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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Fake Concert Ticket Generator - faketicketgenerator.com

Grades
K to 12
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Create your own novelty tickets. Choose from two different ticket styles and enter information such as row and seat numbers, event title and place, and date of the event. After ...more
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Create your own novelty tickets. Choose from two different ticket styles and enter information such as row and seat numbers, event title and place, and date of the event. After entering information, click "Make My Ticket!" to view and save your ticket in JPEG format.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): behavior (40), classroom management (77)

In the Classroom

Ask your students to use the Fake Ticket Generator to create excitement for class presentations. Have them create tickets and hand them out to other students to use to be admitted to class for their presentation. Create tickets to hand out to students at the beginning of any unit to create interest and excitement. Make tickets to give to parents as invitation to Meet the Teacher night, Science and Book Fairs, PTO meetings, and more. Create tickets that students can earn, such as a ticket to skip a homework assignment or to have extra time at centers. Give out tickets to special events in the library/media center, such as Dress as Your Favorite Author Day. Have students create tickets to a classroom museum or science fair. Use tickets as a behavior incentive.
 

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NameCoach - Praveen Shanbhag

Grades
K to 12
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Never mispronounce a name again, thanks to the help of NameCoach! Users record their names using their own computer or any other device. Add phonetic spelling or pronunciation tips....more
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Never mispronounce a name again, thanks to the help of NameCoach! Users record their names using their own computer or any other device. Add phonetic spelling or pronunciation tips. You can listen to the names as often as you wish. Create your account to make lists for Back to School, award ceremonies, graduations, and much more. After creating your name page, share a link to participants through email or as a link on your class webpage or blog. Create a master list with sublists for use in different departments, classes, or for individual events.

tag(s): classroom management (77), pronunciation (39)

In the Classroom

Create a master list of student names in your school or class using NameCoach. Provide a subset for different activities such as award ceremonies, after-school programs, or for student tutors. Share with your school's ESL/ELL teacher as an authentic way to learn and practice unfamiliar names. Provide this list (and URL) to any substitute coming to your classroom. Use it in world language classes to help students learn pronunciation of new names.

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SchoolCircle - Elena Krasnoperova

Grades
K to 12
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Open up the lines of parent/teacher communication with SchoolCircle. Use your email address to create your account and set up class Circles. Manage Circles to share messages, pictures,...more
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Open up the lines of parent/teacher communication with SchoolCircle. Use your email address to create your account and set up class Circles. Manage Circles to share messages, pictures, and files. Add tasks, organize events, and assign roles. Members of Circles receive three types of emails: a daily digest received each evening, a morning email with information due that day, and a weekly digest each Sunday. There is an option to send urgent messages immediately.

tag(s): classroom management (77), homework (46), microblogging (37)

In the Classroom

Set up accounts for all of your classes. Send homework, project, and supply reminders. Send changes to plans due to a snow day or other emergency. Remind students of upcoming events, practices, or things they need to bring to school. Don't forget to include any extracurricular activities. Use this tool to communicate with parents. Allow them to sign up for these updates at back to school night using a laptop or provide them the necessary information on your class web page. Remind parents of big tests, report cards, field trips, deadlines, back to school night, school spirit days, conferences, and more. Learning support teachers can promote organizational skills by having students and their parents sign up to receive reminders about tests and homework. Add messages with tips for parents to help their elementary child study. Need supply donations? Send out a request using SchoolCircle. Set up a faculty reminder group within your school for emergency closures or department meetings and activities.

