Free Teaching Resources: Always a Good Thing!

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Today I am diving right in to sharing some amazing free resources that are available for teachers (and parents too).

First is a set of evidence-based playbooks from Angela Duckworth’s Character Lab to help build character in your students and children. Everything from grit and purpose to gratitude and resilience with more playbooks to come, you will have research and evidence-based tools to help build and grow these skills. Looking to learn more about developing character in your students? The educator summit will be held this July 11-12 in Philadelphia.

Next is Open Middle: “challenging math problems worth solving.” I found this site from one of Robert Kaplinsky’s recent tweets and have been clicking around ever since. You’ll find problems for students from kindergarten through high school including this Ten-frame challenge for kinders.

The Math Vision Project is a team of teachers who set out to create free, printable math materials for teaching math that is inquiry-based, student-driven, task-based, and aligned with Common Core Standards. It is also a set of downloadable open source math resources created by teachers for teachers to use with their students learning Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, towards an Integrated Math I, II, II. When I say “resources” I mean everything you need to teach regular and honors math from beginning to end with both student and teacher editions, homework help, professional development resources and more. It is a complete curriculum offering multiple access points for students within the same classroom to be able to solve problems and show understanding.

Open Ed or ACT Academy is another free site with K-12 resources including lesson plans, assessments, homework, and videos for topics from all school subjects including Science, English, Math, and Social Studies as well as Social-Emotional learning, Electives, and Technology. You can search by grade, subject, resource type (interactive, lesson plan, audio, video, etc.) topic, standard, publisher, and featured content provider. Honestly, if all you do is click the type of resource you want, you will see the wealth of materials for you.

Last but certainly not least is Facing History, a site whose mission it is “to engage and educate diverse students on issues of racism, anti-semitism, and prejudice to promote the development of a more humane citizenry.” This site is rich with resources on topics from the Holocaust to Civil Rights, Race, Immigration, and much more searchable by subject (English, Psychology, US History, World History to name a few) and resource type (books and borrowing, lessons, featured collections, and beyond). They also offer several professional development opportunities to support teachers both in-person and online. This is a site you will want to spend time with.

I Went Browsing and This is What I Found . . .

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When I was a little girl going on car rides with my parent and/or grandparents (sitting on the fold down arm rest in the front was always a treat albeit an apparent danger but it was the 70s, who knew?), aside from listening to show tunes, Barbara Streisand, Barry Manilow, and Frank Sinatra, we played car games. One of the family favorites was, “Going Shopping”. Each person would start with “I am going to Pathmark, Shop ‘n Bag, the A & P (fill in any supermarket of the 70s and 80s here) and I am going to buy (something that begins with an A). The next person would then go to the market and buy what the last person bought and then whatever comes next in the alphabet. It was always fun when people would buy these obscure or even funny-sounding or embarrassing items (my mother loved to throw a Kotex in the cart). And then of course having to remember everyone’s previous purchases was always a challenge, especially as we neared the latter part of the alphabet. Anyway, browsing around thinking about this blog post reminded me of that game and those fun car rides. And now, on to the point of the post!

Here is what I put in my cart today . . .

I went browsing and I found ClassHook. A great FREE site for finding movie and TV clips to use in your class for any topic. Search by decade, grade level, topic, series, and clip length. You can even check the box to leave out the profanity.

I went browsing and I found Edulastic, a great FREE too for formative assessment that integrates nicely with Google Classroom. Upload your own pre-made assessment, browse their library, create your own from a variety of question types, and you are good to go.

I went browsing and I found Formative an in-the-moment way to visually assess your students and give immediate feedback (which, as we know, immediate or timely feedback is best to correct misunderstandings). Like Edulastic, it’s FREE, you can create from scratch, you can browse their questions and add them to yours, and you can upload one you already have made as a doc or pdf and transform it by adding to it and allowing your students to answer right there. The best element is the ability for your students to draw their responses (great for math) and your ability to see all your students’ responses at the same time. Check. It. Out.

I went browsing and I found Infographics in Foreign Language Classes. If you teach a world language, you just might want to have your students share their research using an infographic. This post will explain how.

I went browsing and I found over 500 High School Math Videos. Mr. Robb is a high school math teacher who has created videos for his AP Calculus AB and Integrated 3 Math courses. His Xtranormal video on his home page introduces the idea of having the students watch the videos before they are introduced to the content in class so that they have an idea and familiarity when the teacher intros the topic (Flipped classroom model). For more help with PreCalc and Calculus, take a look at the 100+ videos from Mr. Berberian. He started making these before Khan Academy was a household name. Looking for Algebra or PreAlgebra help? My colleague has created more than 120 videos and several playlists teaching concepts and going through whole chapters to help his students. Check out the videos and playlists on his YouTube page.

