Examples of ways to differentiate instruction

TeachersFirst's Thinking Teachers who write our resource reviews often have suggestions that have worked in their classrooms. Open the reviews to the "more" view to see ideas for using specific resources as tools to differentiate for a variety of learners. Alternatively, use the keyword search tool at the left of this page to search for a curriculum topic and the term "differentiate." For example, search fractions differentiate (with "all the words" selected for the search).

 

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OpenStax - Rice University

Grades
9 to 12
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OpenStax offers free access to high-quality textbooks in core subject areas. View resources by subject, including humanities and AP options. View books online or download in PDF format....more
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OpenStax offers free access to high-quality textbooks in core subject areas. View resources by subject, including humanities and AP options. View books online or download in PDF format. The search options in the online viewer allow users to locate content easily in the digital format.

tag(s): advanced placement (23), book lists (132), ebooks (43), STEM (143)

In the Classroom

Use OpenStax textbooks to dig deeper into core subjects such as math, science, and social studies. Use materials to differentiate instruction based on student abilities and interests. If your current textbooks are older, find newer books on OpenStax and adopt them for your curriculum. Take advantage of the search feature of online books to find supplemental material for your current instruction. Find teaching materials for gifted students using OpenStax textbooks.
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OpenEd - OpenEd

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K to 12
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OpenEd claims to be the world's largest online library of free education resources - videos, lesson plans, assessments, games, and more. Search with a keyword and filter by grade, subject,...more
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OpenEd claims to be the world's largest online library of free education resources - videos, lesson plans, assessments, games, and more. Search with a keyword and filter by grade, subject, standard, resource type, or publisher. Save for later use, or assign to all students or just a few. There are several ways to register students: manually with email and password, give them a code, or upload students from Google Classroom or Edmodo. In the assessment area, a convenient feature is the ability for the teacher to assign videos to the student for review if they answered questions incorrectly. Then the student can try again. Both instructors and students can sign up with email and passwords or social media such as Google and Edmodo. Some videos reside on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. You could always view them at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as Freemake Video Converter, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): assessment (104), classroom management (145), multimedia (61), slides (65), video (268)

In the Classroom

With 90% of the million resources free, you're sure to find something you need to supplement current curriculum materials. This site could also be used as a learning center or station during any unit or for review. Use activities from this site to differentiate learning within your classroom. Try flipping class and assign videos, slides or lessons to be completed at home and have a discussion (or question and answer session) about them the next day in class. Include this site on the class website for parents to find at-home math, language arts, science projects, and materials for review. Be sure to share with other teachers on campus.

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The Lowdown - KQED News

Grades
6 to 12
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The Lowdown connects the newsroom to the classroom through timely multimedia articles featuring the latest news. Convert any post to PDF for easy printing and sharing. Search using...more
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The Lowdown connects the newsroom to the classroom through timely multimedia articles featuring the latest news. Convert any post to PDF for easy printing and sharing. Search using a keyword or choose links to find lesson plans, interactives, and videos. Many features include alignment to Common Core Standards. If your district blocks YouTube, videos may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as Freemake Video Converter, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): commoncore (95), journalism (51), multimedia (61), news (261), newspapers (95)

In the Classroom

Achieve two goals with this very people-friendly site: provide quality non-fiction reading materials and the latest in current events. Use this site to differentiate reading materials by student interest. Encourage students to explore the site on their own. Be sure to include a link on classroom computers and your class website for students to access at any time. Flip your class and assign the reading to do at home. Then, have students create a simple infographic sharing findings from The Lowdown with their classmates using Piktochart, reviewed here. Have cooperative learning groups create weekly podcasts with news from around the world. Use a site such as podOmatic, reviewed here.
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Reading Friend - Anne Elizabeth Eaves

Grades
K to 3
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Reading Friend offers an extensive library of free animated books, songs, poems, and learning activities for emerging readers. Choose from categories on the home page, the main catalog...more
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Reading Friend offers an extensive library of free animated books, songs, poems, and learning activities for emerging readers. Choose from categories on the home page, the main catalog listing, or search by keyword. Words are highlighted as the narrator reads. Most, but not all, content is friendly on mobile devices.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): literacy (107), poetry (226), preK (284), reading lists (79), songs (53)

