Monday, June 27, 2011

Become Teacher 2.0 With These Tools!

Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers
By: Anna Colley
Visit Anna's Store on Teachers Pay Teachers

I remember well the first time that I accessed the World Wide Web in 1995. I got busy doing something else in my dorm room while I waited for the pictures from the NASA site to download, then gave up after the first two had come through. The Internet has changed a lot since the old days of my 1200 baud modem and my first excruciating page downloads. You may have heard the term Web 2.0 lately. What is Web 2.0, and how can you leverage it in your classroom?

The advent of the term Web 2.0 marked a shift in the purpose of the Web. Instead of pages that were focused on passively viewing information provided by others, Web 2.0 is about collaborating, interacting, and creating your own content. Instead of just looking at pictures or reading a website, you can now interact with the site itself and other users to create something new. Think about Facebook, Twitter, blogs, wikis, Flikr, YouTube, Skype, and any other site or web service where you add to content or connect with others. Web 2.0 isn't a shift in technology so much as a shift in how technology is being used.

What does this mean for education? Since Web 2.0 sites allow users to connect with one another and to create their own content, they provide a great means for students to connect with educators, peers, and content-area experts. They're also a medium for students to report on what they have learned, or to create a product to show a solution to a complex problem. What's more, since Web 2.0 sites are designed to be user-friendly, they're easy to start using right away, with very little learning curve.

Okay, so let's get to the fun part! Here is a list of Web 2.0 tools you may find useful, and an idea or two about how to use each one in your classroom. Visit the sites, play around, and enjoy these toys for yourself first. Then, see what bright ideas surface for using them in your classroom. If you are using any of these sites already, or if your brain is alive with possibilities, I'd love to hear your ideas, success stories, and pointers in the comments!

Voice Thread allows you to upload a series of images, and then accept voice and text comments about the images. You can also “mark up” the image as you comment, pointing out notable details. As a teacher you can limit the responses to just your students, or open it up to the world and have an option to moderate all responses before they appear. Imagine asking your students to upload drawings or photos and narrate a story; record responses or observations about a political cartoon you have added; upload photos that show examples of geometric figures and allow classmates to comment, marking up the photos to show the figures. Browse the site for some great examples of ways that students and teachers are already using it. You can try a free account, or get a paid account for more functionality. Free accounts require an email for sign up; the paid account allows you to set up student accounts without emails.

You may be familiar with Tagxedo's predecessor, Wordle. Wordle is a great tool and has many creative applications in the classroom, but Tagxedo takes the word cloud to a whole new level! Enter in some text, tweak the (many) options, and out comes a customized word cloud with words sized by number of occurrences. Like Wordle you can get a quick snapshot of the important words in a document, or collect opinions and characteristics about a topic. Unlike Wordle, Tagxedo allows you to shape your word cloud into shapes like hearts, arrows, and stars, or even to a shape you upload yourself--like a photo! Check out this one I made from a photo of myself using the text from our family blog.

Have students create a Tagxedo using the text from their writing to find overused words. Enter the text of a historical document to focus on main ideas and key vocabulary. Ask students to create a Tagxedo portrait of a famous historical figure or a fictional character. Use Tagxedo as a tool for creating shaped (concrete) poetry or keywords about an animal. Have fun with it!

Portraits can be difficult to do, so check out the custom shape and portrait tutorials for help. To see lots of examples of what you can do, visit the gallery. If you're having trouble making out the shape, try viewing from a distance or blurring your vision. You do not have to sign up for an account to use Tagxedo.

Glogster EDU
Glogster describes itself as a site for making multimedia posters. Students can import photos, videos, and sound files, as well as adding text and graphic elements like arrows and clip art. More importantly to students, Glogster's "posters," dubbed glogs, are cool. Glogster is great for all ages, from high school seniors to preschoolers. Students can use Glogster to showcase research, campaign for a cause (with persuasive writing, of course), show off their work for parents, or express themselves. Try a glog to introduce yourself to students during the first day of school, and then have your students create their own glogs to introduce themselves to each other! You can even save a glog to use on a web page or use it as a cool way to provide a list of links. How cool would your class blog or web page look with a glog on the front page? Check out the Glogpedia for the very best examples and a treasure trove of ideas.

