Most educators agree that well-planned lessons are a classroom
essential. But some teachers don't know how to shape lessons. Others
may not understand the subject they teach well enough to dream up
creative ways of presenting it.
That's why, in recent years, more teachers have turned to the
Internet to pool expertise and to sample lesson plans tried and
tested by other teachers.
There are today about 10,000 websites that offer access to as
many as 300,000 lesson plans. Many of these are free-to-all
collaborative efforts that allow teachers to share their work with
any who may be interested.
Others, however, are sophisticated for-profit businesses,
offering packages that include extras like suggestions for related
classroom activities, tests, and notes for Power Point slides.
The selection of lesson plans found on the Internet is remarkably
broad. At lessonplanspage.com, 2,500 free lessons are available -
including plans for gym, music, and computer classes.
At the discoveryschool.com site, users have only to select a
grade and a subject matter to access lesson plans on everything from
ancient history to the weather.
Edhelper.com offers logic puzzles and themed lessons treating
topics like the national elections and the explorations of Lewis and
Some sites, however, are better than others - and too much
information is sometimes as bad as none at all, say some teachers.
Combing through thousands of lessons is time-consuming, says Rob
Lucas, who's starting his second year as a sixth-grade social
studies teacher in Rocky Mount, N.C. He calls most of the online
So to help teachers share their classroom expertise, Mr. Lucas, a
Teach for America instructor, created a collaborative website called
a "wiki" at teacherslounge.editme.com.
There is no charge for the service. Registered users can post
lesson plans, links, handouts, and PowerPoint presentations.
No technical expertise is required. Wiki users also can modify
other participants' posts. It's a high-tech version of the Japanese
practice of continually improving lessons, known as "polishing the
stone," says Lucas.
Charles Zaremba, however, took a different approach. Drawing on
three decades of classroom experience, he refined his biology
lessons, and drew more than a million visitors to his Mr. Biology
site. Today, however, he sells his course through Teaching Point,
based in Jacksonville, Fla.
The company markets soup-to-nuts courses with a syllabus, daily
lesson plans, teacher's guide, activities, and labs, and notes for
overheads or PowerPoint slides, workbooks, and tests. …