TeachersFirst Edge

New web 2.0 tools appear each day. Many of these tools were not originally intended for classroom use, but they can be powerful learning tools for today's techno-savvy students and their more adventurous teachers. These sites appear (and frequently disappear) very quickly, launched by creative techno-geeks out there in the world.

Many of these tools require a higher-than-average set of teacher tech skills or some extra monitoring to assure student "safety." TeachersFirst Edge reviews these "tools on the Edge" carefully, and with specific ideas for using them safely and effectively in teaching and learning. Reviews point out any safety or policy concerns for the tool and offer links to management tips for each concern.

Especially popular is this subset of the Edge: BYOD Dream Tools: Free tools that work on any device. Look for the device agnostic tool tag in any review.

This is the world your students already know. Try teaching in their vernacular. A little adventurousness makes for powerful learning.

See General Tips for using Edge Tools - a must for first-time users

Browse the full listing of detailed safety/school policy tips or save time by reading them as needed from each tool review.

Learn about school web filtering, a critical issue with many "Edge" tools

If you try one of these tools and find it especially useful, be sure to leave a comment on it to share your students' successes with other teachers. If you know of another tool that teachers would find beneficial, please suggest it via our webmaster account, as a "suggested resource."

Here's the Edge:

 

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Squirt - Squirt io

Grades
2 to 12
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Start speed-reading with Squirt! Just install Squirt on your bookmarks bar. Clicking Try It Now will show you how this tool works. Back on the home page, click Install Squirt...more
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Start speed-reading with Squirt! Just install Squirt on your bookmarks bar. Clicking Try It Now will show you how this tool works. Back on the home page, click Install Squirt to read the FAQs and install the bookmarklet. When visiting a page on the web, select the text you would like to speed-read. Click on the bookmarklet, and watch the magic of Squirt begin. Squirt shows one word at a time while you adjust the speed of the words you read.

tag(s): independent reading (113)

In the Classroom

Want to take away the distractions of advertising or annoying graphics on a page? Use Squirt to only look at one word at a time. Squirt can also help struggling readers to practice their speed and accuracy rate. Squirt aids readers who may have problems with tracking. Use as an example of speed reading versus comprehension. Discuss the difference between reading with and without illustrations, tables, pictures, and the difference they make to comprehension. Use as a way to challenge students for reward certificates or extra computer time using an interactive they love. Use Squirt yourself, to get caught up on articles you need to read.

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stickr - Informer Technologies, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
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Install stickr as a bookmarklet or add-on to your browser to save quotes, comments, images, or videos. Select the text and insert a stickr. Save images and video to stickrs, ...more
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Install stickr as a bookmarklet or add-on to your browser to save quotes, comments, images, or videos. Select the text and insert a stickr. Save images and video to stickrs, too! Choose to change the stickr color and text. Save your stickrs as public or private. Find stickrs on a drop down menu or in your profile. Follow others in your stickr feed. Watch the video tutorial on the main page. At the bottom of the page click on the How To section for specific instructions and an instructional video. The video resides on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the video may not be viewable. You could always view the video at home and bring it to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): note taking (27), summarizing (14), word study (66)

In the Classroom

Share an article on the Internet with students using an interactive whiteboard or projector. While the class is reading, use different color stickrs to highlight and quote main ideas, explain unknown words, and indicate details during a close reading. Add videos or images to enhance comprehension. Stop throughout the article to record students' comments or questions. Adding tags will ensure finding what you need the next time you visit the page. Tags will also help students find main ideas to aid in studying. This tool will benefit any subject area teacher when explaining concepts or events while reading informational text. Show students how to summarize the information on the stickr using their words. Save sites for different research projects by adding tags. Use stickr to find information for the bibliography instantly. Have students take notes right on the page using their own words. Be sure to add a lesson on plagiarism.

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Clash - Clamp Studios

Grades
5 to 12
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Capture your audience's attention with audio messages from Clash. Type in your message of up to 140 characters and let Clash work its magic. Clash uses audio content from music, ...more
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Capture your audience's attention with audio messages from Clash. Type in your message of up to 140 characters and let Clash work its magic. Clash uses audio content from music, movies, and TV. It creates a unique message that is sure to capture anyone's interest. Edit individual words using options from different sources. When finished, choose the Save/Share button and share using the URL or social networking options.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (128), speech (89), text to speech (18)

In the Classroom

Create a message for your class using Clash as an attention-getter as students enter the room. Send out a tweet using a Clash message to remind students and parents about upcoming events, homework, or other classroom events. Make professional development more fun by adding Clash messages to any presentation!

