Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Rap Genius Expands Service, Changes Name, Adds Education Features – I’d Still Be Surprised If Teachers Use It

genius

I have previously posted about Rap Genius, an easy-to-use tool that lets you annotate pretty much any text. It’s initial focus was on rap lyrics, but you could also upload others — this use of it for the Gettysburg Address is a perfect example of how great it could be for education purposes.

As I said in my original post, however, I doubted the site would get past many School District content filters because of the classroom inappropriate language present in so many rap lyrics.

They just changed their name to Genius and are now encouraging people to document all sorts of documents. They’ve also created a special Education section that has lots of neat features.

The problem, though, as far as schools are concerned, it still appears that students can freely access all parts of the website even though they might start with the Education section. I personally don’t think that would be a problem for most teachers — we can certainly have conversations with our students about appropriate use of the site and supervise student work. However, it seems to me that the site just wouldn’t pass muster in many District offices, though I’d be happy to be wrong. I’m looking forward to checking next month if students can access it at our school.

There are other sites, though, that provide annotation ability and are unlikely to be blocked. Check out:

Best Applications For Annotating Websites

The Best Online Tools For Using Photos In Lessons has tools to annotate photos.

A Potpourri Of The Best & Most Useful Video Sites
contains tools to let you annotate videos.

Let me know if you think my pessimism about school access to Genius is overblown or not….

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July 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Very Useful Post: “Our 3 Favorite Free Online Image Editors For Education”

The Edublogger has just published a very useful post: Our 3 Favorite Free Online Image Editors For Education.

And, if you need even more options, check out one of my most popular “The Best” lists, The Best Sites For Online Photo-Editing & Photo Effects.

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July 9, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A New Tool For Creating Email Newsletters From Wix

The ability to create an email newsletter can come in handy for bloggers, teachers and other writers. and I share a number of free tools that let you make them easily at The Best Applications For Creating Free Email Newsletters.

Now Wix, the popular website-creating tool, has announced a new feature they call Shout Out that lets you send one out. It appears that you have to first create a website on the site, and I’m not too sure how easy it is to import email addresses, but it’s still clearly something I should add to that “The Best” list.

Here’s a video explaining how it works:

Thanks to TechCrunch for the tip.

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July 6, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“StepUp.io” Lets You Edit & Splice Together An Existing Video

step

StepUp.io is a new site that lets you easily pick any YouTube video, pick the specific segments you want to show from it, and then put them all together. That ability could be useful, though I think the option of making the segments “looping” is just an annoying feature.

What would really make StepUp.io very helpful would be if they added the ability to get segments from multiple videos and put them together — now that would make it stand out in the crowd of other sites on The Best Tools For Cutting-Out & Saving Portions Of Online Videos (Or Annotating Them) list. [NOTE: Staff from the site left a comment explaining that they do allow this function -- check out his explanation]

Here’s a short video on the tool, and I’d recommend skipping the first thirty seconds or so…

Thanks to TechCrunch for the tip.

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July 1, 2014
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 begin 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 2013). I also sometimes include tech tools that might not exactly fit the definition of Web 2.0:

Tackk is a very simple tool for creating webpages, and its on The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly. They’ve just created a pretty unique commenting system, and you can read about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.

Google Hangouts Will No Longer Require A Plugin For Chrome Users is good info from TechCrunch, and I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning What Google+ Is All About.

Hashtags, Twitter Chats and TweetDeck for Education is from The Edublogger. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Beginning To Learn What Twitter Is All About.

The Educators’ Guide to Reddit – Sharing, Learning, and Where Students Are is also from The Edublogger.

Chatterpix is an iPad/iPhone app that lets you make pictures “talk.” Again, you can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Beginning iPad Users.

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July 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

“ABC Mouse” & “Vocabmonk” Are Two New Sites Where Teachers Can Create Virtual Classrooms

I’m adding two new sites to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress:

One is ABC Mouse, which — at this point, at least — 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.

The second is Vocabmonk, which focuses on building academic vocabulary. Teachers can also create their own virtual classrooms there, too.

