7 Go-To Sites for Discovering Science Resources

Teachers are constantly searching for new science resources and content to diversify their lessons and engage students. Surfing the Internet is a great way to find what you’re looking for, but the Internet is a big place. That’s why some teachers spend as much as five to seven hours a week browsing for content.

If you are looking for more than games, jumpstart your search here. These seven sites can help make it a little narrower.

1) Share My Lesson

Share My Lesson is a fantastic database of science resources, featuring lessons from early childhood through high school. As the name implies, teachers log on and share their own lessons and resources. To date, those total more than 420,000, including more than 11,000 for middle school science alone! They’re all free, and searchable by grade and standards.

2) Teachers Pay Teachers

You’ve probably heard of Teachers Pay Teachers by now. Much like Share My Lesson, TpT hosts lessons crowdsourced from educators. Boasting an even bigger library of more than 2.8m resources, some free and some paid, it’s a fantastic tool for bringing together the genius of teachers everywhere. When you’re searching, you can sort by grade, subject, resource type, and price, or check out the trending topics on their homepage.

Teachers Pay Teachers hosts science resources for teachers everywhere.

3) University of Cincinnati Libraries

The UC Libraries STEM Education page links to a bunch of juicy STEM content across the web. These include science websites, lesson plan libraries, student research databases, educational videos, curriculum resources, and much more. Dig in to this wealth of material, vetted by a major research university.

4) Getting Smart “Smart Lists”

If you don’t know Getting Smart, you should. They publish articles about every education topic from policy to personalized learning. Their “Smart Lists” blog series features resource lists with different themes every month. Find lists of education blogs & newsletters, parent resources & homework help, music & art, and more. Start by checking out this STEM & Maker Resources list from September.

Getting Smart hosts tons of science content, including Smart Lists which feature great science resources.

5) Teaching Ideas

Teaching Ideas is a British site that lists an eye-popping amount of resources for teachers. Along with science, teachers can find inspiration for English, “maths” 😉 , computing, art, music, history, PE, you name it — so go ahead and share it with your non-science colleagues! If you’re looking for lesson plans, projects, videos, games, it’s all here, with a search functionality and many levels of filtering.

6) Tes

Tes is an education giant, claiming “the world’s largest online community of teachers” with almost 8 million registered users. Like Share My Lesson and TpT, Tes hosts a marketplace where teachers can share all kinds of resources, free and paid, from pre-K through high school. Their marketplace also features a bunch of discussion forums, as well as resources for exploring the teacher job market (focused on the UK). They also publish a magazine, and publish tons of education-related news. Talk about a go-to education site!

Tes has thousands of science resources, from lesson plans to news articles.

7) Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative

Out of the University of British Columbia, CWSEI mainly focuses on research related to science pedagogy in higher education. However, their site lists a wide variety of resources, including tools that can be used in the classroom, but also a plethora of reference books and articles for everything you want to learn about education. The Initiative’s stated goal is to build “a more scientifically literate populace… able to make wise decisions, informed by scientific understanding, about other complex issues” — a mission we can all get behind!

If you’re looking for new science resources, this list is a good place to start. These websites complement the depth and breadth of the thousands of science games and assessment items teachers find on the Legends of Learning platform.

New NGSS White Paper Offers
a Layperson’s Guide

Our new NGSS White Paper offers a comprehensive look at the new science standards, and the challenges they present to educators on a district, school, and classroom level. The paper seeks to provide a knowledge baseline for educators who are just starting to grapple with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Main ideas covered include science and engineering principals (SEPs), cross-cutting concepts (CCCs), and Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), and resources to help teachers adapt. The paper then addresses some of the challenges that teachers may face as they implement in the classroom.

Finally, the NGSS white paper offers a series of resources to help teachers looking for content and methods to bring the standards to their classroom. These resources are independent of the 90 lessons and thousands of games and assessment items on the Legends of Learning platform that map directly to the NGSS’s middle school DCIs.

“For me, the hardest part of implementing NGSS has been that at times I feel like the standards ‘gloss over’ certain topics. Then [I] dive straight into others in a lot of detail,” said April Thompkins, a Legends of Learning Ambassador. “Sometimes when I feel like if I follow the standards as they are written (with the instructional boundaries/limits), my students might not have the background they need. [It’s hard] to learn new material later in the year or in the next grade level.”

Kristin Wajda, another Legends of Learning Ambassador, voices this concern: “I know some teachers that just use the same activities each year because its [sic] easier. With the new NGSS curriculum, I’m hoping that teachers will embrace the change and create new experiences for their students.”

Interested parties can download the NGSS white paper here.

Tip Sheet: 5 Ways to Teach With Playlists

One of the most valuable features on the Legends of Learning platform is our playlist functionality. Playlists give teachers total control of their classroom, letting them determine who gets what games, see real time analytics, and even pause programs for mid-class discussions.

