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.
Browse the full listing of detailed safety/school policy tips or save time by reading them as needed from each tool review.
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:
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse this site in art class as you teach about different styles and genres of art. Find many ideas for using images in the classroom at this archive of an OK2Ask webinar, located here. Turn student images into a digital book using Book Creator, reviewed here. Ask students to create books including images, videos, and text to explain different forms of art or as part of a research project on the life and times of people at different periods in history.
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this site to encourage creativity, teach adjectives, and study art at the same time! Share images on your interactive whiteboard and explore together. Ask students to enhance their learning by finding images then creating collages using PhotoCollage, reviewed here, to add descriptions or compare features. After creating collages, encourage creative writing in your students by asking them to use their collage as inspiration for a writing project. Modify learning by trying StoryLab, reviewed here, a choose your own adventure story creation tool where students can feature the chosen images.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomCreate quick motivational or introductory quotes to share on your interactive whiteboard for when students enter the class or to use for a journal prompt. Use Apagraph to create attention-grabbing images to include with your Twitter posts. Share this site with students to use with slide show and multimedia presentations. Ask students to include their graphic images when using a presentation tool like Sway, reviewed here, to highlight different portions of their work.
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this site to connect to other classes to open up a discussion between your students in one convenient place. Safety is not a concern with this site since only those with an email invitation/link or the QR code can participate in a chat. (Your students need not have email. You can simply email the link to yourself and share it with students to enter into their browsers.) Teach good digital citizenship of chat etiquette while using this activity to learn. Connect with other classes to learn about other locations, learn various perspectives, find animals that are similar yet different, learn about the different books others are reading, or survey students on various economic, political, or environmental topics. Be sure to plan content ahead of time, so students have the opportunity to think through the material and formulate a response. Discuss appropriate ways to communicate with others before connecting with another classroom.
Use backchannel chat on laptops during a video or student presentation. Pose questions for all to answer/discuss in the backchannel, or ask students to pose their own "I wonder if..." questions as they watch and listen. Keep every student engaged and THINKING as an active listener. The first time you use backchannel, you will want to establish some etiquette and accountability rules. The advantage of backchannel chat is that every student has a voice, no matter how shy. Use this in world language classes, ESL/ELL classes, or autistic support classes for backchannel chat. Challenge students to use their new language skills to describe a scene from a video or the feelings of the actors. When studying literature, collaborate with another class to have students role-play a chat between two characters. In a history class, create fictional conversations between soldiers on two sides of the Civil War or different sides of the Scopes Monkey trial.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomIntroduce this site to your students on an interactive whiteboard or with a projector and explore one or two of the games together. Create a short story together to learn about how to use the different story-writing options. As students begin creating games using this site, consider having students create explainer videos to modify their learning using My Simpleshow, reviewed here, and to demonstrate tools that need a more detailed explanation than what is on the site. Have students create stories to show what they have learned about literature, geography, history, science concepts, and more. As a more "serious" approach, use Choice of Games to present opinion pieces where you take a position and allow readers to click on questions about it. They could also click on statements expressing opposing views so you can write counterarguments to their points. This idea could end up being a powerful way to present an argument and evidence as required by Common Core writing standards. Redefine student learning by having them include their text-based game as part of a collaborative multi-media presentation created using Sway, reviewed here. In addition to their game, ask students to include their written documents, images, and video creations.
