52 Resources For Becoming A Better Teacher

52 Resources For Becoming A Better Teacher

by TeachThought Staff

Teachers may spend their days imparting knowledge to others, but that doesn’t mean they should stop learning themselves.

Whether they choose to take classes, read books, or just talk with their colleagues, professional development offers a chance to become a better and wiser teacher. There are numerous resources out there on the web, making finding, sharing, and accessing great tools for development easier than ever.

We’ve collected just a few here that can get you started on learning and growing as an educator.


Don’t miss out on these sites which are filled to the brim with articles, resources, and learning materials for teachers. Pardon us for promoting ourselves a little, but is our professional development site offering in-person, face-to-face workshops for schools and districts who want to grow the capacity of their staff. From project-based learning and critical thinking to technology integration, literacy, assessment, and more, we provide the kind of professional development to help push education forward while supporting you in the classroom today.

2. MindShiftKQED: MindShift is one of our favorites edu-sites. We share a lot of overlap in regards to our content and mission and have learned a lot from their work over the years.

3. As with MindShift, we also love edutopia and share overlap with their content and mission as well. They are one of the original progressive education organizations whose focus on PBL has been important for education.

2. Education Week Teacher PD SourcebookThis sourcebook is filled with amazing resources for teachers, including great articles, a directory of useful sites, and links to PD events.

4. Teacher VisionTeacher Vision offers articles on a wide range of education topics, from learning how to be a better teacher to surviving your first year in the classroom.

5. Teacher TapTeachers will find a wealth of great reading material on this site, touching on topics like technology, information literacy, and high-tech learning.


7. Education WorldEducation World has a large professional Development section on their site, packed with articles, interviews, reviews, and other helpful tools for educators.

8. Annenberg LearnerHere teachers can find information about workshops and courses, distance learning opportunities, personal development resources, or just pick up some new resources to use in the classroom.

9. Read Write ThinkLearn about conventions, read publications, and network with other teachers through the professional development tools offered by this great website.

10. Common Sense MediaOn the Common Sense Media site, teachers can take advantage of curriculum training videos that touch on a number of key educational topics.

11. Teachers NetworkFrom lesson plans to videos about teaching to how-to articles, the Teachers Network site is an excellent place to start looking for some professional development resources.

12. Intel Teach ElementsIntel offers teachers a chance to take part in their Teach Elements series which, through videos and reading materials, can help educators to learn more about a range of critical 21st-century teaching topics.

13. Kathy Schrock’s Guide for EducatorsIf you’re looking for a one-stop shop for all your teacher needs, consider this resource. You’ll find high-quality tools for teaching as well as some to help you improve your own education as well.

14. Podcasts for TeachersHead to this site to find a list of 40 amazing podcasts for teachers. Through them, you’ll learn more about education news, how to teach, and the free resources out there for teachers.

15. Best Books ChannelOne of the best ways to educate yourself as a teacher is to read books. Luckily, Education World provides a place to find the best of the best when it comes to professional development and other teaching topics.

Courses & Workshops

These sites can help you find professional development courses and workshops, both for free and for a fee.

16. TeachThought University: TeachThought University is a social learning platform for teachers. Working closely with TeachThought Professional Development, TeachThought University is now open for beta-testing of groups.

17. Learning ForwardFrom a professional development book club to eLearning opportunities, to great content, this site offers innumerable resources to any teacher looking to learn.

18. Teacher Online EducationIn the market for some online courses to help you earn graduate or professional development credits? This site has plenty to offer educators.

19. iTunesUOn iTunesU teachers can find a wealth of professional development courses, as well as those in just about any topic or field out there. Better yet, nearly all of them are free.

20. Saylor.orgSaylor is a great place to take courses in basic topics, making it perfect for brushing up on college courses or refreshing your knowledge before heading back to the classroom.

21. OpenLearnThe Open University offers teachers a chance to find free, useful courses on a wide range of topics.

22. PBS TeacherlinePreK-12 educators will find a great list of courses offered through PBS and affiliate institutions that are designed to help teachers boost their skills in technology and teaching reading, writing, math, and science.

23. The Teacher’s WorkshopHead to this website to find out more about workshops, sign up for a newsletter, get reading material, and even find some sample plans.

24. Staff Development for EducatorsThis company offers teachers online courses, on-site training, workshops, and other useful professional development resources.

25. OER CommonsHead to OER for a wealth of open educational resources, including a large number of articles and courses on professional development.

26. Classroom ConnectHead to this site to learn more about workshops and conferences focused on technology integration in schools.

27. Beacon EducatorThrough Beacon Educator, teachers can take online professional development courses that can help to push their careers forward and give them more confidence in the classroom.

28. Knowledge Delivery SystemsThose in the market to take online courses for professional development should check out this company, geared toward educational professionals.


Looking for professional development materials that are specific to the area in which you teach? These sites have got you covered.

29. National Science Teachers Association Professional Development: The NSTA has a learning center, web seminars, and a social network to help science teachers build their professional skills.

30. National Council of Teachers of English: English teachers should check out the resources offered by the NCTE, including books, articles, workshops, and more.

31. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics: Those in the market for some math teacher-specific materials shouldn’t miss out on what the NCTM has to offer. With everything from high-quality publications to e-seminars listed in their professional development section, you’re sure to find something useful.

32. National Association of Special Education Teachers: Being a special education teacher can be challenging, so you need all the support and resources you can get. The NCSET is one place to find both, so make sure to check out their publications, resources, and social tools.

33. National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities: Through the NICHCY, teachers can learn more about effective staff development strategies for working with students who have disabilities.

34. American Institute for History Education: Resources on the AIHE site range from grant writing help to web-based distance learning, offering a wealth of services for any dedicated history teacher to take advantage of.

35. National Art Education Association: Find great professional development resources for teaching art when you visit the NAEA website.


Work on building specific skills that you’ll use in the classroom by visiting these amazing professional development resources.

37. LOC Professional Development: The Library of Congress wants to help teachers expand their knowledge, so they’ve created tools to help teachers better learn how to get students in touch with primary source material.

38. Teaching Tolerance: Learn new ways to promote tolerance and understanding in your students, through the great PD resources offered by this organization.

39. ERIC: No matter what you want to learn about, whether it’s neuroscience or classroom management, you’ll find academic papers on it here that you can read and use to build your knowledge.

