September 1st, 2022

Back to School Resources for Educators

Back to school collection of supplies with handwritten calligraphy with blackboard. Cute vector illustrationWelcome back to school! We’re here to help you prepare for the new school year by providing educational resources that you can implement directly into your classrooms and school districts.

You may not know that NYLearns is a division of PLS 3rd Learning. At PLS 3rd Learning, we help educators and schools reach their full potential through web-based systems and professional learning opportunities. Below is a list of content that you might find helpful as you enter the 2022-23 school year.

NYLearns Blog: Classroom Resources for K-12 Teachers

Each week we feature resources that include lesson plans, learning experience/units, e-books, interactive maps, web-based practices, and so much more. These items s can be applied to your classroom as they are categorized by different grade levels and subjects. If you have a desired resource in mind, you can access it through our advanced search.

PLS Classes Blog

PLS Classes offers 35+ graduate courses for K-12 educators through partnerships with colleges and universities in multiple formats. Each month, PLS Classes provides new ideas to help you in and out of the classroom. Head over to their blog for an assortment of teacher-related content. PLS Classes also provides free printables that are easy to download and use in your classroom. From seasonal to everyday activities, these printables are available for all different grade levels.

Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud Podcast & Blog

As a partner of NYLearns and an experienced education consultant, Steve Barkley offers insight on important education topics through his blog and podcast, Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud. He has an abundance of podcasts for teachers and some that you can share with your student’s parents or guardians. His blog articles and podcasts pertain to instructional coaches, school leaders, and educators from all over the world. Find out more about Steve Barkley.

SuperEval Resources for School Leaders

SuperEval provides online evaluations for K-12 leaders. For those of you who work in K-12 administration, SuperEval’s blog provides best practices and ideas to help you navigate the challenges of school leadership. The blog articles cover the ground for all levels of school leadership and how to better support teachers and staff. SuperEval also offers audio resources that allow you to listen to blog articles while on the go. Read more about SuperEval.

June 4th, 2020

Summer Reading Recommendations from Steve Barkley

Steve BarkleyLooking for some great books to read this summer? You’re in luck! We asked Steve Barkley, a trusted friend and partner of NYLearns, to recommend the top books teachers should pick up and digest this summer. Steve is an educational consultant to school districts, teacher organizations, state departments of education, and colleges and universities nationally and internationally. His recommendations are sure to help you stop and ponder your personal teaching style while you consider new ways to help students think critically and learn more.

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May 28th, 2020

Five Ways Teachers Can Earn Extra Income This Summer Break

Young woman having video call via laptop in the officeOver the past few months COVID-19 has posed a lot of challenges and changes for educators. After all we had to convert our lessons to remote learning and still deliver a great course experience. Plus we had to overcome the challenge of keeping students engaged even though they were learning from home. And then there was the great balancing act of maintaining work life balance while working from home.

The good news is that summer break is right around the corner. More than ever, you deserve time to recharge, rest, and unwind. However, after a few weeks of R&R, you might want to find ways to keep your creative edge, hone in on your educational focus, or find new ways to help the next generation of leaders advance their skills. If you see summer break as a time to grow professionally and an opportunity to earn a little extra income, then you’ll want to review our list of five ways you can earn extra income over the summer. And all of these ideas are stay-at-home friendly!

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April 30th, 2020

New Video Series Helps Teachers Build Stronger Connections with Students

Ever wonder how you can build deeper and more meaningful connections with your students? Ever think about how you can use technology to strengthen those connections? 

A new video series produced by our partner PLS Classes, Beyond the Classroom, explores at-home learning ideas that one Buffalo-area teacher uses to create meaningful connections with her students. The series features Julie Perna who is the Gifted Programming Specialist at Forest Elementary School in Williamsville, NY. In each episode Ms. Perna shares ideas to help teachers create connections and deepen relationships with students online using social media platforms such as Instagram or YouTube. 

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October 29th, 2019

The Best Education Inspired (And Simple) Halloween Costumes for Teachers

happy Halloween! a group of children in suits and with pumpkins in the homeHalloween is such a fun time for students — and it can be for teachers too! If your school allows students to dress up, why not join in on the fun? Your students will be sure to get a kick out of your more playful self. If it’s been awhile since you dressed up for Halloween, we’ve got you covered. Follow these education inspired Halloween costumes for teachers.

Smarty Pants
This one is easy peasy! All it takes is a quick trip to your local grocery store and buy a package of smarties. Use glue dots or double sided tape to stick them all over a pair of pants!

Green with Envy
This one is for a group of two people. So grab your student teacher, aid or another teacher on your team for this simple yet funny costume. One person wears green (or colors their face with green face-paint) and the other person wears a white t-shirt with the word “envy” on it. Use iron-on letters, fabric markers, or puffy paint for the lettering.

Smart Cookie
Dust off that old cap and gown and find cookie stickers or glue dot on print outs of cookies and stick them all over your gown. Double the fun if you bring cookies to school to share with your students.

The Grammar Police
Get a police costume and grab an old black shirt. Write “Grammar Police” on the front of the shirt.

A Book Fairy
Take an old book, open it and use it as wings across your back. Make a wand and skirt out of rolled up newspapers or torn out pages from a book.

Smartphone Apps
Instagram, snapchat, Google, watch out! Each teacher on your team can wear images of their favorite apps.

Here are some other ideas…

Characters from Children’s Books:

  • Pete the Cat
  • Olivia the Pig
  • Charlotte and Wilbur
  • Fancy Nancy
  • Where’s Waldo
  • Miss Frizzle
  • Madeline
  • The Paper Bag Princess

Teacher Team / Group Costume Ideas:

  • Crayola Crayons
  • Thing 1, Thing 2, Thing 3
  • The Three Little Pigs (Or Bears)
  • Emojis
  • M&Ms
  • The “feelings” from the movie Inside Out
  • Famous artists (Vincent Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Monet, etc.)

Happy Halloween!



September 8th, 2016

5 Ways to Welcome Students Back to School

Welcome Students Back to School

5 Creative Ways to Welcome Students Back to School

The start of school is an exciting time for both teachers and students. It’s also a week full of anxiety and anticipation. While summer memories (and nice weather) still linger, it’s important to hit the ground running to build momentum for a solid school year. This year, why not reduce stress and set high expectations with these five ways to welcome students back to school.

1. Establish Classroom Rules

Welcome your students to school by establishing a well-managed classroom. Encourage your students to help create the rules they will live by in your classroom. Getting students involved in brainstorming classroom rules not only helps break the ice at the beginning of the year, but it also encourages students to abide by the rules they’ve created.

For example, R.A.C.E. is a simple acronym that can help students remember the following rules:

R – Respect: yourself and others.
A – Attitude: always have a positive one.
C – Cooperate: and always do your best.
E – Excellence: it’s the key to success!

2. Recap Summer with a Writing Exercise

Since everyone’s brain is likely still on summer vacation, why not use that to your advantage? Encourage your students to write a story about what they did over the summer. You can start with a group brainstorm to come up with topics like family trips, books you read, movies you saw, camps you attended, states you visited, or just something new you learned over the summer. Then students can choose two or three topics to write about. It’s a great way to remember a fun summer while getting the creative juices flowing for the school year.

3. Create a Class Webpage

Create a webpage to communicate helpful information about your classroom to students and parents. NYLearns offers all users the opportunity to create custom classroom websites so teachers and administrators can display homework assignments, project due dates, classroom guidelines, class schedules, pictures, videos, and more!

4. Establish a Communication System with Parents

It is imperative to establish a clear channel of communication with your students’ parents for different situations. While important information about your classes can be displayed on your teacher website, everyone communicates differently. Consider offering text messages, emails, phone calls or even a newsletter to help parents stay up to date on their children’s work at school. Build good rapport and establish trust by communicating with parents.

