Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

March 23, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“Edcanvas” Has Just Leaped To The Top Of My List Of Useful Web 2.0 Tools

I’ve previously posted several times about Edcanvass, and it’s already on a number of “The Best…” lists.

This week they added another great feature — the ability to easily record up to five minutes of audio on any image or text you pin to a canvass, and you can pin many items on one canvass.

I’m now adding it to yet another “The Best…” list — The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

March 7, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Lesson Tracking in Edcanvas”

I’ve previously posted about Edcanvas. It’s now added some features that let teachers track a bit more of what students are doing on it. Here’s a video describing their new capabilities, and you can also read a post about it at Richard Byrne’s blog. I’m now adding it to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.

October 30, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Edcanvas” Looks Like A Nifty Tool

I just learned about Edcanvas from Diana Laufenberg. It’s a nifty tool that lets you very easily add videos, images, website snapshots and files to create a grid canvass for students to access (teachers can also create virtual classes so that students could create their own). You can also type text on top of what you drag into the grid boxes — for example, instructions. A particularly nifty feature is that it provides a search box so you can search for videos, images and websites right from within the application.

It has multiple uses, but I think it’s especially good for creating Internet Scavenger Hunts and Web Quests, which I why I’m adding it to The Best Places To Create (And Find) Internet Scavenger Hunts & Webquests.

March 27, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

March’s Best Posts From This Blog


I regularly highlight my picks for the most useful posts for each month — not including “The Best…” lists. I also use some of them in a more extensive monthly newsletter I send-out. You can see older Best Posts of the Month at Websites Of The Month (more recent lists can be found here).

Here are some of the posts I personally think are the best, and most helpful, ones I’ve written during this past month (not in any order of preference):

“I Wish You To” Lets You Easily Draw & Create Your Own Ecards

“Flow” In The Classroom

What Is Your Most Original & Successful Lesson?

“Student Engagement ‘Requires A Conversation’”

Koi & Classroom Management

My New Book, Self-Driven Learning, Is Now Available On Kindle

Here’s The Latest Reflection/Goal-Setting Sheet I’m Using With Students

“Edcanvas” Has Just Leaped To The Top Of My List Of Useful Web 2.0 Tools

See What The Poor Can Buy Around The World In “The Poverty Line”

Another Positive Review Of My New Book

Video: “Imagine a World Without Hate”

Our Students Are Not Supermen & Superwomen

Two Excellent Posts On Giving Effective Feedback

“Many Ways To Help Students Develop Academic Vocabulary”

Part Two Of My ASCD Article On Using Ed Tech In The Classroom

“They didn’t come in and try to say that we needed to do everything differently”

What A Great Piece In “The New Yorker” About Standardized Tests

Nice Review Of My New Book

“Teachers & Superintendents Must ‘Work To Understand Each Other’”

“Ethical & Effective Test Prep” Is Another Excerpt From My New Book

Infographic: “History of the English Language”

Response: We Need “Fewer John Waynes & More John Deweys”

Irritation Vs. Agitation

“Skype Announces Free Group Video Calling for Teachers”

“Ideas for English Language Learners | The Real Harlem Shake, Mapping Memories and More”

Chart: Useful Summary Of The Differences Between Parent Involvement & Parent Engagement

Links To The Entire Six Week Twitter Chat On Helping Students Develop Intrinsic Motivation

“Ten Elements Of Effective Instruction”

Writing Letters To Students Redux

Video: “Helping Students Motivate Themselves”

“Map Tales” Lets You Create “Map-Based Stories”

Excellent Post On New KIPP Charter Schools Study

Learning Another Language Makes Your Brain Grow Bigger — Literally

My New Article “Technology: Moving from No to Yes”

You Can Read My New Book Excerpt At This Link Without Registering….

December 11, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2012

It’s that time of year again when I start posting year-end “The Best….” lists. There are over one thousand lists now.  You can see them all here.

As usual, in order to make this list, a site had to be:

* accessible to English Language Learners and non-tech savvy users.

* free-of-charge.

* appropriate for classroom use.

* completely browser-based with no download required.

It’s possible that a few of these sites began in 2011, but, if so, I’m including them in this list because they were “new to me” in 2012.

