Web tools address many facets of student motivation by empowering
them, giving them choice, allowing them to express themselves in their
preferred formats, encouraging them to collaborate, and engaging
them with interactivity rather than passive consumption.
ToonDoo allows students to select a
layout from a menu of templates and
upload images or select them from the
site’s gallery. They can add text and then
publish their comics on the site to share
and discuss them with their peers.
communicate effectively online. It’s an
ideal place to build digital age skills,
host a blended learning environment,
or post content for a flipped classroom.
In Edmodo, teachers and students
can share notes, links, and files. Teachers can send alerts, events, and assignments to students and post any item to
a public audience. They can even use
the platform to poll or quiz students
and host discussions. Students can
also turn in assignments on Edmodo.
Edmodo integrates with other web
2.0 tools, and students can share and
publish products they have created
using ToonDoo or LiveBinders to the
class Edmodo site. But the tool’s best
feature is the ability to build an online
community, where students can ask
questions about assignments or have
discussions after school and get responses within a few minutes.
Brainstorming. Beth O’Connor’s eighth
grade language arts students at Westfield use an online tool called scrumblr to brainstorm the character traits
that best represent the main character
in a story. They use scrumblr to create
a two-column chart that shows the
traits and how they affect the story’s
conflict and resolution.
Next, using a blank ToonDoo comic
strip template, pairs of students draft a
new scene or ending to the story that
shows how the character’s traits contribute to the conflict and resolution.
Each team shares its scenes and iden-tifies the trait students chose and how
it contributed to the conflict and resolution. They give each other feedback
on the plot and clarity of the scenes
and publish them on ToonDoo.
Digital information organization. Kristen
Biancuzzo has built a LiveBinder for
her Westfield High School sophomore language arts course to help her
students complete a mini–research
project on the books The Bean Trees
by Barbara Kingsolver and A Yellow
Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris.
A LiveBinder is a virtual three-ring
binder where a teacher can post information for students to access during
and after school for homework, research projects, or studying.
Educators can upload resources to a
LiveBinder as PDFs, images, presentations, videos, podcasts, documents,
links, and more, which could support
both the flipped classroom and blended teaching models.
Students can also use LiveBinders
to create products such as digital textbooks. You can give students curriculum standards and instruct them to
find websites that fulfill the standards.
They can also search for and share
websites that engage them and enrich
their learning. Such activities encourage self-directed, self-motivated learning experiences; engage students with
subject-specific content; and provide
an opportunity to practice information and research skills, which means
the learning takes place at all levels of
Social networking. Joanne Hentnick,
the technology facilitator for the Westfield School District, supports students
in responsible technology use with a
tool that is very familiar to them—a
social networking site. Edmodo is a
private, teacher-moderated social network where students can share ideas,
publish their work, and learn how to
Digital games and simulations. Roberta
Roffo, a computer teacher at Tilton
Elementary School in Haverhill, Massachusetts, quickly saw the value of
using open educational resources to
teach mathematics. In one lesson,
Roffo used the National Library of
Virtual Manipulatives site to introduce concepts and devise a series
of differentiated lessons to help her
second grade students master the
mathematical concept of regrouping.
She then created student-centered activities using two of her favorite open
math game sites for kids, Dositey and
IXl. Students loved having the opportunity to work at their own pace and
test their knowledge through digital
games and simulations. Students who
grasped the material more quickly
helped coach their peers through
the content. Using open educational
resources to personalize math instruction was a hit with students and teachers alike, and third grade teachers
were soon asking Roffo to adapt her
lesson plans for their students.
Virtual learning environments. Karen
Bernier, an eighth grade math