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.
Browse the full listing of detailed safety/school policy tips or save time by reading them as needed from each tool review.
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:
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomIt may take some time for you to become comfortable with creating a timeline with this product. Share with students to allow them to explore the different options, then ask them to become the teachers creating and using this tool in various ways. Ask students to create screencasts using Free Screen Recorder Online, reviewed here, with directions for using certain features of the timeline. Add all of the student tutorials into a Wakelet collection, reviewed here, for easy access at any time. Create timelines to introduce material in any subject. If your school uses Google Apps or Docs/Drive, your students (or groups) can create their own very easily. Map specific battles in history (World War II or the Revolutionary War, perhaps?) Map significant scientific discoveries in the progress of understanding cell theory or genetics. Follow the works of various writers, artists, or musicians. Follow the life of famous people or noteworthy events such as elections, the Olympics, or even local history!
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomEngage and support student learning through interactive conversations created with videoask. Use videoask at the beginning of the school year for students to introduce themselves. Then, use the provided code to add a widget to your class website to build community and comradery among peers. Consider creating a question of the week or month for students to share what they have learned, ask questions, or discuss topics they would like to learn more about. For group projects, ask students to create a videoask to include with their final presentation that includes discussions of items considered for inclusion or a conversation about the group's collaborative process.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomAsk older students to use Miro as a collaborative tool for projects. Have students use Miro to develop storylines that include links and images to tell the story of events in history or retell novels. Ask students to use Miro to create mood boards to share the different works of artists or demonstrate different architecture types. Miro is also an excellent choice for use as a collaborative tool for large projects to brainstorm ideas, assign tasks, and document progress. Use Miro with students as part of your science experiments to share the steps of the experiment, document hypotheses, and add images and reflections upon the outcomes of the experiment. Miro is an excellent resource for remote learning situations to engage students through interactive content and chat.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomThink of Threadit as something similar to FlipGrid, reviewed here, and Flipgrid responses. Use it to share how-to videos of computer software or games, start a question or prompt and ask students to reply, or create a video to accompany an article for students to read that points out highlights and important information. Use Threadit as a tool for groups to share threaded presentations. For example, ask each group member to record his portion of the presentation and then add the short videos into one longer video presentation. Many students are familiar with the short video format of tools such as TikTok, engage students by sharing Threadit as a similar tool to use in an educational setting.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse this handy screen recording tool in a variety of ways in your classroom. Record tutorials for students to demonstrate how to access and use online sites; create recordings for substitutes to explain how to find and use the software on your computer, or make a how-to demo to find information on your class website to share with students and parents. Help students understand how to use the different features of documents, such as creating a tutorial showing students how to format cells in Excel, adding comments to a Google document, or finding and inserting images in slides. Share this tool with students to use when analyzing websites as part of your ongoing digital safety lessons. Ask them to include a video as part of a larger multimedia presentation. After exporting their video, ask students to include it within a presentation created using Sway, reviewed here, or Adobe Spark for Education, reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomShare Circlyapp on your whiteboard or screen when remote teaching as a visual tool for organizing and discussing any topic. For example, use the character map template as a starting point for discussions of actions and character traits of essential characters in any story or to analyze noteworthy people in history. Have older students complete character maps on their own as an assessment activity. Share with students who are working on group projects as an organizational tool for managing different project components. Ask students to include a completed Circlyapp image as part of a larger project or book report. Use and finish the book review template as a starting point for a book review project, then include the image with other parts of the assignment within a Sway presentation, reviewed here. Take advantage of the included opposite adjectives game template to create drag and drop matching activities for any topic. For example, create a sorting game for types of animals, geographic features, historical events by date, or pairing types of speech to different categories.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse Whiteboard.chat to collaborate with students to share and organize information instantly. This tool even allows educators to auto-correct all boards with a single click! Use the PDF document feature to differentiate instruction with groups of students or individuals. Use the breakout feature to conduct small group meetings or provide personalized instruction to individual students. Allow students to create collaborative drawings as responses to literature. They can map out the plot or themes, add labels, create character studies, and more. Have a group of students create a drawing so that another group can use it as a writing prompt. Use Whiteboard.com as a brainstorming or sketching space as groups (or the class) share ideas for a major project or for solving a real-world problem. Use this site in a computer lab (or on laptops) to draw the setting in a story as it is read aloud. As an assessment idea, have students draw out a simple cartoon with stick figures to explain a more complex process, such as how democracy works. If you are lucky enough to teach in a BYOD setting, have a blended classroom, or are distance teaching, use Whiteboard.chat to demonstrate and illustrate any concept while students use the chat and drawing tools to interact in real-time. If you are studying weather, have students diagram the layers of the atmosphere and what happens during a thunderstorm, for example. Introduce this tool to students who are working on group projects. Alternatively, have students use this to work as partners or as a small team within a breakout area to complete complex math problems or equations.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse IdeaBoardz as an engaging way to brainstorm ideas, share student comments related to any classroom conversations, or as a tool for exit tickets. For example, use the two-column option as a schema activator when introducing a new lesson. Create a column for students to share what they know and another column for sharing what additional support is needed. Include a link to your collaborative board on your class webpage for students to view and add items as desired. Share with students to create boards for use with their presentations. Use the multi-columns to organize information by topics. For example, for book reports, create a board with columns for setting, character, theme, etc.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomEngage students by using the templates to display the day's vocabulary word, the math puzzle of the week, a concept your students are learning in social studies or science as an example, and engage students. Have students create comic strips for dialog-writing lessons, summarizing, predicting, and retelling stories. Use comic strips for literature responses. For pre-reading students, create a comic of pictures and tell the story based on the pictures/scenes. It's a good idea to require students to create a rough draft of their comic using Printable Comic Strip Templates, reviewed here. Make a class book of the comics created throughout the year. That book is likely to become a class favorite! Use comics to show sequencing of events. When studying characterization, create a dialog to show (not tell) about a character. World language and ENL/ESL teachers can assign students to create dialog strips as an alternate to a traditional assessment. Have students share all of their comics on your interactive whiteboard or projector.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomUse Workona to organize projects for staff meetings, PTA events, Science or Math fairs, club or student council events, parent volunteer meetings, and more. High schoolers may want to use it to collaborate on large group projects. Workona is a great tool for teachers to stay on the same page when researching new curriculums or to prepare for professional development sessions. Secondary learning support and gifted teachers can share this tool with their less organized students. This program will help them develop coping/organizational skills, and they can set intermediate deadlines with reminders for long-term projects.
Grades9 to 12
In the ClassroomUse Doozy as a virtual get-to-know-you activity when starting remote learning activities or when collaborating with other classrooms. It is also an excellent icebreaker for professional development sessions or back-to-school team meetings. Create a quiz, or choose from the library to start a friendly competition with others. Since Doozy doesn't track scores, it is an excellent way to work with teams to review practice material in a non-competitive environment. Include Doozy as part of any team-building and social skill support activities.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomAsk older students to create a Mural for Education account when collaborating on projects to share ideas and organize information. Have students use Mural for Education to develop storylines that include links and images to tell the story of events in history or retell novels. Ask students to use Mural to create mood boards to share the different works of artists or demonstrate different architecture types. Mural would be an excellent choice as a collaborative tool for large projects to brainstorm ideas, assign tasks, and document progress. Use Mural with students as part of your science experiments to share the steps of the experiment, document hypothesis, and add images and reflections upon the outcomes of the experiment. Mural for Education is an excellent resource for remote learning situations to engage students through the use of interactive content and chat. Use the breakout room option to allow for differentiation and group discussions.
GradesK to 12
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