This post was originally published on the HS Bits Blog, which was active from 2008-2013.
I didn’t plan this post, but it fits nicely into my “tech in the classroom” series, so here goes: some fun online tools that you can easily use to jazz up your lessons, class activities, and assignments. Many of these tools are free and largely Web-based.
• Annotate Web sites by highlighting and posting sticky-notes individually or in groups/classes with Diigo. Similarly, mark up other types of electronic documents (PDFs, Word documents, images, etc.) with Crocodoc or A.nnotate.
• Vary a process-analysis essay assignment by showing students videos from Animated Explanations or Common Craft and then asking them to create their own, starting with a script and storyboard created with a graphic organizer (see next item). Then post them for private viewing at Screencast.
• Move beyond PowerPoint with Prezi to create interesting interactive presentations and graphic organizers. Creately is another, more traditional graphic organizer.
• Transform text into visual poetry using a word-cloud generator like Wordle or TagCrowd. Have students select colors and fonts to suit the imagery of the text.
• Create a customized search engine for your class, limited to pages you have selected, with Google’s Custom Search Engine.
• Use (and in some cases contribute to) creative and interesting online dictionary and vocabulary sites such as Wordia, IdiomDictionary, Etymonline, and Flocabulary. Help English-language learners and other students properly pronounce new words with the audio recordings attached to each entry at Merriam-Webster’s site.
A few more fun tidbits will be included in my next “tech in the classroom” post, which will focus on adapting to the increasing presence of mobile phones in schools.