Define: Interactive Learning

Enhance learning with digital content

Begin the "Define" section by reflecting on what you know and want to know about this "Thing."

The internet is stacked with interactives and content area resources that are designed to enhance learning. In this "Thing," you will find out how to search efficiently for digital content that is appropriate for your classroom, while spotlighting resources that are well known for their standards based curricular activities.

Learning Objectives

  • Know how to locate appropriate learning resources that will engage students, including a variety of Open Educational Resources (OERs) and content area collections, and interactive learning sites
  • Understand how to use a variety of learning resources to engage students and extend learning opportunities
  • Make connections with technology standards and best practice
  • Transfer the learning to professional practice by applying these resources to support learning
  • Click on each title below to see detailed information.

    There are a variety of interactive online resources that support teaching and learning such as videos, quiz features, games, and assignments. These resources can help students visualize, practice, and conceptualize in an engaging, authentic learning process. While some are skill based and intended for practice, other interactives will take a student through a whole lesson (and sometimes a whole unit). 

    Specifically, this "Thing" will explore three types of interactive content: Interactive Learning Sites, Content Area Resources/Open Educational Resources (OERs), and Study/Practice Sites.  Additionally, we will introduce A/R and V/R interactive resources.

    What's Your Why?

    To choose a learning resource, always think about your objectives and reasons for selecting. Have a clear goal or purpose for using the technology (visuals, videos, interactives, lessons, engaging students, etc). When deciding how to use a resource, consider where it fits within best practice implementation: SAMR, TPACK, Triple E, or TIM (Thing 1).

    For instance, if your students need additional visualization examples to understand place value, the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives might be a resource to investigate to see if it could provide additional practice. As another example, you might try a PBS Learning Media interactive to help students understand the process of photosynthesis.

    Be sure to become familiar with well-known interactive sites that are related to your content area. Science teachers of all grades may want to use the PhET interactives to clarify concepts such as electricity or density, while math teachers may appreciate the Prodigy or the Khan Academy. Teachers of literature or social studies might encourage students to use KnightLab to create timelines.

    Check out the additional resources link to find more examples. Be sure to research the site features and functionality to understand how the site works and what you will find there. 

    Here are some tips for getting started:

    • Do an online internet search by content, being as specific as possible. For example, searching “climate change for students” quickly yields interactive sites such as NASA and NOAA for students. Return to Thing 10 for a refresher on Search Strategies.
    • Learn about a few well-recommended sites at a time and gradually increase your familiarity with others that fit your needs. You want your students to feel confident using a resource before adding others to the mix.
    • Check for additional teaching materials within the sites you want to use.
    • Use a bookmarking system to save your links and findings. 
    • Share sites and lesson ideas with other teachers. Consider setting up a Wakelet, Diigo, or other collection site to bookmark, label, and share your lessons. See Thing 7 for more information on social bookmarking.

    Now that you have a general understanding of using interactives in education, take some time to explore the specific resources in the next sections.  They are organized by type of interactive.  If you are looking for a specific resource not featured there, be sure to visit the Awesome Table in Additional Resources as there are many other content specific resources listed there. Spend as much time as you need reviewing the playlist for each of these categories.

    Next Category:  Interactive Learning Sites

    Online interactives cover a wide variety of curriculum topics and skills. Interactive sites are an engaging way to supplement text. Students might be answering questions to move on in a game, searching for information on an interactive map site, practicing a skill to earn a badge, or doing an investigation with interactive content on a science or math site. Additionally, teachers using a classroom web presence (web page, blog, learning management system) can often embed these engaging activities right into their blended lessons.



    Social Studies

    Language Arts

    Stop & Think

    After a quick visit to each of these sites, locate one to do a deeper dive. Take note of the searching features. Can you locate content by subject area? By standard? By type of content? See if you can find 2-4 resources in this repository that would support your instruction or that could be used by students in your classroom. Share with colleagues via text, email, or by posting on a school website.

    Next Category: Content Area Resources and OERs.

