Tag Archives: online resources

Teaching Resources for the World Cup

by Tom Klonoski

world cup teacher resources

Image courtesy of Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No other sport matches the popularity of soccer worldwide. This year from mid-June through mid-July, hundreds of millions of people will be watching soccer’s greatest event, the World Cup. Among sporting events, only the opening ceremony of the Olympics draws a bigger television audience.

The World Cup is held every four years, and the 2014 edition is being hosted by Brazil. Thirty-two nations survived the qualifying rounds that led up to this year’s event. They have been assigned to the following eight groups.

Group A: Brazil, Cameroon, Croatia, Mexico
Group B: Australia, Chile, Netherlands, Spain
Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
Group D: Costa Rica, England, Italy, Uruguay
Group E: Ecuador, France, Honduras, Switzerland
Group F: Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria
Group G: Germany, Ghana, Portugal, United States
Group H: Algeria, Belgium, South Korea, Russia

The United States team faces a difficult road in the group stage. In its group are Germany, Ghana, and Portugal. Germany has finished second or third in the last three World Cups. Ghana eliminated the United States in the previous World Cup in 2010. Portugal has one of world’s greatest players, Cristiano Ronaldo.

United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has made some controversial choices in assembling his team. Recently he dropped Landon Donovan from the squad; Donovan is one of the all-time leading U.S. goal scorers in the World Cup. Klinsmann has emphasized youth and speed in choosing players for his squad. In qualifying play, Clint Dempsey was the leading U.S. scorer.

Soccer fans are especially excited that the two greatest players in the world will be playing in Brazil. In addition to viewing the wizardry of Cristiano Ronaldo, fans will see Lionel Messi showcasing his extraordinary dribbling and scoring talents. For the schedule for all of the games in Brazil, click here.

Bring this global event into your classroom with these ideas for classroom activities.

Classroom Activities

Elementary School Students

Assign a country to pairs of students. Have them do online research and print out a map showing the location of the country, an image of the country’s flag, and a photo of a player from its World Cup soccer team. Display the country posters around the classroom.

Middle School Students

Assign a country to each student. Have students create bar graphs showing the three leading goal scorers for each country in World Cup play. Use the FIFA website for official statistics.

High School Students

Ask students to choose two countries (other than the United States) and to do research to compare and contrast them in the following categories: type of government, leading exports, languages spoken, and leading religion. Have them display their findings in a multimedia format, such as an infographic.

Tom KTom Klonoski is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development.

Forget Googling: Best Science Websites for the Classroom

by Helen Beyne

science websites for classrooms

image courtesy FreeImages.com

We’ve told you where to find free primary sources online and guided you through evaluating the accuracy of online sites. As you know, Google isn’t always the fastest or safest way to find great content, trustworthy online. We’ve pulled together a list of stellar science websites that you can feel confident both sending students to and using to bring scientific concepts to life in the classroom.


Scientific American
Scientific American, founded in 1845, is the “oldest continuously published magazine” in the United States. In addition to articles, the website also includes blogs, videos, and podcasts on a wide variety of science topics.

What began as a printed scientific journal in 1869 has expanded into a publishing group that covers chemistry, clinical practice and research, Earth and the environment, life sciences, and physical sciences.

Popular Science
The print magazine was established in 1872 and went online in 1999. The website includes sections on science, technology, and gadgets.

American Scientist
American Scientist was first published in 1913 and concentrates on science, engineering, and technology.

This magazine, which began as a print publication in 1970, focuses on “topics and subject matters researched, studied and exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution,” including science and innovation.

Science Daily
This website posts topical news articles and links about the latest research and news in various science fields.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration website provides facts about and stunning images of our universe as well as information about the U.S. space program.

Sky & Telescope
This periodical has been sharing information about space for more than 70 years.

The first issue of this magazine was released in August 1973. The publication and website are geared toward amateur astronomers.


Encyclopedia of Life
Gathering scientific literature from several institutions—including the Biodiversity Heritage Library—the EOL advocates for “global access to knowledge about life on Earth.”

Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems
Connected with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), EOLSS is a community-created online encyclopedia. (subscription required)

Animal Diversity Web
ADW is a comprehensive encyclopedia of “the natural history of animals.”


