TeachersFirst's Editors' Choice Online Tools and Timesavers

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This collection of Editors' Choice FREE, reviewed resources from TeachersFirst is selected to help teachers and students save time using handy online tools that get the job done and make your classroom run smoothly. Find tools for organizing and communicating, managing your classroom, do-it-yourself creating, sharing links, useful utilities, saving paper, and much more.

Think of this as a handpicked list of "friendly favs" from the Thinking Teachers at TeachersFirst. For a more extensive collection, see our full listing of online tools. For more sophisticated tools to create full blown projects and more (conveniently sorted into categories), see the TeachersFirst Edge.  

 

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Printable Paper - printablepaper.net

Grades
K to 12
12 Favorites 0  Comments
Download and print many types of papers easily from Printable Paper. Lose the excuse, "I don't have any graph (or other) paper!" Choose from popular types such as lined paper ...more
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Download and print many types of papers easily from Printable Paper. Lose the excuse, "I don't have any graph (or other) paper!" Choose from popular types such as lined paper (college or wide rule), several forms of graph paper, letter templates, and much more. Use the categories listing to find specific options to narrow your search such as different forms of penmanship paper, score sheets, or music papers. There are even several different comic page templates and storyboard papers for storytelling or story mapping. Click on any paper image to download in PDF format. A special heading for teacher resources includes lesson plan paper and more. The specialty papers include doorhanger patterns to decorate and cut out. Don't miss the printable games.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): charts and graphs (195), comics and cartoons (74), handwriting (18), letter writing (21), musical notation (35), preK (281)

In the Classroom

This site is a must bookmark for classroom use. Use anytime you need graph paper, writing paper, music sheets, etc. Share a link on your classroom website for student use at home. Share this site with parents at Back to School Night. Share this site with older students the first week of school. Now there is no excuse for not doing homework because of not having the correct type of paper! Some of the papers have alternate uses, such as using quilting graph paper to create and study geometric shapes.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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FatURL - FatURL.com

Grades
K to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Collect and share several links at once with this handy sharing tool! Make a list of your links to share, and FatURL creates one URL to share all of them ...more
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Collect and share several links at once with this handy sharing tool! Make a list of your links to share, and FatURL creates one URL to share all of them together. Copy links onto each line along with a short description or site name. Share up to 3 dozen sites at one time. Click the scissors icon to create your sharing page with a list of short codes to share. Use any of the links provided to view your page. View an example created here) with links to some TeachersFirst resources. No registration is needed to use this site! However, more options are available with a free registration.

tag(s): bookmarks (60), organizational skills (122)

In the Classroom

Use FatUrl to create one url (a page) with links for all the sites for a particular unit instead of creating a long list on your website or blog. Have students create and share their own page of links with resources for research. Use FatUrl to share professional links with colleagues quickly and easily. In primary grades, use this tool to share classroom favorites or topic-specific practice sites for students to access at home via one click. If your students create online presentations, use this site to share up to 36 at once with families. (Of course anytime you are posting student work online, be certain to have parental permission!)

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Crocodoc - Crocodoc

Grades
6 to 12
6 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Crocodoc Personal will be shutting down on November 1, 2015. Upload documents, mark them up online, and share with others. Upload a document and use the easy tools to ...more
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Crocodoc Personal will be shutting down on November 1, 2015. Upload documents, mark them up online, and share with others. Upload a document and use the easy tools to mark up the document. Comment by creating a point, marking an area, or highlighting text and then adding your comment. Draw using the pen tool with your choice of colors. Add text boxes, highlight passages, or strike-out words. View annotations along the right side that show document changes. Invite collaborators, share, or download easily. Click on my documents to find your document list quickly and easily.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): writing (359)

In the Classroom

Be sure to monitor student use. Require students to invite you as a collaborator in order to monitor use in the group. Check district policy about sharing student information including email addresses.