You might want to visit previous editions:

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2011

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2010

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2009

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2008

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2007

(You might also find The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly In 2012 — So Far useful)

Here are my ranked choices for The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2012:

Number Twenty-Nine is a pretty darn easy way to create a free website. Be sure to click “Get a Free Account now …” on their homepage.

Number Twenty-Eight is a very easy tool for creating a website. I particularly like the fact that you can grab images off the Web to insert in them.

Number Twenty-Seven

Kwiqpoll lets you easily create a poll — and no registration is required. You’re give the poll’s url address, but it’s not embeddable. It has no frills, but it’s easy as pie.

Number Twenty-Six

In Focus lets you, without any registration required, literally “highlight” a section of any webpage and provides a unique url address linking to it.

Number Twenty-Five

The free web tool Inklewriter is, without a doubt, the easiest way to write a choose your own adventure story. You can read more about it at Gamasutra, New, free tools allow any novice to make an accessible text adventure.

Number Twenty-Four

Pandamian is a super-simple — and free — tool to create an ebook. Sign-up takes a few seconds, and you’re given your own url address for all your future books. Click on “create a new book” and you’re off! You can easily copy and paste images, and readers can leave moderated comments. They can also subscribe to an RSS feed if they want to be updated on newer chapters and it can be embedded.

Number Twenty-Three

Quicklinkr lets you very easily collect websites, images, videos, etc — without requiring registration. They are shown with screenshots, and you can put them into “folders.” It appears you have to register if you want to come back to edit it, or to leave a comment about one of the saved links (registration is quick and easy). Unfortunately, that comment feature appears the only way you can add a text description to any link you save. There might be another way, but I didn’t see it.

Number Twenty-Two

Edcanvas is a nifty tool that lets you very easily add videos, images, website snapshots and files to create a grid canvass for students to access (teachers can also create virtual classes so that students could create their own). You can also type text on top of what you drag into the grid boxes — for example, instructions. A particularly nifty feature is that it provides a search box so you can search for videos, images and websites right from within the application. It has multiple uses, but I think it’s especially good for creating Internet Scavenger Hunts and Web Quests.

Number Twenty-One

Kl1P lets you create a webpage without any registration required. You can paste text or images into it, and is a great way to publish student work — you get a custom url address for your page and can paste that on a student/teacher blog.

Number Twenty

Check This is the latest in a long line of tools that let you create webpages quickly, without registering, and that let you also paste images into them.

Number Nineteen

Loose Leaves lets you write or paste images and automatically creates a webpage. You’re given two url addresses — one where you can edit it again and a second where others can view it. No registration is necessary.

Number Eighteen

QikPad is a nice online collaborative writing tool that has an embedding feature.

Number Seventeen

BeeClip.Edu lets you set-up a virtual classroom where students can create a “scrapbook” or other products using a very simple “drag-and-drop” interface. Text can also be added. One teacher with up to thirty students is free, but you have to pay if you want to add more.

Number Sixteen

ikiMap lets you easily create maps and, what I particularly like, is you can insert images off the web just by using their url addresses.

Number Fifteen looks good and is very similar to Animoto. You can search for photos online or use your own, and easily combine them with music to create musical video-like slideshows.

Number Fourteen

Google announced a new tool called “Story Builder.”  Without having to register, you can create a “dialogue” of sorts, add music, and end up with a link to a video-like presentation that you can share.  We were studying natural disasters in our ninth-grade English class, and students had a blast creating dialogues between people experiencing a disaster of their choice.

Number Thirteen

MentorMob lets you very easily create a slideshow. Webpages, videos and photos can be grabbed from the web and added, along with notes. It’s easy to use, very intuitively designed so just about anyone can figure it out, and attractive.

Number Twelve

Hello Slide lets you upload a PDF of your PowerPoint. You can then type in the narration and it will use a text-to-speech feature to provide audio to your slideshow.

Number Eleven

Themeefy lets you grab pretty much anything you want off the Web, and add your own materials, to create a personalized magazine that can be shared/embedded wherever you want. It looks pretty neat and simple.