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June 30, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

ThingLink Now Lets You Annotate Videos, Too

thinglink

I’ve been a big fan of ThingLink, which lets students easily annotate photos, lets educators use the service for free, and allows you to create virtual classrooms. It’s on The Best Online Tools For Using Photos In Lessons list.

They’ve now just announced ThingLink for Video, which lets you annotate…videos.

It’s not entirely open to the public yet — you have to sign-up, but they say they’ll send out invitations a couple of days following a request.

I just registered, so haven’t had a chance to try it out myself. So I can’t say how it compares with other free tools that let you create these kinds of interactive videos. Those other tools include HapYak, WireWax, and The Mad Video.

Those tools are on A Potpourri Of The Best & Most Useful Video Sites list, and I’ll be adding ThingLink there, too.

By the way, the Adventures With Technology blog has a good example of how to use this type of tool as a language-learning activity.

Here’s a video describing ThingLink’s new video service:

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June 20, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Design A Transit System For…Anyplace

transit

Transitmix lets you easily create a mass transit system for any city or town in the world, including how much it would cost to run. No registration is required, and you’re given a link to your creation.

You can read more about it at Gizmodo. Thanks to Grant Wiggins for the tip.

You might also be interested in The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly.

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June 15, 2014
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 begin 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 2013). I also sometimes include tech tools that might not exactly fit the definition of Web 2.0:

I’ve just completely updated The Best Sites For Creating Online Polls & Surveys and also added two new tools to that list:

SurveyRock

SoGoSurvey

Flipgram is another Animoto-like app to create videos out of your media. Thanks to Richard Byrne for the tip. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me.

Voxer is an app that has potential for speaking practice with English Language Learners. Joe Mazza talks about various other educational uses for it at his blog. Here’s video about it. I’m adding it to the iPhone list, as well as to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English:

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June 5, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2014 – So Far

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It’s that time of year again when I start posting mid-year “The Best….” lists. There are over 1,300 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 2013, but, if so, I’m including them in this list because they were “new to me” in 2014.

You might want to visit previous editions, as well as The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education:

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

(You might also find useful)

I don’t rank my mid-year lists, but do place them in order of preference in my end-of-year lists.

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

Here are my twenty-two choices for The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2014 (so Far) — not ranked in any order:

slidebean is a new free tool for creating online slideshows. It provides multiple formats and the ability to search the Web, within the application, for images. I’ve added it to The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows.

Zaption looks like a useful tool for creating interactive videos for students.

Reader Irina let me know about Pixteller, another tool that lets you easily create visually attractive quotations.

Google has unveiled Google Classroom, which looks like a one-stop shop for teachers and students. It’s free, with no ads, and describes itself as providing the ability to. It’s invite-only for now, but is supposed to be available to anyone by September.

TUZZit is a free online graphic organizer tool that provides lots of different options of organizers (you can also create your own); lets you paste online images videos, virtual post-it notes and more onto them; and then you can share your creation with online collaborators. In some ways it seems like an Exploratree on steriods (that site is on Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Mindmapping, Flow Chart Tools, & Graphic Organizers list). In other ways, it reminds me of tools on The Best Online Virtual “Corkboards” (or “Bulletin Boards”) list.

Appear.in seems like a super-simple video conferencing site for up to eight people that doesn’t even require any registration.

Booktrack Classroom has books in the public domain online to which they’ve added “soundtracks” — music, street sounds, etc. In addition, students can create their own soundtracks to books that they write. Even better, teachers can create virtual classrooms with assigned readings and/or to share their own creations. And, best of all, it’s free.  You can read many of the books without having to register, but must do so in order to create them. It’s very, very easy to create your own books — the site has lots of sounds and music you can add to the text. Oddly, though, it doesn’t seem to provide the option of recording your own narration or sound effects. With those features, it would make it particularly useful to English Language Learners and also make it a more engaging creative activity for everyone.

Sketch Toy is a simple and useful online drawing tool.

Tapestry is both an online tool and an app that has multiple storymaking tools. You can read more about it at TechCrunch.

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.

Flip Quiz is an easy site that lets you create an online Jeopardy-like game board that students can play.

