Let Me Count the Ways: Great secular websites for Jewish teachers

by Carol Oseran Starin

In our last column, we talked about Jewish sites for Jewish teachers. This column is a little different. It’s a collection of secular sites for Jewish teachers.

There’s a lot here (the “5 Things Advisory Group” really came through), and to make it all more digestible, I’ve taken these 31 websites and put them into five categories. They all come with the “Let Me Count the Ways” Seal of Approval. I spent hours going through them. And, you will too. Enjoy!

Let’s begin with Kathy Shrock’s site because it is the site for sites: http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/. It’s a categorized list of sites useful for enhancing curriculum and professional growth. Kathy Schrock, is a pioneer in using the web and technology in education. It’s easy to use and to the point with things like clip art and lesson plans. It’s designed for secular education, but with lots of tools for Jewish educators.

Now, on to our categorized list:

1. Three sites that could be integral to your tzedakah and social action programs.

This non-profit site was set up to build vocabulary and feed hungry people. Check it out and tell your students about it. It’s great for practicing for the SAT and has 55 levels of difficulty. For each correct response 20 grains of rice are donated to hungry people. On the day I wrote this column 247,304,120 grains of rice were donated and distributed through the United Nations World Food Program. To date, over 28 billion grains of rice have been donated.

Be sure to check the “learn” and “take action” sections.

This is an incredible program in which you can lend money to specific entrepreneurs in the developing world, empowering them to lift themselves up.

2. Tools to help you do your job better

“The Educator’s Best Friend.” You’ll love this – a template for just about everything.

A source of free downloadable fonts for use in almost any word processing program for PC or MAC. Grinched is a font that lets Dr. Seuss do the lettering of your poster or postcard or nametag! This site features a “free font of the day.”

You’ll be amazed how useful it can be!

“Turning your original art works into professionally made products you can wear and share.” A colleague used this company to create a tile wall in honor of Israel’s 60th birthday.

3. The Professional You: Articles and Publications

The latest information from the field in easy-to-read articles and resources that are helpful in your work. Articles on school improvement, organizational planning, training, and managing change — are summarized from significant journals. The field’s most useful publication for any educator whose primary responsibility is to ensure classroom success.

Eight Pointers on Teaching Children To Think. Research in Brief.

How to Raise Kids Who Think for Themselves. Early lessons in independence. “Seven unorthodox lessons from Sudbury Valley.”

Play-activities is a free educational e-mail for parents of children under 5 where you’ll find the following article on teaching young children how to think.

The online version of Education Week—a great way to see what is going on in the world of general education!

The online version of the Association for Curriculum and Staff Development’s Educational Leadership magazine.

From Stanford University Libraries, this site discusses issues of copyright research, website permissions, Public Domain

The online page for The George (Star Wars) Lucas Educational Foundation magazine. Subscriptions to the print version are free. They drill deeper on the web page. Topics include: Project learning, technology integration, teacher development, social and emotional learning. You can elect to get a free trial issue of edutopia magazine.

This site is based on 4MAT – “taking instruction to a new level.” It is built around four key types of learning—four modes of learning that all learners need to succeed in learning.

Here are three sites that deal with grammar and sentence structure:

4. Classroom Management

Not just a list of interventions, rather thought-provoking analyses of why students misbehave (and how we can help them not to by meeting their individual needs)

Another colleague recommends this site dealing with intervention and response to

5. Curriculum, Lesson Planning, Special Needs

Using music to promote learning! This site is just terrific! Choose your area of interest and find lyrics, CD’s, books, downloads. Includes sections on sites for teachers and sites for parents.

Lesson Planet: The search engine for teachers. 150,000 online teacher-reviewed lessons. (This is a subscription site.)

Teacher Vision – Great Stuff For Teachers is a subscription website. The cost is $29.99 annually. I believe they have a trial period. Do try it. They have thousands of resources for teachers: Printables (including 180 books), Lesson plans (you can select by subject and grade lever), themes, classroom management and professional development.

A great history resource

Business Network includes a library of articles, including “Your students can be rocket scientists – activities which teach about astronauts, gravity and motion.”

Teaching Tolerance

From the National Council of Teachers of English, you’ll find classroom activities and online resources associated with events in literacy and literature, lessons, and student materials.

Special Needs

Includes an amazing collection of hands on materials that can be adapted and adopted for the Jewish classroom.

They bill themselves as “the worlds’ leading website on learning disabilities and ADHD.” Check the daily LD news and the “finding help” areas.

With thanks to: Rabbi Jerry Kane, Paul Epstein, Sharon Halper, Peter Stark, Rivy Kletenik, Fran Pearlman, Adrian Durlester, Ira Wise, Susan Edelstein, Marian Gorman, and Mike Fixler.