TeachersFirst's Online Tools and Timesavers Editor's Choice

Other TeachersFirst Special Topics Collections

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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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 (199), classroom management (157), flash cards (45), handwriting (17), homework (42), organizational skills (129), presidents (121), printables (39), time (139)

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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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 (111)

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 (27)

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 gift of giving!

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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 (18)

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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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.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): plagiarism (37)

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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Moreganize - Stay Organized - Tom Frey, Attila Frey and Dominik Skrobala

Grades
K to 12
3 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Moreganize is a tool for scheduling and organizing collaborative events around busy time schedules. Create an event with a title and description. Add an optional deadline for responses....more
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Moreganize is a tool for scheduling and organizing collaborative events around busy time schedules. Create an event with a title and description. Add an optional deadline for responses. Other options include adding a map or files. Provide contact information. Add possible dates and times for the event. There is an option to include multiple times on each date offered. Send the completed information via url, on Facebook, or via the email link provided on the site. The link takes you to the appointment survey page where you enter your name and e-mail address (kept private from all other attendees). Select which dates and times work for others and which selections are preferred. After confirming choices, a page gives the opportunity to change/correct details. A link is sent via email so your responses can be revisited and changed at a later date. With Moreganize you can now create, surveys, make a choice (ask others for their opinion), and to-do-lists!

tag(s): calendars (46), organizational skills (129)

In the Classroom

Use this site to schedule staff meetings, PTA events, Science or Math fairs, club or student council events, parent volunteer meetings, and more. Student groups of busy high schoolers may want to use it to schedule work sessions. Create a potential list of dates and send a survey using Moreganize to gather data for the best time for all involved. This is a great tool for teams of teachers to use to stay on the same page!

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The Readability Test Tool - David Simpson

Grades
1 to 12
5 Favorites 0  Comments
Test any website's readability using The Readability Test Tool. Test readability by URL or direct text input from any source (such as copy/paste of student writing). Simply enter...more
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Test any website's readability using The Readability Test Tool. Test readability by URL or direct text input from any source (such as copy/paste of student writing). Simply enter the web address (URL) and get the readability of the site on several scales. You can also check your own webpages by using the "referer" section. You will get a score for the most used readability indicators: Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease and Grade Level, Gunning Fog Score, Coleman Liau Index, and Automated Readability Index (ARI). The tool also includes explanations of each scale. These tell much more than a simple "grade level."

tag(s): independent reading (130), readability (7), writing (369)

In the Classroom

Use this tool to offer differentiated resources for the different reading levels in your class. At the beginning of the year, as you learn your students' capabilities, use this tool to find reading at the appropriate level to eliminate frustration. This is perfect for finding the "just right" level for your highly advanced/gifted students and those needing extra remediation. If you do discover that a website you want to use is over your students' independent reading level, you can still use it, just open Lingro, reviewed here, first; then enter the URL you want them to read. Lingro is a study aid and open content dictionary that makes all of the words (on a particular website) clickable for definitions and translation. Of course, if the sentence length or complexity is at a much higher reading level, simple word definitions will not make it "readable" for struggling readers.

Why not have students put in the URL for their blog or wiki (or simply paste in a writing sample) to see the level at which they are writing? This is one way to encourage writing as a craft and challenge students to include more varied vocabulary and sentence structure in their writing.

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SignUpGenius - Skylark Productions

Grades
K to 12
4 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Create private or public sign ups for easy creation of snack lists, volunteer sheets, party planners, parent/teacher conference planning, or project preparation. Sign up for free using...more
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Create private or public sign ups for easy creation of snack lists, volunteer sheets, party planners, parent/teacher conference planning, or project preparation. Sign up for free using an email address (email verification not required). View your created sign ups under My Account. Be sure to view the Frequently Asked Questions for help in using this simple resource. Find complete guides for an even smoother sign up process under the Planning Resources tab. Follow the directions for creating your sign up including all the details. "Invite" and "Publish" to set your privacy options as well as enter the email information to send to others. Add a web button to your site to take users directly to your home page to find active sign ups (find this function under "My Account").

tag(s): charts and graphs (199)

In the Classroom

The possibilities are endless. Use this for planning parties, bringing in materials for projects, and any other activity that requires coordination. If you have limited technology availability, this is a great way for teachers or students to sign up for time slots to use laptops, iPads, video cameras, or a podcast recording station. Go paperless with your signups! Share this tool at Back to School night (and with your room parent or PTO). Organize your parent/teacher conferences. Plan student research of class projects using this resource. Help students build organizational skills by having them "plan" a mythical event such as a museum opening for their Famous Scientists exhibit.

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View Pure - Veetri

Grades
K to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
  
View Pure enables you to search YouTube and show videos from it without the annoying "extras" on your screen. Wishing you could "just show" YouTube videos to your classes? Looking ...more
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View Pure enables you to search YouTube and show videos from it without the annoying "extras" on your screen. Wishing you could "just show" YouTube videos to your classes? Looking for a way to take away the clutter and often inappropriate related videos that always pop up on seemingly innocent searches? Trying to find a way to share videos and still follow the acceptable use policy? There are three ways to go about this process. You can use the search tool to find and then show a video. You can copy and paste a link from YouTube into the page, or you can install the tool into your bookmarks and click on it to "purify" the videos. A special *note*: this site claims to be useful with video sites other than YouTube, however after trying a number of different video sites, the only successful one was YouTube. The main page for the View Pure site does include some minor advertisements.

tag(s): safety (92)

In the Classroom

How often do you find great clips and video shorts from YouTube and you can't show them or are afraid to show them even if you can get them through the school filter? Try using this to show clips or long videos from to your class via the interactive whiteboard or projector. There are some great, clean "Bill Nye" video portions that can be found and shared using this site for science class.

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