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Wheel Decide - wheeldecide.com

Grades
K to 12
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Wheel Decide helps make decisions interesting and fair. Choose from ready-made wheels with choices such as games or food. Create your own wheels. Scroll down below the wheel and choose...more
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Wheel Decide helps make decisions interesting and fair. Choose from ready-made wheels with choices such as games or food. Create your own wheels. Scroll down below the wheel and choose "Make/Modify Wheel" to customize your wheel for any purpose. Add up to 100 choices and a title. Advanced options allow you to remove a choice after landing on it, choose from color options, adjust the length of spin, and more. Cancel the "click" sound if it is distracting. At the time of this review saving a wheel required signing in with your Facebook account or bookmarking/copying the URL.

tag(s): classroom management (77), probability (106)

In the Classroom

Use Wheel Decide to select a student to do an activity or to answer a question. Allow students to use the name generator to choose which classmate comes next. Create your class name wheel and SAVE it to use throughout the year. Use Wheel Decide as part of a probability unit to chart how often names or items appear with random spins (be sure not to remove them from the list as they appear). Create custom wheels throughout the year to help with decisions such as students' choice activities, options for games at indoor recess, or subjects for reports.

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Printliminator - Chris Coyier and Devon Govett

Grades
K to 12
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Highlight and print (or view) only what you want from a web page using Printliminator. Drag the bookmarklet to your browser's toolbar. (Printliminator works with Safari, Chrome, and...more
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Highlight and print (or view) only what you want from a web page using Printliminator. Drag the bookmarklet to your browser's toolbar. (Printliminator works with Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.) Then click the bookmarklet from any page to open up tool options. Mouse over your web page and click on red boxes to remove them from the page. When ready, preview and send to your printer. Be sure to watch the Quick Video Demo for a full overview of all features of the Printliminator.

tag(s): classroom management (77)

In the Classroom

Install the Printliminator on your browser tool bar. Use when viewing web pages on your interactive whiteboard to eliminate unnecessary information. Delete unnecessary information from webpages. Send to print and save as PDF for use with student handouts or links from your class web page. (Of course, you will want to include your SOURCE on the handouts as a model of good digital citizenship.) Use this tool to share handouts or pdfs with students who are easily distracted to help them stay focused on what matters. This is also a great way to select portions of a web site to save as a pdf and share on an interactive whiteboard for summarizing, highlighting, and more.

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Live Meme - livememe.com

Grades
6 to 12
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Create your own meme images (easily shared, annotated images). Choose from a collection of the Internet's most popular recurring characters. Double click any image on the home page...more
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Create your own meme images (easily shared, annotated images). Choose from a collection of the Internet's most popular recurring characters. Double click any image on the home page or upload your own photo to begin. Add text for top and bottom captions. Click the "generate" link and view your finished meme. Save your completed image to your computer. Additional options allow for changing fonts, distorting text, and adding animation to memes.

tag(s): images (210), posters (25)

In the Classroom

Use this popular online tool to bring interest and amusement to classroom lessons! Create an interesting meme to introduce a new topic or unit on your interactive whiteboard (or projector). Provide one portion of text for a meme and have students complete their own version. Ask small groups of students to create memes for classroom use with classroom rules, due date reminders, curriculum terms, grammar tips, and more. Have students create memes at the end of any unit or book to quickly summarize content or use as a visual mnemonic.

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RawShorts - Antonio Otalvaro and George Estrella

Grades
4 to 12
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Create short animated video presentations using RawShort's cloud-based video maker. Create an account to begin. Choose the free templates option on the left side of the page to view...more
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Create short animated video presentations using RawShort's cloud-based video maker. Create an account to begin. Choose the free templates option on the left side of the page to view pre-made options or begin with a blank template to create your own design. Name the design and launch the video builder. Use options to add backgrounds, images, text, and other features. Videos include just five slides, keeping to the concept of creating SHORT presentations. When complete, save and share your video using social media links or upload to YouTube. Free accounts offer storage of 25 mb and max resolution of 480 SD.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): animation (51), slides (53), video (176)

In the Classroom

Use your interactive whiteboard (or projector) and a student emcee to show students the templates and how to use this tool. Ask students to make a plan (storyboard) for their video project. Talk about how to distill your message to only five slides! Have students write and illustrate slides as book reviews for independent reading they have done. Use this tool for students to make book promos for the library/media center. Challenge your gifted students to create a simple video presentation that goes beyond your regular curriculum. Have students make slide shows telling a short story, explaining the life of a famous person, chemical equations, solving for X, and more. During a unit on plants, have students create a video guide for plant care or a show about the world's strangest plants. ESL/ELL or world language students could create videos to practice using their new vocabulary. Create animated presentations for introduction of new units, projects, and lessons.

