Tag Archives: tools

Ten Free Web 2.0 Tools for the Classroom

– guest post by Karen Schweitzer

Where to Find Free Web 2.0 Tools for the Classroom

Teachers who want to put web 2.0 technologies to work for them can find many different free options online. There are tools for creating online classrooms, social networks, student podcasts, web-based flashcards, elearning modules, and much more. Here are 10 free web 2.0 tools for teachers to try in the classroom this year.

Engrade – This popular online classroom community provides a free set of web-based tools for teachers who want to integrate web 2.0 into the classroom. Tools include an online assignment calendar, an online gradebook, an online attendance book, secure online messaging, and instant progress reports. Engrade is a great way for teachers to constantly stay in touch with students, parents, and administrators.

Engrade logocramberry logoelgg logo

Elgg – This social engine provides all of the tools a school or classroom needs to create their own community site or social network. Elgg is an open source program, which means it is free for everyone to use, and includes an online community where users can learn and share their experiences.

Cramberry – Cramberry is a unique site that makes it easy for students to learn and study new material through online flashcards. Students or teachers can make customized sets of cards that can be printed or studied online. When students choose to study online, Cramberry tracks learning progress, builds study schedules, and shows cards in a specific order so that students can get extra practice with the cards they have trouble with and stay current with other cards.

PodBean.com logoPodBean – More than 200,000 people have used PodBean’s free publishing tools to create and publish their own podcasts. PodBean’s tools work especially well for classrooms. There is no tech to learn–podcast episodes can be uploaded and published in a matter of minutes.

Eduslide logoEduslide – Teachers can use Eduslide to deliver elearning modules to students inside and outside the classroom. Modules can include multiple lessons with text, slides, flashcards, links to other sites, audio, and video. Teachers can also access lessons created by other Eduslide users.

Writeboard – Writeboard is a free web-based tool that allows students to easily collaborate on a single document online. Different versions of the document are automatically trackeWriteboard logod and saved so that old ideas are never lost and can be easily monitored by teachers. Created Writeboards are always kept private and can only be accessed by people with the password.

Web-Chops logoWeb-Chops – This free web tool is perfect for teachers who want to share websites with students but want to get rid of ads and other questionable material. Web-Chops allows users to “clip” any part of a web page and rearrange clips onto a custom page that can be shared with other people.

Yugma – Yugma is an excellent tool for teachers who want to share their desktops with other students in the classroom or conduct parent-teacher conferences online. The site’s free service supports up to 20 attendees at one time and includes 24/7 support through forums, tutorials, and new user guides.

Yugma logo knowitall.org logo

Knowitall.org – Designed specifically for the classroom, this network of education sites can be used to engage k-12 students in learning. Sites include videos, simulations, image collections, virtual field trips, games, and interactive learning experiences.

Arcademic Skill Builders logoArcademic Skill Builders – This site provides free, educational video games that are research-based and standards-aligned. Games can be played alone or with multiple players and provide a safe environment where students can learn and have fun at the same time. While playing a game, students cannot be contacted by anyone outside the classroom.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the author of the About.com Guide to Business School and also writes about online degree programs for OnlineDegreePrograms.org.

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Filed under Classroom, Education, Education 3.0, Instruction, Technology, Web 2.0

20 Online Tools to Make Learning Fun

by Karen Schweitzer

Looking for a great way to engage and stimulate students in even the most tedious subjects? There are many online tools, games, activities, learning aids, and even web apps designed to make learning fun. Here is a list of 20 sites to try when the new school year begins:

Games and Activities

History Detective Kids – Based on PBS’ History Detective television show, this site encourages children between the ages of 8 and 12 to use critical thinking, problem solving, and dramatic play while digging through the past.

Funbrain – Funbrain hosts dozens of interactive educational games for children. This site covers most subjects and features web books, comics, and movies.

Math Is Fun – Math Is Fun is intended to make studying geometry, algebra, data, money, and measurements more enjoyable. This site also offers puzzles, games, and worksheets.

