Before there were blogs there were webmasters. I refer to them as the pioneers of online teacher sites. There weren’t many, but their sites were well visited, and highly revered as places you could go to get fantastic resources. Oh, and back then there was no such thing as Teachers Play Teachers. If one wanted to sell their creations, they had to figure out a different way to do so. Truth be told, the vast majority of webmasters shared freely.
I remember visiting these sites frequently to see what was new. It was a daily or weekly affair checking out these websites because RSS feeds such as Bloglovin’ and Feedly were non existent. In fact, to share updates with visitors, a web author had to publish a list of updates, and in order for visitors to know about updates, they had to manually visit the site! There may have been email newsletter updates, but the most typical way to check on a site’s progress was to actually visit it. Oh the advances in technology!
I want to highlight a few of the webmasters that come to mind and basically give a huge shout out for their trendsetting and pioneering efforts. Although I talk about these sites in the past tense, please realize that some of the sites are still active and updated.
First up? Kelly’s Kindergarten! My favorite feature on her site was her Dollar Store Deals. She’d highlight what could be found at the Dollar Tree and what could be done with it all. So fun! She had pictures and of course free printables.
Next up…Teaching Heart. Colleen’s unit studies were so comprehensive. They included literature tie-ins, poetry and songs, art, science, and math. It was on Colleen’s site that I learned the real value of using pocket charts and incorporating predictable charts.
Hubbard’s Cupboard was anything BUT bare — like Old Mother Hubbard’s was! I loved Michelle’s resources for literacy and math. Her “suggested resources” at the end of each of her resource pages were also a time saver for busy teachers.
Six Traits has been around for a long time. It’s stood the test of time and still remains a part of my writing workshop. I remember running across Kimberly Steele’s site, and was floored by the comprehensive 6-Traits ideas she shared on her site, Kim’s Korner.
The next featured site looks drastically different now; however, the tone, feel, and overall awesomeness are still present in its current form. You know her as Angela Watson, but before she got married she was Angela Powell, and her site packed a punch. It was full of fantastic management and organization ideas. You can get all of the lovely goodness her site had to offer in her book. I refer to it as a “site turned book” book!
Marcia’s Lesson Links was my go to place for free emergent readers. My students loved them and learned so much as beginning readers and writers. I also loved that her site’s title built was with Scrabble tiles!
Mrs. McGowan was probably the first place where I discovered “Internet Projects” — where classes from across the globe worked collaboratively. There were leaf exchanges, post card exchanges, you name it! Talk about making the world a smaller place and giving our kids a “global perspective!”
My first “teacher created” resource purchase was from Kinder Korner. I bought all of her “Happy” poems and “Good Morning” songs. Back in the day (and even now) I rarely, if ever purchased teacher created materials. Not because I didn’t (or don’t) support their efforts, but I just find that I prefer to create my own. I was glad to have had the chance to purchase Victoria’s resources though, because they saved me time and there wasn’t ONE SINGLE THING that I would have changed after receiving the digital resources.
I loved the name of the next featured site — The Virtual Vine. Cindy not only shared her own ideas, but gave other teachers a voice on her site too. In addition, she helped others build their own sites, offering website building tutorials, tips, and tricks!
Jennifer, from Kinderpond, hails from the GREAT state of Wisconsin! Yay! Her site was my go to resource for graphing ideas. Oh, she pushed me (and taught me) to be cool and add a favicon to my (back then) site.
Maggie’s Kinder Corner was chock full of literacy ideas and resources. Her site sported “live” music for your perusing enjoyment!
When I’m asked about who’ve I’ve met that’s famous, I always mention “the day that Dr. Jean called me.” Ha! She did! True story. I’m not kidding! She was enthusiastic, approachable, and encouraging. She’s also VERY talented!
I always liked that I had to “knock on the door” to enter Vanessa Levin’s site! And guess what? She was always home, with great things to share! Ha! My favorite spot on her site was the classroom photos section. A picture says a thousand words…and I’m such a visual learner, so I learned a lot!
Sandy Ellaser’s site was a hidden gem. What I mean is that it really was a sewing site (she is a seamstress), but if you dug deep enough you also found a “teachers resources” page. I loved her math mats, zero the hero ideas, single page easy reader stories, flip books, pointer ideas, oh….the list goes on!
Finally, there’s Carl’s Corner. Cherry’s site was pretty much her entire brain. All of her expertise and knowledge on display for other teachers to peruse and learn from! My favorites are her intervention ideas and resources. Such a goldmine!
I’m positive I’ve missed some great ones that were a large part of my early teaching life. I know the feeling of “oh, I was left off the list” (but trust me, your site meant a lot to me and I’m sorry my old age has caught up with me, causing me to be forgetful and not inclusive).
I’m not really sure why I wrote this post, other than I’ve been thinking about the late 1990s and early 2000s. I was also thinking that the new(er) teachers who are bloggers probably don’t know about the trailblazers and trendsetters. I’m not sure if a “history” has been written about them, but here’s my attempt to capture that time in history (on a blog of all places!). Ha! I hope you’ve enjoyed either discovering some greats and/or traveling down memory lane. I know I have!