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Google Photos - Google

Grades
K to 12
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Find, organize, edit, and share your photos from one place with Google Photos. Automatically upload pictures from any device to one storage platform. Use keywords to locate any uploaded...more
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Find, organize, edit, and share your photos from one place with Google Photos. Automatically upload pictures from any device to one storage platform. Use keywords to locate any uploaded image. Use the editing tools to create animated GIF's from images or combine related images and videos into a movie with a matching soundtrack. Google Photos allows you to upload photos from any mobile device and provides free unlimited storage for photos up to 16 megapixels or videos up to 1080 HD.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (128), images (235), video (209)

In the Classroom

Create a classroom Google account for students to upload video projects or images for projects. Share raw materials for student multimedia projects, such as photos of lab experiments or local historic sites. Share classroom projects privately and easily from your Google account. In elementary classrooms, teachers can use this tool to share photos from field trips, assemblies, project presentations, and other special events. Share the password with parents only. Have older students create their own Google account for collaborating on multimedia projects.

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Bloomz - Chaks Appalabattula

Grades
K to 12
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Bloomz is a tool that has more than six free features that teachers need to communicate with their classroom community: share photos, schedule conferences, send reminders, and more....more
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Bloomz is a tool that has more than six free features that teachers need to communicate with their classroom community: share photos, schedule conferences, send reminders, and more. These features are all in one place. So don't use one program to share photos, one to send reminders, one to share calendar updates, and another to schedule volunteers and conferences. Just use Bloomz and do all of the work from the same site. Once you have signed up with your email, watch the introduction video and view the demo class to see how easy Bloomz is to use. This tool works with all mobile devices and computers.

tag(s): calendars (45), DAT device agnostic tool (128), images (235), parent conferences (16), parents (49), social networking (108)

In the Classroom

Use Bloomz for all your communications with your classroom community. Not only that, but share important documents (field trip permission slips, a syllabus, etc.) for others to access. Post photos of special projects in class or from field trips. P.E. teachers and coaches can use this tool to post what skills students are learning and action pictures of student involvement in games and activities. Parents can download the free app or receive updates via email. Currently, there are three ways to invite parents and other class members. Email, enter the information manually, or upload an Excel spreadsheet and send a bulk invitation. Create groups within your Bloomz class and invite members. These groups might be volunteers in the classroom, volunteers for driving on a field trip, and more. Then you can communicate just to that group when necessary. Introduce Bloomz to parents at Back to School Night in the fall, Open House in the spring, or during parent conferences. Encourage resource teachers and others to join your class community to see what your class is doing. Update Bloomz on the go with your mobile device!

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Quizizz - Quizizz

Grades
K to 12
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Looking for a quiz tool that is better than all the rest? Quizizz is a free tool. You are able to access hundreds of ready made learning quizzes or create ...more
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Looking for a quiz tool that is better than all the rest? Quizizz is a free tool. You are able to access hundreds of ready made learning quizzes or create your own. Join as a teacher, pick a quiz, and use the code for a virtual room to give to your students. Students use the code to enter and submit a nickname, code name, or numerical name (students do not have to register). Teachers can choose to make their quiz public or private. Embed images with your questions; however, video embeds are not a feature at this time. You can even duplicate an existing quiz to save into My Quizizz. A created Quizizz can have randomized or non-randomized questions. Click "Start Game" after students have entered the code. Send the game link to students (or other teachers to use with their classes) by email, website, or social media. Set time limits of 30 seconds to 5 minutes for students to answer each question. This allows more time for more complex questions. Students earn points for speed and accuracy. Unlike other sites, both teacher and students are able to see the questions, answers, and the leader board throughout the quiz. Most other tools require the teacher to project the answers and leader board on a whiteboard. The leader board can be turned OFF in this tool as well. Don't miss the memes that are displayed when students answer a question. That is sure to be a hit with your students. And, what is the best part of this tool? Two separate classes can play together using this tool. Quizziz works on any web enabled device including smartphones and tablets.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (128), polls and surveys (38), quiz (70), quizzes (80)

