Teachers@Random: Review by an Educator
Happy National Teacher Day! Today, we have a guest post from one of Nic’s friends, a teacher named Charity Preston. Charity reviewed Random House’s website for educators, Teachers@Random, for us, and we thought this might be fun and informative for all of our readers who are teachers or who might want to pass along this site to teachers they know. Since we know that books and schools are so closely linked, we plan to start monthly features that are of interest to teachers and librarians specifically: books that tie into curriculum, special author/school events, behind-the-scenes looks at educational conferences and trade shows, and special posts on books that are classroom library favorites, like nonfiction readers, graphic novels, and more. We hope you are as excited as we are to incorporate these new features in alongside our regular author guest posts, book reviews, and indie bookstore features!
So, a trusted friend of mine suggested I check out http://www.randomhouse.com/teachers/, a website devoted to teaching resources with Random House Children’s Books. I decided to take a look around the site to see if it was something I could use. I was pleasantly surprised to have stumbled upon a gem of a resource I never knew was there! There were so many great ideas and the site was organized very well! Of particular interest to me included Themes, Teacher Guides, Planning Calendar, and the RH SchoolTube Channel.
From the home page, on the left side toolbar, I noticed a button to search by theme. This intrigued me because so often, teachers want to cover a specific idea or holiday. Trying to find multiple resources that are grade-appropriate and centered around a central theme can become cumbersome. But, I found that RH makes it super easy by allowing you to search by grade levels, formats, and themes/holidays. It was super useful and supplied me with a list of materials that I could use for a theme-based unit or literature circles!
Another great feature of the site was the Teacher Guides that they create. They are free – and include tons of extension activity ideas to use with a specific book. They are found on the top tab: Teachers Guides & More. You can search by Title, Grade, Theme, Discipline, or Time Period. After you have found the Teachers Guide you would like to use, download the free PDF or click on the title, and you have several pages of great ideas to incorporate into your lessons! Author information, a book summary, theme connections, and cross-curricular tips are given, which allows the classroom teacher to pick and choose in order to customize their own lesson plans to cater to specific learning needs in their class.
The third tidbit I found was a fun way to mesh annual events and curriculum together seamlessly: the Planning Calendar. This nifty little addition to this website provides resources for the entire year, broken into each of the separate months. For example, April includes tons of National Poetry Month ideas, whereas October includes Fire Prevention, Halloween, and Thrillers and Chillers lists. Using current events and holidays in the curriculum increases student interest and engagement in the activity. This great tool on the Teachers @ Random page for planning ahead!
Last, I find that video motivates me as much as my students, so I really love the new SchoolTube Chanel links I found on the home page. They have videos which include interviews from authors, book trailers, and more. Sometimes, before I even tell students what the next novel we will be starting next, I like to show a book trailer and complete an anticipation guide that includes some background information questions so I can gather how much the students already know about that particular book or theme. Being able to connect with the author at the end of the book is another great way to have closure to the finished unit.
Overall, I have really enjoyed previewing this site and anticipate I will use it frequently when choosing books and ideas for some of my next teaching ideas and lessons. There are tips and tricks for all teachers of students from PK-grade 12, so no one is left out. I hope you enjoy Teachers @ Random as much as I did! Enjoy!
Charity L. Preston is an author, teacher, and parent. Most importantly, she is an educator in all roles. The ability to teach someone something new is a gift that few truly appreciate. Visit her now at http://www.theorganizedclassroomblog.com or at her facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/TheOrganizedClassroomBlog to sign up for a free newsletter that offers free downloadable classroom resources every month delivered right to your inbox! Check it out now!