Finding Content that Works Well in the Digital Classroom
How many nights do you spend thinking that the perfect article or video is just a click away? I find a sort of pathological- and perhaps pathetic- joy in the search for the perfect material. There is often some notion that I want to convey to my students. It might be inspired by The Lord of The Flies or the Bill of Rights or string cheese. I believe, really believe, that if I just look at a few more resources, I will find the perfect one. It is simple without being patronizing and abstract without being incomprehensible. Reading material is manageable for a poor reader while challenging for a strong reader. It contains the one bit of truth that my students need without any references to illegal drugs. My clicking approaches a frenzy as the night fades away and I just can’t stop. How I wish that I was joking.
I am committed to writing my own curriculum. It keeps me engaged, my lessons stay fresh and the specific needs of my students are met. Nonetheless, there are days when I am tired, and I need a lesson that is already organized, thorough, appropriate and ready to go. I do not want an entire canned curriculum, but I am willing to pay for a few good lessons.
Prepared lessons created by small businesses
The following sites have great lessons and curricula. They are written by smart people who want to help students think critically and understand their world. There are manageable fees associated with the sites, as these are run by human being, not textbook companies. A few bucks or a night in a computer induced stupor– you choose.
Intellego Unit Studies were created by a home-schooling family of teachers. The Intellego Unit Studies are “An integrative approach to web-linked, secular K-12 education that embraces the learning styles and multiple intelligences of every child.” Intellego offers both a complete social studies and science curriculum for k-8th grade students, as well as electives in the fields of art and music, geography and cultures, history and civics and science. It also offers studies of “Popular Interest,” including topics such as “Baseball,” and “Whales.” The 6-8 Civics class includes activities such as having the students read an excerpt from Mark Twain’s and consider what problems arose because there was a lack of effective authority.
Each unit is self-contained, concise and fun. You will not have to spend hours culling through reams of articles. Intellego Unit Studies are created to be used on the computer, so they can easily be adapted to an online classroom. Each unit contains video, audio, textual and artistic components.
Teaching Books is simply a marvelous website. It has interviews with the authors, meet the author slide shows, audio introductions, related lesson plans, and an entire gamete of information for almost any book that you might teach. For example, if you were exploring To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, you would have access to:
-An interview with Harper Lee
-A movie “trailer” for the book
-Excerpts narrated by Sissy Spacek
-Many lesson plans, and the related materials
This information is available for hundreds of books at all levels.
With the audio visual component of the WizIq classroom, a teacher could watch a trailer with his students and stop the video to check for comprehension. The collection links to study guides for the book, where there is background historical information, vocabulary, and comprehension questions.
Good curriculum costs money
But it is money well spent. By supporting small curriculum companies, you help to maintain a diversity of materials and you get to keep your sanity.