Category Archives: Curriki Tips

10 Time-Saving (and Free) Math Worksheets for Grades 6-8

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

As teachers, we never have enough time for everything we need to accomplish in janetpic_preferred_croppeda day, whether it be lesson planning or grading. Here’s a secret you can share with other teachers: Curriki offers more than 59,000 free, high quality resources that you can download, customize and share.

Why not take a short cut and try out a few of these classroom-tested math worksheets? Here are just a few of the many worksheets available for middle school math students.

(Similarly, you can use the Curriki Advanced Search feature to find games, videos, webquests, lesson plans and much more on any subject and any grade level.)

If you know a math teacher (or interested parent or student), please share this with them!

  1. Solve the questions about Probability Problems in this worksheet.
  2. Math worksheet on Supplementary Angles.
  3. Exponents Worksheet Generator – customizable and printable! math
  4. Multiplying Decimals Worksheet – customizable and printable!
  5. Pythagorean Theorem discovery worksheet.
  6. Worksheet on Factoring Quadratic equations and difference of squares.
  7. Use this worksheet for practice with Volume Formulas.
  8. This Characteristics of Quadratics worksheet gives practice problems for finding the vertex and the y-intercept of a quadratic function.
  9. Worksheet: Converting Fractions to Decimals to Percents help students remember how to convert a fraction into a decimal and then into a percent.
  10. Calculator Lesson Homework Worksheet. math-80x80

Increasing Student Engagement in the History Classroom

history

By Curriki Guest Blogger Amy Scheuer

Amy Scheuer, Social Studies Content Curator, Curriki

Amy Scheuer, Social Studies Content Curator, Curriki

Teachers are often faced with the challenge of making teaching and learning history more engaging. Here are some techniques to increase engagement in the history classroom, paired with resource suggestions from a newly curated American History collection on Curriki that is comprised of materials spanning from colonial America to the modern era!

1. Treat history as the opportunity to tell a greater story and convey a narrative, rather than the relaying of disjointed names, dates, and events. The use of media can be a great mechanism for accomplishing this goal, and the CrashCourse video collection provides an entertaining and educational method of exploring major topics in history. The videos sequentially focus on issues, events, or developments, considering causes, effects, and key players in relation to the greater American History narrative.

2. Allow students to become a part of the historical narrative by carrying out simulations, role-playing activities, and enacting historically accurate discussions or debates. The EDSITEment collection includes extremely detailed American History lessons, ranging from the colonial period to modern America.   Every lesson has a unique makeup, possibly including activities, primary source analysis, simulations, and discussion/debate topics, providing endless opportunities for students to jump into an historical time period for in depth exploration.

3. Utilize art and imagery to appeal to visual learners in your classroom and provide students with a snapshot of the past. The National Archives provides an excellent place for teachers to search for primary sources. Teachers can access thousands of images, photos, speeches, letters, and other primary sources, and can then build interactive activities while learning how to best utilize historical documents in the classroom!

4. Incorporate music to help students understand the cultural context of a certain time period. Throughout history, many musicians have composed songs that reflect conflicts, changing attitudes, or cultural developments around the world, and students can engage in historical analysis by listening to these songs and interpreting the lyrics. This comprehensive list of songs at Curriki can be used as a great guide for incorporating music into the classroom.

5. Differentiate instruction between teacher-facing, student-facing, group, and individual activities. The Digital History collection is a gold mine for teachers, as it allows one to search by era, topic, resource, or reference, with the ability to make use of the full textbook, online exhibitions, learning modules, and primary sources. Digital History is a great tool to aid teachers in planning creative lessons such as jigsaws, problem-based learning projects, webquests, visual or audio activities, or engaging lectures.

6. Leave ample time in the curriculum to delve into modern topics, allowing students to contemplate the varying and continually changing perspectives surrounding political, economic, religious, and cultural trends and occurrences of the era. This content is often particularly relevant and interesting to students, and can be a great opportunity for oral history or experiential projects, as students are able to ask parents, grandparents, and community members about their experiences living through a particular event or time period. The United States History: 1945 – Present curriculum guide provides a great outline of important topics of the last half-century in American History, and is segmented into units by decade, each with sample lessons.