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TweetBeam - Pim Stuurman

Grades
4 to 12
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Highlight and show tweets from any hashtag or twitter handle in a creative and visually appealing way with TweetBeam. Enter any hashtag or sign in to your Twitter account to ...more
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Highlight and show tweets from any hashtag or twitter handle in a creative and visually appealing way with TweetBeam. Enter any hashtag or sign in to your Twitter account to view a stunning, real-time visualization of tweets. They update as new tweets arrive. Mouse over any image to view the entire text. Click the four arrows near the top left of the screen to view in full screen.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): twitter (47)

In the Classroom

TweetBeam is perfect for use on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Follow hashtags on current events to view information in real-time. Do you have your own hashtag for your class? If not, this is a perfect way to get started! Use TweetBeam to interact and follow other classrooms and projects anywhere in the world. Create a hashtag for any school event and display TweetBeam on the big screen to participants to encourage them to interact and participate! Looking for more ways to use Twitter in the classroom? Read more about Twitter at TeachersFirst's Twitter for Teachers page.
 

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Calameo - Jean-Olivier de Berard and Mathieu Quisefit

Grades
2 to 12
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Publish, share, and browse interactive web publications with Calameo. Sign up for an account using your email or Facebook account. Upload documents in most common formats such as Microsoft...more
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Publish, share, and browse interactive web publications with Calameo. Sign up for an account using your email or Facebook account. Upload documents in most common formats such as Microsoft Office, Adobe PDF, and OpenOffice. Use the link editor to add YouTube, DailyMotion, Vimeo, and SoundCloud content to your magazine. Share completed publications through a unique URL or embed directly into your website or blog. Calameo is available in many languages. Be sure to check Calameo's help links to find full features and suggestions for use. Use caution when allowing students to explore this site on their own, as some content may not be appropriate for the classroom.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): creative writing (134), digital storytelling (83)

In the Classroom

Use this site to engage students in Writing for Digital Publication, an important part of the Common Core. In social studies or government class have individual students or small groups design magazines for the candidate of their choice. Remember those travel brochures your world language students used to make with glue sticks and scissors? Try this online tool instead. World language students can also create an interactive magazine telling a story in their new language. In science class students can design a booklet to explain cells, life cycles, or any science topic. Instead of a book report, try a digital magazine. Do an author study via a digital magazine. Create a poetry magazine. Have your ESL/ELL students create a bilingual magazine in English AND their native language. Create digital magazines for any subject or topic: explain an event in history, demonstrate different types of animals or habitats. Create an ongoing Calameo magazine of class activities.

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Preso.tv - preso.tv

Grades
4 to 12
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Present your PowerPoint, PDFs, and Word Documents on desktop, mobile, or projector screens in real time anywhere in the world using Preso.tv. Drag and drop your file from your computer...more
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Present your PowerPoint, PDFs, and Word Documents on desktop, mobile, or projector screens in real time anywhere in the world using Preso.tv. Drag and drop your file from your computer or upload by browsing your computer files. Once processed, choose to start your presentation immediately or schedule for a later date. Share the custom url with your viewers and begin your presentation when ready! They can watch from anywhere. Options within the program allow you to highlight areas of the slide and zoom in and out to feature desired areas. Additional features provide statistics on the number of viewers and length of presentation. Click on the three bars at the top right of the screen to restart, stop, share the link, add your keyboard, or even begin a Google Hangout! Note that you need some sort of audio connection for your viewers to hear you. A Google hangout or Skype could work for that...or a call!

tag(s): slides (53)

In the Classroom

Preso.tv is perfect for BYOD classrooms. Share a link to any presentation and have students follow along on individual devices as you talk and they discuss. Everyone can see with no need for a projector. Have students use this site when presenting their own multimedia presentations. Help a homebound student by sharing presentations via Preso.tv. Use this site as a great resource for a snow day away from school. Use the scheduling feature for students to view presentations when away from school. Always be sure to share the exact time and URL!