In the Classroom

As with other similar tools, Quizizz is a formative assessment tool that is best used to obtain information on how the class as a whole is doing in understanding content material. Use Quizizz when asking questions that require a reading of a passage or longer time to answer questions. Be sure to set the time limit to the upper reaches of 5 minutes. Students can use code names or numerical screen names for anonymity if desired. Create pretests to offer to gifted students to "test out" of already learned material. Students can easily see the choices and choose answers using a browser on a laptop or any device. Make it a class challenge! Use this tool at the start of a new chapter or unit. Students can see who is at the top of the leaderboard during the play and can even ask questions while going through the quiz. Use this tool often to obtain a snapshot of each student's understanding of content. As with other tools where there is a leader board, it is helpful to have a collaborative environment where competition is not the goal, instead working together and improving is important.

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Riddle - Boris Pfeiffer, Mike Hawkins, Russ King, and Marco Hoeglinger

Grades
K to 12
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Riddle is like a survey or poll on steroids! It is not the typical survey (though it has those features, too). Riddle has a feature they call Commenticles that allows ...more
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Riddle is like a survey or poll on steroids! It is not the typical survey (though it has those features, too). Riddle has a feature they call Commenticles that allows you to choose an article, share it, and ask a question. You can also create a poll that is image-based. If images represent the answers, you can have text below the picture. There is a simple sign up with email. Share links via URL, FaceBook, Twitter, or get the embed code and put it on your web page.

tag(s): polls and surveys (38)

In the Classroom

Sign up for Riddle and use an interactive whiteboard or projector and show the students how to use Riddle. Find an article for your students to read. Once an article is selected, copy and paste the article URL in the space provided. (You can have students just read an excerpt from the article by highlighting parts of it with your browser highlighter.) Next, put an explanation, comment and/or directions to students. Select how many poll options you want (two or three) and what they should state. There are options for colors and whether or not the symbols for Twitter and Facebook will show. To share with students, copy and paste the embed code (find that by clicking on the three little dots next to the Twitter and FaceBook symbols) to your web page. Alternatively, share the special URL from the top of the page on your class web page or through email. Use Riddle's Commenticles to help meet the requirements of Common Core Standards for informational reading. Use any article on the Internet for a Commenticle. Language arts or social studies teachers can use Commenticles for having students select which area of an article shows bias, uses persuasion, and so on, by copying and pasting that part of the text into one of the answer choices.

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History in Motion - Paul Cashman

Grades
6 to 12
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Design an animated timeline that will move simultaneously with a map. Include descriptions of events, display images, and embed videos along each point of the timeline. Register to...more
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Design an animated timeline that will move simultaneously with a map. Include descriptions of events, display images, and embed videos along each point of the timeline. Register to get started. Be sure to watch the introductory video before starting a project/scenario. Start by selecting the beginning and ending points. After that, fill in the events, images, and videos. Editing is possible at any time. Video tutorials are available for each step. Share your scenario via URL. Some videos are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): animation (54), maps (269), timelines (59)

In the Classroom

Create a History in Motion timeline to share with the entire class to introduce them to the program, or simply watch the introductory video together using an interactive whiteboard or projector. There are also example projects to view. If your class discusses current events, this would be an excellent tool to use to track the history of certain issues. To do this more easily use a tool like Wide Angle Window Into Global History, reviewed here. Language arts students can trace the events in a novel and history students can trace historical events or famous people. When assigning a biography for math or science use this tool to trace where and when the famous person's theories or inventions spread. Now that would be an interesting take on a biography project! Be sure to share the URL on your class web page for students to work on the program and watch the "How-To" videos at home.

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DK FindOut - Dorling Kindersley Limited

Grades
K to 9
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Find an answer to your question or great question starters for any conversation here with this free tool! Scroll through a few questions on the home page and click Find ...more
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Find an answer to your question or great question starters for any conversation here with this free tool! Scroll through a few questions on the home page and click Find Out More to get to the answer. Enter your search terms or question into the search box (I want to find out about...) Scroll down further in the page to view specific topics such as Animals and Nature, Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life, History, Music, Art, and Literature, Math, and more! Scroll down further to find information by category: What's New, Quizzes, Videos, Galleries, Fun Facts, and My Stuff. Create an account to save information in My Stuff. This tool has an option to sign up for a Teacher account, and coming soon will be the option for a Parent account.

tag(s): addition (233), animals (255), dinosaurs (49), division (160), earth (221), literature (222), multiplication (212), musical notation (24), plants (134), space (179), subtraction (193), writing (334)

In the Classroom

DK FindOut features subject-based, curriculum-linked articles that support classroom learning. These resources also contain ideas for projects or homework. Sign up for a Teacher account and have the option to use the Lesson Planner to organize information in the creation of a lesson. Use this site to find answers to popular student questions. Bookmark this site on class computers for students to find answers to questions they may have in class. Place a link to this site on your class web page for students to access when the questions pop up! Use this as an incentive for students to "teach" and share what they understand about the answer to their classmates. They could do this in an impromptu speech, or more formally with an infographic using a tool such as Easl.ly, reviewed here, or a word cloud (graphic) using Wordle, reviewed here. Find great question starters for lessons and build an engaging lesson using many of these curricular resources.

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Versal - Gregor Freund

Grades
K to 12
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Versal allows you to share your expertise with others by creating interactive courses. Knowing how to code is not required. Versal does it all. It is a versatile publishing platform...more
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Versal allows you to share your expertise with others by creating interactive courses. Knowing how to code is not required. Versal does it all. It is a versatile publishing platform where you can develop your lessons around text, quizzes, surveys, videos, images, and interactive learning gadgets. The gadgets set Versal apart from the other classroom management/publishing tools. The promise of interactive JavaScript graphics and simulations makes Versal a very powerful tool. Once your course, demonstration, lesson, or tutorial is finished, you can direct your participants to use it on Versal via email invitations. You can also embed it on your website or blog. Signup is simple with your name, email, and password. Once registration is completed, you will be directed to your dashboard. There is no waiting for a response email. Authoring your course is only available on desktops/laptops computers (web browsers). Participants can use a desktop/laptop computer or any mobile device.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): assessment (79), classroom management (101), DAT device agnostic tool (128), multimedia (40)

In the Classroom

Before you get started, view the extensive Help Center and the Using Versal section. Learn anything you need to know. Create a course about gadgets and how to use them (all were free to use at the time of this review), publishing, and much more. Watch videos for how to embed Versal courses on Edmodo, Blackboard, Blogger, Wordpress, and many other tools. The embed code is free. Become familiar with this program, and have students present projects using it. Since Versal is web-based, you can create easy, simple activities or elaborate units. Start building Common Core aligned and differentiated activities such as reading, filling out concept maps, writing paragraphs, drawing, answering questions, taking quizzes, and more. Add links to read and hear multimedia content such as videos and slideshows. For longer videos, you may want to put a tag or comment in certain areas. Use a program like The Mad Video, reviewed here, to accomplish this. Tags can be as simple as "answer question 4 now." Since Versal is an interactive and collaborative program, have literature circles complete write ups, discussions, and final presentations about the book they read using Versal. Lab partners can present their findings, and math students can demonstrate how they solved a problem.

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Writing Navigator - SAS Curriculum Pathways

Grades
6 to 12
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The Writing Navigator is a free, online suite of tools that provides guidance and support throughout the writing process: planning, drafting, revising, and publishing. Launch any of...more
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The Writing Navigator is a free, online suite of tools that provides guidance and support throughout the writing process: planning, drafting, revising, and publishing. Launch any of the four tools to begin and follow prompts to upload or create your work. Account creation is required using Google+ or email. This tool works with Windows, Mac, and any Chrome browser. There are also free apps for both iOS and Android.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (128), editing (50), process writing (37), writing (334)

In the Classroom

Use these tools to guide students through the entire writing process. Introduce each tool on an interactive whiteboard (or projector) and work through the steps together. Ask students to complete each step along the way for their individual writing project. Have students create blogs using Throwww, here, describing their journey through the writing process. This site allows you to create "quick and easy" blogs to be used one time only. A unique URL is provided, and this site is as easy as using a basic Word program! Once the students know the Writing Navigator, use it for peer conferences or at home on their own time. Once you set up your account, enroll students with your school. Their parents can also set up an individual student account. Be sure to provide a link to this site on your class website or blog for student use at home. Be sure to turn off your popup blocker to use the site. Find more ideas in the TeachersFirst review of the Writing Reviser, reviewed here.

