Finding resources for the classroom online can be very challenging. There are so many tools available and there doesn’t seem to be an organization that dedicates significant time and effort towards weeding out the less than acceptable resources. Instead, most websites have a dumping ground for resources that we, as educators, are forced to sift through. Furthermore, as a teacher I have very little time to actually teach myself using online communities and as a result I find myself spending more of my time looking for lesson plans or ideas, not honing my craft in a broader or more intentional way. This is one of the reasons I chose to take classes at Pacific University, because I was disillusioned with trying to improve my teaching with only online communities and digital programs for assistance.
On the other hand, I have found some amazing applications and resources on the internet. My first teaching position was in science and I quickly found Phet Simulations and the New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning (NJCTL). Phet has a multitude of simulations in science and math to give students a more interactive experience with different concepts. Some simulations include, building atoms, observing density changes, modeling friction, and manipulating linear equations/graphs. NJCTL has many unit plans for science and math. I have primarily used biology unit plans, but all of them come with lesson plans for labs and online interactives (for example, building an organ online from different tissues and cells). I have never before this class joined any online learning groups, except for a blended learning PLC I was apart of in Colorado through Northwest BOCES. I haven’t found an online learning group that fits easily into my day and doesn’t just become another task I need to complete (often not relevant to my classroom). I did follow National Council for Teaching Math, National Council for Teaching Writing, National Council for Teaching Social Studies and National Council for Science Education on Facebook and I have already seen some “featured resources” from these sights that appear promising. There also seems to be a lot of great lessons and unit plans offered by the National Council for Teaching Writing.
I have never gotten into Pinterest for finding classroom resources, but I know a number of teachers who swear by it. I have found Teachers Pay Teachers to have some great resources, however it does require some digging. By far my favorite way to try and get helpful advice for my general teaching practices is Youtube. I often watch example lessons and take notes on things I like. I have also watched training videos surrounding classroom management and inquiry based teaching that have been very helpful. Some Youtube Channels include, Rob Pelvin (classroom management), Math Antics, and Edutopia. I am looking forward to finding more helpful digital resources and better ways sift through the shear number of materials offered online.