Anything students can do on a single computer, they can do collaboratively using Crocodoc, accessing their work from any online computer. Have students collaborate on revisions and editing exercises using their own writing or drafts you share with them. Share a poem for literature students to analyze and annotate together or a text passage for students to mark key terms and generate a main idea statement as part of reading comprehension exercises in small groups. Have student groups collaborate on sample open-ended test responses for high stakes tests, then compare the group responses on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Even better, re-share results with other groups jigsaw-style for multi-layer collaboration.

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The Question Generator - Department of Education, Victoria

Grades
1 to 12
5 Favorites 0  Comments
  
The Question Generator does just what its title says. Click on the "spin" button and question starters will appear for both closed and open ended questions. Closed questions are valuable...more
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The Question Generator does just what its title says. Click on the "spin" button and question starters will appear for both closed and open ended questions. Closed questions are valuable for acquiring background information on a topic. Open ended questions are valuable for research and discussions. Find it easy to create both at the Question Generator! View the introduction video to learn more about using this tool.

tag(s): questioning (31), writing prompts (92)

In the Classroom

Use the Question Generator along with any fiction or nonfiction reading to help your students think more deeply. Use as a starting point in research projects. With the Common Core State Standards and their focus on close reading, rigor, and critical thinking, this is the perfect tool to use to make sure you are challenging your students. Introduce students to this tool when they need to create essential questions for their research, or when developing questions for their literature circle group. Learning support students can gain practice thinking beyond the "facts" by creating and talking through their own questions. Before you start, generate a list of key words from the unit: terms such as arachnids or homeostasis or names of historic figures, so they can then insert the terms into the question starters from the generator. Your interactive whiteboard or projector would be an ideal place to generate some questions together before turning students loose to generate some of their own. Be sure to record/save the list of questions you create on a class wiki or blog-- or even on old fashioned butcher paper as students go off to resolve them. Revisit the questions late in the unit to see which are still unresolved. Ask the class which question would make the best essay question on the final "test." Maybe allow them to choose their own? In world language classes, these simple questions could lead to practice with dialog.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Venspired Free Posters - Krissy Venosdale

Grades
K to 12
7 Favorites 0  Comments
Are you looking to enhance the visual appeal of your classroom? Download creative and visually appealing posters for free through Flickr from this blog. The teacher who created it shares...more
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Are you looking to enhance the visual appeal of your classroom? Download creative and visually appealing posters for free through Flickr from this blog. The teacher who created it shares her own images for you to use. Click on any image in the blog and it will take you directly to the Flickr page. Follow the detailed steps explained in the blog post to create and save the image. There is also a link (with instructions) to create your own posters. The teacher who shared this information would like to hear from those who use her posters. This site accesses Flickr which is blocked by some school web filters.

tag(s): posters (36)

In the Classroom

Start your school year out by using some of these posters to decorate your classroom or hallways. Print pages to add inspiration in student notebooks or for motivational bulletin boards. Have students create their own posters after viewing the blog. Looking for a classroom theme? View the options available to enhance your room. Use the posters as a theme for the day, week, or month. Discuss the poster during class meetings. Relate the messages to character traits from reading selections, historical figures, or famous people. If you have a special class event, upload the images to Flickr (reviewed here) to make posters about it. Secondary teachers can create custom posters using their own digital pictures from historic sites or even roller coasters (for physics class).

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Grammar Base - GrammarBase.com

Grades
4 to 12
2 Favorites 1  Comments
Grammar Base is an instant grammar check program. Paste any text into the box to view errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, style, or plagiarism. Results display listing the number...more
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Grammar Base is an instant grammar check program. Paste any text into the box to view errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, style, or plagiarism. Results display listing the number and type of errors. This site does not correct the errors for you. Errors are also underlined in your document. Make corrections, then choose to check again until all corrections are complete.

tag(s): grammar (216), plagiarism (35), spelling (168)

In the Classroom

Use Grammar Base on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) to demonstrate grammar and spelling mistakes and proper corrections. Share with students as a resource for editing and proofing written work. Grammar Base does not provide corrections, so that is left up to you (or your students) to come up with the proper edits on their own. Start using Grammar Base at the beginning of the school year and have students keep track of the type of errors they make. This way you can see when you need to teach a whole class mini lesson for a particular grammar concept.

