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:
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomTake lessons beyond your typical slide show presentations by using the features in Audience Connect. Insert polls within your slides to quickly gauge students' understanding of the content or ask them to respond to questions throughout the presentation. Use the embed video feature to have all students watch portions of video directly from your laptop onto their device. Have students use Audience Connect as an enhancement to any class presentation to keep their audience involved and active in the presentation topic.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse Scene VR to take slide presentations to a whole new level. Quickly upload panoramic photos from class field trips, science experiments, or presentations to create a unique presentation to share with parents and families on your website. Ask students to use their photos to create a virtual reality presentation. For example, when learning about geometric shapes, have students take panoramic images of your classroom and school. Put these images into Scene VR to create a presentation and allow students to explore your "virtual world" for shapes found around them. Extend learning further by incorporating slideshows into a multimedia presentation such as a digital book made with Book Creator, reviewed here, or Sway, reviewed here. Use your (or student-created) multimedia presentations to present a larger picture of any concept by incorporating text, images, and videos along with your slideshow.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomUse Contexted as a collaborative note taking tool to use with peers. Create an account for all of you to use, then add notes, links, and information in one place as needed. Have students use Contexted's mind mapping feature to plan and outline writing projects. Create a class account and have students use it for note taking. When finished, all students will have access to the entire class's notes.
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomInclude Read Ahead with your other resources for teaching vocabulary. Read Ahead is perfect for introducing any reading passage to struggling readers, special education students, and ESL/ELL learners. Create presentations for articles found in science or social studies materials to prepare students for difficult vocabulary and phrases. Take advantage of this site to use reading material with your students that might otherwise be above their reading level. Instead of asking students to use vocabulary in sentences to demonstrate understanding, ask them to use the words to create digital stories using an online tool like Book Creator, reviewed here. Book Creator can be used for a variety of assignments in any classroom that is integrating technology as an enhancement, modification, or transformation.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomBe sure to bookmark this site on all classroom and personal computers for use throughout the year. If you have a large PDF file but only need a page or two, use CleverPDF to extract it for you. Convert PDF files to Word or Pages when working with a document that needs editing. Convert student work into PDF then convert into a book using Flipsnack, reviewed here. Flipsnack even includes a handy page-turning effect! This is a helpful utility for students entering contests or completing applications offered only in PDF form. Help students create a more organized and appealing portfolio by converting all items to one standard file type such as PDF. PorfolioVillage, reviewed here, is an easy to use tool for creating and sharing portfolios, include student-created PDF documents to share any work document.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomCreate and play Bingo in a variety of ways. Practice sight words, math facts, or use cards as an ice-breaker activity. As a tool for personalized learning, add a variety of learning activities then allow students to select a Bingo card then complete their choice of activities to earn a Bingo with their selections from the offered choices on the card. Make Bingo cards with dates in history, science terms, or vocabulary and ask students to use ThingLink, reviewed here, to share their learning. Have students take a picture of their Bingo card and add text, images, or audio to different areas in the card using ThingLink to share their understanding of the topic. As a culminating learning activity, ask students to create their own learning game using Scratch, reviewed here, using information from their research, (lab, a novel, math exploration, etc).
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomUse Slido to engage students and for use as a formative assessment. When introducing a new unit, use Slido as a pre-assessment to determine student knowledge and guide instruction. Use the anonymous feature to make it easy for students to ask questions in real-time without having to raise their hand and identify themselves. Share Slido with students to use during presentations to interact with peers.
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, 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). Use the wireframe option to create interesting images mimicking screen displays found on computers, phones, and mobile devices. Enhance and extend student learning by asking students to include their "map" as part of a final presentation created using a multimedia presentation tool like Wakelet, reviewed here, or as part of a digital book created using Book Creator (Chrome and app) Book Creator, reviewed here.
