Ways to find great resources and ideas for lessons

 

lesson_resources_large1

Where do you get your lesson ideas from? Do you just follow the scheme of work? When you innovate what is the spark for your inspiration?

Do you sometimes struggle to find time to discover resources and wish there was somewhere you could go to prevent you from doing the lesson planning equivalent of rediscovering the wheel?

Where can I go other than search on Google?

Teachers in the UK are probably aware of the TESconnect Resource Hub. If you’re not, that’s a great place to start! Before the TES launched this, one of the main UK-based repositories for lesson plans and ideas was the Teacher Resource Exchange, run by the National Grid for Learning (NGfL).

Talking of the NGfL, they have regional hubs which can be found quickly by typing (for example) NGfL resources into your favourite search engine. 🙂

Learning from colleagues in other schools

Most school subjects have spawned forums on the Internet where teachers of those subjects can discuss ideas, resources and issues. I know of the ones for subjects I currently teach (or have in the past) For example, History teachers have the History Teachers’ Discussion Forum and historyshareforum.com, Geography teachers have Staffordshire Learning Net, and teachers of ICT have the EffectiveICT.co.uk Forum.*

Searching for the name of your subject plus the word ‘forum’ in a search engine should bring up some promising links. Alternatively, try the excellent Shambles.net. Links galore! 🙂

Digging deeper

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AaSnY4XjMg%5D
What about if you want do something original or obscure, though? That’s when finding websites that previous visitors have marked as especially useful would help you on your quest. Enter social bookmarking services. There are many of these, but the two main ones are Delicious and Diigo. The former has been discussed on elearnr before, but in a slightly different context.

The idea behind social bookmarking sites is that instead of saving your ‘favourites’ or ‘bookmarks’ in the web browser of one computer, you store them in an account online. You can then ‘tag’ these with keywords and make them visible for others to see. These sites then, as you can imagine, become very useful as hotbeds of links to fantastically useful websites.

Have a go right now. Head over to Delicious and Diigo and type in the name of your subject followed by resources. Click to enlarge the images below which show the results I obtained when entering history resources!

Delicious search results - 'History resources' Diigo search results - 'History resources'

The ultimate targeted resource and lesson idea finder

All of the above are great ways of using the power of communities to help you find something, but what about if you need something very, very specific – and fast? Enter Twitter.

Twitter is a micro-blogging social network. It’s like text messaging meets Facebook in that you have 140-characters to send a message. Educators worldwide use it en masse to share good practice, ask questions and find fast answers. A future E-Learning Staff Session and elearnr blog post will tell you all you need to get you signed up and interacting. 🙂

What? You can’t wait? Head over to Twitter For Teachers to find out more!

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* My Twitter network directed me towards these additional forums:

** Thanks @mtechman for reminder of this excellent resource!

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2 thoughts on “Ways to find great resources and ideas for lessons

  1. Another place to try to find resources is on a specialist search engine for a dedicated subject.

    For example (here comes the shameless plug) I have put together a search engine (using Google custom search technology) for Maths teachers to find resources from relevant hand picked websites.

    http://mathsearch.co.uk

    Sometimes it is easier to find useful resources when there isn’t as much clutter as you get in a standard Google search.

  2. This is a good post: there’s lot written about ‘listening’ to the web but it’s often hard to find anything that’s succinct and useful. Diigo is new to me, so I will definitely check that out.

    I’d recommend Addictomatic (http://addictomatic.com/), which presents search results from a number of services (including Twitter, Technorati, Flickr, Digg).

    Also, thanks for the link to the Citizenship Foundation forums. These have not been heavily used, but they do get listened to. We are also trying to step up our blogging (http://www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk/blogs/) and Twitter activity (http://twitter.com/citizenship), to try and better engage with people interested in citizenship education.

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