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Small PDF - smallpdf.com

Grades
K to 12
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Small PDF offers many tools for creating and working with PDF files. Choose links to reduce the size of any PDF document, convert JPG to PDF or PDF to JPG, ...more
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Small PDF offers many tools for creating and working with PDF files. Choose links to reduce the size of any PDF document, convert JPG to PDF or PDF to JPG, merge PDF files, and much more! After choosing the option to use, follow the simple directions for uploading files. Be sure to download and save. All conversions use temporary online storage and disappear from servers within an hour.

tag(s): worksheets (40)

In the Classroom

Bookmark and save Small PDF for use throughout the year. Upload Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files to convert into PDF documents. Use Small PDF to split large PDF documents into smaller, manageable portions. Have students use Page Flip-Flap (reviewed here) to turn their finished PDFs into an online book. Page Flip-Flap even has a page-turning effect!
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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ClassMind - ClassMind

Grades
7 to 12
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Receive instant feedback from an audience or class using any mobile device or web browser and this response tool. Features include automatic grading (even open-ended questions) and...more
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Receive instant feedback from an audience or class using any mobile device or web browser and this response tool. Features include automatic grading (even open-ended questions) and taking attendance. The keyword function helps with live discussions or for easy grading. Search what others have created and reuse their content. ClassMind supports several world languages. Questions can be multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank, or open-ended. Click on the arrow next to your name to find a guide for using the tool. Click "How can we help?" at the bottom right to address a specific problem.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): assessment (63), classroom management (77), DAT device agnostic tool (68), polls and surveys (39)

In the Classroom

Sign up for an account and create courses and sections. Create questions for students to answer. To register students, use an interactive whiteboard (or projector) to walk students through the sign up information (email address, select their role [student], agree to the terms) and select your course and section. Use this tool, to survey students about their thoughts about issues they may not feel comfortable answering out loud. Create and save "ready to go" quick quizzes on any topic. Start class with quick questions to pre-assess what students know. Give the questions again at the end of the class (or the beginning of the next one) to see what students learned and what you need to re-teach. ClassMind gives analytics for how a student is performing and improving. Know which students or if the entire class needs a review. When students are preparing for speeches or presentations, suggest they use this tool to hold their audience's interest. There is a section where teachers can give students permission to create questions, quizzes, and surveys.

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Start.me - Arjen Robijn

Grades
K to 12
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Create a customized start page including your favorite websites, RSS feeds, and social networking sites with Start.me. Choose from over 20 widgets such as bookmarks, weather, calculators,...more
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Create a customized start page including your favorite websites, RSS feeds, and social networking sites with Start.me. Choose from over 20 widgets such as bookmarks, weather, calculators, or currency converters to personalize content. Drag and drop widgets to any area on your screen. Change backgrounds using images provided or one you upload, or personalize using other options under settings. All saved information is cloud-based, so it is available from any device where you log into your account. Create multiple pages for different needs such as work, home, hobbies, etc. Add the bookmarklet to your browser to add items easily to your start page at any time. The introduction video is hosted on YouTube. If YouTube is blocked at your school, view the intro video at home to learn more!

tag(s): bookmarks (59)

In the Classroom

Create a classroom Start.me with frequently used websites and resources for classroom computers. Add pages for specific subjects or topics such as math and science, or for curriculum topics like explorers. If you work with students in several different grade levels or subjects, Start.me is the perfect organization tool for your online resources. Share login information with students for access at home and school. Students working on a group project could put the resources they find on Start.me so everyone in the group can access them. Encourage your gifted students to use this tool to curate and collect resources for extensions of the curriculum beyond the classroom, such as articles and connections with real world applications of science or resources about current events. World language teachers can collect a home page filled with cultural sites and publications in the new language so students can immerse themselves.

