Quick tech helpers for lesson planning

* This is the thirds post in my Countdown to NETA series.  My students and I will be presenting at the NETA conference this Thurday and I’m writing a daily post to supplement some of the things we’ll cover during the presentation (and some things we won’t).

Last week in my Educational Technology class, I showed the students (teachers to be) some simple ways to spice up lesson plans or put something together on short notice.  Most of the sites I showed them have been around for while, but many of the students had never heard about sites like Ted Talks or Slideshare.  We did a quick review of all the sites and ideas, then I gave each small group of teachers a situation that forced them to put together a lesson in 5 minutes or less.  The sites and situations are below.


Presentation Apps


SlideShare.net – Upload your own or search for 1000s of PowerPoints on any subject that you can easily embed on your own site.

Prezi search – Find other Prezi’s that people have shared publicly.

Pete’s PowerPoint Station – The site looks a little childish, but has tons of great stuff for every topic from elementary through high school level.


Great video sites for the classroom (besides YouTube)


Snag Films Education – Features educationally themed documentaries in a variety of subject areas.

Ted Talks – See great speeches and lectures from some of the best speakers in the world. My personal favorite is the marshmallow talk.

PBS Kids Video – Sid the Science Kids, Sesame and more (many are also available on YouTube).

Brain Pop – This is a pay site, but you can get a free trial if you’re in a pinch.  Also, some movies are free anyway.  All subject areas – very well done.


Other simple tech ideas to use for a quick lesson


1. Search study stack or quizlet for flashcards that someone else made in your content area.

2. Do some math review on tutpup.com, thatquiz.org, ixl.com

3. Get embeddable games/activities for your website in Language Arts, Reading, Math, and Science at BBC Bitesize 1 (K-2nd), Bitesize 2 (3rd-6th), or Bitesize 3 (7th+)

4. Take a tour of a current event somewhere else in the world on Google Earth or use english.aljazeera.net for a non-western take on the news.

5. Download Scratch and have students write a simple program. (Downloading it on a bunch of computers probably couldn’t be done in a pinch, but once loaded it’s a great educational diversion).

6. Search Mr. Mansour’s Delicious tags for something that might be worth using.


The Situations


Situation 1 – It’s been a tough week and you decided you were going to throw in a video from the History Channel on the Norman Invasion for your World History class.  You hear that your principal is coming around and making sure everyone is following their lesson plans (micro-manager).  Your plans said you’d be giving a presentation on the Norman invasion along with a “surprise activity”.  It’s your first year of teaching and you don’t want to get in trouble with your principal.  Class starts in 20 minutes – what will you do?

Situation 2 – You are teaching 3rd grade phonics and have covered pretty much everything for the week by Wednesday.  It is Thursday and the test is scheduled for tomorrow.  Mrs. Jilbers gave you an earful the last time you did a test early, so that isn’t an option.  You’ve got a 20 minute period to fill and need an activity.  What will you do?

Situation 3 – You’re covering the periodic table and are totally stumped.  It’s 11:30 on a Thursday night and your lesson plans are due the next day.  You have three great lessons for Monday through Wednesday and a lab planned for Friday.  For Thursday’s lesson you need some more extension on the period table.  The students wore you down this week and you aren’t going to be able to stay awake much longer.  The lesson plans need to be done, but you have too much pride to just slop a lesson down.  What will you do?

Situation 4 – You get word from your principal that the Archbishop is coming to your classroom to briefly observe.  He heard great things about your lessons on social justice.  “Sweet mother,” you say to yourself.  “We were just going to be doing a crossword puzzle out of the book.”  You’ve got your 30 minute lunch hour to prepare for the archbishop and need at least 10 minutes to clear the miscellaneous papers and half drunk cups of coffee from your room.  What will you do for your lesson?

Situation 5 – Your students have been struggling with quadratic equations in Algebra class.  At this point, you’ve given them every problem set you have.  They’re starting to get it, but need a little more practice before you feel comfortable giving them a test.  What do you do?

Situation 6 – You’re doing a poetry unit for your 5th grade Language Arts class. You’ve found some great poems and authors, but you’re voice has been alternating between a high squeek and a scratchy frog.  The lesson calls for you to read several poems and then have the students read the poems in their own style.  What will you do?


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