Number Ten

Skqueak is a new free iPhone app I like a lot that lets you easily provide audio for photos. There are several other apps on various other “The Best…” lists,   However, I suspect that Skqueak is going to give them a run for their money. It’s very simple to use, it appears to have a very extended recording time (though I’m not sure what the time limit is exactly) and, most importantly, it makes it extremely easy to create sort of a seamless audio slideshow. None of the other similar apps have such an ability, or at least one that is as easy to use.

Number Nine

Though I’ve used clozes (fill-in-the-blank/gap-fill) for several years, this is the first time a free and easy-to-use site like LearnClick has been available (there have been other cloze-creation sites, but none that I thought were student-friendly). LearnClick makes it super-simple and free to create and post interactive clozes online so students from different classes — in fact, students anywhere — can try completing them. And they’re much more enjoyable to create, too!

Number Eight

Urlist is now my favorite tool for creating Internet Scavenger Hunts. You register, copy and paste the sites you want, easily leave comments/instructions/questions for each site (which students can see by clicking “expand,” share the link, and you’ve got your hunt. You can also “play” the sites like a slideshow, but that’s not necessary for scavenger hunt purposes.

Number Seven lets you drag and drop images and links (and the links appear as thumbnail images on the screen);it lets you write on it or add speech bubbles — it’s basically a super-duper-duper Wallwisher.

Number Six looks like a pretty easy tool for creating infographics that can be linked to or embedded. The selection of templates is pretty limited, but the site is still in beta. The main problem with the site is that you can only log-in using a social media site like Facebook or Twitter. That makes it usable for teachers, but, since those sites are blocked in most schools for students, they would not be able to create their own. (UPDATE: It appears that you can now register just using an email address)

Number Five  is hands-down the easiest tool I’ve seen on the Web to create infographics. You just “drag-and-drop” a variety of themes, type in your data, and you’ve got a great infographic.

Number Four

I’m a big proponent of the Picture Word Inductive Model as a strategy for English Language Learners to develop reading and writing skills (I describe it in detail  in my article in ASCD Educational Leadership, Get Organized Around Assets). It begins with the teacher labeling items in thematic photos with the help of students. The webtool Thinglink could be a great deal to help ELL’s maximize the advantages of this instructional strategy. Thinglink lets you upload or grab an image or video off the web and annotate items with the image or video super-easily. It basically looks like a photo in the Picture Word Inductive Model, just online. Thinglink’s recently announced for educators and students that you can now annotate fifty images free, and the cost for far more is next-to-nothing.

Number Three

Szoter doesn’t require registration, you can upload or grab images off the web (just insert its url address), and the final product looks just like an image would look like using the Picture Word Inductive Model.

Number Two

MarQueed is like a Thinglink  on steroids and allows collaborative annotation.  You can read more about it here.

Number One

Meograph is a cool web tool that lets you create an audio-narrated digital story with an integrated map.  You can also grab images off the web, but have to remember to copy and paste the image’s url address in the YouTube field.  Just check it out!

Feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 1000 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.

February 15, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Places To Create (And Find) Internet Scavenger Hunts & Webquests

'Webquest' photo (c) 2008, Néstor Alonso - license:

There seems to be a fair amount of confusion about the definition of a “Webquest.” Bernie Dodge, who originated the model in 1995, described it like this in a comment on this blog last year:

“A critical attribute of a WebQuest is that it engages higher level thinking, the upper part of Bloom’s taxonomy. Things like creativity, analysis, synthesis. judgment…. A WebQuest is also wrapped around a single challenging task, not a sequence of separate activities A WebQuest isn’t a scavenger hunt and it isn’t a worksheet with links.”

Here’s an additional helpful comment Bernie added to this post:

“A WebQuest is centered around a challenging, doable and (ideally) authentic task. Examples of WebQuest tasks might include: writing a letter to the mayor taking a stand on whether a new landfill should be opened; writing a diary as if you were living in 1491; designing a travel itinerary for geologists visiting Italy; or creating a commemorative mural celebrating space exploration. A WebQuest is never about answering a series of questions. Even though a scavenger hunt might require some analysis or problem solving, it’s not of the same intensity of higher level thinking that a good WebQuest entails.

Obviously there’s a place for both WebQuests and scavenger hunts, but they are different places with very different goals.”

