Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2014

The 2014 Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 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. 

Media Sharing

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner

  • 3.1.4 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.

PowToon 
This site allows for the creation of web-based presentations that include animated videos and amazing content. Powtoon is ideal for those seeking a nice alternative to more traditional presentation tools. Simple to use, it makes creating engaging, interesting, and exciting animated videos extremely easy. Users can create and show presentations straight from the Powtoon site, or opt for the export to Youtube option, or even download a MP4 video format for use offline. Grades: K-12

Tip: Create a Powtoon video introducing parents to your school’s library.

VideoNotes 
Allows students to view YouTube, Coursera, Khan Academy, Udacity, edX, and Vimeo videos and take notes as they watch. The notes are automatically synchronized with a position in the film, allowing them to jump back to that film position later. The video/notes file automatically saves to Google Drive and can then be shared for viewing or collaborative notetaking. Other features include playing the video at faster or slower speeds, inserting snapshots from the film in the notes, and incorporating more than one video into a note file. Grades 6-12.

Tip: Use this for flipped classroom video assignments, having students take notes as they watch, and share the notes with the instructor to demonstrate completion of the assigned material.

Thinglink 
Make your images completely interactive by adding links, videos, text, and more with your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Add your own picture and embed information or pull images from other sites (with permission) and add facts to those. Take a regular digital image and make it come alive! Grades 6-12.

Tip: Have students create a class museum where they create the art; digitally enhancing each image with information and links using Thinglink.

Haiku Deck 
Haiku Deck started as an app and is now a website that makes presentations simple, beautiful, and fun. Users have access to over 35 million free images and six free themes. Share work online or download final work as a Power Point or PDF for offline presenting. Haiku Deck’s simple interface reinforces more “zen-like” presentations, encouraging more use of visuals than text in basic presentation templates. Grades 4-12.

Tip: Use Haiku Deck as a Power Point alternative when creating your next professional development presentation.

Canva 
Create dynamic flyers, presentations, banners, infographics, graphics for social media, and other designs incorporating vibrant stock backgrounds, photos, graphics, and fonts, as well as images you upload. Publish completed projects as PDFs or PNGs, or share to Facebook and Twitter. The site includes helpful short how-to and design tip tutorials. Grades 6-12.

Tip: Have students work in pairs creating infographics as assessments. Also, have them create flyers promoting extra-curricular activities or posters promoting a book.

Digital Storytelling

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner

  • 4.1.8 Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning.

  • 4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.

Glossi  (Site now known as Slipp)
Glossi is a powerful digital media publishing tool. Add links, images, PDF files, animations, videos and audio files. Mix and remix to create a range of digital publications such as magazines, brochures, rich and interactive research presentations, even a digital book fair! Share these creations by embedding them in websites and across social media platforms. At a price point, Glossi can also be used as a fundraising tool, allowing viewers to shop for items listed. Grades 6-12.

Tip: Have your class come together to create their own magazine and then share with peers.

Recite This 
Recite This is where you can go to "Turn a Quote into a Masterpiece." Pick a quote from literature, a movie, a mentor, teacher, or create of your own, choose a template, and voila, you have created a gorgeous quote with Recite This. A wonderful resource for bulletin boards, classroom walls, door decorating contests, Power Point and other online based presentation tools. Grades K-12.

Tip: Before exams, or end of grade tests, have students create a stress wall, or a lift up your peer wall, have each student create quotes and post them through Recite This to share with their peers as the year comes to a close.

Meograph 
Meograph, a multimedia storytelling tool, allows users to pull video and photos from the web, from social media, cloud-based storage, the computer's hard drive or webcam. Easily add narration and music then embed or share. A powerful tool for creating pathfinders that include a variety of resources, both print and non-print. Grades K-12.

Tip: Consider having students use Meograph to collect and share family histories or cultural stories.

Metta 
Metta is a media storytelling tool for both students and teachers! This tool allows one to create or tell stories using YouTube and other types of videos, creating presentations for teaching and learning. Polls and quizzes can be embedded for more student participation and interaction. Create flipped or blended lessons for digital learning in groups. See results for polls and quizzes in an easy-to-use platform. Combine videos, text, quizzes or polls, add your voice, and tantalize your students' interests. Basic application is free. Grades 4-12.

Tip: Poll your students on library introduction information with Metta!