ExamTime is sort of a flashcard site on steroids that provides a number of other tools, too.

Learning Pod looks like a nice place to create online quizzes.

Curriculet lets teachers assign what appears to be books in the public domain (though I might be wrong on that) and embed quizzes and questions into them.

Function Carnival is a new site that lets you set-up virtual classes, have students watch videos, and then have them create graphs based on what they see. I don’t really understand it, but it looks cool, Dan Meyer helped create it (which means it has to be good), and you can read more about it here.

ClassFlow is a new tool that was unveiled by Promethean in January.  It looks pretty interesting, though I’ve got to wonder what it’s cost structure is going to end up being. I suspect that Promethean isn’t going to make it entirely free forever, but maybe I’m just being cynical. It seems like a pretty easy tool for teachers to use to create multimedia presentations for the classroom and, apparently, provides a way for students to respond to teacher questions (I didn’t explore that feature). I also think it would a useful tool for students to use to create lessons that they would teach to their classmates.

Biteslide looks like a fairly easy tool to create slideshow-like presentations.

Gibbon lets you easily create what they call “flows,” which are basically lists of web resources with instructions written by the flow’s creator. I think Gibbon has ambitious plans but, for teachers, it’s an easy tool for teachers to create Internet scavenger hunts for students and for students to create them for their classmates.

Stupeflix, which is on Not The “Best,” But A List… Of Online Video Editors list, has launched a free iPhone app called Replay that — at least to me — looks very, very Animoto-like. It lets you easily turn your photos into music videos.  I’m assuming there are lots of differences between the two, but I could only find two in my admittedly quick try-out of Replay, and both came out in Replay’s favor: one, the process appeared a lot faster than in Animoto’s app and, two, Replay appears to provide a number of features that Animoto requires you to pay (admittedly, not a lot) for…

There are lots of sites out there that let you create virtual “corkboards” and you can see them at The Best Online Virtual “Corkboards” (or “Bulletin Boards”). Padlet (formerly known as Wallwisher) is probably the most well-known tool of this kind. Richard Byrne  shared about a new site that might end up being the best of the bunch. It’s called Stoodle.

Canva is a new tool for creating infographics.

PixiClip is a neat drawing tool. It lets you make a drawing and record either audio-only or a video to go along with it. It also lets you upload an image from the web and “mark it up,” but I think there are plenty of other web tools that let you do that easily enough — and let you grab images off the web with photo url addresses (PixiClip just lets you upload one from your computer) — so I don’t think that feature particularly stands out (you can see those other tools at The Best Online Tools For Using Photos In Lessons).

Feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 1,300 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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June 4, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“slidebean” Looks Like A Good Way For Creating Online Slideshows

slidebean

slidebean is a new free tool for creating online slideshows.

It provides multiple formats and the ability to search the Web, within the application, for images.

I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows.

Here’s a video that describes how it works:

Thanks to TechCrunch for the tip.

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June 1, 2014
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 begin 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 2013). I also sometimes include tech tools that might not exactly fit the definition of Web 2.0:

Chatterpix is an app for the iPhone/iPad that:

…can make anything talk — pets, friends, doodles, and more. Simply take any photo, draw a line to make a mouth, and record your voice. Then share your Pix with friends and family as silly greetings, playful messages, creative cards, or even fancy book reports. And best of all, it’s FREE!

I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English and to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me.

Zaption looks like a useful tool for creating interactive videos for students. Here’s a video describing it:

I’m adding it to A Potpourri Of The Best & Most Useful Video Sites.

Chalkup provides a classroom “dashboard” to share assignments and student work. I’m assuming it will be short-lived with Google recently unveiling their own similar tool, but it’s probably worth a look. Here’s a video about it:

Google Drive Basics for the Complete Beginner and Some Recommended Apps is a very useful post.

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May 15, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Edublogs Now Makes It Super-Easy To Embed “Pins” From Pinterest

'Julie's Pinterest Birthday Party' photo (c) 2012, Roxanne Ready - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

I’ve posted a number of times about my frustration with the constantly changing process Pinterest provides for making Pins embeddable in blogs and websites.

