3 Cool Web Tools to Use in YOUR Classroom!

I have researched and reviewed three AWESOME web tools to use in your classroom! Some of these I already use, some I can’t wait to implement with my students!



http://www.mashpedia.com/

Purpose
Mashpedia is like an encyclopedia but it combines several components in your search. The creators call it a “web application that aggregates content for millions of topics in real-time,” (Mashpedia, 2012). When you enter a term the search bar, the site takes you to a page with several different tabs. The first tab is Wikipedia, what you would’ve seen if you would have gone to Wikipedia and typed in the term to search. This includes pictures and a full explanation of the term you are researching. The second tab is News. Any current events that are relevant to the term you are searching from the past few months are displayed along with a link to their site. The next tab is Books. Any books relevant to the research are shown with a link to a summary, how and where to buy them, reviews, etc. The fourth tab is Videos. This is divided into two sections. The “top videos” are shown first and the “latest videos” are shown second. All the videos have the term you are researching in the title of your video. The fifth and sixth tabs are Images and Answers. Images displays pictures you might find if you search Google Images. Answers shows questions that were posted on message boards about the topic you are researching with links to those message boards. The last two tabs are Twitter and Facebook. The Twitter tab shows what people are saying/tweeting about the term you are researching. The Facebook tab displays any pages that you can “like” relevant to your topic. Pretty cool!

Educational/Professional Use

The vision the creators of Mashpedia have for the site was to “simplify the access to information and content stored in different sites…” (Mashpedia, 2012). I feel that it is a perfect tool to use in the classroom. It would be great to incorporate this site into project based learning. For example, it is a tradition every year that 6th grade students at my school do an Egyptian project; creating a replica of an ancient Egyptian artifact or landscape. Mashpedia would be a fantastic site to use with my students to simplify the research process. Their research can go beyond the encyclopedia and into news and social media where students can find out what other people in the world are saying about Egypt — maybe they can even take part in the conversation! This could lead to collaboration with people all over the world.
I also really like Mashpedia because it is constantly changing with society. It is updated in real-time based on things that are updated all over the internet. This is a great web tool to use with secondary students not only to research, but to teach the kids how to correctly verify the validity of sources and understand the reliability of web materials.


Have your students use Mashpedia for their next research or current events project!


Twitter

https://twitter.com/

Purpose

Twitter is an information social media site that connects you to news, opinions, stories, and ideas that you, the user, find interesting. You can choose who you want to follow, whether it be a real person, business, news source, or even an idea, and read their “tweets”. It is sort of like microblogging, blogging but only with 140 characters. It as wonderful communication tool to spread news instantly to whomever is following your tweets!


Educational/Professional Uses
Educators can use Twitter as a place to find ideas, organization tips, educational news, and lesson plans without going to a search engine. This can be done by using hashtags (#). In the search bar, simply type a # plus the subject you are looking for plus chat at the end (#sschat, #litchat, #mathchat, #sciencechat, #educhat). People who post information relating to these subjects on twitter will use these hashtags. For example, I would type in #sschat in the search bar and VOILA! Lesson plans, project ideas, articles, discussions all from fellow social studies educators at your fingertips!
There are also ways to use Twitter with your students. “K-12 teachers have taken advantage of Twitter’s format to keep their classes engaged and up-to-date on the latest technologies,” (Miller, 2012). One idea that Samantha Miller included on her blog post, 50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom,” was the idea of Role Playing. You can take history lessons to a whole new level by having students create a Twitter account based on a historical or influential person throughout history or politics. They can pretend to be that person and tweet things that they would probably say. What a great way to connect the past with the present for your students! Samantha Miller lists 49 other ways to use Twitter in the classroom on her blog post.

I have a twitter account (@missklassen). I tell my students to follow me if they have a Twitter account, I rarely follow them. Throughout the week I’ll post reminders, congratulations to sports teams, or things that I’ve been working on to share with my students.


Follow me on Twitter: @missklassen


http://www.mindmeister.com/

Purpose

Mind mapping is an educational strategy that was taught to me through Quantum Learning. It is a brainstorming or note taking tool that puts information into a “web”. The purpose of Mindmeister is to take that brainstorming process off of notebook paper and onto the internet, making it a collaborative brainstorming tool for students and educators.


Educational/Professional Uses
Mindmeister would be a wonderful post-reading activity to sort out information from the text. It would also be a good tool to use at the beginning stages of a group project – that group and brainstorm ideas, insert links and images, and create their project from their mind map. Mindmeister also makes it easy to share your map with others on the internet. “You can share any creation easily by inviting users by email, or simply send them a unique and secure direct link,” (Hollauf & Vollmer, 2012). There are also mobile applications that can be used for iPads, iPhones, and Andriods. The iPhone app is FREE! Not sure about iPad or Android…
One thing that was disappointing from Mindmeister is that to become a registered user with no limitations you have to pay a monthly fee. Personal use is $4.99/month with some limitations. For “top notch” mind-mapping you can purchase the Pro subscription for $9.99/month. For businesses, you can pay $14.99/month. The good news though is that Mindmeister offers education pricing! Personal use is $2.49/month with some limitations. The Pro subscription is $4.99/month. OR if you can get your school on board, Edu Campus (20+ users) can be purchased for $1/month! (Hollauf & Vollmer, 2012)



Resources:Hollauf, M., & Vollmer, T. (2012). Mind mapping. brainstorming.. Retrieved from http://www.mindmeister.com/ Mashpedia. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.mashpedia.com/Miller, S. (2005, October 10). 50 ways to use twitter in the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.teachhub.com/50-ways-use-twitter-classroom Twitter. (2012). Retrieved from https://twitter.com/


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