I can empathize with his desire to make the distinction clear between a scavenger hunt and a webquest.  As readers know, I was a community organizer for nineteen years before becoming a high school teacher, and I’ve been amazed at what some people will describe as community organizing when, in fact, it’s something far less.  That doesn’t mean it’s bad, just as an Internet Scavenger Hunt isn’t bad.  It’s just better for everybody to keep distinctions clear.

Given that, however, we all live in the real world where ambiguity reigns supreme.  So, for example, I believe that a simple Internet Scavenger Hunt can also include elements of “creativity, analysis, synthesis. judgment” without necessarily being a full-fledged Webquest.  Though I promote a lot of activities in my classroom that encourage higher-level thinking, it’s not unusual for me to quickly put together a scavenger hunt for students to use in the computer lab that functions — more or less — as just a change of pace and another opportunity for small group collaborative learning.  These kind of hunts will often include a few interpretative as well as factual questions.

I’ve divided this “The Best…” list into into a few sections. The first ones include tools to create activities that are more akin to “Internet Scavenger Hunts,” as well as some good examples ones that others have created that are a bit more involved, while the later section is focused on “Webquests.”  The resources I share about scavenger hunts specifically related to English Language Learners, while the Webquest ones are more applicable to all students.

Teachers can use the tools I share in the first section to very quickly put together an accessible group of websites where students can find the answers to a list of factual questions (for example, about the American Civil War) and get some needed background to answer more interpretative ones (If you were the President of the U.S. at the time, how would you have treated the South after the Civil War and why?).

I usually either have a list of questions on a sheet of paper that students need to complete, or have them posted on a class blog where students can then copy and paste them onto a Word document and then print-out, or put it on their own individual blog.

I can design a simple scavenger hunt in about twenty minutes. In addition, and for an even better activity, I have student groups design their own scavenger hunts that they then exchange with other student groups, particularly after they’ve done a few of mine.


There are several simple web applications that teachers can use to easily have a list of websites where students can go to find the answers to specific questions on a scavenger hunt.  The ones I list here are particularly accessible to English Language Learners because they provide screenshots of the websites as well as their url addresses, and they also don’t require a teacher to register to use them, either.  They include:

I just learned about Edcanvas from Diana Laufenberg. It’s a nifty tool that lets you very easily add videos, images, website snapshots and files to create a grid canvass for students to access (teachers can also create virtual classes so that students could create their own). You can also type text on top of what you drag into the grid boxes — for example, instructions. A particularly nifty feature is that it provides a search box so you can search for videos, images and websites right from within the application.

SQWORL: Sqworl is very, very similar to MinMu.

Weblist is similar to the previous four apps.

CITEBITE: Citebite is another tool that is ideal for English Language Learners, especially Beginning and Early Intermediate ones.  It allows you to highlight specific areas of online text and then gives you a specific url linking to what you’ve highlighted.  For example, instead of asking my students to find answers to some questions by reading an entire New York Times article on how immigrants can protect themselves from fraud (which I did last week), I can now highlight specific parts of the article for my high-beginners and early intermediate students to link to.  I could have my more advanced students still link to the entire article without the highlighted parts.  It’s a excellent tool for differentiated instruction.  You can use the url’s of the Citebite excerpts in the previously mentioned tools. is a new tool that lets you combine multiple links into one.  It’s a little different from others I’ve posted about — they show you visual snapshots of each site that you can then click on one at a time., on the other hand, shows you the first link in the collection and you can then click on arrows to go review each one.

It’s always nice to find a web tool that can be used for a number of purposes, and David Kapuler (whom I have previously nominated for an Edublogs Award) has found one with MentorMob. It lets you very easily create a slideshow. Webpages, videos and photos can be grabbed from the web and added, along with notes. It’s easy to use, very intuitively designed so just about anyone can figure it out, and attractive.

Minilogs is a new web tool that lets you group multiple url addresses into one short one. There are actually quite a few others that do the same thing (and you can find them at The Best Ways To Shorten URL Addresses). However, Minilogs stands out because in addition to showing all the url addresses, it shows you a thumbnail image of the site and, more importantly, lets you write notes next to each one. It would be useful for teachers or students who want to create an Internet Scavenger Hunt.

WebReel lets you create a “reel” – a slideshow – of links to web addresses. You can also write a description of each site in the presentation. It would be an easy tool to use if teachers or students were creating webquests or internet scavenger hunts.