Brain POP – This interactive educational site offers games for a wide variety of subjects and grades. Brain POP also offers entertaining and creative way to explain difficult subjects to students.

Kerpoof – Kerpoof is an educational game site provided by the Walt Disney Corporation. This interactive site was created to help kids discover, learn, and be creative.

Discovery Dinosaur – This Discovery Channel site offers several interactive learning games, including the Dino Viewer. This handy interactive tool allows you to view facts and descriptions and watch movement.

Geography Action – Geography Action from National Geographic offers several interactive mapping games that allow children to view and map the world.

NASA – This NASA educational site offers a wide range of interactive games and activities for math, engineering, science, and technology.

Funschool – Funschool provides games primarily for elementary children. Games are interactive and cover an assortment of subjects.

PlayKidsGames.com – This site provides fun, interactive games for K-6 graders. Games cover math, vocabulary, spelling, computer, and other problem solving skills.

Learning Aids

Shmoop – Shmoop is a study guide site for U.S. history, literature, poetry, and writing. The site tries to make literature and other subjects more enjoyable by providing easy-to-read study guides and book summaries.

FREE – This teaching resource site from the federal government offers an array of educational resources, including animations, primary documents, photos, and videos.

Sparknotes – Although this site was created primarily for seniors and college students, Sparknotes does provide a wide range of resources for younger students. The most useful resources include study and literature guides, test prep materials, and a grammar guide.

The Stacks – This Scholastic site encourages children to read with book clubs, book chats, games, quizzes, and much more.

Slideshare – Slideshare makes it easy to upload presentations and documents to the web. This site is a great place to find information or just have students share ideas and connect with others.

Web Apps

Empressr – Empressr is a free multimedia tool for creating presentations. This app allows you to add music, video, pictures, and audio to each presentation.

Mindomo – This free brainstorming app stimulates creative thinking. Mindomo also makes it easy to organize your wild ideas into streamlined mind maps.

Altas – Altas is a great Twitter app that maps tweeters around the globe. This is a fun, interactive way to encourage students to learn geography and culture.

Whiteboard – This writing web app allows students to collaborate with others in real time. Whiteboard makes it easy to write, collaborate, and share work.

OuTwit Me – Outwit Me is a Twitter app with fun, challenging games, including storyteller, crack the code, and guess word.

This is a guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the author of the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes about accredited online colleges for OnlineCollege.org.

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A Teacher’s Guide to Twitter

Twitter is apart of my life almost every day because:
–    It’s a great source of news.
–    There are rich conversations among educators and edtech people.
–    People post entertaining, interesting, and very useful links.
–    I enjoy the easy interaction with others from around the world.

Most people start off in a rocky relationship with Twitter.  It doesn’t seem to be as easy or as useful as everyone has said, it takes awhile before you find your niche, and there is an overwhelming amount of information to deal with.  But, just hang on – it’ll be worth it!!!  This is a guide to help teachers, or anyone for that matter, have a smoother and more enjoyable experience.  It is, by no means, the most comprehensive list of tips but hopefully it’ll be helpful.  If you need a little more convincing that Twitter is amazing, check out Mark Marshall‘s post “Twitter – What is it and Why Would I Use it?”

Getting Started

  • Your picture: you should definitely have some sort of picture – people seem to respond better to actual photos, but avatars, cartoons, or logos are fine, too.
  • Your bio: it is very helpful to include keywords here because often, when someone is deciding whether to follow you or not, this is where they’ll get their “first impression” of you.  And, Twitter Grader scans bios for keywords for their ‘search’ feature.
  • Your URL: this is important! People will want to know more about you than your bio and what you tweet.  Even if you don’t have a blog or website, you could post a link to your school’s website or another account you have, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Classroom2.0.

Managing your Life on Twitter

Finding People to Follow

This can be the biggest challenge at first.  Not anymore!  Here are some great ways to do it:

Not Getting Overwhelmed

You’ll hear people talking about the Twitter “stream”.  This is derived from a beautiful metaphor in which the tweets people send out can be considered drops of water in a stream.  You’re standing on the bank, enjoying the stream as it passes, but you can’t worry about enjoyoing every drop of water that’s there.  Don’t worry about the tweets you missed – I promise that there are always, currently, very interesting things to read.  But – it is nice to catch up sometimes by browsing old tweets on peoples’ profile pages.