    There are a number of searchable content area repositories on the web that are available for K-12 teaching and learning. Many of them are searchable by content area standards, grade levels, types of content, as well as other criteria. Teachers can use these lesson resources while planning as well as introduce them to students for their use while learning.


    PBS Learning Media

    Strong content area resources for any grade level, including interactives, video clips, articles, lesson plans, etc. How to use PBS Learning Media includes tips for integration with Schoology and Google Classroom.


    Create interactive content like digital textbooks for your class, and enhance your lessons for students to navigate. According to their website, CK-12 is "an integrated set of tools for learning: digital textbooks, concept-based learning, SAT prep, and interactive Algebra curriculum (with additional math and science subjects in progress). All products can be customized to match the needs of the student, educator, or school." Check out the dashboards, the flex books, library or LMS apps for your classroom.


    "The goal of OpenSciEd is to ensure any science teacher, anywhere, can access and download freely available, high quality, locally adaptable full-course materials that support equitable science learning."

    Go Open Michigan (Open Educational Resources)

    Curated by Michigan educators, this site offers a variety of online content, lessons, interactives, etc. and is searchable by grade, standard, and other filters.

    Teachers First

    Very elementary friendly, but lots of resources for middle and high school as well.


    Sign up for an account and choose the “Library” tab. Review the “Catalog” to search for learning resources by using any search term.

    Annenberg Learner 

    Multimedia resources for K-12 and professional development. Organized by subject, grade level, etc.

    Stop & Think

    After a quick visit to each of these sites, locate one to do a deeper dive. Take note of the searching features. Can you locate content by subject area? By standard? By type of content? See if you can find 2-4 resources in this repository that would support your instruction or that could be used by students in your classroom. Share with colleagues via text, email, or by posting on a school website.

    Next Category: Study and Practice Apps

    These resources improve vocabulary and encourage practice with basic concepts. Many have websites as well as apps for mobile practice. Quizlet is one of a number of “flash card” vocabulary sites. Kahoot, Quizizz, and other sites offer game-like quiz practice of concepts.






    Vocabulary/Spelling CIty

    Starfall (early elementary reading and math)

    To see a list of additional quiz practice sites, be sure to check out our Additional Resources page or visit Thing 19, Assessment and Analysis.


    Do you use any of these resources in your classroom? If so, why not explore one or two that you aren’t familiar with to mix things up and add some variety to your interactive classroom experiences?  If not, take a quick look to see what you can do with them. 

    Next Category: AR and VR

    Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are new learning technologies that facilitate a deeper connection between the student and the concepts taught by immersing the student into the content. This video, Understanding Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, will give you a better understanding of the difference between AR and VR.  

    Read this article on AR/VR in K-12  to see  some reasons why AR/VR is being used in the classroom. 


    National Geographic has created a virtual reality playlist on YouTube called  360° videos. Playlists range from places to animals to historic landmarks. 

    AR Flashcards is a free Augmented Reality app on iOS or Android that has in-app purchases. It contains AR resources for Elementary students including Apollo 11, Abraham Lincoln and math facts.

    Google has entered  in the AR ring by providing free searchable 3D Images. Read this article on Google 3D Animals to find out how to access this free content. 

    Google Expedition can help bring 3D images and virtual field trips to your classroom in AR/VR fashion. From ancient wonders to gears and plant structures, check out this list of Expeditions

    Google Cardboard is an inexpensive way to bring VR to your classroom. This cardboard viewfinder works with  the use of any smartphone to create a virtual experience. 

    Merge Cube takes 2D objects and transforms them into 3D virtual objects that can be manipulated. Merge Cubes are available online for a cost.

    You can locate many additional AR and VR resources on this Google Sheet.

    This is the last section of "Thing" 12's Define playlist. Now would be a great time to revisit your Reflection Document and think about what you learned in this "Thing." Capture a screenshot of your results from the Knowledge Check and post them in your Reflection Document. As you move forward, consider the following: How might you use this in your own professional practice? What goals might you set for yourself, including activities, timelines, and evaluation? What connections did you make to the ISTE Standards or your own content area standards? How will you monitor your own progress towards these goals? Then proceed to the next section.

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