Teaching Blogs and Freebies

Here’s another post from our Connected Educators Month series. I have two great teacher blogs to share with you: What the Teacher Wants¬†and Teaching Resources. Both blogs post several times daily, with great lesson plans, free handouts, and creative classroom ideas.

Here’s the Connected Educator part: I follow these two blogs through their Facebook pages. That means that all of their content is delivered straight to my Facebook feed, something that I check daily. It’s a great way to keep up with the wonderful ideas these two teachers are posting about, and to stay connected to what’s going on in the greater world of education. In addition to great ideas and lesson plans, many teaching blogs (these two included) have “freebies,” worksheets, class signs, and activity packets that you can download and use in your own class.

Bonus tip: Both sites frequently feature content available on Teachers Pay Teachers. TPT is a big deal these days: it’s a website that is chock full of handouts and lessons available for a small fee. There is so much content there, but it can be overwhelming, so I love how the blogs I follow feature certain content that they’ve hand-picked as high quality.

Go Here: Library Girl’s Picks for Best Digital Tools for Formative Assessment

The fantastic Library Girl has put together a stellar list of digital tools you can use in your classroom to measure the learning being done in your class. She includes exit tickets, graphic organizers, and polls. If you’re looking for new and interesting ways to check in with your students, this is a perfect place to start. Take a look here.

Common Sense Media

If you’ve had a conversation with me in the last two weeks, you’ve probably heard me talk about Common Sense Media. It is my new favorite resource for digital literacy. I first learned of Common Sense Media as a review site, and have been using its straight-forward book reviews to guide my purchasing for a while. It wasn’t until I started exploring a little that I discovered that book, movie, video game, and website reviews only scratched the surface of the content on this site.

As it turns out, Common Sense Media is an educational non-profit that seeks to teach parents, teachers, and students about using media responsibly. They have created an entire curriculum (grades K-12) on digital literacy and citizenship that is the most comprehensive I have ever seen. There are lessons on the basics, like Internet safety and privacy, but there is also content that addresses the influence of the media on kids and teens, how to manage your digital life, online bullying, and how to evaluate digital media for accuracy, bias, and relevance. There is a separate section that aims to show parents how to effectively teach the importance of media literacy, as well.

In addition to education, Common Sense Media is about advocacy. There is a section of the website devoted to research and policy, and the site makes it easy to contact lawmakers with your concerns and suggestions.

I am planning on beginning to teach the Common Sense curriculum in grades 1-4 starting in March, so stay tuned for more. If you’re interested in learning about the curriculum, you must sign up with Common Sense Media as an educator, but it is free and easy. They don’t spam with emails, though they do occasionally send out very informative articles on media and children.

This is a great resource for educators, but it is also something that I pass along to parents. If you’re struggling with what to tell kids about the media that bombards them every day, everything from the news to movies to the latest celebrity gossip, there is advice on Common Sense Media that is not alarmist or political, but just plain…common sense!

For more on Common Sense Media, come to our next Technophiles meeting. In the meantime, here are some relevant and informative articles to get you started:

YouTube for Schools

Though it is one of the most commonly blocked websites at schools across the country, YouTube is trying to get into the education game. A new channel on the video service website curates videos that can be used in classes, sorted by grade level and subject.

The quality of the videos varies, but there are some good resources here. The organization is also really helpful, saving you lots of time by making it easy to find videos on the topic you’re looking for. As a matter of fact, the slogan of YouTube for Schools is “Spend more time teaching, less time searching.”

Take a look at this video on magnetic breakfast cereal!


EdWeb is a simple way to plug into the education community. It can be really difficult to stay on top of professional development, but Ed Web offers great tips and tools, and even free webinars on a variety of topics that are current and relevant. The site is separated into several communities, some which are actually school communities, others that are by discipline, grade level, or interesting topic. I’ve joined a few, including “Emerging Tech: Using Technology to Advance Your School Library Program,” and “TechTools for the Classroom: Easy Ideas to Engage Students.” There are hundreds of them, so it’s likely that you’ll find one that is truly relevant to your teaching. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can create your own community.

Each community contains a forum, where members can discuss and exchange ideas, a blog, a document library, and several other useful tools. They also conduct free webinars once a month or so, and retain an archive of past webinars so that you can catch up on anything that sounds interesting.

It’s free to join, and sign-up is pretty run-of-the-mill. This is a great way to stay on top of some of the latest trends, and even connect with other teachers.