Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

November 22, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
5 Comments

The Fifty Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2016

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As regular readers know, I’ve begun posting my end-of-year “The Best….” lists. There are over 1,600 regularly updated 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 (however, I’ve begun to make exceptions for special mobile apps).

Some sites I’m including this year are primarily geared towards teachers creating content for classroom use, but could also easily be used by students.

It’s possible that a few of these sites began earlier than this year, but, if so, I’m including them in this list because they were “new to me” in 2016.

You might want to visit previous editions, as well as The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education; The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly and The “All-Time” Best 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners.

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2015

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2014

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2013

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2012

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

Feel free to let me know if you think I’m leaving any tools out.

Instead of ranking each of the fifty tools on this list in order, I have them organized into three general groups: Useful, Good, and Excellent. The “Excellent” tools are added to the “All-Time” list mentioned previously.

Here are my fifty choices for The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2016:

USEFUL

Vizia lets you integrate quizzes and polls into videos. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog. I’m adding it to A Potpourri Of The Best & Most Useful Video Sites.

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, which is why I’m adding it to The Best Places To Create (And Find) Internet Scavenger Hunts & Webquests.

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.

Ormiboard lets up to four people collaborate on an online whiteboard and is free, at least for now. I’m adding it to The Best Online Tools For Real-Time Collaboration.  Thanks to Shelly Terrell for the tip.

After quickly registering, Marvel Comics lets you create your own comic that you can print, send, or embed. I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Make Comic Strips Online.

Limnu is a free online collaborative whiteboard that looks pretty good. I’m adding it to The Best Online Tools For Real-Time Collaboration.

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.  Because of those features, I’m adding it to The Best Places To Create (And Find) Internet Scavenger Hunts & Webquests because teachers and students can use it for that activity.

Chalkmotion is an intriguing free tool that lets you either draw or choose “hand-drawn” illustrations to use in a slideshow (you can also add text). The intriguing part comes in when you publish your show – instead of just showing the images, it shows the the process of actually drawing them, too. It can be a little annoying because of the time involved, but also sort of fun. As you can see from the simple one I created, I could see ELLs using it for vocabulary reinforcement. I’m not ready to put it on any “Best” list, but it’s worth a look.

BeatLab seems like a very accessible way to create and share lots of different kinds of music. Thanks to Richard Byrne for the tip. I’m adding it to The Best Online Sites For Creating Music, which I just updated and revised.

Mad Libs, I think, have very limited usefulness with English Language Learners since they really don’t promote accurate understanding. However, for ELLs who are in the high-intermediate range, I’ve found they can be an occasional fun activity that also reinforces parts of speech. Having students create their own versions for their classmates can move this activity to a much more productive level, however, and the Word Blanks site is the easiest tool out there for making them.

Clarisketch looks like an excellent app for ELLs — you can draw and then record audio about it. Unfortunately, it’s only available as an Android app. I hope they’ll have an iPhone version soon. I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

Google unveiled a new collaborative space called…Spaces. It appears to be a private space where invited users can share posts, photos and links.

Prisma is a new free app that lets you turn your photos into manga. I could see this being a very attractive tool for reluctant writers to use — they can create their own web comics. You can read more about it at TechCrunch.

Participate lets teachers collect different learning resources.

Votesy is a free and simple survey tool that lets you ask one text, image or video-based question. It really does seem super-easy to use, and the polls are embeddable.

Opinion Stage is a free and easy tool for making online tests, polls and lists.

Stephen Fry, who I had never heard of but who is apparently a well-known British actor and comedian, has launched Pindex, a “Pinterest For Education.” You can read more about it here, and it has a user-guide here. It really is a “knock-off” of Pinterest, so one might wonder why the world needs it. I think it might be useful to educators for two reasons — one, with luck, since it’s focused on education, school content filters might not block it as so many do Pinterest; and, secondly, because it has a nifty quiz-making feature that lets track if students have completed them. In other words, teachers can create a board which students study, followed by a quiz. After students complete a quiz (after they have registered for Pindex), their username appears under the quiz for its creator to see.

I’ve written about Russel Tarr’s extraordinary ClassTools site often (see This Is The Best Web 2.0 Site For ELLs & May Be The Best One For All Students). He has a zillion of easy-to-use (and with no registration required) tools for creating online content. He recently added another one to his vast suite of options — this time, it’s a super-simple way to create interactive online crossword puzzles.

Synap is a new easy tool for creating online quizzes. It will really be useful when there’s a large bank of user-created quizzes for teachers to draw upon.

I’ve been hearing a lot of “buzz” about Versal, which lets teachers create online interactive resources.