I went browsing and I found Story Maps. If you have a location-based story or event, or series of events, what better way to tell it than through maps using pictures, videos, and text. StoryMaps is similar to Google’s Tour Builder.

I went browsing and I found the Visions of Education podcast episode 100, Teaching Racial Literacy and Controversial Issues with Genevieve Caffrey. I have the tab open and have started to listen and looking at the accompanying links and resources I already know it’s going to be good. Within the first fifteen minutes Caffrey talks about why teachers fear having these controversial conversations or discussions of current events in their classroom, which, if you were part of our recent in-service, much of what she says will sound familiar. Caffrey talks about the “risks of silence” in not having these conversations and how we can start using the acronym, LET’s ACT to start. We are currently reading Not Light, But Fire by Matthew R. Kay and discussing creating the safe, caring, trusting communities in our classrooms for having meaningful conversations (and then how to have them), and this podcast and it’s accompanying resources is a good pairing. Browsing the titles of the other episodes on the podcast I found episode 67, American Indians in Children’s Literature. I encourage you to look around and listen in. Great quotes from these episodes: “Who’s past and who’s future are we talking about?” and by not talking or learning about others’ perspectives, we may be inadvertently saying, “Some people’s experiences is not important or worthy of discussion.”

New Year, New Links, New Learning

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”
― Oprah Winfrey

We are only back from winter break since Monday, yet the the number of open tabs on my laptop make it feel like it’s been weeks.

This week I have several things to share so sit back, get comfortable, and enjoy.

Time-Sensitive Learning Opportunities

First, Will Richardson and Modern Learners has a free, one-hour webinar, Reimagining Assessment, coming this Tuesday, January 15th at 3PM and 8PM EST.

Next, if you were busy getting ready for the holiday break and did not get a chance to participate in the DITCH That Textbook Digital Summit, the videos are back. For a limited time only, you can watch all 35 videos. Yes, I said THIRTY-FIVE because this includes not only this year’s DITCH Summit videos, but the 2018 CUE videos, the 2017 DITCH Summit videos, and the 2016 DITCH Summit videos. This is 35 hours of professional development that you can use right away so start clicking!

Also on January 15th at 8PM ET/5PM PT, Newsela and EdCurrent are hosting a free, one-hour webinar on Moving from One Size Fits All to Universal Design for Learning. Don’t worry if you cannot make it, all registrants will get a link to the recorded video.

Tools for Teaching

Remove. Have you or your students ever wanted to remove a background from a picture so you could layer it on another background? Well, look no further than here. It’s literally two steps: upload a photo or paste in a url; the site does the rest in as long as it takes for you to identify which images have a traffic light or bus. Then you can download your image and use it wherever you want.

Ms. Havrot’s Math Videos. Ms. Havrot is a retired Canadian math teacher who missed teaching. She began making math videos and posting them on her YouTube channel to help high school students with Trigonometry. She even includes practice quizzes! A great resource for math students and a great inspiration for math teachers to create and post their own.

Geography Games.  If you teach geography or want to brush up on your map skills, then you will want to take a look at and bookmark Setera. I learned about Setera, “the ultimate map quiz site” from Richard Byrne’s website. Setara is addictive to say the least. I started with the map of the United States and had to stop myself from moving on to the state capitals. You and your students can play online, or you can get the printables. There are over 300 games to choose from including ancient civilizations, latitude and longitude, flags, oceans, lakes. and they are in 34 languages. This site is amazing!

Retrieval Practice. Do you teach content that you would like your students to be able to learn deeply and remember later? Would you like to teach students the right way to study for learning, exams and tests? Pooja Agarwal, cognitive scientist, has a new retrieval practice guide out, “How to Use Spaced Retrieval Practice to Boost Learning”. This Spacing Guide joins the others in her resource library that are free for you to download. If you want to learn more about Agarwal, be sure to check out her video, “Brain-Friendly Learning That Works”, in the 2017 DITCH Summit.