GradesK to 6
In the ClassroomTake advantage of this free reading program to differentiate reading materials for your students both by ability and interests. Set up your program then share learning goals with your students and parents. Enhance student learning by using the free interactives and printables from Read Write Think, reviewed here, and have students create story maps, book covers, and much more as part of their retelling and summarizing activities. Create shared class activities using a video response tool like FlipGrid, reviewed here, modify student learning by asking students to share short book talks about their favorite books read on the site. Take learning even further by creating ongoing podcasts discussing favorite books and characters using Buzzsprout, reviewed here. Buzzsprout makes it easy to create and share podcasts by offering scheduling options to meet your needs.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomHave you ever had students complain about group projects and class members not participating fully? Clockify is an excellent tool for managing these projects. Share this site with team members and ask them to include time spent on the project and use tags to categorize time spent on different activities of the project. Clockify is also an excellent resource for teaching data and statistics in math class. Create a project and use the site's tools to add information on time spent on class activities, chart time spent on homework, or hours spent on after-school activities. Ask students to take the data and analyze the results. Use a simple online chart-creation tool like ChartAccent, reviewed here, to display the data.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomUse ERDPlus to create classroom models and diagrams for any subject. Before assigning to all students, choose a few tech-savvy students to learn how to use this site and provide tutoring help for those that need it. Consider having a few students create a video explanation using MySimpleShow, reviewed here, using the provided templates. Create diagrams for students to "map" out a chapter or story. Assign groups to create study guides using this tool. Use this tool for literature activities, research projects, social studies, or science topics. Use this to create family trees or food pyramids in family and consumer science. Have students collaborate (online) to create group mind maps or review charts before tests on a given subject. Have students organize any concepts you study. Have students map out a story, plotline, or plan for the future. Students can also map out a step-by-step process (such as a life cycle or how to solve an equation).
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomShare ClassClimate with your students for use throughout the day to share their mood. Evaluate the data to understand when students feel frustrated or which events they enjoy. Use ClassClimate during professional development sessions to evaluate reactions from peers during training meetings as a way to understand how to develop effective interactions with others.
GradesK to 12
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In the ClassroomShare a link to this site on classroom computers and your class website to use anytime when working with Venn Diagrams. Ask students to practice using Venn Diagrams using the interactive activities. Have students create their own prompts for classmates to complete a diagram. Have students use a video explainer tool like My Simpleshow, reviewed here, to demonstrate how to create and use Venn Diagrams.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomUse Apester's tools in a variety of ways. Create polls to assess understanding before or after any lesson, use the poll as an exit ticket after class, or have students create polls for use in multimedia presentations. Use the countdown poll feature and ask students to predict upcoming events in novels and stories. Ask students to use the story feature to retell events in history, share scientific information, or feature their original writing. Challenge students to redefine their learning and integrate their Apester creations into a multimedia presentation using one of the many TeachersFirst Edge tools, reviewed here. Some tool suggestions are (click on the tool name to access the review): Blabberize, Lucidpress, Powtoon, and Rooclick. Find many ideas for implementing rubrics to assess multimedia projects along with examples and online tools at TeachersFirst Rubrics to the Rescue, here.
Grades6 to 12
tag(s): timelines (57)
In the ClassroomBefore using eStory browse through the site to find examples to share with students. Use eStory to create timelines to order events in stories, visualize and compare historic events or outline steps in a science experiment. Ask students to create a timeline as a substitute for a handwritten research paper. Include student timelines in multimedia projects that include video, images, and maps. Find ideas for multimedia presentation tools and redefining student learning at TeachersFirst Edge tools reviewed here. Some tool suggestions are (click on the tool name to access the review): Visme, Adobe Spark for K-12, Plotagon, and My Simpleshow.
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomIf your students have a school email address use this information to sign individuals up to create their own plot. View examples on this site to get inspiration for creating plots in several different ways. Create family trees of story characters to help visualize family legacies, have students create a hierarchy chart representing government leaders, or have students research their own family tree. After completing timelines, ask students to use the information learned to enhance their learning by creating an explainer video sharing their timeline or hierarchy details. Biteable, reviewed here, is a very easy to use video creation tool.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomAssign students to "map" out a chapter or story. Assign groups to create study guides using this tool. Use this tool for literature activities, research projects, social studies, or science topics. Use this to create family trees or food pyramids in family and consumer science. Have students collaborate (online) to create group mind maps or review charts before tests on a given subject. Have students organize any concepts you study. They can color code concepts to show what they understand, wonder, and question. Have students map out a story, plot line, or plan for the future. Students can also map out a step-by-step process (such as a life cycle or how to solve an equation). Include your mind maps with multimedia projects to create an online book. Book Creator,reviewed here, offers many options for creating digital books including video, images, text, and more.