40. CAST: Through the CAST website, teachers can learn more about UDL (Universal Design for Learning) using a series of modules, reading materials, and toolkits.

41. ASCD: ASCD is an industry leader in professional development for school districts.


These groups and organizations offer a number of professional development resources for teachers.

42. National Education AssociationThe NEA is a great place to look for professional development resources. The site is home to great articles, resources for teaching, help with grants, tools, ideas, and much more.

43. U.S. Department of EducationThe USDE offers teachers help with building their professional careers through a series of useful articles and resources.

44. AFT: If you’re paying those union dues, you might as well get all you can from the union. Visit the union website to find professional development resources and to learn more about the ER&D Program.

45. Center for the Study of Teaching and PolicyRead the latest research from this organization, which can go far in informing your teaching practice.

46. GEEO.orgWant to explore the world while working as a teacher? Consider one of the programs offered by the Global Exploration for Educators Organization.

47. AIR PublicationsThe American Institutes for Research produce a number of useful publications for teachers that touch on topics like leadership, innovation, after-school programs, school reform, and more.

48. NCTE: The National Council for Teachers of English has both frameworks, policies, and resources for the modern literature teacher. 


49. Academia.eduCollege professors can connect with others and see what research is being done through this academia-only social network.

50. ChatboardsLooking for a little advice from your peers? Head to one of these teacher chatboards on to get answers to your questions, guidance, and support.

51. Quora: Quora is a platform where anyone can asks questions to a community (and hope someone with specific expertise answers your inquiry).

52. Reddit: In addition to Quora, Reddit (we linked to just one of their many education-based subreddits) can be useful in a pinch to ask questions, seek feedback, or otherwise informally grow your PLN.

Image attribution flickr user vancouverfilmschool; this post was first published at


100 Scientists On Twitter By Category

While scientists may have a reputation for being anti-social, when it comes to using social media you’ll find the best and brightest in diverse scientific fields taking full advantage of the chance to connect with laymen and other scientists alike. Twitter is full of opportunities to hear what these scientists have to say, follow their work, and even start a conversation.

Here, we’ve collected 100 amazing scientists that use Twitter (listed by category, not ranking) that provide perfect reading material for anyone hoping to learn more about a field or just keep up with the latest in research and writing on some seriously interesting topics.

Extraplanetary Sciences

From astronomy to rocket science, these scientists are dedicating their careers to exploring what lies beyond our own planet.

  1. @SethShostakAstronomer Seth Shostak offers up insights into the cosmos through great links to space news in this feed.
  2. @astroengineHere, you’ll find Dr. Ian O’Neill, a solar physicist who now works for Discovery News.
  3. @BadAstronomerIf you love this feed, make sure to check out astronomer Phil Plait’s blog, Bad Astronomy.
  4. @plutokillerDr. Michael Brown teaches planetary astronomy at Caltech. Through his feed, followers can read about new planetary finds, our solar system, and other space-related topics.
  5. @DrMRFrancisPhysicist, former planetarium director, and science writer Matthew Francis shares his love of all things astronomy through his Twitter feed.
  6. @Earth2larryoLarry O’Hanlon works for the Keck Observatory in Kamuela, Hawaii, which because of its high altitude and the island’s relative darkness gets some great images of space. Follow his feed to keep up with the latest at the observatory.
  7. @DrLucyRogersLucy Rogers is a mechanical engineer, but we’ve included her in this grouping because she specializes in helping to protect Earth from space debris.
  8. @skypondererAstronomer Colin Stuart freelances for the Royal Observatory while writing and speaking about science.
  9. @professor_astroYou’ll find some great space-related tweets on this feed courtesy of a UT Austin astronomy professor.
  10. @elakdawallaFormer planetary geologist and current writer Emily Lakdawalla shares some amazing photos and commentary on space here.
  11. @flyingjennyJen Scheer is a former space shuttle technician at the Kennedy Space Center who today is working to teach middle and high school students about mechanical engineering.
  12. @apachemanYou’ll find rocket science aplenty in this feed by former space shuttle technician and current NASA employee Andy Scheer.


Zoology, entomology, genetics, and biotech are just a few fields these amazing biologists focus on.

  1. @JCVenterAmerican biologist and entrepreneur John Craig Venter was one of the first to sequence the human genome and to create human cells with synthetic genomes. He’s a superstar in his field, and well worth following whether you’re pursuing a degree in biology or not.
  2. @franciscollins9Dr. Francis Collins is another pioneer in the Human Genome Project. Through his feed, you can learn how he reconciles his strong faith with his dedication to pursuing scientific knowledge.
  3. @JaneGoodallInstituteFew people know chimpanzees as intimately as primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall. Follow this feed to learn about the amazing work her foundation does to preserve primate populations.
  4. @RichardDawkinsMany people know Dawkins through his often extreme positions on religion, but he’s also made some amazing contributions to anthropology and zoology as well.
  5. @pzmeyersBiologist P.Z. Meyers posts about biological and science issues from a political perspective.
  6. @sciencegoddess: Joanne Manaster is proof that you can be both attractive and smart. This former model now develops science courses at the School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois.
  7. @phylogenomics: Keep up with biology news, learn a bit about open science, and find great commentary on evolutionary biologist Jonathan Eisen’s feed.
  8. @Stephen_Curry: Followers will find a wide range of tweets on structural biologist Stephen Curry’s Twitter feed.
  9. @kzelnio: Always dreamed of being a marine biologist? Live vicariously though Kevin Zelnio’s feed.
  10. @kejames: Check out Dr. Karen James’ feed for great tweets on topics like genetics, biology, zoology, and even space.
  11. @bug_girl: This female entomologist studies natural ways to control insect populations. She shares insights into the insect and academic worlds through her feed.
  12. @AFBR: Richard Martyniak is an expert on bees and his feed is full of amazing links and information to help the curious learn more about these insects.
  13. @attilacsordas: Here you’ll find tweets from bioinformatician and stem cell biologist Attila Csordas.
  14. @BioInfo: Justin H. Johnson is another bioinformatics expert worth following, with tweets that touch on everything from computer science to genetics.
  15. @ drbrian: Dr. Brian Degger has a Ph.D. in biotechnology but posts to his feed about a wide range of topics.
  16. @alexbortvinHere you’ll find Dr. Alex Bortvin, an expert on germ cells and epigenetics. He shares great links related to science, but some content is in Russian.


