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.
Browse the full listing of detailed safety/school policy tips or save time by reading them as needed from each tool review.
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:
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomUse Collabify to set up virtual parent/teacher conferences with participants located anywhere in the world. Collabify is especially useful when multiple teachers are involved or when parents may not reside in the same location. Share your screen as needed to provide information on assessments and student work.
Have your students set up collaborative groups for projects, lab data, and more. Anything students can do on a single computer; they can do collaboratively on this tool, accessing their work from any online computer. Be sure to test out this tool before using with your class. It may be a good idea to set up the groups with the teacher as a "member" but have students work from home for group projects. Make sure you are protecting the safety of student work and identity and are within your school's Acceptable Use Policy.
GradesK to 1
In the ClassroomInclude Construct3 with your other options for teaching coding to students. Take advantage of the included levels to differentiate learning based on knowledge of coding. If you are uncomfortable with coding, enlist students to become technology coaches in your classroom to teach and share their knowledge with others. Use and share Google Forms to create how-to guides for students to get started including images with tips and suggestions. Ask "in-the-know" students to enhance their learning and create one-page websites using Jimdo, reviewed here, sharing advice for individual games included in Construct3. As students become familiar with coding, have them use My Simpleshow, reviewed here to redefine what they learned by creating simple explainer videos detailing how to build and share personalized games.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomBefore using this site, share the tutorials and how-to information with students to get them started. Modify learning for your tech-savvy or gifted students to create a screen recording tutorial using Free Screen Recorder Online, reviewed here, or an explainer video using My Simpleshow, reviewed here, to share on your class website or blog for students who need additional help on any features. If image files are too large, reduce them using Web Resizer, reviewed here. Once students are familiar with the site, create magazines using student images to share class projects or use available images found in ZineLab to create and share research information.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomUse Mix for your personal research and professional development. Visit Mix occasionally to find new ideas and new sites for teaching. Create and share collections of websites to share with students for use with research projects. For example, as you prepare to teach a science unit on plants, create a collection containing news articles, explainer sites, and online games for students to use as a virtual resource for supplementing classroom lessons. Include documents, slide presentations, and more from your Google Drive for student access from any device. Another use of Mix is to create collections when teaching students how to evaluate online resources. Create a collection from a variety of different resources based on the same topic and ask students to reflect upon the validity of the information and the source. Ask them to use a presentation tool like Sway, reviewed here to share their findings by including links to the information along with supporting evidence. Another idea for using Mix is for students to create collections to share as part of multimedia projects as a virtual bibliography. In addition to websites shared, ask them to add their written work, images, or other creations. Mix is an excellent tool for creating an online portfolio for students to use when applying to college. Show students how to easily create new collections using their work, but personalized to individual college applications.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomWork together as a class to complete a 4-Circle Venn Diagram on your interactive whiteboard (or with a projector) to represent an overlap of topics in any subject. For example, use this tool to compare and contrast students' involvement in four different sports, compare events or settings in four novels, or characteristics of four groups of animals. Once students become comfortable with Venn Diagrams, ask them to include them in a longer presentation created using a tool like Wakelet, reviewed here. Use Wakelet to modify classroom technology by having students include their writing, images, diagrams, videos, and more.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): addition (224), coding (77), decimals (125), division (157), equations (154), fractions (231), functions (70), game based learning (148), geometric shapes (168), logic (250), measurement (179), multiplication (210), operations (120), probability (136), problem solving (293), pythagorean theorem (34), ratios (66), square roots (21), statistics (130), subtraction (186)
In the ClassroomPolyup is perfect for use in math classrooms in a variety of ways. Become acquainted with the free lesson plans to incorporate Polyup activities based on specific math skills. Encourage problem-solving and math exploration by including a link to Polyup on classroom computers. Instead of assigning a worksheet or other math activity for homework, ask students to spend time exploring Polyup at home. Extend and assess student learning by using FlipGrid, reviewed here, for students to provide a short video reflection on their learning activity. Optional registration allows you or your students to save progress and create your own machines.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomEmploy the Online Photo Editor for virtually all classroom photo editing needs and to enhance your classroom technology use. In primary grades, this tool could be useful for teachers to use to edit pictures from a field trip, science experiments, and more. Share the editing process with younger students using an interactive whiteboard or projector. Edit together! Encourage older students to use this tool on images for projects or presentations. Use this tool in photography or art classes. Try out the editor to edit pictures to fit styles of pictures when doing historical reports or to set a mood. Find text options for the photos themselves to tell the stories. Have students annotate or label Creative Commons online images of cells, structures of an animal, and much more.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomDiscover the benefits of using Microsoft Forms in your classroom to create surveys for parents and students at the beginning of the year to learn about student interests, create parent volunteer lists, and much more. Create a sign in and sign out sheet for classroom library materials, including books and digital equipment. Use Microsoft Forms to set up and collaborate on lesson plans, include check boxes to standards, materials needed, and covered content. Microsoft Forms is perfect to use for assessment purposes - create online quizzes and exit tickets. Have students use Microsoft Forms to prepare and submit reading logs, brainstorm, and collaborate with fellow students, create "choose your own adventure" stories, or schedule reading and writing conference times. Use Microsoft Forms to set up and share rubrics for any project, have students complete the rubric and turn in with any completed assignment. The uses for Microsoft Forms are as unlimited as your imagination; this is a must-have tool for all classrooms!
