||Educational Technology & Society 2(2) 1999
Reviewer: Allison Brown
Head, Learning Resources Development Unit
Teaching and Educational Development Institute
University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Tel: +61 7 3810 7608
Fax: +61 7 3810 7624
|This American site presents 500 links to thousands of ideas for lessons for a variety of school levels from K-12. The site covers the curriculum areas of The Arts, Language Arts, Maths, Social Studies, Science, and Technology and would be of interest to teachers in both primary and secondary fields. Also included on the opening screen is a guide to writing effective lesson plans, as well as general pointers on ways of integrating the Internet into lesson planning and delivery.
The site gives very little detail about the site developer, with only a name and an email provided. The site appears to be a community resource provided by an individual granting free and unrestricted use to educators for non-profit. The only endorsement that appears is that the site was nominated November's Web Site of the Month by the School District of Philadelphia/ Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' Peer Intervention Program.
The site is well organised into curriculum themes and easily navigated through lists of lessons grouped according to categories in each theme. While not all sources are clearly identified, the lessons appear to come from a variety of practising teachers in America who are willing to share their ideas for one-off lessons with their colleagues.
Under each curriculum area are sub themes to choose from. For example, in the Language Arts area, sub themes include: listening and speaking, reading, literature, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, writing and research. Each sub theme has about 20 links to ideas for separate lessons, from different authors.
The goal of the site is stated as: "to provide resources that will help educators use the Internet to enhance their teaching". The site certainly does provide resources in the form of lesson plans, and these lesson plans are available online, however most of the lesson plans have little to do with using the Internet or integrating the use of the Internet into curriculum planning. Perhaps more importantly, there is no evaluative information about any of the lesson plans that are provided, and very little information apart from name, about the authors and their experience. In some cases the lessons are not sourced at all. The lessons are just presented on the assumption that they are successful and will lead to enhanced teaching. To achieve the stated goal, the site needs to include some evaluative feedback from those who have used the lessons.
There also appears to be a behaviourist bias in the collection of lessons presented here, particularly in the lesson planning templates that are provided. The site would benefit from an inclusion of educational approaches from other theoretical perspectives. Another thing that bothers me about this site, is the presentation of 'one-off' stand alone lessons not associated with any holistic curriculum framework. The name of the site itself "Lesson Stop" reinforces this orientation, seeming to offer users bereft of ideas (or any planning) a quick fix solution. If however, the site is used during the curriculum planning phase where teachers work out overall goals then refine these into learning objectives and then look for resources to fit their educational framework, the site would be a useful and pedagogically sound tool.
Navigational and design aspects
The site is well constructed and easy to navigate. While its appearance could be enhanced with some professional graphical design, the lack of this does not detract from its usefulness. The two frame navigational layout on the opening page allows the user to see at a glance the comprehensiveness of the site. The left hand main navigational contents frame is maintained on subsequent index screens, allowing for easy navigation throughout the site. Some attention should be given to the colouring of the links which appear in black, and because of this do not at first glance appear to be hyperlinks at all. Headings which are not hyperlinks also appear in black and this adds to the confusion.
The site downloads quickly, probably because it is entirely text based. There is no use of hypermedia apart from hypertext in this site. There are no special browser requirements. The site is up-to-date and new additions are clearly marked. There are no search facilities associated with this site, but the organisation of information is so clear and straightforward that additional search facilities are not really required at this stage.
This site could be a useful resource for teachers from K-12 provided it is used as a planning tool. However, it's heavy emphasis on American curricula and behaviourist approaches may prove limiting to teachers in other countries. This site could be improved with feedback from teachers on how the lessons were used, what works well and what doesn't (and why) and ideas for modifications or adaptation to other cultures.