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The Fifteen Tech Tools & Non-Tech Resources I Use Most Often With My Students

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I share lots of tools and resources – in fact, I publish about five posts a day.

That’s a lot of stuff!

One way I try to help readers, and myself, hear through the “noise” of all those posts is through my 1,500 regularly updated “Best” lists.

I use many of them at various points throughout the year, but I thought that readers might find it useful/interesting to hear which ones I use most often with students.

So this list is sort of a classroom version of my needing-to-be-updated The Web 2.0/Social Media Tools I Use Everyday & How I Use Them list.

Here are the tech tools and resources I use most often with my students (not listed in any particular order):

I’ve called SAS Curriculum Pathways the best online ed site out there, and I continue to feel that way. It has free online interactive lessons for all subjects, and I particularly like their ones for Social Studies. Students complete the lesson and then email it the teacher. It’s super-easy for everybody to use, and very high-quality.

Lingohut is a free and accessible bi-and-multi-lingual language-learning site that my students like a lot.

Edublogs hosts all my class blogs, including ones for U.S. History, World History, Theory of Knowledge and a combination English For ELLs & Geography one (you can access all of them at the link). In some cases, they contain almost my entire curriculum, including downloadable hand-outs. Students use them regularly when we visit the computer lab. In light of the insane YouTube Safety Mode (see The Best Ways To Deal With YouTube’s Awful Safety Mode), blogs are particularly useful as hosting sites after downloading videos that would be blocked by the Safety Mode.

YouTube is a great source for videotaped student presentations and projects. Though I often don’t make the video links “public,” you can see most of them embedded at our class blog. Students watching themselves can be a great self-evaluating exercise, and the best TOK presentations function as models for future classes. I especially like using the Shadow Puppet app these days which lets students provide audio narration to a visual without the added pressure of having themselves appear on camera. I also do the same with Vine or Instagram videos and then upload them to YouTube (see The Best Resources For Learning To Use The Video Apps “Vine” & Instagram).

I’ve written a lot about the free language-learning app and site Duolingo, including their virtual classrooms. Students love it, though their English-learning levels seem to plateau fairly soon. I’d love it if they made it more useful to intermediate learners at some point.

EdHelper has two levels of annual subscription costs ($20 and $40 – the less expensive version works for me). It’s a great source of easily accessible texts that can easily be repurposed for classroom use in multiple ways: text data sets (You can see examples of these in my ASCD article, Get Organized Around Assets and in a couple of pieces I’ve written for The New York Times), clozes (The Best Tools For Creating Clozes (Gap-Fills)); sequencing activities (read about these in another NY Times post) to be completed by students.  They are also great for Read Alouds and Think Alouds.

Raz-Kids (annual cost of $100 for a 36 student classroom) provides an excellent selection of engaging books that students can see and hear, along with comprehension quizzes. They’re great for Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learners.

Reading A-Z (annual cost of $100) is a sister site to Raz-Kids and provides hard-copy masters of the Raz-Kids books and more. They’re great for reproduction so you can have multiple copies of the same books for students. They’re leveled, and convenient for differentiation.

The WRITE Institute, as I’ve said many times, is the best resources out there for teaching writing to English Language Learners. You can purchase excellent unit plans for $20 a piece here here.

Sounds Easy! Phonics, Spelling, and Pronunciation Practice is a wonderful book for helping students learn phonics. Unfortunately, however, the book itself doesn’t discuss what I’ve found to be its most effective use through inductive learning (see The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching).  We discuss it in our ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide.  Simply put, after using the reproducible hand-outs from the book to teach the letter-sounds, I’ve found that then having students categorize and expand the number of words that fit into their categories is extraordinarily effective.

I really like the English In Action series as a “workbook” for students to use at the beginning of class for fifteen minutes and for homework. It covers the basics and is set-up for students to feel successful.

America’s Story is a very good “consumable” textbook for ELL U.S. History. My U.S. History class blog is organized along the books’ chapters.

ACCESS World History is a very accessible text that comes with a student workbook. My World History class blog is organized along the book’s chapters.

World View is a two volume consumable Geography textbook for English Language Learners. I like it a lot, but it appears that the publisher has gone out of business, and I’m not sure if another one is going to pick it up. I hope they do. But, just in case, I’d love to hear recommendations for other ELL-friendly Geography textbooks.

Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma
by Richard van de Lagemaat is the TOK textbook we use. I know there’s a newer edition, but our school can’t afford it yet, and I think this version still works well.

There is one more site that may join this list, but it’s relaunching this week and I’m sworn to secrecy until they go live.  If it’s as good as I hope it to be, it will certainly be the sixteenth resource on this list.

“Drawing Out” Book Is Excellent For ELL Beginner Homework

There you have it….I’ll work hard at keeping this updated.

Feel free to share your own similar list in the comments section.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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