Tweeting

You’re limited to 140 characters, but this seems to do the trick.  Here are a couple of links to help with your tweets:

  • TinyURL – if you want to tweet a link, but it’s very long, this will shorten it to 25 characters.
  • Bit.ly – this also shortens a link, and it allows you to specify part of the new URL.  If you sign up for an account, you can track how many clicks your shortened URLs get.
  • TwitterSymbols – fun symbols you can insert into your tweets.

Other Ins and Outs

@replies

If you start a tweet with @(username), this will automatically land in that person’s “@replies” folder.  You’ll notice that if you reply to something someone said, your message will automatically start with this “address”.  These tweets will show up in your friends’ tweet-streams only if they have chosen to see @replies – you can change the settings for this.

DM

This stands for Direct Messages.  These are private messages that most people choose to use to introduce themselves or to bring an elongated “@reply conversation” over to a more appropriate venue.  You can DM someone from your DM folder or from the sidebar of their profile page, but only if they are following you.

RT

This stands for ReTweet.  If you want to share what someone else tweeted, it is only polite to give them credit by including “RT @(username)” somewhere in your message.

“Following” Etiquette [more on this topic in the ‘comments’!]

Some people say that it is polite to follow anyone who follows you, others choose to follow very small, select groups.   I have found a happy balance by following *most* people, but having select groups of people that I really don’t want to miss out on in my Tweetdeck.   There are probably only two types of people that I avoid following:

•   Those who only write mundane, one line messages, like “This coffee is good”.  I want to be able to  have conversations with people.
•    Marketers – there are a ton of marketers on Twitter.   Be wary of someone who’s following 5,000 but only has 18 followers.  Sometimes they’re worth following because they are actually interesting, but do not feel obligated to follow them if they are not.  I find it’s best not to clog up my Tweet-stream with advertisements.

My Favorite Twitter-related Tools

*note: some of these require you to enter your Twitter username and password – I cannot guarantee their security, but I’ll say that I’ve used all of these and have never had any problems (yet…)

  • Searching Twitter: Tweetscan – & Twitter Search
  • What’s hot on Twitter: Twitscoop
  • Who’s hot on Twitter:  Retweetist
  • Cool Stats about your account: TweetStats & Twitter Counter
  • Who’s following you compared to who you’re following: Twitter Karma & Friend or Follow
  • Make a poll to tweet: TwtPoll
  • Tweetdeck –  This is a free download that gives you a separate window (your Tweetdeck) that has multiple columns to display tweets concurrently – with a live-feed, too!.  You can choose their content – personalized groups, an entire column just for your DM’s or @replies.  I like to keep it in the background of my computer-work all day.
  • Twistori – live-feed for tweets that include “love”, “hate”, “think”, “feel”, “believe”, or “wish” – the result could be called art.
  • TwitterMosaic – Create a mosaic with pics of all of your Twitter friends – put it on your blog, or a coffee mug, or a t-shirt.

Useful Links regarding Twitter

Christine Morris put Twitter to use in her class for some real-time research and shares the experience and great tips here.

Here is an extensive and helpful list of ‘100 Tips, Apps and Resources for Teachers on Twitter’.

Twitter for Academia

**21 (and counting) Interesting Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom**

Nine Reasons to Twitter in Schools

Twitdom –  a Twitter application database, with over 300 tools to play with!
TwitTip –  a blog bursting with Twitter tips
Twitter’s Blog – enough said

@butwait has a ‘Twitter for Newbies’ page here, with TONS of resources.

If you’d like to follow me, click here.

And, if you’d rather read this guide in Portuguese, see Rodrigo Vieira Ribeiro’s blog!

Happy Tweeting!

