Curation might not be a word in your everyday vocabulary, but it’s something we do every day. We find content we like and tell other people about it—a link to a blog post that a friend or family member might enjoy, or a link to a YouTube video that a colleague might want to share with their students.
When taking on the role of a curator for your students, there are a few things you can do to handpick resources that support every student in your class. In my book EdTech Essentials: The Top 10 Technology Strategies for All Learning Environments, one of the 10 strategies examines curation in the classroom and ways to curate resources that support all students.
The following list of tips for curating resources includes some of my favorite spots to find content for students.
1. Think of Content in Categories
Creating content categories will ensure a balance between video, text, and audio, or another file form. For example, place a podcast in its own category and think about this type of audio resource as one kind of content to share with students.
As you examine the content in each category, take a moment to think about how accessible each medium is for your students. For instance, if you often assign explainer videos, do those videos have captions? If you frequently provide short articles, are they compatible with tools like Immersive Reader?
2. Choose Content Based on Learning Goals
The resources you handpick for students should relate to the learning goals you’ve identified. Ask yourself questions like these:
- What do I want students to know and be able to do?
- Based on formative assessment data, where do students need additional support?
- How can I choose resources that respond to differentiated instruction needs?
As you choose content for students, your decisions might also stem from a commitment to differentiated instruction through the content you distribute to individuals or small groups of students.
3. Select Relevant and Authentic Content
It’s important that the resources you choose represent and connect with students. Make sure that students see themselves in the resources you provide the class. This can include choosing math tutorials filmed by diverse creators or texts that illustrate an English language arts concept while exploring a wide range of life experiences.
When you choose content to give to students, select resources that introduce a new concept or fill a gap related to students’ background knowledge. Ask yourself the following:
- What will students need so they can learn from my course content?
- What experiences have students had that I can build upon?
- What have my observations and conversations with students shown me?
4. Extend a Lesson and Connect to Interests
Curation of content can also include selecting items that go beyond a lesson. As you decide on the type of digital resources that can help extend a lesson, ask yourself these questions:
- What areas may I not get a chance to cover in traditional lessons?
- What cross-curricular connections would I like students to see?
- What content can students explore after a unit or lesson is finished?
In addition to considering the connection between the content and the learning goals, students’ interest in the materials is important, too. Ask yourself these questions:
- What did students show an interest in during the unit or lesson?
- What additional video clips or podcast episodes would grab their attention?
- What subtopics can I gather resources on to help students dive deeper?
5. Decide How to Organize and Distribute Content
Once you select the best resources for students, it’s important to have a plan for creating collections or keeping track of the content you’d like to share. A few helpful tools for making this happen include Wakelet, Adobe Spark, and Google Sites. If you use Wakelet, educator Rachel Coathup has great ideas on how to harness the power of this collection tool.
In webinars this year, I’ve repeated the phrase “embrace your place” a few times. When it comes to deciding on the best way to get content into the hands of students, using your learning management system (LMS) or a familiar platform is always a great place to start. For example, if MS Teams is your go-to spot, allocate resources within Teams Assignments.
6. Curate With Colleagues and Students
Finding the best resources for your students doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor. You can partner up with colleagues to search for content for related courses or have a communal document like a Google Doc where you update a list of favorite resources at different check-in points during a unit of study.
Curation is a skill that involves higher-order thinking, and it takes time and skill to evaluate content. You can bring students into the process alongside you as you vet content or simply tell them, “I found this great video, and I know it comes from a reputable source because….”
As you handpick resources and curate collections of content for your students this year, I hope these tips will help you along the way. Sorting through Google search results and YouTube queries can feel overwhelming at times, but the above strategies and guiding questions can help streamline the process.