TeachersFirst Edge

New web 2.0 tools appear each day. Many of these tools were not originally intended for classroom use, but they can be powerful learning tools for today's techno-savvy students and their more adventurous teachers. These sites appear (and frequently disappear) very quickly, launched by creative techno-geeks out there in the world.

Many of these tools require a higher-than-average set of teacher tech skills or some extra monitoring to assure student "safety." TeachersFirst Edge reviews these "tools on the Edge" carefully, and with specific ideas for using them safely and effectively in teaching and learning. Reviews point out any safety or policy concerns for the tool and offer links to management tips for each concern.

Especially popular is this subset of the Edge: BYOD Dream Tools: Free tools that work on any device. Look for the device agnostic tool tag in any review.

This is the world your students already know. Try teaching in their vernacular. A little adventurousness makes for powerful learning.

See General Tips for using Edge Tools - a must for first-time users

Browse the full listing of detailed safety/school policy tips or save time by reading them as needed from each tool review.

Learn about school web filtering, a critical issue with many "Edge" tools

If you try one of these tools and find it especially useful, be sure to leave a comment on it to share your students' successes with other teachers. If you know of another tool that teachers would find beneficial, please suggest it via our webmaster account, as a "suggested resource."

Here's the Edge:

 

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The Urlist - Burke Holland and Cecil Phillip

Grades
K to 12
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Do you need to share a group of URLs? The Urlist makes it easy to create and share a list of URLs without having to share each one individually. Copy ...more
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Do you need to share a group of URLs? The Urlist makes it easy to create and share a list of URLs without having to share each one individually. Copy and paste each link, then share the URL created, no need to even register! As you build your list, use drag and drop features to re-order items. When finished, give your list a name and description and publish it. Once published, copy the URL from your browser to share by email or however you usually share links. Create a free account if desired to save, manage, and edit your lists.

In the Classroom

Bookmark The Urlist to use whenever you want to share a group of links. For example, gather all of your online resources for any unit into one list for your personal use or to share with students on your class website for easy access at all times. Create an account at the site to keep track of your bookmark lists and edit as needed. Ask students to use this site when doing research projects and ask them to include their URL list as part of the final project.

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TWiki - Peter Theony

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K to 12
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TWiki is an open-source application for creating and using wikis. Easily add and share information without any coding or programming skills. Think of it as an easily editable page....more
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TWiki is an open-source application for creating and using wikis. Easily add and share information without any coding or programming skills. Think of it as an easily editable page. Download the application to create your wiki. Add text, links, and documents to your wiki pages. Additional features include the ability to view the history of any topic and receive email notifications of changes to any topic. Enhance your wiki with the site's available plugins including a calendar, chart visualizer, slide show module, and others.

In the Classroom

In language arts or history classrooms use a wiki to create a favorite historical figures page, have students share their favorite person from history along with supporting evidence. Use a wiki to set up a debate between students. For example, create a wiki and ask students to debate the use of homework in schools, the effect of social media on society, or year-round school vs. traditional school calendars. As your class builds and adds to the wiki, extend student learning by having small groups of students select a topic to research further. A nice feature of TWiki is that it allows you to set up collaborative groups where students can share information and ideas about their research. Culminate the research by having students use a multimedia creation tool like Sway, reviewed here, transforming classroom technology by sharing information including text, images, videos, and more. As a last step have the small groups load their Sway creation to their collaborative page on TWiki. For more ideas and information on how to use wikis, visit the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through for a detailed, step-by-step explanation and starter help, including dozens of ideas for ways to use a wiki in your classroom.

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Brush Ninja - Ben Gillbanks

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4 to 12
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Create animated gifs using Brush Ninja's paint tools and online editor. Use the paintbrushes to draw and color each frame. The toolbox contains a variety of features, including pencils,...more
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Create animated gifs using Brush Ninja's paint tools and online editor. Use the paintbrushes to draw and color each frame. The toolbox contains a variety of features, including pencils, text, shapes, and more. Use the control panel to adjust and play the animation. The timeline allows you to see the frames making up an animation, then drag and drop any frame to change the order. When finished, export your gif as an image for each frame, animated gif, or as an animated gif adjusted for Twitter.

