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:
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
This site includes advertising.
In the ClassroomUse Icebreaker as a back-to-school activity when teaching remotely for students and you to get to know one another. Set up professional development sessions with peers that take advantage of the templates and cards found in the application. Use Icebreaker to set up virtual parent/teacher conferences with participants located anywhere in the world. This tool is especially useful when multiple teachers are involved or when parents may not reside in the same location. Connect whole classrooms across the country for book clubs. Collaborate with experts such as authors and scientists with classrooms of children. Create connected learning experiences with other students, especially those in older grades. Connect world language classes to classes in other countries. Teachers can hold "office hours" for homework help and asking questions. Create a collaborative space for homework help before or after school or on snow days. Students can meet whenever help is needed, or teachers can create a session that can be accessed on any device easily by those who need it. Use Icebreaker for group work - no more excuses about not meeting for cooperative learning projects! Buildings can collaborate and share professional development with others in their own district and beyond!
Grades1 to 12
In the ClassroomIncorporate Cloud Stop Motion in your classroom tech arsenal to engage students in creative storytelling within any content area. When creating a video, it is always important to create a storyboard to organize and plan the entire episode. Find a variety of storyboard options at ReadWriteThink, reviewed here. Ask students to reenact a scene from a play, illustrate a math strategy, or demonstrate how molecular concepts and interactions work. Find many more examples and instructions on creating stop motion animations from the New York Film Academy, reviewed here.
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomUse Involve.me templates and designs in a variety of ways in any classroom. Create short, interactive quizzes for students and receive feedback immediately through an email or within your Involve.me account. For example, modify the Literature Pop Quiz template for any novel or substitute questions about your latest science experiment to assess student understanding. Use the How Well Do You Know History? template to ask questions about important events during your social studies unit. Have students incorporate the survey templates to use as an interactive portion of classroom presentations. Include the inflation calculator during an economics lesson to help students understand the effects of inflation. As students create multimedia projects using resources such as Sway, reviewed here, or Adobe Spark for Education, reviewed here, ask them to include a link to a quiz or survey created using Involve.me.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomWrite.as is perfect to use anytime you or your students need a simple tool for writing. Provide this site as an option for students to use with creative writing assignments, lab reports, or exit tickets. Include links to blogs as part of larger assignments created with Sway, reviewed here that include images, research links, and videos. Create a class collection that shares all of the blogs created using Write.as into Wakelet, reviewed here. Wakelet also offers the option to import class accounts from Google Classroom, Clever, and Microsoft Teams. Use this feature to create individual student accounts and ask them to share their Write.as blogs into an individual portfolio.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomShare Telescope with students to use when creating presentations or to share journals and other responsive writing. Use blogs to engage students in the writing process and to teach lessons on proper attribution of images. Telescope is perfect for individuals, students, or groups to use when sharing details of lab experiments. Ask students to include images of their work along with summaries of their findings. Use this site to quickly create and share weekly updates of class activities with parents, ask older students to create the weekly update from their point of view.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this tool as an easy-to-use blogging tool in the classroom and in every subject area that engages students in the learning process. Use in language arts classes to strengthen students' writing ability and 21st-century skills. Teach about proper commenting etiquette on simple first blog posts and how to provide attribution for images correctly. Use for student-written book reviews for the school library. Write weekly blogs as a tool for class or parent communication and include examples of student work and activities. Engage students in discussions on current events, independent reading, literature, and more. Ask students to play the role of a historical figure and write about their viewpoints or experiences. Share a blog in even the youngest of classes for parents to use to learn about a specific unit of study, field trips, and more. Use this site in world language classes to have students write a blog entry in the new language. Include the principal or superintendent in class discussions of students' rights as you study the Constitution. Create incredible discussions of environmental, political, or economic issues. Create a standing assignment for elementary and middle schoolers on snow days.
