

Student Assessment

By Laprofesorafrida
Store Front:

Do you cringe when you read those two words? Do you immediately feel a headache coming on? Perhaps you have flashbacks of elementary school and taking the Iowa Basics? Then, you’re not alone. “Student Assessment” evokes unpleasant memories for many teachers and students, but it doesn’t have to!

If possible, can you push standardized tests to the back of your mind for a month? A week? A day? The challenge is to focus on types of “student assessment” in your classroom for five days then evaluate the week. Positive improvements should be seen by the end of the school week. Also, new and interesting ways to assess students’ learning will come from reflection.

There are many familiar ways to assess whether students comprehended lessons: presentations, homework assignments, tests, quizzes, and writing essays. For many teachers, these traditional methods are already part of lesson plans, but these are certainly not the only ways to assess learning.

Do you assess while you’re teaching? Try stopping after explaining several examples of concepts, such as grammar explanations. Then, ask students to show on a scale of 0-5 how well they grasped the information. Have students hold up fists (0- I have no clue what you’re talking about…what class am I in?) to 5 fingers (I could teach this concept to someone else.). This helps evaluate needs of students and allows for immediate changes or more explanations, if necessary.

Another assessment tool is to ask students at the end of a class period, “What did you learn in class today?” If students can give short answer responses then they got the lesson. Also, try passing out scrap paper and asking students to write “What I learned in class today” on one side with brief explanations below the statement. It takes only a few minutes to read through the comments between classes. This technique proves how comfortable students are with material covered for the day.

There are plenty of other unique ways that students’ learning can be assessed. Try brainstorming with colleagues about student assessment strategies. Teachers are creative people who are bound to find new assessment tools to use. By assessing learning through a variety of strategies on a daily basis, students will be ready for standardized testing when Spring rolls around.

Please, share with us some of your ideas about assessment...

Related Teachers Pay Teachers Products:

Spanish Winter Activities Packet: Vocabulary, Verbs, and Grammar   $5.00
Spanish Communicative Partner Activity: Personal Shopper  $3.50
Elementary Lab Science Safety Contract     FREE!
Book Playlist Worksheet Activity to Connect Music to Literature    FREE!
Elementary Writing Assessment Rubric   $1.00
Let's All Sing the Blues (Having Fun with Scat Language)   $2.50
Logic Puzzles Gifted Critical Thinking Problem Solving Brain Teasers  $3.00
Reading Strategy Lesson Plan Bookmarks Reading Trackers Poster  $3.49
Measuring Monsters   $4.00

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Featured Teacher: Mary Bauer

1.   How long have you been on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you decide to be a part of it?
I signed up about a year ago, but I didn't start posting any products until April.

2.   When did you know that you wanted to be in education?
I tried not to be a teacher until the end of my freshman year of college.  My parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were all teachers at some point in their lives.  I wanted to do something else.  I was volunteered to work as a camp counselor and I discovered through that experience that I was born a teacher.  I decided not to fight it anymore.  That was 27 years ago.

3. How are you currently involved in education?
I am teaching a fifth and sixth grade split class in a public school north of Seattle, Washington.

4.   What would be your advice to people who are considering joining Teachers Pay Teachers?
Get involved in the forums.  There are so many people who are willing to help out.

5.   What has been a highlight, thus far, about being on Teachers Pay Teachers?
I have enjoyed sharing ideas with amazing teachers who are as dedicated to their students as I am to mine.  I wish I could visit their classrooms and have them visit mine.

6. What is something fun about you that other teachers don’t know?
I was once on a locally televised spelling bee.

7.   Do you participate in education outside of the classroom?  In what type of role?
I volunteer in my church's children's ministry.

8.   What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I want to be a freelance writer.  I have had a few things published, but I would like to be published more consistently.

9.   What profession would you not like to do?
I would make a lousy waitress.  For some reason my ability to keep track of competing needs in the classroom doesn't transfer well to food service.

10.                 Who is your favorite author?  Favorite educational author?  And why?
My favorite educational author is Aimee Buckner.  I love her book Notebook Know-How.  I have read it several times through and use her lessons in my class.

My other favorite author is Rick Riordan.  I could read aloud and teach from his books for so many subjects.  What I have appreciated about him the most is how he treats his readers during author visits and book signings.  He had hundreds of fans lined up and he took time with each one to answer a question.


Mary's Prized Products

My favorite unit to teach is Writing Plays with Intermediate Students.  I have just started getting this year's students prepared to write, direct and perform their own plays.  There are all sorts of Language Arts standards that I teach through this unit.

