(You might also be interested in The Best MATH Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress)
Also, A Potpourri Of The Best & Most Useful Video Sites has even more similar tools.
I know “The Best…” list has a very awkward title, but I couldn’t think of a better one.
In our Family Literacy Project we provide home computers and Internet access to immigrant families. Eighty percent of household members spend at least one hour each day (many spend considerably more time) on our website. Three of these seven hours each week need to be spent on one of several websites that act as sort of “virtual classrooms” — students and their family members enter them with a password and we can check online to see how much time they have spent on them.
I thought readers might find it useful to see which ones we’ve determined to be the best for kind of program. I don’t think there’s much need to use them in school with so many other options available, but they are excellent for homework. The sites we use are easy for the teacher to set-up, very easy for the English Language Learner student to sign-in, and provide a variety of engaging content suitable for all levels, including native-English speakers.
You might also want to check out The Best Sites Where Students Can Learning Typing/Keyboarding.
There are sites we use, and which I think stand-out when compared to similar web applications:
Raz-Kids provides a large number of “talking books” at multiple levels that speak-the-text at the same time the words are highlighted. There’s a wide range of fiction and expository text, and is suitable for Beginning and Intermediate readers. It costs $90 annually for one classroom of students.
Kubbu was brought to my attention by Dan Sackin, an English teacher in Thailand. Teachers can easily create a number of online exercises for students to complete, and you can easily keep track of how they do. It’s free for one teacher and up to thirty students. Here’s an example of something Dan created for his students.
My Testbook looks like a great addition to list. It lets students study math, science and English.
English Central was tied for the number-one ranking in The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students — 2009. David Deubelbeiss has posted a very thorough post about the site titled English Central – Bringing “voice” and output to learning English. I’d strongly encourage you to read it — I don’t feel any need to “reinvent the wheel.” A quick description is that it’s a free video site for English Language Learners, lets users listen to parts of the video, then lets them repeat what the characters says and compares it to the original. You get graded on how well you do. It has even more features, but you can read David’s post or check out the site directly. The other great thing about it is that the videos are all appropriate for the classroom, unlike several other ESL video sites that have come online recently. It’s now gotten even better. Teachers can now register their classes and monitor their students’ work — for free.
A big thanks to Kelvin Hartell, who let me know about Study Ladder. It has impressive literacy, science and math interactives, and teachers can set-up “classrooms” to keep track of student work. Plus, it’s free!
ZooWhiz is a good — and free — Australian site with tons of interactive games and exercises for pre-school, elementary, and middle school (and for English Language Learners who are even older). Users have to register for the site, and teachers can create virtual classrooms for their students.
TED-Ed allows the creation of quizzes and monitoring of student results. Read more about it at Using TED-Ed Videos.
I’m adding two “sister sites” to list– Qwizzy’s World (for K-7) and Cram Stoppers (for 8-12). Both only provide quizzes, so they are much more limited than most of the other sites on that list. However, unlike many of the other sites I have posted about, at least the Cram Stoppers might be usable for mainstream higher grades.
Because of their limitations, however, I wouldn’t use it during the school year. I’d just include it as an option for students to use during vacations to limit the summer slide.
Learning 2 Spell is a new free site that provides a series of spelling tests that learners can take. Teachers or parents can enroll individual children and track their progress. There’s a limited amount of content on the site now, and there were a few bugs when I tried it, but I suspect both issues will be resolved soon.
Thanks to reader Michelle Anthony, I’ve learned about ScootPad. It lets teachers set-up virtual classrooms to monitor student progress in grad one-to-three reading and math lessons. And it’s free.
No Red Ink looks like a site that has a lot of potential. It focuses on grammar skills.
Power My Learning lets teachers create virtual classrooms and monitor student progress in multiple subjects.
SAS Curriculum Pathways has a huge amount of interactives in all subjects. In many of them, students complete the activity online, and then send their work electronically to their teacher (it can also be printed out). And it’s free.
