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10 Websites to Use This School Year

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With back to school quickly approaching for most teachers around America, I want to highlight some of my favorite websites that bring 21st century technology into an engaged classroom. Hope these help!

1) Weebly - I use Weebly for my classroom site. It's easy to navigate and is a great platform for linking other technological tools. I use the button tools to link my semester schedule from Dropbox and running updates from a Google Doc. I use the pages to give my students access to the subject areas of class. Weebly also has a Blog feature, in which I use to blog monthly.

2) Smore - To me, Smore is a more visually pleasing presentation tool than PowerPoint. Users can pick a background to match the topic and select colors and font to go with it as well. After that, the layout is up to the designer. There are embedding, calendar, audio, picture, and form features which flow in a logical manner as the viewer scrolls down. Smores can be printed out too and look more put together than a regular poster.

3) Padlet - Padlet can be used as a presentation or collaboration tool. Teachers can post a prompt or question while students respond simultaneously. Again, users have the opportunity to be creative with the ability to design their own background, title, and icon while posting pictures, videos, audio, or documents to the wall. Padlet is great for before, during, and after reading discussion as well as encouraging peer feedback on a student project.

4) Piktochart - This easy to use infographic maker is similar to Smore in which it can be used as a presentation tool except it allows for the use of charts and graphs as well as a little more flexiblity in the design and layout. It's a great way to show reports, data, and statistics. I have even used it to make large anchor charts for my classroom.

5) Linoit - This fun site allows teachers and students to collaborate by sharing photos and sticky notes. Great for discussions and brainstorming ideas. I like to take advantage of the different colors by assigning different categories for each color. For example, after posting a text on the site I have students use the green stickies to post whenever they have a question. The yellow ones are for whenever they run across a difficult vocabulary word, and finally the red post-its are whenever they have a thought or idea. Students can be working on one Linoit at the same time as well.

6) MeowEssay - I discovered this site at the end of last year and absolutely love it! It's perfect for my deaf and hard-of-hearing students. I have used this site in a number of ways. First, I have used its professional dissertation service. Secondly, while I was using it I got a really professional editor for my papers. He proof read my students' essays and made notes for me. Use this site today!

7) Socrative - Socrative is an engaging site that is perfect for on the go assessment and comprehension quick check. As a teacher teaches, she can quickly throw up a discussion question or a short quiz to see if understanding is taking place. Once all of the students answer, Socrative calculates the results and displays them on a graph. This website is great for a quiet discussion or game and for those students who are shy or nervous to participate aloud.

8) TodaysMeet - This site is an online discussion board that gives everyone a voice. I have used this tool after listening to a podcast or reading a text. Normally, I give the conversation a time limit and require that students comment a certain amount of times for full credit. In the beginning, I usually guide students with teacher-led questions before gradually releasing control and letting my students guide the conversation. A note of caution: The discussion can veer off track and become inappropriate if teachers don't monitor carefully.

9) Pear Deck - I am relatively new to this site and hope to explore it more this year. However, I do know that it is an interactive presentation tool in which students log in to join your presentation. Students can only see what you have up and can't move ahead until you you move onto the next slide unless you turn on student-paced. After each slide, the presenter can post a discussion question or quick assessment for the class to answer. I have even seen a drawing feature! Take a look at the tutorial and have fun explorring!

10) Adobe Spark - LOVE this site! While some of the ways to use this site are not very deaf and hard-of-hearing friendly, there are ways to adapt to make this site a great story sharing tool. Students or teachers choose a theme, layout, and background music for the presentation and then design each slide with graphics, pictures, captions, or recorded audio. In the end, it plays like a mini movie and students are completely engaged!

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