Scholastic’s Math@Work

Two words: Tim. Gunn. If that isn’t enough to entice you to watch this video on how math is used in fashion design, I don’t know what will.

Math@Work is Scholastic’s brand new video series on how math is used every day, in different situations, by normal people. The above video is just a clip from the series debut episode. In addition ¬†to the video episode, the site also features lesson plans that are aligned with the Common Core standards.

FYI: I don’t advise showing the above clip in class. The suggested video thumbnails that appear at the end are a bit… racy. You’re much better off going directly to the Math@Work site and viewing from there. They have their own video player (not YouTube) that is completely school-appropriate. I wanted to embed their video, but sadly WordPress wouldn’t let me.

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My New Favorite: Crash Course

Every once in a while, I find a resource that just clicks. It’s informative, exciting, and relevant. The Crash Course video series, easily found for free on YouTube, is one of these resources.

These beautifully-produced videos are funny, hip, and chock-full of great facts. I will say right out of the gate, though, that they are obviously intended for high school and college students: material is covered VERY quickly, and occasionally the content leans in the direction of mature (think PG-13). If you do choose to show a video in class, be sure you have watched it all the way through first, so you aren’t surprised. However, for more advanced middle school students, or for unit review, these videos are aces.

There are six video series: World History (42 videos), Biology (40 videos), Literature (8 videos), Ecology (12 videos), and US History (2 videos so far, but growing every week), and Chemistry (just added last week!). Videos in a series follow a set format, complete with great explanatory animations. Complex ideas are explained in a way that even the most bored teen will follow.

The series I have watched most extensively, World History, does a great job of putting events in context and explaining why on earth this stuff matters. It also comments upon the nature of historical study, and the fact that history is often written by the victors. Even if you deem it too advanced for your students, I highly recommend watching for your own enjoyment and education!

Trapped! Punctuation!

This fun game from BBC Bitesize is a great way to practice punctuation. More than a simple flash game, Trapped! actually has a plot, and characters; each punctuation mark you place correctly helps to save you from the Tower. If you have a little extra time at the end of English, and want to have your students enjoy some Halloween-themed punctuation fun, give it a try. It’s appropriate for all ages, though the punctuation knowledge required is at least 2nd grade level.

Encyclopedia of Life


The Encyclopedia of Life is a free, online encyclopedia that catalogs Earth’s diverse life-forms. The encyclopedia was created with the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which, if you listen to NPR, you’ll know is “committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world.” In keeping with this theme, the site is filled with¬†gorgeous photos, sound bytes, and videos so that you can see and hear different species. Each entry also contains taxonomic information and a complete list of sources, making it a great resource for studying life, biodiversity, and ecology.

The writing and tone of this encyclopedia is scientific and academic, making it more suited for older students, but it can certainly be used as a media resource with younger kids who are interested in animals.

All Things Titanic

I am fascinated by the Titanic disaster, and as we approach the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the unsinkable ship, all kinds of fantastic resources are popping up to further fan the flames of my curiosity. I don’t know if any of you are planning on covering this piece of history in your classes, but if you are, I’ve found some really sensational resources.

“1300 Passengers Are Rescued At Sea From The Sinking Liner Titanic, Wrecked In A Night Collision With An Iceberg.”

This was the headline of the Milwaukee Daily News on April 15th, 1912. Imagine the shock when the news came out that it was, in fact, more than 1300 killed on that fateful night. The History Buffs newspaper archive is an incredible repository containing scanned photos of newspapers from important historic events, including a few from April 15th and 16th, 1912. What a powerful discussion on information, misinformation, and journalism you could spark by showing these newspapers to your class! You’d think that major newspapers would no longer be making such enormous errors, but even now, in this age of instant news, reports are being published that are completely wrong. Remember when the Daily Mail’s website published a report that Amanda Knox’s murder conviction appeal had been denied?

Titanic: The Final Word With James Cameron

James Cameron has put together a brand new documentary, titled Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron, that pieces together the latest scientific research on the sinking of the Titanic. This National Geographic documentary includes a stunning computer simulation of the sequence of events that led Titanic to the ocean floor. It’s pretty incredible.

Titanic: The Unsinkable Ship

Finally, if you’re looking for a comprehensive overview of the Titanic (how it was built, who was on it, a timeline of events, and even some interactives), Britannica has you covered. Their site on Titanic links together all the information available in the encyclopedia, including pictures, into one-stop-shopping for all of your Titanic needs.

Of course, if you’re looking for more, Mr. Goodwin and I have put together a display in the library, complete with fiction, non-fiction, and magazines on all things Titanic.

African American History and Heritage

As you may know, February is Black History Month. Hopefully, you’re finding ways to incorporate the accomplishments of African-Americans into your lessons, but if you need some help, check out the African American History and Heritage site. This site is currently School Library Journal’s site of the week– talk about just-in-time resources!

It may not be pretty, but it’s chock full of great resources: biographies, links to books and videos, and a Teacher Toolkit. The Toolkit contains links, lesson plans, and more, and is organized by discipline.

It’s pretty hard to navigate, and is so full of resources that it may be confusing, but if you’re willing to go exploring, you can find cool resources like the African American Inventors database.

Math Pickle

As a school, we put a lot of focus on problem-based learning, especially in the math and sciences. Well, Math Pickle takes this concept and runs with it! Created for kindergarten and up, Math Pickle presents elegant, interesting math problems that require developmentally-appropriate math skills to solve. Each problem is presented in video form, with actual students working on them. Along with showing the problem videos, teachers can download excellent worksheets for practice.

Students will view each problem as more of a puzzle to solve, and will become actively engaged with the material. I gave this one a try, and found myself wanting more: