Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2015

aasl best website logoThe 2015 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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TouchCast is an entirely new way to experience video. Embed web links, documents, pictures and more into video presentations. Make video completely interactive. Touchcast offers templates and easy to use options. Users can create content online or use the Touchcast App for a full hands-on experience. Create and show videos on the Touchcast site, or opt to share via Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Grades: 6-12

Tip: Create a fully interactive tour for new students being introduced to your library.

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Pear Deck 
Live presentation and slides from the teacher to the students in the classroom. Students can respond to pre-planned or impromptu questions from the teacher or librarian. Question types are only limited by your imagination. Draw it out, ask in a multiple choice format, or take it further if you wish. Students can respond anonymously or with their names, in real time in the classroom. Gain reports, map out responses, and show the class their answers. Great interactive fun. Grades: 3-12. 

Tip: Use problem based learning styles to take students through a research model in the library.

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Apps Bar 
Apps Bar is a place to build your free mobile apps. Looking for the perfect app? Can’t find it? Build it. With video tutorials and a free, easy to use space students, educators, and librarians can learn how to create apps for a myriad of purposes. Apps can be created for different operating systems including Android, Apple, and Windows. Grades: 8-12

Tip: What type of app would best support the needs of your library? Have the students build that app. 

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Soundtrap provides a place for your students and you to create music online quickly and easily. Users can plug in their own instruments, use the instruments provided on Soundtrap, or record a song directly using an external microphone. This online tool works with multiple devices and system platforms. Create by yourself or start creating and collaborate with friends. When finished users can publish their work on Facebook, Twitter, or on Soundtrap. Publishing to iTunes is also available for a fee. Grades: 8-12

Tip: Have students compete in a Welcome to Your Library Song Competition and have then load songs into Soundtrap.

Digital Storytelling

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Storyboard That 
Storyboard That is a storyboarding tool that offers templates for students to create stories. This site offers scenes, characters, text bubbles, and much more to fill the storyboard frames. Need to outline a story, plan out an idea in a fun way; break down or plan out, Storyboard is a great way to do just that. Grades: K-12

Tip: Have students create storyboards for their own stories in other AASL Best Websites winners like Zooburst or Storybird. 

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My Storybook 
My Storybook is a website and app where young people can create their own stories. Take a writing lesson, build your own storybook, keep and share your stories, it’s all here in My Storybook. No sign up necessary if you want to create a story. Just click Try Now and start creating. Sign up to save and share stories. Use drawings, text, scenes and more to create stories. A great, creative tool for digital storytelling. Grades: K-6 

Tip: Create first time stories collaboratively as a class before having students create their own stories individually. 

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Booktrack Classroom 
Booktrack Classroom creates an immersive reading experience which allows students to read with a movie-style soundtrack. Students can read booktracks already created or can create and publish their own Booktracks using books preloaded in Booktrack or by adding in their own stories. Student work will be published and visible for their peers to enjoy. Grades: 3rd-12th

Tip: Use Booktracks to bring life to a book and engage students into the story.

Manage & Organize

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Beyond Pad 
With an easy and efficient way to organize, structure, and keep track of notes your students and you will want to check out Beyond Pad. Part white board, part digital post it notes, this organization and management style site gives students and their educators another way to present notes, ideas, and information. Track, tag, and list information on each board to gain a better idea of content. Grades: 8-12

Tip: Aid students in going paperless and better organized with Beyond Pad. 

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Google Classroom 
Create a paperless classroom in which teachers can post assignments, receive student work, track missing work, and give feedback, all electronically. Teachers can upload and share Google files, other file types, or share links and can opt to automatically make a copy of a Google Document for each student. Work is organized automatically with Google folders for each assignment and for each student. A requirement is that all teachers and students must use Google Apps for Education accounts to participate. Grades: 6-12

Tip: Create a library classroom for library orientations and other library lessons

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Create your own game-show style boards with FlipQuiz. So much fun and the possibilities are endless for questions, test preparation, quiz or knowledge bowls and much more. Keep students engaged with this game style learning tool. Using FlipQuiz is so easy. Sign up for an account, create new boards on any topic desired, and then present to your class. Grades: 3rd-12th

Tip: Have an introductory library orientation quiz game to get students interested and engaged with their new library.

Social Networking & Communications

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Bookopolis is a social network and book discovery tool for young children. Think of this as similar to Shelfari or GoodReads for children. Teachers create a private class where their students earn points, write book reviews, and build personal reading communities. There are various tools for teachers to use to track reading progress. Grades: 2nd-8th

Tip: Use Bookopolis to practice opinion writing that students use to recommend titles to their classmates.

