Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Crocodoc Document / Website Markup

Crocodoc allows users to upload documents and then "share and review" online. Collaborators can be invited to view and edit the document (or a webpage) with the original user and, if privacy is an issue, they can also be password protected. Documents can also be embedded in blogs, websites and wikis.
Another advantage of the service is the ability to fill out pdf forms online as you can simply write over the document to complete it.
The video below gives an overview of the service.


  • Crocodoc can be used to provide feedback on assignments; classmates can be invited to provide feedback on each others' work from a distance
  • Rather than printing and annotating articles, learners can use Crocodoc to mark it up digitally and then store a version on their computer or online
  • Teachers can provide guidance via the annotation and highlighting tools before sharing webpages; great for differentiation where some learners may need information to be more easily located
  • The strikeout tool is useful for practising the art of abbreviation and note-taking by crossing out superfluous text and using the highlighter to identify key information; as this can be done collaboratively, learners can share and compare their attempts to support one another

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Google Maths?

Did you know that Google will display graphs for functions entered to its search engine? Well, it does! This post from the official blog of Google Search shows you how.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

FAS Immune Attack

A free game to download and install, sadly only available for PC users at the moment. Immune Attack takes the concept of infection and teaches it in a highly engaging way. It's a bit tricky to navigate the nanobot but users will learn a lot about the immune system as they master the controls.

"You must navigate a nanobot through a 3D environment of blood vessels and connective tissue in an attempt to save an ailing patient by retraining her non-functional immune cells.  Along the way, you will learn about the biological processes that enable macrophages and neutrophils – white blood cells – to detect and fight infections."


QuizBreak is a product from Clear (Centre for Language Education and Research) and it offers a Jeopardy! style template for creating quizzes online. Questions can be entered and winning amounts set in any currency. It supports any character set and is therefore particularly useful to language teachers who struggle to find resources or authoring tools. The example below (for Frankenstein) has only one column but you can have up to 7.

  • Use for revision of any topic with more difficult questions winning more money
  • Learners can create their own versions to test each other and support their learning

Magisto Video Editing Online

With Magisto you can upload a video and edit it to create something quite different and unique with various special effects. For those who don't have access to powerful editing suites such as iMovie, or for those who are simply baffled by such programs, this is a good place to chop, change and enhance your videos.


  • When you need a video editor but don't have the software or money to buy it, Magisto is an intuitive and free way to edit footage and add effects
  • Learners could use for media projects such as an overview of a topic or a summary of an event
  • As Magisto can handle several videos at one time, it's a great way of merging clips from various videos without too much hassle


Bubblesnaps allows users to upload pictures and then add speech or thought bubbles to them. It is something which can be done using other programs, but the fact that this is online, requires no downloads and is pretty simple is what makes it worth bookmarking.

  • Learners could use the 'bubbled' pictures to create their own photo-stories or comics demonstrating a concept, narrative or process for virtually any subject
  • Add them to your own blog, wiki or VLE to provide a welcome message or instructions
  • Make use of them in project work to give voice to an historical or literary character etc.

Science Videos

If you're looking for an engaging explanation of a scientific concept, here are a couple of sites that offer videos for use in the classroom.

Science Mag - aimed at older (secondary) learners and each free video has an accompanying text (which unfortunately is only available via subscription). Videos cannot be embedded, only linked to but this site's well worth a visit. The accompanying overview of the articles could be manipulated for various tasks such as gap-fills, text ordering, true/false exercises etc.

Simple Science - possibly better for younger learners or at least those with a sense of humour! The songs can be memorised and practised among groups of learners or used to listen for particular facts.

Myths and Legends Story Creator

Myths and Legends Story Creator offers the chance to read static or animated stories or create your own using their templates and tools. School registration is required and someone will act as administrator but other than that, it's very straightforward. There are also occasional competitions where writers can enter their stories, but it's a great way to explore mythology and legends, particularly based around the British Isles. It is, however, suitable for all regardless of geographical location.


  • Direct learners to the collection of myths and legends to read with or without audio
  • Use as listening practice for EAL learners with gap-fills, true or false tasks etc.
  • Register learners to create their own stories; these could be based on research around myths and legends surrounding a given topic or place
  • Collaborative projects leading up to the publishing of a story could be used to promote teamworking, planning, research, creativity etc.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Grammar Ninja

Grammar Ninja is a simple game to test parts of speech. It comes in 3 levels and is a silly, fun way to practise recognition of word classes.


  • It may not be the longest of games but as it's in 3 levels, cut down on your preparation time with a ready-to-go differentiated starter activity
  • Pair this with Kung-Fu punctuation and you could have a real martial arts theme going on in your YL literacy lessons! (You can read about the concept here)


aXmag offers a great service that I haven't seen matched anywhere as yet for its simplicity and intuitiveness. Upload a pdf document of no more than 10MB and within minutes you'll have a flippable book like the one below. Registration is not necessary although if you do register (without charge) you have more editing options available.


