Most of us are working at full capacity, and keeping up with technology can feel like one more chore on the to-do list. Still, learning your way around a few of the best Web tools is worth your time. Innovative teachers are frequently using intuitive programs and websites that are easy to learn. These web tool can save you a lot of daily hassles that you might not even realize you have been tolerating. Whether you want to move the class newsletter online or try out a flipped classroom, we’re sharing the best sites to do it.
Sharing and Collaborating
The Internet was invented to foster communication. Teachers have long had the option of creating a website or providing lists of online resources, but all of this has become much simpler in the past few years. No need to learn any coding. And students have it even easier. The plethora of free document programs means that they can start an assignment — even a group project — at school and continue it at home or the local library. No doubt they will still find excuses not to finish their homework. They don’t know how good they have it.
First of all, you never have to hit “save” in Google Docs. It records all of your changes in real time. Enough said? Via sharing, multiple people can work in a document at the same time, making collaboration simple. Google Docs links to a Gmail account, so students can easily move from school to home to library while still being able to access their work.
Whether you want to send a quiz to your students or organize a field trip, Google forms can help you distribute and gather information. If you have a digital classroom, use the site to ask students how the previous night’s homework went or to learn which lessons they have most enjoyed. Even introverted kids should be able to provide online feedback.
Create a class website or blog on this free, easy-to-use site. Teachers of younger students can keep parents informed of class activities and upcoming events. Teachers of older students can link to interesting websites, launch online discussions, and post study guides. Some teachers foster writing and technology skills by requiring each student to write a blog post.
Set up blogs here for yourself or your students, and you can control the safety settings. This is an easy way to get students writing more without the formality of an essay or research paper.
This is a great place for group or classroom projects because multiple users can edit documents. Or, use it to build an educational wiki full of quality websites and reference materials for your students.
If you have even a slight interest in trying a flipped classroom or differentiated instruction, these sites deserve a look. Some of the best teachers and schools in the country are providing free material online. Use these sites to supplement your own lessons, to help students prepare for tests, and to let accelerated students branch out. If you’d rather be in charge of the content your students see, you can easily create your own online lessons.
This site has helped revolutionize education. Students can watch video lessons and test their knowledge, progressing at their own pace, and you can use the site to keep track of your students’ progress. Use this tool to differentiate instruction or to flip your classroom. It’s also a great way for students to review material ahead of tests.
Some of the best universities in the world collaborated to create this OpenCourseWare site. There’s a high school section that is packed with videos to help for AP test preparation. Many of the courses on the main site are geared toward college graduates or those in college, but there’s plenty that could catch the eye of a high school student. This would be a good tool for students to test their interest in a college major.
MIT designed this site for high school students. Some of the material comes from college courses, and some was created specifically for high schoolers. Students can watch videos and comb through test preparation material. Try out a flipped classroom, or push your accelerated students further. All core subjects are covered, but as you would expect, the science and math are standouts.
This site makes the flipped classroom option look possible — even easy. TED-Ed has thousands of lessons that you can customize with your own questions and resources. If you want to start from scratch, you can upload your own video to YouTube and then use TED-Ed to add written material.
This site has many of the same features as Facebook and Twitter but is designed specifically for education. You can gather materials for your class, connect with other teachers, and organize groups of students for collaborative learning. Students can ask questions of you or their peers.
Organization and Planning
When you’re gathering resources from so many different places, it can be a challenge to keep everything organized. You might have bookmarked resources on the laptop that you leave at home or hard copies of student contact information that you keep at school. Fortunately, an assortment of Web tools are waiting to help you keep everything straight. These sites allow you to move seamlessly between devices, and the basic services are free. In addition to the sites below, many of those listed above, such as Google Docs and Edmodo, can help with organization.
Ideas and inspiration often come at you quickly. Evernote allows you to keep photos, recordings, and notes in one place, so it’s especially useful at conferences and lectures. You can record a lot of material and return to it later. It’s also handy when you have a substitute. Keep your lesson plans and worksheets in Evernote, and pass off the appropriate folder to the sub.
Install DropBox on your tablet, smart phone, or laptop, and you will be able to access your files wherever you are. This is also a great tool for students who are working on different computers at school and at home.
Even teachers who have been out of college only a few years might feel as though they have fallen behind. Is the Common Core on its way in or on its way out? How does self-paced learning work? And how does all of this information apply to you and your students? Websites are making it possible to keep up with shifts in education without you having to go back to school. Read the latest research, participate in live chats, and take online workshops. And if these sites don’t quench your thirst for knowledge, then you can head back to school.
Forward-thinking teachers will find a wealth of resources here to support their biggest plans. Browse articles and videos from experts on blended learning, flipped classrooms, differentiated instruction, and more. Check the discussion board for answers to your toughest questions.
Glean some of the insights without the tuition bill. Watch streaming talks and read articles from the leading thinkers in education. The Usable Knowledge section is full of interesting research and is easily searchable.
Hundreds of videos offer teaching tips on topics both large and small. Use the Q&A section to get ideas from your fellow teachers. The blog provides insight on topics such as integrating material from different subjects and maintaining a supportive classroom throughout the year.
Scaffolding works for teachers, too
The sites here make a great base for including more technology in your teaching. New education websites seem to pop up constantly, but once you’ve incorporated a few solid tools, exploring new programs will feel less daunting. And you’ll be able to provide wise guidance to kids who will be leading online lives.
Editor’s Note: This article is a revision and combination of several older Edudemic articles, updated and re-analyzed to reflect the latest innovations.