A cure for the lesson-planning blues

When I was teaching, I remember wracking my brains trying to think of creative ideas for projects that would engage my 12-14 year-old students from the wrong side of the tracks in Detroit. At the time, most of my ideas came from my own head or from other teachers I'd actually spoken to, and as a young teacher I was successful about half of the time. I didn't have the luxury of the multitude of web sites that exist today, boasting content appropriate for teaching any subject to students of any age. What's even better about the teaching resources sites today is that many of them (including our Innovative Teachers Network) allow other teachers to rate the content as they use it, essentially telling their fellow educators whether the lessons are successful or not. Boy, could I have used that!

Still, the sheer number of resources out there today can make it difficult for teachers to know where to go for quality materials. A few months ago, I met with teachers and a head teacher from a school in Knowsley as they brainstormed about ideas for new project-based learning activities and planned the next several weeks of lessons.

Even these folks, who had completely revamped their schools curriculum and planned months of original lessons in the past, were running out of ideas. I sheepishly suggested a US-based education site, which has been around for years, as inspiration - and they loved it.

So I'm suggesting it to you as well.

(Even though I'm from the US, I promise I'm not going to recommend more than a handful of American resources during the entire time I'm writing this blog. You can hold me to it!)

Thinkfinity is a product of the Verizon Foundation, and all of the resources on the site are either created or endorsed Capture by the major standards bodies in education in the US (the National Councils of Teachers of English, Mathematics, Science, and so forth). So you know that the content is high quality.Capture1

It's also easy to search. I entered the search criteria you see here, which was what I would have been looking for when I was teaching. I was presented with three pages of resources to choose from. Even though the lessons map to US education standards, the ideas were what my friends in Knowsley found valuable.

The one thing you may find difficult in searching on this site is the "Grade" level criteria, which isn't explained. Here's a rough guide for you.

Age                   Grade

5-6                     K (Kindergarten)

6-7                     1

7-8                     2

8-9                     3

9-10                   4

10-11                 5

11-12                 6

12-13                 7

13-14                 8

14-15                 9

15-16                 10

Let us know what you find, and how you adapt it to use in your own classroom. Better yet, create a Virtual Classroom Tour (or VCT) of your new lesson, and post it to the Innovative Teachers Network! Your good idea might just cure another teacher of the lesson planning blues...

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