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomShare with students for use with projects to enhance classroom technology and create and combine images without busy backgrounds. For example, create pictures of presidents, castles, or plants for use with any report or on slides for a presentation. Take pictures of students; then remove the background. Save images for use throughout the year in hall displays, bulletin boards, on reward certificates, etc. Add a background to student images as a story starter on historic events, career presentations, or place them as a character within a novel. Modify classroom technology use by having students use an easy website creator like Carrd, reviewed here, where students can upload their image and share their finished story. Introduce a new unit by creating an image using PhotoScissors to place your class in a foreign land. Share that image on FlipGrid, reviewed here, to use as an anticipatory set and ask students to post a video response sharing their thoughts on where they are going and what they already know about the area.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomGet to know ZapWorks through the many robust tutorials and guides found on the site. Share ZapWorks with students interested in design, computer coding, and virtual and augmented reality. Redefine classroom technology by offering students the opportunity to create an augmented reality experience as an alternative to a book report, research project, or multimedia presentation. In science class ask students to create a project demonstrating the water cycle, for literature have students produce their vision of the setting of a book, or use the site to create an animated business card featuring a famous character from history. As students become proficient in using the site, modify classroom technology by asking them to share their expertise with others by creating explainer videos using Biteable, reviewed here. Post these videos on your class website for students to access both at home and at school.
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomTelepromt.me is a great addition to any classroom and, will enhance your classroom technology use. Ask students to use this tool for presentations to make speeches more audience-friendly than looking down and reading from a paper script. Help struggling readers practice fluency and focus on individual words using this tool with any reading material. Help students listen to their own speech by asking them to record their reading using Telepromt.me and using Vocaroo, reviewed here, or a screen recording tool like Free Screen Recorder Online, reviewed here. Do your students create podcasts? If so, use this teleprompter when reading from scripted material used in podcasts. Anchor, reviewed here, is an excellent tool for creating and sharing your podcasts.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomIf using Twitter, use Tall Tweets to enhance messages in a variety of ways. If not using Twitter, Tall Tweets is an excellent tool to help you start. Of course, even non-Twitter users will love this site to download images onto your computer. Pique student's interest in upcoming lessons using Tall Tweets to create an animated GIF of portions of your slide presentation. Encourage parent participation and collaboration by tweeting a GIF of classroom activities, including students involved in learning activities (of course, be sure to understand and adhere to your district's privacy policies). If you teach older students, ask them to tweet out a preview of their upcoming classroom presentations. Use Tall Tweets when working on professional development activities to share successes or upcoming professional development opportunities. Ask students to create Google Slides for any classroom purpose - create slides with different types of animals, share facts about states or countries, or demonstrate math problem-solving tips. Create your GIF from the slides and have students share them onto a Padlet, reviewed here, as a collaboration activity with their peers. Ask students to use Google Slides to organize information to explain an activity, for example, a science experiment, then create an animated GIF from the slides. After organizing their information, enhance classroom technology use and ask them to create an explainer video using My Simpleshow, reviewed here, featuring the steps and science learned in the experiment. Take student learning even further using Wakelet, reviewed here. Ask students to use Wakelet as part of their reflection on their learning experience by including text, images, the slide presentation, and animated GIFs created using Tall Tweets. If students used Twitter to share their GIF, use Wakelet's features to include their Tweet directly into the Wakelet presentation.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomInstall CheckMark on your Chrome browser as a time-saver and aid to providing feedback to students with a focus on improvement instead of providing a written grade. Have students use CheckMark to review their work before turning it in for a final grade. Ask them to take a screenshot of the initial findings and include it with their final draft. Enhance classroom technology use with an easy website creator like Hashify, reviewed here, and have students reflect on their work and changes made.