TeachersFirst Edge

New web 2.0 tools appear each day. Many of these tools were not originally intended for classroom use, but they can be powerful learning tools for today's techno-savvy students and their more adventurous teachers. These sites appear (and frequently disappear) very quickly, launched by creative techno-geeks out there in the world.

Many of these tools require a higher-than-average set of teacher tech skills or some extra monitoring to assure student "safety." TeachersFirst Edge reviews these "tools on the Edge" carefully, and with specific ideas for using them safely and effectively in teaching and learning. Reviews point out any safety or policy concerns for the tool and offer links to management tips for each concern.

Especially popular is this subset of the Edge: BYOD Dream Tools: Free tools that work on any device. Look for the device agnostic tool tag in any review.

This is the world your students already know. Try teaching in their vernacular. A little adventurousness makes for powerful learning.

See General Tips for using Edge Tools - a must for first-time users

Browse the full listing of detailed safety/school policy tips or save time by reading them as needed from each tool review.

Learn about school web filtering, a critical issue with many "Edge" tools

If you try one of these tools and find it especially useful, be sure to leave a comment on it to share your students' successes with other teachers. If you know of another tool that teachers would find beneficial, please suggest it via our webmaster account, as a "suggested resource."

Here's the Edge:

 

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Typely - typely.com

Grades
4 to 12
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Typely is a free online proofreading tool. In comparison to other grammar checkers, this tool focuses on usage errors instead of grammatical errors. Typely provides feedback on common...more
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Typely is a free online proofreading tool. In comparison to other grammar checkers, this tool focuses on usage errors instead of grammatical errors. Typely provides feedback on common mistakes including redundancy, sexism, and misspellings among others. Copy and paste your text into the editor to view results. Use settings to change the appearance of your text and use of Typely. When finished, save your document to your computer or create a Typely account to save online.

tag(s): editing (71), grammar (210), proofreading (26), spelling (167), writing (366)

In the Classroom

Bookmark Typely for use with any writing projects to allow students to concentrate on content instead of grammar. Be sure to share a link on your class webpage and classroom computers for students to use with written work. Ask students to analyze their writing by sharing a before and after analysis as a one-time blog post using Telegra.ph, reviewed here, or as part of their digital portfolio using bulb, reviewed here as a digital portfolio tool.

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Biteable - Biteable

Grades
K to 12
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Biteable claims to be "the world's simplest video maker," and they may be right. Choose from many animated features, color combinations, and photo scenes to personalize videos. The...more
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Biteable claims to be "the world's simplest video maker," and they may be right. Choose from many animated features, color combinations, and photo scenes to personalize videos. The wide assortment of templates include options to create ads, infographics, and more. Drag and drop images, add text and choose colors and sound onto the video timeline. When complete, publish and share on YouTube or social media sites with the provided links. Free accounts offer 1GB of storage and five video projects per month.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): digital storytelling (154), infographics (49), multimedia (63), video (276)

In the Classroom

Add Biteable to your technology toolbox for use with multimedia reports and presentations. Learn how to create and personalize videos together by sharing the site on your interactive whiteboard or projector and demonstrating the available features. As students become familiar with Biteable, ask them to use this site to create videos explaining and showing specific features available on the website. Be sure to have students create a storyboard to help make the video creation go smoothly. Do this either with paper and pencil or try using a digital storyboard like the Amazon Storybuilder, reviewed here, or Storyboard That, reviewed here. Use this site to create introductory videos for any classroom content. Replace the paper version of a travel brochure, ask students to use the travel templates on this site to make a video sharing information about any location. Instead of having students write a report on healthy living use the healthy living infographic template to share interesting facts and information about nutrition and wellness. In your finance class use the electronics templates and ask students to create a video advertising a product or a new store. This site is incredibly versatile and offers options for use in any classroom setting!

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Plotagon Story - Plotagon AB

Grades
6 to 12
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Create animated videos and emojis with Plotagon. Use Plotagon apps for computers or mobile devices to write, record, and share your story. Follow the directions to download the app...more
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Create animated videos and emojis with Plotagon. Use Plotagon apps for computers or mobile devices to write, record, and share your story. Follow the directions to download the app to begin. Follow the prompts to choose backgrounds, sounds, and add text. When complete, publish your video to YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, share using the URL, or save to an mp4 file on your computer or on your Plotagon account.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): animation (66), DAT device agnostic tool (174), digital storytelling (154), video (276)

In the Classroom

Use Plotagon to create animated videos for use as an interesting introduction to new content. Allow students to create their own animated videos bringing characters from a novel they are reading to life with voice recordings of their script. Bring creative writing projects to life or retell historic events through animation. Be sure to have students create a storyboard to help make the video creation go smoothly. Do this either with paper and pencil or try using a digital storyboard like the Amazon Storybuilder, reviewed here, or Storyboard Generator, reviewed here. Have students include their Plotagon as part of a larger multimedia project using Sway, reviewed here. Sway provides tools for creating interactive presentations including images, videos, and more.

