Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2009

2009 Best Lists MedalThe "Top 25" Web sites foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration. They are free, Web-based sites that are user friendly and encourage a community of learners to explore and discover.   


Organizing and Managing    

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner

  • 2.1.2 - Organize knowledge so that it is useful.
  • 2.1.4 - Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.
  • 3.1.4 - Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use and assess.

Diigo  external link icon

Need help in organizing your favorite websites? Diigo is a social bookmarking site that allows users to save websites, as well as tag them, add sticky notes and annotations, and share them with other users in various groups.

Tip: Sticky notes are an effective way to start a virtual conversation among teams of students on the merits of a website.

Google Reader (Site Closed)

Overwhelmed with all the information on the Internet? Google Reader is a tool for gathering, reading, and sharing all the relevant blogs and websites you read on the web.  This easy-to-use tool constantly checks sites (blogs, news sites, and webpages) that have been selected by you, scans them for updates and new content, and then organizes them in the Reader for easy access. Reader is a great organization tool to keep current with educational trends, research and news!

Tip: This is a great organizational tool for students to keep current on their research topics.

Simply Box  (Site Closed)

If you’re a visual learner, then this is the tool for you! Simply Box is a tool that allows users to capture, share, and organize anything found on the web into an unlimited number of "boxes" and then share with friends, groups, students, or the world. However, rather than saving lists of bookmarks, it allows users to capture just a part of a webpage, whether it’s a headline, a paragraph, a photo, or a video. Items can be saved and organized.

Tip: As students collaborate on projects, this tool makes it easy to organize, cite and keep track of the individual resources culled from various websites.

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Content Collaboration    

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner

  • 1.3.4 - Contribute to the exchange of ideas within a learning community.
  • 3.1.2 - Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.
  • 3.1.4 - Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use and assess.

Mindmeister  external link icon

Be creative -- think maps! Mindmeister and Bubbl.us are both online mapping tools:  Mindmeister is better for middle and high school students, while Bubbl.us is for younger students. Both websites allow users to think visually, collaborate, and share ideas through concept maps.

Tip: Effective tools for teams of students to collaboratively brainstorm what they know about a subject and what questions they want to research.

Polleverywhere  external link icon

If you want to get learners’ attention, then ask a provocative question. Poll Everywhere is a voting platform that can be used in classrooms and libraries to gather answers to a particular question. Participants vote by sending a text message via their cell phones or by voting on the web.

Tip: Use this survey tool to involve and connect students to complex issues.

Wikispaces  external link icon

This is the quintessential collaborative tool! This easy-to-use website allows anyone to write, edit and share content, depending on the permissions granted by the wiki owner.

Tip: Students can use a wiki as a research journal, documenting their progress from beginning questions to finished products, as they receive feedback directly on the wiki from their classroom teacher and librarian.

Zoho  external link icon

Zoho offers an all-in-one online collaborative package; it provides online tools from mail and presentations to notebooks and wikis, with many tools in between.

Tip: Students can share their work and presentations on the web for fellow students, parents, administrators, and educators to view. 

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Curriculum Sharing    

Guidelines for School Library Programs: Instructional Partner
"The SLMS collaborates with classroom teachers to develop assignments that are matched to academic standards and include critical thinking skills, technology and information literacy skills, and core social skills and cultural competencies. The SLMS guides instructional design by working with the classroom teacher to establish learning objectives and goals, and by implementing assessment strategies before, during and after assigned units of study."

Curriki  external link icon

Seeking new teaching strategies? If you’ve got an old lesson that you want to breathe new life into, Curriki can help. It is a free member website where educators share ideas and hear from others in the profession.

Tip: If you have a lesson that you love to teach with your students, share it with others. Everyone can be successful if we all help each other to be better teachers.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills  external link icon

What skills will our students need to be successful in the 21st century? Partnership for the 21st Century offers educators information, resources, and tools to understand, identify and integrate the 21st century skills of creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving skills and communication and collaboration skills.

Tip: Here’s a great resource to help educators learn how to integrate 21st Century Skills into the curriculum.

Primary Access  external link icon

Capture your students' imagination with movie narratives based on primary sources. Primary Access is an online tool that allows students and teachers to combine text, visual, and sound elements, which are then combined to convey information about their chosen historical event or time frame. A library of Primary Access movies is available through a catalog by historical time period.

Tip: Encourage active learning: have students choose a historical event or time frame to research and synthesize their information through a Primary Access movie.

SOS for Information Literacy  external link icon

Learn how to effectively incorporate information literacy into your lesson plans. S.O.S. for Information Literacy is a dynamic, collaborative web-based multimedia resource for educators, K to 16. This site links lesson plans and teaching ideas for information literacy through a comprehensive quality control system to ensure that lessons are high caliber.

