One of my goals for the coming school year is to try to actively promote the resources that are available to all Kansans through the State Library of Kansas. If you are like me (and I hope you are WAY better), I am dimly aware these things are available, but when it comes right down to it, I use the online databases and that is pretty much it.
1. Blue Skyways is specifically designed for residents of Kansas to use, and the design looks terrific. Yep, it's been awhile since I've been there!
2. LearningExpress hasn't been available all that long, so I'm not beating myself up so much about this one, but it looks GREAT. I can think of all kinds of ways we can use this site at Council Grove High School, particularly for remediation. For example, under the High School link, the site includes practice tests, diagnostics, and courses for Math Skills Improvement, Reading Comprehension Skills Improvement, Vocabulary and Spelling Skills Improvement, and Writing and Grammar Skills Improvement.
3. Kansas is going to be 150 years old, and we are in the mood to celebrate. The site has toolkits for Adults, YA, and Kids, a blog featuring some excellent resources on topics like Carrie Nation and Kansas State Governors with much more to come. There will be bookmarks!
4. Remember Homework Kansas. Well, now it's called Kan-ed Live Tutor, and it continues to improve. The most I have done to promote it is link it off the web page and throw some bookmarks down on the desk. I heard that use had increased so much that there were sometimes problems with long wait times, and it seemed unfair to encourage kids to go there when they might be frustrated. Early on, it was only available in the evening, but now it is up from 8 am to 11 pm daily and in Spanish from 1 pm to 11 pm. Even if your students might not need the tutoring, worksheets, tutorials, and study guides for Math, Science, English, Social Studies, State Standardized Tests, and Standardized Tests Preparation are available in the SkillsCenter Resource Library all the time.
5. Finally, I have to mention Audiobooks, music and more. For a long time, nothing was compatible to use with my beloved Macs, so I never really experimented with the site. Well, those days are over, and I can download audiobooks to my Mac and listen on my iPhone. Anybody who listens to a lot of audiobooks can't really afford to buy everything they want to hear when, if they are like me, I will mostly likely only listen once. This is a great alternative. True, it can be a little confusing just because there are so many formats available, but the site makes it clear what is available for what book: PC, Mac, Burn to CD, WMA, iPod, or MP3, and it also clearly states how many copies are available. Oh yeah, there is video too, though it's kind of WEIRD video. Right now, there are 150 titles available, and you won't find many blockbusters, but you WILL find some interesting documentaries, docudramas (Chalk anyone?), and some enticing looking children videos (The Snowy Day). There is a video called Strings and Percussion that band teachers might be interested in, and one on choosing the right dog called The Right Companion that almost anybody might like.
Please mention your favorite resources in the Comments. I know there is much, much more, including WebJunction for professional development. --Martha House