Sunday, September 12, 2010

Top 20 Websites No Teacher Should Start the 2010-2011 Year Without

Reposted Blog Post from
Tech Integration Tips and Web Links to Increase Your Teacher Nerdiness Levels

July 21, 2010

I have to tell you that it was a tough call to make these decisions, especially when we’re talking every teacher no matter what grade level or subject, but I hope that you find a couple of gems to put away in your virtual treasure box. You may have others you’d like to add to the list. Please post them in the comments for all of us to explore.

A great photo editing tool is a must for teachers and I recommend Aviary, LunaPic, Picnik, or BeFunky with some being simpler than others, but all having unique features. Explore all the tools and choose the best option for your skill level.

Creaza and Jaycut are answers to the Windows XP Movie Maker and Flipcam problem. Both of these sites have online video editing tools where Flip videos can be uploaded for easy manipulation. Creaza also has a wonderful alternative for GarageBand and a rather incredible comic creator.

Delicious or Diigo are online bookmarking networks teachers need. Inevitably a wonderful link is shared with us that we think, “Oh, I know I’ll use that later” and then we forget what it was. Using one of these resources lets teachers save bookmarks in a webspace and allows networking.

Doodle is a groovy scheduling tool teachers can use when setting up a collaborative work meeting or building social committee event. One user creates the Doodle and shares the link with others. Everyone can share time availability and determine the prime meeting date.

Dropbox is one of my absolute favorite tools shared with me by Intel Teach buddies Glen Westbrook and Jill Summers. Dropbox is a 2 GB e-vault tool that allows teachers to drop files in an online folder and sync it with multiple computers. For example, I might create a file on my MacBook at school, move it into my Dropbox folder and then open it up on my Dell at home. No jump drives to lose or accidentally wash and no email files that are too large to send. Plus, as an added bonus, I can create collaborative folders in Dropbox to share with partner teachers. Love it!

Edmodo – Definitely my #1 favorite tool on the web for creating a social network within a classroom or amongst all the teachers in a building. It’s simply easier to have files, links, and discussions held in one location. I am going to encourage our principal to set up a group in Edmodo for all building communications which can reduce the number of papers in teacher inboxes significantly.

Free Tech 4 Teachers and Larry Ferlazzo tie for this slot as these are amazing resource blogs for any teacher. You know the commercial, “There’s an App for That!” These fellas are the ones who can share those apps. Bookmark them, add them to your Google Reader, and visit often for excellent resources all year long.

Glogster.EDU is one of those tools that opens dozens of lesson ideas to foster creativity and higher order thinking skills. No more will we have poster boards dropping off the walls in the hallways or students covered in Crayola markers down their arms. With Glogster teachers and students can create interactive posters for research, websites, presentations, reflection, and more.

Google Language Translator does a fairly decent job of language translation. Although we all know languages do not automatically translate due to grammar structure, idioms, etc. this tool does basic translation well if needed.

Google Tools for Educators. Here teachers can receive training on how to use the Google Suite of Docs, Reader, Picasa, and more plus find out what new and innovative things Google is adding. It’s a never-ending world of innovation for us this year.

LiveBinders is one tool that certainly is gaining teacher popularity this summer. For those moments when teachers need to share a set of links, create a webquest, Internet scavenger hunt, or content related sites with parents, this tool is the perfect ticket.

MyWebspiration and Dabbleboard (thanks McTeach) are brainstorming collaboration tools perfect for unit plan design, party planning, or big school event planning such as Field Day or as a great high school chemistry teacher I know who plans Mole Day each year.

Photos8 and Pics4Learning are two public domain image sites that are simply wonderful for student use. I’ve raved on these before, but teachers definitely need to bookmark them for student projects.

Prezi – Yes, I do enjoy Microsoft Office and Google Documents, but I really dig Prezi for student presentations. The concept of how it creates the “real” visual aid and allows for video embedding took my students to a different level during the speech unit this year. The tool does take a bit to figure it out, but with the excellent tutorial videos and a couple of clicks, the students are off and running.

Social networks such as Twitter, Plurk, DEN, Thinkfinity, and Intel communities are listed because every teacher needs a PLN - a place to connect with other teachers of similar subject and content areas. This is especially critical for those teachers in small schools where there may only be one or two teachers in a department. Believe me, when I was the sole member of the “English Department” for a year, my staff meetings went great, but it was difficult not having a support group. Now teachers can simply jump in, join in pedagogical conversations, share resources, and grow.

Troovi is simply a brilliant little gem for teachers collecting photos from multiple student digital cameras. Simply grab the URL directly above the logo and share it with the whole class. Students simply upload the images from their cameras to that URL (no login required) and within seconds everyone has an online album to share. No more having to bring the digital cameras up to the teacher’s desk one at a time. Yay!

Voicethread –From digital storytelling, reflection, photo essays, and more, this tool has been one of my students’ favorites. Also be sure to check out Voicethread for Educators Ning for ideas on using the tool.

Wordsmyth and Lexipedia are the dictionary and thesaurus tools I recommend. Where Wordsmyth offers a beginner’s picture dictionary along with a full dictionary, Lexipedia makes using a thesaurus fun.

Zamzar and MediaConverter for file conversions and Youtube downloads. Yes, there are always moments in the year where students turn in Microsoft Works or Word Perfect files that simply do not open nicely on a school computer. Zamzar will convert those files on top of downloading YouTube videos.

Honorable Mention for US teachers - Netflix is a service that I think every school library should have a subscription to check out documentaries and other films that aren’t easily accessible in most communities. In all honesty, I believe Netflix needs to start an education side of their service specifically for teachers and libraries to utilize, especially with all the films that can be streamed directly to a computer. I use Netflix significantly throughout the year for my classroom and encourage many of my peers to subscribe, as well.

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