How to Build a Collection of Educational Links

The Internet became a powerful tool in educators’ hands. It is almost impossible to imagine a research project, essay, reading assignment or any learning activity without an aid of appropriate websites. However, with the Internet community growing by the minute, if not by the second, how can one harness its power and adapt it to educator’s needs? How can one find a trustworthy and age-appropriate content quickly?

This task may become a challenge, especially for a new teacher, overwhelmed with numerous and important duties. Yet a comprehensive and up-to-date collection of useful educational links becomes a time-savior, and an invaluable resource.

Many schools have a computer teacher or technology facilitator on board; his or her responsibilities may include developing and maintaining the school’s website. This teacher might already have a collection of educational links for you to use. Ask for some advice on how to access this collection, and how to add your own links if necessary.

Eventually, you might decide to build your own collection. When I started working on mine, I subscribed to several well-known and trustworthy educational sites; they now send me updates regularly. Education World (web address http://www.educationworld.com/) has numerous resources for teachers, including a searchable database of lesson plans, activities geared to technology integration, and articles about professional development. Teachers can subscribe to receive weekly updates about new and noteworthy educational sites followed by their reviews. Each review contains a description of the topic or subject matter of the site, grades targeted and possible classroom uses.

Blue Web’n (http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/bluewebn/), my other source of information about new educational sites, is a library of “Blue Ribbon learning sites on the Web”. This library is sorted by subject, grade level, and format, including lessons, tutorials, and activities available. The sites are reviewed and selected by a panel of teachers with degrees in education or library science, and with many years of experience. To subscribe to weekly updates, you need to send an e-mail to bluewebn-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

The site is easy to navigate: the menu on the right includes subject areas available for searching, and a teacher can limit the search to a certain grade level or an application type. For example, when I entered “elementary” for a grade level, “project” for an application type, and “United States History” for a content area, I have received five results. All projects were integrated activities involving several subject areas.

Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators (http://school.discovery.com/schrockguide/ ) is another great resource for building your own list of sites, useful for enriching curriculum. A subscriber receives regularly updates. The site itself is user-friendly, and includes Curriculum Center, Homework Helpers, and Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators with the subject access and various search tools. Kathy Schrock is a well-known educator and promoter of technology integration in schools. She was recently honored as a Top Five Innovator by Technology and Learning magazine in May of 2005.

When you have a sizable collection of links, it becomes inconvenient to keep them on one computer’s hard drive. Your students might need to access many of these websites to follow various assignments. One way to make your collection available to others is to publish it on school’s website. Many schools have well-organized collections of educational links. However, if you prefer to have your own site with links organized the way you like – look for web services that will allow you to keep your collection of links online. Some examples include My Bookmarks (http://www.mybookmarks.com/) and I keep bookmarks (http://www.ikeepbookmarks.com/). The latter gives you an opportunity to add links as you surf the web by clicking “PopUp” after you log in. You can also upload an existing collection or download links to your hard drive. You can highlight important links with attention-grabbing stickers. The links are organized in folders, and can be edited or deleted. My collection www.ikeepbookmarks.com/Tadenev keeps growing, and requires constant maintenance, since links often become obsolete.

These ways of creating and organizing important links helped me integrate technology into curriculum more effectively. For busy teachers they provide a timesaving opportunity.

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