Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Easily Create Your Own Fake Newspaper Front Page

fake

One my most popular posts is about a tool called News Jack (see Easily Make Your Own Unique (& Fake) CNN, NY Times, Etc. Website With “News Jack”).

Reader Uday Ogra tells me about a new similar site called Create News.

Sites like these are engaging tools for students to write about historical and literary events, though I still wonder how they fit in with copyright laws….

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August 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Rootbook” May Be The Easiest Tool For Creating Online Choose Your Own Adventure Stories

root

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of having students both read and write Choose Their Own Adventure stories (see The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories).

One big problem I’ve found, though, is that there hasn’t really been a super-easy way for students to create their own.

Thanks to reader “Grubie,” though, I think I might have found one. It’s called Rootbook.

The site has lots of choose your own adventure stories you can read without registering or signing-in. In addition, if you register (which takes seconds), you’re also given the ability to create your own. And it seems to be pretty easy to do so — the only trick I found was that you have to make sure to upload a photo cover page first to your story or else it won’t let you continue.

I’ll definitely be having my students give it a try this upcoming school year.

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August 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“Google Classroom” Now Open To Any Teacher With “Google Apps For Ed” Account

classssss

I’ve previously posted about the new Google “Classroom” (see Wow! 800 Pound Gorilla Google Unveils “Google Classroom” That May Make Many Present Tools Irrelevant).

Today, Google made it available for free to any teacher with a Google Apps For Education account.

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.
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August 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Google Open Gallery” Looks Like A Neat Place To Display A Class Project

opengallery


Google Open Gallery
was unveiled quite a few months ago, but I just received an invitation today and think it looks pretty neat.

It’s designed to let artists and others display cultural artifacts in an easy and visually appealing way.

I think it could be useful for my students to use as part of their annual project teaching about their home cultures (you can read, and see, a lot more about that project at our class blog).

You can a request an invite to Google Open Gallery here, and I’ve embedded a video about it below:

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August 10, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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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:

An Easy Guide to Creating a Presentation in Canva is from the Canva blog. I have the Canva tool listed on The Best Resources For Creating Infographics.

Scoop.it has just added a lot of new features. This tool is on The Best Sites For Creating Personalized “Newspapers” Online list.

The Learnia Video Whiteboard lets you turn your lessons into videos. I’m adding it to A Potpourri Of The Best & Most Useful Video Sites.

Over looks like a useful photo-editing tool. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Online Photo-Editing & Photo Effects.

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August 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

How Useful Is The LinkedIn Publishing Platform & LinkedIn Generally?

LinkedIn has now opened up its publishing platform to 15 million people. In other words, if you’re a LinkedIn member, you can now blog with it.

I have no idea how important or useful that is, and hope that readers will enlighten me.

In fact, though I’m a LinkedIn member and connect back to anyone who requests one — as long as they have some relationship to education — I’m still not clear what LinkedIn “does.”

The only thing that I have found useful on it is David Deubelbeiss’ ELT Professionals Around The World group, which seems to have some useful conversations (I’m just a lurker there).

Tell me what I’m missing, if anything. Should I share posts from this blog there? Should I write some original articles on their platform? Are the people on LinkedIn really different from those on Twitter, Google Plus, or Facebook?

Is the advice in this piece, LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform: Pros, Cons and Generating more Content, good or bad?

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July 28, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Create A Map Of Places You Want To See With “KLM Must See”

klm

The KLM Must See Map lets you create a map of most major cities in the world, along with the key places you want to see in them. No registration is required. If you want, you can invite others to make suggestions, too. Once you add sites to your map, you’re also provided with a link to go to where you can find out more about information about it.

It’s very easy to use. It does have two drawbacks, though, that preclude me from adding it to The Best Sites Where Students Can Plan Virtual Trips list.

One is that it’s business-sponsored promotion, which means it probably won’t be around for the long-term. The other sites on that list are tools that are much more likely to be around for at least the next school year.