To help teachers maximize the power of this important feature, we’ve developed the following tip sheet, outlining five of the best uses for playlists. View it below, or download it here.

 

Top 7.5 Ways to Use
Legends of Learning Playlists

Game-based learning produces strong performance results and engagement. Playlists help teachers manage and deploy games for their classrooms to achieve those results. They are an incredibly versatile tool that provide strategic lesson plan architecture, real-time data and control, and performance analytics.

To help teachers we’ve compiled a list of the top seven (and a half) ways teachers can use playlists with their students:

1. Introduce science content – LoL playlists can provide a great introduction to new concepts. Each game contains a significant amount of content, so students can visualize new science concepts in a fun, interactive environment before listening to a lecture or opening a textbook.

2. Mid-unit refresh – After a few days of teaching the same topic, it can start to get stale for students. Reinforce and invigorate your lessons by deploying a playlist in the middle of the unit. Keep it fresh with a little fun!

3. Homework – Looking for take-home exercises that don’t involve a worksheet? Now you can build a playlist and set it to launch at a future date, for a set period of time. Your students might even want to do their homework!

4. Monday warm-up – It’s amazing how much students can forget content over the weekend. Use games and quiz questions in Legends of Learning playlists to ease them back into the swing of learning science for the week.

5. Assess progress – One of the best features playlists offer are assessment questions. This item lets you gage student knowledge and progress anywhere in a playlist; before, after, or in between games. You will know whether students are getting the larger lesson or not in real-time.

6. Stations – If your students are rotating through stations, between labs and other activities, playlists are a perfect addition; you can build them to last as little as ten minutes. This is a good option for classrooms that do not have one-to-one device access.

7. Test Review – Study guides, jeopardy, and practice tests help students prepare for tests from many different angles. Playlists add another element, mixing engaging gameplay with strong subject matter review.

7.5. Past unit recall – In that same vein (thus, the 7.5), if your students need to review foundational concepts you taught them months ago, launch a playlist for their blast from the past! This can be particularly useful for highlighting NGSS Crosscutting Concepts (CCC), which you can read about on our blog.

You can learn more about playlists on our help site. Log in today, and create a playlist for your next lesson!

New TEKS and GSE Compliant Interfaces

We’ve got great news! We mapped our games and assessment items to meet science standards for Texas and Georgia middle school students. This means we have two new interfaces into our product; one that is built for Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and, one for the Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE).

This interface is in addition to our standard Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) interface.

Interested educators from Texas and Georgia can access the new interfaces by contacting us and requesting their accounts be made TEKS or GPS compliant, respectively. Simply contact us and request your preferred interface.

The new TEKS and GSE compliant interface from Legends of Learning.

“Cobb Schools are excited to be using the engaging Legends of Learning resources to teach our Georgia science standards,” said Sally Creel, STEM and Innovation Supervisor, Cobb County Schools. “Teachers are working hard to maximize every minute in the classroom. We don’t have time to waste on resources that do not align to our standards.”

If you haven’t checked out the Legends of Learning platform yet, give it a shot! All teachers can try LoL games for free. Create your account today.

In addition to TEKS and GSE, we are currently working to integrate our games with Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL).

“We know there is a shortage of quality classroom material that will help educators teach to these standards in the important subject area of science,” said Josh Goldberg, chief strategy officer, Legends of Learning. “We understand teachers in Texas and Georgia have been waiting for this news because they have been telling us for a long time that LoL helps their students master complex science lessons.”

Let us know if you have any feedback or questions relating to our curriculum-aligned games and interfaces.

Implementing NGSS in the Classroom

Since states began deploying Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) standards seven years ago, 18 states and the District of Columbia adopted the standards in full. Now many schools and teachers are just beginning their NGSS journey. Finding actual curriculum and content challenges implementation.

The NGSS standards seek to create engagement in the classroom. With the NGSS teachers make science learning an active exercise, but finding engaging NGSS content and exercises to achieve that? Now that’s a challenge.

Many teachers visit Legends of Learning for its NGSS content. There are few wide ranging series of content and lesson items for the entire NGSS suite, much less the entire middle school suite (Earth and Space, Life, and Physical sciences). Others are looking for more depth to help students get a grasp of the content.

“For me, the hardest part of implementing NGSS has been that at times I feel like the standards ‘gloss over’ certain topics, then dive straight into others in a lot of detail,” said April T., a Legends of Learning Ambassador. “Sometimes when I feel like if I follow the standards as they are written (with the instructional boundaries/limits), that my students might not have the background they need to learn new material later in the year or in the next grade level.”