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ReadingTeacher - Francis Morgan

Grades
K to 3
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ReadingTeacher is a phonics-based reading program brought into digital form. Activities include read-aloud books, animated interactive stories, printables, quizzes, and more. Previously...more
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ReadingTeacher is a phonics-based reading program brought into digital form. Activities include read-aloud books, animated interactive stories, printables, quizzes, and more. Previously free only for individual use, it is now free for use in creating virtual classrooms of up to 30 students. Sign up using your email, then go to "My Account" to add students. Be sure to watch the help video for full details about adding and managing students. Some videos are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): independent reading (113), phonics (75), reading strategies (31)

In the Classroom

Create your account, and then add students to your virtual classroom. Be sure to share individual student login and password information with parents for use at home. Browse the site for materials to use along with your current classroom curriculum. Print books for students to take home for practice. Share a link to the site on your class website for parents to access additional reading materials. Use materials with ESL/ELL students for additional reading practice. Use with learning support students for extra support in reading.

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Twchat - TwChat

Grades
9 to 12
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Create a real-time chat room based on a twitter hashtag. Invite users to TwChat to participate in an online presentation without additional programs. Assign others to assist you with...more
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Create a real-time chat room based on a twitter hashtag. Invite users to TwChat to participate in an online presentation without additional programs. Assign others to assist you with moderation. View a list of the Latest Chats and Upcoming Chats. Click "Create own room" to begin. Sign in with Twitter to participate, and then create your first room. Enter the time and schedule for the chat. Tweets appear in the room from all participants. Your tweets appear in the mentor column. Use this tool to follow new Twitter users or block participants.

tag(s): chat (40), microblogging (37), social networking (108), twitter (46)

In the Classroom

Do you use Twitter in the classroom? Use TwChat to create a chat room using a hashtag as invitation. See all tweets related to the hashtag in one place. Consider using a Twitter chat as a collaborative activity to find and share resources about a topic, translate material into/from another language, or understand the meaning behind literary works. Not interested in starting your own chat? Explore the site to discover Twitter chats to match your interests and needs. Find chats that are related to your expertise to learn about issues in the field or to bring a new perspective of that subject area to share with your classes. Need more information about Twitter? Read more about Twitter at TeachersFirst's Twitter for Teachers page.

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Shape Collage - ShapeCollage, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
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Make a collage of your images into a variety of shapes. Download the free program for Mac OS, Windows, Linux, iPhone, and iPad. Drag images into the window and choose ...more
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Make a collage of your images into a variety of shapes. Download the free program for Mac OS, Windows, Linux, iPhone, and iPad. Drag images into the window and choose the collage shape (heart, characters, animals, and more) or create and customize your own shape. Collages do not show the company watermark, and you can export them to Photoshop. Follow the demo video for tips and tricks.

tag(s): collages (18), images (235), themes (11)

In the Classroom

Use Shape Collage to take a variety of images to make a collage. Use this tool to create pages of class memories for the end of the year and create yearbook type effects easily. Since you can create and customize the shapes, this would be a great tool to represent a theme for any story, novel, or unit of study.

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NationStates - Max Barry

Grades
6 to 12
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There are plenty of simulation interactives for major life events such as pandemics, but what happens in everyday life? NationStates brings to life daily decisions. This multiplayer...more
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There are plenty of simulation interactives for major life events such as pandemics, but what happens in everyday life? NationStates brings to life daily decisions. This multiplayer online interactive features you as the head of your nation to create and shape how you see fit. To get started, create your nation by giving it a name. Customize various aspects, such as the flag, history, and national animal. Then get into the heart of your nation: political, social, and economic issues. These choices determine the initial status of your nation. As you play, these problems will change with your choices. Every day an issue is presented and the choices you make affect the outcome of your nation. Your choices become the national law in your nation. Warning: There is one problem a day, but you can change that to two in your account settings. As you play, various aspects of your nation change and the type of government shifts (maybe even including anarchy). Choose to stay an independent nation or join others to create a region. Participate in the World Assembly (the pretend U.N.). View debates in the forum that actually touch on current events in the game and in real life. One thing to note: If you are not attentive to the issues that come up each day, the game ends quickly. The good news is that it takes very little time to view the issue, act, and see the result. Note: This interactive is loosely based on the novel Jennifer Government by Max Barry.
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tag(s): foreign policy (13), money (182), politics (91), sociology (21)