In the Classroom

Use Brush Ninja in a variety of ways. Share this site with students and give them time to explore and experiment. When working with troubled students, use this site to let students share their thoughts and emotions through an animation. This is an excellent site to use with students who love art and enjoy sharing their learning through creative expressions. Take a look at the images created by other users in the gallery as inspiration for how to use animations. Ask students to create animations demonstrating science concepts like erosion, weathering, or chemical reactions. Use this site to have students create animations demonstrating events from stories, share their thought process in math, or animate an event from history. Have students include their animations when creating multimedia projects in an online tool like Sway, reviewed here.

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Glide - David Siegel

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7 to 12
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Create apps from Google Sheets with Glide without writing code. Choose any of your Google Sheet documents, and import it into the app. Use the features to customize information, add...more
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Create apps from Google Sheets with Glide without writing code. Choose any of your Google Sheet documents, and import it into the app. Use the features to customize information, add icons, and more. Another option is to use Glide's templates to start creating apps for city guides, track learning goals, or a directory of members of an organization. When finished, share the URL for your app through the social media links provided, or copy and share the URL.

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the video tutorials to learn about how to create and customize apps with Glide. Consider sharing this tool with one or more of your tech-savvy students and let them become the expert at how to use the different features. Ask them to create screencasts using Awesome ScreenShot, reviewed here, to demonstrate how to begin creating an app, how to customize an app, or any other features of this tool. Use Glide as a unique teaching tool to engage and capture student interest in a variety of ways. For example, have students create a directory of characters found in a Shakespeare play and include pertinent information including their relationship to other characters, the character's important moments within the play, and more. Another example of how to use Glide is to create an app for students to use when working on long-term projects. Use the objectives template to set up goals and timelines for students to follow.

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WikkaWiki - Wikka Labs

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K to 12
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WikkaWiki is a wiki creation tool using PHP programming language and stores pages using MySQL. Install your wiki using the installation tool found on the site and upload to a ...more
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WikkaWiki is a wiki creation tool using PHP programming language and stores pages using MySQL. Install your wiki using the installation tool found on the site and upload to a directory that is web accessible. Features include a cross-browser compatible editor toolbar, page preview, and a variety of formatting options. WikkaWiki also contains a large variety of plugins including a calendar, feedback form, Google search form, and more. Be sure to visit the site's features page to view the entire list of tools and support for creating and maintaining a wiki with this program.

In the Classroom

Before implementing this site with your classroom, take some time to teach students how to edit and add information. Consider asking a group of students to learn about this site and teach others how to use the different features. Modify classroom technology use by asking them to create short explainer videos using My Simpleshow, reviewed here, and share them on your class website. Introduce wikis slowly into your classroom; start with asking each student to add a page to the wiki with a short biography. Once students become familiar with wikis, use your wiki for group brainstorming sessions, open-ended discussions such as preparing a list of questions for a class speaker or upcoming unit, post examples of excellent student work, or share information for student research projects. If you have not tried a wiki yet, visit the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through for a detailed, step-by-step explanation and starter help, including dozens of ideas for ways to use a wiki in your classroom.

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Proficonf Video Conferencing - Proficonf Ltd.

Grades
K to 12
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Do you need a safe online meeting site? Proficonf offers web-based conferencing without any downloads. Create your room, share the link, and begin your conference. After creating your...more
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Do you need a safe online meeting site? Proficonf offers web-based conferencing without any downloads. Create your room, share the link, and begin your conference. After creating your account, begin an event or schedule a time for a later meeting date. After allowing the site to access your camera and microphone, choose the link to share with invited participants. This site also includes a chat feature to turn on or off as desired. Other options allow screen sharing, an online whiteboard, and file uploads. Free accounts offer meeting times of up to 45 minutes with up to 25 participants.

In the Classroom

Use Proficonf to set up virtual parent/teacher conferences with participants located anywhere in the world. Online conferencing is especially useful when multiple teachers are involved or when parents may not reside in the same location. Share your screen as needed to provide information on assessments and student work. Enhance classroom technology by sharing this tool with students to use when collaborating on group projects. If using the chat feature, ask them to include their chat with the final project as part of their reflection on the learning process.