Secondly, it looks like you’ve got to have some knowledge about the city you’re going to “visit” in order to make the map. Once you type in the name, it will automatically find it, but the other sites on that “The Best” list are more designed to introduce you to spots in the city that you then check-off to place on your maps.

It’s still a nice little tool to check-out, though.

Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip.

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July 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Now Yelp Creates THEIR Own Version Of Google’s Ngram Viewer

Wow, the same day The New York Times announces their own version of Google’s Ngram Viewer (see NY Times Creates Their Own Version Of Google’s Ngram Viewer), the online review site Yelp unveils their own.

It’s called Yelp Trends and you can compare how often different words are used in reviews at cities around the world. It’s very easy to use and no registration is required.

You can see two examples below that I created – comparing soccer, basketball and jogging in Sacramento and in London. Obviously, soccer isn’t going to be mentioned much in London since they call it football there. I wonder if I shared these with students how many would figure that out?

Have students create their own and then challenge their classmates to explain the reason for the differences (after they figure it out themselves) could just be one fun way to use it in class — that is, if Yelp isn’t blocked by school district content filters.

You can read more about Yelp Trends at Slate.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Creating Infographics.

sacto

london

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July 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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NY Times Creates Their Own Version Of Google’s Ngram Viewer

chronicle

Thanks to the extraordinary Katherine Schulten, today I learned that the New York Times has created the Chronicle.

It’s their version of the Google Books Ngram Viewer, which charts word use over the years in the books they’ve indexed (see The Best Posts To Help Understand Google’s New “Books Ngram Viewer”). The Times, though, indexes word usage in its own history. The image at the top of this post shows the results of my charting “love” and “hate.” It looks like love is winning!

The Chronicle is very easy to use and no registration is required. It, and the Ngram Viewer, can be used with English Language Learners and other students in a number of ways, ranging from just being a fun and simple way for them to play with words to being a tool to correlate certain word usage with political attitudes (as I did in a recent column at Education Week Teacher).

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July 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

“FluencyTutor” Could Be A Useful Tool For Students To See Their Reading Progress

fluency

Richard Byrne posted yesterday about an intriguing new site that would be useful for emerging readers and English Language Learners called FluencyTutor For Google.

It’s a web app only usable with a Chrome browser that provides a large selection of leveled reading passages that students can read, record, and store on Google Drive. Teachers can then listen at their convenience and correct and note students’ reading fluency. The reading passages provide quite a few supportive features that make them particularly accessible to English Language Learners.

Most of the features are free, but teachers have to pay $99 per year for some “dashboard” services like tracking student progress.

If I was teaching an online class of motivated adult English Language Learners, I could see FluencyTutor’s whole package as an excellent tool.

However, I definitely wouldn’t recommend a classroom teacher using it as a way to track a readers’ progress. I have the same concerns about using it for that as I have about Literably, a web tool in the same vein — having students read to us is as much about building the relationship (if not more so) than getting the data.

On the other hand, though, a site like FluencyTutor could be a super tool for students to practice on their own and compare their reading progress during a school year. It’s less about them tracking exactly how many words they read each minute and more about them seeing how their reading prosody — expressiveness, smoothness — improves. Just having the free features should be enough for accomplishing that goal.

Here’s a video explaining how it works — keep in the mind that some of the features it talks about the end are the ones you have to pay for:

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July 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Liberio Says It Lets You Create eBooks From Google Drive

librero />

Liberio is a new tool that says it will let you turn any Google Drive document into an eBook. It also says it lets you upload and use a document from your computer.

That could be a very useful. However, I was not able to successfully upload any document. That may have been because of their being overwhelmed by new users after being written-up in TechCrunch, or it might be a technical problem with Liberio, or something wrong that I was doing (granted, I’m not super technically-knowledgeable, but I do know how to upload a file).

Let me know if you have better luck. Until that problem doesn’t exist, though, I won’t be adding Liberio to The Best Places Where Students Can Write Online.

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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
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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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