In the Classroom

Students can use this interactive individually, making connections to their choice, results, and connections to actual world events, present and past. Additionally, students can join a region and see how their decisions affect other nations. A great lesson is to allow students to run their nation according to their political views and see the results as they unfold through play. Be sure to treat this seriously as the issues presented here are actual issues that governments must deal with daily. Even making a decision within your political viewpoint can lead to results that are not anticipated. Require students to discuss their viewpoint, why they believe they are right, the resulting consequence, and how it has changed what they believe. Following the play, give time for students to research an initiative or action a country made and the resulting consequences that have resulted. Present, discuss, or debate these with the class. Allow every student in class to have a voice by using a student response system such as Infuse Learning, reviewed here, or GoSoapBox, reviewed here.

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Google Tours of America: A Narrative History - W.W. Norton

Grades
9 to 12
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Find tours that follow major themes and events throughout US History. This tool is accessible and useful for anyone teaching or interested in history! The tours include the Revolutionary...more
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Find tours that follow major themes and events throughout US History. This tool is accessible and useful for anyone teaching or interested in history! The tours include the Revolutionary War, the path to the Civil War, World War II, Vietnam War, Civil Rights Movement, Lewis & Clark's expedition, the Indian Removal Act, Pre-Columbian North America, the national parks system, and the 20th Century power grid. To use the tours, first be sure that you have Google Earth installed on computers. Click the tour you are interested in to download the kmz file (this is the file that Google Earth uses to bring all the information into Google Earth). Double click this file. Google Earth opens, and you will find all the files for the tour under the Temporary Places. Images and information are found in the Tour Guide pane under the globe in Google Earth. Click on each item to view the resource at each point of the tour. All of the tours include multiple images and references. Some also include tour questions for students to answer. Are you new to Google Earth? Find information about this resource, reviewed here.
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tag(s): american revolution (76), civil rights (100), civil war (141), electricity (79), lewis and clark (15), national parks (16), native americans (70), vietnam (36), world war 2 (146)

In the Classroom

Introduce this resource on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Share the kmz file with students on a class website or blog. Use this fantastic alternative instead of slides to present a lesson on US History. Use these resources before teaching the specifics of the unit or throughout to enhance the content learned in class. The history lessons have more impact using Google Earth and putting the locations in perspective. Employ this resource as a model of creating effective tours using Google Earth. Assign student projects using Google Earth to create a tour using files and resources found during their research, employing these resources as an example.

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100 Word Challenge - J. Skinner

Grades
2 to 12
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The 100 Word Challenge provides weekly prompts and will publish your writing to an audience. We all know that having an audience for our writing makes us better writers. So, ...more
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The 100 Word Challenge provides weekly prompts and will publish your writing to an audience. We all know that having an audience for our writing makes us better writers. So, write 100 words in response to the prompt on your blog, and then send the URL for the entry to 100 Word Challenge. There is a page with screen shots telling you exactly when they release the Challenges and how to get them published. Be sure to read the information about Team 100 WC, since you must have at least one adult volunteer to make a comment (100 words or less). It is also important for you read Allowing Comments on Your Blog Posts. If you have not started blogging yet, check out TeachersFirst Blog Basics.

tag(s): blogs (76), digital storytelling (103), social networking (108)

In the Classroom

Share the weekly prompts on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students respond to the prompt on your classroom blog. If you teach younger students or resource students, you may want to apply to the 5 Sentence Challenge, instead of the 100 Word Challenge. They are both available at the same URL. The benefits of participating in a blog like this go beyond just writing. Submitting your students' writing to either of these Challenge blogs will provide the all-important publish piece that students need in order to feel accomplished and to do their best. They can also build cultural understanding through reading the responses from others to the same prompt. If you would like your students to write their blogs more than once a week, you might want to visit Thought Questions, reviewed here.