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DIY is an exciting space for kids to learn and share new skills online. Similar to a virtual scouting troop, kids can complete challenges and post their projects on the site to earn badges like Bike Mechanic, Darkness Engineer, and Instrument Maker. Student accounts are linked to an adult account so that parents and teachers can easily monitor their students' progress and posts. Grades: 3-12 

Tip: Ask students to complete challenges and post tutorials of the task. Creating tutorials is a great way to capture student interest and teaching others leads to deeper understanding.

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Put the internet to work for you with IFTTT (If This, Then That). Create recipes that connect two or more apps, websites, or products. Browse through curated recipes like Back to School, Outer Space, or Photo Enthusiast. IFTTT is a great way to jump start efficiency! Grades: 9 and Up 

Tip: Use IFTTT to create a log of every time the International Space Station passes over your classroom. Or better yet, set it to send you a notification when it's overhead!

Curriculum Collaboration

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Gooru is a free, educational search engine for online resources and lesson plans in science, math, social studies and language arts. Teachers and students can search for and curate collections of multimedia resources, digital textbooks, videos, handouts, games, and quizzes. Collect and gather information into “My Collections” and “My Classes” categories. Grades: K-12. 

Tip: You and your students can customize an existing collection or create your own “playlist of learning resources.”

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Molecular Workbench 
Molecular Workbench is a free, open source environment providing visual, interactive computational experiments for teaching and learning science. Even though there are many simulations ready for use in the classroom, teachers can also create simulations based on their specific curricular needs and share them with other teachers. Grades: 9-12. 

Tip: Have students browse through the Simulation Showcase or Library of Models for Science Fair project ideas.

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Hstry is a multimedia timeline creation tool that will work on your laptop, Chromebook, iPad or tablet. Students can interact and comment on peer timelines. Use a variety of media to highlight important biographical, historical, or literary events in chronological order. Add in video, images, audio, and text to the events these engaging timeline. Grades: 3-12 

Tip: Have your students create timelines as a project or review to check for understanding of their civil war unit. 

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Engineering is Elementary 
Engineering is Elementary uses children’s love for building things to engage them in real-world engineering design challenges. The hands-on projects integrate an elementary school science topic with a specific field of engineering. A searchable database is included. Projects combine science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to encourage problem-solving, inquiry, and innovation. Units include lesson plans, assessment tools, and a wealth of multimedia resources to assist teachers before and during the projects. Grades: 1-8 

Tip: Display finished engineering projects in the library, along with related books, to promote STEM topics and this great website to students and teachers.

Content Resources

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What Was There 
This innovative site adds the history to the place. Using Google Maps, this site explores the way places used to look. Students can search and explore their own personal history, that of relatives, or of an important place in class. What was There allows registered users to upload images of buildings and landmarks and have them displayed in the location where they were taken. Grades K-12 

Tip: Students can explore a historic place featured in literature or a class reading assignment. 

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Code is a non-profit educational foundation whose goal is that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn how to code. The first step in learning to code is to participate in the “Hour of Code,” where K-12 students and their teachers learn that coding can be fun. provides an integrated computer science curriculum as well as professional development opportunities for educators. Grades: K-12.

Tip: Have your students make a game in the “Play Lab” or create intricate designs in “Artist.”

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BioDigital Human 
BioDigital Human moves learning beyond textbook diagrams and the life-sized skeleton in the corner of the science classroom! This tool is an interactive 3D environment providing a stunningly realistic way to examine the human body. Students can explore and manipulate the 3D images as they zoom in and out of the various layers of anatomical animations. Descriptions of health conditions related to each system of the human body are included. Grades: 7–12 

Tip: Use BioDigital in Science and Health and Wellness classes to discuss various health conditions related to students’ daily health choices.

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PhET is a collection of science and math interactive computer simulations. With over 200 million simulations delivered to date, students learn through exploration in an animated, game-like environment. PhET simulations encourage inquiry, use real-world connections and can be used in a variety of educational settings. Play with existing simulations or run simulations on this engaging, interactive site. Grades: 2-12.

Tip: Have your elementary students learn the principles of fractions with the “Fractions Intro” and 4 related simulations.

Gone but Not Forgotten

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

Answerables (Social Networking)

Tackk (Media Sharing)

BeenPod (Social Networking)
Knowmia (Curriculum Collaboration

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