I also enjoy the unit Playing with Words.  I find having students write these syllabic poems builds their vocabulary and their stamina to write longer pieces.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

For the Love of Books: Fair Isn't Always Equal

By: Heather Kaiser (theTechedOutTeacher)

Heather's Store on Teachers Pay Teachers

Classrooms are diverse places. Students come to us with a variety of needs and abilities. Their lives outside school have great impact on their performance in school. Some students receive free and reduced breakfast and lunch at school while others are made to pay for theirs. Is this fair? I doubt any of us would argue against it. But, is it equal? Fair Isn't Always Equal.

Rick Wormeli challenges teachers to keep this in mind when developing grading practices as well. Discussions about grading practices can quickly become a heated debate. Grading scales are as varied as the students who enter our classrooms. It is also a topic that is breezed right over in teacher education programs. Very little time is spent critically thinking about the impact a zero will have on a students' grade. Consider this point made by Wormeli: Assigning a zero for work that was not completed does not show what a student can do, it shows what he/she did not do.

If you're looking to grow professionally this holiday season, consider picking up a copy of the book "Fair Isn't Always Equal". Whether you agree or disagree with the points Wormelli makes isn't the point. The point is that you take time to reflect on your grading practices and how they affect your students. I believe all teachers want to be fair. Now the real question is: Does that mean we treat all students equal?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lighting the Way for the Holidays

by Alysia Battista, aka Miss B, Busy Bee

It's so easy to get caught up in holiday celebrations that we forget about others who may not be as fortunate. Also, there are those who celebrate the holiday season in other ways. Over the years, many of my students failed to celebrate Christmas, as well as other holidays, so a lights theme conveyed that many winter holidays are centered on hope in dark times!

The following books and products are excellent for teaching about holiday celebrations:

               Kirsten's Surprise by American Girls (teaches about Saint Lucia)
              Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story
              Milly and the Macy's Parade
              Light the Lights: A Story about Celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas
              Angel Child, Dragon Child
             Bringing in the New Year

Also, there are many excellent products on Teachers Pay Teachers for teaching acceptance and for giving students an understanding of other cultures and customs, such as:
Spanish Winter Holiday Vocabulary and Activities for $3.50

Numbered Gift Cards for Calendars, Games, and Tags $1.00
Holidays Around the World Unit for Literacy and Social Studies $5.50

Other holiday products:
I Have. Who Has? December Holidays $2.00
Holidays Around the World $6.00
Multicultural Holidays $24.99

Related Teachers Pay Teachers Products:
Santa Christmas Holiday Coordinate Graphing/Ordered Pairs Practice      Free!
December/Holiday/Winter Creative Writing Paper    Free!
52 Creative Christmas Story Starters, Creative Writing Prompts, & Lined Paper  $1.95
Winter Holiday Writing Prompts for Upper Elementary and Secondary   $2.50
Snowday Math Work Stations   $3.00
Blank Weather Chart     Free!
Seasonal and Holiday Workshop Templates 120+ Pages     $8.00

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Featured Teacher: Mark Aaron

1.   How long have you been on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you decide to be a part of it?
I have been a seller on TPT for four years now. It's been an interesting experience, and for the most part the idea that my lessons and teaching ideas have spread around the country and maybe even the world has been the greatest reward. I joined TPT because my middle school colleagues considered me the "go-to guy" for lesson plans and activities for many years and gave me positive feedback on my teaching units. I decided to look for a wider audience for my work and with TPT I found it.

2.   When did you know that you wanted to be in education?
I did not even consider teaching as a career until I was 23. I had graduated with a political science/history degree and woke up one morning realizing that the knowledge I had gained in studying those majors, while valuable and rewarding to me, was not as transferrable to the world of work as I would have liked. So by chance and dumb luck I took a part-time job as a teacher's aide at a middle school to pay the bills. I enjoyed it and soon I fell in love with the idea of becoming a teacher. A year and half later later I was the teacher in my own classroom and I have been ever since.

3. How are you currently involved in education?
I did not even consider teaching as a career until I was 23. I had graduated with a political science/history degree and woke up one morning realizing that the knowledge I had gained in studying those majors, while valuable and rewarding to me, was not as transferrable to the world of work as I would have liked. So by chance and dumb luck I took a part-time job as a teacher's aide at a middle school to pay the bills. I enjoyed it and soon I fell in love with the idea of becoming a teacher. A year and half later later I was the teacher in my own classroom and I have been ever since.

