Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomClassroom applications abound. Imagine your class chatting with pen pals in Crete or Amsterdam, and asking them current events questions. Imagine practicing foreign language skills using this tool. Send messages to experts in other countries as your class researches their culture. Travel around the world virtually, through discussions with other classrooms in foreign countries. Use two laptops and you and your ESL or ELL student can chat while learning each other's language, since all translations are on screen. Caution: As with all instant messaging, you would want to only talk with pre-approved people. This is not a program you would want your students to use unsupervised. There are forums, a blog, and chats already set up (look in your "room drawer" after you log in). Preview these to select the best venue for your class' purposes. Since the site requires a membership, you will most likely want to use a single class account so you can monitor how it is being used and avoid inappropriate contacts. If you do use student accounts, check your school policies on using student email to register and make sure classroom use is within approved school policy. This beta is constantly adding new features. Check the blog for the latest.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomYou need to know how to copy/paste. No email registration needed to create. Click Create to get started. Copy/paste text, type into a text box, or paste in the URL of the page you wish to "cloud." Play with options under Layout, Color, and Font menus to change the look. When done, choose to Print, take a screen shot of it in New Window view (PrntScrn on Windows, Command+shift+4 on Mac) or save to public gallery. Once it opens in the gallery view, be sure to copy the URL and keep a record of the exact URL of wordles you save to the Gallery. You will never be able to find them again without it! Use this tool easily in your Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) classroom since all students will be able to access it for free, no matter what device they have.
The public can enter text and create their own Wordles, some of which appear on the home page for "recent" Wordles. Teachers should preview the Gallery and home page immediately before sharing this site with a class. TeachersFirst's review team has not witnessed any objectionable examples. In today's world, a brief lesson or honest discussion on ignoring, clicking out of, or avoiding the inappropriate on the web might be worthwhile, depending on the age and maturity of your students.
This is a terrific visual tool to share on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Paste in a passage or URL for a political speech to visualize the politician's "message." Analyze advertising propaganda by visualizing the language used in TV or print ads. Create wordles of historical texts of inauguration speeches as time capsules of the issues of the day. Use this site as a way to help students see and memorize text, especially visual learners. Use it also when writing poetry or reading passages of great literature to "see" themes and motifs of repeated words and images. Have students paste in their own writing to spot repeated (and monotonous) language when teaching lessons on word choice. Students will be surprised to see what words appear to be dominant. ESL and ELL students will eagerly use this site since word order will no longer be a problem for them. Have students work in groups to create word posters of vocabulary words with related meanings, such as different ways to say "walk" or "said" and decorate your classroom with these visual reminders of the richness of language.
Another idea: use this site during the first week of school. Have students create "Wordles" about themselves and create a "Wordle" bulletin board introducing your students (and yourself). Or use Worlde for a whole-class positive statement as shown in this example. Remember that the most frequently appearing words will appear larger so plan accordingly.
So versatile and easy to use. Needs supervision because of what some people post in the galleries. Kids find it very easy to use. Nice for quick analysis of text (love to use with Shakespeare).Frances, CT, Grades: 6 - 8
Grades3 to 9
In the ClassroomShare this with students who need to review their grammar but are impatient with "boring" grammar exercises. This site assumes students know some grammar and some vocabulary; it is a tool to check how accurate their understanding is. Save this site in your favorites, and check back often (new material is added monthly). List this site on your class website for students to use for at-home practice.
GradesK to 8
In the ClassroomSign up for the newsletter to receive new information every month. Provide the link to this site in your class newsletter or on your class website, so parents can sign-up for the newsletter also (and use the free resources).
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomEstablishing membership requires an email account. Check your school policies about accessing/sharing student email on school computers. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service. You will want to join and explore the site before assigning students to use it so you know how to navigate.