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomMany schools require students to volunteer, use Golden to help manage your school's volunteer program. Be sure to use the sharing features to place volunteering opportunities on your district, school, and class websites. Help students understand the value of volunteering by taking their work beyond just time spent. Use an online bulletin board like Corkboard, reviewed here, to share and brainstorm areas of student interest with the understanding that volunteering will be more meaningful if it is something chosen by the student and not viewed as a required assignment. Encourage students to document their volunteering by taking photos and videos throughout the experience. Consider extending classroom technology by asking students to create a podcast using Buzzsprout, reviewed here, to encourage others to volunteer by sharing their personal stories and reflections upon their own experience. As a reflection activity, and to modify classroom technology use, ask students to create and share a presentation using Sway, reviewed here. Use Sway to include images, text, and more to tell their volunteering story.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): songs (52)
In the ClassroomUse Suan to create mixtapes for classroom use in many situations. Create a mixtape with soothing music to play during quiet times or to calm students after active periods. Use this site in music class to put together mixes of genres, composers, or instruments being studied. Find music from different eras or podcasts to create a mix to introduce the period to students. Ask students to create music mixes from their own material shared on SoundCloud as part of a course portfolio. Enhance students' technology use in class by including the URL to their mixtape in a presentation created using Wakelet, reviewed here; ask them to include video, images, and original student work.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomUse Blockly as an interesting way to introduce coding to your class for beginners and experienced coders. Display Blockly on your interactive whiteboard or projector as you explore the different features of the site, then have students create and explore on their own. To generate ideas on how to use Blockly, have students practice using Blockly at Blockly Games, reviewed here. After school clubs and activities can use Blockly to learn to code. Use this tool with gifted students for a great challenge. Set up a coding activity center for interested students when they finish class work or for rainy days and snow days. Share this link on your class website for students to access both in and out of the classroom.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomBookmark this site for many classroom uses. Combine your downloaded image with others using a variety of tools including Google Slides. Choose a background image of a city being studied, a different time, or in a far-away setting like the moon, then place your student image on top. Resize the image to fit the scene. Include this image as a starter for class projects. Use images on top of book covers for book talks, create images for story characters and heroes, or use for weather reports. The ideas for using this tool are only limited by your imagination and that of your students. Use your new images to modify or redefine classroom technology use by creating a ThingLink, reviewed here, presentation that includes text, videos, and more.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse FlexClip even with young students to create videos for many topics. Ask students to share pictures demonstrating the before and after of a science experiment, then add student voice recordings to explain the experiment. Modify learning by asking students to use FlexClip to create short videos, then include them with other images and videos as part of a multimedia project or digital portfolio. Seesaw, reviewed here, is an easy to use tool for creating and personalizing digital portfolios. The following tools are great for transforming learning and creating multimedia projects: (click on the tool name to access the review): Adobe Spark for K-12, Animatron, Sway, and Beautiful.AI.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomUse Quillionz as a time-saver to create quizzes covering any content. Before teaching the material, use this tool to help define key terms and content you want to cover. Share Quillionz with older students as an excellent tool to help with reading comprehension and understanding content. Ask them to use the site to create questions to review before quizzes. Ask students to transform technology use and transfer their learning from quiz questions into the creation of an infographic using Canva, reviewed here. Have students include images, data, and links with additional research information into their infographic.
Grades6 to 12
tag(s): blogs (79)