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Kanbanchi Education App - Kanbanchi LTD

Grades
K to 12
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Kanbanchi is a G Suite tool for managing and organizing projects. Additional features allow you to communicate between boards and monitor progress on shared boards. Take advantage of...more
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Kanbanchi is a G Suite tool for managing and organizing projects. Additional features allow you to communicate between boards and monitor progress on shared boards. Take advantage of the site's handy templates and "how-to" guides to learn about the features and use of this tool. Templates provide a starting point for creating newsletters, lesson plans, and classroom work. Customize any template with your information including images, checklists, due dates, and choice of students to complete each assignment.

tag(s): collaboration (20), organizational skills (123)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the many planning and personalization features provided by Kanbanchi for use with group projects or lesson planning. Begin slowly by using one of the provided templates, then personalizing content for your own use. Once you become familiar with using this tool, use it to organize any large projects. Create lessons with peers, plan and manage student group projects, or create an interactive newsletter. Have older students use Kanbanchi as a storyboard for writing projects or to plan and monitor large projects.

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Room Escape Maker - doctorfou.com

Grades
8 to 12
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Room Escape Maker takes the popular room escape adventures online. The only way to escape is to solve a series of puzzles using hints and strategies as you find your ...more
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Room Escape Maker takes the popular room escape adventures online. The only way to escape is to solve a series of puzzles using hints and strategies as you find your way out of the locked room. Browse through the selection of games created by other users to find ideas on how to use this site. When ready, choose "Create Game" to start. Begin with your chosen canvas or background and follow prompts to add items and clues to your escape room.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): game based learning (136), gamification (85), makerspace (10)

In the Classroom

Increase student engagement in any subject through this form of gameplay! Create games to introduce main concepts within the escape room. Ask students to create a game using the information they have learned to share with fellow students. Before creating a game, have students map out information and strategies they will include in a blog format using a tool like Edublog, reviewed here. Ask fellow students to share comments describing their problem-solving process as they try to escape the room.

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ReClipped - Anjoy Tech Labs

Grades
K to 12
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ReClipped allows you to annotate, collect, and share portions of online videos using their online site or a Chrome browser extension. Additional features enable adding notes and markers...more
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ReClipped allows you to annotate, collect, and share portions of online videos using their online site or a Chrome browser extension. Additional features enable adding notes and markers to specific areas of videos. Create your account and download the extension following the site's directions. Collect segments of videos into "Snippets" to save onto boards to share publicly or save as private. Add collaborators to create shared boards.

tag(s): conversions (25), movies (71), video (276)

In the Classroom

Use ReClipped to make sharing portions of videos easier by including only the segments needed. Add notes or questions for students to follow. Create a classroom board to share with students highlighting important information for any topic. Ask students to create their own snippets to share information or back up their point of view. Have tech-savvy students create their own videos and make snippets demonstrating how to use different features of ReClipped. After viewing longer videos, ask students to create snippets of what they consider to be the most critical portions and use the annotation feature to explain their choice.

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Quizlet Diagram Maker - Quizlet

Grades
5 to 12
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Quizlet's Diagram Maker is a feature of Quizlet, reviewed here. Create diagrams using annotation tools, map locations, images, and definitions. Explore...more
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Quizlet's Diagram Maker is a feature of Quizlet, reviewed here. Create diagrams using annotation tools, map locations, images, and definitions. Explore the featured diagrams for an overview of the many different ways to create and share diagrams. An account is not required to use the diagrams on this site; however, creating an account allows you to save diagrams and create your own.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): body systems (59), map skills (82), maps (295), quizzes (105), vocabulary (318), word study (79)

In the Classroom

Try out some of the diagrams on the site before attempting to create one. Share a link to any diagram on your class website for student review and practice. When ready to make your own diagram start out simple and follow the easy directions to create and share a learning diagram. Once you become confident, invite students to create their own diagrams to use as a review tool or in place of a final report. Have student experts create a video how-to guide for making diagrams using My Simpleshow, reviewed here. My SimpleShow includes tools for creating and sharing animated video explanations.