Figment 
Figment is more than an app or a tool. Figment is a community of readers and writers, creators and artists, using the internet to share ideas and stories. In Figment, one can search for particular types of texts/writing, by genre or by tags. Check out Figment's library or spotlight books, or join a group based on interests. There are forums for networking, sharing ideas and opinions, and troubleshooting. Keep up to date on the Daily Fig for contests, polls, and quizzes. Get feedback and share your talents! Grades 4-12.

Tip: Use Figment with your next summer reading group.

Manage & Organize

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.

Droptask 
DropTask is a task management tool that provides a colorful visual of the user’s task at hand that resembles a Venn Diagram. The free version allows collaboration between two people on 5 projects. Collaborators can upload files, assign tasks, track progress, and communicate with one another. After creating the needed steps and due dates of the project, each collaborator marks completed tasks and task progress can be tracked through the activity view and notification system. Dragging and dropping sub-tasks in to the original project tasks can further delineate needed project steps. Grades 6-12.

Tip: Use Droptask to manage groups for after school projects.

Gibbon 
Gibbon is a community of people who collect and share information about the web in easy to use playlists for learning. Think Spotify, Pandora, or Netflix but with websites, videos, and other links for education. Create and title lists of links and information for your students, parents, administrators, or peer educators, and share. A great tool for getting information out in a fun, systematic way. Grades 6-12.

Tip: Create a Gibbon Playlist with all of the AASL Best Websites of 2014 and share with your teachers and administrators.

Kaizena 
Kaizena is a quick and easy tool that offers users the ability to embed voice comments, text comments, and links to student work. Instructors or peers simply highlight the text they want to comment on and then click to embed comments or links. A great resource for giving feedback in a variety of formats. Kaizena syncs with Google Drive for easy access to documents in that format but users can sign up without Google Drive as well. Grades 6-12.

Tip: Have students submit poems for National Poetry Month in April and give librarian, teacher, and peer feedback using Kaizena. 

Social Networking & Communications

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.

Pearl Trees 
Pearltrees is a website and app where users can collaborate and visually share their interests. Those who use Pearltrees can organize web pages, files, photos, notes, and much more and when done can share them easily with others. This easy to use site makes digital curation a breeze. Looking for a site to gather multiple tools for a grade level, subject, topic, or standard of learning, then Pearltrees is a great choice. Grades 6-12.

Tip: Choose and gather favorite digital storytelling tools in Pearltrees and link this curated resource on your school's library webpage for your students and teachers.

Kahoot 
Kahoot is a classroom student response system that is completely device agnostic. Whether they are using laptops, iPads, Chromebooks, Google Tablets, various smartphones or more if students can access the internet they can respond to all of the information provided via Kahoot. Using a simple drag and drop feature instructors can create quizzes, discussion, or surveys (which they call Kahoots) all of which can be embedded with images, text, video and more. Grades K-12.

Tip: Have a library game show where students answer questions about the library as an introduction to the space using their devices to respond.

TodaysMeet 
TodaysMeet is a back channel for questions, comments, and feedback in any class, presentation, workshop, or convention. Users don't have to sign up, nor do they have to be members of any type of social media, they simply go to the room that you have set up for your meeting to make comments. Hook your computer or tablet up to a projector and view comments from Today's Meet as they are coming in during presentations. This site is completely device agnostic, as long as there is internet connectivity of wi fi, Today's Meet can be used with any laptop, smartphone, tablet, or other handheld device. Grades 4-12.

Tip: During an language arts class have TodaysMeet going for students to determine characters for class wide story writing projects.

Storify 
Storify wants users to make the web tell a story. This site opens the opportunity to take our favorite social media and build stories. Find posts, tweets, links, articles, blogs, and more to create a story all your own. Not only can we share our own stories but read social media stories created by others from all over the world. See how events and issues are being reported and displayed through the eyes of many. Grades 6-12.

Tip: For social studies class choose an event in history past or present and create social stories using Storify.

Curriculum 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.

  • 4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.

Alchemy Learning 
Create awesome digital lessons for your flipped, face to face, or online classrooms with Alchemy Learning. This site provides the means for users to create Smart Binders where instructors and librarians can create digital lessons. Lessons can contain links, images, embedded, or downloadable material. Students will see and be able to engage with content, answer questions, and more through every type of device from smartphones to laptops. Grades 4-12

Tip: Create a library lesson discussing new maker space ideas and creations before students come in to create in your Maker Lab or with the 3D printer.

