Category Archives: Open Source Education

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

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?

Curriki Resources on Follett’s One Search

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Ensure your students have access to essential online resources and support your goal of improving information literacy with Curriki partner, Follett. Check out Destiny Library Manager, which includes One Search. Curriki resources are free to all Destiny users.

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Did you know? Follett’s One Search, a complimentary service for users of Follett’s Destiny Library Manager, organizes more than 750 free and subscription-based learning databases for schools, allowing students to quickly access the full range of library resources in a single, timesaving search. Curriki is in there – and it’s free!

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According to the Follett website:

“One Search displays research results as a skilled researcher would, while reinforcing information literacy skills. Students, teachers and curriculum directors spend less time searching, giving them more time to spend thinking critically and more quality time in the library. 

With One Search, you’ll:

  • Have continuous access to websites, search engines and subscription databases.
  • Quickly locate and view resources in just one search.
  • Give students the confidence to conduct self-directed searches and develop greater information literacy skills.
  • Maximize online database investment by supporting increased usage.

One Search supports many of the most common K-12 online subscription databases, such as EBSCO, World Book, Encyclopedia Britannica, Gale, Proquest and others.”

And of course it includes all of the over 58,000 Curriki resources, which are freely available!

Encouraging Teens to Read: An Interview with YA Author Brenda St. John Brown

swimmingtotokyo

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

I had a great chat with Young Adult Author Brenda St. John Brown, whose popular novels are about teens and twenty-somethings. One thing she’s really good at is enticing reluctant readers to actually read!

Author Brenda St. John Brown

Author Brenda St. John Brown

Her latest book, Swimming to Tokyo, is a New Adult Contemporary set in the tangled streets of Tokyo, in which a girl and a guy find each other and learn that love, letting go, and language lessons make for an unforgettable summer.

Why are you drawn to writing Young Adult novels?

The awkwardness! And the roller coaster of excitement/angst, excitement/angst. First love/young love is especially prone to this and it’s so fun to write without having to relive it, myself. I also love how intense everything is at this stage of life — even friendships. As a writer, it forces me to stay on top of the story and really hone in on the characters. Otherwise, I end up writing on a tangent about the dog down the street and barely realize I lost my audience two chapters ago.

How can we inspire children to read more?

This is tricky because you have to inspire them without them actually realizing what you’re doing! Let them see YOU enjoying reading. Encourage them to talk about what they’re reading. Literature circles are terrific for this and sparks fly when kids are in a group talking about a book in common. Encourage their passion through print, but also realize that quality reading isn’t always on paper. There’s a lot of great stuff online, too!

Advice to parents to encourage a love of reading?

Start while they’re young! Set aside reading time every day. And don’t be afraid to investigate further if they’re struggling with reading. They may need extra help and that’s okay. It’s better to get it and set them up for success than wait and realize when they’re older and they’ve already decided they hate reading.

What is Swimming to Tokyo about, and what inspired you to write it?

Swimming to Tokyo is a contemporary romance aimed at older teens and early twenty-somethings. The story focuses on Zosia and Finn and it’s about two people who find each other — and themselves — as they explore the temples and the tangled streets of Tokyo.

I was initially inspired to write it after looking at my own photo album from Japan. I lived in Tokyo for a couple of years and it was an amazing experience I was able to revisit through my writing.

Who is the book’s most memorable character?

Lots of readers say they really like Babci, Zosia’s grandmother, and she’s definitely a favorite character of mine. Finn also gets a lot of “book boyfriend” nods. He’s good-looking and more than a little bit damaged, but readers are drawn to him because for all of that he’s not a jerk!

What do you hope readers will learn or remember?

Zosia and Finn both have difficult things to overcome in their pasts. I hope people read the story and think about how their own pasts influence their present and realize they can move beyond the “before” they’ve let define them to create a truer version of themselves. That sounds preachier than it comes across in Swimming to Tokyo, but that was consciously in my mind as I was writing it. Finn has a line in the story: “Honesty is easy. It’s trust that’s hard.”, which is probably my favorite line in the whole book because it is the journey he’s on. In a way, it’s the journey we’re all on.

What was the last book you read?

I read at least two books per week, so whatever I say now will inevitably be out of date by the time this hits the web. Three books I’ve read recently that I recommend 1000% are:

  • THE INFINITE SEA by Rick Yancey
  • WONDER by RJ Palacio
  • THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING by Robyn Schneider

What are some of your favorite books from childhood?

I loved THE SECRET GARDEN and THE LITTLE PRINCESS. The Judy Blume books were a big hit with me and I’m pretty sure I read A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN at least 10 times.

Preference: eBooks or “real” books?

I love the instant gratification of eBooks and the ease of taking my Kindle everywhere, but I’m also a huge fan of libraries. I think eBooks probably win, but just barely.

Name your favorite guilty pleasure.

I don’t know if Doritos are considered a guilty pleasure, but if so…I could live on them, I swear! If Doritos don’t count…I’d say the TV show Nashville. I love my weekly fix of that show!

Check out more books by this author and pass along word to a young adult you know!

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