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December 1, 2016
Vol. 58
No. 12

Ten Trusted Sites for New Teachers

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      Have you ever used the Internet to research a topic you're about to teach and gotten lost in the weeds? Student teachers or new teachers may be especially prone to falling into this time trap.
      To avoid racking up miles on your virtual FitBit, try bookmarking a list of 10 or fewer go-to curriculum planning sites and limiting your searches to these trusted destinations. Here are 10 that I used during my recent student-teaching internship (for more insight, read "Ten Survival Tips from a Student Teacher").
      1. Each content area-specific professional teaching organization hosts its own lesson sharing site. For example, English teachers will want to favorite NCTE's Read Write Think, science teachers have NSTA's Classroom Resources, social studies teachers can bookmark NCSS's Online Teachers' Library, and math teachers will want to seek out NCTM's Lessons site.
      2. EngageNY is the go-to site for Common Core State Standards–aligned unit and lesson plans for K–12 Math and English Language Arts. I found the questions provided for close reading in ELA lessons to be particularly helpful.
      3. Teacher Larry Ferlazzo's site is a clearinghouse of educational resources. He regularly posts "Best Sites for …" lists, where he compiles the best resources for teaching on a particular topic or with a particular type of media or technology (e.g. infographics, primary sources, or tablets).
      4. Lit Charts is similar to SparkNotes, but with more interactive features and focus on organizing content by theme, these provide a useful aid for close reading literature.
      5. Museums and institutions offer a wealth of resources on their sites. Like most major museums, the Smithsonian has a "For Educators" section that features digital archives of primary source documents, as well as lesson plans designed around the museums' collections. The Library of Congress features a trove of primary source documents, as well as teacher-created lesson plans that use these artifacts.
      6. The New York Times Learning Network shares lesson plans, writing prompts, and quizzes based on the articles, essays, images, videos, and graphics published on NYTimes.com.
      7. PBS' Learning Media site organizes a variety of media—audio, video, images, and interactive—by subject and grade level. Their Crash Course video series presents an especially succinct and engaging way to dive into the key points and background knowledge needed to begin study on a topic.
      8. Search any topic on their site, and NPR will connect you to relevant research, news events, and commentary. Search your local station's site for ways to link topics to your students' home turf. Public radio podcasts, like This American Life or Reveal, can encourage students to think about content in a new way by weaving journalism and personal storytelling.
      9. With TED-Ed Lessons, illustrators and educators team up to bring you brief, engaging videos that discuss a compelling question.
      10. Vocabulary.com shares academic vocabulary lists tied to particular texts or even recent events (for example, the presidential debates).
      If your list feels lackluster, ask your fellow teachers and school instructional coaches for ideas. Follow experts, organizations, and your discipline's hashtag on social media if you'd like content notifications pushed your way. By limiting your go-to sites, you'll avoid grazing on the entire Internet, and you'll also become more adept at retrieving relevant content from the sites in your inner circle.


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