Linking to learning

Federal government provides free ed resources

free-logo.jpg Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) is a compilation of resources from federal agencies that is a result of President Clinton’s call in 1997 for the government to provide the public with Internet-based tools for teaching and learning. The educational resources on the site come from more than 60 government agencies, and once you enter here you’ll find a potpourri of educational materials and links from art and music to math and science.

FREE (www.free.ed.gov), redesigned in 2006, now sports a subject map that can sort by subjects and broad categories or in alphabetical order. If you know exactly what you want, then straight alphabetical order may be a convenience. But if you need something in American history, then it’s better to search under that larger category. For example, a straight alphabetical search will yield results in order like airplanes, Alabama, Alaska, algebra, etc. However, if you click on a subject like math or U.S. history, you get a list of the topics presented within the subject.

There are resources from the Library of Congress including a draft of the Gettysburg Address and a photo of Lincoln at the consecration of the cemetery. There are also text and clips from R. Buckminster Fuller’s “Thinking Out Loud” program that aired on American Masters on WNET in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. And there are resources about dinosaurs from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

One interesting result from the National Postal Museum explores a remarkable collection of letters from the Civil War, World War II and the Vietnam conflict. “We Were There: Letters from the Battle Front” is a curriculum guide designed for secondary students, and it consists of an activity book and resource guide of historic letters, envelopes and commemorative stamps from American wars. Just click on Other Language Arts on the left side menu.

When you search under Health and Physical Education, you find resources about exercise and nutrition, substance abuse and other health information. Cell Biology and Cancer features five activities for helping students understand key concepts about cancer using data and guides from the National Cancer Institute supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Open Wide and Trek Inside examines the mouth and its various purposes, different types of teeth and their functions, bacteria that live in the mouth, and how tooth decay develops. The site includes activities and a guide for elementary school teachers. This resource comes from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the National Institutes of Health.

If you search under math, you will find a link to Mathematics Across the Curriculum, which features an “electronic bookshelf” of materials for teaching math in art, history, literature and music, as well as science, engineering and other disciplines traditionally associated with math. Topics include misleading averages, bar codes, crime statistics, DNA, data analysis, expert systems, medical testing, music and computers, polls, population growth, probability and vaccines. This very rich resource for math teachers comes from MATC Dartmouth College and the National Science Foundation.

As you would imagine, there are many resources here from the Department of Education. One interesting topic is “How to Organize Your Teaching,” which is a multimedia presentation of research-based suggestions about ways teachers can organize instruction to improve their students’ learning. You can find this resource under Other Math. Encouraging Girls in Math and Science offers tools for teachers to help girls achieve at the same level as boys. (Some studies suggest that more boys are high achievers in math.) The site is based on five research-based recommendations.

If you use Internet resources in your teaching then you cannot ignore FREE. Take advantage of the free access to the expertise and reliable information found here and you will be adding a valuable resource to your teaching toolbox.

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