  • Another way for learners to publish their work; by using an iframe (like the one above) flippable books can be embedded in websites, wikis and blogs
  • Provides an opportunity for learners to go through the entire publishing experience from designing a cover to manipulating layout and finally making it available to the world; an authentic experience with real-world results
  • If learners have document in a word-processed format, use a free online tool such as this one to change it to a pdf

Email Cover offers a simple way of protecting your email address from spammers. It turns it into a picture which cannot be read by spambots. See an example here.


  • Encourage learners to be Internet-aware by using this tool to protect their privacy; once created the picture can be stored and used whenever there's a need to share email addresses, particularly in public areas


Woices (World Voices) is a collaborative tool that allows you to make recordings and then pin them to a map. The idea is that you can narrate your own guided tour of a landmark or area and others can search the map to find recordings relevant to their place of interest. It's available as an app for iPhone, Android and Blackberry and so can be used 'on-the-go' by those with the right devices.


  • As this service is available in any language, MFL teachers could get their learners to create guides for their local area and send them to a partner school in a country of the target language
  • This site encourages not just factual information but also personal anecdotes and memories as well as general musings so learners could produce something imaginative and pin it to a particular monument or location
  • Learners can research specific locations for their literary heritage, place in history, changes through time and much more before uploading the fruits of their labour to the site
  • As part of a Geography (?) project, learners could use QR Codes on their posters or other materials linking to one of their recordings on the map

There are quite a few sites out there offering a service to create cartoons of yourself but this one (click here) allows you to upload photos and then it 'cartoonizes' them. The few samples that I tried came out really well. You can upload from your computer or from a url for easy usage.

  • For security conscious schools, this tool allows your learners to create photo-stories featuring themselves which can then be stylised using; the photo-stories can be used to illustrate scientific concepts, historical events, literary adaptations, mathematical explanations - the possibilities are numerous
  • Learners can create recognisable avatars for their online presence, safe in the knowledge that they'll be unlikely to be identified on the street from them
If you like this, check out Be Funky too!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Bibme & Other Bibliography Tools

Bibme is a service which allows you to build a bibliography very easily. While I've been using Easybib up to now, the advantage of Bibme is that it allows for more formats; MLA, APA, Chicago, & Turabian to be exact, compared to the one choice of free format (MLA) offered by Easybib. For those seeking a free Harvard generator, you might like to try


  • Use this service as a simplified way for learners to get used to referencing their sources
  • Bibme includes a range of citations from websites to films, newspapers to journals - learners can see how easy it is to avoid plagiarism by listing their sources appropriately
  • The manual guide on Bibme offers guidance on how to assemble a reference, so the skill of manually creating bibliographic references is not lost

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Story Wheel App for iPad & iPhone

Story Wheel is an app where storymaking becomes collaborative and fun. By spinning a virtual wheel a picture appears. When ready, press record to capture up to 30 seconds of the story's narration. Spinning the wheel again produces another picture which the next (or same) 'player' can use to carry on the narrative until the story is complete. Watch the video below for an overview. (You could use the idea for a paper-based activity following the same principle of picture prompts.)

My 5-year-old son loves this app and is delighted to send out his creations via the 'share' (via email) function on the iPad. 

  • Take the pressure off weak writers while still providing opportunities for them to create stories.
  • Use the recordings to guide learners in their writing; it will be easier for them to produce meaningful texts verbally before focusing on the technical aspects of writing.
  • Print off icons of the various story elements so learners have the opportunity to try before recording.
  • Use in foreign-language classrooms - no reason it has to be in English!

Just Beam It! is a very handy way of transferring large files up to 2GB. Simply drag the file onto the screen and a unique url is generated that you can share with whomever you like. The person you have shared with simply clicks the link to download the file. The video below shows you how to use the service.


  • Learners can use this to transfer homework to each other and to submit larger assignments to you, especially when a shared server is down or unavailable.

Saturday, 5 November 2011


SlideShark is a free app that allows you to convert PowerPoint slideshows for viewing on the iPad. It maintains the animations and transitions so you get the full effect of the original slideshow. A great tool for teachers and learners who have used Windows in the past and are looking for an easy way to present their slideshows on the iPad.

Here's a video explaining how to use it.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Interactive Youtube!

Create interactive Youtube videos. Have a look at the video for some ideas and instructions.

  • Learners can create their own video pathways for creating 'choose your own adventure' stories
  • Create videos for learners in the 'flipped classroom' style with pathways for those that want to jump ahead or explore a particular aspect of instruction further
  • Use to produce multiple choice quizzes with feedback

Flipping the Classroom

If you're interested in an alternative classroom model which aims to provide more support for learners applying knowledge, this post is worth a gander. This is perhaps more relevant as we move toward a day when all learners have their own laptops, unless you're already there of course. A well-balanced article looking at this idea of changing the use of homework and classwork time.

