National Park Service for Teachers

 

 

 

 

Update: Shortly after I posted this, the NPS did, in fact, shut down all its web content, as well. Sad! So bookmark this one for another time. Thanks to Anne D. for discovering this.

 

National Parks Service

So you can’t visit National Parks in person due to the government shutdown. Thankfully, there is still lots of great content available online via the National Parks Service to take you on a virtual field trip!

The NPS website for teachers offers distance learning, videos, and materials lists. Their lesson plans are searchable by grade level and subject, so you can easily find standards-aligned lessons on everything from wild horses to Ben Franklin.

There’s lots of content here, and I love the idea of learning about history, biology, and ethics through the lens of our nation’s landmarks.

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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!

Go Here: Using Award Winning Books in Class

Now that we know who won the big prizes at the Youth Media Awards, the question is, “What now?” Thankfully, there is a fantastic resource that will help you incorporate these fantastic books into your classroom curriculum.

TeachingBooks.net (which is a bookmark-worthy resource anyway) has a fantastic page with all of the winners. Clicking on a book will take you to a page with lesson plans, book trailers, author information, and even author book readings! Using these resources will help bring these books to life.

TeachingBooks.net   2013 ALA s Youth Media Award Winners

Everything You Will Ever Need for Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Image via Wikipedia

I’ve found the motherlode. A website so comprehensive, I didn’t think such a thing could ever exist. Cybraryman has put together an exhaustive collection of MLK resources, from lesson plans, to exploration sites, to articles, and even puzzles. Check it out here!

Fun fact: Often, we assume sites with the “.org” domain are reputable. Sometimes, people use this to their advantage. One example of this is martinlutherking.org (I won’t link to it here). It’s a site I use in my lessons on evaluating websites for bias; it’s a propaganda site by a white supremacist group! 

How to Use the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has an overwhelming amount of information, much of which is available online. With just a bit of effort, you can access and use this information with your classes. Jeff Dunn at the blog Edudemic has discovered a fantastic infographic to help us all understand the wealth of relevant, curriculum-aligned content available at our fingertips from the LOC. (Click on image to view larger.)

Teaching with the Library of Congress

Google Lit Trips

Yet another fantastic way to use Google for education! Google Lit Trips were created by teachers as a way to teach literature as a completely out-of-the-box experience. Rather than simply reading a story, students use Google Earth to go along on the journey of each character, following their geographical trail. Books for K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 are all available, though the selection is understandably small.

You can even create your own Lit Trip with your students, researching locations, finding quotes, and delving deeper into your source material. The site offers directions here.

This site, created by educators, is truly a labor of love, and a brilliant way to bring literature to life.

 

National Geographic Field Test: On Everest

National Geographic does an incredible job of pulling together words and images to tell powerful stories. Right now, they’re co-sponsoring (with The North Face) an expedition to Mt. Everest. They have sent a photographer and a writer to accompany mountaineers up the deadly mountain, and their trek is being documented every step of the way.

With dispatches arriving daily, you get a truly in-depth look at just how much goes into a trek like this: the preparation, the waiting, the endurance. The most recent dispatch (including video) recounts the story of how their photographer, Cory Richards, had to be rescued from the mountain after experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath. It’s pretty gripping stuff!

In addition to the current expedition, the site has pulled together great resources on the history of Everest, including this fascinating article on the evolution of climbing gear from the days of Sir Edmund Hillary to now.