"If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, we rob them of tomorrow." --John Dewey

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Educational Power Tools

A tool that can make your students look forward to doing their homework must be pretty powerful, wouldn't you agree?  Well, ClassTools.net is just such a power tool.  Here you can turn an ordinary vocabulary list into arcade games that will keep your students practicing for hours.  (Try one of the sample games below and see if you can stop after just one level.)  You can share the game by posting a URL to your class web page, or use the HTML to embed the games directly into a wiki or blog, as I did here.

A quick look at the list of templates available should convince you that this site is worth investigating. The Random Name Picker and Countdown Timer are tools that virtually any classroom teacher will find useful.  Fakebook and Twister will definitely capture the interest of your social media enamored students, and the graphic organizers are . . . well, indispensable.  And, many of the ClassTools activities will work nicely on your interactive whiteboard.

Although you can use Classtools.net free of charge, they do offer a premium membership for those who are interested.  For a membership fee of £19.99 (about $31 US) per year, you can enjoy the tools ad-free, and get a personal storage area so you can save and access your resources.

I can't very well talk about educational power tools without mentioning NoodleTools.  While this site requires a subscription to make full use of its capabilities, if you have ever tried to organize a research project with your students you will most definitely find this worth the $60 subscription fee.

NoodleTools allows you to create individual accounts for your students, where they can easily create bibliographies, well-organized and documented note cards, and outlines of their research papers.  Students can collaborate on projects, and can share their work, while in progress, with a teacher or teachers who can provide feedback without a single page being printed.

Now don't get the wrong idea.  I can certainly appreciate the fact that most teachers can't justify spending money on Internet resources.  I hardly ever spend my hard earned money on website subscriptions.  But, when 7th graders voluntarily tell me that they love using this website to help them with their research papers, and ask if they can use it for their other classes, I know my money has been well spent.

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