Keep up with the amazing work these chemists are doing by following their feeds.

  1. @Dr_Sally_BekenLearn more about the fascinating world of polymer chemistry from scientist Sally Beken.
  2. @KulinowskiYou’ll find some great updates on science news, nanotech, and other chemistry issues on chemist Kristen Kulinowski’s feed.
  3. @cassierodenbergCassie Rodernberg started her career working as a chemist in a lab but now writes about chemistry-related topics on a Scientific American blog. Follow her here.
  4. @InvaderXanWhat could be more fascinating than the chemistry of space? Follow astrochemist Markus Hammonds here to learn more about the field.
  5. @egonwillighagenCheminformatician Egon Willighagen posts about topics like drug discovery, life science, and of course, chemistry here.
  6. @rlanzaraIf you’re interested in the chemistry and biology that goes into developing new pharmacological products, check out this feed from Richard Lanzara.
  7. @CameronNeylonDr. Cameron Neylon is a biochemist, but much of his feed focuses on issues of open access in science.
  8. @BenchFly: Follow the tweets by Alan Marnett, founder and CEO of BenchFly, chemist, and neuroscientist.
  9. @2020ScienceNanotech expert Andrew Maynard shares insights into the science of these tiny particles here.

Earth Sciences

Find tweets on topics like oceanography, seismology, and geology here.

  1. @cephalopodcast: Marine science geek Jason Robertshaw shares amazing info on the sea and its inhabitants here.
  2. @JeffLast: Government meteorologist Jeff Last tweets about all things weather-related here.
  3. @Allchthonous: Here you’ll find geologist Chris Rowan as well as some tweets about plate motion, rock magnetism, and science in general.
  4. @expeditionlogLearn more about deep sea volcanic vents from this feed by scientist Jon Copley.
  5. @BrowntideguyOceanographer and photographer George shares his passion for the ocean here.
  6. @ReillymjThis geologist is also a senior technology editor atNew Scientist.
  7. @paulearleFollow the world of seismology when you keep up with the USGS National Earthquake Information Center’s director, Paul Earle.

Environmental Science

Those who are interested in helping protect the environment should take a look at these great feeds.

  1. @swhchu: Request to follow this wetland scientist from Illinois to learn a bit more about the field of environmental science.
  2. @mtobis: Climate change is a hotly debated topic, but you can hear from an expert in the field when you check out this feed from a climate scientist.
  3. @JeremiahOsGo: J. Osborne-Gowey is an aquatic and landscape ecologist and a passionate activist. Check out his feed for tweets on both.
  4. @SFriedScientistExplore the deep sea beside this biologist and conservation geneticist.
  5. @RevkinFormer New York Times writer Andrew Revkin is now pursuing his passion for environmental protection, blending his careers as a biologist and a journalist.


These great feeds will help you learn more about the often complex field of physics.

  1. @michiokakuTheoretical physicist Michio Kaku is one of the most recognizable faces in science, and a superstar in the physics world to boot. Check out his feed for information on all things science.
  2. @NimaArkaniHamedThis physicist works at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland.
  3. @seanmcarrollProfessor at Caltech Sean Carroll tweets about issues in theoretical physics and astrophysics here.
  4. @thesciencebabeThis Mexican physicist has both beauty and brains. Visit her feed for lots of great posts on science news.
  5. @garrettlisiGarrett Lisi is a surfer and a physicist who’s living the dream while working in Maui.
  6. @Prof_S_HawkingThere are few scientists who are as famous as Stephen Hawking. Follow this world-class mind here.
  7. @neiltysonAstrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has an excellent Twitter feed, filled with history, science news, and chances to chat with the TV personality and science star himself.
  8. @phalpernPhysicist and science writer Paul Halpern makes this Twitter feed his home. Read through it to learn about exciting physics news.
  9. @orbitingfrogCan’t get enough of astrophysics? Follow this Oxford expert on the field to learn more.

Health and Medicine

Check out these feeds to read up on the latest in medical and health care research.

  1. @HansRoslingProfessor of global health and founder of the Gapminder Foundation Hans Rosling posts about a wide range of global health issues here, from fertility to disease.
  2. @bengoldacreBen Goldacre is a physician who spends a great deal of time debunking bad science. Read his feed to learn more about the myths that pervade in many areas of health care.
  3. @DrVesAssistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at University of Chicago specializing in allergies and immunology, Dr. Ves Dimov is a leader in his field. Here, he offers up some of the best medical stories.
  4. @aetiologyLove those nefarious infectious diseases? You can learn more about them and what it’s like to work as a microbiologist and epidemiologist here.
  5. @profvrrProfessor Vincent Racaniello is an expert on viruses and tweets news and commentary on recent research here.
  6. @cells_nnm: Follow Dr. Alexy Bersenev to learn more about stem cell research.
  7. @TwistedBacteriaMicrobiologist Cesar Sanchez shares information (in both Spanish and English) on bacterial diseases, medications, and research.
  8. @cupton1Followers of this feed will find lots of great content on health and biology issues from virus expert Chris Upton.
  9. @Atul_GawandeVisit surgeon and researcher Atul Gawande’s feed for updates on medical news, inspiration quotes, and more.
  10. @LabSpacesDr. Brian Krueger offers up the latest news in medical research here.
  11. @influenza_bitsThis biologist shares interesting tidbits about the flu virus, including how it’s spread, immunity, and other related topics.
  12. @sanjayguptaCNN: One of the best-known physicians in the U.S., Gupta uses his feed to share interesting stories about health, fitness, and medicine.


Computer science, information technology, and robotics are all covered by these interesting tech-focused scientists.

