LessonCast is a website where experienced teachers submit—via PowerPoint, document, pictures, or web cam—a "lesson idea or management strategy in 2 minutes 30 seconds or less." Each submission is reviewed and vetted by other accomplished teachers, and then shared online. New teachers, or those just looking for new ideas, can then search for the perfect idea for their classroom. Note: This site is still growing, so there are a few holes.
Bottom line: Whether you have an idea to share or need a new one, this site helps teachers connect in much-needed mentoring relationships. Price: Free.
Create Glogs: "interactive visual platform in which users create a poster or web page containing multimedia elements including: text, audio, video, images, graphics, drawings, and data." Students can use these Glogs for book reports, digital posters, homework, etc.; you can use Glogs for lesson preparation, presentations, distance teaching, and more. Note: This website is still in Beta (testing stage).
Bottom Line: Encourage interactivity, increase visual interest, and diversify your lessons with online multimedia posters—they save paper, too. Price: A basic (limited) subscription is free; a premium membership is $99/year (allows access for up to 200 students).
You've heard of YouTube and TeacherTube, now check out SchoolTube, endorsed by leading education associations. It's a safe, moderated environment where students can post self-produced videos for classroom use: from the educational (a civics presentation or algebra class) and practical (morning announcements) to the fun (last night's girls' soccer game). Although you might not find video content that will help you teach (because it is all very specific to classes and schools), this is a great tool for giving your students a safe platform to share their creations.
Bottom line: An easy way for students to post, view, and share their own videos online, without the risk of inappropriate content. Price: Free.
Storybirds are "short, art-inspired stories you make to share, read, and print." Using the images provided by artists and illustrators, students can write and design their own online books working alone or collaboratively with classmates—or they can spend time enjoying the published "library" of Storybirds. The Teacher functionality allows you to create a private group, manage students' assignments, and grade work.
Bottom Line: Boost literacy for reluctant readers/writers and break out of the paper and pencil construct; try online reading, creative writing, and graphic design. Price: A "Forever Free" account lets you manage 30 students and their assignments. The Pro and Pro+ accounts ($69/year and $99/year, respectively) allow up to 300 students, in-progress feedback, grading, archiving, and printing.
Though you may remember the original incarnation of Free Rice—with its addicting vocabulary game that donates rice via the World Food Programme for every right answer—version 2.0 features 15 different topics for testing, including multiplication tables, Spanish language learning, and flags of the world. Registration is optional, but necessary if you want to keep track of scores. Keep in mind this site is for all ages, so there will be plenty of ads.
Bottom Line: Test your students' knowledge while donating to the hungry. Price: Free.
Teachers and students alike can create on-screen flashcards to test vocabulary, math equations, foreign languages, and more. Test your students' knowledge in class, or encourage them to use the flashcards for homework. There are scores of flashcards in their database that are ready-to-use, but beware of user-generated content. There is an app available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.
Bottom Line: Save paper and increase "share-ability" with online flash cards. Price: Free.
The secure social networking site Edmodo allows you to communicate online with your students in a safe environment. You can post assignments and test notifications, create polls, award grades, etc.; students can check homework due-dates, find test dates, exchange ideas with classmates, and more. Register your classroom and your students, then invite parents if you'd like.
Bottom Line: Students want to be online anyway; give them a safe place to find and organize their school tasks both inside and outside the classroom. Price: Free, but requires registration.
Design your own cartoon characters, write dialogue, and create online comic strips to teach students any number of subjects and topics. There are plenty of activities already on Bitstrips for Schools to get you and your students started.
Bottom Line: Engage students in these customizable comic strips and they won't know that they're learning. Price: 30-day free trial, then $9.95 for the first class, $4.95 each additional class.
Interested in starting classroom blogs to improve student writing skills but not sure how to keep your class in a safe environment? Kidblog is a simple blogging platform with advanced privacy features appropriate for elementary and middle school students; teachers have administrative control over what gets published—and what doesn't.
Bottom Line: All the fun and educational value of blogging—without the worry over students' safety. Price: Free. (Class registration is required.)
Check out TeacherVision's DK Instant Expert, our teaching guides for the interactive whiteboard. Read the DK reference books entirely online, then share what you've learned with your students using motivational mini-lessons featuring colorful PowerPoint slideshows and extension activities that engage students' creativity.
Bottom Line: Reinforce key concepts in science and social studies with unique photos and lessons. Price: Free with a membership to TeacherVision. (Now just $39.95/year after your 7-day free trial!)