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Scholastic Teachers promotes itself as being a site “Where Teachers Come First”.
The homepage is bright and colourful, with an accurate and useful search box facility. I searched for “prepositions” and there were 5 results returned under the category of shopping, 21 results for resources, ideas and activities, 4 under book wizard, and 8 classified as printables.
The site is broken down into the homepage, with a home icon displayed n the tab, Resources and Tools, Strategies and Ideas, Student Activities, Books and Authors, Products and Services, Shop – The Teacher Store, and Estoria – eBooks. Down the left hand side there are further categories of What’s New, Book Club, Book Wizard, Lesson Plans, and The Teacher Store.
There are Excellent Paid and Free Resources
Under the Resources and Tools tab you will see further options for All Resources and Tools, Spotlight on Storia, Daily Starters, Everything You Need for ..., Lesson Plans, Planning Calendar, Printables, Mini-Books, Tools, Freebie Corner and Video. Under Lesson Plans you will find over 1,000 free lesson plans that are ready to use. There is a really handy search tool so you can try and locate by using the exact keyword you require, or alternatively you can use the index tool to see all lesson plans. You are able to view by grade, subject or resource, making it really easy for you to find something practical and appropriate. I did a keyword search for “weather” and was given a choice of 259 different resources, all of which were clearly marked with the lesson title, the grade that the lesson is suitable for, and a basic description. Clicking on a title (I selected “Let’s Talk About Weather”) you are able to see different class options for the subject. The lesson is then conveniently broken down into different sections; an overview, the class objective, the materials you need to complete the class, preparations you will need to do before the class, directions, lesson extensions, possible follow-up assignments, evaluation, and how to assess students. I did a further search for “food”, whereby 461 results were returned. With such a good selection of comprehensive lesson plans, I think this site is excellent for teachers struggling to think of ideas, or who are just really pressed for time and need some ready-made guidance. In the Everything You Need section, you can again search by keyword and find some very useful resources ready for you to take straight into the classroom. I searched for “animals” and nine results were displayed. Within these results you can see teaching guides, lesson plans, printables, relevant books, and information. Some resources are free, whereas others you must buy. You are able to sort results based on grade or resource type. Whether you are looking for quizzes, student contests, computer lab activities, interactive whiteboard activities, listen and read activities, online learning activities, writing activities, articles, collections, biographies, author interviews, author visit kits, author’s notes, book descriptions, book excerpts, book lists, booktalks, writing prompts, lesson plans, unit plans, discussion guides, extension activities, readers theatre scripts, teaching guides, vocabulary builders, or a combination of these, you can easily sort the results to find just what you need.
Good Range of Materials
Materials and resource suggestions are generally available for all levels from Pre-K to Grade 12. The site is therefore an invaluable resource to all school teachers, no matter which age they teach. The Printables section though is only searchable up to Grade 8. It would be better if this section was all grade inclusive as well. But the materials that are there are excellent.
There are Fantastic Month by Month Ideas
Within the Planning Calendar section there is a daily breakdown of events occurring on that particular day. The event name is a clickable link to a collection of great ideas and resources. As well as a detailed overview of the event, some have free materials, including lesson plans, printables, books, and activity suggestions for each event. You can also search by month, making it even easier for you to plan ahead for months in advance. Some events, however, only have paid resources listed. Looking at the month of June 2013, the 27th is listed as being Helen Keller’s birthday. There are 39 items listed, which can be sorted by grade and theme. I did not find any free resources for this event and all the listed suggestions were books to buy. Looking at Independence Day, however, listed on the 4th of July, there are free resources.
There is a Good Selection of Printable Materials
Although only available up to Grade 8, there are useful free printable and reproducible materials in the Printable section. There are many more available for subscribers.
Subscription is a Low Affordable Cost
If you wanted even more great resources, you could subscribe to Schoolastic Teachers for as little as $8.99. The site says that subscription will give you access to over 15,000 resources available at any time and from anywhere.
There is a Free Basic Flashcard Maker
A free flashcard maker, available under the Tools tab, means that you can easily enter your words and print them into a standard template. Although you are not able to enter images in the free version, it is good that you have the option to create professional looking word flashcards if you want to.
There is a Free Basic Word Search and Word Scramble Maker
Under the Tools tab you can also access a free word search maker and a free word scramble maker. Although not the best tool available for such things online, it is a good place to start where you only need a very basic worksheet. I like that you must enter words twice, to check your spelling. These are great for helping your students to practice their spelling, and for learning and reinforcing new vocabulary.
Free Stuff Listed in One Handy Place
In Freebie Corner you can find a wide selection of free resources as well as discounts and offers on products for sale.
Good Sections for Seeing Views, Opinions and Tips From Other Teachers
There is a blog with posts by other teachers on a variety of topics. This way of sharing ideas is great, in my opinion, as you can see exactly what other people think, with candid opinions and useful tips. There are ideas for teaching particular areas, as well as tips for teaching in general and how to deal with different types of students. The Teacher Share section allows you and your teaching colleagues to share resources. You can see all resources shared by others, and if you have a lesson that works well, a unique idea, or you find a fabulous way to do something, you can share it with others to help them to benefit from your inventiveness and creativeness.
There is an Area for Students as well as Teachers
The Student Activities section is a good place to refer students to who are having difficulties, or just want a way to study more and enhance their learning. Keen students will love this section. Many of the materials in this section can also be used in the classroom by teachers. Look here for even more resources and materials.
There are Excellent Books for Sale
There are options to order online or by telephone for the vast selection of books available to buy through Schoolastic Teachers.
There is a Dedicated Section for New Teachers
New teachers may find this section reassuring and incredibly useful when beginning their career as an ESL teacher. First class nerves can be banished by the knowledge of being completely prepared for the class and for every possible scenario. Tools, tip and resources can all be found in this section.
Although advertising is a common feature on so many websites today, clicking on some tabs first produces an advertisement. Although there is the option to skip the advert and continue, after a while of browsing the site I did find this a bit tiresome and annoying.
The Site Can be Confusing to Navigate
Although there are some great free resources on this site, as well as many more for paid subscribers, I did find that I found more materials by browsing through the site in general rather than being able to easily find and go to them straight away. Whilst the amount of information on this site is a massive bonus, it can also lead to it being difficult to source what you want, especially if time is precious.
Not all Grades are Catered for in Every Section
There is discrepancy between the grades between the sections, with some sections providing materials for up to Grade 12, and other sections only having materials for up to Grade 8. It would be good if there was some consistency and all grades covered throughout.
Crammed with information, tips, materials and resource suggestions, both free and paid, this is a good site for those who have the time to sift through the different sections. With some perusing, it is likely that you will find some top quality and highly useful things to use in your classroom, and you will be glad that you took the time and effort to search the site.
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This is a guest review by an independent author. This review reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of BusyTeacher.org as a publication.