  1. @timberners_leeIt’s only appropriate that the man who helped to create the Internet have a major presence on it. Follow this groundbreaking scientist here.
  2. @geminodreal: Hiroshi Ishiguro is an expert in the field of robotics. This professor and researcher is world famous for his tech genius, which you can get insight to here.
  3. @SebastianThrun: Stanford professor, VP at Google, and member of the National Academy of Engineering, this tech guru is a great person to follow to keep up with the latest in tech innovation.
  4. @BobMetcalfeUT Austin professor of innovation and MIT trustee Bob Metcalfe posts on politics, science and business here.
  5. @lemireA computer scientist focusing on open information, Daniel Lemire talks about a wide range of topics on his feed, from computers to politics.
  6. @fortnowRead up on computer science through the feed of Northwestern University computer science professor Lance Fortnow.
  7. @geomblogThis computer science professor shares his interest in algorithms, geometry, and CS theory.
  8. @DrQzNeil Gunther is a computer performance analyst who also has a love for math and physics.

Brain Science

The human brain is a complicated organ and these neuroscientists and psychologists are working hard to unravel its mysteries.

  1. @danariely: Dan Ariely is well-known for his talks on TED. This professor of psychology and behavioral economics posts some interesting stuff in his feed well worth reading.
  2. @mocostNeuroscientist and writer Mo Costandi posts about all things brain-related here.
  3. @noahWGNature editor and neuroscientist Noah Gray shares his thoughts on science, the brain, and academia through his feed.
  4. @scicuriousFollow this feed to learn more about neuroscience from an expert in neurophysiology.
  5. @mrwdawsonYou’ll enjoy reading through the tweets of cognitive scientist Michael Dawson, found here.
  6. @RichardWisemanGet some great insights into the field of psychology from noted psychologist Richard Wiseman.
  7. @vaughanbellLocated in Bogata, Columbia, this expert in neuroscience and psychology tweets some pretty interesting links to new research in the fields.
  8. @danlevitinAuthor and psychology and neuroscience professor Daniel Levitin talks about music, the brain, and loads of other interesting topics.
  9. @jgold85Ever wonder how your brain got to be how it is? Get some insights into the evolution of the brain here, as well as a wide range of other scientific topics.
  10. @KubkeNeuroscientist Fabiana Kubke gives her perspective on brain science from the land down under.
  11. @brembsBerlin-based neuroscientist Bjorn Brembs touches on issues pertinent to academia, research, and science at large.
  12. @hysellFollow along with this neuroscientist’s studies on the brain, with a special emphasis on auditory and visual stimuli.
  13. @OliverSacksPhysician, author, and professor of neurology and psychology at Columbia, Oliver Sacks is a busy man. Yet he still takes time to keep up with his Twitter feed, posting interesting health-related content.
  14. @SamHarrisOrgThis author and neuroscientist stays busy reflecting on questions of faith, belief, and the workings of the brain.
  15. @michaelshermerMichael Shermer has an MA in psychology and a Ph.D. in the history of science, but these days he spends most of his time being a skeptic, as you’ll see from his feed.

Science Writing and Promotion

These writers and personalities help bring science to the masses, and many started out in their careers as scientists themselves.

  1. @TheScienceGuyWho better to follow on Twitter if you love science than Bill Nye, the science guy? This passionate science educator shares great comments, links, and pictures.
  2. @carlzimmerCarl Zimmer is one of the best-known science writers out there. Follow his feed to learn about his new projects and get links to some great science-related resources.
  3. @edyong209Award-winning science writer Ed Yong has written for top publications, but you can get his thoughts in 140 characters or less on Twitter.
  4. @Jorge_SalazarFollow this feed to hear from science journalist and broadcaster Jorge Salazar.
  5. @Bill_RomanosBill Romanos touches on topics like science, technology, space, philosophy, and writing on this feed.
  6. @QuantumDottieBiomedical expert Beth Schachter is a well-regarded science writer and editor and you can connect with her, and some interesting stories, here.
  7. @Happy_ScientistRobert Krampf believes science should be exciting and fun. Read through his feed to learn about fun experiments, see great photos, and to get enthused about all things scientific.

This is a cross-post from content partners at; image attribution flickr user loren javier


60 Ways To Use Twitter In The Classroom By Category


60 Ways To Use Twitter In The Classroom By Category

by TeachThought Staff

Social media offers some great opportunities for learning in the classroom, bringing together the ability to collaborate, access worldwide resources, and find new and interesting ways to communicate in one easily accessible place. Teachers around the world have found innovative ways to use Twitter as a teaching tool (including TeachThought’s favorite), and we’ve shared many of these great ideas here with you. Read on, and we’ll explore 60 inspiring ways that teachers and students can put Twitter to work in the classroom.


Twitter makes staying in touch and sharing announcements super simple and even fun. These ideas offer a great way to put the tool to good use.

  1. Twitter as a bulletin board: Jim Newman at Northern Illinois University uses Twitter as a bulletin board for his class, letting students know about last minute news like canceled classes.
  2. Ambient office hours: With Twitter, Howard Rheingold at Berkeley uses Twitter for group contact, which he calls “student-to-teacher-to-student ambient office hours.”
  3. Keep students in the loop: Using hashtags on Twitter, students who were not able to make it to class can follow along and stay on top of the conversation.
  4. Assignment coordination: Instead of emailing each other or waiting to meet in class, students can collaborate on projects and keep track of changes by using a Twitter hashtag.
  5. Silencing blurters: For students who have trouble with disruptive blurting, allow them to instantly tweet their blurts silently instead of out loud.
  6. Student engagement in large lectures: In large lecture classes where student participation can be intimidating and logistically problematic, Twitter can make it easy for students to engage and discuss during class time.
  7. Parent communication: Parents can sign up to receive tweets from teachers, learning about activities, tests, projects, and more.
  8. Instant feedback: Twitter makes it easy to get instant approval and disapproval of discussions, issues, and more right in the classroom.
  9. Attendance reminders: For students who have trouble making it to class on time, send reminders before school to get them in the door earlier.
  10. Digital faculty lounge: At Kent State University, college of education teacher William Kist uses Twitter as a “digital faculty lounge” for networking with other professors.
  11. Stay on top of the learning process: Ask students to tweet and reply about what they’re learning, difficulties they’ve faced, tips, resources, and more as an online logbook.
  12. Classroom notepad: Using a Twitter hashtag, it’s easy to organize inspiration, reading, ideas, and more for the classroom to share.
  13. Completed assignments: Students can let teachers know when they’ve finished their work by alerting them on Twitter.
  14. Teaching bite-sized info: Share medical terminology, Shakespeare quotes, kindergarten activities, and more on Twitter.
  15. Twitter pop quiz: Send out quick quizzes on Twitter, and have them count for bonus points in the classroom.


