Swot up on the best education websites
The internet has become a wonderful source for subject resources, mainly thanks to generous teachers and schools that post their notes online for all to use.
There isn’t a central resource, so finding them is often a matter of judicious Google searches or happy accidents. Once you scratch the surface, however, the number of resources is growing all the time. The spirit of generosity is alive and well; many teachers have no restrictions on their content.
It’s a leap, however. Traditionally, a teacher’s personal notes were theirs and theirs alone. Noel Cunningham, a physics teacher, has been running his website, thephysicsteacher.ie, for years, and he sees the culture beginning to shift. “Technology which allows resources to be stored electronically, especially Dropbox, is beginning to change that, and discussion forums which can be set up both within and between departments encourages sharing.”
“I’ve found that teachers are very keen to use technology in this way,” says Evelyn O’Connor, founder of leavingcertenglish.net. “There is very little technical support out there, though. It’s so important for us to become familiar with all of this technology.”
St Columba’s College, the Dublin school, appears to be leading the way in this use of technology and information sharing, and sites by its teachers feature prominently in this article. Most of the resources listed here are run by teachers, but mathsireland.comis run by an interested dad who happens to have a degree in computer applications.
The common factors are interest, enthusiasm and a passion for the possibilities of technology.
This site does exactly what it says on the tin. Teacher of the year Evelyn O’Connor works at Mount St Michael’s Secondary School in Claremorris, Co Mayo. She started the site in 2011 when unwell with a sore throat.
The site allowed her to communicate with her students despite not being able to use her voice. It now has more than 1,000 users every day. It has notes, links, resources and an excellent blog. Some comprehensive poetry podcasts are available to buy, for €2.50 a pop. Everything else is free.
The best known of the English blogs, this is run by Julian Girdham and his team at St Columba’s College. It has won numerous awards and provides useful resources, links and insights into the English curriculum. Dig a little: the depth and breadth of what you find will make it worth your while.
The ultimate resource for anyone studying Irish for the Junior or Leaving Cert. This is another of the St Columba’s gems, run by teacher Gary Bannister and his team.
The site is full of notes and resources, again freely available.
The site’s founder Peter Lee holds the record for the highest score achieved by an Irish person on Channel 4’s afternoon show Countdown. When he’s not breaking records on British television he works on his site, updating sample answers and answering student queries. The site started years ago when Lee’s own children were doing the Leaving Cert.
Leaving Cert physics, biology and applied maths, along with notes for Junior Cert physics, chemistry and biology. Run by an award-winning physics teacher, Noel Cunningham of King’s Hospital School, Palmerstown, Co Dublin. His site has been running for more than 10 years.
He uses Facebook and other internet resources in his teaching. Teachers interested in sharing ideas can join discussion groups, the links to which are on the site. Noel is on Twitter @physicsteacher. His blog is at thinkforyourself.ie.
An excellent science website run by Humphrey Jones and Jeremy Stone, science teachers at St Columba’s College. The blog is frequently updated. Humphrey Jones is on Twitter, @humphreyjones.
A strong site, full of notes and diagrams, but there is no information about who runs it. Excellent resource, though.
Excellent site developed by Val Redmond of Presentation Secondary School in Wexford. Redmond is keen to share notes and resources with other teachers and classes around the country. There’s an option to swap PowerPoint presentations on the site.
This site has a fair amount of content that is free and available to download. Packages are also available for purchase that include worked sample questions complete with translations, vocabulary and explanations of constructions used.
Run by an Ireland-based French teacher, Julian Porzadny, this blog is aimed at his own students, but the resources and links would be useful to anyone studying the language.
Run by Dominic Haugh, a history teacher at St Patrick’s Comprehensive School in Shannon, Co Clare. The site has well over 50,000 hits to date.
Best one-stop shop for revision notes in a variety of subjects includes revision notes, sample questions and exam tips. Subjects include English, Irish, French, geography, home economics and biology. Notes are free.
10 to follow on Twitter
Anne Looney, chief executive of the NCCA, is an eclectic tweeter. You’ll get comments and retweets on education, culture and even the odd funny Youtube clip recommendation. Sample tweet: “Probably leaves our points race in the shade! Jail for Chinese man who rang exam bell too early – RTÉ News”
Fintan O’Mahony, a teacher of English and history at Scoil Mhuire in Co Tipperary, is a trailblazer in the use of social media in the classroom. He is engaged with education and wider issues. He is unafraid to voice his opinion on Twitter and in his blog, levdavidovic.wordpress.com. Sample tweet: “Teaching is a job everyone thinks they can do, guards, judges, politicians [are the] same.”
Not many people know that Tomás Ó Ruairc, the director of the Teaching Council, is on Twitter. Sample tweet: “Somewhat counterintuitively, the more trusting people that actually emerge as less gullible.” (Retweeting @brainpicker)
Former Rose of Tralee, teacher, Project Maths ambassador and physics nut Aoibhinn Ní Shuilleabháin also manages to squeeze in a bit of broadcasting and PhD research. Not busy at all, then. Her tweets are lively and peppered with bits and pieces relating to science and education. Lots of interesting vignettes, such as TED Talk recommendations, and you’ll be sure to get a heads-up on any interesting science events happening around the place. Sample tweet: “I shouldn’t be so excited that myself and the new Q from 007 have the same cup but I am.”
John Logue is the president of the Union of Students in Ireland. His tweets are a good way to keep up with what students are up to on the political front. Logue uses Twitter well. Plenty to keep you interested. Sample tweet: “At debate in LYIT on children’s rights referendum, good points being made by Senator @jillianvT on the need for a yes vote.”
The talents of Brian Lucey, professor of finance at TCD and media commentator, do not extend to gardening, apparently. His expertise is in finance and economics, but this certainly extends to education, and he often has good insights on the issues of the day. Sample tweet, after Obama’s re-election: “Morning TV: Fox incredulous, Sky slightly bewildered. Face it Rupert, your guy lost.”
Donal O’Mahony is a teacher at Portmarmock Community School, Co Dublin, with a particular interest in collaborative learning. He was tweeting from the Intel education summit in Sweden recently – lots of bits and pieces for anyone interested in education and technology. O’Mahony writes a blog at donalomahony.edublogs.org. Sample tweet: “If u haven’t seen it, have a look at #intelsummit12 on girls/women and tech on the twitter feed.”
Self-styled SUS – seriously underused sub – teacher Helen Bullock is a prolific tweeter, with plenty of interaction and interesting vignettes. Bullock also runs a great blog, anseo-a-mhuinteoir.com, about her life as a teacher. Sample tweet: “Check out @DPSM_Activities And don’t be afraid of it! It’s great fun! Just search the cupboards for resources!”
Fred Boss is an art teacher and project officer in continuing professional development with the National Centre for Technology in Education. He was a finalist for best individual tweeter in the global Edublog awards. Tweets on matters of education and technology and runs a blog, fboss.edublogs.org. Sample tweet: “I think there are still a lot of questions about iPads other devices in education, including ICT too.”
Former DCU president Ferdinand von Prondzynski is now principal and VC of Robert Gordon University, in Scotland. He’s entertaining, thought-provoking and informative, especially for people interested in education matters. He also doesn’t take himself too seriously. Sample tweet: “For the 1st time in three zillion years I have slept beyond 9am on a Saturday. Now I feel completely exhausted. May need to go back to bed.”