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DoluWiki - Andreas Gohr

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K to 12
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DokuWiki is an open-source wiki creator that doesn't require a database, making it simpler to use than some other wiki creation tools. Use DokuWiki to create collaborative workspaces...more
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DokuWiki is an open-source wiki creator that doesn't require a database, making it simpler to use than some other wiki creation tools. Use DokuWiki to create collaborative workspaces for any number of classroom uses. Some of the site's features include unlimited change revisions, a large variety of extensions for customization, options for sharing content in many different languages, and many templates and themes. Click the download button to build and install your wiki. Be sure to check out the site's features page to find links and information on how to create your wiki.

In the Classroom

In language arts or history classrooms use a wiki to create a favorite historical figures page, have students share their favorite person from history along with supporting evidence. Use a wiki to set up a debate between students. For example, create a wiki and ask students to debate the use of homework in schools, the effect of social media on society, or year-round school vs. traditional school calendars. As your class builds and adds to the wiki, ask students to select a topic to research further. Ask them to use a multimedia creation tool like Sway, reviewed here to transform classroom technology and share information including text, images, videos, and more. If you have not tried a wiki yet, visit the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through for a detailed, step-by-step explanation and starter help, including dozens of ideas for ways to use a wiki in your classroom.

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Notepad - MicroTheta

Grades
K to 12
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Notepad is an online note-taking application that saves automatically to your browser's local storage without creating an account. Select the "Create a Note" link to start and begin...more
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Notepad is an online note-taking application that saves automatically to your browser's local storage without creating an account. Select the "Create a Note" link to start and begin typing. Each note saves separately onto your Notepad account. Click any of your notes to return to them and edit; format information using the codes found under the question mark icon at the top of your screen.

In the Classroom

Use Notepad as a handy way to create lists and reminders and access on any device. Share with students who struggle with penmanship to use as an alternative to traditional notebooks for notetaking. Designate one class computer for students to use Notepad as a collaborative tool to share notes in one place.

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Google Drawings - Google

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K to 12
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Google Drawings is a collaborative drawing tool included with your Google Drive account. To find it, select "new", "more", then choose Google Drawings. Use the tools found on the site...more
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Google Drawings is a collaborative drawing tool included with your Google Drive account. To find it, select "new", "more", then choose Google Drawings. Use the tools found on the site to add shapes, lines, text, and more. Import images from your drive or save Creative Commons images for use. Use the share option to send the links to other users to edit (be sure that your settings allow users with the link to edit the document). To view the revision history for any drawing select "file" and "see the revision history." Images automatically save to your Google Drive and can be downloaded to your computer by saving in a variety of formats including jpg, pdf, and png. Use the publish option to create an embed code and embed into your website.

In the Classroom

Take advantage of this easy to use tool for a variety of classroom uses. Upload images and use the text tool to add digital annotations. Ask students to add digital annotations to images, for example, different landforms or to share as an assessment. Use the shape tool to create quick and easy timelines. This is perfect for use as a quick activity on your interactive timeline to help students understand the sequence of a story or a timeline of historic events. Create graphic organizers and mind maps easily by using the shapes tools, drawing lines, and adding text with links to additional information. When working on group projects, suggest students collaborate together to create and annotate images to include with a final multimedia presentation. Use Google Drawings to easily create infographics to share information on any topic.

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Mt. Cleverest - James Villarrubia and Bernie Prat

Grades
5 to 12
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Mt. Cleverest uses AI technology to create quizzes based on any content you provide. Use videos, lesson plans, websites, and more and provide the URL for use. Mt. Cleverest's artificial...more
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Mt. Cleverest uses AI technology to create quizzes based on any content you provide. Use videos, lesson plans, websites, and more and provide the URL for use. Mt. Cleverest's artificial intelligence (they call it Andi) takes your information and turns it into quiz questions ranked and ordered by real-world performance based on research. Order and choose items based on your needs, then assign to students. Students can take variations of the quiz as many times as necessary until they pass. Mt. Cleverest grades student responses and emails scores to you on your selected due date.

In the Classroom

Use Mt. Cleverest to create quizzes as pretests or final assessments. Use your documents stored in Google Drive or OneDrive to provide the URL for creating quizzes. Mt. Cleverest includes a search feature for finding previous quizzes, take advantage of this to add content for your classroom. Ask students to reflect on missed quiz questions and research the content further. Have them replace paper and pen and extend their learning by sharing their reflections on a simple webpage using Hashify, reviewed here. Hashify provides a simple tool for sharing texts and images without the distractions of multiple backgrounds and formatting options.

