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.
Gamestar Mechanic is an interactive site that leads users through the game design experience. This site teaches the principals of game design and systems thinking in a highly engaging environment that allows users to share games with other community members. Tip: Use as part of a STEM initiative, Gamestar Mechanic has a teacher's page with useful lesson plans.
Do more than watch a video: discuss, question, and comment. Vialogues puts the “think and do” into video watching. Vialogues allows you to post a video and then invite participants to answer questions, discuss or just comment. This asynchronous tool can be used for private or public interactions. Tip: Use this tool with media literacy lessons.
Popplet delivers an interactive way to create concept maps, mind maps, and options to brainstorm or storyboard right along with peers. The “popplets” can be constructed, moved, color coded, typed in, drawn in, and have images or videos inserted. Popplet is a nice addition to the teacher toolbox that can meet a variety of needs, including concept mapping, collaboration, and even presenting content. TIP: Have students make a genre presentation by taking a series of books and working collaboratively to make various connections to booktrailers, images, and more.
What story do you wish to tell? The Ghost Who Made Friends with the Genie or how about The Fox Who Wanted a Cupcake? My Storymaker is the perfect storytelling environment for confident and reluctant writers to tell these stories and hundreds more. As you control a character’s actions, emotions, and interactions, the program writes the story. Tip: Use with kids who feel unsuccessful and frustrated during creative writing activities.
This interactive digital graphic novel is set in the early years of the 21st century. It tells the story of Alice through text, sound, games, and music. The story is wonderful and the design in fabulous, readers will love it. Students will enjoy this story in five parts, librarians and teachers will like the education pack as well. Tip: Use with a digital projector for group reading activities.
Just what every educator needs, a quick and simple cool tool! Quicklyst does more than let student take notes or make lists. Students can organize, save and search their notes with just a username and password. Registration is not needed. This easy to use site connects to Wikipedia and Merriam Webster. Download, print or send notes to a Kindle. Tip: Have students use the organization capabilities as a pre-writing tool before they create their research projects.
SpiderScribe is the visual learner’s ideal tool. Collect a series of files including documents, pictures, maps and more, and create a concept map based on the collection. Lay them out for optimal visualization. Share them. Even collaborate to build them. Be it text, images, files, or events. Tip: Take your annual book award nominees, and collect a variety of files that match each title (including images, maps, etc.) Build the connections to these files from each book.
|Remember the Milk
This site is a powerful, user-friendly tool for creating to-do lists and task management. The full-featured mobile version allows you to manage your lists and tasks anytime. Reminder methods let you receive notices of upcoming tasks via email, SMS, and instant messenger. To-do lists and tasks can also be shared with others who use the site. Tip: Use the site to work with others on a collaborative project to organize everyone’s tasks and to help the group meet deadlines.
This web site supports the use of cell phones in the classroom by providing a controlled, secure environment for users. Students join teacher-created “cells” where phone numbers are kept private. Teachers can moderate all comments to make sure they are on-topic and appropriate for the group. Tip: After students text comments about a reading assignment, teachers can review the comments and display them using a projection device at the beginning of class the next day to stimulate discussion.
Collaborize Classroom is an online education platform allowing students and teachers to participate in a collaborative learning environment. It is designed to extend classroom instruction by engaging students in online activities, assignments, and discussion.Tip: Search the Library by subject or grade level to download peer-reviewed topic-based lessons shared by teachers from all around the world.
StudyLadder, geared for elementary and junior high/middle grades, lends itself to being an interesting, ready to use stock of activities to reinforce many content standards from a wide range of curricula. Many of the activities offer a game-like feeling, while building conceptual understanding. The site is also supportive of the flipped classroom concept, and a variety of different user account options are available, including parent accounts. Tip: Set up a station with a white board at a parent open house that showcases this site as something parents can use at home, too.
Imagine creating one large photo album for the entire human population. Historypin brings together stories, photographs and links memories from around the world. Clean out your attic of those dusty photos and pin them on a worldwide map, explore pictures posted by others, create collections, discuss history, and capture and share the world's moments. Tip: Introduce History Pin to your social studies and history teachers and collaborate to have students map out the story and histories of their family.
|Learn it in 5
Learn It in 5 is for professionals, students, and parents who want to increase their Web 2.0 skills. A series of videos, all 5 minutes or less, guide users through lessons of their choice. Users can search for specific topics or browse to discover new techniques. Tip: Include videos in your weekly newsletter.
ARKive gathers together films, photographs, and audio recordings of the world’s species to establish a comprehensive multimedia digital collection of profiles of species either rare or threatened with extinction. Tip: Incorporate these materials into lesson plans, presentations, work sheets, projects in hard copy or digitally to engage students in key science and biology topics, or use as creative inspiration for art and design projects.
Educators can “find and create learning activities with primary source documents that promote historical thinking skills.” Use the more than 3000 original documents from the National Archives to create rich, online learning experiences for students.Tip: Use the interactive learning activity tools to help students “think like historians.”
Over 1,000 online video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses are housed in this website maintained by the University of Southern California's Shoah Foundation Institute, established in 1994 by Steven Spielberg. Students can be involved with the videos, teachers will enjoy the educational materials. Tip: Link videos for social studies and language arts classes.
|How to Smile
How to Smile is an online community of educators that have vetted over 3,000 engaging hands-on, interactive STEM activities. With both desktop and mobile capabilities, How to Smile is full of activities that are both physical and virtual that are sure to get students involved. Tip: Use How to Smile's search by chemical directory to find activities for any type of experiment.
Use Study Blue to study millions of flash cards and online quizzes or if you cant find what you are looking for, create your own. Available in mobile formats as well. Study Blue is a powerful tool. Tip: Use Study Blue to practice language skills when learning new words.
|NASA Kids Club
It is time to engage your senses in outer space. Join the NASA Kids Club and take off into a universe of STEM activities that engage and inspire teaching and learning. Join the Discovery Crew with Buzz Lightyear, visit NASA with Elmo, explore outer space with Nebula, and follow those Angry Birds into another universe. NASA Kids Club guarantees an out-of-this-world experience. Tip: Use with a digital projector and full classes can get involved.
Gone but Not Forgotten
The following sites have closed, reorganized, or become pay-based since being recognized as an AASL Best Website:
Springnote (Curriculum Collaboration
Wiggio (Social Networking & Communication)
Projeqt (Media Sharing)