For more lessons and supplemental materials be sure to visit Curriki and explore an entire collection of 11 American History units here!

Amy is a graduate of Vanderbilt’s Peabody School of Education and taught History and Psychology at the high school level before joining up with Curriki to promote educational access at the global level.

 

Do I HAVE to Read a Book?

A young boy sits sad and lonely

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Why aren’t kids reading more today? Are they too busy with their electronic gadgets and games? National Reading Day (Friday, January 23) is an annual event which encourages reading by younger children and is celebrated in thousands of schools all around the United States.

Brenda St. John Brown, author of Swimming to Tokyo,  writes engaging stories that she hopes will inspire young adults to read! She recently wrote a great post with some practical tips and advice on getting reluctant readers to read. Definitely worth checking out!

Here are some ideas to encourage reading (we’ve included books for all age groups here):

  • Great book suggestions for all ages, interests, and genders from StorySnoops
StorySnoops allows you to search by age, gender and interests.

StorySnoops allows you to search by age, gender and interests.

Good Reads 2015

Good Reads 2015

So many books, so little time! If you have a book suggestion, please share it with our community.

Curriki’s Most Popular Teaching Resources in 2014

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki janetpic_preferred_cropped

Here is a list of the most popular Curriki resources and collections in 2014. A few of these keep popping up on our top lists (timeless appeal), so it’s worth a quick read. (If you do, your job will be much easier and you’ll save hours on prep and research!)

Drum roll, please…

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Most downloaded resource in 2014: The Art of Triangles TE and SE from Curriki Geometry

Most Popular collection: English 10 Full Course Contributed by Sarah Lornston

Hottest eTextbook: Mathematics etextbook by Free High School Science Texts

 

Top STEM Resources

Top STEM resource: Math Simulations Collection

Best Science Video Collection: AP Chemistry Video Collection

Top Computer Science Resource: Oracle Academy’s Getting Started with Java Using Alice

Special Collection Selection: One Million Lights Solar Energy Curriculum- High School

Most Interactive Resources for AHA Moments: The Concord Consortium Interactives

Top Science Resource: Open Source CA Textbook – Earth Science Grades 9-10

Top Mathematics Resource: Curriki Geometry Project Based Learning

 

Top English Language Arts and Social Sciences Resources

Top Social Studies Resource: High School American History Curated Collections

Top English Language Arts Game: Word Search Games and other Fun English Language Activities

Top Literature Study Unit: Tuck Everlasting Novel Study contributed by Holly Mercado and consistently ranked in our Top 10 resources!

 

TOP Health, Art and World Languages Resources

Top Health Resource: Fitness for Life contributed by Kathy Furka

Top Art resource: New Media for Social Commentary contributed by Adam Kenner

Top World Languages Resource: Spanish Verbs with Spelling Changes Worksheet

Bonus

Newest Collection: Our Lives, Our Words: Improving Student Writing through Digital Photography – First Grade Projects

This is a handy list that everyone can benefit from – teachers, students, parents, educators, or anyone who’s interested in learning. Please pass this on to your friends and colleagues.  Thank you!

Practical Tips for Parents of Reluctant Readers

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This week, we’re pleased to feature a guest blog from Young Adult Author Brenda St. John Brown, who recently published the popular novel Swimming to Tokyo. Read her advice to parents of Reluctant Readers (RR) and please let us know what you think!

Author Brenda St. John Brown

Author Brenda St. John Brown

Dear Parents of Reluctant Readers:

The last thing on the planet you want to do is sit here and have someone tell you how important reading is and how you need to get your kid to put down that iPod and crack open a book. You know they’re supposed to be reading, but between fights over homework, wrangling them into bed on time so they don’t fall asleep (for long) during class, and your Blackberry pinging like a slot machine, it’s one fight you just can’t find the energy for.