Elink is a new tool for collecting and curating web resources. For teachers, I think it would be most helpful in creating Webquests or Internet scavenger hunts – you can leave comments about each site you save. Here’s a video about it:

Wakelet is another addition to the very crowded resource curation market.  It does seem fairly easy to use, and you can leave notes to the links you save.  So it could be used for these kinds of scavenger hunts.


Here are some excellent examples of activities that might better fit the definition of “Internet Scavenger Hunt” instead of “Webquest.”  One of the key cautions with using these kinds of already-made activities, though, is that links quickly become outdated on the Web.  You want to check for dead links before you use these sites with your students.

Good examples include:

Michelle Henry has a great collection of these kinds of hunts — all designed for English Language Learners.

These Explorer Internet Scavenger Hunts are accessible to English Language Learners, and perfect for World History classes. Before you assign them, though, teachers should review the site carefully. In addition to creating the hunts to learn about explorers, the site’s creators have also included some “tricks” to help students learn to double check the facts they find on the Internet.


WHAT IS A WEBQUEST?  There are several places to learn background information on Webquests.  Webquest.Org is a good place to start.

HOW DO YOU CREATE A WEBQUEST?  Quest Garden is the site created by Bernie Dodge for teachers to use for creating Webquests.  It costs $20 for a two year subscription. Zunal is a free and easy way for teachers (and students) to create webquests. Zunal also acts as the host for the webquest or scavenger hunt after its been created. Creating a Webquest comes from Education World. Webquest 101 comes from Teachers First.

WHERE DO YOU FIND WEBQUESTS?  Webquest.Org has a ton of free webquests.   The same caution I offered early about being on the “look-out” for dead links applies here as well. The nine national museums in Great Britain have a nice collection of webquests.

WebQuests – the best way to foster critical thinking, social skills and problem-solving? is from Teaching English With Technology.

Creating a WebQuest | It’s Easier Than You Think is from Education World.

As always, feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

May 21, 2008
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress

'Students working on class assignment in computer lab' photo (c) 2006, Michael Surran - license:

(You might also be interested in The Best MATH Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress)

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.

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.

I Know That has tons of engaging learning exercises and game. It costs $200 to sign-up for a classroom. Not only can you then monitor student progress, but they also can avoid all the annoying ads on the site.

U.S.A Learns is another addition.  Please read my post about it for more information.

Spellbee! is a spelling game where, after you register, you choose a player to compete with in a spelling contest. Each player chooses from a variety of words and challenges their opponent online to correctly spell the word that is spoken to them in the context of a sentence.

It’s a pretty neat concept and, though the text-to-speech software it uses is definitely not top-tier, it’s still a game students would enjoy playing and would be accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners.

It’s quite easy for players to register very quickly. There’s also a slightly more complicated registration process that students and teachers can use in order for teachers to monitor student progress.

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.

I’ve previously posted about Edcanvas. It’s now added some features that let teachers track a bit more of what students are doing on it. Here’s a video describing their new capabilities, and you can also read a post about it at Richard Byrne’s blog. I’m now adding it to list:

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.

Wonderville just became available to the public and lets teachers (or parents) create virtual classrooms (for free) with content and multiple choice questions where children’s progress can be monitored. It’s focusing on K-5 content now. It looks like it might be one of the better sites of its kind, though it’s perplexing to me why they’d include a YouTube video as a key part of each lesson — since YouTube is blocked by most schools, that means students won’t be able to view them there. And it also seems strange they would pick a name — Wonderville — that’s already been used for years for a highly-respected science website. You can read more about new Wonderville at TechCrunch.

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.

eduCanon is a new site that lets teachers create video lessons relatively easily, along with have a virtual classroom where you can monitor student responses to questions you include in the lesson (thanks to TechCrunch for the tip).

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.


I learned about BrainRush from Eric Sheninger. Right now, it only lets you create flash card activities, but it has plans in the near future for several other learning activities.

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.

EDpuzzle Is An Innovative Video Site

Literably Is An Excellent Reading Site — If Used With Caution

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

“Thinglink” Announces Free Virtual Classrooms

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.

Gen i Revolution is a series of financial games. Teachers can create virtual classes and monitor student progress. You can learn more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.