Regular Glogster has all manner of content, including some that is inappropriate. Glogster EDU is controlled by the teacher. You can sign up for a free account and get 50 student accounts for no charge. With a subscription to the premium version, you can add additional students and also have access to advanced features. The free version is plenty to keep you and your students occupied for a semester or more. If you love it, or if you teach a large number of students, you may consider looking at the premium features. Students do not need an email to get an account; the teacher account allows you to set up accounts for your students.

I'm very excited about this tool for my preschoolers, but students of any age will enjoy this site! On Blabberize, students can upload an image, such as a photo of an armadillo or a portrait of Abe Lincoln, mark the location of the mouth on the image, and then add a sound recording. Blabberize makes the images talk! Imagine young students creating animal research reports where the animal itself tells you all about its habits. Older students' history reports will come alive (almost literally!) with historical figures giving a firstperson account. You can even have a funny character give review information for a test to keep students engaged. Not only does Blabberize give your students an alternate way of presenting, but you have opportunities for writing as well, as students prepare first-person scripts.

You must sign up for an account to create or comment on blabbers, and sign up requires an email address. Watch out for the comments section. I have seen inappropriate comments on some blabbers. Though there's an option to report inappropriate blabbers, there's no option to do so for comments. Users can delete comments that have been posted on their own blabbers, however.

My Fake Wall
I had actually seen a few examples of what My Fake Wall does before My Fake Wall actually came about, but this site makes it easy. Think of a famous historical figure or a fictional character. Now imagine that person had a Facebook page. Who would his friends be? What photos would she post? What status messages would come across? Where would the person "check in"? You can do this type of activity with students the hard way, where you meticulously recreate a Facebook page in an application like Publisher or on paper, or you can get students on Facebook where who-knows-what may happen (your students may or may not even be old enough), or you can do it the super-easy way with My Fake Wall. Just follow the prompts to create a fake wall for anyone! The best part is that My Fake Wall is focused on learning, so it's student- (and teacher-) friendly. You must sign up for an account to create a wall, and account sign up requires an email address.

There are many, many more Web 2.0 tools that you can use for learning. Maybe I will write a follow-up article at some point with another batch of favorites! In the meantime, I’d love for you to post a comment about sites you are using, or your ideas for using those listed here. Which one is your favorite?

Related Products from Teachers Pay Teachers:
5 Projects to Integrate Web 2.0 Into the Classroom, $5.00
55 Technology Projects for the Digital Classroom Vol. 1, $15.97
Follow the Iditarod Sled Dog Race with Web 2.0 Tools, FREE
All About Me Glogster Poster and Rubric, FREE
Glogster Teacher Guide and Student Handout, $1.00
Wordle, Glogster, Strip Generator, & More! Technology Template Bundle, $7.99
VoiceThread Handout, $1.00
Blabberize Template and Handout Bundle, FREE
Romeo and Juliet Facebook Reading Comprehension Activity, $3.00
Get to Know You Facebook Page Worksheet, $1.50
Facebook Character Sketch for Any Novel, $3.25
Using Wordle in the Classroom, FREE
Civil Rights Wordle Activity, $2.00
Twitter Worksheets Part 1, $3.95
Tweet a Summary Twitter Worksheet and Rubric, $1.49
Poetry Twitter-Style: Poetweet and Twaiku, FREE


  1. Thanks for sharing! I am going to definitely try some of these, especially Tagxedo. My students will love using it for characterization!

    Miss B, Busy Bee

  2. Alysia - Enjoy playing around with them, and post your great teaching ideas! I could've gone on for several more paragraphs with my own brainstorming! It was hard to get the hang of doing a Tagxedo portrait at first, but it was fun to play with. Using the standard shapes is much easier to start. Share your creations with us!

  3. Thanks for sharing these great web 2.0 tools and ideas. I love using Voicethread with my first graders to collaborate with other first graders around the world!

  4. Thank you for your reviews. It is so tome consuming to find good useful web-based tools to use in the classroom. I teach high school so new ideas are always appreciated!

  5. Here's a site where anyone can create, publish and share tests, exercises, quizzes and assignments:

    Gnowledge ( is a free-to-use education platform benefiting educators, students and parents with school-going children. Tests, quizzes and exercises can be created by anyone and are categorized for easy access.

    All tests are auto-corrected and results, scores and answers are saved online. Registered users can create, take, share and assign tests to anyone.

  6. I'm creating a list of links of Tech Tools (Web 2.0) on my sqworl, which is another lovely website in and of itself.