Do you need to introduce or reinforce a skill? Are you teaching American History for the first time? Are your classroom materials outdated or incomplete? Do your lessons just need a little pizzazz? There’s a goldmine of ideas out there, once you learn a few tricks.
1. We all have “go to” resources. I like Teachers Pay Teachers and Super Teacher Worksheets. I often find free or low-cost materials that can be immediately printed out and put to use. Start with your own tried-and-true resources.
2. Successfully searching the Internet is part luck and part finesse. Select your favorite search engine– I like Google— and type in key words. Be specific. Instead of typing American History, try War of 1812 worksheet fourth grade free.
3. Before clicking on any links the search turns up, check the web address. For example, if Amazon is in the address it’s probably a product for sale. If it ends in .com you may be required to log in to the site before accessing the material. And, if it’s part of a larger site there may be a lot of pop-up ads. You can’t avoid these entirely, but you can save time by carefully choosing which links to explore.
4. Narrow your search. Use additional key words or use the search tools at the top of the screen. You’ll be amazed what a search for War of 1812 PowerPoint will unearth. Or, try War of 1812 word search or War of 1812 webquest.
5. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Check the favorites tab on your computer. At some time in the past you probably found a great resource and bookmarked it. You didn’t have time to explore it then, but you knew it might be helpful in the future. The future is now!
6. Check out Pinterest. If you don’t have an account, it’s easy to get started. This rapidly-growing resource provides quick access to most any topic you can imagine. Searching War of 1812 lesson I found “pins” with pictures and short descriptions of each resource. Each “pin” links to the resource described as well as the “board” it came from. Sometimes the source board turns up additional time-saving links. Follow “boards” that specialize in areas of interest to access all current and future “pins.”
7. Don’t overlook blogs. We’re all pressed for time. When you find a blog that reflects your interests and needs, sign up to receive notification of new posts. It’s a lot easier to unsubscribe later than it is to try to find the blog when you go searching the next time.
8. Organize your favorites. Take a few minutes to do it on your computer or, once you have a Pinterest account create boards to store your links. You can get to Pinterest with any device that has online access. For example, I have a board for graphics, TpT, and free teaching resources. I also have a few private boards for links to resources I haven’t yet explored. Honestly, I’m not getting any kickback from Pinterest, I just think it’s a great tool. It helps me organize and access all kinds of information.
9. Open your school closet. Look on the shelves near your desk. There’s a lot more in those teacher manuals and supplemental books provided by the publisher than you remember. Crack one open and look for extension activities and online resources. For example, Harcourt Trophies has online lessons that students can use in school and at home.
10. Finally, don’t overlook the teacher next door. Sometimes the easiest solution is the most obvious. Ask your “neighbor” if he or she has any good ideas. Send out an “all call” email to the other grade-level teachers in your district requesting ideas that have worked for them. Reach out beyond the four walls of your classroom to the greater educational community. Collaboration is the most valuable resource of all.
Click here to check out Super Teacher Worksheets, a FREE resource I use all the time.