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When it comes to the tool my colleagues and I
can’t live without, it’s Google. Here are a few of
my favorite functions that are easy to start with.
• GoogleDocs—Not only is GoogleDocs a great
way to go paperless in the classroom, it also
offers a fantastic comment feature that allows
teachers to respond to one another’s work.
And the power of real-time collaboration makes
group work more productive. For example,
I had student groups write soliloquies to put
into Twelfth Night, and they were all able to
work on a different part of the scene at the
• GoogleForms—Within GoogleDocs I can
create a form, which is an online survey that
collects responses in a spreadsheet. Whether
I use them for formative assessment,
reflections, or even organizing assessment
data, these forms keep me communicating
with students (and parents) in effective ways.
• GoogleSites—These websites offer great
organizing tools. For example, these tools
have allowed me to create and maintain the
class website using the GoogleSites. And
students can create a site template to house
resources, research, and final products. See
my website, Geek Like Me – Welcome to Room
506! By Sarah Brown Wessling.
• Google Reader and Google Alerts—When
I learned to do research, I always had to go
and find the sources, but with Google Reader
and Alerts, I can teach students how to “order
research for delivery.” Of course, I’m still
passionate about our libraries, but these tools
are great companions for modern research.
WEB 2.0 FOR THINKING 101
My Delicious account is saturated with the
Web 2.0 tools I find. I’m especially fond of
these three because of the ways they support
all kinds of thinking in the classroom.
• Animoto—I love film projects but not the
production time (downloading footage, editing,
etc.). Enter Animoto! Using your images and
words, this slick movie-making program adds
transitions and music to make a professional
looking film in minutes. Have students compile
images that represent a theme. Use it to teach
how word and sound create tone or have
readers create book talks in a film format
• VoiceThread—Using this tool, I get students
to add their voice or text comments on an
image or video that I post. Any students with
access can review the comments as well as
see who made them. VoiceThreads can be
used for critiques, reflections, topic discussions.
• PollEverywhere—This neat alternative to
clicker systems is one of my most frequently
used tools. Students get to use their cell
phones in productive ways through online
polling. Whether they are voting on the next
book we’re going to read, texting me their
“exit slip” for the day, or generating a
conceptual understanding of a poll using
Wordle, this feature always has a place in
As you delve into the technology of 21st Century
teaching, do so with curiosity and confidence,
knowing that one of the greatest gifts we can
give our students is new ways to learn.
10 SITES TO BRING
NEW MEDIA INTO
1. Wordle—Is your class interested in a particular
topic? Type some of their comments into
Wordle, and see a visual interpretation of all
the words they used.
2. Prezi—Are your PowerPoint presentations
putting kids to sleep? Prezi has fun and
interesting slide transitions to keep your kids
guessing about what will happen next.
3. Teacher Tube—Is YouTube blocked at your
school? Or worse—did you use it, only to
have a less-than-appropriate video pop up as
“suggested?” Teacher Tube has classroomapproved
4. Quora—If you have a question, Quora has an
answer. Users can post questions and other
members suggest and debate answers.
5. Poll Daddy—Quickly and easily set up a
survey or poll for your students. You can see the
answers instantly—no tallying required!
6. Thing Link—Turn a picture into a visually
appealing cluster of links. Tag people in a photo
and link to articles about them, or cover an
infographic in links for further information. Then
post the image to your class’s web page! Try
free for 14 days.
7. Skitch—Skitch is a quick and easy photoediting
app. Language teachers might find it
particularly useful. Load up a photo and have
the student label everything in it with correct
8. Dipity—Create visually appealing and
interactive timelines. Each event can have an
image, and a link to more information. Users
can scroll through the timeline and click on the
events that interest them.
9. Wordpress—Do you find your district’s web
host hard to use? Make your own page using
Wordpress. If your students subscribe, they’ll
receive an email every time you post something
10. Pinterest—Teachers post free print outs,
pictures of beautiful classrooms, and links to
resources. Don’t forget to follow NEA Today!