American Chemical Society
The ACS, formed in New York in 1876, is dedicated to “improving people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry.” The website has several education resources divided by level here.

Royal Society of Chemistry
This British group dates back to the mid-nineteenth century and offers links to thousands of chemistry resources for both teachers and students on its website.

Chemical Heritage Foundation
The mission of CHF is “to foster dialogue on science and technology in society.” The website includes oral histories and other archives.

Earth Science

U.S. Geological Survey
The USGS website offers comprehensive and up-to-date information about our planet.

The Geological Society of America
Founded in 1888, the GSA “provides access to elements that are essential to the professional growth of earth scientists.” Many resources can be found on its Education & Outreach page.


Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
WHOI’s mission is to “advance understanding of the ocean and its interaction with the Earth system.”

National Oceanographic Data Center
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) runs this site, which contains oceanic data as well as atlases.

Physical Science

Helmed by the Institute of Physics, this site offers facts, experiments, and games.

American Physical Society
APS offers access to journals and a website called PhysicsCentral.

World Science U
This new site, launched by physicist Brian Greene, provides short videos and longer courses on physics and astronomy.

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.

4 Tips for Evaluating Online Sources

by Helen Beyne

evaluate online sources

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Internet allows us to access endless amounts of information with just a few keystrokes. But there’s a lot of misinformation on the web as well. How can we tell if what we access online is accurate? Use these tips to help your students evaluate a source’s validity.

1. Consider the website’s URL

.gov, .mil, .us

A URL that ends in .gov is restricted to U.S. government departments and agencies and includes websites at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels. Subsidiaries of the U.S. Department of Defense, such as the U.S. Air Force, use the domain .mil. Some government agencies use .fed.us instead of .gov, such as the U.S. Forest Service. However, the domain .us is also available to “[a]ny U.S. citizen or resident, as well as any business or organization.”

Takeaway: Sites with .gov, .mil, and .fed.us in their web addresses can most likely be trusted, but keep in mind that .us sources may not be government sources at all.


The .edu domain applies to “post-secondary institutions that are institutionally accredited,” that is, colleges and universities that pass certain requirements. Professors and other professionals provide content for such sites, but students often upload their work to .edu sites, too.

Takeaway: Sites with .edu in their web addresses can most likely be trusted, but be sure to pay close attention to who wrote the page or article.


Originally, the .org domain was designated for nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits provide information that puts their causes in the best light; while the information may be accurate, it can be slanted toward a certain viewpoint. Today, schools, communities, and for-profit companies can also use this designation.

Takeaway: Any site with the .org domain should be investigated thoroughly to verify that its content is accurate (see tips 2 through 4).

.com and .net

These are the most popular domains on the Internet, and as a result they are the most difficult to verify. Popular and well-respected magazines and journals could have either of these domains in their URLs. Then again, so could your aunt’s cat blog.

Takeaway: Like .org, sites with .com and .net need thorough review before they can be given a stamp of approval as a reliable source (see tips 2 through 4).

2. Consider the author

As mentioned above, websites can host content written by anyone. Ask yourself, Who is the author? Is he or she a credible source? Is he or she pushing an agenda? Does the website itself enhance or detract from the author’s validity?

3. Consider the purpose

Is the site’s purpose to inform? Persuade? Entertain? If a site’s intent appears to be anything other than providing facts to the reader, you may want to reconsider using information from it.

4. Consider the publication date

When was the original article posted? Has it been updated since then? More recent articles are more likely to be accurate.

Follow these tips the next time you need to determine whether online information is accurate and unbiased.

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 Ways of Looking at Presidents’ Day

by Helen Beyne

George Washington President's Day

image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that the holiday often referred to as Presidents’ Day is officially designated Washington’s Birthday? No matter what you call it, the date offers us an opportunity to recognize the contributions and accomplishments of the forty-four presidents to date. It’s also a chance to look at the important role that the American presidency has played in the development of our national character.

This holiday is a chance to help students deepen their engagement with civics and history in a meaningful way. Learning about the leaders of our country can go beyond memorizing dates and names. The key concepts that we highlight on President’s Day—our history, our government, and our leaders—have rich, complex narratives of their own, and there are many great online tools you can access to help your students better understand the legacies of our country’s most important leaders.