NoteBookCast is a simple online virtual whiteboard that can be used by many people at the same time.

I’ve written a lot about tools that students can use for annotating documents online (see Best Applications For Annotating Websites). I’m primarily interested in tools that don’t require any downloads at all because that makes it problematic for use in schools/ I recently learned from InterCom about a tool called Annotation Studio. It’s free and is from MIT.

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

The Learnia lets you create interactive video lessons.

Poll Deep is a tool for…taking polls. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Creating Online Polls & Surveys.

PullQuote is an easy tool for creating visually attractive quotes online.

FotoJet is a new free online photo editor. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Online Photo-Editing & Photo Effects, which I’ve just updated and revised.

NowComment seems like a good tool for students to use when annotating online documents and they can see the comments of others, too (teachers can create private groups).  The reason it’s under “Useful” instead of “Good” is because the only way you can annotate a website is by copying and pasting it, and I’m not sure if that’s legal or not.

Coggle is a new mindmapping tool.  I’ve added it to Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Mindmapping, Flow Chart Tools, & Graphic Organizers.

GOOD

Thanks to David Kapular, I learned about a new site where users can create animations. It’s called Animatron. You can create five animations for free, but after that the cost is $15 per year. The feature that made it stand out to me was its audio recording capability, even though the sound quality isn’t top notch.

Tour-Builder by Google lets you easily create…tours. It’s super-easy to add videos or photos (uploaded or via searching the Web), and can be used to document literary journeys, field trips, historical events, etc. I’m adding it to The Best Map-Making Sites On The Web.Thanks to Sarah Thomas for the tip.

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. I’m adding it to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.

Vicki Davis  shared a link to a new resource, Write The World, on Twitter. Write The World lets teachers set-up virtual classrooms for free where they can monitor student writing progress and, if they wish, let classmates use it for a peer review process. They can be private or public groups. In addition, the site has writing contests, provides prompts, and encourages students to view each other’s work from around the world. I’m adding it to: The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience” and The Best Online Tools That Can Help Students Write An Essay.

I learned about Genial.ly from Shelly Terrell’s excellent post, Visualizing Learning with Infographics: 23 Resources. Genial.ly seems like a new and useful free tool for creating infographics.

eMargin is a free tool developed by Birmingham City University in the United Kingdom. You can upload any text and have students annotate it, and the same text can be annotated by a closed group. In addition, you can “upload” a web address and annotate it, as well. The lay-out can be a bit funky with websites, but it’s still workable. I’m adding it to Best Applications For Annotating Websites.

Creating their own unique English subtitles to funny “foreign language” or silent movie scenes has been a fun language-learning activity done in many English Language Learner classrooms for years. There are several tools that teachers have used for just that purpose, which you can find at The Best Places To Create Funny Subtitles For Silent Movies. Caption Generator lets you do that for any video on YouTube, so ELLs and their teachers can now have even more choices. However, you probably want to use it with caution. Some of the videos that have been captioned and viewable on the site may not be classroom appropriate. However, I assume (thought haven’t checked at my school computer) that those videos will be blocked by district content filters. I can’t be sure, though.

Thanks to Sara-E. Cottrell, I recently learned about Sugarcane, a free web tool that lets you easily create lots of different kinds of learning games, as well as access ones that others have created. It’s owned by IXL Learning, but your school doesn’t have to be subscribed to it in order to use Sugarcane. I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games.

The new PhotoScan app from Google, for both Android and iPhone, lets you easily convert your old “paper” photos into high-resolution digital images.  It’s great for personal use, but I’m also finding it helpful for scanning some of the many old photos I’ve taken over the years that would be good for the classroom.

Most of us are probably familiar with the famous ethical “Trolley Problem” (see The Best Videos About The Famous “Trolley Problem”). Now, MIT has created what’s got to be the most engaging online version of the age-old ethical dilemma in its “Moral Machine.” Their take on the problem is that you are designing the moral decisions a self-driving car has to make. You’re given thirteen scenarios and, after you’re done, you can see how your answers compare to those of previous participants. The best part, though, of the site comes next. You can then create your own scenario that others can play! I think it’s safe to say that for as long as this site is up, any IB Theory of Knowledge class that has access to technology will be playing it during their Ethics unit.

Unsplash has been on my The Best Online Sources For Images list for quite awhile. It has tens of thousands of images that can be used for free – commercially or for educational purposes – without having to provide any attribution to the photographer (though, of course, it’s still a nice thing to do). Until relatively recently, however, it didn’t have a search feature. They recently unveiled a great one, and it’s super-fast. I’m still going to go with Photos For Class as my favorite free image site (see “Photos For Class” Is My Favorite Site For Finding Images), but Unsplash is a close second.