The teacher signs-up and is give a log-in name for all the students in a school. It doesn’t appear that students need their own individual log-in because they have to type in their name before beginning any activity. Let me tell you, that will make using site immeasurably easy — students won’t have to remember — or forget — individual passwords!
Since I’m teaching US History year, I mainly focused on those sites, and they looked pretty good and accessible to ELL’s with audio support for the text. The site, though, has resources for all subjects.
In my review of the US History sites, they all appeared engaging, though primarily geared to lower-levels of thinking, primarily comprehension and recall. But since I use the Web generally as a reinforcement tool, that works fine for me.
Review Game Zone lets teachers, and anyone, input academic questions and have them turned into a games that students can use for review. It’s free, and teachers can also monitor student use of at least some types of the games.
Sketchlot lets students…sketch and draw online. Teachers sign-up and can create a class roster letting students log-in, and drawings are embeddable. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.
Brainscape lets you add images and allows you to record sound simply by clicking on the “Advanced Editor.” It’s easy to add both, and those features make Brainscape stand out a bit from some of the other sites out there. They also say that “For teachers (or even parents) there are also tools that allow you to track the study progress of your students subscribed to your subject!”
I’ve previously posted about LearnZillion and put it on The Best MATH Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress list. Since that time, they’ve added English Language Arts lessons, and are planning to also have ones related to Social Studies, so I’m now adding it to list, too.
Newsela provides several “levels” of the same newspaper articles, along with accompanying online quizzes, that students can read and take. Teachers can create a virtual classroom, assign articles and monitor student progress.
I wouldn’t say it promotes higher-level thinking but, of course, I would say the same thing about most (if not all) of the sites on list. They are, however, useful for reinforcement of certain skills at home or at the computer lab for an occasional change of pace.
One thing that Newsela does have going for it is the different levels of complexity it offers for the same article. That increases the odds of it being useful to English Language Learners.
One thing Newsela does not have going for it is that though it’s free for a “trial,” it clearly indicates that it will cost at some point but the only way you can find out the price is if you send them an email. That makes me a bit suspicious, especially since most of the other sites on my previously mentioned “The Best” list are free.
Nevertheless, at least until they start charging, I’ll be adding Newsela to list.
What’s really nice about the site is that you can create virtual classrooms and monitor student progress. You can assign students activities you or other users create. I personally prefer to also have students make their own interactives on sites like and then have classmates try them out.
SchoolShape is an online “language lab” that is also worth a look. Some exercises are free, but most require payment. But it does look like an easy way for students to create online work (including audio recordings) for teacher review.
“ClassFlow” Is Live, Available & Free
Scribjab lets students write, draw and record bilingual online stories and books. In addition, teachers can create virtual classrooms — for free.
Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, has just announced several new online education resources.
The one that really stands out for me is Sea Of Liberty. After registering for free, teachers can create virtual classrooms and student can make lots of online interactive posters and projects using Monticello resources.
Scrawlar lets teachers create virtual classrooms, lets students write and use a “whiteboard,” doesn’t require student email registration (just a classroom password and a student-created sign-in code, and is free. It’s also usable on laptops, desktops, tablets and phones.
It provides well-done interactive exercises to reinforce grammar exercises and the real advantage is that you can create virtual classrooms to track student progress.
ABC Mouse only provides content for pre-K and Kindergartners, though much of it would also be accessible and useful for Beginning English Language Learners. Though it charges families, teachers can sign-up for their own virtual classrooms. It’s also accessible for free from public libraries.
Vocabmonk focuses on building academic vocabulary. Teachers can also create their own virtual classrooms there, too.
But what’s particularly impressive to me is the ability for teachers to set-up virtual classes, create assignments, and track individual student progress on the work. It has lot of other bells-and-whistles that I’ve just begun to explore, including the ability to leave virtual post-it notes on many of their resources.
Bookopolis lets teachers create virtual classrooms — for free — where students can identify the book they’re reading (they just have to type in the title and the site automatically “finds” it) and write a review. There are a number of other features, too. It seems like a very useful site, though I’m less-than-thrilled with the extrinsic points and badges students can earn.