In the Classroom

Use Reading Friend to find and differentiate literacy activities for students. Share links to books and activities on classroom computers for student use as centers. Include a link to activities on your class web page for use at home. Many of the stories and poems will help resource and ELL/ESL students who need to hear word families, phonetics, and such.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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TeachersFirst's Resources for Game-Based Learning - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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This collection of reviewed resources from TeachersFirst is selected to help teachers and students learn about game-based learning and how to incorporate games into teaching and learning....more
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This collection of reviewed resources from TeachersFirst is selected to help teachers and students learn about game-based learning and how to incorporate games into teaching and learning. Engage your students in the way they love to learn - games! Explore resources for quick practice or create your own games using these tools. Nurture problem solving, logic, and creativity.

tag(s): coding (50), differentiation (48), game based learning (109), gamification (71), logic (236)

In the Classroom

Share these tools on your class website or blog for students to use both in and out of the classroom. Use these tools to differentiate and reach all students at the various levels. Challenge your students to create their own games for review of content or acceleration options.

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Google CS First - Google

Grades
5 to 9
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Google CS First is a program for clubs to increase access and teach computer science to 4th-8th-grade students. All training and materials are free for anyone hosting a club in ...more
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Google CS First is a program for clubs to increase access and teach computer science to 4th-8th-grade students. All training and materials are free for anyone hosting a club in the U.S. Materials offer lessons based on themes such as storytelling, sports, social media, friends, and fashion and design. In addition to lesson materials, Google CS provides online training information for club leaders.

tag(s): animation (66), coding (50), critical thinking (110), digital storytelling (152), gamification (71), musical notation (37), problem solving (272), social media (17), sports (97), stories and storytelling (33)

In the Classroom

Create a club in your classroom as part of your STEM activities, as a lunch/recess club, or an at-home activity for students. Use the flyers and presentation materials provided to create interest in the club. Differentiate clubs by student interests and abilities. Share Google CS First with your school's media or tech leader as an excellent resource for teaching coding. This site is perfect for those who want to learn more about coding, but have some hesitancy since all materials from creating a group through the lessons are free. If you still have some doubts, enlist the services of a tech-savvy high school student to help with activities as part of their volunteering requirements.

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Wordie - ABCD English

Grades
2 to 12
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Wordie is a free vocabulary tool for EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teachers; however, it is also a very useful tool for all teachers. Begin by typing or pasting ...more
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Wordie is a free vocabulary tool for EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teachers; however, it is also a very useful tool for all teachers. Begin by typing or pasting in text in the provided box. Use up to 1500 characters without registering. Register for free using your email to use unlimited characters. Choose the reading level you want to assign to the text, then click submit. Wordie analyzes the text and provides two boxes with word banks. The first includes vocabulary applicable to that reading level, the second displays included words above that level. Uncheck any boxes next to words you prefer not to include as vocabulary. Use the Print Preview to create a printable including the entire text with vocabulary to learn in a featured word box.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): vocabulary (325), vocabulary development (125)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a useful tool for teaching vocabulary from any text. Copy portions of literature into Wordie to identify and create vocabulary lists for students. Differentiate for student abilities based on reading levels. Use Wordie to develop student writing skills. Ask them to copy their writing into Wordie and run the analysis at a reading level you prefer. If there isn't enough new vocabulary words, challenge students to rewrite in a way that reaches a higher reading level. Use Wordie with ESL/ELL learners to point out difficult vocabulary in reading passages before reading.
 