Implementation Requires Science, Engineering, and Crosscutting Techniques

While there is great content built off of the NGSS DCI content system available, there is still a wide range of activities that teachers need to take on. Successful implementation requires a multidimensional approach to teaching to be the norm in every science classroom. This requires extending beyond the traditional content first approach. Now teachers must focus on science and engineering practices (SEP) and crosscutting concepts (CCC) requires different ways of thinking, lesson planning, and daily instruction.

In the case of SEP, teachers need to implement exercises that help students embrace the principles of scientific inquiry. On the engineering side, teachers challenge students to define a problem and resolve it via a solution. Other principles involved in NGSS’s view of SEP, include:

  • Developing and Using Models
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
  • Engaging in Argument from Evidence
  • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

About Those Cross-Cutting Concepts

Though more intuitive, CCC teaching challenges educators in different ways. Traditionally, teachers give lessons in an isolated, linear fashion. NGSS assumes that various aspects of science and its topics cut across lessons.

For example, one might learn that seeds germinate and produce plants (Life Science), but weather and climate changes may create new challenges that prevent the plant from successfully growing.

NGSS recommends teachers make sure that students understand the following crosscutting concepts:

  • Patterns
  • Cause and Effect
  • Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
  • Systems and System Models
  • Energy and Matter
  • structure and Function
  • Stability and Change

“There is a big push to make sure that our students are becoming comfortable identifying and explaining the SEPs and CCC’s that are being presented in our different units and activities,” added April T. “We were given 1/2 day PD time this year to plan with our grade level cohort (or as a department, schools go to determine how they wanted to use their time). We came up with an activity or a system (it was pretty open ended) to make sure the SEPs and CCCs are being embedded into our instruction.”

NGSS challenges teachers to create lessons that address all three principles; DCI, SEP, and CCC. Many teachers actively seek out the resources and getting the training to succeed. To help, our next blog in our series will offer a series of content and lesson plan resources to help teachers bring the new standards to the classroom.

Summer School Science Content for Free

Let’s be honest. Summer school can be a drag for students. Why not liven up the classroom with middle school science games?

With Legends of Learning’s $100 in complimentary game coins and no obligations, teachers (and schools) have nothing to lose. In a period of six weeks, a class of 30 students could play a game every school day and there would still be extra credits left over.

Science games offer kids an opportunity to enjoy summer school a little more, and play games that facilitate learning and subject mastery. Teachers address NGSS and state standards while providing fun and engagement.

There are 900 games currently available in 90 lessons spanning Earth and Space, Life, and Physical Sciences learning objectives. If you are teaching any middle school science content, there is a game for you. Log in or create an account today, and explore our library.

Make summer school a more engaging experience than the average class. Your students will appreciate it, and their test scores will improve. Just press play.

P.S. If you are looking for more ways to make summer learning a fun experience, download our white paper, “How to Prevent Summer Learning Loss and Close Achievement Gaps.”

More Than 700 Middle School Science Games Now Available!

We are thrilled to launch our game-based learning platform with more than 700 curriculum-based games for middle school earth and space science, life sciences, and physical science curricula. The science games, created by over 300 games developers, are based on rigorous academic research conducted in partnership with Vanderbilt University.

In preparation for the platform launch, Legends of Learning involved more than 500 teacher ambassadors from across the country. Their participation will ultimately build a library of 700 games by the end of spring, with more games in different subjects and grades underway. The games and platform have benefitted from direct feedback by Legends of Learning’s teacher ambassador community, resulting in games ideally suited for the challenges of today’s learning environments.

Teachers communicated directly with and provided recommendations to game developers from such well-known game studios as Schell Games, Filament Games, North South Studios, Second Avenue Learning, and Intellijoy. Legends of Learning will continue to engage with educators about their needs and insights in an effort to keep games fresh and exciting for students.

“I have been teaching science for 14 years and never have I seen a company listen to teachers and incorporate feedback like Legends of Learning has,” said Scott Beiter, a veteran science teacher from Rensselaer, New York, and Legends of Learning teacher ambassador. “It is hard to find a platform that is easy-to-use and integrates into what I am already teaching, but Legends of Learning has created one for middle school science.”

Legends of Learning founder and CEO Vadim Polikov, a research scientist, believes that research is the foundation for successful game-based learning and long-term educational reform. The soon-to-be-released controlled study in partnership with Vanderbilt University, “Substantial Integration of Typical Educational Games into Extended Curricula,” measured the performance of more than 1,000 students in seven states and in schools with differing student bodies, socioeconomic factors, and geographical locations. The study demonstrated statistically significant success, showing that academic performance and engagement increase with curriculum aligned game-based learning.

Some unique aspects of the Legends of Learning game-based learning platform include:

  • Short games (5-15 minutes) that align to middle school science curriculum standards to ensure content engages and helps students succeed in their studies;
  • An intuitive platform similar to Netflix and Amazon that makes games easy and natural to use in classrooms; and
  • A dashboard that allows teachers to observe student comprehension in real time, create game playlists for classes and individual students, and assess content mastery.

