Tag Archives: online resources

The Presidency (pre-election) ebook now available!

The History of The Presidency

A limited edition ebook for today’s tech-savvy student

ap-preelection-presidency-cover-092116Contemporary classrooms ought to represent contemporary students—students born of the New Media Age. In the past, students learned dense subjects like science, history, and math from standard textbooks. Today, publishers are creating interactive, educational resources that compliment traditional textbooks and grab students’ interest to encourage learning.

Together the Associated Press and Green Light Learning Tools have created The Presidency (pre-election), a multimedia overview of the U.S. presidency, that does just that—connects students to the content to encourage learning. In an innovative approach to marrying news coverage and curriculum, students can not only read about the executive branch and presidents but also directly hear the words and see video of the presidents as they learn about them. The Presidency (pre-election) features award-winning photos and video culled from AP’s rich historical archive, and it pairs them with clear, succinct, age-level appropriate explanations.

Students have information available at the touch of their fingertips—literally! With the swipe of a finger students can access videos, presidential debates, interactive timelines of the U.S. presidency, quizzes, and slideshows.

The ebook is primarily for students in grades 4–8, but is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the presidency. It also includes a glossary of academic terms and their definitions and three chapters—The Executive Branch, Electing a President, and Election 2016.

The Presidency (pre-election) is available for download on iTunes for $5.99, and is compatible with Android devices, the iPad 2 or later, and the iPad Mini.

Coming Soon!

ap-postelection-presidency-cover-092116Stay connected with Green Light Learning Tools via Twitter and/or Facebook for news about the release of The Presidency (post-election), an updated edition that includes the outcome of the 2016 election as well as the new president’s inauguration speech.


[Video] How to use a semicolon

Students struggling with punctuation? Tired of suggesting corrections for comma splices? Is it time to brush up on writing conventions before a big essay assignment?

Check out this brief video: in two and a half minutes, we can quell your students’ fears about correct semicolon usage.

Watch on YouTube:  How to use a semicolon

Visit our YouTube channel for great videos on punctuation and grammar, #edtech, and more!



5 Great Free Math Websites For Teachers

by Mary Kate Dempsey

free math websites for teachers

Image courtesy of artur84 | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Technology is a great way to introduce variety to your math lessons. Below are some helpful websites that teachers can use as reference materials, for tutoring, as extra practice, or just for fun.

Khan Academy

We have talked about Khan Academy before. Khan Academy has thousands of K-8 educational videos to help students grasp concepts from basic arithmetic to calculus and organic chemistry. As a teacher, you can create a class and track both your students’ progress through skill assessments and how much time they spent working on the site. The site includes non-math subjects, but they aren’t the draw.

A+ Click

A+ Click is a great resource for students who need extra practice. Students choose either a grade level, G1–12, or a topic. Whether the student answers right or wrong, A+ Click will show you why the correct answer is correct (so even the lucky guessers will learn something). The site revised most of the questions in 2015 to align to the Common Core. Bonus: no sign-in required!

Wolfram MathWorld

This offshoot of the popular Wolfram Alpha online calculator has hundreds of free math articles on topics ranging from algebra to topology, including the history and definitions of math terms—fun for the math nerd in all of us! Many articles include helpful visuals such as GIFs and pictures. It is the perfect reference material when needing to go into more detail about a theorem or topic.

AAA Math

This site for students in grades K-8 contains short written lessons followed by practice items on topics from addition to algebra. In the classroom, ask students to answer a specific number of practice questions or set a time limit and have students tell you their score at the end. The site is also available in Spanish.

Math Dude Podcast

More for the audial learner, Math Dude is a weekly podcast most appropriate for high school students. Host Jason Marshall aims to make math fun with facts about the Juno Spaceship and the NCAA Tournament. He shares tips and tricks to help make math easier for kids who are struggling. The podcasts range from 6-10 minutes, making it a great bellringer.

What are some other math websites you love? Let us know in the comments.

The Best Free Resource You Aren’t Using

by Hope Morley

If you think about the Library of Congress at all, perhaps you imagine a giant library with stacks of books going up to the ceiling, or maybe you think it’s merely dusty old congressional records. While both of those things are true, their website is also a great resource for teachers. And best of all, it’s free!