Books That Grow has a library of texts that have each been edited to be made accessible to different reading levels. And it has some other unique features — teachers can create virtual classrooms to assign and/or monitor what students what are reading and students can click on words that are new to them to see definitions and hear how they are pronounced. They are also planning on adding comprehension questions. The texts can be read on any device.
Everything is free for now, though they plan on starting to charge for some “premium” features in the 2015/16 school year.
You can register now on their sign-up page, and then they’ll contact you by email in a few hours or the next day with registration information. They won’t have a super-easy system in place until January for registering students in virtual classes, but they’ll do it for you prior to that time.
Hstry is a nice new online too for creating timelines. Richard Byrne just wrote a post about it, and I’d suggest just you visit his blog to learn more. As he points out, one of the particularly nice features of this free tool is that teachers can create virtual classrooms for their students.
Thanks to reader Vincy Murgillo for letting me know about the Smithsonian’s Tween Tribune.
It provides daily news stories, with the same one edited several times for different reading levels. The stories also have self-scoring quizzes and provide decent “critical thinking” questions that students can respond to in the comments. On top of that, teachers can create virtual classrooms to monitor it all, as well as moderating student comments.
And it’s all available for free!
Sketchlot lets teachers create virtual classrooms for their students, who can then create drawings or other products on an online whiteboard that can be monitored by their teachers.
Quizizz is on The “All-Time” Best Online Learning Games list — students play an online quiz together, and a “leaderboard” is shown after each question is answered (I talk about the benefits and challenges of this kind of feature at the “Best” post). They just added a great feature — the ability to assign these quizzes as homework and to have teachers track student progress.
ClassKick lets teachers create virtual classrooms with pre-made or original assignments. It’s free.
At Second Look, Wizer Looks Like A Fabulous Way Create Virtual Classrooms & Track Student Progress
Again, any and all feedback is welcome.
How to create digital homework that students love is an excellent “how-to” post about using TED-Ed with students.
Listen Current provides podcasts with accompanying exercises. You can create virtual classrooms in the premium version, but they won’t tell you how much that costs unless you contact them. I’m always wary of sites that don’t post their prices. To their credit, they seem to offer premium versions for free during the summer.
I’ve previously posted about the Smithsonian Learning Labs – when they first opened you could create your own personal online collections of their “objects,” which was why I added it to The Best Ways For Students To Create Their Own Online Art Collections. They expanded its features to include letting teachers create class rosters, assignments, and monitor student progress. You can even upload non-Smithsonian resources to your assignments.
Using those features don’t appear to be as intuitive as I would like them to be – you can read the instructions here. But, I assume they’ll deal with those challenges as they receive feedback.
Here’s a video about the Learning Labs:
For $53 annually, teachers can set up a virtual classroom for up to 25 students at Vocabulary/Spelling City.
“Word Bucket” Lets Students Learn Vocabulary In A New Language & Teachers Can Set Up Virtual Classrooms
Perusall is a new online tool inspired by Eric Mazur. I’ve previously posted about his work encouraging college instructors to move away from lectures. Perusall is a free site where teachers can assign student readings for homework and where students annotate the text while connecting with other students doing the same thing at the same time. The tool then also supposedly provides some kind of automatic assessment for the student annotations. Teachers can upload anything they want, as well as assigning textbooks that then have to be purchased through the site (I assume that this is their strategy for making money). You can read more about it at This new tool makes the flipped classroom more social.
Vocabulary.com lets teachers create free virtual classrooms and assign vocabulary lists to learn. They’re not the most exciting online activities for students to do, but it could used periodically in class, and I suspect some students might like to do it at home.
OpenStax provides free online textbooks and the ability for teachers to create virtual classrooms and have student annotate the text (along with other features). It’s limited to college instructors now. However, it appears they are expanding to K-12, starting with an AP pilot and you can apply to participate. I first heard about it by an announcement of research they were beginning to analyze student online highlighting of text and try to identify how to enhance that strategy for learning.
