The following websites have been chosen by the American Association of School Librarians as the Best Websites for Teaching and Learning for 2015 and 2014.
Best Websites 2015
TouchCast is an entirely new way to experience video. Embed web links, documents, pictures and more into video presentations. Make video completely interactive. Touchcast offers templates and easy to use options. Users can create content online or use the Touchcast App for a full hands-on experience. Create and show videos on the Touchcast site, or opt to share via Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Grades: 6-12.
Tackk is a free, simple way to create beautiful pages and collaborate in the classroom. Teachers can use Tackk for assignments, presentations, blogs, discussions and more. Use like Google sign-in; tagging, built-in media search and app embed without needing tech or design skills. It is also very easy to embed, email and share on various social media networks. Grades: 6-12.
Live presentation and slides from the teacher to the students in the classroom. Students can respond to pre-planned or impromptu questions from the teacher or librarian. Question types are only limited by your imagination. Draw it out, ask in a multiple choice format, or take it further if you wish. Students can respond anonymously or with their names, in real time in the classroom. Gain reports, map out responses, and show the class their answers. Great interactive fun. Grades: 3-12.
Soundtrap provides a place for your students and you to create music online quickly and easily. Users can plug in their own instruments, use the instruments provided on Soundtrap, or record a song directly using an external microphone. This online tool works with multiple devices and system platforms. Create by yourself or start creating and collaborate with friends. When finished users can publish their work on Facebook, Twitter, or on Soundtrap. Publishing to iTunes is also available for a fee. Grades: 8-12.
Storyboard That is a storyboarding tool that offers templates for students to create stories. This site offers scenes, characters, text bubbles, and much more to fill the storyboard frames. Need to outline a story, plan out an idea in a fun way; break down or plan out, Storyboard is a great way to do just that. Grades: K-12.
Booktrack Classroom creates an immersive reading experience which allows students to read with a movie-style soundtrack. Students can read booktracks already created or can create and publish their own Booktracks using books preloaded in Booktrack or by adding in their own stories. Student work will be published and visible for their peers to enjoy. Grades: 3rd-12th.
With an easy and efficient way to organize, structure, and keep track of notes your students and you will want to check out Beyond Pad. Part white board, part digital post it notes, this organization and management style site gives students and their educators another way to present notes, ideas, and information. Track, tag, and list information on each board to gain a better idea of content. Grades: 8-12.
Create a paperless classroom in which teachers can post assignments, receive student work, track missing work, and give feedback, all electronically. Teachers can upload and share Google files, other file types, or share links and can opt to automatically make a copy of a Google Document for each student. Work is organized automatically with Google folders for each assignment and for each student. A requirement is that all teachers and students must use Google Apps for Education accounts to participate. Grades: 6-12.
Create your own game-show style boards with FlipQuiz. So much fun and the possibilities are endless for questions, test preparation, quiz or knowledge bowls and much more. Keep students engaged with this game style learning tool. Using FlipQuiz is so easy. Sign up for an account, create new boards on any topic desired, and then present to your class. Grades: 3rd-12th
Answerables lets teachers create lessons and then “gamify” them using the site’s cutting-edge technology. The platform is a multiplayer game set on planet Proxima. Students choose an avatar and then customize and expand their home PODS (Personal Online Development Space) with learning activities. Students collaborate and develop social learning skills as responsible digital citizens. Teachers can monitor student progress and share resources with other educators. Grades: 1-12
Gooru is a free, educational search engine for online resources and lesson plans in science, math, social studies and language arts. Teachers and students can search for and curate collections of multimedia resources, digital textbooks, videos, handouts, games, and quizzes. Collect and gather information into “My Collections” and “My Classes” categories. Grades: K-12.
Molecular Workbench is a free, open source environment providing visual, interactive computational experiments for teaching and learning science. Even though there are many simulations ready for use in the classroom, teachers can also create simulations based on their specific curricular needs and share them with other teachers. Grades: 9-12.
Knowmia is a web location that features short video lessons from teachers around the globe. The lessons cover a wide range of topics, having trouble teaching a difficult subject or concept Knowmia is here to help. Over 30,000 video lessons are available to users. Search for topics using an easy, simple search tool. There is a teacher, style, subject, and lesson for every style of educator and classroom. Don’t see what you’re looking for, add a lesson of your own and help other educators in the field. Grades: 4th-12th.