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomPopped is an excellent tool to help students manage and create storytelling projects. Ask them to use this site to plan original pieces of fiction or to retell events in history through the eyes of different participants. For example, when learning about Civil Rights, have students share options for what might happen if Martin Luther King hadn't been assassinated. Use these stories as a basis for student podcasts about moments in history and how different events shaped and changed history. Use Buzzsprout, reviewed here, as a podcasting tool that offers options such as scheduling episodes for specific dates and times, adding chapter markers to episodes, and adding links, lists, and formatting to your show notes.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomIf you have not tried a wiki yet, visit the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through for a detailed, step-by-step explanation and starter help, including dozens of ideas for ways to use a wiki in your classroom. Before implementing this site with your classroom, take some time to teach students how to edit and add information. This site is not WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), meaning that when editing a page, you see the markup information. Allow students time to play in the site's "sandbox" as a way to preview and learn how to add information. Create and use a wiki to collaborate and compile information on any classroom research projects. For example, have your class work together to add resources and web links when researching causes of the Civil War, plants and animals found within different habitats, or share math problem-solving ideas and links. Use your wiki for small group projects and ask students to share a synopsis of group meetings along with a compilation of websites and videos used in their research.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): bookmarks (54)
In the ClassroomBookmark The Urlist to use whenever you want to share a group of links. For example, gather all of your online resources for any unit into one list for your personal use or to share with students on your class website for easy access at all times. Create an account at the site to keep track of your bookmark lists and edit as needed. Ask students to use this site when doing research projects and ask them to include their URL list as part of the final project.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomIn language arts or history classrooms use a wiki to create a favorite historical figures page, have students share their favorite person from history along with supporting evidence. Use a wiki to set up a debate between students. For example, create a wiki and ask students to debate the use of homework in schools, the effect of social media on society, or year-round school vs. traditional school calendars. As your class builds and adds to the wiki, extend student learning by having small groups of students select a topic to research further. A nice feature of TWiki is that it allows you to set up collaborative groups where students can share information and ideas about their research. Culminate the research by having students use a multimedia creation tool like Sway, reviewed here, transforming classroom technology by sharing information including text, images, videos, and more. As a last step have the small groups load their Sway creation to their collaborative page on TWiki. For more ideas and information on how to use wikis, visit the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through for a detailed, step-by-step explanation and starter help, including dozens of ideas for ways to use a wiki in your classroom.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomUse Brush Ninja in a variety of ways. Share this site with students and give them time to explore and experiment. When working with troubled students, use this site to let students share their thoughts and emotions through an animation. This is an excellent site to use with students who love art and enjoy sharing their learning through creative expressions. Take a look at the images created by other users in the gallery as inspiration for how to use animations. Ask students to create animations demonstrating science concepts like erosion, weathering, or chemical reactions. Use this site to have students create animations demonstrating events from stories, share their thought process in math, or animate an event from history. Have students include their animations when creating multimedia projects in an online tool like Sway, reviewed here.
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomTake advantage of the video tutorials to learn about how to create and customize apps with Glide. Consider sharing this tool with one or more of your tech-savvy students and let them become the expert at how to use the different features. Ask them to create screencasts using Awesome ScreenShot, reviewed here, to demonstrate how to begin creating an app, how to customize an app, or any other features of this tool. Use Glide as a unique teaching tool to engage and capture student interest in a variety of ways. For example, have students create a directory of characters found in a Shakespeare play and include pertinent information including their relationship to other characters, the character's important moments within the play, and more. Another example of how to use Glide is to create an app for students to use when working on long-term projects. Use the objectives template to set up goals and timelines for students to follow.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomBefore implementing this site with your classroom, take some time to teach students how to edit and add information. Consider asking a group of students to learn about this site and teach others how to use the different features. Modify classroom technology use by asking them to create short explainer videos using My Simpleshow, reviewed here, and share them on your class website. Introduce wikis slowly into your classroom; start with asking each student to add a page to the wiki with a short biography. Once students become familiar with wikis, use your wiki for group brainstorming sessions, open-ended discussions such as preparing a list of questions for a class speaker or upcoming unit, post examples of excellent student work, or share information for student research projects. If you have not tried a wiki yet, visit the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through for a detailed, step-by-step explanation and starter help, including dozens of ideas for ways to use a wiki in your classroom.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse Proficonf to set up virtual parent/teacher conferences with participants located anywhere in the world. Online conferencing is especially useful when multiple teachers are involved or when parents may not reside in the same location. Share your screen as needed to provide information on assessments and student work. Enhance classroom technology by sharing this tool with students to use when collaborating on group projects. If using the chat feature, ask them to include their chat with the final project as part of their reflection on the learning process.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomIn language arts or history classrooms use a wiki to create a favorite historical figures page, have students share their favorite person from history along with supporting evidence. Use a wiki to set up a debate between students. For example, create a wiki and ask students to debate the use of homework in schools, the effect of social media on society, or year-round school vs. traditional school calendars. As your class builds and adds to the wiki, ask students to select a topic to research further. Ask them to use a multimedia creation tool like Sway, reviewed here to transform classroom technology and share information including text, images, videos, and more. If you have not tried a wiki yet, visit the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through for a detailed, step-by-step explanation and starter help, including dozens of ideas for ways to use a wiki in your classroom.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): note taking (43)