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Fake Text Message - iFakeTextMessage.com

Grades
2 to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Fake Text Message is a tool to create images that appear to be screenshots of text messages. Use the editing tools to include a name, a series of messages, show ...more
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Fake Text Message is a tool to create images that appear to be screenshots of text messages. Use the editing tools to include a name, a series of messages, show time, battery life, and more. When finished editing, choose the link to create your image then share it using social media links or download to your computer.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): creative writing (167), digital storytelling (154), writing prompts (93)

In the Classroom

Use Fake Text Message to bring lessons to students through their digital world. Ask students to create made-up text messages between book characters or world leaders during a crisis. In math, have students create a conversation discussing methods for solving a difficult problem. Take advantage of the editing tools such as battery life and signal strength indicator to demonstrate urgency in different situations. Have students include images of text messages created into a Google document as part of a written report. Take your text messages to a different level and have students create podcasts incorporating text messages using a tool like Podcast Generator, reviewed here.
 

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Google My Maps - Google

Grades
4 to 12
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You may already be familiar with Google Maps, reviewed here, but Google My Maps takes working with maps a step further. Use Google My Maps to create...more
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You may already be familiar with Google Maps, reviewed here, but Google My Maps takes working with maps a step further. Use Google My Maps to create custom maps with features you add. Add points or shapes to any location, use the embedded search to find places then save to your map, import information from spreadsheets, and customize your map with colored icons and your uploaded images and videos. Collaborate on your project just like you would with Google Documents, then embed maps into your website or blog.

tag(s): maps (295), virtual field trips (54)

In the Classroom

Share Google My Maps on an interactive whiteboard or projector to create virtual trips for many situations. Create a trip to biomes around the world, visit places mentioned within books, map out battlefield locations for different wars, or find and save different kinds of landforms on your map. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination. Embed completed maps onto your class webpage or blog for students to view when reviewing for tests or quizzes. Have older students complete their own Google My Map project to create their own virtual field trips. This site is perfect to use in conjunction with TeachersFirst Reading Treks to follow the adventures of characters in the featured stories. Not ready to create your own maps? Use the explore feature on the site to find many examples of maps made by others.

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Free Website Map Widget - ClustrMaps

Grades
K to 12
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Add a real-time map of your website or blog's visitors with this geo-location hitmap. Download then customize the widget with your preference of colors, size, and stats available for...more
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Add a real-time map of your website or blog's visitors with this geo-location hitmap. Download then customize the widget with your preference of colors, size, and stats available for viewing. Follow the steps to create your customized code then place on your site.

tag(s): blogs (85), computers (101), maps (295)

In the Classroom

Students will love seeing the wide variety of visitors to their classroom website. Have a student share locations of viewers with other students, then research to learn more about those areas around the world. Challenge students to create an interactive map with images and videos using a tool such as Stepmap, reviewed here, for where the visitors to their blog live. With Stepmap students can colorize specific areas including national parks, or the city and neighborhoods of their visitors to their blog; additional options include latitude and longitude lines, and icons. Ask students to create an annotated image of any location including text boxes and related links using a tool such as Thinglink, reviewed here. Display a world map in your classroom and pin locations of viewers on the map for students to see at all times.

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QuickTopic - Steve Yost

Grades
9 to 12
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QuickTopic is a free collaborative message board designed for ease of use for any user and includes additional options for more advanced users. This site fully integrates with email;...more
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QuickTopic is a free collaborative message board designed for ease of use for any user and includes additional options for more advanced users. This site fully integrates with email; email responses post to the forum automatically. Other options allow the creation of multiple forums for different topics and the ability to archive and delete discussions by the account administrator.

tag(s): collaboration (20), questioning (35)

In the Classroom

Consider using QuickTopic as a resource in your classroom to increase student interaction with materials and each other. Create quick questions or even a short quiz using QuickTopic. Small groups can use QuickTopic during research to share resources. Library/media specialists could use this tool for online book clubs. Teach on a team? Collaborate with other teachers for assignments and more using this site.