Update: 30th March 2012

This infographic gives a comprehensive overview of the flipped classroom model in a visually-friendly format.

Flipped Classroom
Created by Knewton and Column Five Media


This tool from Delib may not be breathtakingly original, but the way it is presented is certainly more engaging that any other 'argument map' that I've come across. The philosophy behind it is well-explained on the site, but basically it encourages people to consider an issue and then provide supportive logic for that viewpoint. It's quite limited in that it only allows for 3 supporting points to be made, but as a starting point for debate, it's intuitive, quick and well-structured enough to get even slow-starters off the mark. Here's an example of one I made in less than 5 minutes.


  • Great for preparing groups for debate on any topic such as theology, history, science etc - just give them the topic and let them work up an aMap with supporting arguments
  • Use as a writing frame for learners who need support in structuring their persuasive writing
  • In analysing literature, learners can plan out their ideas using aMap e.g. 'Is the writer's use of [literary technique here] effective?'

Friday, 7 October 2011

Zimmer Twins Movie Making

Zimmertwins allows you to create movies in literally no more than a few minutes. The twins, Edgar and Eva are joined by their cat (13) and a range of actions, locations, props and facial expressions are available to create your very own animated movie. Soundtracks are automatically included to reflect the mood of the situation. Although talking is not a feature, speech and thought bubbles are available to add on if required. A very intuitive film-making tool that even younger learners will have few problems mastering.


  • Direct learners to create animations which explain concepts in a topic, whatever your subject
  • Encourage collaboration by giving learners the situations and possible actions to storyboard before making their movie
  • Use the starters to support learners who struggle for ideas in story creation
  • Create your own movies to introduce concepts or topics and embed on your online learning space
  • Language learners can create foreign language stories
Share your ideas in the comments section below!

Simple Wikipedia

Simple Wikipedia is a more accessible collection of articles than its more famous big brother. Learners who are younger or still developing their command of language will find this much easier to understand and contribute to.


  • Use for research with EAL / younger learners
  • Learners can contribute non-fiction papers on their chosen topics to add to the list of articles; the rating tool will allow them to see reactions to their writing

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Multiurl is a handy tool that allows you to combine several web addresses into one. Once you have distributed the url (in the way that you would any other) the recipient has the choice of navigating the list via a drop-down menu or left-right arrows to go backward and forward through the websites.

Registration is not necessary but if you do register (for free of course) you can save and edit your lists. Unregistered multiurls will remain available as long as they are clicked on at least once a year.

I'll leave this lady to tell you about how it can be used in the classroom, but feel free to add your ideas to the comments.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Youtube Downloader for Chrome

This Chrome extension makes life a lot easier for downloading videos from Youtube. I make a habit of downloading videos I will use again in lessons because sometimes content does disappear. Not to mention that reliance on an Internet connection during lessons is not always a good idea; we've all seen the 'spinning circle of no-show' as learners sit expectantly staring at a black screen, haven't we? In the past, I've used Keepvid but now there's no need for 3rd-party sites. Just add the extension to your Chrome browser using the link and watch the video below for directions on how to use it. 

NB This will only work with Chrome, not Firefox, IE or any other browser so if you don't have it, it might be worth downloading.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Tinypic Picture and Video Hosting

Tinypic offers a simple but invaluable service. You upload a picture or video to the site and a url is provided which you can then share as you please. Registration is optional for additional features but the basic sharing facility requires no sign-up.

  • Great for when you want to share videos for projects or other classwork but don't want to go via Youtube 
  • Learners can use this service without worrying about logging in or signing up 
  • Use to supplement space provided by your online hosting service

Twurdy Search Engine

The creators of Twurdy were driven to produce this search engine because search results often produce websites which are simply too wordy ('twurdy', get it?) for many of our learners, and possibly ourselves. By entering a search term into their engine, you get a list of results from Google categorised (by shades of colour) by their readability. Easier to read, or less wordy, results appear paler in colour than their less readable counterparts which appear darker. It is an algorithm-based search, rather than a human-moderated one, so expect some anomalies, but overall a very useful way of sifting through the web to find more accessible content.


  • Introduce learners to the different searches they can perform to help them find the quickest way to accessible websites
  • Use in planning to locate content that can be used in lessons
  • Very useful for projects where learners are doing a lot of independent research
  • EAL learners will benefit from the shaded coding in finding sites they can understand


Vocaroo is a very handy tool for recording your voice straight to the web. Although it's still in beta phase (i.e. under development) a quick test revealed no problems. The resulting audio can be linked to, embedded or emailed.