Twitter’s hashtags and other tools share a great way to organize information for your classroom.

  1. Twitter recaps: At the end of the day, teachers can summarize what has been learned in the classroom, encouraging reflection and discussion between students.
  2. Classroom connections: Classrooms around the world can collaborate using Twitter as a communication tool.
  3. Collating classroom views: Students can share their opinions on issues or any open questions, and they can be organized using Twitter.
  4. Corraling comments in class: Monica Rankin at the University of Texas at Dallas uses weekly hashtags to organize comments, questions and feedback that students have used in class, while also projecting live tweets in class for discussion.


Use these ideas to take advantage of the vast resources that Twitter has to offer.

  1. Finding great resources: Teachers can ask for recommended books, teaching tools, and ideas for lessons, crowdsourcing resources for the classroom.
  2. Following historical figures: There are many Twitter accounts set up that share the lives and personalities of historical figures, and students can follow them for fun and learning.
  3. Building a brand: Long after school is over, a personal brand will live on for students. Using Twitter in the classroom to build a brand is a valuable exercise for students.
  4. Partner with local organizations: Discuss cultural and educational events in the area on Twitter.
  5. Talk to career experts: High school students exploring their career options can talk to professions in the paths they’re considering on Twitter.
  6. Conversations are a public study tool: Long after the conversation in class is over, students can look back on the lecture discussion to find important points when it’s time to take exams or write essays.
  7. Source evaluation: Students can share resources and discuss whether it’s a good or bad source of information, encouraging comments.
  8. Foreign language news stream: Students in a foreign language class can build their reading skills and stay on top of the news with a foreign language news stream.
  9. Gather real-world data: The classroom can ask Twitter for data from their network, like temperatures, opinions, locations, and interesting facts.
  10. Following the government: Often, local and national political figures have Twitter feeds, and students in the classroom can track their progress.
  11. Ask for help or advice: Using Twitter, teachers can find out if anyone has advice about teaching issues, like when certificates expire or how to handle classroom management.
  12. Communicating with experts: Find authors, scientists, or historians on Twitter and get connected; a great resource for the classroom.

Writing Skills

These are just a few of the great opportunities that Twitter offers for building reading and writing skills.

  1. Vocabulary building: Students can tweet sentences using a particular word to build vocabulary learning.
  2. Twitter can improve writing and punctuation: As long as students are held accountable for their grammar, using Twitter offers a great opportunity for improving writing and punctuation.
  3. Daily word games: Ask students to unscramble anagrams, contribute synonyms, or give vocabulary definitions on Twitter.
  4. Grammar review: Students can tweet past tense, run on sentences, compound sentences, and more.
  5. An exercise in learning to be concise: At the College of the Holy Cross, assistant professor Daniel Klinghard uses Twitter to teach students to be concise, summarizing major political texts without going over Twitter-imposed character limits.

Twitter Exercises

From scavenger hunts to Twitter stories, these exercises offer great ways to use Twitter as a teaching tool.

  1. Inspirational quotes of the day: Allow students to become more familiar with Twitter, and exercise reading and writing skills by having a student post an inspirational quote tweet each day, preferably relating to course content.
  2. Conversations can continue outside of class: When students participate in Twitter discussions in class, there’s a great opportunity for conversations to continue to develop even after the lecture is over.
  3. School trip tracking: Whether it’s a field trip or a long journey, students can log and track their progress on a school trip using Twitter.
  4. Bringing characters to life: At California State University-San Marcos, students in a literature course use Twitter to bring Twilight characters to life, choosing characters from the series to personify on Twitter.
  5. Class newspaper: The entire class can come together to create a newspaper, contributing to sections using hashtags.
  6. Conference following: Students can follow professionals and industry conferences to see what’s going on in that particular realm.
  7. Bonus assignments: Give students optional bonus work to do at home, assigned via Twitter.
  8. Meme tracking: Students can study communication and sociology through the tracking of ideas and ads that spread through Twitter.
  9. Reading assignment summaries: Students can build 140-character summaries based on reading assignments, forcing a focus on quality.
  10. Link sharing: With Twitter, students can share websites with class, making relevant link finding and sharing a classroom assignment.
  11. Trend mapping: Using Twittermap, students can track what people are talking about where.
  12. Researching locations: The class can send out a tweet, asking people to give them their location, and then research that particular location.
  13. Twitter puzzles: Tweet a puzzle each week, giving a prize to the first student who shares the correct answer.
  14. Language learning: Teachers can send foreign language students tweets in a different language, and have students continue the conversation in the same language.
  15. Twitter poetry: Create a collaborative poem where each student contributes one line.
  16. Twitter book club: Within the classroom, willing participants can engage in a Twitter book club for extra credit.
  17. Word tracking: Using Twitter, students can track a word, staying on top of any posts that contain a particular word, like a movie title or store name.
  18. A Twitter story: Students can take turns tweeting stories together, using a hashtag to keep it all together as each student takes a turn to tweet the next line.
  19. Sharing microreviews: Using Twitter, students can write a short review of movies, books, and music that they’ve enjoyed (or not).
  20. Twitter haiku: Using Twitter, students can share short poems to express how they feel about a subject.
  21. Twitter art show: Students can curate their own art shows, using Twitter to share what they think belongs in a particular exhibit.
  22. Collaborative event watching: Students can “watch” presidential debates, political speeches, and other important events together outside of class time, and then continue the discussion back at school.
  23. Current events: By Twitter stalking, students can stay on top of current events through users, such as @BarackObama during the presidential elections.
  24. Find foreign pen pals: Students can use Twitter to communicate with students in a different country, learning about their hobbies, home, school, and more.

This is a cross-post from content partners at


The 50 Best Smartphone Apps For Teachers Arranged By Category


Mobile phones managed to mostly kick their classroom stigma once the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and other PDA-cellular hybrids (also known as “smartphones,” but you knew that already) popped onto the scene. Thanks to the veritable Library of Alexandria of apps available on the respective markets, life can run that much smoother for professionals of all types. And that, of course, includes teachers.

We’ve discovered a seemingly endless collection of smartphone apps that teachers can put to work in the classroom and beyond, creating a powerhouse of back-to-school mobile tools. Read on to discover 50 of the best smartphone apps for teachers, and share any personal favorites we’ve missed in the comments.

