Free Teaching Resources: Always a Good Thing!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

Happy “20CHAI”!

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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.