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-DIG-jpd-02457

Teahouse at Koishikawa | Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-DIG-jpd-02457

Spend a little time exploring the homepage. The Prints & Photographs division has millions of digital images that are easy to search and download. The Civil War photographs and Farm Security Administration collections are particularly worth exploring. Some of the collections may surprise you. Did you know the LOC has an excellent collection of Japanese art prints?

The Film division contains many early motion pictures, including from Thomas Edison’s studio, which make a great study of technology and inventions. Show students this 1894 video of boxing cats to prove that cat videos were popular long before YouTube!

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-DIG-fsa-8b29516

Migrant Mother | Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-DIG-fsa-8b29516

Though some of the sites are a little old and not very pretty, LOC’s Digital Collections (formerly the American Memory series) is full of curated content ripe for the picking. Looking for documents from the Constitutional Convention? Historical sheet music? Videos of the Spanish-American War, including Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders? A history of the American conservation movement? A web archive of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City? You may find things you didn’t know would be fascinating, like a history of Dolly Parton and early country music.

Some content comes from other sources, such as universities and local historical societies, which extends the reach of the site. They have whole collections of African American history, women’s history, technology, and more. Don’t let the old-fashioned look of some of the pages scare you off!

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppprs-00626

First Flight | Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppprs-00626

For teacher-focused materials, head over to their teacher page. This site contains lesson plans, presentations, and student activities. Lesson plans include recommended grade levels and many have Common Core correlations. You’ll also find tips for using primary sources in the classroom and some professional development lessons.

What are your favorite resources from LOC? Tell us in the comments!

Hope bioHope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT

Resources for Integrating Multimedia into your Classroom

by Erin Dye

Multimedia is a huge part of the Common Core. Two of the standards (RL.7 and RI.7, in most grades) explicitly call for analyzing multimedia, and other standards can be enhanced by the addition of high-quality multimedia. What do we mean when we say multimedia? It doesn’t only mean videos. It can be images, video, music, graphs, and interactives like infographics.

Unfortunately, the Internet is full of mediocre multimedia that isn’t worth analyzing. To find quality multimedia, check out trusted institutions that are known for high-quality content, such as museums or PBS Kids. Or start with our list below!


  • iBooks: While the best content is paid, keep on eye on the free section. If you are interested in a paid book, try a sample before you buy to make sure it has multimedia.
  • Google Play/Google Books: As with iBooks, most of the best content is paid. But many public domain children’s books include the original illustrations and the content is available without an Apple device.
  • Met Museum: The illustrated story “Marduk, King of the Gods” is great for younger kids. It features audio, sound effects, and pictures.
  • Storyline Online: One of my favorites is this collection of videos of celebrities (Betty White, James Earl Jones, many more) reading famous picture books.
  • Reading Rainbow: This subscription-based app for iPad and Kindle Fire is an extension of the classic TV show. A classroom edition is coming for fall 2015.
  • Library of Congress: A great, free collection of classic public domain books presented in a nice viewer
  • Edsitement Websites: This list of recommended websites from the National Endowment for the Arts includes many great interactives. Filter by subject for best results.


  • National Archives: Part of the DocsTeach collection, this site is a great resource for videos, plus virtual Google Maps tours on HistoryPin.
  • PBS Learning Media: Great repository for videos (such as a science series with Curious George) and interactive stories (includes some fiction for younger kids too).
  • Met Museum: This interactive Vincent van Gogh bio with images, maps, and more is great for a cross-curricular study of art and history.
  • Smithsonian Air and Space Museum: A fun interactive website about aerodynamics
  • MinuteEarth: Looking for great science videos? Try these short and informational earth science videos
  • FiveThirtyEight: This site applies statistics to everything from politics to sports to movies. Use it for engaging graphs and analysis for older students.
  • Teaching History: Need a site for history or social students? Check out these oh-so-helpful reviews of history sites.
  • Google Cultural Institute: Just explore this one. You’ll love it.

What sites are we missing? Add them in the comments below!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAErin Dye is Manager of Consulting Services for Green Light Professional Development and a Google Certified Educator. She has extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about technology integration and GLPD’s work in local schools.