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Dropr - dropr.com

Grades
K to 12
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Easily "drop" and create portfolios including images, video, text, and interactive artwork using Dropr. Your portfolio will look great on ANY device! Create an account using email or...more
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Easily "drop" and create portfolios including images, video, text, and interactive artwork using Dropr. Your portfolio will look great on ANY device! Create an account using email or using your Facebook, Google, or Twitter login. Follow prompts to connect your Dropr account to several social networking options. Follow instructions to personalize your page using files from your computer or connected social networking sites. When finished, easily share your portfolio with the link, embed code, or share buttons.

tag(s): careers (109), portfolios (22)

In the Classroom

Have teens and older students upload work throughout the year to create their own "me-portfolios." Create portfolios (with permission) to share younger students' work with parents and students during conferences. Use this tool to show finished projects or to show changes in a project from start to finish. Make a work prototype site and upload examples of exemplary work to share with students to set expectations for completed products before beginning a project. Create a link to this tool on your class website for students to share projects and information. (Get parent permission before posting students' work!) Have students take ownership of their own portfolios to show progress and products across several years. Have older students build portfolios to share as part of career and college preparation. Art teachers will want to share this as a portfolio option for their students.

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Reel Surfer - ReelSurfer.com

Grades
K to 12
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Find, clip, and share portions of online videos using Reel Surfer. Note that this site relies on ONLINE videos, so you may not be able to use it if your ...more
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Find, clip, and share portions of online videos using Reel Surfer. Note that this site relies on ONLINE videos, so you may not be able to use it if your school blocks services such as YouTube. Enter a keyword to search or an actual video URL to begin. Drag the stop and start markers to set the video length. Share with friends via Facebook Twitter, email, and more! No video clipping experience is necessary. Even timid technology users will find this site easy to use. Create your own "reel" using multiple videos. Create a free account to save and share videos. Reel Surfer also includes a bookmarklet to add to your browser to easily clip videos from many sites.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): video (176)

In the Classroom

Create a "reel" video for review or introduction on any topic. Use the best clips or segments from YouTube and other online sources. Grab the attention of your younger students with a brief video--without having fast forward to find the right spot! Have older students curate and create "reels" to share as part of any presentation project or for review. After watching any video, have student groups create a "reel" video with what they consider to be the most important parts of the video. Share completed videos on your class webpage for use at home.

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SnapCuts - Bee Ottinger

Grades
6 to 12
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Create video messages with SnapCuts' interactive tools and public domain video clips. Browse the categorized database of video clips and drag clips to the "Snapper" bar to create a...more
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Create video messages with SnapCuts' interactive tools and public domain video clips. Browse the categorized database of video clips and drag clips to the "Snapper" bar to create a 30 second video. Add text to any clip. Then share by email, URL, or social media links. Create a free account to save your SnapCuts for future use or editing. Some of the video clips are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, then they may not be viewable. You could always create view the gallery or create your own Snapcuts at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): animation (51), video (176)

In the Classroom

SnapCuts is ideal to use as an anticipatory set to introduce a unit or lesson. Use a projector or interactive whiteboard to show students how to get around on Snapcuts. Have students create SnapCuts to show traits of characters, events in literature, or the essence of different time periods in history. Share with students to include in multimedia projects. Include premade SnapCuts in professional development presentations for inspiration and motivation.

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PicGhost - Nermien Barakat and Amr ElGarhy

Grades
K to 12
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PicGhost is a batch image editor that does all work online without any software downloads. Drag and drop (or select) up to 40 images from your computer or import images ...more
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PicGhost is a batch image editor that does all work online without any software downloads. Drag and drop (or select) up to 40 images from your computer or import images from Facebook, Flickr, or Picasa for each batch edit. Once files upload, start editing to resize, add watermarks, add effects, and more. When finished, apply edits and download the finished image to your computer. This is a very handy way to resize a group of images at once! Add watermarks to your own photos so others will not use them without permission.

tag(s): editing (37), images (210), photography (132)

In the Classroom

Use PicGhost anytime photos need to be edited on class blogs, wikis, or sites. In primary grades, use this tool to edit pictures from a field trip, science experiments, and more. Share the editing process together with your younger students using your interactive whiteboard or projector, and edit the project together! Encourage older students to use this tool themselves on images for projects or presentations. Use PicGhost to edit pictures to look "old" when doing historical reports or to set a mood.