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ZoteroBib - Corporation for Digital Scholarship

Grades
6 to 12
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Do you need help with creating bibliographies? ZoteroBib is here to help. Add any URL, book, title, or another identifier to begin. Choose from over 9,300 different style options to...more
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Do you need help with creating bibliographies? ZoteroBib is here to help. Add any URL, book, title, or another identifier to begin. Choose from over 9,300 different style options to create a citation. ZoteroBib also includes an option for manual entry of information. When complete, copy the citation to your device's clipboard or generate a link to view online.

In the Classroom

Include this tool on all classroom computers and as a link on your class website for student use. This bibliography tool help students properly format their Works Cited pages. Use this tool to help keep your students (or even yourself) organized! Make sure you teach plagiarism lessons about paraphrasing and proper citation of sources, so students use this tool properly! As teachers, we need to be aware that such a tool exists, since savvy students may compile a "paper" without a logical thought pattern simply by clicking to include suggestions from ZoteroBib or other citation creation tools. The best strategy for such a tool is to show students how to use it well. Take the drudgery out of writing formal papers by emphasizing thinking over mechanics. Whether teaching beginning research or seniors in high school, introduce them to ZoteroBib. For younger students, seeing all the formatting and citing done correctly, from the beginning, makes sense whether it is the body of the writing or the bibliography. With either age group, give lessons about each part of a paper or letter. Demonstrate on an interactive whiteboard and think out loud as a group to pull together ideas, sources, quotes, and more to support an argument and build a paper. You can use it, too, when you write for your graduate program. Since you can choose from MLA, APA, or Chicago Style, you do not have to worry about memorizing punctuation and double checking the format.

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Grammar Lookup - Kamran Khan

Grades
K to 12
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Check text for grammar and punctuation mistakes using Grammar Lookup. Type or paste any text then choose the Lookup button to view highlighted errors. Click on highlighted areas to...more
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Check text for grammar and punctuation mistakes using Grammar Lookup. Type or paste any text then choose the Lookup button to view highlighted errors. Click on highlighted areas to see an explanation of the error, change and replace writing, or link to a further description of the grammar mistake.

In the Classroom

Include Grammar Lookup with other options for students to use when editing and revising work. Have students copy and paste writing projects into the text editor for a final check for spelling and grammar mistakes after making their last revisions. Continued use of this tool helps students correct writing on their own after seeing common errors in their writing. Never send out a newsletter or post to your web page with spelling or grammar errors again! Use Grammar Lookup to spell check and suggest corrections for any published writing projects. Reinforce learning by asking students to share before and after of written projects. Along with submitting a rough draft and final draft, ask students to take a screenshot of text copied into Grammar Lookup along with the highlighted errors. Insert this screenshot into the rough draft as an image using Google Docs or Microsoft Word. Modify learning and ask students to use their screenshot with highlighted errors to create a Thinglink image, reviewed here. Add text, image examples, and voice recordings to create a short presentation highlighting grammar mistakes and suggestions for corrections.
 

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Collabify - collabify.app

Grades
4 to 12
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Participate in an online meeting with one click using Collabify, no registration or download required. Click to begin your session, then share the URL with the other participant. Features...more
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Participate in an online meeting with one click using Collabify, no registration or download required. Click to begin your session, then share the URL with the other participant. Features include chat, webcam access, screen sharing, and file sharing. Using this site without registration allows you to participate in one-on-one meetings, register to invite up to four participants.

In the Classroom

Use Collabify to set up virtual parent/teacher conferences with participants located anywhere in the world. Collabify is especially useful when multiple teachers are involved or when parents may not reside in the same location. Share your screen as needed to provide information on assessments and student work.

Have your students set up collaborative groups for projects, lab data, and more. Anything students can do on a single computer; they can do collaboratively on this tool, accessing their work from any online computer. Be sure to test out this tool before using with your class. It may be a good idea to set up the groups with the teacher as a "member" but have students work from home for group projects. Make sure you are protecting the safety of student work and identity and are within your school's Acceptable Use Policy.