Comments

It will check for mistakes, but the report that goes with it appears to be only a free trial. Deborah, VT, Grades: 7 - 12

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Citelighter - Saad Alam

Grades
6 to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Citelighter is a browser extension (available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari) that enables you to select sections of webpages and save/organize them. It also automatically creates...more
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Citelighter is a browser extension (available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari) that enables you to select sections of webpages and save/organize them. It also automatically creates an APA, MLA, or Chicago style bibliography from items you highlight and collect. Highlight and save information from any web page after adding the extension to your browser's task bar. Add notes if desired. Share or find already highlighted information through the use of Knowledge Cards already saved and tagged. Drag and drop items to put in any order desired. Change the format using links provided. You can save desired information easily to Word or Google Docs.

tag(s): browser (6), citations (34), organizational skills (122)

In the Classroom

Share with students as a resource for saving and organizing web material. The clipping feature allows students to highlight the key information from a page so that a few days down the road they're not wondering why they bookmarked a webpage. The bibliography tools help students properly format their Works Cited pages. And searching the Knowledge Cards is like opening to the bibliography of a good book and finding out what the author used in his or her research. Use this tool to help keep your students (or even yourself) organized! Note that a clever student could essentially "grab" pieces of text from throughout the web and "write" a paper that way. Make sure you teach plagiarism lessons about paraphrasing and proper citation of sources so students use this easy tool properly!

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Chart Jungle - Wendy Shepherd

Grades
K to 4
1 Favorites 0  Comments
Find and print many useful charts at Chart Jungle. Topics include story starters, homework charts, reading logs, and more. Chart Jungle also includes alphabet and number flash cards...more
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Find and print many useful charts at Chart Jungle. Topics include story starters, homework charts, reading logs, and more. Chart Jungle also includes alphabet and number flash cards to print and use. Other interesting printables include the digestive system, clocks, and skeletons. Choose any chart to print directly from your computer. Although this site does include a lot of advertisements, there are many timesavers and treasures.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): charts and graphs (195), classroom management (135), flash cards (45), handwriting (18), homework (44), organizational skills (122), presidents (131), printables (38), time (144)

In the Classroom

Use Chart Jungle as a resource for charts for use throughout the school year. Familiarize yourself with this site at the beginning of the school year. Use the reading chart for students to record the minutes spent reading at home. Use the homework charts to help your students stay organized. Share the flash cards link with parents to use at home.

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Croak.it - Protik Roychowdhury and Srinivasa Teja

Grades
K to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Croak.it allows you to TALK to those who land on your webpage. Your visitors can leave a verbal message for you using the Croakit application program interface (API). (An API...more
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Croak.it allows you to TALK to those who land on your webpage. Your visitors can leave a verbal message for you using the Croakit application program interface (API). (An API is similar to embedding a mini version of the tool.) The beauty of this audio recorder is that it works on many types of devices, including iOS (iPad, iTouch, iPhone), Android phones, or in a regular computer browser. And it's free. There is no email sign up. Their slogan is, "Push. Speak. Share." Leave a message up to 30 seconds on your page. You can push to stop at any time. Once you have created your Croak.it, you have the choice to adjust the tempo and pitch. Share your Croak.it through Facebook or Twitter. Copy the URL and put it on your webpage, in your email, on your blog, etc. Use Croak.it to express yourself using your voice, which is much more interesting than reading text! The only part of this program that uses Flash is the introductory video.

tag(s): speech (92)

