By Teachers, For Teachers
There is no end to the number of online tools available for teachers to use technology in the classroom. I get inundated with tips by friends (“My child wants to use this website. What do you think?”), fellow teachers (“Would you check this web tool -- does it work for literacy?”), parents (“My child loves this tool. Is it appropriate as part of technology in the classroom?”). I am always thrilled because introductions through friends and colleagues are much more authentic than through online advertising or an e-zine.
When I review a website or app, I take 15-30 minutes to test it out, and try to see it through the eyes of the age group that will use it. Here's what I look for:
This week, I have seven web tools and apps that passed my rigorous test.
Diigo This is a digital portfolio where students can not only store bookmarks, but annotate webpages they read, share with others, and organize them into files for future reference. It works across multiple platforms -- smartphones, iPads, desktop computers, laptops, Chromebooks -- and is accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection. I like that there's a bookmarklet that can be added to the student’s Internet toolbar, making it easy to use Diigo from any Internet location.
Haiku Deck An easy way (simple enough for 2nd and 3rd graders) to present information, stories, reports with words and pictures, on iPads or the web. Once the “deck” is complete, it can be shared via social media, email or embed.
Hemingway App Hemingway is an app (though they're testing a desktop tool) that analyzes a student's writing and identifies complex sentences and common errors (adverbs, complicated phrases, passive voice). This makes it easy for a student to recognize and fix writing mistakes. All students have to do is paste their writing into a box on the start-up screen, push “edit” and the program does the rest. It even identifies what grade level the writing is most closely associated to. No account necessary
Smore An easy way to make simply gorgeous posters in a short amount of time that look professional. Use Smore's designer templates, plug in your text and pictures (links too) and Smore does the rest. It's free for educators, with a fee for others.
Storyjumper Build a story including text, backgrounds, photos, props (props are the fun stuff that accompanies a story), then save it to a free account. The story can even be published as a hardcover. Great for grades 1-2.
Sumdog Fun math, reading, and writing games that adapt to student learning level for grades K-8. Teachers can create class accounts, individualized for each student, with data on student progress. It's aligned with Common Core and free to a point.
Teach Your Monster to Read Free games that students use to practice reading. Based on anecdotal feedback from colleagues, students love this program and will often select it over other options. Best suited for kindergarten-1st graders.
Those are my current top seven websites. I know within a few weeks, I'll have more so check back with me often!
If you've used any of these seven tools, I'd love to hear your thoughts on them. How do they work in your classroom?