Pablo lets you create visually attractive quotes and provides access to over 50,000 royalty-free images.

I have a huge The Best Online Sources For Images list (and one needing some revising and updating). And, with all those resources available, Photos For Class has become my “go-to” site for blog and presentation images. It’s free and, when you download the image (all Creative Commons licensed for public use), proper attribution is shown with it. It can’t get much easier than that….

 

EXCELLENT

The History Project is a new free online tool for creating timelines, and its partially funded by The New York Times. It’s very easy to use, with web and social media search capability built into the site when you are creating a timeline. In addition to letting you create a sequential list including images and videos, and also shows the events on a map. Best of all, in my opinion, you can easily record your own audio thoughts for each event. I’m adding it to The Best Tools For Making Online Timelines, and it may be the best of the lot…

My Simple Show lets you create free audio “explainers” – about biographies, chemical reactions, you name it. What makes it truly exceptional is the scaffolding and support it provides each step of the way, plus so much of it is automated – down to the selection of images (which you can easily change). You can provide your own audio narration or choose its computer generated voice. It’s very, very simple to use and accessible to English Language Learners.

Zooniverse is an amazing site where scholars put up projects that require “people-powered research” – for example, attempting to decode formerly secret Civil War telegrams. It has many projects in multiple subject areas, along with very cool online tools for students to use when doing the research. The site also has lesson plans for teachers to use when introducing students to the site. A site like this offers real purposes for student learning. I’m amazed that I hadn’t heard of it before today when Stephen F. Knott sent the tweet about the Civil War project. Further exploration led me to all the site’s other features. I’m going to add it to Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience,” but it deserves to be on a lot of other Best lists.

Reader Gabrielle Klingelhöfer shared the site Learning Apps with me, and I’m sure glad she did! It’s a free site that lets teachers create virtual classrooms where students can uses lots of different kinds of online exercises and games to learn many subjects. There are tons of already-created exercises divided by subject, and it seems super-easy – and I really mean easy – for teachers to create their own. There are many ESL and regular English interactives. There are tons on other subjects, as well. My only suggestion to the site is that it would be nice to have a further search parameter to divide by language. The other subjects have many exercises in other languages (the site itself appears to be from Germany) and it would just make it a little easier for teachers. But it’s really a minor issue for a fabulous site.

Adobe Spark looks like an amazing new free tool that lets you create visually attractive quotes, web pages and videos. Richard Byrne, as usual, has created an excellent video showing how it works.

Wizer lets teachers easily create online, multimedia online “worksheets” (even better, you can use or modify ones other educators have made), give students the url address to the “worksheet” (I’d just copy-and-paste it on our class blog), students quickly and simply register on Wizer, complete the worksheet, and, voila, teachers can easily see each students’ work. In some ways, it’s like a somewhat less-sophisticated SAS Curriculum Pathways, which I think is the most useful site on the Web for teachers. There, though, only SAS creates the materials.

The KnowMe app is a Web 2.0 tool I found this year that I immediately added to The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education list. You can combine photos from your phone with live video (f you want), easily add narration, and voila, you have an audio narrated presentation. You just hold down on the photo with a finger and talk. You can read about, and see many examples, about how I use it here.

July 26, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week In Web 2.0

'Web 2.0 paljastaa' photo (c) 2011, Janne Ansaharju - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

In yet another attempt to get at the enormous backlog I have of sites worth blogging about, I’ve recently begun a regular feature called “The Week In Web 2.0.” (you might also be interested in The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2016 – So Far). I also sometimes include tech tools or articles about them that might not exactly fit the definition of Web 2.0:

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. I’m adding it to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.

Tour-Builder by Google lets you easily create…tours. It’s super-easy to add videos or photos (uploaded or via searching the Web), and can be used to document literary journeys, field trips, historical events, etc. I’m adding it to The Best Map-Making Sites On The Web. Thanks to Sarah Thomas for the tip.

FotoJet is a new free online photo editor. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Online Photo-Editing & Photo Effects, which I’ve just updated and revised.

Songsmith is a free download from Microsoft that:

generates musical accompaniment to match a singer’s voice. Just choose a musical style, sing into your PC’s microphone, and Songsmith will create backing music for you. Then share your songs with your friends and family, post your songs online, or create your own music videos.

I’m adding it to The Best Online Sites For Creating Music. I learned about it via Twitter, but I can’t remember who shared it – sorry!

Google Apps Terminology – A Short Explanation of Common Terms is a helpful post from Richard Byrne.