In the Classroom

The potential for using Croak.it for and with your students is limitless. As you create (or update) your website at the beginning of the school year, considering using this site to verbally greet all visitors! Record a message for absent students explaining something done in class and email it to them. Leave verbal instructions on your web page or homework page that might be too complicated to write out or for your students to read. This program has incredible promise for use with learning-support students, speech and language students, ESL/ELL students, non-readers, and for differentiating instruction. If your students have blogs, consider adding Croak.It to their blog pages for spoken comments. An excellent idea from the blog "Inquiry Live in the Classroom" is to use Croak.it with QR Codes and have your students make 30 second book reviews for your classroom or school library. Students can then scan the code of a book they think they are interested in reading to see what others think of it, or to get a 30 second summary of it. Use Croak.it for tutorials on your website. Use a QR Code generator and put the code next to diagrams in text books. To view many more ideas see "QR Codes and Using Them in the Classroom," reviewed here, and know that you can combine these with the use of Croak.it, too. There are many personal ways you and your students can use this program: create a wish list, Mother's Day or birthday greeting, a message to a grandparent, or a recording of part of a picture book for a younger sibling. Because of the 30 second time limit, encourage students to rehearse (never a bad idea) before recording. One suggestion for saving recordings is to create a Google Form or wiki page where students can use to submit their recording links. This allows you to collect student recordings without having to use an e-mail account. Speech and language teachers could create wiki pages (on a private wiki) for each student to record samples throughout the year to demonstrate progress with articulation. World language teachers could record assignments and ask students to respond orally on a class wiki.

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Thankuz - thankuz.com

Grades
K to 12
3 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Thankuz offers a simple and easy way to send a thank you note to anyone, anytime. Choose Create to start your card. Fill in the blanks using the template provided ...more
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Thankuz offers a simple and easy way to send a thank you note to anyone, anytime. Choose Create to start your card. Fill in the blanks using the template provided and upload an image, if you wish. Modify your card using panels to change the color and style. Send your thank you card using links provided for email, Facebook, Twitter, or using the URL created.

tag(s): holidays (147), letter writing (21)

In the Classroom

Ask students to write a "Thank You" card to classroom visitors, school staff, and other helpers. This is particularly good for lessons on friendly letters. Have students create cards to celebrate birthdays, other holidays, and send to each other. When you finish reading a story, have students send cards to the characters. Write a note to students and ask them to answer you using Thankuz. With older students, provide this link on your class website for both students and parents access to "quick and easy" thank you notes!

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UnShortMe - Unshort.me

Grades
K to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
 
This tool reveals full urls for links that have been shortened using URL shortener tools (like bit.ly, tinyurl.com and others). Many of the URLs created by the shortening sites are...more
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This tool reveals full urls for links that have been shortened using URL shortener tools (like bit.ly, tinyurl.com and others). Many of the URLs created by the shortening sites are blocked by school content filters (because the shortener websites are actually blocked). Try un-shortening the URL with this tool to access the content and to know what you are headed for! Enter the URL and click the button. Shortened urls can also hide undesirable content, so seeing the "real" url can prevent embarrassment such as opening something unexpected in front of others.

tag(s): internet safety (109)

In the Classroom

Use this to access sites especially those shared with your PLN through RSS or Twitter. Many times, the original link is not blocked but the shortened URL is because of the shortener service's url. Save this tool in your favorites to access when needed.
 

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WishyBox - WishyBox.com

Grades
K to 12
5 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Organize an online wishlist. Create an account using your Google, Facebook, Yahoo, or Windows Live login, then begin creating a list. Add items including links to any website for purchase....more
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Organize an online wishlist. Create an account using your Google, Facebook, Yahoo, or Windows Live login, then begin creating a list. Add items including links to any website for purchase. Organize using the drag and drop features on the site. Make your list private or share with family, friends, or the world. Gift purchases are not shared with the owner of the list, only family or friends, thus keeping the surprise of gift giving alive!

tag(s): service projects (25)

In the Classroom

Parents often want to donate items to classrooms or schools but may not know what is needed. Create a WishyBox list for your classroom so others can share the joyful gift of learning! This is a great tool to share at Back to School Night! Make a list of books needed for your classroom library, items needed for classroom centers, extra supplies, etc. Share with your Parent Teacher Organization as a resource for creating a wish list for items for the school library, playground, or any other school items. Use this site for a community service project for your classroom. Create a WishyBox list for a family in need in your community and have students bring in items to donate. Use WishyBox as a real world way to extend the text to show.