  • Learners can create podcasts around a given topic & upload them to your school web space for sharing
  • Create audio instructions to add to a website, wiki, VLE or blog
  • Mix up information delivery by adding this to your online toolkit
  • Language teachers can use to demonstrate pronunciation of words or phrases; these can be embedded beside visual prompts and text
  • Learners can record themselves in a discussion and then listen again to assess themselves for participation, contribution, clarity etc.; they can invite others to comment by embedding the audio in their blog or emailing it to peers
  • English groups can create and record audio dramas and share them easily

Ahead Presentation Tool

At first glance, Ahead might seem like just another version of Prezi, and for some users it will be, but there are some key differences which make it better for advanced users and those who wish to push the boundaries of what a non-linear presentation can do including the ability to use a wider range of file types in the final product.

The actual website for Ahead is itself a presentation so perhaps visiting it will give a clear idea of how it works and the possibilities.


  • Use as a much more interactive alternative to Powerpoint and Keynotes
  • Learners can complete and present entire projects digitally - great for PBL!
  • Present information on a topic in a way that lets learners experience it at their own pace
  • Create topic 'sites' containing information about an upcoming course, units of learning etc.
  • Learners can create multimedia stories (English?) or reports (History?)

Kidrex Search Tool for Kids

A "safe search for kids, by kids!" Kidrex provides results that are useful for identifying web content suitable for kids as well as sites which are accessible and secure for them to visit.


When I first came across Webdoc, I thought it was just another pretender to the throne of Glogster...but I was so very wrong. The things you can do with Webdoc go far beyond any current interactive poster and as it's still developing, it seems its uses can only expand and become even more valuable for educators. Have a look at the introductory video below and then visit this page for the applications it has in education.

Safeshare TV

With Safeshare, you simply type a Youtube url into the box and it creates a page where the only thing you see is the actual video. No ads, no links so a totally safe way of sharing links to videos without any nasty surprises popping up.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Purpose Games

This doesn't offer much variety in the way of games; in fact, there is a grand total of two you can create BUT one of those games is a labelling activity which I haven't found anywhere else. Upload an image (or use an existing background) and add dots where you want your students to label. When they access the game a word will appear and they are prompted to click on the relevant dot. Unfortunately, the games are not embeddable, but worth linking to when it's labelling that needs to be done.


  • In the Science lab, check that your groups are following your instructions when you use particular terms related to equipment
  • The pre-loaded backgrounds contain maps to test learners' knowledge of countries around the world
  • Upload your own image to use as a background and extend the possibilities e.g. labelling parts of a stage (The Globe?), labelling vocabulary items for language (items in a classroom?)

Stixy Virtual Notice Board

Stixy takes the idea of a noticeboard with lots of sticky notes and makes it virtual. You can invite others to view and/or edit your Stixy meaning you have complete control over privacy and who you are working with. It is very easy to add photos, text, documents and even to-do lists to help organise your work.


  • Learners can use Stixy to plan stages of a project together
  • Groups can research topics together and collect their findings on a Stixy board
  • For writing, learners could be given different elements of plot, character etc to rearrange and prompt their own story ideas
  • Create a Stixy where learners have to organise information according to time, topic, type etc.
  • MFL learners could use as a visual dictionary, organising their Stixy boards by topic or theme


An alternative to stale Powerpoint and Keynote presentations, Prezi enlivens delivery of information through its 'whizzy' features.

Upgrade to a free educator account for a fully collaborative workspace where group members appear as avatars on the screen and move around to different areas so everyone can see what their team-mates are working on in real time.

There is no better way to introduce Prezi than through a demonstration of what it is so navigate through the Prezi below. You can move forward, backward and pan around the entire canvas. Click the 'play' button to get started and then grab an area of the screen to move it, double-click to zoom in or use the 'play' button again to move along the creator-defined path.


Bitstrips is a very simple and visually-appealing comic strip creation tool. You can create characters and then place them against a range of backgrounds to start your story. There is a subscription-based school version that offers collaborative features but the standard version is free.


  • Create your own strips to introduce a topic or place static messages on your VLE, blog, wiki etc.
  • Use strips from the gallery as story prompts or create your own
  • Learners can explore characters, historical figures, scientific discoveries etc. by creating their own comic strips enacting scenes from literature, history etc.
  • Use as an assessment tool where learners creatively demonstrate their understanding of a topic by creating a strip to show what happened / what the character is like / how to solve this problem etc.
  • Present Math problems in a visual way as in this example
  • English teachers can encourage writers to create multimedia stories using strips to move the story along
  • Learners can create characters and stories for the school magazine or newspaper, using episodes to keep their readers coming back for more
Like this? You might also be interested in

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Dushare File Sharing

At least once a week I have the situation where a learner or colleague is trying to send me a file but can't find a memory stick or get Bluetooth to connect. Enter Dushare. Use the simple interface to select a file to share in real time. Send the provided code to the person/people you wish to receive the file and click send. It couldn't be easier. You can even chat while you're waiting for the transfer to complete. There is no hosting; the file is simply read from your computer, coded and sent over the web to the receiver as you wait. There is a 'password protect' option for added security. No limits on file sizes - very handy!


