My Professional Learning Network

Since the internet became popular in the 1990s, a lot of things have changed. The world seems like a much smaller place. It’s easier to keep in touch with old friends and share ideas with new colleagues. Every year, new software and apps are released. These changes have given teachers a lot of tools and a lot of options.



When I was a child, I remember some of my friends had pen pals in other countries. They would write to their pen pals and tell them about their culture, customs, traditions and their daily life. It was a great way to learn about people in far away places. But in the days before the internet, people corresponded with letters, and we mailed them with envelopes and stamps. You might send a letter and weeks would go by before you got a reply. Technology makes things faster. Now, we write e-mails, send texts or instant messages and get replies in a few minutes or seconds. Technology has also changed how kids communicate with pen pals.

ePals allows schools, teachers and students to send messages, hold live video chats and exchange information. These interactions can be especially useful for socials studies classes, when students need to learn about people living in other countries. The personal nature of this communication platform helps engage students and makes learning more meaningful. ePals provides an instructional video or you can read about it at



Mystery Science

This popular website helps students understand science by tapping into their natural curiosity and encouraging them to ask why and how things happen.  Each lesson uses videos to demonstrate scientific phenomena. One or two questions are given for students to discuss between segments. An article in Forbes from August 2017 says, “This past academic year, more than 1 million students experienced Mystery Science in their classrooms. Elementary teachers in more than 10% of schools in the U.S. are using this program because the Mystery Science product turns any elementary teacher into an incredible science teacher.” 


Khan Academy

Khan Academy can be an excellent resource for students who are having difficulty understanding their math lessons at school.  The website is categorized by grades and subjects. When visitors have difficulty understanding certain subjects, they can easily find lectures in the form of YouTube videos. Also, it’s easy to find instruction for each particular grade level and skill. The site is organized by grade level, and an interactive knowledge map has direct links to standards-focused exercises. If students need extra practice, they can easily find the lessons they need to work on. When students don’t understand how a problem should be solved, they can click on a link to watch a YouTube lecture for that lesson. 


PBS LearningMedia

PBS LearningMedia offers hundreds of educational videos in four main categories: math, science, social studies, and English language arts. Most videos are fairly short and can be used to supplement a lesson or provide more depth on a topic the class is covering. According to the site, “Many of the digital offerings are accompanied by support materials like background essays, discussion questions, and information about Common Core and national standards alignment.’


The Japan Times ST

The Japan Times ST is an educational supplement to the nation’s oldest English-language newspaper. The ST is aimed at Japanese readers who are studying English, and provides a variety of articles along with translations and lists of difficult vocabulary.  Many high school teachers print out pages and read them to students in class. The ST also provides audio files so that students can read along with a native English speaker. 


The Busy Teacher’s Page

The Busy Teacher’s Page offers lessons plans and other helpful supplements, but it’s most valuable feature is its links page, which lists more than a hundred educational websites. The links are organized by topic, and there’s an emphasis on educational videos: humorous TedED videos, Crash Course videos by John and Hank Green, the StarTalk Radio YouTube channel, and more. 


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