The very last thing you need right now is for someone to tell you your kid needs to read. You know that. After all, that’s why you’re here.

There’s a lot of parental guilt tied up in our kids’ success in school — even though they’re the ones actually in school. We as parents live a life full of should’s and ensuring your kid is a good reader is right there on the list next to buying organic milk. You want to do it. You believe it’s important in the long run. But it’s not always possible.

However, there’s a long list of what is possible when it comes to enticing a reluctant reader to actually read. Below is a laundry list of suggestions. Feel free to mix darks and lights. When in doubt wash everything in cold.

  • Start when they’re young and establish a reading routine. Before bed, after school, during breakfast – set time aside every day to encourage the habit of reading.
  • Let them see YOU reading. A book, magazine, newspaper, Kindle. Something other than your Blackberry/iPhone.
  • You barely have time to think, let alone read? Flip through a magazine in line for the check out at the grocery store. Look something up online related to the place you were supposed to be 10 minutes ago.
  • Or better yet…get your Reluctant Reader (RR) to do it. Whether it’s getting directions, confirming appropriate attire, opening times, etc., looking things up online requires reading. And a little bit of internet savvy, which never hurt anyone.
  • However, before you send RR off to explore the wilds of the internet, please please please make sure you have parental controls set up! There’s a lot of weird stuff out there.
  • Of course, RR is probably WAY more internet savvy than you, so those parental controls may not be bulletproof, but they will deter. And you still can make RR’s love for his device work for you. Get Grandma to engage in a competitive round of Words With Friends. Introduce RR to Buzzfeed. (Or don’t. But those quizzes ARE fun.)
  • Does RR have a passion? Football? Makeup? Fashion? Minecraft? I’d bet there’s a blog or ten devoted to her interests. Do some web searching, yourself, when you’re stuck on a boring conference call and send her some links to read. Chances are, she’ll then find 20 better ones.
  • Not keen on more screen time? Consider feeding RR’s passion with actual print. Sports scores are reported in newspapers daily. Magazines abound on every subject from cooking to cameras and they have shiny pictures. (Even my RR husband will read a car or a gadget magazine.)
  • Graphic novels and comics count, too! For the RR, the key is finding the right thing to engage them. It may not be a book in a traditional sense, but graphic novels and comics have a story and can often provide an entry point to move on to different types of reading. Series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries and Middle School are all at a higher reading level than you might think and are great gateway books if RR likes graphic novels.
  • And if/when RR is ready to move on, consider the library. It almost sounds old fashioned in this day of Amazon next-day delivery, but libraries are special — and I’m not just saying that because *I* love them. For the “cost” of a library card (FREE), kids have access to a huge variety of books — for FREE — and there’s the added benefit that RR will inevitably see another kid there picking a book, talking about a book, enjoying a book. Reading is a solitary activity, but enjoying books doesn’t have to be. And nowhere embodies book love like a library.
  • When RR chooses a book from those hallowed shelves (or from Amazon — because let’s face it, not everyone can get to the library and that direct-to-your-doorstep delivery IS pretty special), your gentle guidance is helpful. NOTHING discourages RR more than opening a book and thinking, “This is work. This is hard.” Jumping right into Lord of the Rings, for example, may put RR off forever. Likewise, something too easy can be discouraging in a different way. RR declares a book “boring” and all books are boring because, well, they’re books.
  • Guidance, however, is not to be confused with discouraging your RR if he seems dead set on a book. He’s picked Lord of the Rings and won’t be persuaded otherwise? Fabulous. It means he’s MOTIVATED to read it and you can help to facilitate his success. Suggest you take turns reading aloud for the first few chapters until he’s into the plot. Read the same book (or at least several well-reasoned reviews) so you can ask questions. Ask him to keep you company and read while you cook dinner, or keep him company while he gains an extra 15 minutes to read before bed. (This may only work up until a certain age. Your teenager may have mixed emotions about you snuggling up and keeping him company while he reads in bed? More to the point, you may not actually WANT to go in your teenager’s room. In which case…the kitchen it is!)
  • Encourage RR to get at least one more book, too – especially if you’re borrowing for FREE from the library. That way she has another book that piqued her interest enough to actually carry out of the building with her.
  • Both books turn out to be duds? Keep trying! You didn’t give up the first time RR spit out her peas, did you? You kept offering them and offering them and eventually she swallowed them. Reading isn’t quite the same, but for some it’s an acquired taste and it means lots of helpings of lots of different kinds of books.
  • And whatever you do, don’t label your RR a non-reader. Kids live up to the labels we place on them and it only takes a couple of times overhearing a parent say, “Oh, RR just isn’t a reader.” before he starts to embrace it.

