Useful articles & tools for teachers

Websites, resources and articles of interest to K-12 teachers and parents.



Smartblogs has 'Tips and resources for supporting struggling readers'

Another article talks about the benefits of dancing programs in schools. This is a subject dear to my heart, as I believe the decline of dancing and singing in modern society (as participants not observers!) is a problem, with far-ranging ramifications for both society and individuals.

ASCD has an intriguing article on one school’s experience of using the ‘visual thinking strategies’ (VTS) program in the classroom.

Smartblogs has a ‘cheat sheet’ to understanding the subtle differences between problem-, project-, and inquiry-based learning.

Since I deplore many aspects of the way English is taught, I was pleased to read this critical article on the present emphasis on ‘close reading’.

Education Week has an interesting article (free registration required, I'm afraid) about limited vocabulary instruction in kindergarten and the ramifications, especially for children from poorer households.

Teachers might be interested in this post on the Flipped Classroom, in The Journal.

If you’re a teacher thinking about trying out blended learning, you might find Lisa Dabb’s post on Edutopia helpful.

The Smithsonian magazine has a lengthy interview with Salman Khan (of the Khan Academy) on what he thinks school should be like (I have to say, I agree with much of what he says!)

In Britain, there’s controversy over a phonics test. Here’s a blog post by ‘deevybee’ that points to one worrying aspect of how it appears to be working in practice. The Guardian also has a perspective on this.

An interesting article in EdWeek about the benefits in ‘personalizing’ algebra (free registration required)

EdWeek has a review of the ‘smart drug’ industry (free registration required)

I’ve talked before about how science education has an uphill battle against the student’s preconceptions. Scientific American has an article discussing a recent study that looks at how persistent these preconceptions are.

An interesting idea from a British teacher on how classroom teachers could learn from Google's "20% time".

Interesting idea: how gardening with students might improve reading

Article in the Huffington Post on the value of teaching children that mistakes are to be expected, and we can use them to get better.

Article in ASCD on how to encourage struggling readers

Scientific American has a case study on how one teacher does it.

Discussion of the non-traditional history curriculum “Reading like a historian” trialed in five San Francisco schools (No textbook! No lectures!)

Press release about a new approach to teaching science: 8+1 Science

Teachers outside the UK might be interested in Britain’s recent move to scrap national guidelines setting out how much time children should spend doing homework.

Guardian article on an OECD study that found countries that stream pupils into ability groups at an early age tend to have lower levels of achievement

Article on Flipping for Beginners - the New Classroom Craze

Thoughtful article on education in Education News: The Pedagogy of Poverty Versus Good Teaching, by Martin Haberman.  His list of “the core functions of urban teaching” said it all for me!

Because it’s local, and I’m a big fan of the concept, here’s a link to the Philosophy for Children website.

An article on the idea of allowing students to access the Internet while taking exams — something to think about!

Guardian article about the impact of the Rooted in Reading scheme. You can also download CfBT's research report Rooted in Reading.

Inspirational story at Education Week about what might be termed extreme project-based learning



I’m a big fan of the National Academies Press. A recent report — available for free download, as they always are — is Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century. A columnist on SmartBlog on Education writes about it here.

The Gates Foundation has just come out with a study which claims to have the answer to teacher evaluation, which involves multiple sources of information.

Interactive Learning Online At Public Universities: Evidence from Randomized Trials - you can read or download this report at Scribd

International study on math teacher preparation programs Press release

The Strategic Teacher PLC Guide explains “four research-based, classroom-tested strategies that help develop students' inferential thinking skills”. You can read sample chapters at ASCD.

ASCD have a useful resource for those interested in finding out more about differentiated instruction.



Classmint allows users to create interactive study notes with annotations, audio content, and images. And you can set them up on a revision schedule. There are also various publicly posted notes by other users that you can use.

Edutopia has an article on five free ‘Web 2.0 tools’ that support lesson planning (Pinterest, Edcanvas, LiveBinders, Storybird, VoiceThread)

Demonstrating that one of the best ways to show up the flaws in an argument is through satire, Dean Burnett has an amusing post in the Guardian on the subject of whether or not the internet and video games are changing children’s brains.

Teachers might be interested in this discussion of how the developers of a video game called Portal have been working with math and science teachers to develop the educational potential of the game.

A teacher-blogger on Edutopia discusses her experience of using Learnist in the classroom.

Read how high school teachers are using Livescribe’s smartpen

Rosalind is an online learning tool that requires students to solve problems of increasing complexity. It is designed to teach understanding and mastery of biology, and is currently in beta.

Three educational apps for kids (selected from a Coexist post): DreamBox Math; Smarty Ants (reading); Wonderville (science & technology).

Or create your own iPad games for your children with the free app TinyTap, a free app for the iPad that lets parents and kids turn their shared experiences into personal and educational games.

Utubersity curates university educational videos.

ExitTicket is a new application that enables classrooms to use a clicker system with any WiFi device. Read about it in this article at

A post on the Social Media in Education blog reminds us that technology is just a medium, and doesn’t in itself motivate students. “What students are really motivated by are opportunities to be social”

There’s been a lot of talk about flipped classrooms — have you heard about flattening the classroom? Here’s an article on that.

eSchoolNews have collected nine useful resource lists for educators, in regard to getting connected and digital literacies.

