Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2014

best website iconThe 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Recite 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 to share with their peers as the year comes to a close.

Manage & Organize

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

Curriculum Collaboration

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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.

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EduCanon (now PlayPosit) 
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

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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.

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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.

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Don’t assume that 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.

Gone but Not Forgotten

The following sites have closed, reorganized, or become pay-based since being recognized as an AASL Best Website:

Gibbon (Manage & Organize)

Mixed Ink (Curriculum Sharing)

Figment (Digital Storytelling)

Glossi (Digital Storytelling)

Metta (Digital Storytelling)

Meograph (Digital Storytelling)

Haiku Deck (Media Sharing)

TodaysMeet (Social Networking & Communications)

Storify (Social Networking & Communications)

Stoodle (Curriculum Collaboration)

WhyFiles (Content Resources)

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