Assign specific "lessons" for your ESL or world language students, but be aware that the free version does not permit you to monitor progress on student accounts.Therefore you will want to use this as a practice site more than a formal assessment tool. Demonstrate the navigation on your projector or interactive whiteboard before assigning students to work independently. If you have mp3 players available, you can load a listening assignment for students to "take out." Be sure to include this site on your teacher web page for students to access both in and outside of class for further practice. Refer your ESL students to this page if they are impatient to become fluent quickly.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomSimply login and click create. Choose a scene you wish to start with. Change your characters from a variety of option. When the comic loads, your chosen character may not show immediately but will appear as you edit each frame. Change sizes of caption bubbles, fonts sizes and types with easy to use sliders. New characters can be added in each frame as well as a variety of additional props such as sports equipment and furniture. Change the background set to a variety of indoor, outdoor city, and outdoor country landscapes. Change background colors easily too. Comics can be saved, scenes can be deleted, and changes made can be reverted to the previous idea easily with on screen controls. Below the comic, buttons for "Save for later" and "Publish Now" quickly save or publish works. If the scene is not ready for publishing, Pixton requests further edits to complete the process.
Consider creating a class account that students can use. Track comics made by students by placing initials in a small caption bubble to identify created comics to a specific student. There are some safeguards in place to be sure students use appropriate language and actions. It would be wise to preview whatever you wish to share with your students, however, since the general public can create comics with their own ideas. Students should submit their work without identifiable names and location, according to your school policy. You will also want written parent permission before allowing students to create comics that can be seen online.
Capture and use your students creativity in storytelling using this exciting tool! Using small amounts of texts to frame a story or to deliver information creatively allows students the opportunity to work deeply with information and use a creative outlet for a variety of projects. Use for students to provide information learned with personal thoughts on subjects ranging from historical events, environmental issues, discussion about plants, animals, and ecosystems, as well as other topics in Art, Math, English, Health, and others. Use in Foreign language classes for short stories created in the language and translated then by other students in the classroom. Use comics to write summaries of current events, responses to reading assignments, expressions of teen problems, and creative works of humor. With younger students, use an interactive whiteboard or projector to create a class comic on a current topic of study, such as the life cycle of the frog or ways to conserve energy. Use this site to integrate an art and writing lesson. Why not have students create comics to demonstrate a concept in science or social studies, rather than a traditional paper/pencil quiz? World language teachers and ESL/ELL teachers will love the chance for students to demonstrate written language skills in the "context" of their comic situations.
Parent permission advised before posting student work created using this tool
Includes Interaction w general public/ public galleries with unmoderated content
Includes social features, such as "friends," comments, ratings by others
Requires registration/log-in (WITH email)
Premium version (not free) includes additional features or storage
Products can be embedded
Products can be shared by URL
Grades5 to 12
Although this site was created for ESL and ELL students, much of the information would be useful in any classroom learning about pronouns, tenses, irregular verbs, and other grammar rules. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
In the ClassroomSave this site in your favorites for ESL and ELL students to use when they ask for grammar help or need a follow up on something in class. They will also find it useful when preparing for TOEFL and similar college entry tests. Special ed teachers may want to use this auditory approach to help their students with grammar, as well.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomIf you need ideas to get students reading for fun and to help develop their confidence, try this site. Highlight this on your class website so parents can try the activities with their older students. When doing author biographies, share this site with your class using an interactive whiteboard or projector. Be sure to check out the "Classroom Strategies" link for even more literacy ideas.
Grades3 to 12
This site does have several appropriate advertisements. There are also a few questionable links on the site (for example, "Uncensored English"), so be sure to supervise WELL.
In the ClassroomYou will need headphones or speakers if you choose to assign students to listen to the podcasts individually. This site is excellent for enrichment or special topics. Include it on your teacher web page (with a disclaimer regarding content) for students to access both in and out of class. Use this site with intermediate and advanced level ELL and ESL students to help them improve their knowledge of English slang and idioms. If you are into video, consider creating your own student vodcasts about idioms and sharing them via TeacherTube ( reviewed here) and on your class wiki.