How to Use Backchannels in the Classroom

by Hope Morley

how to use backchannels in the classroom

image courtesy miamiamia via freeimages.com

If you’ve been to a conference in the past several years, I’m sure you saw that the event had its own hashtag. Whatever your feelings about Twitter and hashtags, I can tell you that some great conversations happen thanks to those hashtags and that it’s a great way to hear what someone else in the same sessions thought of the speakers.

This type of digital conversation occurring in the background of a live event is known as a backchannel. Backchannels can be great in the classroom as well as the conference center.

When you have a class discussion, what percentage of students really participate (outside of monosyllables)? 50 percent? 75? Using backchannels is a way to increase that number by allowing students who may not feel comfortable speaking up, or who process more slowly, to contribute their ideas.

I also like backchannels during lectures or while showing movies in class. Students can post questions as they watch, and you as the teacher can monitor engagement. It’s similar to collaborative note taking. You can pause the movie if you see many questions about a topic or comments indicating that students are itching to discuss!

Obviously giving students an open platform can be risky, so moderate any backchannel while it is still in use and shut it down when the activity is over.

Backchannel Tools

The Best:

Today’s Meet

With a fast and easy setup and no sign in required, Today’s Meet is the easiest and quickest way to start using backchannels. Once you start your chat, you get a simple URL (no long sets of numbers or letters) or QR code that can be shared with your students. Transcripts of the discussion can be downloaded for reference later. Today’s Meet asks for “Nicknames,” so set rules with your students as to what name they need to enter.

The Rest:


This is a great option if you want students to post anything in addition to text, or if you don’t need the discussion to stay in chronological order. Padlet is also a good option if you are having students use a backchannel while reading an informational text. If students have questions that require a little outside research, other students can post answers, images, or even videos. Lino is a similar service, but I prefer Padlet’s interface.


Chatzy creates an old-school chat room. Guests need to be invited via email, which is an additional step you may not want to take. Chatzy also lacks a presentation mode and the ability to download transcripts like Today’s Meet. You can ask multiple choice questions, though if you want students answering questions during class I’d recommend Poll Everywhere or Socrative. Chatzy also has public rooms with questionable content, so keep curious student eyes on your room.

Google Moderator

I want to like this tool. I really do. The features, such as threaded conversations, seem great… but I can’t stand it. I find the layout very confusing and the presentation mode leaves out any replies to comments. A rare whiff on Google’s part.

Edmodo or Twitter

If your students are on Edmodo, you can have students post in a group. I don’t think Edmodo is as clean or easy as Today’s Meet, but go for it if your students are comfortable with the site. Twitter also works (set a unique hashtag), but all your students would need a public account.

For more about backchannels, check out Cybrary Man’s backchannel page. Or pop over to Twitter and ask me your questions!

Hope bioHope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT

Educational (and Fun!) Halloween Activities

by Helen Beyne

halloween activities

Image courtesy of satit_srihin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While most students associate Halloween with candy and costumes, it is a holiday full of cultural traditions. Similar holidays are celebrated throughout the world this time of year. Each variation on Halloween has its own rich history and cultural traditions.

Halloween is the perfect time to have students scare up a spooky story, learn about the origins of All Hallows’ Eve, or read the chilling works of Edgar Allan Poe. Below is a list of suggested topics and activities to “thrill” your students.

1. The History of Halloween

Where did our modern-day Halloween traditions come from? You can get the facts by visiting the History Channel’s mini-site, which explores the origins of our traditions through videos, infographics, and images.

2. Spooky Stories

Halloween provides an opportunity for students to practice creative writing, which is an important part of English Language Arts curriculum. Have students practice writing mysteries or epitaphs. If your students are having trouble thinking up an idea for a story, have them check out Scholastic’s writing prompts. When students have completed their mysteries or epitaphs, encourage them to use PowToon to create presentations and make their writing come to life.

3. Edgar Allan Poe

Halloween is a great time to introduce students to the inventor of the modern detective story, Edgar Allan Poe, whose haunting tales and poetry have made him one of the most famous macabre writers. There are a number of interactive resources available that feature some of Poe’s well-known works. You can use Flocabulary’s educational rap, “Pit and the Pendulum,” to review the plot of Poe’s story in an engaging way. If you are teaching “The Raven,” TeachersFirst offers an interactive version of the poem, which reviews key vocabulary and literary devices.