Edutopia has put together a video playlist to show what Pinterest is and how educators are using it. On which subject, I’d also like to note an article in the Daily Beast discussing Pinterest’s distant predecessor, commonplace books.

Here’s a couple of websites highly recommended by the editor of Computing With Kids magazine. The first is a portal to free educational games, activities, simulations and videos on the web for children: PowerMyLearning. The second is more inspirational: Wonderopolis offers a "Wonder of the Day" to stimulate imagination and discussion.

The Guardian provides a list of “The 50 best apps for children”

Another discussion of the flipped classroom in this EdWeek blog post.

Some geography apps for the young folk are discussed here.

K-12 teachers interested in developments in educational apps might like to check out a new app for creating customized learning trails. Trail Shuttle includes a Web-based toolkit for creating the learning trails, the app for students, and a monitor app for teachers.

GoSoapBox enables teachers to set up ‘events’ – such as multiple-choice questions, open quizzes or opinion polls – and provides them with results from each student. The idea is that, by allowing students to answer more anonymously, those put off answering aloud for fear of being wrong will be encouraged to interact more. Students can also express their confusion over specific topics, or their desire to spend more time on a topic.

This Edweek article lists a number of online resources that language arts teachers are using to build projects around.

10 iPad applications used by teachers.

List of “best educational apps”.

Over at ASCD, you can find various suggestions in response to a request for favorite sources for no-cost professional development and instructional resources. evaluates educational apps. And you can read an article about one high school English teacher’s experience creating an app to drill his students on apostrophes, conjunctions, and run-on sentences.

Guidelines to help you choose your kids' video games

StudyBlue is a free application that allows you to make flash cards and holds them in the cloud for you to access anywhere. it can also be synced with Evernote. Teachers can also sign up their class and use this as a tool for learning.


Developmental (infants; children; adolescents)

Scientific American has an interesting critique of a recent finding from Dunedin’s longitudinal study — the finding that regular cannabis use in adolescence was associated with long-term neuropsychological decline (my news report).

Mo Costandi reports on research showing how the stimulation offered by the home environment at age 4 has a long-lasting effect on brain development.

Interesting article by a researcher supporting the view that the increase in autism is more apparent than real - that it's a result of diagnostic changes. Let me quote her conclusion: "When I started studies in this area, I thought diagnostic substitution had happened but I did not think it would be sufficient to explain the increase in numbers of ASD diagnoses. But now, on the basis of studies reviewed here, I think it could be the full story."

New York Times article discussing what we know about how babies' minds work

Nice article in Slate about our new understanding of childhood amnesia

Nice article from Alison Gopnik on what's wrong with the teenage mind

Wired has an article on the Orchid-Dandelion hypothesis

A new, free, easy-to-use assessment tool, The Affordances in the Home Environment for Motor Development-Infant Scale, lets parents and clinicians create an optimal setting for motor development and can also be used as a tool for early intervention for children at risk for developmental delays. (Press release)

If you're a parent or caregiver, you might be interested in a new site on Baby Sign Language. The site has free tutorials, a video dictionary, flash cards, and a wall chart.

Simple strategies for teachers and parents of preschoolers that benefit reading skills later.


Special learning needs

Picaa, an iPhone/iPad app for children and teens with cognitive, visual or hearing disabilities (e.g., autism-related disorders or Downs Syndrome), is apparently proving popular, and is available in several languages. (Press release)

Number Sense is a suite of computer games designed by Brian Butterworth (dyscalculia guru) to help dyscalculics. It’s Butterworth’s contention that the root of their problem lies in an impaired number sense, and if so, that it might be trainable using such games. See this Nature article for more about it.

Scicurious on the Scientopia blogs discusses an intriguing study of how disorders in circadian rhythm might be a factor in ADHD.

Futurity has a report on a program that uses daily yoga to help reduce aggression, social withdrawal, and hyperactivity in students with autism.

Scicurious discusses a study exploring Ritalin’s effect on social conformity

Deevybee discusses the development of a remarkable schism in audiology in regard to diagnosing auditory processing disorder (APD) in children.

Scientific American discusses a study showing long-term language improvement for children with autism after an intensive, targeted behavioral therapy program.

New ideas about autism are discussed in Scientific American’s article “The Hidden Potential of Autistic Kids: What intelligence tests might be overlooking when it comes to autism”

The Guardian has an article on how many parents of autistic children are forced to wait years for diagnosis (also see a commentary).

Here’s a report on how assistive listening devices help children with dyslexia

If you have a deep interest in dyslexia and reading development, you might be interested in following Livia Blackburne's blog exploring her dissertation topic: reading and word recognition

Scientific American has an article on an interesting approach to dyslexia. A graphic designer has designed a new font that apparently is much easier for dyslexics to read. There’s a slideshow demonstrating the font, and you can also download a pdf version of the article in the Dyslexie font.

ZDnet has a review of some iPhone/ iPad apps for children with learning difficulties.

A new study has found that the small amount of text you can see on your handheld device may make it vastly easier for people with learning disabilities to comprehend.

Do you know BridgingApps? This is a volunteer community of parents, therapists, doctors, and teachers who share information on how they are using the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android devices with people who have special needs.

Eschoolnews has a list of six resources for helping students with disabilities