Today I want to talk about some of my favorite online sources that provide me with lesson ideas, insightful pedagogy, helpful strategies, ideas for tech integration, and much more.
The 3 sites that I visit most often are Dan Meyer’s dy/dan blog, Free Technology for Teachers, and Math = Love. I will provide some posts from each blog that I found very interesting and helpful during my student teaching this past year, and that I will continue to use as resources during my first year of teaching.
The most recent post that I really enjoyed was regarding welcoming newcomers to online professional development. Dan Meyers went into a lot of detail explaining that he never wants newcomers to online communities to feel as though they are not welcome or need to build a reputation before joining. He hired a freelancer to create an extension that will notify him whenever someone who is a new user on Twitter tags him or posts on any other pages. There are a number of parameters that can be set up within the extension, which can help narrow down which people you are trying to reach out to. I really enjoyed this because I felt the same way that many others felt when it came to online professional development. It was a little overwhelming to see the number of followers from some people, and I had the feeling that I wasn’t at the same level as other members of blogs and online communities. To have someone like Dan Meyer advocate for newcomers to participate more in these communities is motivation to get more involved, and I really appreciated it.
Another post that hit close to home had to do with cell phone policies. He cited that two of the most common policies for cell phones lie on either side of the spectrum: total prescription to unlimited usage. Rather than go with one of these methods, he cited another blogger’s post. Rather than having a policy specifically for cell phones, the teacher has created a “Distractions Box,” where students are to place any number of distractions as they enter the classroom. It doesn’t single out cell phones, and acknowledges that some students are capable of keeping their phones while others are not.
The last post is titled Ten New Desmos Activities, and goes into detail about how they can be used or modified. One of my favorite ones was the What’s My Transformation activity, which helps introduce students to the concept of transformations with a fun, interactive game. Another activity, Constructing Polynomials, is centered around introducing students to the idea of polynomial graphs and their behaviors. Students work with polynomial graphs by creating them piece by piece and factor by factor.
Free Technology for Teachers
FreeTech4Teach is a very helpful site for ways to implement technology not only into my lessons but into my daily routines. A post titled Good Formative Assessments that aren’t 1:1 provides some information on different apps and how they can be used in classrooms that are not 1:1. For example, Kahoot has a team mode that allows students to work together to answer questions that the teacher has created. Socrative, Plickers, and Quick Key are three additional assessment tools where teachers can create their own assessments. All three of them have automated grading and make it easy for teachers to check their students’ scores.
Another post that I found helpful for staying organized was 5 Neat Things to do with Google Sheets. As a first year teacher, I need every bit of help I can find when it comes to staying organized and up to date with my responsibilities. Flubaroo is an extension that can be used to grade student assessments created on Google Forms, and will then send them their scores automatically. I already enjoy using Google Forms, so it is great to find additional resources for this App. I also plan on using Google Sheets to keep track of all my lessons, which is why Add Reminder will be a great tool. Just as it says, I can add reminders directly onto my spreadsheets that will notify me whenever I decide I need it.
The last post, which is something I wish I read at the beginning of this semester, is titled A Convenient New Way to Search for Educational Videos. The website, Class Hook, allows for you to find video clips that will support lessons that you have planned. Their is a new search engine, and the website uses YouTube to provide all of its videos.
Math = Love
This is a great blog that is run by a high school math teacher in Oklahoma, Sarah Carter. I enjoy her posts because a lot of them are relevant to my experiences and she teaches Algebra II, which I taught during student teaching. One of my favorite posts of hers was titled Trigonometry Advice from Former Students. Her idea for having her students reflect was a great way for not only students to improve their learning skills, but for her as a teacher to improve her practice. She had students write letters to her next year’s students about tips to be successful, and it worked out really well. Not only did she have some helpful advice for next year’s students, but she learned a little more about what she could do to improve her own classroom for the betterment of her students.
Her Deal Alerts post was another great source for me as a soon-to-be first year teacher. I am trying to save every penny I can, and she often posts notices about great online deals for classroom supplies. I recently bought a pack of white board erasers after seeing her post, and some coworkers of mine took advantage of the deal as well.