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HD Downloader - hddownloader.com

Grades
K to 12
10 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Use the HD Downloader to easily download videos and music from YouTube. Paste your YouTube URL to the space provided on HD Downloader. Then select whether to copy as a ...more
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Use the HD Downloader to easily download videos and music from YouTube. Paste your YouTube URL to the space provided on HD Downloader. Then select whether to copy as a video or an MP3 music file (selecting the quality), convert to a RingTone, or scan the MP3 to a Mobile Phone. When selecting to download a video there are several choices of formats: 3GP medium and high quality, FLV low and medium quality, and MP4 high quality. The MP4 high quality seemed to download the fastest, and the resulting download is viewable in full screen mode. All the selections work on both PC and MAC computers. At the time of this review, HD Downloader seems to download best using Internet Explorer (I.E.) on a Windows computer, and Safari on a MAC computer. When using I.E. on the Windows computer, a box might appear that says: "the digital signature cannot be verified" and will ask if you want to run the application anyway. Click on RUN. Once you've downloaded the video, you can copy it to a USB stick, and it will also play on a MAC computer. Be aware: there are MANY advertisements at this site, so this may not be a site that you want students to explore independently.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): video (254)

In the Classroom

Mark this tool in your favorites for easy access, and as a "work-around" when YouTube is blocked at your school. Use this tool at home to save YouTube videos on a stick and take them to school. Teachers should model ethical use of electronic resources (other people's work) for students. Be sure to give proper credit for videos and other files you save locally under Fair Use.

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Talk Typer - 2012 TalkTyper

Grades
K to 12
10 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Your spoken words are instantly changed to written text. You need to use the Chrome browser for this site to work properly. Just click on the microphone and speak. Follow ...more
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Your spoken words are instantly changed to written text. You need to use the Chrome browser for this site to work properly. Just click on the microphone and speak. Follow simple directions and immediately begin to dictate. You need to the Chrome browser for this site to work properly. As soon as speech is ready, it appears in red, and you push ok. Corrections are suggested in red. If your speech is not recognized, there is an alternatives button to help you dictate correctly. You can also click on the speaker button to hear the written words played back to you. Click the blue arrow to move the text down to the larger text box. There you can store several phrases or sentences together. Choose to print, email, or tweet your message. Talk Typer is also available in a variety of languages. Be sure to speak slowly and clearly. This is best used with short phrases or sentences.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): text to speech (16)

In the Classroom

Talk Typer is a very versatile tool, for students, parents, and teachers alike. Bypass poor typing skills, dysgraphia, dyslexia, and physical disabilities. Use this tool in emails, documents, or anything requiring typed text. Use in your writing class so students can either write or edit their work. Use when you are in a hurry with emails requiring long text. Use for your newsletters or family emails. Share this on your class website and at Back to School Night. Emerging literacy students will enjoy the success they have with their oral language into written word. Improve content and forget about mechanics of writing or typing. Focus in on grammar and mechanics after seeing the recognized mistakes. Include this website on every tool bar and as a favorite on your class web page. ELL students can speak English, play it back, and correct it until it "sounds right" and expresses their ideas correctly.

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PDFescape - Red Software

Grades
K to 12
9 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Use this site to be able to edit PDF documents. It is free and easy to use. Upload your PDF document or link to an existing online PDF. Add additional ...more
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Use this site to be able to edit PDF documents. It is free and easy to use. Upload your PDF document or link to an existing online PDF. Add additional text or free hand writing. Create drawings or add images. You can create PDFs, edit PDFs, fill-out existing PDFs, save/print PDFs, and more. When finished, download the final product. No sign up is required to use most features. If you must complete entry forms, applications, or otehr pdf forms, this tool can be a lifesaver.
This site includes advertising.