For the Classroom

  1. Smart Dot It’s an iDevice-based laser pointer that doubles as a remote control for PowerPoint and Keynote presentations — well worth it for slide-loving educators!
  2. Educreations Interactive Whiteboard OK, so you actually download this app to an iPad, but Educreations Interactive Whiteboard still remains an essential edtech tool. As the title states, it turns the gadget into an easy-to-use method of drawing and diagramming in the classroom.
  3. Attendance iPhone-enabled teachers adore this application allowing them to keep track of their students’ classroom habits and even learn their names via flashcard.
  4. Grade Book for Professors Take advantage of Google Spreadsheets as a useful strategy for organizing and tracking student grades, either through the paid or free version.
  5. Percent Calculator Get grades done harder, better, faster, and stronger using this quick and easy calculator just for figuring out percentages.
  6. eClicker Polling System Available on the iPhone, the eClicker Suite lets teachers poll their students about anything and everything during class.
  7. Voice Recorder Perfect for Android users wanting to make permanent records of lectures for students who can’t make it to class for whatever reason.
  8. iTalk Recorder Don’t worry, Apple fans! There’s still a way to keep an audio record of classroom discussions using the iPhone!
  9. Blackboard Mobile Learn Rather than an app for a classroom, Blackboard practically provides a classroom for an app, available on almost all smartphone and tablet platforms.
  10. CourseSmart Subscribers to this digital textbook services enjoy unlimited access to thousands of digital reads on their phones and tablet devices.

Organization, Time Saving, and Productivity

  1. Teacher Aide Pro Lite Turn an Android phone into a personal assistant with an app providing pretty much every specific organizational requirement educators need to succeed.
  2. TeacherKit iPhone-toting teachers can also enjoy all the perks of a PDA app with TeacherKit, which provides a way to stay on top of grades, attendance, and any other factors they need to know.
  3. Evernote Oftentimes touted as the ultimate productivity app, Evernote allows for the production of multimedia notes to be shared across devices.
  4. Dropbox This simple, popular tool focuses mostly on transferring documents back and forth between different computers and smartphones alike.
  5. RE.minder Educators with time management issues might want to consider downloading RE.minder, with a to-do list feature and handy alerts when tasks are almost due.
  6. iAnnotate iAnnotate helps iPad-owning teachers edit, organizes, read, and annotate (of course) PDF files, making it an ideal tool for grading student projects.
  7. Free Wi-Fi Finder When getting work done outside the home or office — because teachers need a change of atmosphere, too! — it helps to know what nearby locales host free wireless service.
  8. Instapaper Save pages from useful websites and blogs you encounter for offline viewing and reading with this much-ballyhooed timesaver.
  9. Documents To Go View and create PDFs and Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint, and Word documents from almost anywhere.
  10. Bento Keep a database on contacts, projects, upcoming events, due dates, and more with one of the most-acclaimed organization applications available.

Professional Development and Training

  1. Edmodo Connect with other teachers as well as students using Edmodo, which acts as a social media resource limited exclusively to the schooling sector.
  2. LinkedIn Access the ridiculously popular professional social media site and network with others in the education industry for ideas, inspirations, and information about how to improve your career.
  3. iBlueSky (mindmapping) Get great ideas out there and in the open with this productivity app that means to push every user’s inherent potential forward.
  4. Bump “Bumping” two enabled phones together automatically exchanges contact information — great for staying in touch with parents as well as other teachers and administrators from education events.
  5. Twitter The ubiquitous microblog’s app covers pretty much every smartphone platform available, and offers a stellar way to share resources with other professionals as well as students and their parents.
  6. Flashcards* Create, share, and download flashcards on every subject imaginable — awesome for classroom use or staying current on changes within education and areas of inquiry.
  7. Facebook Because so many education professionals, schools, and organizations take advantage of the 300-pound gorilla of social media, it definitely warrants a download for plugged-in pros seeking some career development.
  8. The Leadership Challenge Mobile Tool Wiley Publishers provide a $4.99 resource packed with information, inspiration, and a series of articles and activities meant to bolster general leadership acumen.
  9. Pulse News Stay on top of the current news of the day by sticking with this Android app, which involves easy access to any online reads the user chooses. Pulse News makes for one of the best ways to remain relevant in the general education sector as well as any academic subjects taught.
  10. Goodreads You don’t have to teach English to appreciate good reads, and this social network and personal library inventory system stands as solid proof! Sign up and use it to receive custom recommendations of books to nurture the classroom as well as personal and professional growth.


  1. Wolfram Alpha Turn a smartphone into the world’s most powerful reference tool, with extensive information about literally every academic subject imaginable packed into one stunning application.
  2. – Dictionary & Thesaurus – Free Like the title states, this app from combines dictionary and thesaurus tools for quick vocabulary look-ups.
  3. Wikipedia Read through and share articles from the world’s largest encyclopedia on pretty much every smartphone platform out there.
  4. Wikipanion Wikipanion streamlines the Wikipedia experience even more, allowing for bookmarking, archiving visit dates, multilingual searches, and other amazing additions completely gratis.
  5. How To Videos from Learn how to do just about anything using crowdsourced videos, and even upload your own instructions to open up your classroom to the world.
  6. Free Graphing Calculator It’s a free graphing calculator. For the iPhone. If you haven’t figured that out by now, then probably you have to worry about more than which apps to download and further your teaching.
  7. Algeo graphing calculator Don’t fret, Android devotees! There’s a great graphing calculator application just for you ladies and gents as well!
  8. ASL Ultimate Teachers with hearing-impaired students will greatly appreciate having this resource around for advice on what to say and how to say it in ASL.
  9. World Factbook Every year, the CIA releases its World Factbook to smartphone audiences and grants them access to detailed information about every nation on the planet.
  10. Google Search Google Search provides way more options than the web-based engine, and smartphone fans love taking advantage of how it sends returns based on photos and other multimedia input.