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Twine - Chris Klimas

Grades
6 to 12
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Create interactive fiction (choose your own adventure) type stories, poems, games, and interactive art with Twine. Start by either downloading the software to your computer or click...more
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Create interactive fiction (choose your own adventure) type stories, poems, games, and interactive art with Twine. Start by either downloading the software to your computer or click on "use it online" just under the download button. Twine helps you stay organized with little Post-It type squares with arrows to connect each section to one or more other sections. See how to do this by watching this short YouTube video, here. Drag and drop the squares on the page, and they will stay connected. There are a few templates to choose from, and you can upload images. For those who are adept at programming, click on Wiki and see the other quality, development resources Twine offers. Work is saved in your browser, not on a server. That means there is no sign-in or sign-up, but it also means losing your work unless you remember to click on the Archive button. Click on the Twine Wiki for FAQs, Vimeo Tutorial Videos, and other helpful information. On YouTube watch several video tutorials. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): computers (55), creative writing (150), interactive stories (29), writing (334)

In the Classroom

View the Getting Started tutorials together on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) before students begin to write stories. Also, be sure to have the tutorials as a link on class computers and your class webpage. Create a short story together as a class to become familiar with the site. Have students create a story diagram before beginning a story on Twine; then use the site to complete the project. Have students create stories to show what they have learned about literature, geography, history, science concepts, and more. As a more "serious" approach, use Twine to present opinion pieces where you take a position and allow readers to click on questions about it. They could also click on statements expressing opposing views so you can write counterarguments to their points. This idea could end up being a powerful way to present an argument and evidence as required by Common Core writing standards. Using this tool in a computer programming class would be ideal. Going to either Wiki, FAQ, or Forum will show you other development resources such as custom macros, stylesheets, code references, and so forth. Teachers of gifted could use this for students to develop elaborate fictional or informational pieces. Again, a graphic organizer for planning and organizing evidence is a must!

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Vizualize.me - Parchment

Grades
6 to 12
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Vizualize.me creates resumes in a beautiful and compelling infographic format. Create an account to begin editing your resume. Import data from LinkedIn or personalize your information...more
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Vizualize.me creates resumes in a beautiful and compelling infographic format. Create an account to begin editing your resume. Import data from LinkedIn or personalize your information using Vizualize.me's dashboard. Customize your profile, change themes, and modify colors and styles using the dashboard. Share via URL, embed onto your website, or share on social networking sites. Download to your computer for a printable version. The introductory video is hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the video may not be viewable. You could always view the video at home and bring it to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the video from YouTube.
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tag(s): careers (118), infographics (43), portfolios (22)

In the Classroom

Have students create a personal resume as an example of how to portray their strengths and interests to potential employers. Middle school students in an art or career exploration class can create a resume infographic about themselves to use for summer jobs or even on a flyer to get part-time work around the neighborhood. In history classes, offer the infographic resume as a possible project alternative. For instance, if you are studying Medival History and the feudal pyramid, students could create a resume for a serf or knight. The possibilities for personalities in history are practically endless! Students in literature classes could create an infographic resume for a literary character or author.

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Zoom In! - Education Development Center

Grades
5 to 12
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Zoom In! is a set of digital tools that support social studies teachers in aligning teaching with the Common Core Literacy Standards. In each lesson, students solve a historical problem...more
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Zoom In! is a set of digital tools that support social studies teachers in aligning teaching with the Common Core Literacy Standards. In each lesson, students solve a historical problem by analyzing and collecting evidence, organizing research, and creating a rough draft communicating the solution. Create your teacher account to begin. Browse through 10 lessons with topics as diverse as propaganda and Paul Revere, Labor on the World War II Homefront, Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, and music in the Vietnam War. Create a class within each lesson to receive a class code for student access. View more information about this resource on their YouTube channel, here. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): american revolution (76), civil war (141), constitution (73), immigrants (16), immigration (55), lincoln (82), slavery (69), vietnam (36), westward expansion (20), world war 2 (146)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of these free lesson plans for use in teaching social studies aligned to Common Core Standards. Even if you cannot use whole lessons, browse through to find resources to add to your current lessons. Create classes and assign different lessons to different groups of students based on ability and interest. After completing a unit, have students make a multimedia presentation using one of the many TeachersFirst Edge tools, reviewed here.

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