Based on Dan's post, I want to reflect on how I choose and create resources. My first year of teaching I spent every night (literally) on google or twitter looking for resources because I (literally) had nothing but a text book. At that time I was desperate and would take (literally) anything I could find.
Over the past five years I now create almost everything rather than just taking something straight off the internet. Even when I find a great resource, I still change it in some way.
So what makes a good resource good?
This is my opinion, my personal framework, my theory for what makes a resource good for me and my students.
I create/choose a resource when it is:
- One where I don't talk! Shelli's quote "The worst way to teach is to talk" has really stuck with me as an extension of my past "Be less talkative". I've done a lot of activities in the past couple weeks in Geometry, Algebra 2, and Trig that had made me realize how little I've done of that in Algebra I. I love giving students time to discuss and think and sort and work without my own voice interfering with their brain.
- One where instructions build and students are forced to read and follow them on their own. I firmly believe that this is a skill that must be taught year after year. Even when students have had me for three years in a row, they still struggle with this. Following directions is a life skill!
- One where there is productive struggle. It can't be so easy that they fly through it and it can't be so hard that everyone has questions at the same time. I want them to be puzzled, to reread things, to scratch things out and try something else, to have a question or two. I do not want them to give up, to say they have no idea what they're doing, or to ask me a question on every part of the activity.
- One where students are engaged. It needs to have parts that are easy enough for anyone to try and extend to parts that students wouldn't have thought of on their own. I wanted to say active but being active doesn't mean the brain is engaged.
- One where students are actively thinking. I love sorting activities because students are doing so many things at once: comparing, contrasting, categorizing, looking for patterns or trends, noticing, and wondering. I like when students need to make decisions, estimate, problem solve, and answer questions.
- One where students reflect. Students should have to make decisions and then think if those decisions make sense. Justify their thinking. They should be able to summarize what they've learned from the activity and apply it.
- One that accomplishes the intended goal. I used to just take any worksheet or activity that 'covered' a concept. Now I look for more specific goals. If it doesn't accomplish what I want, I look for ways I can alter or enhance it.
- One that is well organized. It needs to make sense, to flow, and to be efficient. I hate when things are poorly designed and take up way too much space or are crammed together. A lot of the resources I find are great, they just need to be reformatted. Less is more.
- One that is easily replicated. I blog about my favorite activities and that is so helpful the next year. I can go back and see how I set it up. If I can't easily take pictures of it or explain it to others, it's likely I won't use it that often or share it. And like Glenn says, if I can't share it, it never happened!