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Symbaloo Lesson Plans - Symbaloo

Grades
K to 12
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Symbaloo, reviewed here, has taken its popular bookmarking tool and enhanced features to provide a platform for creating virtual interactive lesson...more
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Symbaloo, reviewed here, has taken its popular bookmarking tool and enhanced features to provide a platform for creating virtual interactive lesson plans. Log in to your Symbaloo account and browse the Marketplace for already created lessons, or begin creating your own. Add websites, PDF's, videos, and more onto tiles and create a game board and learning path. Follow prompts to add items to the lesson and publish when complete. Symbaloo Lesson Plans also provides analytics after assigning lessons to view student progress and a calendar option to make lessons available during a chosen time frame.

tag(s): bookmarks (60), DAT device agnostic tool (166), game based learning (109), gamification (71)

In the Classroom

You will want to use Symbaloo Lesson Plans for many different types of classroom instruction! Create lesson plans to differentiate learning and assign based on student needs and interests. Embed a lesson on your class website for students to complete at home. Using this site allows you to create a clear and concise learning path for any lesson. Share it on an interactive whiteboard with students as you follow through any learning path. Be sure also to include a link to the lesson on your class website for students to use throughout the unit and as a review. Use Symbaloo Lesson Plans as enrichment for independent learning for advanced students, or for remediation with students needing additional help. This site is perfect for use with ESL/ELL students - include links and activities to resources in their native language or add tools for practicing English. There are too many uses for Symbaloo Lesson Plans to include here, be sure to take the time to learn how to create and use this wonderful tool with your students!

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StoryBots - JibJab Bros Studio

Grades
K to 2
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StoryBots is a collection of classroom learning tools for pre-K and kindergarten children, their parents, and teachers. There are plenty of free videos and activity sheets to use without...more
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StoryBots is a collection of classroom learning tools for pre-K and kindergarten children, their parents, and teachers. There are plenty of free videos and activity sheets to use without registration. Register to create an online classroom and assign learning materials to individuals, small groups, or your whole class. Assign videos or games aligned to Common Core Standards. Upload your own lessons or assign StoryBots' lessons teaching math and reading skills. Share your class code with parents for at-home use.

tag(s): commoncore (95), preK (284)

In the Classroom

Create your class account, share your class code with parents, and ask them to register their child for your class. Assign lessons and activities to individual students or groups to differentiate instruction. Include a link on classroom computers for center use. Take advantage of the opportunity to upload your own lessons to supplement the learning materials available at StoryBots.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Termling - Salvador

Grades
6 to 12
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Earn rewards for studying with Termling. This free interactive combines role-playing elements with study activities to assist students in learning vocabulary and terms with flashcards,...more
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Earn rewards for studying with Termling. This free interactive combines role-playing elements with study activities to assist students in learning vocabulary and terms with flashcards, quizzes, and other study activities. Create your Termling avatar and enroll to start using the site's tools. Earn additional features through gameplay. Once enrolled, use options to find or create your own study sets and invite other members to be Study Buddies. Educators can personalize study sets to assign to students and monitor progress.

tag(s): flash cards (46), game based learning (109), gamification (71), quizzes (98), test prep (96)

In the Classroom

Introduce Termling to your class and demonstrate the different features available. Create study materials for individuals to differentiate learning. Have students set up and share their own study materials. Show students how to read carefully through their classroom notes and underline the most important word or words in a sentence. Then have them leave out the most important words for their flashcards. Learning support teachers might want to have small groups create cards to review together before tests. Have students create flashcard sets as a follow-up activity to "test" classmates on what they "teach" in oral reports.

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GooseChase - Andrew Cross

Grades
3 to 12
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Organize and run a scavenger hunt with GooseChase! Sign up for an account to begin creating games. Add your own missions to games or use missions available on the site. ...more
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Organize and run a scavenger hunt with GooseChase! Sign up for an account to begin creating games. Add your own missions to games or use missions available on the site. Determine point values for completion and optional links or images to provide additional information. Choose to allow participants to submit validation of completion through photos or videos that you can see in real-time. Once your game is set up (using any computer or device with Internet access), invite participants to begin play through a mobile device. Download the free apps for any mobile device (including Androids or iPads and iPods).

tag(s): creativity (116), DAT device agnostic tool (166), game based learning (109), gamification (71)

In the Classroom

Use GooseChase in your classroom as part of your project based learning activities. Assign a series of activities to groups for completion. Differentiate projects based on student interest and ability. GooseChase would be an excellent addition to staff meetings. Have participants locate information on websites, textbooks, or throughout your school as part of professional development. Create a GooseChase for students as part of a nature walk outside of your school, ask younger students to find different geometric shapes, or have students draw pictures of main characters in books as part of a GooseChase mission.

