You’re scrolling through your daily news email you get, when you see that snowy owls have been spotted in Central Park for the first time in more than a century. You click on the story and read it as you finish your coffee before you start the school day.
(A year ago this would be before you got in your car, but now it’s before you walk the 20, maybe 10, feet to your home office.)
“What a cute article!” you think. “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could make this online article directly into a lesson, so I don’t have to make it up and create it myself?”
Well, funny you should mention that…
Making Lessons from Online Articles Just Got Easier
The education and teaching world is moving increasingly online. Even when teaching in person, making lessons and lesson plans is done online or at least on a computer.
Whether or not you’re teaching remotely, in person, or in some hybrid form, you can make instant, accessible lessons from any online article.
Let’s dive in on how exactly to make online lessons (or printed lessons) from articles you find online.
Steps for Creating New Lessons from Online Content
1. Find the Right Lesson Writing Platform
We may be a bit biased, but if you’re looking for online lessons that support and enhance literacy skills, LessonWriter is going to be your top choice.
If you’re looking for math or science lessons however, try checking out these math and science apps and online tools.
Either way, you’re going to want to focus on a few things when picking an online lesson making platform.
What to Look for in a Lesson Writing Platform
Does the platform have all of the features you want? Depending on what your lessons are focused on or what you’re looking to teach, the lesson writing platform that you use will be a bit different.
You want to make sure it has all or most of what you want to include in your lessons. You don’t want to find a lesson reading platform that only focuses on grammar, and then have to use another one that focuses on vocabulary, and then another one that focuses on writing skills.
A lesson writing platform that integrates various skills and learning components will be your best choice, and you want to make sure it’s what you want to teach your students. LessonWriter is straightforward: if you want to teach and support literacy skills, writing skills, or advanced reading skills, LessonWriter will be the right platform for you.
If you are looking to teach geometry or the cycle of a cell, we might not be the best choice. (Unless, of course, you want them to go through the vocabulary of the part of a cell, which in that case, it would be very helpful.)
Note: we do take a firm stance that literacy should be taught in all subject areas. So, if you’re an elementary school, LessonWriter would be a good option that you could use throughout all your subject areas!
Ease of Use:
The point of using a lesson writing platform is that it’s easier than doing it on your own. So if the platform that you’re looking at is not intuitive to you or just doesn’t seem to work correctly, then it won’t be the best choice.
You want something that is relatively simple, but of course also offers all of the features you want. That being said, these are all online platforms so there is bound to be some technical learning curve! Keep that in mind.
Another important aspect of a lesson writing platform is that it saves you time! One of the most important things teachers talk about is having more time in their day. No one wants to have to finish up lessons or lesson plans on the weekends or late at night.
At LessonWriter we provide three options for the lessons you create. If you want to make a lesson very quickly, you can use the Express version, which means that LessonWriter will choose all of the aspects of the lesson for you.
That means it is done in moments, versus if you choose to make a more personalized version your lessons, you can take a bit more time customizing specific aspects like grammar, vocabulary, roots & stems, specific writing prompts and graphic organizers, and more.
Last but not least: affordability! You don’t want to spend lot of your own money making these lessons. A lesson writing platform should be affordable. Of course, that amount is going to be personal from teacher to teacher, so make sure you shop around before making your choice.
Of course, if something is a little more pricey, but it has all of the features you want and you think you will use it often, it could be more a better choice than a less expensive platform either takes more time or isn’t exactly what you want.
At LessonWriter we offer a free option as well, which can be a good to start with.
2. Find Great Content to Include in Your Lesson Plans
Once you choose a lesson writing platform, the next step is finding great content to include in your lessons. Now, that might have been what brought you here in the first place, because you’ve read so many fun, interesting articles that you think your students would love!
If that’s the case, go ahead and get started right now. If you’re still looking for some content to use in your online lessons, here are a few tips.
Even though the snowy owl article was amazing, if it isn’t going to further your students learning or understanding of your lesson or semester objective, you don’t have to include it. Try choosing a topic that discusses whatever you’re currently learning about in the classroom.
However, our strong stance is coming back: supporting literacy skills are important in every subject and at all points in a student’s academic career. Any actual literacy help is not going to hurt them.