Learning Theories. When was the last time you thought about why you teach the way you do? Well, this visual summary of 32 learning theories will remind you of the whys of yours and others’ teaching philosophies.


photo credit: ★Yo photography Sparkling Sydney via photopin (license)

Sharing with Wakelet

The other day I posted about the great things I learned even though I was not able to attend FallCue. There was so many great finds that I decided to split my weekly share into two separate posts. This is Part 2 and it comes to you via this Wakelet.  By the way, did I mention that you can share your Wakelet to your Google Classroom?!


A Teaching Buffet: Something for Everyone


Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Some might say that I am a hoarder. But not like the ones that you see on Buried Alive. I am more of a “tabs” hoarder. I have shared this tendency before: I tend to keep lots of tabs open until I really have time to dive in. Of course I could use my One Tab extension and place them in a single, “save for later” tab, but alas, I do not. I like to leave them where I can see them until I am ready to dig in.

So today is the day I am wading through my tabs so that I can share them with you.

First off is Peer Teaching options from the Teaching Channel. One of the best ways to know if your students understand a topic or concept is to have them teach another student. So in this menu of videos from the Teaching Channel, you will find several options to use peer teaching in your class from appetizers to dessert.

Next is a “Wow!” It is a collection of digital history projects for use in grades 9-12 but some can be widened to include 6th -12th. What first led me to this was my looking for resources to use with our fourth grade students in their study of slavery as they prepare to read Jefferson’s Sons. I found this post from The Global History Educator that really is a WOW for history teachers. Included are 12 digital history projects that include The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, Mapping the 4th of July, Back Story, and nine more incredible resources to use right now in history classes as a resource for you and your students.

The next two are from Matt Miller of DITCH Homework and DITCH Textbook fame. The first is several ways to end the year with GSuite tools and the next is 10 Things Teachers Should Know About the New Google Sites. Personally I love the new Google Sites and find it very easy to use. While I miss the sharing options for individual pages, I think the new drag and drop interface makes up for it until they hopefully bring that piece back.

I have written before about Jo Boaler and the other day I came across this video where she introduced Polyups. Never being one to pass up on anything from Jo Boaler, I took a look. After I figured out how they work, I was hooked and your students will be too. Polyups is a computational math thinking playground for students in grades 3 through 12 and covers Number Sense, Operations, Order of Operations, Problem Solving in 3rd -5th; Functions, Sequences, Logical Thinking, Algorithmic Thinking in 6th-8th; and Series, Numerical Methods, Calculus, Algorithms in 9th -12th. You can take a look at their videos here.

I learned about this next site on Twitter. Taste Atlas is just that– a world map of foods. I just finished reading Americanah and Jollof of Rice was one of the dishes Ifemelu (main character) mentioned several times. Taste Atlas has Jollof of Rice on Nigeria since it is a national dish. Once you click on a food or search a country, you will get foods of the region, where you can find the best of it, and recipes, and more. Interestingly enough, when I searched Florence, Italy (since I was recently there and my son is there studying abroad) one of the places they mentioned as best places to eat is the pizza place my son raves about, Gusta Pizza. Pretty cool.

Class Pad is a free digital math tool that makes solving math problems on the computer as easy as click, type, draw, and solve. It’s your digital scratch paper with built-in calculator that I can see teachers using along with Screencastify to make tutorial videos and your students doing the same to show how they solve problems. One of the cool aspects of Class Pad is the ability of Class Pad to recognize your geometrical figures that you draw and turn them into sharp figures (unless you draw a circle- no sharp lines there!). Subscribe to their YouTube channel where they will be adding more videos as they create them.

For more great articles, tools, tips, and videos, check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.



Lucky 7

8187170652_bf6e3c2463_nWe recently became premium users of Screencastify, a screencasting tool that integrates extremely well with the Google suite of products. I love using my Screencastify extension to share instructions, how-tos, and more with my students and colleagues and it saves time for work during class if I am not performing a stand and deliver with the content. The students can proceed with the task at hand and if they need to, can revisit and re-watch the videos as often as helpful. With that being said, here is a list of educational uses of Screencastify that you might want to check out.

I don’t remember how I found this next site but am very glad I did! Curriculum Pathways is research-based technology resources for K-12 educators and students and they are FREE. You can browse the resources by grade, subject, or standard. You also have the ability to filter by discipline, grade level, type of resource: tools and apps, lessons, primary sources, etc.; compatibility to device: PC/Mac, iPad, tablet, iPhone, Chromebook; and 59 categories from Art & Architecture, to Trig, Spanish to Biochemistry, Modern Europeans to American Lit, Grammar to Statistics. There is nothing that is not included here on this robust site. Sign up- it’s FREE!