Tip: Create an account and build your own lessons or activities. 

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Media Sharing    

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner

  • 2.1.4 - Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and und understanding in ways that others can view, use and assess.
  • 3.3.4 - Create products that apply to authentic, real-world context
  • 4.1.8 - Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning

Animoto  external link icon

Create a video in five minutes – no kidding! Using Animoto, educators and students can create videos that contain photos, graphics, music, text and more! It is only limited by your imagination.

Tip: A great resource for visual learners! Instead of the typical book report, challenge your students to create a dynamic Animoto to capture the essence of their favorite books.

Our Story  external link icon

Create your story! Our Story permits users to develop and save collaborative timelines that can be personalized with annotations, photos, and videos. Stories (timelines) can be printed in book format, archived on DVD, or even sent as postcards.

Tip: Teach your students to develop content-specific timelines that are linked to the teaching of research and information literacy skills.

Teacher Tube  external link icon

What could be better? You Tube – just for teachers and students! Teacher Tube offers videos solely for the field of education. Videos are created by teachers and students to be shared with other teachers and students.

Tip: A great way to have students share their work with parents and for teachers to share with other teachers, peers, and administrators, both on-campus and off.

VoiceThread  external link icon

The end of the boring slide show! VoiceThread allows users to share images, documents, and videos with added narration by the authors and others.

Tip: Bring oral history to life in the classroom, as students narrate a series of images that relate to the skills and ideas they have learned in a particular lesson.

Wordle  external link icon

Do you like to play with words or create visual poems? A "Wordle" enables you to create a word "cloud," visually depicting the relationship between words based on their frequency of use. You can tweak your word "clouds" with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.

Tip: Teach students to create a Wordle to express their reading interests or their favorite book.

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Virtual Environments    

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner

  • 2.1.5 - Collaborate with others to exchange ideas, develop new understandings, make decisions, and solve problems.
  • 3.1.2 - Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners
  • 4.3.1 - Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.

RezED  external link icon

Learn about virtual worlds in a safe, supportive environment with other educators. RezED is the hub for learning about virtual worlds, providing practitioners with access to the highest quality resources and research in the field.

Tip: Check out RezEd’s monthly podcasts, online webinars, virtual chats, and discussion groups. 

Second Life  external link icon

Create an avatar and join other educators in Second Life to explore virtual reality, a world where you, the user, can participate in professional development, meet colleagues to explore and discover and create new understandings about learning in virtual worlds.

Tip: Meet with people from all over the world without having to leave your classroom , library, or home office.

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Social Networking and Communication    

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner

  • 3.1.2 - Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners
  • 4.1.7 - Use social networks and information tools to gather and share information
  • 4.3.1 - Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.

Classroom 2.0  external link icon

Do you find it difficult to keep up with the latest Web 2.0. technologies? Join Classroom 2.0 Ning, a social network for educators who are using or want to use Web 2.0 in their libraries and classrooms.

Tip: Look at the Classroom 2.0 weekly webinars, featuring leading Web 2.0 educators  - a great way to learn for both the novice and experienced educator.

Edublogs  external link icon

Do you want to blog? Edublogs, created especially for educators, is a resource where teachers and librarians can create their own blogs with templates and help from other educators.

Tip: Blogging is a good strategy to help students develop their own voices in writing.

Facebook  external link icon

Facebook is a popular social networking site that allows users to share with friends and colleagues. The key is sharing information and Facebook allows you to set personal and professional limits on the information you share.

Tip: Use Facebook to engage students and support the curriculum: a team of students are challenged to create a Facebook page for Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Good Reads  external link icon

A social network for book lovers! Members can keep track of the books they have read, make recommendations to others, vote on book lists that are posted, see what their friends are reading and recommending, and form book groups.

Tip: Teachers can develop a reading group for their students where discussions can develop, suggestions for new material can be found and lovers of particular genres can find each other.

Ning  external link icon

Create your own social network for your classroom, your school group or your library. Share your ideas, pictures, and plans. Choose the features, a forum, a blog, members' pages, RSS feeds - whatever you would like to share and collaborate and control the membership.

Tip: Classroom or library nings give students opportunities to learn how to effectively and safely be members of an online social network.

Skype  external link icon

Can you hear me? Skype is a basic and easy-to-use service that offers free voice, video calls, conference calls, instant messaging and group instant messaging. Download the software; connect to the Internet and you're good to go.

Tip: Invite an author or a content expert to Skype with your students.

Twitter  external link icon

What are you doing? Twitter, a website for communication among friends and colleagues, is based on this question. Everyone who is connected to your account can know what you are doing at anytime, just send a "tweet."  This is a way for everyone to keep track of everyone else.

Tip: Students working in research teams, designate secretaries to keep the instructor and librarian up to date on how the group is doing throughout the project.

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