  • Direct learners to the site when they want to share files on a project
  • Easily share files with learners in real time as and when needed

Nabble Forums

Nabble does exactly as it says. It provides simple, versatile, free and embeddable forums for anyone. They can be locked for members only or open to the public. Choose whether users create profiles or remain anonymous for multiple uses.


  • Embed a forum in your wiki, VLE or blog on your current topic for learners to support each other through a unit of work
  • Use a forum to gather feedback anonymously but still have the ability to ask probing questions
  • Insert videos and attach files as a starting point for discussions e.g. attach a resource and embed a video explaining the task with the forum to be used as an area for sharing ideas to complete the task - everything in one place
  • As the forums are free and unlimited, create forums for smaller groups when working on projects together

Sweet Search

This search engine is designed for learners to easily and effectively search for information relevant and accessible to them. How many times have you thought about creating a useful index of links for groups to use for research? If you're anything like me, then probably too many times to count, but now there's no need. The nice people behind Sweet Search have been through over 35,000 sites to choose the ones with the best educational content for learners starting in primary school, through secondary and even on to university. No more learner-reliance on Wikipedia for accessible explanations! There are a number of different tools available including a search for 'emerging learners'. Results are helpfully organised into topic areas as they are found. This is without a doubt one of the least gimmicky, most practically useful tools I've seen for learner use in a long, long time.

Try it out yourself now by typing a key search term into the box below.

  • Learners can access the site independently without worrying about wading through results that are too erudite for their comprehension
  • Embed one of the many available widgets into VLEs, wikis or blogs so learners can search directly from a topic or task information

Thursday, 22 September 2011


ReadWriteThink is a treasure trove of classroom and other resources. While there are over 800 lesson plans  the real winner for busy teachers is the library of interactives. They cover a range of skills from phonics to planning writing, and they are colourful and engaging.


  • Interactives can be used by learners to create particular texts and the results can then be printed
  • The Interactives are accompanied by lesson plans and suggested linked resources to maximise their usefulness
  • Use the 'parent' section to encourage involvement from home

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Books Should be Free! contains hundreds of downloadable audio books (mp3, iPod, iTunes) searchable by genre, author, title, language etc. What distinguishes it from similar services such as Librivox is that it aims to be a mainly visual experience assuming that those looking for audio books are not that keen on reading lots of text - seems to make sense. Books are copy-free and can be shared without any restrictions.


  • When doing a class novel, use the audio versions and save your voice
  • Learners have the freedom of reading in smaller groups or individually while listening to these audio files; as they are copy-free there is no restriction on taking them home and keeping them forever
  • Great for emerging and EAL learners as they can listen to decipher the pronunciation of unfamiliar words
  • Create gap-fill exercises to test listening skills
  • Use extracts for dictogloss activities

Brain Nook

"BrainNook is a new online game that helps kids develop Math and English skills while exploring the Earth and playing safely with others.
BrainNook contains over a hundred educational games based on fundamental concepts in Math and English Grammar. The games cover Math concepts ranging from single-digit addition to 3D spatial visualization, and English concepts ranging from building simple sentences to counting syllables. These games are embedded within colorful virtual worlds that children can unlock and explore." BrainNook now has a 'schools' version with additional features useful to educators.

  • Teachers can create classes of learners, assign tasks and keep track of progress - no more avoiding homework assignments!
  • Use the engaging activities for formative assessment in a unit of learning
  • Personalised learning - direct learners to work on particular activities according to their individual needs 
  • Involve parents by sharing the 'reports' so they can watch as their child progresses

Fair Companies is a website containing lots of videos and other resources to support a more sustainable lifestyle. From the 'shoebox apartment' shown below to creating gardens on rooftops, this site is full of whacky ideas that are nonetheless inspirational. If you're looking for a resource to encourage open-mindedness and ceiling-less thinking, this may well be of use to you.


1. Choose specific videos or other content to tie in with a unit of work on 'environment'
2. Challenge learners to come up with and contribute their own ideas for sustainable living using this site as a model
3. Use as a springboard for discussion about different aspects of 'green' living
4. For creative writing, learners could explore the more futuristic and unusual features to create their own worlds for story-writing

Saturday, 17 September 2011

70 Ways to Use Google Forms

I don't normally post entries form other blogs but Tom Barrett's such a great inspiration for utilising Google in the classroom that he deserves a mention. I strongly recommend subscribing to his blog, or at least visiting regularly, but in the meantime, here's over 70 ways to make life easier by using Google forms. View the original post here.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Mingoville English Language Learning

Despite its odd name, Mingoville is a trove of great activities for helping younger learners (and perhaps the young-at-heart) master the English language.
Working their way around Flamingo City, learners will spot engaging activities to help them learn without even realising they're working!
There is a subscription option but with so many free goodies, there really is enough here to keep you busy without handing over a penny.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words so watch the video below to get an overview of what is on offer.