The following short list of resources is a starting point. Use these to encourage students to write biographies, author and star in short plays, examine and compare primary sources, put together timelines, or do any other kind of project that suits your classroom! These resources, which include primary and secondary sources, can be a great way to begin a fuller discussion with your students about our country and our history by examining the most revered and most challenging position in our government.

  1. Help your students investigate the history of the holiday at the National Archives. Check out the article about George Washington’s Birthday in the Featured Documents section. Students can view and download images of original documents relevant to Washington and the origin of President’s Day.
  2. The Smithsonian’s “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden” offers a wealth of information about the position and the individuals who have served as the leader of our nation. It includes a variety of student activities, and provides lesson plans for grades 4–6, 7–9, and 10–12.
  3. Green Light Learning Tools’s interactive eBook The Presidency (Android available at Amazon and iOS through the iTunes store) offers an overview of our country’s government, the president’s powers, and the election process. It also provides a close examination of the 2012 election. Built in collaboration with the AP, this tablet-optimized eBook includes videos, charts, graphs, maps, timelines, and quizzes that help students better understand the intricacies of getting elected and serving as the country’s leader. There is also a similar, but simpler IWB lesson available through SMART Exchange.
  4. University of Virginia’s Miller Center hosts the Presidential Classroom, a site where you can access presidential documents, oral histories, images, transcripts, audio recordings, and videos. The audio recordings should be reviewed for appropriateness before sharing with your students.
  5. PBS’s American Experience includes a documentary series on the presidents of the United States, several of which—including those on FDR, Nixon, and Clinton—can be streamed online.

Do you have a favorite site, document, or lesson plan that you teach on Presidents’ Day? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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.

Online Resources for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

by Erin Dye

Online resources for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. | credit: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

To many students, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is nothing more than a day off of school. Make the day a teaching moment by using some of the helpful online resources available about Dr. King’s life and legacy.

Elementary Students

The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site 

This page, run by the National Park Service, hosts a complete Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. curriculum for grades K­–8 (separate teacher’s guides break down the curriculum by grade). The teacher’s guides include detailed information on perceptions of race in different ages of children and information on sensitivity concerns. The guides are incredibly detailed. It’s possible to pick and choose parts of the curriculum as standalone lessons, but it will take time to skim through all this content to find what you want.


BrainPOP’s educational video for Dr. King is currently free. The website has related printable materials to go with the video. The related Lesson Ideas page includes lesson plans and graphic organizers.

History: Martin Luther King, Jr.

History.com (formerly The History Channel) includes many videos, audio clips, and photo galleries that can be used in lesson plans. The site does include advertising before video clips, so consider playing videos to get rid of ads before showing them to the class. Preview all videos for appropriateness before sharing.

Scholastic: Teaching About Martin Luther King, Jr. 

This site includes lesson plans, worksheets, and multimedia. The site claims to be K–12, but the best content seems to be for elementary students.  

Smithsonian’s OurStory

The Smithsonian museum’s Dr. King website includes shorter activities for younger students, including creative projects. The list of recommended books is also excellent.


Middle and High School Students

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University

This site contains a wealth of information and resources for teachers and students. It hosts lesson plans for grades 9–12, as well as many primary sources, study guides, and an exhaustive online encyclopedia. This site is a great first stop for high school teachers, and a destination to send older students to do independent research.


This site from the National Endowment for the Humanities has several lesson plans available, as well as links to other content. “Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Power of Nonviolence” is one of the most interesting options.


Using Primary Sources

“Letter from Birmingham Jail”

Arguably Dr. King’s second most famous piece of writing, the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is also a Common Core exemplar text. The full text is available from The King Center and a corresponding lesson plan is available from the King Research and Education Institute.

“I Have a Dream”

Have students listen to the speech and focus on the power of Dr. King’s voice and rhetoric. Note that this link is the only officially sanctioned release of the entire speech.

Robert F. Kennedy on King’s death

Robert F. Kennedy’s short statement on the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. is a moving tribute. Get the full text from the JFK library. Consider having students use this speech as a model to write a eulogy about Dr. King.

What resources are you using that I missed here? Tell me in the comments!

Erin DyeErin Dye is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development with extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

Where to Find Free IWB Activities

by Dagmar Ladle

Websites for IWB activities

Your whiteboard can do better than this | image courtesy: Stock.XCHNG

Every time I enter a school, teachers ask me for recommendations for websites that are great to use on the IWB with their students.  Below are just a few free websites I like for small group IWB activities.

