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news & tips

A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

Free Online Tools to Create, Mix Lesson Plan Playlists

Today’s classroom looks nothing like its counterpart of 50 years ago: instead of blackboards and chalk, teachers and students now use laptops, smart boards and digital lesson plans. Teachers also have many online tools right at their fingertips – and that’s a good thing. But using those tools effectively is not always intuitive, especially if you — like most adults over thirty — are a technology immigrant rather than a technology native.

Technology in the classroom is here to stay. In fact, electronic tools are now viewed as having such an important role in our school system that the Federal Government has created Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to integrating technology into our nation’s schools and reaching children who learn best with a tech-based neomillennial learning style. Teachers need to find ways to keep up with these new and exciting trends.

Educators need tools

Whether the use of technology comes naturally to you, or whether you’ve spent hours mastering its use, online tools can make using it easier. One of those tools is the lesson plan playlist. The term “playlist” comes from the radio industry. When a DJ prepares for a radio show, he or she puts together a list of the songs that will be played throughout the show. Today, the term is also used for any list of electronic files, including songs, writings, videos or even lesson plans.

The unique thing about a lesson plan playlist is the ability to mix it up, just like that DJ from the radio. That way, lesson plans can be easily tailored to individual students, to the changing seasons and even in response to the speed at which a class is progressing. Once a playlist is made, it can also be shared with other teachers. Students thrive with the playlist format, according to “New School: Two Apps That Let Teachers Remix Lessons Like DJs,” an article by Anya Kamenetz, because they can pick from different resources and lesson plans based on their own interest levels and learning readiness.

Four free online playlist tools

Are you ready to start making and sharing your own lesson plan playlists? Here are a few free tools that can make putting together and sharing your digital lesson plans a snap.

  • You Tube – Called “tube teaching” by Chareen Snelson, Ed.D. of Boise State University’s Department of Educational Technology in an article posted on BlogSpot, creating a lesson plan using the Internet video-posting site can be a great teaching tool. Besides adding a list of relevant videos, teachers can add notes and instructions for their students.
  • OpenCurriculum – This site is based on the same principle as Wikipedia. It calls upon a community of educators to contribute articles, worksheets and lesson plans that can be freely used by other teachers, parents and students who need them. And the range of lesson plans is quite literally mind boggling. A search for the term “games,” for instance, brings up activities that explore the quadratic formula, a maze that demonstrates the principles of speed and velocity, and an overview of photosynthesis.
  • Activate Instruction – Activate Instruction is a website that describes its mission as providing students from kindergarten through high school with “an enriched, personalized learning experience through playlists created and shared by teachers nationwide.” On the site, teachers can put together and organize lesson plans for individual students or for their entire class. Students can use the site to participate in their lessons, of course, but can also interact with other students and even share their opinions about a particular lesson by rating it.
  • Sophia – Sophia.org is a nonprofit online learning resource that offers teachers “free tools to transform the way they teach.” The Sophia site includes over 32,000 tutorials which are “designed to appeal to all kinds of learning styles.

A Brave New World

In a world that is rapidly being transformed by technology, it’s nice to know that no one has to face this brave new world alone. There are online tools out there that not only make it easier to manage all the information that teachers have gathered, but also allows them to share that information with their colleagues.

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