Lyrics Training

This site is good. I mean really, really good. Years ago I remember stopping & starting the tape recorder to transcribe the lyrics in order to create engaging language lessons. takes the hard work out of using modern, popular songs to teach language. If you're not convinced about using songs in the classroom, have a look at this article from There are songs in various languages so good for the EAL/ESL classroom as well as other language classrooms.

  • Use the site to find songs fitting in with your current topic or language focus and use as an introductory activity; maximum engagement guaranteed!
  • Introduce learners to the site and encourage them to visit on a regular basis; I have found that learners rarely need to be pushed to find out the lyrics of their favourite songs
  • The different levels of activities offer differentiation; learners can work their way up from beginner if they are lacking confidence or skills
  • Challenge your learners to create their own similar exercises based on the ideas they see on the site
  • Use the 'Karaoke' version to get your learners singing along and memorising lots of useful language
Thanks to Martin Nayman for contributing this site to the blog.

Bombay TV

Well, here's something that's certainly different. On this site, you can choose a short clip from a Bollywood film and add your own subtitles. You can also use the text-to-speech function to hear the subtitles spoken and there are a few languages to choose from. You can even record your own voice to add to the soundtrack. Ideas for using in the classroom are under the video.

  • Use to create amusing, engaging instructional videos for tasks
  • Get language students to create their own subtitle tracks and voiceovers using the target language
  • Learners can practise their pronunciation through the 'microphone' function and send it to friends for peer assessment
  • Media students can use these as a starting point and then continue the next 'episode' through their own filming / storyboarding
Any more ideas? Share them in the comments below. With thanks to Martyn Nayman for bringing this one to my attention.

Types of Film Shots

One of my classes is preparing for a festival of short film. In preparation, they are creating storyboards to plan the shots so they need to be familiar with the different types of camera angles. Using Easy Notecards, I created a set of cards using images from this website. I use them in the following way:

  1. Learners have 10 minutes to individually view 'both sides at once' and take notes on the different camera angles.
  2. They then view 'front side only' or 'back side only' (depending on their learning style) and see if they can name or sketch the shot.
  3. Any that they get wrong they should make a note of and use the view 'both sides at once' to revisit the definition.
  4. In pairs, learners can then test each other by sketching and asking their partner to name the shot, or by giving the name of a shot and asking their partner to draw it.
  5. The notecards can be accessed at home for further revision, but I follow this up by watching a film extract or short commercial to see if they can name the shots in practise before creating their own storyboards.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Dvolver Moviemaker

Dvolver is an award-winning site that has been around for a few years (previously known as Dfilm).
Although the options are limited, the pay-off is that the interface is very simple. It's very user-friendly and even younger learners can create short animated movies in a few minutes (as long as they can type). The options are limited
Each animation is only about 30-60 seconds long, involving 2 characters, but with a bit of imagination, you can stitch together the short episodes to make an engaging mini-movie.
The results can be embedded into wikis, sites, VLEs, blogs etc.
WARNING: Some of the plots may be deemed unsuitable for particular groups so review the options yourself beforehand and direct learners to appropriate content.

  • Learners can create animations to express their understanding of a topic, theme, character etc.
  • Use the animations on your website to introduce topics, give instructions or welcome learners
  • Use as an optional genre for a class/year group/school film festival
  • When practising media skills, direct learners to storyboard and plan their animations - the results will be of better quality than creating them 'on the fly'. Here is a handy planning document below (see footer for credits or download from original website by clicking here). Check the sheet to make sure it reflects the current choices on the site.


RCampus is a fairly new learning environment. Watch the 2-minute introductory video to get an overview:

I stumbled across this site while looking for a quick way to create rubrics and although I came across many sites, I preferred this one because of its simple sign-up and the fact you can customise existing rubrics rather than starting completely from scratch. They can be embedded in sites, wikis, blogs etc. or printed making them fully portable.
RCampus offers all the features you'd expect from an online learning environment. What distinguishes them is that one of their 'selling' points (even though its free) is that the tools provided support collaboration for learners and teachers, so if you're looking for a platform that guides your pedagogy in this direction, it's worth checking out. Make use of the features that interest you - there is no need for full migration to the system for it to be of use.