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ProProfs Brain Games - ProProfs Brain Games

Grades
K to 12
2 Favorites 1  Comments
 
ProProfs Brain Games allows you to play or create puzzles and games. Choose from created games in formats including hangman, crosswords, word scrambles, tic tac toe, and more. Create...more
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ProProfs Brain Games allows you to play or create puzzles and games. Choose from created games in formats including hangman, crosswords, word scrambles, tic tac toe, and more. Create a free account to make your own puzzles using the game choices provided. Creating puzzle options includes options for levels of difficulty and personalization of images and vocabulary.

tag(s): game based learning (136), gamification (85), logic (243), problem solving (290), puzzles (207)

In the Classroom

Share puzzles and brain teasers with students on your class website or classroom computers. Brainstorm with students on problem-solving methods and tips. Use a tool like Padlet, reviewed here, to share your list of ideas. Have students use Brain Games to create their own games to review classroom material before tests and quizzes. Take student learning a step further and include their game in a Symbaloo Learning Path, reviewed here. This site allows users to add tiles including quizzes, websites, videos, and more to follow as a learning path for any subject.

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Shirley, CA, Grades: 6 - 12

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Microsoft Visual Studio - Microsoft

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6 to 12
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Microsoft Visual Studio offers a variety of free tools and services to build and develop apps on any platform. Download Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio Community, and sign up ...more
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Microsoft Visual Studio offers a variety of free tools and services to build and develop apps on any platform. Download Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio Community, and sign up for a free account on Visual Studio Team Services providing tools and information for integration across platforms. Sign up also for training sessions and additional downloads.

tag(s): coding (67), computers (101), logic (243), problem solving (290)

In the Classroom

Share Microsoft Visual with students interested in computer coding. Have students sign up for training that meets their interests. Encourage students to design apps that help fellow students and others in your school. For example, design an app for tracking assignments or an app for collaborating on school projects.

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Beautiful Audio Editor - Creative Tools

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K to 12
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Beautiful Audio is an in-browser audio editor that works with Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Use the editor to import or record audio files to edit. Use the toolbar to ...more
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Beautiful Audio is an in-browser audio editor that works with Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Use the editor to import or record audio files to edit. Use the toolbar to add effects, drag and reorder audio, and split or delete sections of your file. Easily save completed projects to Google Drive or your computer. Be sure to visit the "Docs" section of this site for an overview of available features. Beautiful Audio recommends using the editor for files under 300mb or 45 minutes in length to avoid crashes leading to project failures.

tag(s): editing (71)

In the Classroom

Record your class singing or reading their compositions to share with parents on your website or blog. Record and edit sound to be included with PowerPoint presentations. Use with a creative writing project to record stories for selected images. Share with students to use with multimedia projects to create background audio or original audio presentations. View the features of the site on your interactive whiteboard together with your older students, then allow them time to explore and experiment with the available features. Instead of having students share a written speech as an oral presentation, ask them to use Beautiful Audio to record their presentation and add original features to the soundtrack. Include this recording as part of a multimedia presentation using a site like Sway, reviewed here. Sway offers tools to create interactive presentations available for all devices.
 

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MrOwl - Arvind Raichur

Grades
6 to 12
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Organize, search, and share information with MrOwl. Use this site to build "branches" with information useful to you. Add links, photos, and videos to your branches, then share with...more
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Organize, search, and share information with MrOwl. Use this site to build "branches" with information useful to you. Add links, photos, and videos to your branches, then share with others through social media. Search the site to find branches created by others and grab them to save in your account.

tag(s): bookmarks (67), organizational skills (123)

In the Classroom

Use MrOwl to organize and save resources for all classroom content. Have students create and share branches with resources used in research projects. Share with students as a way to organize information for review of any content.

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kudoswall - Nikhil Vootkur and Jag Vootkur

Grades
K to 12
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kudoswall is a free online portfolio-building tool. Upload images to document accomplishments, talents, and experiences. Add and sort information into categories documenting sports,...more
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kudoswall is a free online portfolio-building tool. Upload images to document accomplishments, talents, and experiences. Add and sort information into categories documenting sports, academic, volunteer, or other topics. kudoswall automatically creates a portfolio for sharing or updating at any time.

tag(s): assessment (112), classroom management (157), portfolios (34)

In the Classroom

Record classroom activities and student learning with photos or written anecdotes. Show students how to create a portfolio, then document their learning and make comments in their portfolio. Share portfolios with parents, not just at conference time, but anytime the student portfolio is updated to keep parents in the loop.