4. Things That Go Bump in the Night

October is a good time to work nocturnal animals, such as bats, into your curriculum. Scholastic has rounded up seven science activities that allow students to explore the bat’s anatomy and learn about its habitat. Students can also explore fun facts about vampire bats on National Geographic Kids.

5. Salem Witch Trials

Have your students explore a time in American history when innocent men and women were accused of practicing witchcraft and hysteria spread throughout the village of Salem. Have them learn about the history of the Salem Witch Trials by exploring Discovery’s interactive adventure, which chronicles the infamous series of hearings and prosecutions.

6. Día de los Muertos

As an alternative to discussing Halloween, teach students about el Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, a tradition observed in Mexico and throughout Latin America that celebrates those who are no longer with us. Check out National Geographic’s site to learn more about this lively celebration and the cultural traditions associated with it.

Happy Halloween!

Helen bioHelen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

5 Educational YouTube Channels to Follow

by Hope Morley

Educational youtube channel

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Far from being just for cat videos, YouTube offers an unlimited amount of resources for learners. Many well-known and reliable websites and institutions have channels that focus specifically on one area of interest or study. Other channels present information from both the humanities and the sciences.

Here are five YouTube channels that offer educational videos on a wide variety of topics, including science, literature, social studies, music, and everything in between!

C.G.P. Grey

The C.G.P. Grey channel offers dozens of videos on politics, geography, and economics, as well as a few on science topics. C.G.P. Grey’s most popular video is “The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England Explained” (who doesn’t need a refresher on that?), which had more than 6 million views at the end of August 2014.

LEVEL: Middle to high school

Crash Course

Brothers Hank Green and John Green (yes, the The Fault in Our Stars author) launched this entertaining and informational channel in January 2012 with its first—and still most viewed—video about the agricultural revolution, the first in a 42-episode series on world history. When asked by a “student” if the presented information will be “on the test,” John’s reply is: “The test will last your entire life, and it will be comprised of the millions of decisions that, when taken together, make your life yours.” Other subjects covered are U.S. history, biology, ecology, literature, chemistry, and psychology.

LEVEL: High school

Library of Congress

Based in Washington, D.C., the Library of Congress (LOC) considers itself “the steward of millions of recordings dating from the earliest Edison films to the present.” Along with these first films and archival footage of historical and artistic events, the videos on the LOC channel range from music concerts to lectures on dozens of subjects to interviews with authors and other notable figures. The most viewed piece of media is a five-second film from 1894 showing the “Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze.” Another popular video is of boxing cats, which is exactly what it sounds like and proves that people were amused by feline behavior decades before the rise of the Internet.

LEVEL: Middle to high school

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and MIT OCW

One of the top universities in the country, MIT and its news team post videos of science experiments, the latest in technology and medicine, and even how to deflect asteroids with a paintball cloud! The most viewed page is a video that visualizes the speed of light.

In addition to its YouTube channel, MIT also maintains a web-based publication known as MIT OpenCourseWare (MIT OCW). MIT OCW offers thousands of university courses for free. MIT OCW has its own YouTube channel, in which learners can choose between thousands of lectures on subjects such as computer programming, the sciences, architecture, communications, law, and languages.

LEVEL: Middle to high school

Have any thoughts on these educational YouTube channels? Have any others you’d like to share? Leave a comment, or find us on Facebook and Twitter!

Hope bioHope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT

Math Resources for Summer School

by Helen Beyne

math apps and websites for summer school

images courtesy digital art/luigi diamanti | freedigitalphotos.net

School’s out—except for those of you teaching summer school. There’s often a lot of material to cover with your summer school students, but summer session is also a great time to try out some new tools.

Here are some resources to help get your students up to speed in math this summer.


THE WORKS: Khan Academy is a great resource. Not only does it provide self-guided instruction for your students, with instructional videos and hints that clearly explain the process for determining the answer to a question, but it is also aligned with CCSS. You can even “recommend,” or assign, lessons to your students and track their progress.

