Skillful teachers enrich conventional instruction in many ways. They pepper the learning environment with challenging and meaningful stimuli. They immerse learners in real-time, hands-on, content rich activities. Finally, they allow time for reflective processing, thus encouraging students to make sense of concepts newly introduced. All of these instructional strategies reflect pedagogy informed by brain-based learning, i.e., strategies designed to accommodate the ways in which the brain learns best.1
Worksheets serve as another teaching strategy, helping children make sense of what they learned. As children complete worksheet activities, they review and apply new knowledge. The Web is a great place for teachers to go for templates and design tools that simplify the creation of either print or online worksheets.
Having trouble finding ready-made worksheets to complement project-based learning activities in your classroom? At Filamentality, which proclaims it combines the 'filament' of the Web with a learner's 'mentality,' you can design your own worksheets! Choose a topic, search the Web for content-rich sites to complement instruction, select an activity format (e.g., Treasure Hunt, Subject Sampler, or WebQuest), then follow on-screen prompts to create an all-text Web-based project. You don't need any HTML programming skills to do the work. The site offers a User Guide, Guided Tour and Handouts for those unsure of the steps involved in creating their first Web-based activity. Filamentality stores your projects for at least a year. To view an example of a Web experience created with Filamentality tools, check out Danika Hill's "Surfin' through South Africa", subtitled "An Internet Treasure Hunt Through South Africa." It's a Web tour designed to complement a series of Celebrate South Africa activities held at Swift River School (New Salem, MA) during the winter of 2003-2004.
HPR*TEC's Web Worksheet Wizard
The free Web-based utility available at this site provides educators with a user-friendly way to publish class Web pages or worksheets, complete with pictures and text. Students can create project-based Web posters. These remain on the Web for 30-days after the last revision, but they can be printed or downloaded for reference. A Web Worksheet Wizard helps teachers create their Web-based projects. For inspiration, check out the current list of published worksheets. The search tool lets you look for projects by subject, grade level, and date.
TeAch-nologyTM's helpful portal to educational resources includes several free technology-based tools that teachers can use to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. Every week it spotlights a special worksheet for viewing on screen in HTML format. If you like what you see, download the PDF version for use with Macintosh or Windows-based computers. A search option lets you explore the archives for past worksheets, complete with Answer Keys if relevant. Worksheet topics include: Addition Math Bingo Card, Dinosaur Worksheet, Fractions Worksheet, a Mathbox Puzzle and many more. Other resources at TeAch-nology generate printable worksheets. You'll find tools to create Crossword Puzzles, Web Quests, Weekly Assignments, Word Scrambles, Word Searches, and a Today in History worksheet.
Take a 'Byte" from the Apple: Education World Techtorials
Each week Education World posts step-by-step instructions for projects that integrate software applications, Internet activities, or some aspect of computer-based technology in classroom teaching. Created by tech guru and former classroom teacher Lorrie Jackson, these "techtorials" (technology tutorials) target novice and technology-shy educators. They can be completed online or printed for later use. Many educators will find project ideas they can try out with students, including techtorials on media literacy, charts and graphs, blogging, digital photography, and electronic portfolios. Most projects include companion worksheets that may be downloaded, printed and shared with others. One of my favorites is Writing Storybooks with PowerPoint, which teaches children in early elementary grades to write PowerPoint storybooks
The value of literature transcends the content of individual books. Teachers integrate literature in classroom instruction to illustrate complex ideas, introduce important issues, model appropriate writing, and teach reading. CyberGuides offers dozens of K-12 standards-driven (California-based) instructional units geared to teaching core literary works in English or Spanish. Visitors can search by grade level or literary work. You can also explore California's Language Arts Content Standards for reading, writing, listening and speaking. If you're looking for helpful teaching projects, be sure to check out the teacher and student strategies posted in the Activity Bank. It features graphic organizers, rubrics, and different types of journals (e.g., meta-cognitive, dialectical, reflective, and double entry) with several examples to get you started.
CIESE Online: Classroom Projects
The Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey brings technology into the K-12 classroom through partnerships with K-12 schools and school districts. At this site you'll find many examples of collaborative, real time data gathering projects you can do with your students. My favorites revolve around projects in the Primary Sources collection. They include activities for Historical Treasure Chests, turning a favorite book into a movie (from scripting to casting), and focusing on the mathematical and environmental aspects of population growth. There's also an archive of past projects you can search to generate ideas for your own technology-rich science activities.
The Drexel Math Forum (provided as a free service by Drexel University) delivers math resources galore to teachers and students, such as the popular Ask Dr. Math, which provides students with expert help in math problem-solving when they have questions they can't answer on their own. Other resources at the site include discussion groups, math goodies by subject, weekly problems for solving, and tools for teaching and learning math in pre-K through calculus environments. In addition, the site hosts Make a Lesson, a fill-in-the-blank lesson plan generator that teachers can use to create a math lesson for Numbers & Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, or Data Analysis. Just follow on-screen prompts to enter lesson details. Completed activities may be printed or posted on the Web for sharing with others.
NTeQ: Integrating Computer Technology into the Classroom
The step-by step online Lesson Plan Builder available at this resource-rich technology integration Web site not only offers help with lesson plan creation but also provides access to lesson plans submitted by other teachers. A "Search Lessons" option makes it easy to look for lessons by title, grade level or subject area. There's also a Lesson Plan Template which you can download to create lessons for computer-based activities spanning multiple subject areas, complete with instructions.
Rubrics (instructional guidelines) serve several purposes. Teachers appreciate them because they help clarify lesson goals and objectives. Students like them because they pinpoint what must be done in order to meet project goals. At this site, teachers can create Web-based rubrics for online learning activities. They can also view rubrics created by others by entering a keyword in the Search field. A "Clone This Rubric" option lets you modify existing rubrics to meet your own needs.
Apple Learning Interchange: Educator-Specific Templates (opens in new tab)
Visit this Apple-sponsored Web site for a host of downloadable subject-specific AppleWorks templates. It boasts an amazing collection of Macintosh and Windows-based templates for science, math, language arts, social studies, and sports, plus downloadable teacher tools, classroom ideas, and clip art. Any template you download can be customized to meet particular teaching needs.
Microsoft Office Online: Template Gallery (opens in new tab)
Windows-based Microsoft Office using educators (specifically users of Windows 2000 and Windows XP) looking for projects to do with Microsoft Office applications can download ideas for Word, Excel and PowerPoint available at this Web site. Mac users can download compatible Office resources at Templates (opens in new tab). While these Microsoft sites aren't necessarily tailored to educators, you'll find helpful templates for bibliographies, journals, reports, letters, grade books, and multiple-choice tests.
Why reinvent the Web page design wheel when you (and your students) can take advantage of pre-designed layouts to do the work? Thanks to the efforts of teachers and students in the Lowell, Massachusetts public school system and support from professional graphic designers, you can build your own pages based on the content and design guidelines provided at this helpful site. For more general guidelines to Web page creation, be sure to explore the extensive resources available in the companion School Web Page Development Guide.
1 See Connecting Brain Research with Dimensions of Learning, Mariale M. Hardiman
Email: Carol S. Holzberg