4.   What would be your advice to people who are considering joining Teachers Pay Teachers?
Accept the fact that not everyone is cut out to be a seller on TPT and that it may or may not be right for you. Other than that, my advice would be threefold. First, be prepared to put in long hours and use those hours to create the best possible products you can. Quality over quantity; it took me quite a while to figure that one out. Second, have patience and don't expect great sales numbers overnight or even in a year. Be realistic, it takes time and in all probability you aren't going to become an Internet millionaire or quit your day job (that is a good thing!). Third, remember what I tell myself about many things in life, including TPT: Things are never as good as they may seem and they are never as bad as they may seem.

5.   What has been a highlight, thus far, about being on Teachers Pay Teachers?
This is a long sentence but I think it says it all for me: The highlight has been the interaction and communication with so many dedicated and creative professionals who have become entrepeneurs and in doing so have taken some of the power away from the corporate publishing companies who have controlled educational publishing for so long and produced what I think are bland and inferior materials for our kids.

6. What is something fun about you that other teachers don’t know?
I use my modest TPT income to support my continual addiction to the sport of skydiving.

7.   Do you participate in education outside of the classroom?  In what type of role?
I end up serving on virtually every committee my school creates, so I am rather busy outside the classroom. I am currently using my school's new 1 to 1 Mac program as a way to become a more up-to-date user of technology in the classroom. This old dog is learning some new tricks!

8.   What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I'd like to be a skydiving instructor, and I know I could do it. But that is not in the cards and my family would kill me as they find my current skydiving habit hard enough to swallow.

9.   What profession would you not like to do?
I would hate to be a school administrator. I have had multiple opportunities to leave the classroom for administration over the past 27 years and turned every one of them down. I have never regretted that for one minute. Administrators often have as hard or a harder job than teachers. I know it isn't popular to say that but it is what I believe.

10.                 Who is your favorite author?  Favorite educational author?  And why?
My favorite author as an adult reader is John Cheever. His books are amazing works of art. In education I love Robert C. O'Brien, the author of both Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh and my all-time undiscovered gem of a children's novel: The Silver Crown.

Mark Aaron  

Mark's TPT store

Mark's Prized Products

I designed a classroom as courtroom simulation of a real Roman court case that was heard over 2000 years ago. It is my all-time favorite lesson and my students have enjoyed this every year for what seems an eternity:

I'm very proud of a set of materials on Proverbs (non-religious) that I created. It not only teaches language arts skills but also offers valuable life lessons for my Middle School students to ponder:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Calling for Writing Submissions

The Teacher 2 Teacher blog is looking for writers.

We are currently taking submissions for our main Monday education articles.  These articles are on a variety of topics; some chosen by the admins, others chosen by you.  We are looking for articles that are connected to education and that a variety of people can relate to.  It should be approximately 500 words.

As well as our Tuesday book reviews.  The reviews are approximately 200 words.  It should include who the book is best suited for, pros and cons of the book, and an image.

And if you would like to be a featured teacher - go ahead and download this google doc.

For more specific details, please send an email to:

We look forward to your articles and highlighting you as selling teachers!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Teaching Resource Partner: The Teaching Channel

By Guest Author Elaine Hirsch

The Teaching Channel equips teachers with tools to help educate and infuse a love of learning in their students. It supplies educators with media tools that transform classrooms into superlative learning venues. It permits teachers to effectively train students in communication, history, listening, math, reading, science, thinking skills, and more with numerous media presentations. In addition, the website aims to help teachers find excellent resources to inspire and prepare children for challenges throughout their educational years.

Teachers, coaches and administrators have exclusive access to hundreds of teaching ideas, methods, and videos, as well as the Teaching Channel’s “personal assistant”, known as Lesson Planner. The Lesson Planner changes how Common Core Standards are incorporated into classroom instructions. There are instructional videos on classroom behaviors, differentiated learning, group dynamics, student engagement, and teacher tips. This adaptable, media-driven approach helps teachers unlock children’s potentials through creative, imaginative techniques using lessons which focus on critical thinking and problem solving abilities.

The Teaching Channel offers activities for students that launches them into problematic situations; this encourages them to think, question, and reason on their quests of discovery. Topics such as environmental changes, math concepts, reading groups and writing workshops help motivate students to use their innate capabilities; they become intelligent and insightful as they perceive, comprehend and appreciate their enlightenment.