One of the caveats of teaching information that you find online is that you have to be careful that it’s accurate and you’re not teaching your students implicit or explicit biases coming from you or the news source.
Sometimes this can be tough to determine, so we suggest sticking to online sources that are as straightforward as possible. Whenever we make free lesson downloads, we stick to websites such as the United Nations, the BBC, or an online encyclopedia.
Back to the snowy owl article: there are likely not many biases here, so it’s going to be safe to use. When choosing pieces about politics or religion, be more cautious.
The benefit of making these lessons whenever you want is that you can choose a news article that happened just that day and send it out later that afternoon. This is great for students that are in a current events course, but it’s also helpful for connecting whatever you’re learning with the real world.
This help students understand the importance of every topic. For example, if you are tired of hearing student saying: “When will I ever use this in real life?!” take advantage of choosing timely pieces when making your lessons to give them that example they want!
Interesting & Fun:
This is when you might have some space in your lesson plan, or just want to draw the attention of your students and give them something fun to learn about. This is a great opportunity to engage students that may not love school, but have a passion for sports, or cars, or music.
So, choose a fun article or interesting topic that you know some of your students love. The best part about these lesson writing platform is that you could make a lesson for half the class on one article, and the other half of the class on another article depending on different interest.
You’ll still save time making double the lessons because both of them will recreated so quickly.
3. Make the Lessons Online
Alright! You found your content and your lesson writing platform. Now’s the time to actually make your lesson.
We suggest making your first lesson when you are not on a time crunch. Don’t make a lesson that you need in an hour, because you’ll want to see how the platform works and any questions that you might have while using it.
The first couple of lessons you make might take you a little bit longer than usual. The more comfortable you got using the platform, the easier it will be. However, if you use a platform several times and it still does not seem intuitive or easy to use, then it might not be the best platform of choice.
Always make sure to check and see what resources the product will offer you. At LessonWriter our “Help” section takes users through making lessons feature by feature. Other organizations may offer YouTube tutorials, an onboarding process, or live chat bots to help.
Are all, these platforms are supposed to make your life easier, so make sure you keep track of whether or not you are saving time and money using them!
4. Get & Give Feedback about Your Online Lessons
Feedback, like in most things, is such an important part of teaching. Whether you’re giving the feedback to your students, or they are giving it to you, it helps both parties grow.
Do Your Students like the Online Lessons You’ve Made?
Ask your students whether or not the lessons are easy for them to follow and understand, and whether or not the something makes sense.
This part doesn’t only have to do with your platform, but also the content you’re choosing and how you’re setting up your lesson. For example, if you’re making a “Detailed” lesson on LessonWriter, you can choose every aspect of the lesson from vocabulary words to specific definitions of these words, as well as write your own writing prompts to go with the passages that you have selected.
Therefore, make sure you’re asking for feedback about both the content and the formatting of the lessons made. Some of your students may be more engaged knowing they can suggest the content in their lessons, instead of having to follow along with a textbook.
In addition to your students liking the lessons, you should like them as well. At LessonWriter, we’re always looking to make improvements to our product and our features.
Quick history lesson on how LessonWriter started! One teacher created an application to perform repetitive tasks with new materials, such as formatting worksheets and creating flashcards from a newspaper article. Colleagues noticed and added their own ideas and applications, and as the collection grew, another teacher suggested they all be brought together in a single website!
It’s important for both you and your students that you enjoy the lessons you’re teaching, and you want to use a product you enjoy.
5. Collaborate with Other Teachers on Your Lessons
Final step of making your lessons online is collaborating with other teachers while you do it. A product that lets you share lessons with other teachers and build off one another’s work is going to save every one more time and energy.
That’s is why we included a teacher and school-wide collaboration tool in our School Accounts. It allows teachers to collaborate on lessons, communicate with students, and work with administration, all on one platform.
This isn’t a necessary feature, but if it’s something that you already do, why not automate it?
In Conclusion, Start Making Online Lessons Right Now!
Determining the best online lesson writing platform can save you time money and resources as a teacher. To get started on your research, check out LessonWriter’s free option today!