5. Take the Stress Out of Curriculum Mapping

The NYLearns’ Curriculum tool allows districts to design, develop, and maintain customized curriculum maps that are aligned to NY State standards. You can customize student experiences that best serve your district, school, or classroom goals. Plus, if you need some inspiration, explore NYLearns’ nearly 100 model social studies, math, and ELA curriculum maps based on the NYS P-12 Common Core Standards.

Remember, with the NYLearns Curriculum tool, you can access all of your maps to reference any “Notes for Teaching” that were made throughout the previous school year, so you can also quickly copy curriculum maps and then modify them for this school year.

Do you have an idea about starting the school year on a high note? Let us know! You can follow us on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. As always, our award-winning help desk will be here all summer to help whenever you need it.

Welcome back! Let’s make it a great year with NYLearns!

June 14th, 2016

5 Creative Ways to Engage Students at the End the School Year


5 Creative Ways to Engage Students at the End the School Year

The end of every school year is a time of reflection for both teachers and students as they prepare for final exams. It’s also the time when students start to get squirrely and keeping their attention can be a challenge. Here are five creative ways to engage students at the end of the school year while preparing for summer vacation.

1. Assess the Year by Playing Jeopardy

Maximize student engagement at the end of the school year by incorporating Jeopardy rounds into your daily teaching.

  • Determine which topics you’ll cover based on the material you taught throughout the school year.
  • Group students together into teams and play rounds of Jeopardy with your classes.
  • Keep track of group points in an Excel spreadsheet and crown a winning team on the last day of school.

NYLearns offers an easy-to-implement Jeopardy Development Team Project as well as a Jeopardy Midterm Review Game for U.S. History.

In need of questions that align to specific NY State standards? Use the NYLearns Assessment Builder to search a database of thousands of actual past NY State Regents exams. You can even filter your search for questions by Standard, making it easy to build custom assessments that meet the needs of your students.

2. Reflect and Connect with Students

As you look back on your school year, use group time with your class to reflect on the material you covered throughout the school year. It’s the perfect time to poll your classroom to ask students what they learned and to determine which approaches led to higher student engagement.

  • Have your students create a Top 10 list of their favorite things they learned.
  • Discuss topics that your students hope to learn next year.
  • Talk about transitioning to the next school year to help students alleviate their fears.

Use the NYLearns Vertical Viewer to assess the standards that you covered during this school year or to look ahead to what will be covered in subsequent grades.

3. Create Summer Reading and Writing Initiatives

Motivate your students to read this summer with a summer reading challenge. Create your own list of books that students can choose from, or check out the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge as a guide.

Looking for content ideas to align to reading assignments? Find hundreds of standard-aligned resources in NYLearns Featured Content Archive.

4. Engage in Meaningful Professional Development

While students are expected to devote some of their summer vacations to reading, why not spend part of your summer building your professional skills?

Online professional development courses from PLS 3rd Learning can help you earn professional development credit in your school in as little as 4 weeks. Find online classes that fit your professional development needs with PLS Classes.

5. Close the Classroom Creatively

The end of the year requires a lot of organizing, packing, and cleaning. Creating a checklist is a fun way to get students involved in year-end classroom activities. Before you leave for the summer, consider adding a few of the following items to your checklist:

  • Teacher-planned activities like completing final assessments, finalizing report cards, and collecting all textbooks.
  • Enlisting student help for cleaning off desks and lockers, removing decorations from the classroom walls, and inventory remaining classroom supplies.
  • Take-home items for the summer like plants, books to read, and curriculum to review.

It’s also a good idea to organize your educational resources for next year. NYLearns’ ePortfolio makes cleaning up for summer a breeze.

End of the Year Tip: Create a folder in your ePortfolio called “2015-16 School Year” and move all of your folders you created throughout the year to that new folder. That way when you start building resources for next school year, you can easily find your favorite resources in one folder and create new folders for the upcoming school year.

Finally, remember that the NYLearns Curriculum tool allows you to access all of your maps to reference Notes for Teaching that were made throughout the previous school year. You can also quickly copy curriculum maps and then modify them for the upcoming school year.

Do you have an idea about ending the school year on a high note that we missed? Let us know! You can follow us on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. As always, our award-winning help desk will be here all summer to help whenever you need it.