Welcome Distractions

  1. Kindle Available on every smartphone platform, Amazon’s popular ebook reader make free and for-profit digital literature easy to access during free moments.
  2. TED TED provides an edifying way to pass the time, with hundreds of videos featuring experts lecturing on every topic imaginable.
  3. Instagram In between pictures of cats and food, try posting some from the classroom and share ideas about decor, or host a digital art show for students.
  4. NPR Podcasts Sit back, relax, and get lost in “Planet Money,” “All Songs Considered,” “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” and dozens of other NPR shows both national and local.
  5. Showyou Showyou curates the best of the best YouTube videos, and encourages others to share what they love most. The educational applications here ought to be readily apparent!
  6. Musee du Louvre Digitally walk the famous halls of the world-class art museum at the end of a stressful day and get lost in its glorious collections.
  7. Foursquare Play fun, deal-seeking check-in games with friends or even draw some up for student scavenger hunts.
  8. Cracked Reader Lite Cracked is so ridiculously hilarious, people sometimes forget it actually features some insightful and educational content on the reg.
  9. Google Earth Fun with or without playing with it on an educational level, Google Earth inspires awe and wonder at our planet’s true complexities.
  10. Mixology Drink Recipes Because those essays won’t grade themselves.

This is a cross-post from; image attribution flickr user Mr. T in DC


10 Team-Building Games For The First Day Of Class

10 Team-Building Games For The First Day Of Class

by TeachThought Staff

Team-building activities are great. Not only can they help establish routines, tone, and expectations, they’re also fun, and can help learners feel comfortable. Though many older students in high school and college may groan at their thought, they’re usually fun, and great ways to help students feel at ease. Before you dismiss them as too juvenile, try one. You might be surprised.

Note that which game you choose, your rules for the game, and any revisions to the rules depend on the nature of the class you’re using them with. Certain students may feel overly liberated—especially in middle school—with the idea of a “game,” and so expectations must be carefully given to younger K-8 learners—and even 9-12—to ensure that every student is set up for success.

1. Me Too!

Ideal Grade Levels: K-20

First student gives a fact about themselves—I love basketball, I have two sisters, etc. If that statement or fact is true about another student, they stand up and say “Me too!” They can also stay seated, but simply raise their hand and say “Me too!” 

2. Park Bench

Ideal Grade Levels: 6-20

Two chairs are placed together to resemble park bench. Two students volunteer—or are selected—to act out “what happened” in a fictional news story. They are given one minute to prepare a scene where they discuss the “event” without every actually saying what happened. After given time period (1-5 minutes), peers guess “what happened,” but they must give up all four important details: Who, What, Where, and When, e.g.:

What: College Basketball game

Who: Kentucky and Kansas

When: Early April

Where: New Orleans

3. Fact or Fiction

Ideal Grade Levels: 3-12

In circle, first student offers two facts and one piece of fiction about themselves. Others raise hand or are called on to identify which were facts, and which were fiction. The correct guesser goes next. Play is completed when all students have gone.

4. Green Door

Ideal Grade Levels: 5-20

Leader chooses a topic, but keeps it quiet, only saying that “You can bring a ____ through the green door.” Students are then forced to deduce the topic by asking if other things can be brought through the green door as well, e.g., “Can I bring a _____ through the green door?”

Leader can only reply yes or no. When topic is identified, topic resets. Topics can be content related, such as parts of speech, colors, geometric figures, historical figures, etc.

5. One Minute Talk

Ideal Grade Levels: 5-20

Students are chosen to give 60 second talks on anything, from self-selected topics they are passionate about, have specific expertise in, etc., to topics given from teacher.

6. Count to Ten

Ideal Grade Levels: 3-20

All students stand in circle. First student says “1,” or “1,2.” The next student picks up where that student left off, and can say a maximum number of 2 numbers. The movement continues clockwise until it gets to 10, where that student has to sit, and the game starts back over at 1 at the next student. Note that there can be no pausing or silent counting—any pauses or indications the student is counting/calculating forces them to sit. Also, pouting or talking during counting results in elimination from future rounds. The big idea is to count strategically so that you can keep from saying “10.”

7. I Never

Ideal Grade Levels: K-20

Students form circle. First student says something they’ve never done. Each student that has done the thing the other student has not steps briefly into the center. The game continues until every person has stated something they’ve done.

8. Magic Ball

Ideal Grade Levels: K-20

Students form circle. First student is “given” imaginary magic ball. Student sculpts imaginary ball into new shape, handing it to person to their right. Activity is silent. Any talking/noise results in student sitting. After game, guessing may be done to predict what “sculpture” was.

9. Silent Line

Ideal Grade Levels: K-8

Students are given a criteria, and must silently put themselves in a line as quickly as possible, to meet a goal, compete against other classes, or receive some reward (free reading time, no homework, etc.) The criteria can simple (birthdays), or slightly more complicated (alphabetical order of college or career ambition).

10. Inside-Outside Circle

Ideal Grade Levels: 3-20

Students form a circle within a circle with (ideally) equal number of students in both circles. Inside circle members pair with outside circle members. Activity leader (usually teacher, but can be a student) presents a topic, prompt, or question. Partners share for 10 seconds (or less), leader asks inside circle to move clockwise a certain number of spaces to collaborate with new partners directly across from them. This is usually content focuses, and helps spur quick discussion on content related topics, or even current events.

Source: The Advisory Book by Linda Crawford


10 Reasons Students Aren’t Using Digital Textbooks

When e-textbooks were first introduced, they were supposed to be the wave of the future, and experts thought we’d see e-reader-toting students littering college campuses, and of course being adopted in droves by online university students.

But they haven’t taken off quite as expected: according to market research firm Student Monitor, only about 11% of college students have bought e-textbooks. So what happened? Here, we’ll explore several reasons why students aren’t yet warming up to the idea of e-textbooks today.

1. The books they need aren’t available in digital format

For many students, e-book use isn’t about preference or price, but instead, availability. The books that students need for school are often simply not available in a digital format. Even when certain titles are available digitally, students typically take an all-or-nothing approach to their textbook purchases each semester, buying all of their books at the same location. When so few books are available as e-textbooks, they just don’t bother trying to find them.

2. They are not as affordable as you might think

Cutting out the cost of physically producing and shipping a textbook is a money-saver for sure, but a recent study has found that most of the time, that savings does not get passed on to students. In fact, for most students, e-textbooks saved them a whopping $1. What gives? The high cost of e-readers like the iPad and Kindle, “publisher pricing decisions,” and the fact that if students rent e-books, they can’t sell them back later all add up to the surprisingly high cost of e-textbooks.