  • Use the rubrics with learners when completing tasks - they can create their own once they are familiar with the idea; learner assignments can be assessed with the interactive rubrics and results are automatically stored to your gradebook
  • Build webpages and websites together with the online editing suite
  • Learners can create, build and share their own ePortfolios

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Schools Online
Schools Online is a site from the British Council aiming to help classrooms connect with each other globally. The site provides ready-to-use project templates to get you and your partner school started. There is also a discussion forum where you can search for and request partners. This is a fairly new venture but being from the British Council is likely to be well-maintained and connected.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Magnetic Poetry

We've all seen magnetic poetry, haven't we? I have it on my whiteboard in the classroom but inevitably as time goes on, words go missing. Plus, not everyone can use it at once. The solution? Magnetic Poetry online! Learners can move the words around and change the background colour to create something unique.


  • Set up a variety of poetry activity stations and have this as one
  • Encourage learners to submit their poems to the public gallery either anonymously or with their names
  • Print off learners' work to create your own creative, colourful display 

Story Cove

I've just test-driven Story Cove with my 5-year-old son and he wanted more, more, more! The stories are narrated and the accompanying animations help younger kids to follow what's happening. At the end of the story, there are various activities for the reader to complete including phonics work and comprehension checks. Although there are paid features available, becoming a member is free as is access to a range of engaging stories.


  • As these stories are narrated, learners can listen to them alone after choosing the story that most interests them
  • Encourage parents to use them at home to extend children's reading
  • The stories include 'morals' and can be used as starting points for discussing behaviour, attitude and treatment of others etc.
  • Use the printable activities where computers are not available for all learners
  • The accompanying lesson plans give plenty of ideas for learning activities

Google Search Stories

Be warned - Search Stories is highly addictive! You use the various types of Google Searches to create a short story complete with soundtrack. At first I didn't quite 'get it' but after watching the videos and giving it a tentative try, I realised that not only is it extremely easy to use, but can be used in the classroom as a creative tool. Watch this Search Story video to get the idea.

When you've got the gist of it, click here to get started.


  • Learners use Search Stories to summarise the main points of a narrative, historical event or any other period of time
  • Create your own 'teaser trailers' to a topic or theme
  • Learners create Search Stories as if they were a character from history, politics, literature, science etc and their classmates have to identify who it is
  • Use as part of a multimedia project to add an extra dimension to presenting information
Add your ideas in the comments below!


StorySomething is a really nice site for younger learners. Browse through the stories and then personalise them by entering a name. The chosen name then becomes the star of the story.


  • Allow readers to choose their own story to star in
  • Use the stories to engage reluctant readers
  • Use them on birthdays and make the birthday boy/girl the star of the story to read to the rest of the class
  • Encourage parents to access the site and use the stories for bedtime reads
  • Use the beautiful illustrations for predictions before reading the stories
  • Sign up for weekly delivery at a certain time to build expectation and excitement about what story will appear next
Feel free to add any other ideas in the comments box below.


Historypin is a site where anyone can add a picture and submit the accompanying story. Have a look at the intro below:

  1. When doing a topic on a particular area of the world, use Historypin to see how it has changed over time or how it was at a particular time
  2. Choose a time period / place related to the literature you are studying and use the pictures as inspiration for creative fiction to tie in with the theme
  3. Use for project work where learners gather pictures from parents, grandparents etc and produce the accompanying anecdotes before uploading them to the site

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Project Based Learning (PBL)

If you've ever wondered what PBL is, how you go about getting started or are looking for resources to support what you've already done, this site from BIE is full of really useful stuff. From forums to ready-to-go projects, advice for creating 'driving questions' and a 'Tubric' to help you develop them, there's something on here for anyone who's thinking of developing their skills in this type of teaching.
It's so full of resources that it really does inspire even a tired mind dry of all creativity. A really great site to visit to spark ideas for a new school year and one that you may well visit regularly for fresh projects.

Sunday, 4 September 2011


SugarSync is similar to Dropbox in that it synchronises folders on your computer with online storage, meaning they are backed up wherever you go. SugarSync is not to be missed as you get 5GB free (as opposed to Dropbox's 2GB) and there is an extra 500MB for every referral you make. The best part? There is no limit on the number of referrals you can get the free space from so get sharing!

See Dropbox 


Blockposters allows you to blow up any image and then print it out and whatever size paper you have available to create a 'jigsaw' of a massive poster. There's no need to worry about your picture file being too small as they actually encourage you to make it as pixelated as possible as they reckon it looks even better when on the wall. Download the files as pdfs, print them out and stick them wherever you like! A4 is fine but you can choose your paper size from the options available. This literally takes less than 2 minutes to do so very quick and easy.