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.

“Booktrack” Lets You Read Books With Soundtracks & Make Your Own

It doesn’t get much better than that!

Thanks to Richard Byrne, I recently learned about Quill.

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.

And, it’s free.

Here’s a video about the site:

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.

CK-12 is a non-profit with an impressive list of educational partners. It has resources in a ton of subjects, and just unveiled a bunch of neat physics interactives.

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.

“Write About” May Be The Education Site Of The Year

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.

Duolingo Takes Next Step To Conquer Language Learning World & Lets Teachers Create Virtual Classrooms

New App “Seesaw” Is A “Learning Journal” For Students

“Teach Your Monster To Read” Lets You Create Free Virtual Classroom For Young Learners

I Like “ThinkCERCA” For ELL Reading Practice In Free Virtual Classrooms

OpenEd Is Another Site That Lets You Create Virtual Classrooms For Your Classes

“Edueto” Has Got To Be One Of The Best Teacher & Web 2.0 Sites Of The Year

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!

“Actively Learn” Looks Like A New Tool My Students Will Be Using A Lot

“Out Of Eden Learn” Looks Like An Incredibly Creative & Engaging Resource

“Zoom In!” Looks Like A Good Site For History Teachers

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.

“Big History Project” Lets You Create Free Virtual Classrooms

Zing! Lets Students Read & Annotate Tons Of Books For Free

“Dreamdo Schools” Is A Platform To Share Project-Based Learning Projects Internationally

PBS Unveils New Useful Teacher Tools

Knewton Is Free & Lets Teachers Create Virtual Classrooms – But Is It Good?

“Front Row” Lets You Create Virtual Classrooms & Monitor Student Progress In English & Math

“GrammarFlip” Might Have Potential For Reinforcement Of…Grammar Skills

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.

AlfaTyping looks like a nice tool for students to develop typing skills, and you can read all about it at Richard Byrne’s post.

ClassKick lets teachers create virtual classrooms with pre-made or original assignments. It’s free.

Reading Rainbow Unveils New Classroom Site Today

“Pindex” Is A New “Pinterest For Education” That Also Lets Teachers Create Quizzes & Monitor Student Progress

“ReadTheory” Lets Teachers Create Virtual Classrooms For Students To Read & Answer Questions

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.

Nice, But Expensive, Brainpop Feature: You Can Track Student Progress

“ReadWorks Digital” Came Online Today & It Looks Great!

“TIME/Edge” Could Be Useful For Students Over The Summer

Sites On Economics My Students Will Be Using In Their Virtual Summer School

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.

Teachers Can Try-Out New “Minecraft Education Edition” For Free This Summer

“Pagamo” Lets You Create Virtual Classrooms For English & Math

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:

GlassLab Games Could Be Useful To Educators, Especially Now With Adding “Civilization”

“Epic!” Provides 15,000 eBooks, Plus Virtual Classrooms, For Free

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

“Pairprep” Lets Students Compete Against A Friend (Or Themselves) & Lets Teachers Monitor Progress

“Owl Eyes” Lets Students Read & Annotate, Plus Teachers Can Create Free 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. 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.

iCivics Steps Up Its Game Big Time With Free Virtual Classrooms & Primary Source Interactive

“Drafting Board” Is A Good Interactive For Teaching Argument

Facebook Unveils New “Personalized Learning” Platform They’re Making Available To Everyone

Create Virtual Classrooms With “Awesome Stories” – Plus Students Can Write For An Authentic Audience

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.

“CommonLit” Now Lets Teachers Create Free Virtual Classrooms

“Learning Apps” Is One Of The Top Educational Websites Of The Year!

“Young Writers Program” Looks Like An Excellent Online Site To Assist Student Writing

Here are three new additions to this list:

EdCite clearly looks like the best of the three – it’s free and very easy to use.  I learned about it from Class Tech Tips.

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.

“ESL Video” Improvements Turn Good Site Into Great One

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.

“Spiral” Looks Like A Great Site Where Teachers Can Set-Up Free Virtual Classrooms

“StoryShares” Lets You Create Virtual Classrooms Where Students Can Read & Write Books

And, if you’ve found post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to blog for free.

Skip to toolbar