How to Find the Best Online Resources for Elementary Teachers & Administrators

by Nikkie Zanevsky on February 3, 2012

in Blog

How to find elementary education resources
Photo credit: aussiegall (CC)

Google “elementary resources” and you’ll discover 259 million results. Now let that number sink in for a moment.

One might think this abundance of content would make it easy to get quick access to the latest and greatest news, tips and tools for elementary teachers and administrators… on the contrary, the sheer number of websites, blogs, videos, and social media sites can render the process absolutely overwhelming, making it even more difficult to find the best resources (especially if you’re looking for specific information for prekindergarten, kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, or 3rd grade).

You already have enough to do planning classroom, school or district activities. So how can you find the time to also keep up with expert tips, new technology and the latest happenings in the online education community?

We have some practical ideas to help you reign it all in and get that information overwhelm under control.

First: Decide What You’re Looking For

This step is not as obvious as it may seem. Our initial instinct may be to just Google it, but sometimes, if we already know what we’re looking for, there may be a more direct route. How so?

For each of the types of information listed below, there are some great sites that can cater to your needs. To determine which sites will best serve you, take a look at the questions in each section and decide which ones you’re looking to answer.

General Teaching Tips & Best Practices

  • Do you want to brush up on research-based practices?
  • Do you want to get general tips from other teachers and administrators?

Lesson Plans, Worksheets & Activities for a Specific Grade Level

  • Are you looking for an activity for a particular subject or concept in a specific grade level?
  • Do you want to find printable materials or worksheets you can use in the classrooms?

Education and Technology News and Trends

  • Do you want to stay on top of the latest educational news?
  • Do you want to learn about new tech tools and their application in an educational setting?

Community / Forum

  • Do you want to connect with other educators or administrators?
  • Do you want to ask a specific question or engage in a dialogue?

Next: Find the Best Curators

As the amount of information available to us grows exponentially, curation is quickly becoming the #1 21st century skill. There is now a wealth of tools solely dedicated to aggregating what you come across yourself… but there are also numerous free sites that can do the first step for you, saving you time and allowing you to concentrate only on the most relevant resources.

Here are a few we’ve handpicked for you, organized based on the four types of information we identified above:

General Teaching Tips & Best Practices

  • We Are Teachers
    Loads of tips from fellow educators, by topic; also includes contests (with prizes) and a growing community
  • Edutopia
    Strategies, success stories and videos by topic from schools and districts across the country; thriving community; also allows you to look up material by grade level
  • Connected Principals
    One of the best blogs available for administrators; key topics are covered by principals from the U.S. and abroad; provides an opportunity to read & comment

Lesson Plans, Worksheets & Specific Activities for a Specific Grade Level

  • Better Lesson
    Look up lesson plans & curriculum materials (all of which have been submitted by teachers) by grade; think of it as a “lesson plan social network”

Education and Technology News and Trends

  • Edudemic
    Popular online publication covering key education & technology issues; focuses on tips and tools
  • Mind Shift
    Online education publication with more of a research focus
  • Strawberryj.am
    A great tool to immediately see what’s trending on Twitter in your network and among educators at large; sign up to monitor top articles shared by your network or by those using a specific hashtag (e.g. #edchat, #elemchat, #kinderchat, #1stchat, #2ndchat, #3rdchat, #edtech)
  • Free Technology for Teachers
    Hands down the best place to learn about tech tools and get specific recommendations for applying those tools in an educational setting

Community / Forum

  • The Educator’s PLN
    Thriving and growing forum for educators; a place to read and share articles, post comments or questions; started by one of the founders of #edchat, Thomas Whitby
  • Classroom 2.0
    Another great educator forum with similar tools

Bonus – The Best Edu Bloggers & Tweeters

  • Edublog Awards
    Check out this treasure trove of award winning resources, including top educational blogs, Twitter profiles and sites; a wealth of resources to save and revisit

Last: Decide to Save, Follow or Share

Now that you found what you were looking for and used it, ask yourself three questions:

  • Is the resource something you’ll want to use again? (if yes, you’ll want to save it)
  • Is it created by an organization or individual that regularly creates useful content? (if yes, you’ll want to follow this organization or individual to make sure you don’t miss future updates)
  • Is it something others in your network might benefit from? (if yes, you’ll want to share it)

In Part 2 of this four-part series, we’ll discuss shortcuts and tools for saving online resources for later. Have you ever lost track of an article you meant to read? Stay tuned to learn about awesome tools that will ensure this never happens again (and we’re not talking about browser bookmarks).

Get Started: Try This

Check out a few of the curators listed above, then share your own favorites in the comments below. How do you find the best resources? Do you have any favorite websites that cater specifically to the early grades? Please share in the comments.

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