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Study Jams - Scholastic

Grades
3 to 8
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Study Jam offers engaging instruction and review activities in both math and science. Some sample science topics include plants, human body, the solar system, weather, matter, and more....more
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Study Jam offers engaging instruction and review activities in both math and science. Some sample science topics include plants, human body, the solar system, weather, matter, and more. Math topics include numbers (place value, number lines, estimation), algebra, addition/subtraction, problem solving, and others. Don't miss the "Jams" sure to excite your students to learn new skills in a musical and entertaining manner. Key vocabulary is presented along with a short video explanation of each topic. In addition to the video, there is an option to test your own ability. Each topic can also be printed to use in the classroom and there is a link to related "jams."

tag(s): addition (238), animals (284), climate (92), decimals (132), differentiation (48), division (167), ecosystems (89), energy (202), estimation (45), forces (46), fractions (235), game based learning (109), human body (124), landforms (45), light (49), matter (61), measurement (160), minerals (18), multiplication (221), number lines (21), percent (82), place value (56), plants (152), probability (128), problem solving (272), rocks (50), solar system (123), sound (103), subtraction (198), weather (194)

In the Classroom

Excite your students with the Jams! Share the Jam videos on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students sing along and learn more about science and math. Especially younger students will enjoy this feature. Create a link to the site on your classroom website or blog for students to use for review and practice at home. Use the many topics available to differentiate for all students in your classroom. Create learning centers using this site or use it in on individual laptops. Print out the quizzes for students to take as an assessment.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Tarr's Toolbox - Russel Tarr

Grades
4 to 12
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Tarr's Toolbox contains many quick and easy suggestions for spicing up lessons. Although created by a history teacher, most ideas can easily adapt to any subject. Click on any text...more
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Tarr's Toolbox contains many quick and easy suggestions for spicing up lessons. Although created by a history teacher, most ideas can easily adapt to any subject. Click on any text box for a complete description of activities. Some of the descriptions have suggestions for use of the tools found on Classtools, reviewed here. Be sure to subscribe to Tarr's Toolbox blog to receive updates as new ideas are added.

tag(s): classroom management (145), differentiation (48), game based learning (109), professional development (126)

In the Classroom

Bookmark this excellent resource to use when looking for new ideas for your classroom. Choose from ideas such as "Hands up if you DON'T know" or "Sock puppets in the secondary classroom" to inspire and motivate your students. Look to this blog to differentiate for students of all levels. Divide students into cooperative learning groups using different ideas found on Tarr's Toolbox.

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Highbrow - Artem Zavyalov & Jane Limanskaya

Grades
7 to 12
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Learn something new each day with Highbrow's unique course delivery system. Sign up for a course, then receive an email each day with a five to ten-minute lesson. Each course ...more
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Learn something new each day with Highbrow's unique course delivery system. Sign up for a course, then receive an email each day with a five to ten-minute lesson. Each course is completed in ten days making learning quick and easy! Choose from many different course options in subjects such as art, literature, and history. Highbrow only allows one course per user at a time to encourage complete focus on each topic. If you don't see what you like, choose the Create Course option and create your own learning experience using your expertise!

tag(s): 20th century (53), architecture (84), authors (121), business (58), differentiation (48), endangered species (38), equations (155), financial literacy (80), greeks (30), human body (124), inventors and inventions (97), logic (236), medicine (68), mental math (28), numbers (198), photography (160), poetry (226), psychology (64), short stories (25), surrealism (4), weather (194), women (91)

In the Classroom

Highbrow is perfect for differentiated learning. Allow students to choose their own topic and sign up for a course. When complete, choose another topic and start a new course. Have students create commercials for finished courses using Powtoon, reviewed here, and share them using a tool such as TeacherTube, reviewed here. Challenge students to create a course after a unit of study as a final assessment. Be sure to include this site on your class webpage for students to access both in and outside of class for personal use.