WriteReader lets students create their own online books fairly easily. Teachers can create their own virtual classrooms and monitor student progress. It’s free for the next two months (I’m writing this in August, 2016) but, after that time, they’re going to charge $79 per year for a class of 35 students.
Ixil lets you create a virtual classroom for your students for $250. The activities all seem fairly basic, but it appears to be a fairly popular site among educators.
Here are three new additions to this list:
The other two – Kids Discover Online (for Social Studies) and Whooo’s Reading (for literacy) seem to offer some decent materials, though they also both require payment. Neither’s cost is outrageous. The also both offer some free resources, but those are pretty limited.
Lyrics2Learn is a music video program to teach early readers. It feels to me something like a StarFall (the famous site for early readers) put to music. You can create a virtual classroom with it, and can try it out for a month. Then you have to pay $150 per year. I’ve been having a few of my lowest English-proficient and least engaged Beginning ELLs use it, and it seems to be going well. We’ll have to see, though, if I think it’s worth paying for in a few weeks.
StoryWorld is a new site that has about forty bilingual stories (English/Spanish or English/Chinese) with audio support for the text. Teachers can easily create virtual classrooms. You can get a thirty-day free trial (no credit card number required). Then, it costs $69 per year for a classroom. I think it might be particularly useful for my Spanish-speaking students who are not literate in their home language. I’m going to try it out this month and see.
Thanks to The Backseat Linguist, I learned about The Language Muse. It appears to be Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) attempt to break into the English Language Learner market. It will take any text you give it and automatically turn it into a zillion different learning activities you can either assign electronically or via paper.
I have lots of concerns about tools that spit out automatic activities (see “textivate” Has Potential, But…..), but you might want to try out The Language Muse. You have to request a password, and I received one within twelve hours. It seems free to use now, but I think it’s a safe bet that ETS will be charging schools in the not-so-distant future.
Here’s a video about it:
Project-Based Learning with Drawp for School Student Tool is from Class Tech Tips.
SpellQuiz is an online tool that lets you create virtual classrooms for spelling and phonics instruction. Teachers can have their students access one quiz a week for free, or they can pay $120 per year for unlimited access.
Quizlet Teacher account – worth it? is a post from ELT PLanning.
Bulb is a somewhat similar tool that might be worth exploring.
I’ve previously posted about the Buncee tool that lets you compose multi-media creations (it’s on The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2013 list). I’ve learned from David Kapuler that they’ve developed a feature for teachers to create virtual classrooms at a cost of $100 per year.
Read Oasis lets teachers create a free (for one school term) virtual classroom for up to 50 students and provides tons of reading resources.
Powtoon, the popular presentation creator that’s on The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows list, has recently announced a new tool called Slides. The more important Powtoon-related news is that they now have an education program that lets teachers create virtual classrooms. It does cost about $100 per year.
EdVisto is another presentation tool where it appears that teachers can create virtual classrooms for their students. I learned about it from the CristinaSkyBox blog. There’s a cost involved after an initial free trial, but I can’t figure out the amount.
30 Hands Learning is yet another site that lets you create virtual classrooms and monitor the progress students are making in creating projects. I’m adding it to The Best Sites Where Students Can Work Independently & Let Teachers Check On Progress.
ClassCraft also lets you create virtual classroom and supposedly turn learning into some sort of adventure game. I’m adding it to the same list.
Typing.com lets teachers create free virtual classrooms to teach…typing.
Thanks to Nik Peachey, I just learned about an excellent free site called Apps 4 EFL. The site has a huge variety of ready-to-use interactives and games for English Language Learners. In addition, teachers can use the site’s tools to create their own. Even better, teachers can create free virtual classrooms where students can enroll. You can read more about it in Nik’s post.
C3Teachers lets you access teacher-created “inquiries” and says it provides you the ability to create your own “inquiries” and have students complete them online. I wasn’t able to figure out how to do the latter, but I assume it’s because of my lack of understanding of how the site works.