June 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The Best Research Demonstrating That Lectures Are Not The Best Instructional Strategy

'Lectures' photo (c) 2013, AJ Cann - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

There has been a fair amount of recent research documenting the ineffectiveness of lectures as an instructional strategy. I thought I’d bring articles about the research together in one place.

You might also be interested in The Best Posts Questioning If Direct Instruction Is “Clearly Superior.”

Let me know what I’m missing here:

A study was just announced a couple of years ago claiming — surprise, surprise — that integrating pair work and small groups in teaching is more effective than straight lectures. Science Daily reported it in an article titled Interactive Teaching Methods Double Learning in Undergraduate Physics Class. The study’s author’s also seem to make a big deal of using “clickers” for student response, but when I actually read the study they said they only used them an average of 1.5 times each class, so it’s difficult for me to imagine they had that big of an impact. Based on my reading, though, the big difference seemed to be pair and small group work. You can access the study here, but it does cost fifteen dollars. Surprisingly — at least to me — the study was immediately attacked by a many other scientists, including Daniel Willingham, in a New York Times article. I don’t really understand what the big deal is — tons of other studies have shown similar results over the years.

Thanks to a post at The Engineer’s Pulse, I learned about Harvard Professor Eric Mazur. He’s done a lot of work — perhaps it could be called teacher action research — on the advantages of peer work over lecturing as an effective instructional tool. You can read more about his work at a Harvard Magazine article titled Twilight of the Lecture. I’ve also embedded below a talk by him about his work.

Improve grades, reduce failure: Undergrads should tell profs ‘don’t lecture me’ is from Science Daily.

Stop Lecturing Me (In College Science)! is from Scientific American.

Lectures Aren’t Just Boring, They’re Ineffective, Too, Study Finds is from Science Magazine.

University lectures are ineffective for learning, analysis finds is from The PBS News Hour.

Are Lectures On The Way Out? Harvard Professor Proposes A Better Way To Teach is from Boston’s NPR station.

Big Surprise — NOT!: Study Says Students Are More Successful With “Active Learning” Than With Lectures

Quote Of The Day: “To Raise Science Scores, Colleges Look Beyond the Lecture”

The Lecture is by Grant Wiggins.

Surprise, Surprise – New Research Finds Lectures Aren’t The Best Way To Teach

Professor Likes To Lecture, So Writes NY Times Column Saying Everybody Else Should, Too

Nobel Prize winner Carl Wieman talks about active learning in this video. You can read the contribution he made to my Education Week Teacher column at A Nobel Laureate Writes About Becoming A “Science Coach.”:

Shocker – NOT: New Study Finds That Lectures Are Not Best Instructional Strategy

Quote Of The Day: The Value Of Listening To Students

Study Finds Lecturing Not Best Way To Teach – Shocking (NOT!)

Nice Critique Of Lectures

You can see all 1,300 “The Best” lists here.

June 1, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“Twilight Of The Lecture”

 

Thanks to a post at The Engineer’s Pulse, I learned about Harvard Professor Eric Mazur. He’s done a lot of work — perhaps it could be called teacher action research — on the advantages of peer work over lecturing as an effective instructional tool.

You can read more about his work at a recent Harvard Magazine article titled Twilight of the Lecture. I’ve also embedded below a talk by him about his work.

I’ll be adding this post to The Best Posts Questioning If Direct Instruction Is “Clearly Superior.”

February 15, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Top-Notch Citizenship Resource

I’ve recently learned from Susan Wetenkamp-Brandt about a top-notch resource to help English Language Learners prepare for the newly-revised U.S. Citizenship test.

It’s a step-by-step online program to study for the new test. Audio support is provided for all the text, and it include practice questions. It’s available for anyone to use as a “guest” — you just can’t register, log-in and save your work unless you’re a Minnesota resident working with the Minnesota Literacy Council.

Although the content is hosted on the Minnesota Literacy Council’s online learning site, the citizenship course was funded by the St. Paul Community Literacy Consortium (SPCLC) (of which MLC is a member) The primary author is SPCLC’s citizenship teacher, Ron Mazurowski. He wrote the content and Susan put it online and did the media work (audio, video, images).

I’ve added the site to he Best Websites For Learning About Civic Participation & Citizenship.

May 21, 2008
by Larry Ferlazzo
13 Comments

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: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

(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.

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.

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 first changed to Blendspace and is now TES-Teach. It lets you assign lessons and create a virtual classroom.

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.

brainrush

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.

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.

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

“Legends Of Learning” Is New Game-Based Site That Lets Teachers Create Free Virtual Classrooms

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.

Popular “Book Creator” App Can Now Be Used On The Web

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.

The Best Online Homework Sites For English Language Learners – Please Offer Your Own Suggestions

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.

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