The Family Center on Technology and Disability at acknowledges that the Teaching Channel is well-deserving of the high praises it has received. It was dutifully impressed with its lesson plan ideas, mentoring approach, and encouragement or new teachers through practical videos which model effective lessons and appropriate resources.

The Teaching Channel’s mission is to develop excellent educators who use media supplements for mastering Common Core Domains. The Teaching Channel hopes to prepare children for the future and to nurture critical thinking abilities through the use of outstanding resources. Sign-up is always free on the Teaching Channel.

Teachers Pay Teachers Related Products:

Scientific Method SmartBoard Interactive Quiz Free!
December Holiday Winter Creative Writing Paper Free!
Penguin Thematic Cross-Curriculum Unit for K-3 $7.95
Spelling Tic-Tac-Toe Choice Grids: 36 Activities for Any List $2.50
Christmas Math $3.00

Friday, December 2, 2011

Teachers Pay Teachers Link Up: December Holiday Freebies!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

For the Love of Books: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

By: Mary Bauer

Mary’s Store on Teachers Pay Teachers

Minli lives in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain.  Her family barely grows enough rice to feed themselves, but Minli buys a goldfish on impulse.  When her mother criticizes her purchase, she sets her pet free and decides to change the family fortune by finding the Old Man of the Moon.

Grace Lin’s book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon reads like a novel-length Chinese folktale with shorter tales in between.  Her artwork enhances this impression.

I have been a Grace Lin fan since the year my niece was adopted from Taiwan, and I have enjoyed buying and sharing her books ever since.

This book is most appropriate for grades 3-6 or a read aloud to a younger child.

Monday, November 28, 2011

To Teach or Not to Teach Shakespeare: “That is the Question!” 11/28/11

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
By Beth Hammett

Visit Beth's Teachers Pay Teachers Store

As a middle school teacher, my decision to teach Shakespeare was simple. In my mind, students needed an introduction to the famous author and his classic works.  After all, the themes of the plays are timeless.  There are also other novels and short stories students will encounter that reference Shakespeare.  It seemed logical that an overview would benefit students and their future teachers.  Were there objections?  Yes, there were high school teachers who opposed my teaching Shakespeare in the earlier years. They argued that the works were already covered in their entirety in eleventh and twelfth grades, but once these colleagues reviewed the lower-level materials, everyone approved of the lesson plan.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Featured Teacher: Stephanie Patten Wrobleski

1. How long have you been on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you decide to be a part of it?
I discovered Teachers Pay Teachers by accident one day about two years ago.  I was just surfing the web for teaching ideas and came across it.  I decided to post a few items as an experiment.  

2. When did you know that you wanted to be in education?
I cannot remember not wanting to be a teacher.  At first, it was a chance to be bossy toward my younger sister and cousins.  Now, it is an opportunity to make a positive impact on my students.

3. How are you currently involved in education?
I am a reading teacher and English teacher in a high school.  I work with grades 9 - 12 teaching core English classes and English academic intervention classes that focus on skill improvement.

4. What would be your advice to people who are considering joining Teachers Pay Teachers?
Take some time to learn from others by reading the blogs and looking at the products of successful sellers.  I have learned so much from the TPT community.

5. What has been a highlight, thus far, about being on Teachers Pay Teachers?
The highlight thus far was receiving some really positive feedback from buyers/fellow teachers.

6. What is something fun about you that other teachers don’t know?
I am a former collegiate rugby player.

7. Do you participate in education outside of the classroom?  In what type of role?
I write for Teach Hub and am involved with the National Writing Project.

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I would love to dive head first into professional writing.

9. What profession would you not like to do?
I could never work in a situation where I sit at a desk for long periods of time.  I have to move.  I teach on my feet all day long.

10. Who is your favorite author?  Favorite educational author?  And why?
My favorite author... that's not fair, there are so many.  I do love John Steinbeck because he is a fabulous story teller and loved to write about the underdogs of the world.  Right now my favorite educational author is Kelly Gallagher because what he writes makes sense.  I also admire that, even in the wake of his fame and popularity, he remains grounded in his classroom.

Stephanie Patten Wrobleski

Stephanie's Prized Products

I aimed to create a teacher and student friendly resource for the popular Shakespeare play.  I have incorporated journalism writing tasks and rubrics for each act.  Students have fun and learn.