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Construct3 - Construct.net

Grades
K to 1
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Design and create games with Construct3. Choose from many different formats including puzzles, role-play, and storybooks along with a choice of beginner and intermediate level coding...more
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Design and create games with Construct3. Choose from many different formats including puzzles, role-play, and storybooks along with a choice of beginner and intermediate level coding ability options. Take advantage of the beginner's guide and tutorials to learn and practice the available features. All of the game options include drag and drop coding features. Free accounts offer you up to 25 events per game, two layers per layout, two effects per game, and one font choice. To share, publish your finished game to the site's arcade or download to your server.

In the Classroom

Include Construct3 with your other options for teaching coding to students. Take advantage of the included levels to differentiate learning based on knowledge of coding. If you are uncomfortable with coding, enlist students to become technology coaches in your classroom to teach and share their knowledge with others. Use and share Google Forms to create how-to guides for students to get started including images with tips and suggestions. Ask "in-the-know" students to enhance their learning and create one-page websites using Jimdo, reviewed here, sharing advice for individual games included in Construct3. As students become familiar with coding, have them use My Simpleshow, reviewed here to redefine what they learned by creating simple explainer videos detailing how to build and share personalized games.

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ZineLab Digital Zines - ZineLab

Grades
6 to 12
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Build, save, and share interactive magazines with ZineLab. Use the included templates to add many forms of content including images, video, maps, and text. After creating an account,...more
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Build, save, and share interactive magazines with ZineLab. Use the included templates to add many forms of content including images, video, maps, and text. After creating an account, select to begin creating your magazine. Watch the tutorial to get started or select items from the dashboard to upload and use. Uploaded images are limited to 2mb in size. When finished, publish your zine and share using the URL created. Free accounts allow you to access basic templates and create up to six zines.

In the Classroom

Before using this site, share the tutorials and how-to information with students to get them started. Modify learning for your tech-savvy or gifted students to create a screen recording tutorial using Free Screen Recorder Online, reviewed here, or an explainer video using My Simpleshow, reviewed here, to share on your class website or blog for students who need additional help on any features. If image files are too large, reduce them using Web Resizer, reviewed here. Once students are familiar with the site, create magazines using student images to share class projects or use available images found in ZineLab to create and share research information.

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Mix - StumbleUpon

Grades
6 to 12
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Are you looking for some of the best content on the web? Use Mix to browse and search for information based on your interests and those of like-minded people. ...more
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Are you looking for some of the best content on the web? Use Mix to browse and search for information based on your interests and those of like-minded people. Mix imports content from news sources, popular blogs, and additional world-wide resources. The more you browse and save material, the more Mix will refine its understanding of what you like. Create collections by adding information found on the site or by keeping links to web content found as you browse the Internet. Use Mix's web browser extension to save URL's to collections with just one click. When ready to share your collection, use the share icon to copy the link, send via email, or share on social media.

In the Classroom

Use Mix for your personal research and professional development. Visit Mix occasionally to find new ideas and new sites for teaching. Create and share collections of websites to share with students for use with research projects. For example, as you prepare to teach a science unit on plants, create a collection containing news articles, explainer sites, and online games for students to use as a virtual resource for supplementing classroom lessons. Include documents, slide presentations, and more from your Google Drive for student access from any device. Another use of Mix is to create collections when teaching students how to evaluate online resources. Create a collection from a variety of different resources based on the same topic and ask students to reflect upon the validity of the information and the source. Ask them to use a presentation tool like Sway, reviewed here to share their findings by including links to the information along with supporting evidence. Another idea for using Mix is for students to create collections to share as part of multimedia projects as a virtual bibliography. In addition to websites shared, ask them to add their written work, images, or other creations. Mix is an excellent tool for creating an online portfolio for students to use when applying to college. Show students how to easily create new collections using their work, but personalized to individual college applications.

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4-Circle Venn Diagram Creator - Canva

Grades
K to 12
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Create your own 4-Circle Venn diagram with Canva's 5-step creator. After logging in to your free account, select a template from among several choices. Customize your design by adding...more
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Create your own 4-Circle Venn diagram with Canva's 5-step creator. After logging in to your free account, select a template from among several choices. Customize your design by adding text and images and personalizing additional elements, including colors. When finished, save your diagram and download to your computer or share using the many options provided, including publishing as a website.