The Answer Pad is yet another site that lets teachers create free virtual classrooms and have students do online work.
Web Poster Wizard lets teachers create free virtual classrooms with student assignments, primarily for “web poster” reports on specific projects.
LingoJingo is a new site that lets teachers create virtual classrooms where students can learn English and other classes. Teachers can get a twelve-month free trial. It looks pretty interesting, though it seems a bit more complicated than it has to be when registering students (they require them to have an email address).
Creatubbles lets teachers create free virtual classrooms where students can share their “maker” creations.
LiveWorksheets lets teachers either create, convert, or borrow existing worksheets and make them “fillable” online. You can create virtual classrooms (called “interactive workbooks”) of assigned activities where teachers can monitor student progress.
Cikumas lets teachers create virtual classrooms for free and post lessons for students.
kiddZtube Academy lets teachers adapt YouTube video, add questions to them, and create student assignments. They are limited now to pre-school students, but will be expanding soon to grades one-to-five. It’s free. Here’s a video about them:
I’ve previously shared about the great tool My Simple Show (see Wow – “My Simple Show” Is An Extraordinary Tool For Creating Free Video “Explainers”). Richard Byrne blogged about their new free option for teachers to create fifty free student accounts in a classroom plan.
Rocket Spelling lets you create a virtual classroom – for a cost.
Lalilo is designed to teach literacy to students in the K-2 range and could also be used with Beginning ELLs. Teachers can create virtual classrooms for students to access activities. I learned about it from David Kapuler.
Animaker Edify is a new educational feature of the popular tool for creating animations. Teachers can create virtual classrooms.
I previously posted “En.News” Looks Like A Good Site For Intermediate ELLs To Learn About Vocabulary & Current Events. I’ve now learned that teachers can create free virtual classrooms to monitor student progress at the site. Just go here to register.
Showbie is yet another site that lets teachers create virtual classrooms where they can monitor student progress on assignments. You have to pay $99 annually to get all their bells and whistles, but there’s a free plan, too.
Glose raises $3.4 million for its collaborative reading app is from TechCrunch. Glose is a “social reading” site that has game elements. It has an education arm that lets teachers created virtual classrooms with up to forty students for free, including a fair number of class books in the public domain (you have to pay for others).
Wixie is an online tool where students can write and where – for a fee – teachers can create virtual classrooms.
Socrates is yet another tool where teachers can create virtual classrooms. For a price.
Mr. Nussbaum is a well-known and free site with excellent academic activities. Now, its creators have come up with an additional site where teachers can create virtual classroom – MrN365. You have to pay for this new one.
The DBQ Project provides Social Studies lessons and lets students create virtual classrooms. It looks pretty interesting, and I learned about it from Ken Halla.
Braingenie – Math & Science Practice from CK-12 is a post from Richard Byrne talking about yet another tool letting students create virtual classrooms.
Bloxels lets students create video games. Teachers can create virtual classrooms.
EduFlow seems like a fairly simple way for teachers to create virtual classrooms and have students do assignments.
TeachVid lets teachers do lots of things with videos and create virtual classrooms – for a cost.
DogoNews for Teachers lets you create virtual classrooms for students to read articles about current events and have them answer questions for only a few bucks per student each year. It’s inexpensive compared to other similar sites.
Read To Lead is free, and provides online simulations that “teach students literacy and leadership in an immersive virtual workplace.”
Reading IQ is an online reading site with tons of books providing audio support for the text, and they say it’s free for teachers who want to set up classrooms for their students. Unfortunately, their sign-up process for students seems a little tricky – at least for me.
Kid Citizen is a free site designed for students to learn with primary sources. It says its focus is K-5, but I think it could be useful with older students, too, – particularly English Language Learners. It’s filled with interactive videos and, on top of that, teachers can also create their own interactives, share them with students, and monitor student progress through a sort of virtual classroom.
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