Stoodle 
Looking for a real time collaborative white board with unlimited pages? Then Stoodle is the site for you! Communicate with other teachers and librarians via video conferencing and text chat, use Stoodle Boards for brain storming and come back to the boards later to peruse your ideas. Create boards in class with students and keep them to show other classes or build on throughout the day. Upload images, work with others, build study guides, provide feedback and more. Grades K-12.

Tip: For math class have a class wide project of how to create a functioning set of tools for a classroom or school tool box, then design and make them on your school's 3D printer.

MixedInk 
Mixed Ink is a collaborative writing platform where students, teachers, administrators, or librarians can work together to put great ideas and language together into one text. Authorship is tracked by color, so everyone knows who wrote each piece. Editors and writers can give each other real time comments and suggestions. Mixed Ink allows for an unlimited number of users to edit, write, and create at once. Grades 4-12.

Tip: Have students create a fantasy story together for language arts class, either in the classroom or outside of class.

EduCanon 
This site supports flipped instruction by allowing teachers to embed multiple-choice questions into YouTube, TeacherTube, or Vimeo videos. Videos can also be chopped so students view a portion of a film. Student viewing mode also prevents students from fast-forwarding, to assure they watch the entire assignment. These videos can then be assigned to student classes and given due dates which the teacher monitors for accuracy and completion, or simply linked to or embedded in a website for public viewing. Premium accounts also offer a gradebook export, free response question types, and the ability to search for and use lessons created by other users. Grades 3-12.

Tip: Use this for flipped classroom assignments or independent work during class, having students respond to questions as they watch.

Content Resources

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner

  • 2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.

  • 2.4.4 Develop directions for future investigations.

  • 3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.

Remix-T 
Remix-T is a site created to aid teachers in developing engaging activities that incorporate images, video, and sound. Take a look at the project gallery to get ideas and then browse the tool collection. Explore media resources, learn about media design, and consider the amount of time and skill required for a project. When educators and librarians are ready to build an assignment, the site helps articulate goals, develop a rubric, and create a list of deliverables. Grades 4-12 and Up.

Tip: Create an assignment where students their create their own Public Service Announcement (PSA) using the tools presented in the Project Gallery.

Media History Digital Library 
The Media History Digital Library is a collection of resources providing online access to the history of movies, broadcasting, and sound recording. The Magazine Collections currently have over 800,000 scanned pages with more pages being added frequently. Users may read material online, download the PDF, or visit the Internet Archive page to find cataloging information and additional download options. For students and history fans alike, this amazing resource will provide a glimpse into the early years of movies, radio and television broadcasting. Grades 7-12.

Tip: Have students look at the Year Book "Booking Guides", documenting which films exhibitors selected for their theaters and examining persuasive advertisements from industry suppliers, vendors, producers, stars and directors.

Why Files 
Created at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the auspices of the National Institute for Science Education, the Why Files web site provides scientific information to explain and expand on current news stories. This witty web site updates weekly and provides a searchable archive of stories and articles. A list of National Science Education standards that link to support Why Files articles is included. Additional classroom activities are offered that can be used with an entire class or for extra credit. There is enough intriguing information, as well as cool science images, to entice older students to explore the site on their own. Grades 5-12.

Tip: This site provides an easy way for social studies and science teachers to collaborate on classroom activities focusing on current events and the science behind the news.

Vocabulary 
Don’t assume that Vocabulary.com is just another digital flashcard site. This innovative site uses an adaptive learning system to help users learn the most essential English words needed in academic and business environments. Users quickly begin building their vocabulary knowledge as the adaptive learning system questions, reviews, and leads users to word mastery. Fun example sentences and responses “with an attitude” help keep the users’ attention, along with the level and achievement badges that can be earned. Leaderboards keep track of top achieving students and schools, creating a challenging game-like environment. Customized vocabulary lists can be added and grouped by categories, such as literature, historical documents, and speeches. Grades: 3-12.

Tip: With teacher guidance in a computer lab setting and the site’s “learning hints,” ESL students can learn the context and meaning of new words while keeping track of their progress using the My Progress tab.

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