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Vocabulist (Beta) - Ahan Malhotra

Grades
4 to 12
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Easily personalize and practice vocabulary with Vocabulist. Upload a file from your computer or copy and paste text into Vocabulist. Wait a minute or two for your document to process....more
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Easily personalize and practice vocabulary with Vocabulist. Upload a file from your computer or copy and paste text into Vocabulist. Wait a minute or two for your document to process. When finished Vocabulist provides a list with each word and its definition. Choose the correct definition when necessary from drop boxes or provide your own definition. When finished, export as a PDF to your computer or directly into Quizlet, reviewed here, to use as flashcards.

tag(s): flash cards (46), spelling (169), vocabulary (325), vocabulary development (125), word study (80)

In the Classroom

Vocabulist is perfect for differentiated learning. Create individual student vocabulary and spelling lists based on student needs. Create lists for difficult vocabulary from any text or for any subject. Be sure to share a link on your class website for students to use at home to create study guides throughout the year.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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ThinkCerca - ThinkCerca

Grades
4 to 12
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Sign up for ThinkCerca's eight free starter lessons and get your students on the road to better critical thinking, close reading, and academic writing. Find a starter kit with 8 ...more
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Sign up for ThinkCerca's eight free starter lessons and get your students on the road to better critical thinking, close reading, and academic writing. Find a starter kit with 8 lessons teaching students the art of argumentation. Each lesson is 30 minutes long. These lessons contain standards-aligned literacy concepts and vocabulary. Start with Cerca's baseline assessment for writing, and then proceed with the lessons in order since the lessons build on each other. Sign up with your email, first and last name, and school zip code. Create your class or classes, and have students enroll via a class code. Find prompts for ELA, Science, and Social Studies. Math is coming soon (as of this review). The support section has several categories which include specific help directions, and also includes Instructional Strategies, Personalized Learning Models, and Tips and Resources.
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tag(s): expository writing (45), persuasive writing (55), reading comprehension (115), writing (363)

In the Classroom

Students will need to click Sign Up and "I'm a Student." Students will enter their first name and last name so be sure you have parent permission. They will also need an email address. There is a work-a-round for the names and email address. For the first and last name you could have them enter a code, for example, the first two letters of their last name and first three letters of their first name. If students cannot have their own email accounts, ThinkCerca has a suggestion or consider using a "class set" of Gmail subaccounts, explained here; this tells how to set up Gmail subaccounts to use for any online membership service. Once your students have worked through the eight lessons here, you may want to look at 301 Prompts for Argumentative/Persuasive Writing, reviewed here, to help you differentiate future writing lessons.

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Outwhiz - Andrew Kwan and Michael Luk

Grades
K to 8
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Let Outwhiz replace your tired worksheets! Practice math and English with over 200 topics and hundreds of questions per topic. Earn points, move up levels, and earn badges. Sign up...more
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Let Outwhiz replace your tired worksheets! Practice math and English with over 200 topics and hundreds of questions per topic. Earn points, move up levels, and earn badges. Sign up with email. At the time of this review, the math levels are for grades K-8, and the English levels are 1-6, with the promise of grades 7-12 coming soon. Outwhiz, in a nutshell, is adaptive learning, gamification, and includes unlimited exercises, all for FREE!
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tag(s): classroom management (145), critical thinking (110), DAT device agnostic tool (166), differentiation (48), game based learning (109), gamification (71), grammar (215), problem solving (272), sentences (51)

In the Classroom

The gamification of the material on Outwhiz is sure to catch your student's interest! Sign up using your email and create a class. Give students the URL and class code to join. At the end of an introduction of a concept, use this site for specific language arts or math practice. Use Outwhiz for homework, review, and reinforcement of any math or language arts concept. Use this site to differentiate for students of all levels. Create a link to Outwhiz on classroom computers to use as math and language arts centers/stations. Share this site with parents through your classroom website or newsletter as a resource for math and language practice at home. Share this site as a way to review before tests. ESL/ELL and resource teachers will find Outwhiz to be extremely helpful for reinforcing language and math concepts.

