Working with students in blended and virtual environments can be challenging. This is especially the case when resources for academics are limited. There are sites by different organizations and Teachers-Pay-Teachers that offer resources at a fee. But why should teachers pay for resources when there is a global library of lessons, activities, and academic material that is FREE to use, aligned to standards, and reviewed for quality. Also, many of these resources give the user the right to revise and remix the material into a format that best meets learners’ needs. Where can you find these resources?  (Also, explore more content in this article series listed at the end of this post)

Read on to learn about three important areas for accessing Free and Open Educational Resources (OER)…

  1. OER State and National Resources Portals

There are many repositories that contain educational resources that are free and give users the permission to revise and remix (OER) to adapt for the needs of local classrooms and students. Find resources that add value to your work with students, check the creative commons license for the description of OER rights, download and use. The sites provided here conduct an ongoing vetting process of their resources. Most of these sites include standards based on the state, Next
Generation Science Standards, and/or Common Core. Find what you need. Share the resources and sites with others. Pay forward these free gifts.

  • OER Commons:
    Find many resources for lessons and activities that were created by teachers for teaching. The site provides the ability to search by standards aligned and grade level. Be sure to check out their library of curated resources, which as of this writing, includes the categories: Collections–including over 15 categories, Common Core, and STEM. Also, join or form a group to network with other educators, save resources, and share them to your group, such as the teachers in your school.
  • #GoOpenMichigan:
    On first going to the site, you’ll find it similarly structured like OER Commons. This is for good reason–they use the same platform. The Michigan site is closely monitored by a statewide team of educators to ensure quality and growth of the site. Visit here regularly as there is new OER material being added. Its curated section includes: Collections with over 28 categories (as of this writing), OER Textbooks, and Remixable lessons and activities. Most resources are aligned to standards for Michigan, Common Core, and/or Technology. Most standards across states and region are similar and easy for you to cross-reference to your own. GoOpenMichigan is currently one of the best models for state-level OER repository.
  • Curriki: or
    The library contains many lessons and activities that are free to use or open license. Check the terms of use of each item for specifics. The site makes it easy to search by subject or grade level. There are many interesting resources such as the NHL Future Goals: Stem Sports Curriculum for grades 4-7.

  1. Free Repositories

These sites contain resources that are free to use. Some sites may state that they have OER licensing, however, always review their “Terms of Use” and examine the license that is actually posted on the chosen resource. If the terms state that you can revise or remix than the license is OER. If neither is stated, it may be offered as free to use and share (check) but does not allow edits or changes to the content. The resources on this list are free to use, so enjoy and share the links.

  • Hippo Campus:
    There are a wealth of video tutorials that span core academic areas. Touting over 7000 free videos, there is much to find content that is an alternative to solely text based.
  • PBS Learning Media:
    PBL offers an in depth wealth of resources for free use in the classroom and for engaging learners into content. Search by subject, grade, and/or standard. Create a free account and curate a list of resources to use and share with others. For example, an exploration of writing, there was a variety of helpful videos including one on craft where an author shares his approach to writing: August Wilson on Writing.
  • Open Culture: 200 Free Kids Educational Resources:
    At first, and second, glance the list of resources on the opening page could feel overwhelming. It helps to take cleansing breaths while looking at the descriptions. Find 2-3 to explore and share with colleagues. Bookmark the page for a later return based on the needs of your students and the teachers in your school. Many of these resources are free to use, while some offer a free trial. There may be resources that include OER licensing. Always check the terms of use to know what permissions are given.

  1. Understanding What is OER

Now that you have reviewed a variety of sites that are free or OER, hopefully the value of these resources for staff and students is clear. To communicate the reasons for using these libraries of instructional materials treasures, it is important to build a foundational knowledge of what is OER, and why it is growing internationally in popularity. Use these resources to learn and understand how best to communicate to other teaches and educators about OER as time saving for quality content.


Please review the resources shared here for use of supporting your learners. What is provided is literally the tip of a gigantic iceberg of free resources that are vetted and reviewed for quality. Many of them offer terms of use that gives OER permissions to revise and remix the materials to suit the needs of your learners.

The next step is to pay it forward by sharing these resources with your colleagues in the school. There is so much we can do to help others during this challenging times. Helping other teachers positively impact the quality learning experiences by the students.

For more exploration and reflection on practices,
here is a list of the articles in this series:

Written by John McCarthy, EdS, author of So All Can Learn: A Practical Guide to Differentiation
Follow on Twitter @JMcCarthyEdS
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