In the Classroom

Work together as a class to complete a 4-Circle Venn Diagram on your interactive whiteboard (or with a projector) to represent an overlap of topics in any subject. For example, use this tool to compare and contrast students' involvement in four different sports, compare events or settings in four novels, or characteristics of four groups of animals. Once students become comfortable with Venn Diagrams, ask them to include them in a longer presentation created using a tool like Wakelet, reviewed here. Use Wakelet to modify classroom technology by having students include their writing, images, diagrams, videos, and more.

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Polyup: Mod with Math - Dr. Amir Zarkesh, Professor Yahya Tabesh, and Shaya Zarkesh

Grades
K to 12
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Polyup is a web-based math problem-solving app for grades K-12. Use Polyup in several different ways for students to explore and play with numbers. Choose Play to work with numbers...more
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Polyup is a web-based math problem-solving app for grades K-12. Use Polyup in several different ways for students to explore and play with numbers. Choose Play to work with numbers in the computational thinking playground or select from featured machines to work with specific math functions. Find options for your grade level by selecting from the lesson plans, with included learning modules, from those provided within the several different grade bands.

In the Classroom

Polyup is perfect for use in math classrooms in a variety of ways. Become acquainted with the free lesson plans to incorporate Polyup activities based on specific math skills. Encourage problem-solving and math exploration by including a link to Polyup on classroom computers. Instead of assigning a worksheet or other math activity for homework, ask students to spend time exploring Polyup at home. Extend and assess student learning by using FlipGrid, reviewed here, for students to provide a short video reflection on their learning activity. Optional registration allows you or your students to save progress and create your own machines.

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Online Photo Editor - Online Photo Editor

Grades
K to 12
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Do you need a free, easy to use, no registration required basic photo editor? Online Photo Editor is just what you are looking for. Choose start editing and open a ...more
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Do you need a free, easy to use, no registration required basic photo editor? Online Photo Editor is just what you are looking for. Choose start editing and open a photo from your computer to begin. Select links at the top of your screen to use filters, add text, frames, shapes, and more. This photo editor also lets you add images on top of images. When finished, click save to download to your computer as a PNG file.

In the Classroom

Employ the Online Photo Editor for virtually all classroom photo editing needs and to enhance your classroom technology use. In primary grades, this tool could be useful for teachers to use to edit pictures from a field trip, science experiments, and more. Share the editing process with younger students using an interactive whiteboard or projector. Edit together! Encourage older students to use this tool on images for projects or presentations. Use this tool in photography or art classes. Try out the editor to edit pictures to fit styles of pictures when doing historical reports or to set a mood. Find text options for the photos themselves to tell the stories. Have students annotate or label Creative Commons online images of cells, structures of an animal, and much more.
 

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Microsoft Forms - Microsoft

Grades
K to 12
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Do you need a quick and easy way to create forms, quizzes, and polls? Microsoft Forms has you covered. Create surveys and collect data in real-time, assign quizzes with your ...more
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Do you need a quick and easy way to create forms, quizzes, and polls? Microsoft Forms has you covered. Create surveys and collect data in real-time, assign quizzes with your point values for automatic grading, and create polls on the fly to quickly receive responses for immediate use. Sign in to your Microsoft account to begin (or create a free account) and select either a new form or quiz. Click on the plus mark and follow prompts to add new items. Add an image to any part of the form using the search bar or upload your own. Forms also offer the option to add a YouTube video within questions. Forms works on all devices, use the preview to see your form as it appears on computers or mobile devices before sending. Share your form using the URL, QR code, or embed in a website or email. View responses through the response tab created with your form. Return to previous forms as needed to review the data collected or duplicate forms to create new polls or surveys.

In the Classroom

Discover the benefits of using Microsoft Forms in your classroom to create surveys for parents and students at the beginning of the year to learn about student interests, create parent volunteer lists, and much more. Create a sign in and sign out sheet for classroom library materials, including books and digital equipment. Use Microsoft Forms to set up and collaborate on lesson plans, include check boxes to standards, materials needed, and covered content. Microsoft Forms is perfect to use for assessment purposes - create online quizzes and exit tickets. Have students use Microsoft Forms to prepare and submit reading logs, brainstorm, and collaborate with fellow students, create "choose your own adventure" stories, or schedule reading and writing conference times. Use Microsoft Forms to set up and share rubrics for any project, have students complete the rubric and turn in with any completed assignment. The uses for Microsoft Forms are as unlimited as your imagination; this is a must-have tool for all classrooms!

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