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Using Weebly to build your Classroom Website

Here’s a follow-up to an earlier Weebly post:

There have been increasing numbers of educators who find that a classroom website is a good way to stay organized.  Here are some basic, very useful functions:

  • Announcements
  • Class Calendar
  • Homework Assignments
  • Supply Lists
  • Pictures
  • Post Student Work
  • Parent Involvement/Volunteer Opportunities
  • Classroom Rules and Policies
  • Links
  • Your Bio and Contact Info

A website is more informative, while a blog, ning or wiki is more interactive because they allow students to contribute.  I actually suggest having both.  But because blogs, nings and wikis require constant maintenance, it’s nice to have a website that is super-easy to build and edit.

I suggest using Weebly for this.  It’s free and extremely user-friendly.

Weebly_Ed

Here are some classroom websites built on Weebly:

If you have a Weebly website, or plan to get one, please share your URL in the comments!

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Daily Toolbox – for Educators or anyone

toolbox1

I read a recent post by Claire Thompson called “Tools and Sites I Use – One Year Later“.  I really like what she did – last January, she blogged about the tools that she used regularly, and now she’s gone back and reviewed and updated that list.  Sounds like a fun way to reflect.

Here’s my list of tools/sites that I use just about every day:

  • twitter – probably my favorite tool now, the center of my PLN (personal learning network)
  • gmail – one personal account and one work account
  • Facebook – keep in touch with old friends and former students
  • Netvibes – my RSS reader, how I keep up with my favorite blogs (or try to, at least)
  • Firefox – just curious if I’ll still be using it next year, or a different browser like Chrome
  • WordPress – where I house this blog, and read many others
  • Lighthouse – more for my company; great, free application that enables teamwork and good project management
  • Yammer – microblogging, within an organization – basically there are about 8 of us at Inigral, Inc. that keep up with each other this way.
  • diigo – social bookmarking site where I keep my favorites and love following the daily links that I get via e-mail, through the Classroom 2.0 group.
  • Jing – slick image/video capture and sharing tool
  • Youtube – I end up watching something on here every day.  Will it hold its own against the competition this year?
  • Microsoft Office – (threw this one on here to see if I’m still using Word and Excel next year….I’m actually rooting for Google Docs!)

Tools I hope to use more:

  • Classroom 2.0 – an outstanding Ning with great discussions and many interesting educators to connect with
  • LinkdIn – professional networking site – you can find very unique skill sets here
  • Evernote – keeps track of life, in general, with to-do lists, pictures, voice notes, and more
  • Backtype – how I keep track of commenting on blogs – need to figure out how to tap into its full potential
  • Younoodle – a startup networking site
  • Flickr – I hope to start posting more pics
  • Any iPhone app, period – hope to get one soon!

Now….hopefully I’ll remember this next January 🙂

What do you use that’s not on my list?

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Web 2.0 and Education 3.0 links

I’ve gotten to that point where my list of “interesting links” is so huge, I’d better start picking out my favorites to focus on. Here are some of them:

A Directory of Learning Professionals on Twitter Jane Hart first put out a list of 101people to follow if you’re interested in education and web 2.0, but the list quickly grew into this – 330 and counting!

Soundsnap is a library of sound effects – so cool!  Can be downloaded and added to presentations, etc.

Jing is a tool that allows you to capture any part of your screen – images and even screencasts.  Very helpful for capturing diagrams and graphs to insert into handouts and presentations.

Make Belief Comix might be the easiest and most accessible cartoon-strip creator to use, even for young students.

EasyBib turns information about a source into a formal, MLA bibliography citation!  Even websites!

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100 Things You Can do with RSS Feeds

Who knew that RSS feeds could do so much?!?

  • Books. Read books with DailyLit. They will send sections to you each day via RSS feed.
  • Word of the Day. Get a new vocabulary word sent to you every day with Dictionary.com.
  • World News. One of the top news agencies offering world news brings it to you via RSS feed at Reuters.

Check out this list of 100 cool things you can do with them written by Alisa Miller.

If you’re not quite sure what an RSS feed is, watch this:

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