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Teaching World War I With The New York Times - New York Times/ Michael Gonchar

Grades
8 to 12
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Teaching World War I With The New York Times is a resource for teaching about World War I using historical articles and social media. The site offers topics paired with ...more
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Teaching World War I With The New York Times is a resource for teaching about World War I using historical articles and social media. The site offers topics paired with New York Times articles and slide shows for use in exploring the causes and effects of the war. Click on highlighted links to get access to all resources included on the site including Common Core Standards.

tag(s): europe (75), middle east (30), world war 1 (53)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plan for use in your World War I unit. Use this site to differentiate activities for students. Be sure to "mine" the links within the site for additional resources to add to your current lesson plans. Have students create online posters individually or together as a class using a tool such as Web Poster Wizard, reviewed here, or PicLits, reviewed here. Have students use Fakebook, reviewed here, to create a "fake" page similar in style to Facebook about a president, soldier, or family member during the time of World War I.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Thrively - Thrively

Grades
1 to 12
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Thrively is a free tool that gives strengths and interests assessments in an engaging and entertaining way. Based on 23 factors and developed for children, you receive a profile that...more
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Thrively is a free tool that gives strengths and interests assessments in an engaging and entertaining way. Based on 23 factors and developed for children, you receive a profile that is personal, positive, and celebrates each child's core strengths and unique talents. Children, teachers, and parents all have a dashboard displaying activities and videos selected specifically for the child's strengths and interests. Explore a comprehensive activity index with over 120,000 activities and hundreds of videos designed to inspire. The videos feature interesting ideas, leaders, and a range of insights into careers and opportunities that are a good fit for the child's unique strengths. The Activity Boards are a way to discover and research the activities and collect them all in one place. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. You could always view them at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): back to school (58), differentiation (48), multiple intelligences (11)

In the Classroom

Begin your school year with a more personal touch, by knowing what your students' interests are. On the teacher dashboard, examine each student and match interest to activities to differentiate instruction. Students can explore careers, apps, and activities matching their profile. With interest and strengths targeted, you can sail smoothly into a highly engaged class of individualized learning. During career explorations, open up worlds of possibilities for students and families to begin planning a successful path. Add a link to this tool to your class website for possible enrichment activities for families. Offer suggestions to parents for enriching after school activities found around your area.

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Connecting Learning and Instruction in Olathe (CLIO) - Olathe United School District

Grades
5 to 12
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CLIO provides American History resources for 5th through 12th grade teachers. Information includes lesson plans, reading lists, and general teaching resources. The most detailed portion...more
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CLIO provides American History resources for 5th through 12th grade teachers. Information includes lesson plans, reading lists, and general teaching resources. The most detailed portion of the site is the lesson plan section that includes many printable lesson plans beginning with Creating a New Nation through Year of the Boar and Native Americans in Contemporary America. Be sure to check out the General Teaching Resources section for additional printables including a Historic "Moment in Time" Poem worksheet and resources for teaching Historical Writing.

tag(s): american revolution (88), civil rights (119), civil war (144), cold war (29), great depression (25), lincoln (86), martin luther king (37), native americans (78), roosevelt (16), rosa parks (6), vietnam (36), washington (36), world war 1 (53), world war 2 (141)

In the Classroom

If you teach American history, be sure to bookmark this site for use throughout the year. New teachers will especially appreciate having a stockpile of ready-made lessons they can tweak and make their own, and of course, any American history teacher can take advantage of the free lesson plans and teaching resources included here. Use activities from this site to differentiate learning within your classroom. Be sure to share with other American History teachers on your campus.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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