NYLearns hopes you have a GREAT summer!

April 25th, 2016

Climate Change in the Major World Biomes

Explore Climate Change in the Major World Biomes, Learn About Prevention Efforts, & Discover Unique Plants and Animals

Take a trip through the major world biomes to explore climate change and discover unique plants and animals with these FREE Educational Resources — all aligned to NY State Academic Standards.

World Travels Unique Plants of the Biomes Crisis Guide: Climate change


Elementary School

World Travels

In this learning activity, students will:

  • Learn about the major world biomes.
  • Develop travel brochures to countries within the biomes.
  • Gain an awareness of careers associated with travel.

Related NY State Academic Standards: W.3.11, W.4.11, W.5.11, and more!

Middle School

Unique Plants of the Biomes

In this lesson plan, students will:

  • Understand that Earth’s surface is divided into a number of biomes characterized by unique plants and animals and a distinctive climate.
  • Identify adaptations of plants in specific biomes.
  • Explain how certain adaptations help plants survive in the specific biomes.

Related NY State Academic Standards: MST4.E.LE.6, MST4.I.LE.1.1f, MST4.I.LE.4.3, and more!

High School

Crisis Guide: Climate Change

In this web-based practice, students will explore climate change, learn about its effects on the world, and discover what is being done to prevent it.

Related NY State Academic Standards: MST4.C.LE.LE.6.3, MST4.C.LE.LE.7.1, MST4.C.LE.LE.7.2, and more!

Also, be sure to check out our Featured Content Archive, featuring thousands of activities, lesson plans, constructed-response questions, rubrics, teacher resources, multimedia, and more!

April 18th, 2016

Earth Day Resources for Your Classroom

Earth Day Resources: Explore the Living Earth, Understand Volcanoes, & Determine the Age of Earth

Explore these Earth Day resources to examine the living Earth, understand volcanoes, and determine the age of Earth. All of our FREE Earth Day Educational Resources are all aligned to NY State Academic Standards.

Earth Day Resources: The Living Earth Earth Day Resources: Understanding Volcanoes Earth Day Resources: The Age of Earth


Elementary School

The Living Earth

In this lesson plan, students will:

  • discuss glaciers and how they change the land;
  • do an activity that illustrates how glaciers change the land, and
  • make a class list of what causes changes to our planet’s structure.

Related NY State Academic Standards: MST4.E.PS2, MST4.E.PS2.1, MST4.E.PS2.1d, and more!

Middle School

Understanding Volcanoes

In this lesson plan, students will understand that a volcano can act as a giant cooling vent for Earth’s inner core.

Related NY State Academic Standards: MST4, MST4.E.PS2, and MST4.E.PS2.1

High School

The Age of Earth

This video will focus on scientist’s efforts to determine the age of Earth.

Related NY State Academic Standards: MST4 and MST4.E.PS2

Also, be sure to check out our Featured Content Archive, featuring thousands of activities, lesson plans, constructed-response questions, rubrics, teacher resources, multimedia, and more!

March 31st, 2016

35 Short Education Videos to Inspire the Rest of Your School Year


We can all feel stuck sometimes. It’s as if we can see the path we’re supposed to take, but we’re just spinning your wheels trying to get there… especially now that Spring Break is over!

Luckily, we know exactly how you feel, because, well, we’ve been there too. Our team of educators has over 300 years of collective classroom experience, and we’ve leveraged that expertise to build support resources to help you get what you need, fast.

For the last few years, NYLearns has been building its video library, along with its other support resources, to save you time by helping you build curriculum, create assessments, plan your lessons, and stay organized.

In addition to our teacher tool overviews, we also created theAsk NYLearns series, which offers tips on using our teacher tools as well as how to find the latest and greatest FREE educational resources on NYLearns.

If you’re feeling stuck or just need to recharge your batteries with a short–and funny, if I do say so myself–highlight of our latest features, we invite you to revisit these videos to help inspire you as this school year makes its final march toward graduation.