Well, Edublogs now makes it super-simple to do it — just copy and paste a Pin’s url address. You can see screenshots here.

Here’s what it looks like:

Just another reason why I think Edublogs is the best blogging platform out there!

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May 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Bunkr Makes Big Improvements In Ability To Create Slideshows, Not Least Of Which Is That It’s Now Free

bunkr

I posted about Bunkr, a web tool for creating slideshows, last year and was not impressed. I said then that it didn’t appear to make it easy to include image attribution, and that it you had to pay to use it.

Today, they unveiled a “new” Bunkr and, though I still didn’t see an easy way to include attribution, the interface does appear a lot smoother and it’s free to use.

I wouldn’t say it’s as good as some other tools out there, like Haiku Deck. However, with the unpredictability of School District content filters, you can never have too many potential sites to use.

I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows.

Here’s a video about it:

You can read more about it at TechCrunch.

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May 7, 2014
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 begin 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 2013). I also sometimes include tech tools that might not exactly fit the definition of Web 2.0:

Twoople lets you set up a permanent chatboard that you can share and they can easily send a message to you (without having to sign-up for the service). It’s nice that people don’t have to register anywhere to use it, though I’m not sure how essential it is with email, Twitter, Facebook messaging, etc. all available. You can learn more about it at TechCrunch.

LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform: Pros, Cons and Generating more Content provides a good overview of another potential place to share writings and resources. Again, I’m not sure how realistic it is for most of us to use yet another place to find an audience, but it’s a useful piece.

Google Hangout Resources for Teachers is from Matt B. Gomez. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning What Google+ Is All About.

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May 7, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“Pixteller” Lets You Make Visually Attractive Quotations

Reader Irina let me know about Pixteller, another tool that lets you easily create visually attractive quotations.

Here’s an example (the quote comes from a piece I wrote about Social Emotional Learning for The Washington Post):

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I’m adding it to The Best Tools For Creating Visually Attractive Quotations For Online Sharing.

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May 6, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Wow! 800 Pound Gorilla Google Unveils “Google Classroom” That May Make Many Present Tools Irrelevant

01_Student - Class Cards (1)

Google has just unveiled Google Classroom, which looks like a one-stop shop for teachers and students.

It’s free, with no ads, and describes itself as providing the ability to:

  • Create and collect assignments: Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly. They can quickly see who has or hasn’t completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students.
  • Improve class communications: Teachers can make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time—improving communication inside and outside of class.
  • Stay organized: Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student. Students can easily see what’s due on their Assignments page.

It’s invite-only for now, but is supposed to be available to anyone by September.

For schools that are very technology-equipped, serving student populations that are the same (which leaves out schools like our inner-city comprehensive high school and many others around the country), Google Classroom should find a ready audience.

Here’s a video about it:

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May 5, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Pinterest Changes The Way You Can Embed Pins — Again!

'Pretty Pinterest' photo (c) 2013, mkhmarketing - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I like Pinterest a lot, and have several very active Boards.

One thing I don’t like about it, though, is that the company keeps on changing the way you can embed Pins on blogs and websites.

First, it was easy — they just gave you an embed code. Then, they created a new two-step process that was a pain, while at the same time disabling all the previous embedded images people at used on their sites — most just disappeared! Then, a few months back, they made it a very simple process with just a quick click and you got an embed code.

Now, however, they changed it again, and made it very difficult to figure out how make pins embeddable. In fact, their “Help” section hasn’t even been updated — if you ask how to embed a pin, it give you the old directions for a process that doesn’t work anymore.

There is a way to do so, though, and here it is:

First you click on the pin you want to embed and get its url address — that’s very simple. For example, the url address for the pin I’ve embedded below is “http://www.pinterest.com/pin/21673641931495238/.” You just click on a pin to make it look bigger, and you get the address.

Then, you go to Pinterest’s “Widget Builder” and paste the url address in the box.

Next, you click “Build It” and you’re given an embed code. Copy and paste it, and you get something like this:



So, that’s how you do it now — until they change it again!

I’m adding this info to The Best Guides To Figuring Out Pinterest.

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