The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
SOS for Information Literacy
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Gone but Not Forgotten
The following sites have closed, reorganized, or become pay-based since being recognized as an AASL Best Website:
Simply Box (Organizing & Managing)
Zoho (Content Collaboration)
Our Story (Media Sharing)
RezED (Virtual Environments)
Ning (Social Networking & Communications)