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WordMint - Nathaniel Story

Grades
K to 12
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Create crossword puzzles, word searches, and bingo cards quickly with WordMint. Create your free account to begin, then choose an activity to set up and enter terms. When finished,...more
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Create crossword puzzles, word searches, and bingo cards quickly with WordMint. Create your free account to begin, then choose an activity to set up and enter terms. When finished, print and save your puzzle including an answer key and student copies. WordMint also contains an extensive database of already made word searches and puzzles that don't require registration to use, find the links to them at the bottom of the home page.

tag(s): crosswords (20), puzzles (207)

In the Classroom

Create puzzles and activities to review spelling or vocabulary terms. Create bingo cards and use as an introduction to new concepts. Share a link to this site on your class website for students to create their own puzzles for review at home.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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MapHub - Zsolt Ero and Gergely Matyus

Grades
4 to 12
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Create personalized and interactive maps with MapHub's user-friendly features. Explore the featured maps to find examples of maps, then make your own. MapHub's short tutorial provides...more
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Create personalized and interactive maps with MapHub's user-friendly features. Explore the featured maps to find examples of maps, then make your own. MapHub's short tutorial provides an overview of features. Add and personalize points on your map by choosing from different icons and color combinations. Give your icon a title and description; MapHub also provides many choices for map backgrounds. Connect points of interest using lines or define with polygons. When finished, download your map or share using the provided link or embed code.

tag(s): digital storytelling (154), maps (295)

In the Classroom

Use MapHub for personalized lessons in using maps and defining locations. Create a map to share on your interactive whiteboard (or with a projector) to highlight landforms, state capitols, or locations within a novel. As you teach about events in history such as the Civil War add markers to your map to share locations and information from that event. Add notes to your icons sharing information from each location. Include a link to this map on classroom computers or embed onto your class blog for students to view from any device. Add URLs to additional resources within your descriptions of points on a map. This allows you and your students to create visual presentations with access to multiple resources. Flip your classroom to create an interactive lesson using MapHub. Have students view your map as an introduction to a new unit. Instead of a traditional book report or class presentation, have students use MapHub to create an interactive map sharing their learning.

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Chartico - Gal Shir

Grades
1 to 12
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Create colorful bar charts in just a few easy steps using Chartico. Click to begin a New Chart and add information. Add color to each bar by clicking on the ...more
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Create colorful bar charts in just a few easy steps using Chartico. Click to begin a New Chart and add information. Add color to each bar by clicking on the bar and choosing from color options Select the last bar to delete or add bars for your chart. Share your chart using social media links, or right click on the image to save to your computer.

tag(s): charts and graphs (197)

In the Classroom

With the class, discuss sets of data. Then use an interactive whiteboard or projector and create a bar graph using Chartico as a way to introduce this tool. Have students use the information on the bar graph to create a different type of graph using the same information. Have students create their own bar graphs using Chartico to include with research reports.
 

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Anchor - Michael Mignano and Nir Zicherman

Grades
1 to 12
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Turn audio into a podcast using any device with Anchor. Add songs from Apple Music or Spotify, upload audio from your computer, or record your voice to create your podcast. ...more
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Turn audio into a podcast using any device with Anchor. Add songs from Apple Music or Spotify, upload audio from your computer, or record your voice to create your podcast. Choose a name when finished, then upload your content as a finished podcast. For ideas on what to include in your podcast, listen to Anchor podcasts shared on the site by Anchor users.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (174), podcasts (58)

In the Classroom

Create regular or special podcasts to share on your class web page or wiki. Looking for even more ideas? Record class assignments or directions. Record story time or a reading excerpt for younger ones to listen to at a computer center AND from home! Have readers (perhaps older buddies) build fluency by recording selected passages for your non-readers. Launch a service project for your fifth or sixth graders to record stories for the kindergarten to use in their reading and listening center. Challenge students to create "you are there" recordings as "eyewitnesses" to historical or current events. Make a weekly class podcast, with students taking turns writing and sharing the "Class News," encourage students to create radio advertisements for concepts studied in class (Buy Dynamic DNA!). Invite students to write and record their own stories or poetry in dramatic readings. Language students or beginning readers could record their fluency by reading passages. Allow parents to hear their child's progress reading aloud, etc. Compare world language, speech articulation, or reading fluency at two points during the year. Challenge your Shakespeare students to record a soliloquy. Write and record a poem for Father's or Mother's Day (or other special events) and send the URL as a gift to that special person. If you have gifted students who lean toward the dramatic, this tool is simple enough for them to create dramatic mini-casts without needing any additional tools.

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