“I firmly believe in using original academic research to test the efficacy of new education products while at the same time making sure the classroom implementation is incredibly easy for educators,” said our CEO Vadim Polikov. “Working with a wide range of teachers and game developers has allowed us to build a unique platform that will be easy for educators to integrate and use in their classrooms.”

Teachers interested in being part of the Legends of Learning Ambassador program should visit legendsoflearning.com/teachers. We are showcasing our platform and games at booth #2217 at the National Science Teachers Association’s National Conference in Los Angeles, March 30-April 2.

A version of this story was issued as a press release on PRWeb this morning. Interested parties can see the games on the Legends of Learning platform.

Make Tech Easy
for Teachers to Use

When it comes to digital education content, technology and tools, ease of use reigns supreme. If we don’t make new media and tech easy for teachers, they won’t use them in the classroom.

Good digital education tools can be tremendously beneficial in the classroom. They help teachers engage students AND reinforce the educator’s lessons. We know this. But as such, that tool must do more than simply entertain students, and meet a basic loose affiliation with curriculum topics. They must be intuitive and natural to implement.

This is a classic user experience conundrum. User experience (UX) concerns itself with making a customer happy before, during, and after using a product. Unfortunately, education content, games and tech products have been criticized for not meeting the UX bar in the past. Ease of use is one of the main culprits.

Creating a successful education UX requires understanding teachers’ challenges with technology as much as it does building great curriculum media for students. Teachers don’t receive as much professional development as they would in an ideal world. Many struggle with using the latest technology on a personal basis, much less figuring out how to deploy it in the classroom.

Content creators and developers should understand what makes a new digital tool in the classroom useful. Does the media reinforce teacher lessons, or is it a distraction? Can a teacher use the product as part of their core curriculum, or does it seek to replace them in some way? Will a teacher be able to use student data for productive analytics, or do privacy risks interfere?

“Companies often overlook the fact that younger students do not have email addresses, and that teachers are more likely to use technology if it is easier to set up class rosters with user names and passwords,” said Richard White, Science Department Chair, Griffin Middle School. “I need to be able to import CSV files and have the software generate the user names while I assign a generic password.”

It makes sense to engineer content and tools to work for the teacher as much as they work for the student. A happy teacher makes for a successful use of the new education tool.

Providing Integration

Making new tech easy for teachers to implement within larger district learning management (LMS) and student information systems (SIS) is a primary consideration. “Products need to have seamless integration within existing district technology ecosystems,” said Scott Beiter, a science teacher at Rensselaer Junior Senior High School. “A district won’t buy all new hardware just to adopt one wonderful product.”

For example, integrating into Google for Education allows teachers across the country to use digital tools. Similarly, working within other widespread and adopted education standards, both curriculum and technological, helps teachers use your tool.

“Two words: Google integration!” added Rebecca Beiter, a teacher at Bethlehem Central School District.

A Little How-to Help Goes a Long Way

Sometimes making a new digital tool work in a classroom is as much as about guidance as the actual tool itself. Not every teacher will pick up on how to implement a tool, no matter how well designed it is.

Many companies release their tools with video tutorials, webinars, professional development, and user support forums to make their tech easy for teachers. Some actively seek feedback from teachers and incorporate that feedback in their product evolutions (have you joined the Legends of Learning community yet?).

Secondary content such as lesson plans and evaluation tools can make a big difference for a teacher’s experience. Not only does the digital tool work, but the supplementary content helps teachers at least consider how to implement in the classrooms.

Going the extra mile can make all the difference for a new education tool.

Additional Teacher Insights

We asked our Legends of Learning community members what they thought about the topic, too. Several offered additional insights:

“Making tech media accessible to students on a free basis is crucial,” said Caitlin Unterman, a teacher at Bedford County Public Schools. “Also, including easy to read instructions, easy to manipulate sites, and allowing for manipulation of content, is key!”

“As an educator, companies need to follow CIPA rules and make student sign up easy and without emails,” said Bobby Brian Lewis, Bibb County Schools. “They can also make tech that can read to students to meet the needs of special needs students such as close caption. Tech companies need to be aware of the needs of students with special needs.”

“Companies should look to their local community to help schools improve their internet connections,” said Nancy Hoppa, Ingenuity Program, Baltimore City Public Schools. “Many school communities are in older buildings and just getting connected in the first place presents a no go situation. One in which we need to almost always have a back up plan just in case. Another big problem we are facing is using technology for engineering/stem based projects. We need tools to construct the projects we are designing online and training. This generation does not have nearly as much experience working with hammer, nails and saws!”

There’s no single best way to make tech easy for teachers. Doing so is crucial to enable students to succeed in the digital age.

What do you think?

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