Linking to learning

Triple Crown of lesson plan Web sites

Over the years, this column has reviewed numerous Web sites that offer educational resources to help teachers plan lessons and infuse technology into their classroom practices. Despite how quickly things change on the Internet, these sites continue to maintain a high standard of content and service to educators.

Here are a few online resources that new and senior teachers can use to build their lesson plan libraries.

Thinkfinity contains more than 55,000 free instructional resources that have been reviewed, approved and aligned to state standards so that teachers, students, parents and after-school personnel have a wealth of reliable materials for teaching and learning. Sponsored by the Verizon Foundation, the education arm of Verizon Communications, www.thinkfinity.org is a free standards-based education resource that includes lessons, interactive activities, worksheets, media and reference materials.

Go to the Educator tab across the top banner, then enter search keywords under lesson plans, and then apply subject, grade and resource type filters. For instance, if you searched for the term “writing,” you could apply the subject filter of “reading and language arts,” or “science, math and economics.” You can also change the resource type to “lesson,” “interactive” or “assessment.” By defining a resource type, you get different, more specific returns, and this alone helps make it easier to find what you want than it is at most other sites on the Internet.

Searches in math, science, history, art, social studies, economics and foreign languages yield similar results across all the resource types. You can also match the result to a state standard by clicking on the gold star with the “s” on the right side of the result. Then click on NY in the dropdown menu and you will see how that resource aligns with a New York State standard. Conversely, if you need to do the search in the other direction — you want to find a lesson that meets a specific state standard — you can go to www.thinkfinityny.org and start from the standard. The results will show you links to resources on Thinkfinity.

The Gateway to Educational Material (www.thegateway.org), supported by the National Education Association, is a rich resource that shortly will provide links to social networking sites like Twitter, Delicious, My Space and Facebook. Sharing resources with colleagues, parents and other like-minded individuals can now be as simple as a click of the mouse.

The site grew out of the resources cataloged by the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC), so many of the returns are not devoted to lesson plans and teachers. To search for lesson plans, you can begin by browsing the subdivisions in the catalog of 50,000 items or by searching for specific keywords. Click one of the links under Browse By Subject, then click the link for Lesson Plans on the right. You can refine your searches by subject, grade level or keywords.

TeachersFirst.com (http://teachersfirst.com) is organized in a simple-to-use lesson plan matrix that is searchable by subject and grade level, keyword, calendar and holiday. However, there are many extras on the site like Weekly Brain Twisters, Dates That Matter and daily puzzles that can help you start and motivate your lessons.

There are highlights for teaching in October and free online professional development. One question the site asks is how your school has prepared to continue to educate youngsters in the event of an H1N1 virus epidemic. This site will prove useful throughout your career.

Make sure to tailor the lessons you find online to the needs of your students and try to reshape them to match your teaching style. Even an excellent lesson plan can earn an unsatisfactory rating if you do not perfect the delivery of the topic.

If you are looking for a fresh approach to a subject you have been teaching for a few years, or you are new to the classroom, then refer to these sites. They may soon become your favorite online lesson plan resources.

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