Ninety-nine point nine percent of the resources that I write about, and an equal number that I use, are offered free-of-charge. I sometimes wonder about the “revenue models” of all these free tools, but, to be frank, I figure that’s their problem.
However, there are a few sites that I think are worth paying for, and thought I’d bring those together on one “The Best…” list.
I’m also interested in hearing what other resources readers think should be added to this list.
Here are my picks for The Best Web Resources Worth Paying For…:
I’ve never made any secret about my positive feelings about Edublogs. It’s a great free blogging platform for educators for many reasons, including the fact that lots of school content filters make it accessible at school sites, it’s very easy to use, the customer service is exceptional, and the Edublogs community offers good connections. You can become an Edublogs Supporter for $39.95 a year, and, as a result, receive a ton of benefits, including getting ads turned-off in 30 student blogs and more “plug-ins.” You can go to the link to learn more. If you want to personally blog, or if you want to use blogging in the classroom, it’s definitely worth the cost.
Brainpop has made several of my Social Studies-related “The Best…” lists and, if you are teaching U.S. or World History (especially to English Language Learners), I would say it’s definitely worth purchasing a subscription. They have a wide selection, and their addition of closed captioning last year really puts it “over the top.” You can see all the free movies they offer here. To gain access to their entire collection, the cost is $600 yearly for a classroom of thirty or so students to use it at the same time, or $200 for being able to have three students at a time (one of those three, of course, can be displayed by a computer projector).
Raz-Kids provides a large number of “talking books” at multiple levels that speak-the-text at the same time the words are highlighted. There’s a wide range of fiction and expository text, and is suitable for Beginning and Intermediate readers. It costs $60 annually for one classroom of students. It’s on my The Best Sites Where Students Can Work Independently & Let Teachers Check On Progress list. If you’re teaching Beginning or Early Intermediate English Language Learners, this is definitely a site worth considering paying for.
Reading A-Z is a sister site of Raz-Kids, and offers a ton of leveled, and, for the most part, engaging short books that can be printed-out and duplicated. These books have been great assets when I’ve taught Beginning and Early Intermediate ELL’s — it’s an easy and inexpensive way to get class-sets of multiple texts. It costs $85 per year to access the site for your own classroom.
I highlighted English Raven in The Best Resource Sites For ESL/EFL Teachers list last year. Of all the sites on the web that offer classroom materials to help teach English Language Learners, English Raven has been one of the best in providing me with a lot of useful resources and ideas. Many of its resources are free and, if you want access to all of them, it only what you can afford to pay.
US Citizenship is an online self-access course created by Charles LaRue at the Metro North Adult Education Program in Minnesota. It’s very accessible and engaging — my students have really liked it. It costs $30 per year, but for that small amount your whole class can use the site. This site tied for the number one ranking on my The Best Websites For Learning About Civic Participation & Citizenship list.
I Know That has tons of engaging learning exercises and game. It costs $200 to sign-up for a classroom. Not only can you then monitor student progress, but they also can avoid all the annoying ads on the site. This site works very well for our students and their families to use as part of our home literacy project because of that monitoring ability. However, since the site’s resources can also be used for free, I’d only recommend paying for it if you require the ability to monitor student progress.
edHelper deserves to be on this list, too. A subscription to all K-8 materials cost $20 per year, and it’s $40 per year if you want to access the high school materials, too. edHelper has a wealth of printable materials accessible to English Language Learners on just about every subject imaginable. To be truthful, I feel like I have to spend some time improving the quality of most of the materials I use from the site, but, I tell ya’, it sure beats creating it from scratch.
As always, feedback is welcome.