Grades2 to 12
Teachers will need to set up videos to be used in class (and supervise WELL) to control student viewing. There are some questionable links on this site including "Uncensored English" and "Sick Videos." There are also advertisements on the top and right side of the website. This site is slow to load at times, so opening the site before you are ready to use it in class may save you some time. If your school blocks YouTube, consider accessing this site and choosing videos at home , using a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube.
In the ClassroomUse specially previewed and selected videos to make vocabulary lessons come alive. Use your interactive whiteboard or projector to share with the entire class. Be sure to preview and have the video before the class sees it. Encourage your students to make their own videos or vodcasts of items you are studying in class. If teachers are unsure of how to use the videos, check the for teachers section. Check this site frequently to see what's new. List this site on your class website (with a disclaimer regarding content), for ESL and ELL families to explore together at home.
Grades3 to 10
In the ClassroomDemonstrate this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Use this site for vocabulary enhancement and understanding of idioms. Speech and language teachers may want to use it to teach word combinations, as well. Students can easily play this game in pairs. Since teachers can also print the blank activity, you can use it for a desk activity or homework assignment. After students get used to this idea, have them make their own word ladders on the interactive whiteboard, as a sequence of animated PowerPoint slides, or collaboratively as a graphic organizer using an online tool such as Gliffy or Mindomo.
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this site as an anticipatory set or "activator" to introduce a world cultures or geography unit or lesson on an interactive whiteboard or projector. This site offers a visual approach to studying and comparing other countries and interesting research information to use for independent projects. This site is also excellent for enrichment. Include it on your teacher web page for students to access both in and out of class. Use this site to introduce the countries your ESL and ELL students represent. Have your ESL and ELL students guide the interactive picture tour for the class. World language teachers can use this site as part of their cultural studies.
Grades1 to 10
In the ClassroomShare samples of students' writing on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Be sure to preview for content inappropriate for your classroom. Have your students create cover art and write stories, book reviews, or poetry to submit to this site. Of course you will want written parent permission before submitting student work to this online magazine. Students should submit their work without identifiable names and location, according to your school policy.If your school prohibits using blogs to post student writing, this is a middle ground alternative to get their works in front of a wider audience.
Grades2 to 8
tag(s): grammar (217)
In the ClassroomUse this site for ESL and ELL students, or even basic grammar review in a regular language arts class. Help students learn "survival language," such as greetings or saying thank you. Save this site as a favorite on your classroom computer(s) so ESL/ELL students can add new expressions to their present knowledge. Send this site home (or list it on your website) so your international families can benefit from it.
Grades7 to 10
In the ClassroomPerfect for middle school students who can work ahead independently or for high school students who are still struggling a bit, this site gives you the option of having students practice on their own, particularly through the self-testing stage. This would be great as a learning station on writing for students.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): thesaurus (24)
In the ClassroomSend students to this site to look up those difficult words. ESL and ELL students can use this site to practice the pronunciation of new words. Be sure to mark this site as a favorite or share on your teacher web page for easy access.
Grades4 to 12
Be aware, there are minor unobtrusive advertisements at this website. Nearly all of the interactive stories require Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..
In the ClassroomThere are many ways to use this site in your classroom. Share the stories on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Or have students investigate the sites on their own (using headsets). Save this site as a favorite and list this site on your class web page. earning support and ESL/ELL teachers will love the variety of options for aural stories, as well.
Grades3 to 10
Be aware: only the activities listed on the reviewed page are free. If you come to a link that requires a log in, this activity will require you to pay a fee. Although the student recordings of their own voices are not saved with the free part of the page, students can record voices and listen after they have heard the native speaker's pronunciation. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..
In the ClassroomShare this website on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students listen to the words and phrases and repeat them together. Or allow students to do these activities on individual computers or with a partner, each student making suggestions for the other student's pronunciation improvement. Perhaps you want to create your own class podcast with an Oscar-type pronunciation game!
Grades2 to 10
Be sure to turn off your pop-up blocker so you can "see" all the site content. Although the pronunciation is in British English, this is a great, high-content site. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..