Grades1 to 12
In the ClassroomDiscover and use Blooket's many engaging games as a resource for practicing and reviewing information within any area of content. Use the score results to provide feedback for guiding further lessons. Some games are more fast-paced than others; use this to your advantage by sharing different versions for different groups of students. Use Blooket to differentiate instruction by adjusting the difficulty of question sets based on student abilities. Introduce new content using Blooket as a pre-assessment before starting any new unit. Use Blooket as an ice-breaker or get-to-know-you activity at the start of the school year or at the beginning of a new semester to build comradery within your classroom.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomShare Wordstool with students and ask them to create an account for use with any new vocabulary. Use during science lessons to build knowledge of new terms, during social studies activities to enhance understanding of words such as sovereignty by including examples and images, or reading novels such as those written by Shakespeare that may consist of unfamiliar language. At the end of your teaching unit, ask students to share their learning using tools found at Adobe Spark for Education, reviewed here, and include their new vocabulary terms. For example, have students create an infographic sharing science vocabulary or retell events in history by creating a short video that includes highlighted vocabulary.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomMake a flipbook of a presentation as an engaging alternative to a web page or PowerPoint. Share classroom information such as rules and expectations in an easy to read format. Use for a great way to bring digital storytelling upfront in your classroom. Make photosynthesis a story instead of bits of equations and information. Portray a period in time in history or create books of different political or societal opinions. Create a flipbook with the viewpoints and personalities of characters in a story. Practice a different language by creating a themed flipbook. Lower grades can combine writing into a class flipbook to be shared online or read aloud. Any written assignment can easily be re-visioned as a flipbook! Make your literary magazine a flipbook or build new poetry collections during poetry month. Share all your flipbooks on individual laptops, or the interactive whiteboard or projector. Create simple flipbooks of Dolch words for beginning readers.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse Whiteboard.fi to collaborate with students to share and organize information instantly. Use the whiteboard as a brainstorming or sketching space as groups (or the class) share ideas for a major project or solve a real-world problem. Use this site in a computer lab (or on laptops) to create a drawing of 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 this whiteboard tool to view students' whiteboards in real-time. For example, if you study weather, have students diagram the layers of the atmosphere and what happens during a thunderstorm. 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 to complete complex math problems or equations.
Grades7 to 12
tag(s): poetry (178)
In the ClassroomIntroduce different forms of poetry and poets using Verse by Verse. Offer students time to explore and experiment with the different features to become familiar with the different types of formats and styles of the included poets. Have students share their poetry digitally by creating an audio podcast using Synth, reviewed here. Synth features easy to use tools for creating short audio podcasts in up to 256-second increments. Encourage students to rehearse reading their poetry and add proper intonation, spacing, and reading techniques such as they would for an in-person poetry reading. Besides sharing poems, ask students to add images and record audio, read their poems, and then share their creative process when writing poetry. Share student recordings on a class blog created with a free blog tool such as Site123, reviewed here, or in a series of blogs based on different forms of poetry.
Grades6 to 12
This site includes advertising.
In the ClassroomPrevious experience with layer-based design software editing such as Photoshop is extremely beneficial. The Photopea Learn page provides helpful tutorials, but individuals without previous training may need additional support.
Challenge students to learn about the different options and features included with Photopea, then create and share video tutorials for their peers using a screen recording tool like Free Screen Recorder Online, reviewed here. As your students become familiar with the different features, have students include their edited images in any multimedia projects. Include images when using Adobe Spark for Education, reviewed here, when creating videos, flyers, or websites. Include images with storytelling projects created with Sway, reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomPrevious experience with layer-based design software editing such as Photoshop is extremely beneficial.
Include this library of objects for students to use with any digital projects. If you or your students, don't use PhotoShop, edit images using Photopea, reviewed here, then save in PNG or SVG format. Include the multicultural images when creating classroom newsletters, calendars, and worksheets. Ask students to use the images when creating digital books or multimedia projects. For example, include images when making digital books with Book Creator, reviewed here, or include with explainer videos created using Powtoon, reviewed here.