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomOffer students the option to share their writing using Elementari by adding illustrations and sounds. From the home page find the upload button at the top of the page. Upload up to 10 5mb images and 10 mb audio files. Create stories together, as a class, as you move through a unit or topic. Enhance student learning by adding images and ideas your students suggest. Use in a flipped or blended classroom to deliver course information. Assign several student groups a different topic and redefine their learning by having each group create their own version as they learn more about the topic. Challenge gifted students to modify the "standard" class text with the additional material they discover, by going deeper and learning about related topics. In lower grades, create teacher-made digital stories for students to use as a learning tool.
Grades6 to 8
tag(s): black history (59), civil rights (122), constitution (90), democracy (15), elections (75), freedom of speech (12), immigrants (22), immigration (62), media literacy (66), politics (103), world war 2 (141)
In the ClassroomTake advantage of the free materials on this site to encourage debate and discussion within your current civics lessons. Each lesson includes primary sources to use when responding to prompts, ask students to find and share additional primary sources to include with their response to each question. Instead of just creating a list of additional resources, share additional resources using Padlet, reviewed here. Padlet offers features for adding comments, ask students to use this feature to indicate important information found on the document. Enhance learning further by finding and sharing videos that support the topic being discussed. Use EdPuzzle, reviewed here to add comments and question prompts for students. Upon completion of student projects, have them share their thoughts through a podcast featuring students' challenge solutions. Be sure to include a group of students in each podcast featuring various points of view and their backup documentation.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomShare Patches with your students who are familiar with virtual reality and coding to use to expand their ability to create vr experiences. For those not familiar with this technology, consider beginning with the Vizor 360 link located at the bottom of the home page. Use this tool to drag, drop, and create 360 interactive experiences of any location. Begin by creating a virtual tour of your classroom together and sharing on your class website. Be sure to take advantage of the many tutorials found on the site to help you and your students to get started or work through problems along the way. Begin using the WebVR portion of the site by sharing examples with students on your interactive whiteboard to demonstrate the different ways the tool has been used. Have students choose one of the tools, then use the edit feature to make changes. After exploring options in the available projects, have students create their own project from the beginning. Instead of assigning written reports, or craft projects, offer students the option to create an experience using Patches to demonstrate landforms, types of plants, or a virtual scene from a novel. Have students explain their finished project using Free Screen Recorder Online, reviewed here. Ask students to share challenges faced in making their projects and how they were able to resolve their issues along the way.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomBefore using Synth with your classroom, be sure to practice setting up and sharing podcasts created with this tool. One way to practice is to set up a podcast with teachers in your building or district as a professional development opportunity. Create a "slow chat" discussing ideas for literature, thematic lessons, or professional book talks. Once you are comfortable using Synth with students, create exit tickets for students to reflect, enhance their learning, and discuss the day's lesson. Synth allows students to extend critical thinking by adding web links to recordings. Ask students to share their opinion on any subject and include a web address to support their conclusion. Have students transform learning by embedding a Synth podcast into a multimedia presentation created with a tool like Sway, reviewed here, and create an interactive discussion on the topic. Instead of using your standard pre-assessment materials, replace these with Synth and extend student understanding by sharing their knowledge (or what they would like to learn) as a quick way to gauge what students already know.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse ytCropper to highlight specific information from YouTube videos for student use. After creating a shortened clip, encourage students to predict what comes next or use the segment before showing the entire video. Flip your classroom and ask students to use ytCropper to share important information from videos or highlight portions that need further clarification. Using shorter video segments offers many opportunities to use video clips within other online tools. For example, have students change their learning by creating a ThingLink, reviewed here, including a shortened video clip, images, and text to describe the stages of plant growth, introduce a political figure, or provide background for a novel. Ask students to include shorter clips within multimedia projects created using a tool like Adobe Spark, reviewed here, to redefine their learning and understanding.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomBe sure to check out the Guide link, at the bottom of the page, on Edji to see lesson ideas and tips for using Edji in the classroom. Create an Edji with an introductory passage for a new unit and share with students. Ask them to highlight, comment, and ask questions about the information and use as a pre-assessment tool. Use Edji to create quick and easy writing prompts and starters - upload an image and ask students to share adjectives and interesting verbs to use in their writing. Use Edji to create peer response tools when sharing student writing.
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 shared by URL
Multiple users can collaborate on the same project
Includes teacher tools for registering and/or monitoring students