In the Classroom

Use to alter documents that may have been saved as a PDF in the past. Save this site in your professional resources. If you work with students who request college recommendations or need to fill out forms for scholarships or jobs, be sure to share this tool with them!
 

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PDFmyURL - OpenTracker.net

Grades
K to 12
3 Favorites 0  Comments
Turn any web page into a PDF document instantly with this incredibly easy tool! Simply type or copy and paste the url into the box and click the "P" button. ...more
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Turn any web page into a PDF document instantly with this incredibly easy tool! Simply type or copy and paste the url into the box and click the "P" button. Instantly the page converts to a PDF document and downloads to your computer for immediate use. Drag the site's bookmarklet onto your browser's toolbar for easy use at any time with any page.

In the Classroom

Use this site to print any web page without all of the headings and other extras that generally appear. Make print outs for students to practice highlighting and looking for main ideas in informational texts (especially if you do not have an interactive whiteboard to do this). Upload PDF's to your website for student use of single pages of websites instead of having students go through unneeded pages. Be sure to show students that you must make a note of the DATE when you made the pdf, since you should always include the "date accessed" in a project bibliography entry for a web site. Talk about "fair use" in making web page copies for temporary use as part of research or class activities vs copying web pages to hang them up as locker decorations! This may be a good site to share with parents via your website. (Help them save paper and print only what they need, not an entire website.)
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Duplichecker - Duplichecker

Grades
4 to 12
4 Favorites 0  Comments
Take advantage of this FREE online plagiarism checker. Scroll down slightly to find the text entry boxes. Copy and paste your text to be checked or upload the file as ...more
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Take advantage of this FREE online plagiarism checker. Scroll down slightly to find the text entry boxes. Copy and paste your text to be checked or upload the file as a .txt file (maximum 1000 words) . Choose whether the quotes will be checked as a group of words (Without Quotes) or as a quote by clicking the appropriate button. Choose your choice of search engine: Google, Yahoo, MSN, or other. When choosing between the Advanced search option and New Version, the New Version option appears to provide the best results.
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tag(s): plagiarism (35)

In the Classroom

Students can use this plagiarism checker to be sure they are turning in original work. Teachers can use this service to check the work of students (if submitted electronically). Model this site to explain what plagiarism IS and how students can avoid it. Share this site at the beginning of the school year. The hands-on experience will help them understand this challenging concept. You might even want to provide several examples of plagiarized writing as an exercise for student to check and correct before they copy/paste their way to trouble in a research assignment. Another interesting exercise for researchers is to locate an article on a how-to topic, such as "How to Paint a Room," then see how many sites use the exact same text. As a class, discuss whether this proliferation is good or bad (is the web spreading misinformation, too?).

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WeTransfer - wetransfer.com

Grades
K to 12
0 Favorites 0  Comments
 
WeTransfer is an easy way to move or share up to 2 GB of files. Simply add files, enter the receiver's and sender's email addresses, and add an optional message. ...more
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WeTransfer is an easy way to move or share up to 2 GB of files. Simply add files, enter the receiver's and sender's email addresses, and add an optional message. Then click Transfer. Files are available for two weeks. This is a public site, and the backgrounds change each time you log in. You should preview the backgrounds before suggesting students use this site. Our reviewers saw nothing objectionable.

In the Classroom

Use to collect any work from your students (or files from parents). Share images you want students to use in a project. Use to share written assignments or project updates. Be sure to have students name their documents in a standardized way to determine ownership. This is extremely handy for those moving towards a paperless classroom. Teachers who collect IEP input will love this secure way of collecting files from parents. Share the blank form and include directions for them to upload it back to you in this central location.

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