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Nurph - Nurphy, Ltd.

Grades
9 to 12
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Moderate Twitter chats with this easy to use tool. Creating a "channel" pushes a link out to your Twitter followers. They can join your channel and join in the conversation. ...more
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Moderate Twitter chats with this easy to use tool. Creating a "channel" pushes a link out to your Twitter followers. They can join your channel and join in the conversation. Invitations can include an RSVP too! See who has joined the chat AND statistics on their level of engagement, as well as most-used topics in the chat. Enjoy the sound effects and emoticons that make the chat livelier. Use the Past Chat Replay feature to view a video of the chat and create review notes or find specific points in the chat. Are you new to Twitter and hashtags or unsure how to use them in the classroom? Looking for more ways to use Twitter in the classroom? Read more about Twitter at TeachersFirst's Twitter for Teachers page. Be sure to check with your district's policies before using Twitter with students.

tag(s): microblogging (37), twitter (47)

In the Classroom

Use a class Twitter account to set up chats with classes in other schools using this tool. Create a focused chat session based upon a particular question, such as the constitutionality of a law or the environmental impact of fracking. Create a relevant hashtag to go with your question to keep the chat on topic. If your students are allowed to use individual Twitter accounts, Create a hashtag for use by students when quoting and reacting to comments from presenters. Construct a question about events occurring elsewhere in the world to hear student perspectives. Attending a conference or like talking to like-minded educators? Create a Channel and invite others in for a chat. As most chats move quickly, the Past Chat Replay is essential for remembering links and ideas. Find chats for all kinds of teacher interests to build not only your Professional Learning Network (PLN) but your knowledge base in the document Twitter Chat Schedule.

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Digital Storytelling Resource Kit - tech4learning

Grades
4 to 12
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Find five lesson plans that meet the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts to do digital storytelling using video. Sign up (email required) to get started. Lessons are...more
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Find five lesson plans that meet the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts to do digital storytelling using video. Sign up (email required) to get started. Lessons are based on inquiry and solid writing. Students then convert their writing into a movie or podcast. The choices include a conservation issue where the students write a persuasive essay and use the argument to create a public service announcement, book talks, news casts, and more. To sign up, simply fill in a short registration form and start downloading your digital story telling choice.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): descriptive writing (28), expository writing (31), inquiry (33), persuasive writing (42), podcasts (41), video (176), writing (311)

In the Classroom

Why re-invent the wheel? Take a look at these plans for inquiry based research and the projects for summative assessment to infuse into your lessons. The digital storytelling lesson plans are free, and so are some of the resources they suggest using, such as Pics4Learning reviewed here. However, the video program (Frames) that the lesson advises is not free. Instead, use Picovico reviewed here, or Animoto reviewed here.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Slack - Slack Technologies, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
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Slack is a real-time messaging tool for teams that includes archiving and search features. Create your own channels for different groups or teams to include messages, files, images,...more
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Slack is a real-time messaging tool for teams that includes archiving and search features. Create your own channels for different groups or teams to include messages, files, images, and more for sharing. Drag and drop files work with Google Docs, Dropbox, Twitter, and more making it easy to share across several different platforms. Easily search Slack archives to find discussions, documents, and more.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): chat (37), DAT device agnostic tool (68), microblogging (37), organizational skills (91), social networking (103)

In the Classroom

Share this resource with high school students working on group projects for better group communication, managing workflow, and more. Take the time during the first week of school or as group projects approach to model how to plan and manage group process using such a tool. Use this tool with school clubs, as well. Manage professional discussions by creating channels for different departmental or grade level teams.

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