Even if you do all of the above, there’s no guarantee at the end of the day, that your RR will love reading. But she might. Or she might at least complain a little less about it and let you move on to more important arguments. Like what exactly is under her bed anyway? And are you really leaving the house in that?

10 Things To Do Other Than Shop on Black Friday

A woman hand carrying a bunch of colorful shopping bags

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki janetpic_preferred_cropped

  1. Visit your local library. Read a book to learn or experience new worlds. Check out GoodReads Best Books of 2014.
  2. Meditate. Never tried it before? Here’s a simple step-by-step process to quiet your mind and reach a state of inner calm.
  3. Be kind to someone else. Here are 101 Easy Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness.
  4. Ban the use of digital devices for 24 hours. Okay, we agree, that’s virtually impossible, so see how long you can go (4 hours? 8 hours?) Use that time to do something else on this list.
  5. Get some fresh air. Ride a bike, ski, sled, ice skate, run, hike, walk. Of course, if it’s below 20 degrees outside, you may want to make an epic cup of hot chocolate instead.
  6. See a movie. Chances are, theaters will be empty. (But don’t go to a theater that’s located in a mall!) Find what’s playing locally.
  7. Appreciate the gifts you’ve been given. Take a minute to reflect on what you do have whether it’s health, a roof over your head, love, time or something else.
  8. Hug someone (your dog or cat count too!)
  9. Clean out your closet/garage/basement and give to a worthy charity. You’ll feel like a heavy weight has been lifted. (Beware: it’s addicting!)
  10. BUT IF YOU MUST SHOP…visit smile.amazon.com where you can set your charity to Curriki. Once you do, Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchases to Curriki so we can continue to offer thousands of high-quality learning resources for free. Thank you from educators around the world! HUGS! amazonsmile

Higher Income = Higher SAT Scores?

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Currikijanetpic_preferred_cropped

Did you know that Curriki originated from the idea that technology could play a crucial role in breaking down the barriers of the Education Divide, i.e., the gap between those who have access to high-quality education and those who do not?

To this point, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal dubbed the SAT test the Student Affluence Test (aka Scholastic Aptitude Test) and showed some troubling statistics. “On average, students in 2014 in every income bracket outscored students in a lower bracket on every section of the test, according to calculations from the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (also known as FairTest), using data provided by the College Board, which administers the test.”

SAT test

Perhaps it’s not surprising that students from more affluent backgrounds scored higher on the SATs. Their parents make more money because they’re likely college-educated. Many live in neighborhoods with higher performing schools. And they have the option to hire in-home private tutors or attend after-school tutoring centers.

But not everyone has those opportunities.

Free Learning Resources Available to Anyone, Anywhere

Here at Curriki, we want to make learning possible for anyone, anywhere in the world. And here’s the best part – it’s completely free. There are more than 57,000 free, high-quality resources for you to download, use, or customize.

For example, you can download SAT Vocab cards or the SAT Math Curriculum Guide for free.

Can’t afford a tutor? Sal Khan’s videos are very popular and you can find tutorials on everything from Algebra 1  to Biology and Projectile Motion.  STEMbite offers some great videos too that cover math and the sciences. There’s also A Survivor’s Guide to College Writing.

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The goal of Curriki is to make a high-quality education universally available. Join Curriki today: http://www.curriki.org

Please help us spread the word by sharing this with your friends and colleagues!