All Subjects

Interactive Sites for Education: This site is a great portal to interactive IWB activities. The site states that the activities are for grades K–5, but I have seen content up to the 8th grade level.

Marqueed: This is a site where users can share images and create a collaborative, secure area for students to provide feedback and discuss images related to class content.

BrainPOP: Though most of BrainPOP’s content requires a subscription, they do offer some great free resources across all subject areas. Click “Spotlight” or “Free Stuff” to see what’s available now.

Language Arts

It’s Greek to Me: This Scholastic game focuses on Greek influences on the English language.

Scholastic Story Starters: Story Starters allows students to choose from four themes to write a story.  Students type in their names, pick their grades (K–6), and then spin wheels to determine elements of the story, including its plot, setting, and characters. Once the students choose these elements, they can type the story and add a picture.  The story can then be printed or downloaded.

FlipSnack: This program allows teachers and students to create and share digital books. A basic class license is free.

LitPick: (Grades 6–12) This site provides preteens and teens a safe social community to read and review books.

Social Studies

The Underground Railroad: Another Scholastic activity, this interactive journey along the Underground Railroad is engaging for students and includes a helpful teacher’s guide.

The Digital Public Library of America: The Digital Public Library of America draws on online content from libraries, universities, archives, and museums to be a one-stop search spot for students and teachers. Search for a topic, or click “Exhibitions” for curated content.

Current Events and Community

Youngzine: This is a current events website for kids that allows students and parents to interact with another by commenting on news, informational pieces, student writing, and books.

Where do you go to find free IWB activities?

Dagmar LadleDagmar Ladle is Manager of Consulting Services at Green Light Professional Development. Before Green Light, Dagmar worked for Chicago Public Schools, Promethean, and Apple. She writes about technology integration and GLPD’s work in local schools. 

Online Resources for ELL Students

by Dagmar Ladle

The internet is full of ELL resources

Head online for lots of great ELL resources | image courtesy: stock.XCHNG

As school budgets continue to dwindle, teachers face the challenge of teaching an increasing ELL population with fewer resources. In the classrooms I have visited, the teachers who seem to be providing the best explicit literacy instruction and interactive teaching use technology to help them differentiate. Some of these strategies might assist you in your classroom when you are working with ELL students.

Images: Try to provide a digital image of key academic or content-specific words. These images should be real photographs and not clip art. Also, look for online picture dictionaries for primary students and those who need more support. Make these a part of every lesson and small group activity.

Reading: Use computer-based reading programs that allow individual students to interact with texts at their specific level. Many software programs, such as myON and Achieve3000, select texts for students based on their reading level and include topics that motivate students to want to read. MyON and Achieve3000 also have activities specifically for ELL students. These digital resources are great for differentiated instruction at school, and they also allow the family of an ELL student to participate in the child’s education and perhaps even learn new words in their second language. For older students, try Newsela, a free website that provides news articles at different Lexile levels.

Writing:  Web-based games, social media, email, and other online resources provide authentic writing opportunities for students. They also provide a framework for students to learn, work, and solve problems cooperatively. Create a class Twitter account, start a blog, or encourage older students to join English, Baby. All of these can lead to authentic experiences in critical thinking for ELL students.

Here’s a list (in no particular order) of useful online ELL resources.

Resource collections and free online tools:
Activities for ESL Students
, a project of The Internet TESL Journal
English Language Learner (ELL) Resources, the Utah Education Network
ESL Basics
Kindersay (for pre-K students)
Printable English Worksheets
ESL instructors and Students, Purdue Online Writing Lab
English Learner Movie Guides
ESL Lounge (also check out the student site)
Dave’s ESL Cafe

Software and programs:
Scientific Learning Reading Assistant
Lexia Reading, part of the Rosetta Stone company
Kurzweil 3000
MindPlay’s Virtual Reading Coach

How do you use technology with your ELL students?

Dagmar LadleDagmar Ladle is Manager of Consulting Services at Green Light Professional Development. Before Green Light, Dagmar worked for Chicago Public Schools, Promethean, and Apple. She writes about technology integration and GLPD’s work in local schools.