About a month ago, I posted some of my favorite web tools. I wanted to mention a few others. Of course, there are bloggers who make a living reporting and reviewing web tools, but as a teacher who actually uses these on a regular basis I hoped to provide a different perspective.
I can't say enough about Twitter. I learn more on Twitter in an hour than I do at most 2-day professional development seminars. This is not just another social network. Too many people hear Twitter and they think Facebook. They couldn't be more different. I once heard, if Facebook is the mall, Twitter is a specialty store, especially when you use it strictly for professional purposes. For people who are reluctant to join, you don't need to "tweet" anything. You can just sit back and learn. I recommend using TweetDeck. It allows you to follow the topics you are interested in. In case you don't know, topics are organized by "hastags" (#). Since I am a social studies teacher I follow #sschat and #socialstudies, but I also love #edtech, #elearning, #edchat, #educoach, and a few others. Tweetdeck allows you to view the "tweet stream" of all of these topics simultaneously, where as the Twitter site allow you to view one stream at a time. Twitter is a great first step to building a PLN--professional (or personal) learning network. This is the professional development of the future--personalized, individually driven, and organic.
Thinglink is a fairly new site. It allows users to make images interactive by adding "tags" to selected areas of an image. You can see an example I made of India here. This is a great way to bring content to your students, or better yet have them create content. These can easily be embedded into a website or blog and Thinglink lets you create 50 for free. Last year, my students struggled reading complicated graphs and charts, so this year I want them to upload the chart/graph image into Thinglink and explain the various parts with tags.
Students could also create a basic timeline in a spreadsheet (one of my favorite ways), then take a screenshot, and tag it with information, videos, and webpage links to annotate the timeline and bring it to life. You could also take a screenshot of an assignment and give instructions through the interactive tags. The same idea could work for teaching students new technology.
PaperRater is a great website. Unlike other similar sites, PaperRater will evaluate the vocabulary level and
"grade" the paper. When you copy your text into PaperRaer, you can select the type of writing and intended grade
level. The spelling and grammar do a nice job of explaining why
something might need changed, so students learn some basic mechanics in
the process. I sometimes use it for this blog--probably not often enough. I always use it when I put together text resources for my class--it can help identify the reading level. Next year I plan on encouraging students to use it too. This way they can focus on the content of the paper and get some feedback aside from me.