3. You can’t lend or resell most e-textbooks

Unlike printed material, textbooks that are downloaded to your e-reader stay there and don’t go anywhere else. So students who might share a book with their roommate run into difficulty, and those who are accustomed to reselling books at the end of the semester hit a brick wall as well. Students find it hard to deal with these restrictions when they are used to the ease of sharing paper books.

4. It feels strange to mark up an e-book

Although most e-books come outfitted with a small army of tools that allow students to bookmark, highlight, take notes, and explore through footnotes, definitions, and more, students just aren’t impressed. They often still prefer tangible books that they can physically highlight and write notes in the margins of. Even those who might be open to digital markup are wary that they might lose their notes.

5. e-Textbooks are heavy, too

e-Textbooks were supposed to replace the pounds upon pounds of paper books that college students stuff their backpacks with. But digital books are heavy in a different way: their storage size. Even on a 16GB iPad, there’s simply not enough room to store every single book a student might need. Assuming students are using their iPads solely for books (they aren’t), books that can be up to 2GB each leaves room for just about eight books on one device.

6. There are better digital options available

When you consider the wealth of media-rich alternatives available to students online, some e-textbooks with just plain print and images seem downright primitive. Video, audio, interactive websites, and activities can often be accessed using iPads and other e-readers with web browsing. Students may find this material to be more helpful than what e-textbooks have to offer.

7. Today’s students grew up with books

Part of the reason for the slow adoption of e-textbooks is the simple fact that today’s students just aren’t used to them. They grew up with textbooks in grade school, and they’re simply not interested in making a change. Experts believe that students who grow up using e-book devices will be much more open to continuing the trend when they reach college.

8. E-books offer a different experience

One might think that reading a textbook is basically the same in any format. But some researchers believe that the brain absorbs digital and printed text differently. In one study, students who read printed books seemed to more fully understand material, and did so much faster than another group of students who read the same material in a digital format. They explain that digital vs. print reading is much like the difference between “knowing” and “remembering.”

9. Finding e-textbooks is a scavenger hunt

Some textbooks are available in one format, and not the other, or available to download through several different stores. That means students not only have to hunt down their textbooks across several different platforms and websites, they also have to remember where they are, learn how to navigate and use each reader, and typically, maintain logins for all of them. One student describes the experience as a “sick, expensive scavenger hunt” that makes “as much sense as going to three separate grocery stores to buy eggs, bread, and milk.” Although e-textbooks are thought to be a simpler solution, they really can’t be until students can utilize them on a unified platform.

10. Students expect more from digital editions

Students today are used to digital tools that allow them to share everything from pictures of their morning cup of coffee to their notes from class. Put a book on an e-device, and they expect the same. So when they run into restrictions and a lack of social tools when using e-textbooks, they’re understandably disappointed. They’re looking for social reading app integrations, shared highlighting, and the ability to take advantage of web-based tools, not just reading.

This is a cross-post from


6 Video Games You Can Teach With Tomorrow

6 Video Games You Can Teach With Tomorrow

by Terry Heick 

Realistically, a “with it” teacher can teach almost anything using almost anything. I’ve been taught trigonometry using a paper clip, and expository structure using paint. Tech is great, but nowhere close to necessary. But if the underlying learning process is well-thought out, tech can provide powerful common ground for teachers and learners.

So then, video games.

Video games do not represent a “rising medium,” but rather one that’s established, potent, and ready for application in any content area at any grade level. While their application may not be as immediately apparent as the Declaration of Independence, an essay by Wendell Berry, or Google Earth, they truly are a goldmine of edu-content.

We’ve talked before about the concept of gamification, which refers to applying game mechanics to any non-gaming process. Below are six games that can be used not to “gamify” a classroom, but as primary learning resources.

These games can serve not only to introduce teachers to the concept of using video games as something beyond a gimmicky way to “engage learners,” but demonstrate that video games are a platform worthy of any classroom dedicated to any content area at any grade level. While it will take more than a single post to learn how to effectively use Fallout 4 to teach T.S. Eliot, the videos below are nonetheless good starting points to introduce teachers to the idea. As with any medium, to teach with them deeply, you’ll likely have to play them yourself. It’d be difficult to teach a poem without understanding it personally, and the same applies to video games. But what if you wanted to know where to get started?

Need a mini-lesson on narrative perspective, or a way to demonstrate the potential of collaboration? If you teach grades 4 through university, see below.

6 Video Games You Can Teach With Tomorrow

1. Skyrim

Appropriate Grade Level: 8-12+ (some mature content/themes)

Universal: Problem-solving, Resource Management, Various Thinking Strategies

ELA: Inferencing, Audience, Characterization, Purpose, Media Form, Tone, Mood, Theme, Perspective, Point of View, Style, Metaphor, Symbolism, Propaganda, Rhetoric, Various Thinking Strategies

2. Civilization VI

Appropriate Grade Level: 6-12+ (complexity)

Universal: Problem-solving, Resource Management, Collaboration, Various Thinking Strategies

Government, History, Social Studies, Geography: Diplomacy, Impact of Geography on Policy, Hoarding and Trade, Political Tactics, Communication

3. Fallout 4

Appropriate Grade Level: 8-12+ (some mature content/themes)

Universal: Problem-solving, Resource Management

ELA: Inferencing, Characterization, Audience, Purpose, Media Form, Tone, Mood, Theme, Perspective, Point of View, Style, Metaphor, Symbolism, Propaganda, Rhetoric, Various Thinking Strategies, Government, History, Social Studies: Cold War, Scare Tactics, Propaganda

4. Portal 1 & Portal 2

Appropriate Grade Level: 4-12+

Universal: Problem-solving, Collaboration, Visualization, Various Thinking Strategies

ELA: Irony, Tone, Collaboration

Science: Physics

5. Armadillo Run

Appropriate Grade Level: 4-12+

Universal: Problem-solving, Project Management, Collaboration

Science: Physics

6. Heavy Rain

Appropriate Grade Levels: 10-12+ (some mature content/themes)

Universal: Various Thinking Strategies

ELA: Narrative Style, Tone, Mood, Characterization, Point of View, Setting, Perspective, Style