THE BELLS AND WHISTLES: If you’re looking for some real-world math problems that will engage your students, check out Get the Math. Students can use their math skills to figure out how to do things like mix music and make clothing with a high profit margin. These lessons include guidelines for teachers, aligned to CCSS, and videos and interactive activities for students. For students who need help with particular skills, the lessons include videos of students using their math skills to figure out each problem.  

THE WELLSPRING: PBS LearningMedia is a huge repository of videos, lessons, and interactive activities that you can use in your classroom. You can search by subject, grade, and CCSS; create shareable folders; and even download media and related guides for classroom use.


WHAT’S IN A NAME?:  For practice with addition and multiplication, share the quick-paced Sushi Monster app with your students. This app is exactly what it seems to be. Students must feed a monster the appropriately labeled pieces of sushi with numbers that can be added together or multiplied to equal the number dangling from its neck. Each level increases the number of problems and answer choices.

FOR THE VISUAL LEARNERS: For a series of apps aligned to CCSS math standards for Grades 1–5, try Splash Math, a visually engaging app with images that help students understand math concepts. The free version limits students to twenty questions per day, so this might be used to quickly reinforce or test a skill that you’ve covered.

What websites and apps do you use to teach math?

Helen bioHelen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

Use Technology to Fight the Summer Slump

by Helen Beyne

technology summer slump

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the next few weeks, most schools will end for the year. During the summer, in the absence of opportunities to learn and practice essential skills, learning can decline. Many students regress over the summer months and return to school behind on measures of academic achievement. Research shows that students from all socioeconomic backgrounds lose about two months of mathematical computation skills over the summer months; however, in literacy, the achievement gap between students from high- and low-income families widens. New technology tools can drastically change the way learning takes place between June and September and can help fight the “summer slump.”

Online learning communities are expanding the ways students can interact with the world and are an engaging way to keep students reading and writing throughout the summer. When students use online learning communities to regularly connect and collaborate with their teachers and peers, they are able to maintain and sometimes even improve their skills over the summer. Additionally, they are building technology skills and learning media literacy.

There are myriad online learning communities, such as Edmodo, that make it easy for educators to connect with their students, allow for student collaboration, and enable teachers to share new resources with their students over the summer months. One way to start the “summer semester” is by asking students what they’re interested in learning. You can use the topics your students suggest to create interest-driven reading lists, book club groups, and project-based learning tasks on Edmodo that encourage students to read. You can also post writing prompts so that you can monitor students’ comprehension, evaluate students’ punctuation and grammar, and guide students as they read. To make sure your students are constantly reading and writing, consider posting links to current events, videos, and new scientific discoveries and ask students to reflect on what they learned.

Another effective way to maintain students’ literacy skills and have them develop new technology skills is to encourage students to go on a field trip in their communities or on a virtual field trip and blog about their experience. Make sure to communicate the objective and purpose of the project and post a list of field trip options on Edmodo. There are many different virtual field trips available, such as Google Lit Trips or the Louvre museum. Encourage students who elect to go on field trips in their communities to take photos so they have a visual record of their experience. Have students create blogs on Weebly to document their experience. Ask them to post photos they took or found online and reflect on what they learned during their visits.

In addition to online learning communities, literacy solutions, such as myOn, can help students improve their reading skills by recommending books that match their ability level and allow teachers to guide students and closely monitor their progress. myON is a literacy program that allows students to access more than 7,000 digital books. Students can access its expansive digital library online or via its iPad or Android apps. This literacy solution creates a profile for students based on their interests and reading level and uses the criteria to recommend books to them. myON’s features include spoken word audio, word or sentence highlighting, an embedded dictionary, and end-of-book quizzes. The program allows teachers to monitor each student’s progress through a dashboard, which collects data on the amount of time spent reading, number of books read, and assessment results and allows teachers to create a customized reading experience for their students. During the summer, teachers can use this Lexile-based program to assign summer readings and monitor student progress.

Online learning communities and literacy solutions provide opportunities for students to read and write over the summer months and allow students to create and share their work, collaborate with one another, build technology skills, and use digital books to enhance reading. Summer presents an opportunity for teachers to be more innovative and creative in their teaching and assessment.

How will you use technology to help students maintain or improve their literacy skills over the summer to help close the achievement gap?

Helen bioHelen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.