Hstry is a multimedia timeline creation tool that will work on your laptop, Chromebook, iPad or tablet. Students can interact and comment on peer timelines. Use a variety of media to highlight important biographical, historical, or literary events in chronological order. Add in video, images, audio, and text to the events these engaging timeline. Grades: 3-12.
What Was There
This innovative site adds the history to the place. Using Google Maps, this site explores the way places used to look. Students can search and explore their own personal history, that of relatives, or of an important place in class. What was There allows registered users to upload images of buildings and landmarks and have them displayed in the location where they were taken. Grades K-12.
BioDigital Human moves learning beyond textbook diagrams and the life-sized skeleton in the corner of the science classroom! This tool is an interactive 3D environment providing a stunningly realistic way to examine the human body. Students can explore and manipulate the 3D images as they zoom in and out of the various layers of anatomical animations. Descriptions of health conditions related to each system of the human body are included. Grades: 7–12.
So what is the BioDigital Human?
ABC News said, “Think: Google Earth meets the human body.” And they were right.
“It’s an interactive virtual model of the human body that addresses major deficiencies in health education communication,” Sculli said told Bioscience Technology. “So from diagnosis, to drugs, to devices, to medical record information, it provides a much more engaging way to really understand health concepts.”
PhET is a collection of science and math interactive computer simulations. With over 200 million simulations delivered to date, students learn through exploration in an animated, game-like environment. PhET simulations encourage inquiry, use real-world connections and can be used in a variety of educational settings. Play with existing simulations or run simulations on this engaging, interactive site. Grades: 2-12.
Best Websites 2014
Don’t assume that Vocabulary.com is just another digital flashcard site. This innovative site uses an adaptive learning system to help users learn the most essential English words needed in academic and business environments. Users quickly begin building their vocabulary knowledge as the adaptive learning system questions, reviews, and leads users to word mastery. Fun example sentences and responses “with an attitude” help keep the users’ attention, along with the level and achievement badges that can be earned. Leaderboards keep track of top achieving students and schools, creating a challenging game-like environment. Customized vocabulary lists can be added and grouped by categories, such as literature, historical documents, and speeches. Grades: 3-12.
Created at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the auspices of the National Institute for Science Education, the Why Files web site provides scientific information to explain and expand on current news stories. This witty web site updates weekly and provides a searchable archive of stories and articles. A list of National Science Education standards that link to support Why Files articles is included. Additional classroom activities are offered that can be used with an entire class or for extra credit. There is enough intriguing information, as well as cool science images, to entice older students to explore the site on their own. Grades 5-12.
Media History Digital Library
The Media History Digital Library is a collection of resources providing online access to the history of movies, broadcasting, and sound recording. The Magazine Collections currently have over 800,000 scanned pages with more pages being added frequently. Users may read material online, download the PDF, or visit the Internet Archive page to find cataloging information and additional download options. For students and history fans alike, this amazing resource will provide a glimpse into the early years of movies, radio and television broadcasting. Grades 7-12.
This site supports flipped instruction by allowing teachers to embed multiple-choice questions into YouTube, TeacherTube, or Vimeo videos. Videos can also be chopped so students view a portion of a film. Student viewing mode also prevents students from fast-forwarding, to assure they watch the entire assignment. These videos can then be assigned to student classes and given due dates which the teacher monitors for accuracy and completion, or simply linked to or embedded in a website for public viewing. Premium accounts also offer a gradebook export, free response question types, and the ability to search for and use lessons created by other users. Grades 3-12.
Storify wants users to make the web tell a story. This site opens the opportunity to take our favorite social media and build stories. Find posts, tweets, links, articles, blogs, and more to create a story all your own. Not only can we share our own stories but read social media stories created by others from all over the world. See how events and issues are being reported and displayed through the eyes of many. Grades 6-12.
Kahoot is a classroom student response system that is completely device agnostic. Whether they are using laptops, iPads, Chromebooks, Google Tablets, various smartphones or more if students can access the internet they can respond to all of the information provided via Kahoot. Using a simple drag and drop feature instructors can create quizzes, discussion, or surveys (which they call Kahoots) all of which can be embedded with images, text, video and more. Grades K-12.
Figment is more than an app or a tool. Figment is a community of readers and writers, creators and artists, using the internet to share ideas and stories. In Figment, one can search for particular types of texts/writing, by genre or by tags. Check out Figment’s library or spotlight books, or join a group based on interests. There are forums for networking, sharing ideas and opinions, and troubleshooting. Keep up to date on the Daily Fig for contests, polls, and quizzes. Get feedback and share your talents! Grades 4-12.
