If you’re a teacher in a public school who’s looking for some new resource material, then you’ll be glad to know of a place where you can find worksheets on topics like spelling, grammar, multiplication, handwriting, geography, and astronomy. ESL instructors and homeschooling parents can also benefit from these handy lesson materials, and anyone who spends time teaching any subject can get inspiration by sharing information with other people in the teaching profession. For all of these reasons and more, Tim Weibel and his team have set up a series of websites that provide quality material and practical information for teachers at home, in schools, and around the world.
US: At your SuperTeacherIdeas.com website, you’ve got an ever-growing collection of tips provided by people who are experienced in providing education. Do you have a place for people to ask questions as well, if they’re looking for specific information?
TW: Yes, Super Teacher Ideas has thousands of lesson ideas and classroom activities, submitted by real teachers. Most of the ideas on the site are geared towards elementary school educators. There are math lessons, spelling games, science experiments, writing projects, and even craft ideas.
There is a contact button where teachers can submit their own teaching ideas. We do screen them, and the best ones are added to the website. Many times teachers do contact us with special requests. We do what we can to include the specific types of lessons that teachers want.
US: There are links on that site to a lot of spelling games, but they’re not the online spelling games that many sites offer. Instead, they’re classroom games that teachers can use to teach spelling to a group of children. Are you seeing a trend towards more computer-based games being used in classrooms?
TW: Nowadays classrooms have access to desktop computers, laptops, SMART Boards, and iPads. Of course there is a growing demand for on-line spelling games. Computers are changing the way we teach kids for the better. Online tools and software (like Ultimate Spelling) are amazing tools that just weren’t available twenty years ago.
At the elementary level, teachers will continue to use non-tech classroom lessons as well. Super Teacher Ideas was designed to be a resource for teachers looking for new, fun ways to help students learn using hands-on exploration, classroom games, and interactive activities.
US: Although most of the worksheets you provide on your SuperTeacherWorksheets.com website are only available to members, there are some free ones that can be downloaded. The site explains that schools can sign up at a group rate to receive full membership benefits – can a group of homeschooling parents sign up as a group, as well?
TW: Yes! Super Teacher Worksheets is our largest site, and it’s the only one of our sites that has any type of subscription fee. Super Teacher Worksheets has thousands of printable worksheets and lessons that were created by experienced writers and teachers. We only charge 20 bucks for a full-year individual membership, which is a pretty good deal for homeschooling families, parents, tutors, and school teachers who are on a budget.
We estimate that about 10% of our members are homeschooling families. We have reduced rates, which are priced similar to school site licenses, for large homeschooling co-ops.
Even those who don’t have a membership can use the website because nearly every page has free worksheets on it. You don’t need to sign up; you don’t need to enter your email; you don’t need to do anything to access the free resources.
US: According to the description on the website, these worksheets are designed for younger students, up to grade 5 (approximately 11-13 years old). What made you decide to stop with this age/grade group?
TW: My background is in elementary education. I was a teacher in elementary schools for over 10 years. When I launched the site in 2007, I was a full-time teacher who wanted to share worksheets that I’d made. Since that time the sites have grown a great deal, but our focus on the elementary grades has remained.
All three of our sites (Super Teacher Worksheets, Super Teacher Ideas, and Modern Chalkboard) offer exclusively elementary resources. However, we have received many requests to expand our collection to include middle school and high school content. It’s something we’re looking into. We’re a very small, family-run company, so it would be a big change for us.
US: Technology is changing classrooms, and you’ve set up the ModernChalkboard.com website to help people learn how to use the “interactive whiteboard” that’s becoming more common in schools and businesses. Can you explain to our readers what a SMART board is?
TW: When I was a kid, back in the caveman days, teachers wrote on a dusty chalkboard in the front of the room. The chalkboard was a teaching tool that allowed the teacher to write notes or demonstrate difficult concepts to the class.
The interactive Whiteboards (or SMART Board) is the 21st century chalkboard. It’s a large touch-screen monitor that’s five or six feet wide. Teachers and students write on it with a digital pen. It can display graphics from the web during lessons. Teachers can even design interactive lessons that are displayed on the screen while they teach. It’s still has all of the features of an old-fashioned chalkboard but, because it’s connected to a computer, it can do so much more.
The vast majority of classrooms in America now have interactive whiteboards in them now. As a teaching tool, interactive whiteboards are incredible, but it takes a great deal of time to develop a lesson with a professional presentation. Most teachers are busy people and they don’t have the time to design the lessons themselves. Our Modern Chalkboard site offers teachers free, downloadable lessons that are specifically designed to be used on SMART Boards.
Our goal for all three sites is to make teachers’ jobs easier by providing tools and resources that they can use in the classroom.
Cross-posted at The Vocabulary Builder’s Blog.