This easy to use resource makes teaching the parts of speech a little easier.  It is designed to offer varied levels of scaffolding so teachers can decide how much help to give students. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

For the Love of Books: Skippyjon Jones Class Action

By: Melissa
Plug-n-Plan Blog
It's time to start practicing your "very best Spanish accent," because our favorite Siamese Chihuahua is back again, and this time he's going to school!  That's right, Skippyjon Jones Class Action is here, so get excited!  This newest adventure featuring the adorable kitty-boy who thinks he's a chihuahua was released this summer (July 2011), making it the 6th Skippyjon Jones picture book by author Judy Schachner.  If you (oh, and your students) loved the first 5 picture books, then you're sure to love the newest adventure. 

This time, Mama Junebug's little mischief-maker sneaks off into his closet when doggie school is placed off limits.  There he meets up with his old friends, Los Chimichangos, and goes paw-to-paw with wooly-bully.  There's no doubt Skippyjon will have you chuckling away as you follow him through the most disorganized school day ever! 

The storyline is brand new, but your kids will welcome the familiarity of structure and rhymes used throughout the Skippyjon stories.  Even though much of the imaginative language involves translation through the addition of "-ito" to the end of words, Schachner also throws in a handful of actual Spanish vocabulary.  I always love involving my Spanish speaking students as we read, drawing on their knowledge of the language.  Their faces light up as they recognize words from their native language and swell with pride as you ask them to explain what they mean.  I find this particularly important for my entering level ESOL / ELL students.

Aside from the wonderful storytelling which transports you into the wild imagination of a kitten convinced he's a dog, there is so much more than entertainment to be found in the story.  As a teacher you can use the faux Spanish and actual Spanish words to teach your students to use context clues to decipher meaning.  The story is also great for fluency and decoding practice.  The rhythmic writing provides a great practice ground for fluency as students read to self and read to others while the chants and made-up words throughout the story challenge students to use their reading strategies to decode the unknown words.  Fun and educational!

Truth be told, I'm not really sure who gets more excited about these Skippyjon Jones books: me or my students?  I think we must feed off of each other.  Though it's hard for me to choose my absolute favorite Skippyjon adventure, my students definitively voted Skippyjon Jones Class Action as their new favorite.  Whichever installation you love best, none have disappointed, so I for one will be waiting anxiously for my next opportunity to join my big-eared friend on his next trip into the closet!

Check out the book trailer from Amazon!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Online Resources

By Carolyn Wilhelm

Students are excited when computer time rolls around!  There are so many online resources to use when teaching or letting children use computers at home or at school.  The many options can be overwhelming.  A great way to narrow choices for site selections is by using the following criteria:

 1. No or limited advertising

 2. Educational values

 3. Benefits for teachers and parents

 4. Associated with nationally known groups or businesses

 5. Students should be able to explain what they learned

 6. Includes SMART Board use that engages all students in the class

First, limited or no advertising is an important requirement, especially for young viewers.  However, there is still the need to teach children not to follow extra links that look enticing without asking permission and being willing to accept “no” for an answer.

Second, reinforce that cheating to complete online activities is not acceptable.  Many students use codes, tricks, or advice from friends to win while playing electronic games at home.  Therefore, they are very familiar with such techniques.  Parents and teachers need to point out that getting to the end of activities is not the goal whether working at home or on school computers.  The goal is to learn.

Third, the best sites have teacher or parent resources associated with them.  If you look at home pages for educational sites, there are varieties of free resources and materials for students, parents, and teachers.

Fourth, the sites should be associated with nationally known groups or businesses that are likely to remain in business over time.  These are the most excellent and reliable types of sites.  Websites that look like they could change hands tomorrow may disappear quickly.  Also, be sure to review new sites for appropriate child content.  Remember, parents and teachers need to be nearby during children’s computer uses.

Fifth, children should be able to explain what they learned during computer time.  The best sites offer print-outs of activities, which children are happy to share.  If children simply "had fun", check the site for education values then assess whether new or different sites might be needed.  Having fun, although it can be a motivational component of the lesson, is not the goal of educational computer time.

Sixth, if SMART Boards are available in classrooms, educational sites meeting the above criteria should be able to hold interests of students for whole group site demonstrations.  SMART Boards save time in computer labs, and they help students avoid advertising links. 

By following these simple guidelines when looking for appropriate online resources for students, your computer lessons will be educational, as well as engaging and fun!

Related Products at Teachers Pay Teachers:

Simple Machines Hot Spots for SMART Board $1.50Winter Writing Prompts with Coloring Sheets Free!
Steps to a Great Paper Free!
Antonym Dogs $3.00
Tic-Tac-Toe Journal Prompts Choice Grids 252 Great Prompts $3.75
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