Recite is where you can go to “Turn a Quote into a Masterpiece.” Pick a quote from literature, a movie, a mentor, teacher, or create of your own, choose a template, and voila, you have created a gorgeous quote with Recite This. A wonderful resource for bulletin boards, classroom walls, door decorating contests, Power Point and other online based presentation tools. Grades K-12.
Make your images completely interactive by adding links, videos, text, and more with your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Add your own picture and embed information or pull images from other sites (with permission) and add facts to those. Take a regular digital image and make it come alive! Grades 6-12.
This site allows for the creation of web-based presentations that include animated videos and amazing content. Powtoon is ideal for those seeking a nice alternative to more traditional presentation tools. Simple to use, it makes creating engaging, interesting, and exciting animated videos extremely easy. Users can create and show presentations straight from the Powtoon site, or opt for the export to Youtube option, or even download a MP4 video format for use offline. Grades: K-12.
Padlet, formerly called Wallwisher, makes posting things on the Internet as easy as pinning notes on a bulletin board. Using the idea of a blank piece of paper, you can put whatever you want on your wall by dragging and dropping documents and images from your desktop, copying and pasting links to websites or videos or just typing notes on your page. When you finish posting things to your wall you will be able to collaborate with others using a unique URL as well as through a variety of social networks. Grades 4-12.
TEDEd allows educators to create and share lessons built around YouTube videos. The embedded lesson creator allows users to 1) FIND video content through an integrated search panel, 2) SELECT a video or lesson to be customized, and 3) FLIP a video by adding questions, notes, and content. The TEDEd library is continually growing and is searchable and browsable by series and subject. Grades K-12.
Digital Public Library of America
The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is an online collection of millions of photographs, maps, sounds, manuscripts, books, and more accessible anytime, anywhere, for anyone. DPLA materials come from museums, archives, and libraries across the United States, and provides primary source examples of our American Heritage and human history. With DPLA, users can explore resources by topic, map, format, timeline, or exhibition. With a free account, items can be saved to lists and shared with others. Grades 6-12.
Over 1,000 online video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses are housed in this website maintained by the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation Institute, established in 1994 by Steven Spielberg. Students can be involved with the videos, teachers will enjoy the educational materials.
Science NetLinks is a dynamic Website connecting K-12 teachers, students, and families to STEM resources produced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science including lesson plans, interactives, and reviewed Internet resources. The lesson plan and tool databases are searchable by grade level, themes, and content area. Collections spotlight various themes such as Earth Day, Summer Science fun, and Science Apps. There is an Afterschool collection that offers hands-on science experiments which offers student activity sheets, online resources, as well as teacher resources. Grades K-12.
Socrative transforms multiple student devices into student response systems for free! Engage upper elementary and secondary students in classroom activities with educational exercises and games in real time via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Socrative is easy to set up and features formats including multiple choice, True/False, and short answer. Results can be viewed online in a Google spreadsheet or received via email as an Excel file. Grades 6-12.
Order in the court. Hail to the chief! Roll call…yea or nay… iCivics is game, activity and resource filled Web site, founded by Justice, Sandra Day O’Conner to help young people of all ages learn about branches of government, citizenship, separation of powers, media influences on government, the budget, and the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Games can be accessed by topic or playing time. In addition to games and webquests, iCivics provides lesson plans with supporting resources for teachers. Grades 3-12.
Easel.ly allows users to quickly create infographics and share visual ideas online. Easel.ly has an expansive library of elements and visual objects that can be added to personalize infographics of all kinds. Students and teachers can choose from pre-formatted infographics or start fresh and create their own. Easel.ly is intuitive and easy to use, relying on drag-and-drop features and streamlined menus. Grades 6-12.
Kidblog is unique among the web tools featured here because it is built by teachers for teachers. Their website explains that their mission is “to empower teachers to embrace the benefits of the coming digital revolution in education.” And as students continue to become creators rather than simply consumers, Kidblog provides teachers with everything they need to help students create their digital portfolios safely. It gives teachers administrative control over student blogs and accounts. Though Kidblog is private by default, teachers can choose to make posts public or password-protected so that parents can view their students’ blogs, too. But whether or not they access their child’s blog, Kidblog gives mom and dad peace of mind as it is fully COPPA compliant and does not require any personal information from students.