Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wading through the Web

The internet is such a complicated thing.  When I'm searching for a reproducible form for homeschooling, I have to type in a couple of combinations usually before I find what I'm looking for.  In order to use the internet effectively, I think there are a couple of things I need to do.
1) I need to construct an internet notebook with tabs/sections where I write down the sites for various subjects that I like.  I think it would also be a good idea to write the date when I find the site.
2) I need to have a good file system where I can file forms that I particularly like--that might not be there the next time I need them.

But, until I have a good system like that in place, it's nice to have a place to start.  I found some ideas in a book I recently read through, Free Resources for Elementary Teachers by Colleen Kessler.  I have to be honest, I had big hopes for this book and it didn't quite measure up to those hopes.  I had a few specific types of files I was hoping for that weren't included.  The information that was included, though, was helpful.

In this book, Ms. Kessler breaks down internet sites into categories like general resources, mathematics, science, social studies, literacy, P.E. and health, teachers blogs, and she even includes homeschool blogs.  It was interesting to peruse the sites she lists.  I looked up a bunch for each section.  She intersperses teaching tips between each of the internet sections.  Some of them were fun ideas for classrooms.  These were definitely for classroom teachers--which is the primary audience of this book.  If you are a homeschooler who's children use the computer a lot as a teaching tool, many of the sites will be very helpful to you.  We don't happen to use it in our classroom, so that made a lot of the sites listed not useful to me.  

The goal of the book is really to save teachers time (in my opinion) by doing the searching for them.  Internet searching can definitely swallow me up at times.  So, did the book save me time?  Maybe.  Being a homeschooler, my needs are a little different than a classroom teacher, but very similar.  Still, for every three or for sites I would check out, I'd find 1 or 2 that I liked.  What I found more helpful were a few of the homeschool blogs she lists at the back (a few of them weren't actually homeschool blogs, but just life blogs). One of the best resources I found was a site fivejs.com.  There were lots of free printables and helpful info.  I already have printed out the pages with illustrations for b and d for my little lefty.  

If you've been overwhelmed by the internet and not sure where to start searching, this book could definitely give you a place to start.  But, know that it's a place to start, not end.  To homeschoolers: you'll likely find a few blogs with links and it will be those links that will be more valuable than the blogs themselves.  At least, that's what I've found.  To classroom teachers: this book could save you time looking for that supplemental site you need for your classroom during computer time.  To parents:  you'll find a lot of educational sites that your children can peruse after school and during the summer.

The verdict?  I like this book.  I don't love it.  But, I like it and it's a place to start.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Prufrock Press for review.

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