There is a new update to BookCreator that now allows for collaboration! Students and teachers can create books and get feedback in real time. This is part of their paid plan. With the free plan, one teacher can invite students to create up to 40 books for the class library ranging from portrait to square and landscape and comics in those same sizes. Did I mention that this is also browser-based?!

I have written and shared resources from Robert Kaplinsky before. Today I am sharing his Depth of Knowledge Matrix for Elementary Math.

This past week the Modern Learners webinar was on Learner Agency and asked, “Why do we do what we do, and How can we make learner agency a reality on our classrooms?” These webinars are always thought-provoking and make us take a hard look at our practices. You can listen to the recording here.

George Couros’ blog posts never disappoint and this one is no different. A hint of the gist of it is below.

“the best classroom management is always excellent teaching and learning.”

What would you do for a Klondike Bar? OK, that is not really what I am asking you. What can you do with 5-minutes? If you are like me, then you like to fill free time with something of substance. Be it reading, working out, phoning/texting a friend, tossing in a load of laundry, I like to make every minute count. Well now I have something else to do with that little bit of time. Matt Miller of DitchSummit and DITCH that Textbook now has a podcast! Yes, that’s right. In just about 5 minutes a day 5 days a week you can get great tips, tidbits, and inspiration that you can take right back to your classroom. The first 5 are here and each Tuesday, a recap of the previous podcasts will be right on his blog.

Happy “20CHAI”!


How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world ~Anne Frank

Welcome back! In case you are questioning my title, 20CHAI refers to the new year, 2018. In Hebrew, the number 18 stands for Chai meaning Life. If you want to get technical and use gematria (pronounced with a soft g like in gem) the two letters that make up the hebrew word, Chai (the CH pronounced like you are trying to tickle your throat), are Chet (CH pronounced as above) and Yud (yood) represent the numbers 8 and 10 respectively and when you add them up you get 18. So 18 is the number that Jewish people often refer to as Chai.

So, I thought that with the new year being Twenty-Eighteen, it would be interesting to think about it in terms of positive psychology (since we are implementing at my school) and ask the following question, what will I do to improve LIFE this year, be it mine or those around me? This first article offers a new way of thinking about getting started.

I am generally not one to make resolutions, but Dr. Lea Waters proposes reframing our resolutions/goals and using our strengths to help attain them.

When we place the bulk of our attention on improving a strength we are starting at a higher baseline, and this is where we really have the potential to thrive.

Next is a list of books on wellbeing and character from the International Positive Education Network that I am looking forward to reading. Improving your wellbeing will have a ripple effect on those around you at home and in the workplace so selecting from here will be a step in the right direction for our 20Chai year.

Over the winter break I had the wonderful opportunity to learn from from amazing educators during #DitchSummit, one of whom is Dr. Pooja Agarwal. Agarwal’s presentation was on improving learning and retention by using non-graded, spaced retrieval practice throughout the learning. As she said in her presentation, it is not just about getting information in, but about getting it out. She proposes many research- and evidence-based ways to do this. You can read about them here in her retrieval practice guide and can sign up on her site to get email updates as new research, resources, tips, and articles come out. Implementing some or all of her tips will be helpful for your students (and you) and improve school and learning life for them.

The crux of positive psychology is “Other People Matter”. This next article, “The Magic of Validation” from the Cult of Pedagogy will help improve your relationship with students, colleagues, family, and friends. In it she discusses and offers ways to change how you listen to and respond to others thereby showing them you are hearing what they are saying and acknowledging their feelings (not necessarily changing your viewpoint, but seeing their perspective). Just the slightest change to how you interact can make a big difference on your relationships. Did you know that the way you respond to someone else’s good news has a large impact on your relationship with that person?

Last up are two resources to enhance your teaching repertoire for writing workshop and teaching least common multiples in math (actually, Kaplinsky’s site is one I have shared before and there are numerous resources for teaching countless other math concepts).

The first is a playlist from TED Ed for writer’s workshop mini-lessons. Here you will find 25 videos that are 6 minutes or less- most of them less than 5- on topics ranging from writing more descriptively, how to make writing more suspenseful, what makes a poem, and word choice.

The last resource is a complete lesson from Robert Kaplinsky and he uses a very funny scene from Father of the Bride with Steve Martin to illustrate the concept of least common multiples.  You will definitely want to check out his other lessons for students from K though 8 including algebra 1, 2, and geometry.

Images from Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons respectively.