When students find good resources,
they can use social bookmarking to
share their research and analysis with
their teachers and peers. Users can
form groups to share information, collaborate, and discuss. When students
create short descriptions and tags for
each item they bookmark, they have
to think critically about each site and
measure its value. As they accumulate
bookmarks, they begin to articulate
the comparative value of the different
sites against others they encounter.
Diigo, for instance, allows students
to highlight content at the bookmarked site and add comments using
“sticky notes.” Diigo then provides a
unique URL to the annotated version
of the article. In addition to comments
left by the bookmarker, the reader can
comment and ask questions.
The blended classroom and the flipped classroom maximize face-to-face time by enabling increased student-to-student and student-to-teacher interaction as well as more personalized instruction focused
on individual learning needs.
Creative expression tools. Students can
hone their digital communication
and publishing skills while expressing
their creativity using a number of free
online tools. Here are just a few:
• Glogster is a social networking tool
that allows students to create interactive posters with text, graphics,
music, and videos.
• Voice Thread allows students to make
collaborative, multimedia slideshows
with images, documents, and videos
that visitors can comment on by
voice, text, audio file, or video.
• Popplet combines the features of a
virtual bulletin board with mind-mapping, bookmarking, presentation, and collaboration tools. It can
incorporate web links, video, or
Google maps into a mind map. It is
a creative-thinking work space for
essay planning or storyboarding and
a great environment for group work.
• Prezi is a presentation tool that is
similar to Powerpoint except that it
uses a web-based 3D canvas rather
than a sequential slideshow. Students can incorporate not only text
and images, but also videos, mind
maps, and other digital resources.
• Photovisi is a free and easy way to
use an online tool to create photo
collages. It allows you to choose one
of many templates, throw your images together, and gather them into
a digital collage.
• My Fake Wall is a tool for creating
a fake Facebook wall for fictitious
or historical characters. How would
your students build a wall for Einstein or President Obama?
• Fotobabble allows students to upload
images from lab experiments or field
trips and then talk about them. Have
students define vocabulary words
and offer images to go along with
them, or describe an image of a piece
Examples from Real Classrooms
The Virtual High School Global Consortium has partnered with several
school districts that are creating blended teaching models. Here are some examples from recent collaborative efforts
that demonstrate strategies, tools, and
resources that have received positive response from both students and teachers:
Digital storytelling. In Jeanie Keyes-
Plante’s seventh grade literacy lab,
she asks students from the Westfield
(Massachusetts, USA) School District
to write a story and create a story-
board. Each student then constructs a
digital story of the narrative event that
incorporates text, graphics, musical
accompaniment, and voice narration.
Digital storytelling transforms stu-
dents’ work into visual showcases and
is a powerful medium for representing
their understanding in a form other
than traditional writing.