  • Enlarge a class photo to stick on one wall; learners can jot notes in between or stick post-its with targets for learning on the poster.
  • Create fantastic classroom displays - life-size cut outs of characters from a book, or historical figures. (Think eco - don't laminate, use cardboard backing instead! You can always print more next year.)
  • Use to make sets and scenes from books or topics that you're studying.
Add any more ideas to the notes below!

Mathtrain.TV is a truly inspiring site for any educator. Basically, one teacher realised that his kids were great at teaching each other and decided to harness this by creating a site full of their video tutorials on maths. You can watch the story below. Not only were they able to really push themselves in terms of their understanding, but now they receive requests from learners all around the world asking for their help in understanding this subject. What a fantastic idea. To access the videos, visit the site, but why not start one for your own subject?

Jeopardy Flash Template (& other games)

Use this page to create a Jeopardy-like game. It can accommodate up to 10 teams and has the choice of a timer. Very simple to use. Can be customised and played online or downloaded to Window or Mac OS. Go to the homepage of the site for many more templates including Millionaire, Hangman, Speed Match etc. They even have tools to help you work out seating plans and create groups. Lots of useful stuff!


  • Use it at the end of a topic to review learning.
  • Use it at the start of a topic to assess learners' starting points.
  • Use it as a tool to direct research; learners work in groups to find out answers to the questions.
  • Learners can create their own versions; for example, one group can create a set of questions for another.
  • The range of games means different groups can create different ways of testing learning.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Manga High Maths offers a range of flash games for learners aged 10-16 to practise their math skills. What perhaps makes this a bit different is that the games are genuinely challenging. I had a quick trial and did 'OK' but the fun of playing creates a genuine desire to return and improve.

Register for a free basic account and create classes, enabling your learners to gain virtual awards for their progress.


  • Use the site to set engaging homework tasks
  • Keep learners motivated throughout lessons by playing these games
  • Set up on your website for independent revision and reinforcement

Friday, 2 September 2011 offers free embeddable forums which are very simple to set up and manage. With each forum, you can have up to 5 topics but you can sign up for more forums - you will just need a different log in for each one.


  • Create and embed a forum on your VLE if your system (like ours) does not offer an 'on-page' discussion facility
  • Set up a forum for regular discussions e.g. related to homework tasks
  • Forums can be good for PBL (Project-Based Learning). As they are free, learners can set one up for each group to collaborate on their project.
  • If using Google Sites, just go to Insert > More Gadgets > type '' and the gadget will appear. Customise it and add it to your page - easy!

Thursday, 25 August 2011


Knovio is a tool for creating presentations alongside videos. Viewers see a split screen which shows a Powerpoint-type presentation on one side & the uploaded video on the other. You can use the timeline to ensure that your in sync with the presentation. You can enlarge either screen at any point through the presentation to focus the viewer's attention on either side. Still in Beta testing, but this is definitely worth taking a look at.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

QR Codes

I recently came across this fantastic File Binder on QR codes and using them in education. There's no point in reinventing the wheel, so set aside half an hour to go through the many applications they have to the classroom. If you're completely new to QR codes, they are basically graphics (such as the one to the right) that are read by a 'QR Reader'. These are most conveniently installed on camera-phones and when read will reveal a link, some text (up to 4000 characters) or other information. If you have a camera on your phone, go to your apps store and search for 'QR Reader.' Once downloaded and installed, open the app and select something like 'Get from camera' before pointing it at the black & white box on the right of this post. See what happens? Generate your own codes here. Below are just some of the many uses they can have in education.

  • Use them to create a treasure hunt or web quest; make it even easier with this site.
  • In paper-based media, they are much tidier than long web addresses so incorporate them into print materials for learners where they need to visit websites
  • Turn posters into interactive tools where learners can scan various QR codes to follow a certain path of learning; some of my learners made a poster about Shakespeare's life and chose to use QR codes to guide their audience to further information
  • In the library, print & stick QR codes into books; these could contain review from other students, reflective questions to consider during reading, related book titles/ISBNs etc
  • Create a quiz where the answers are revealed by reading the QR code so there is no temptation to look at the answer before it is considered
Inspired by more ideas? Share them in the comments below.


Chatzy is a cool little tool that allows you to create free, private chatrooms. There is no download, and it can be customised in terms of password access, colours, notifications etc. There is a premium option available, but the free version is fully functional with a relatively unobtrusive ad banner. This type of instant, real-time chat is often much more engaging than discussion threads that can peter out after the initial novelty has worn off. Chatzy is great for using for specific short-term chats in particular - for example, immediately after a unit of work has been completed or just before an assignment is due.

  • Create a long-term chatroom specifically for learners to drop into for support and advice with their learning tasks & assignments. You can then review this periodically to see what type of content or concepts learners are struggling with on a regular basis. Great for AfL!
  • Use a chatroom to facilitate discussion around previous learning or personal goals for future learning
  • Chatzy provides a platform for all learners to contribute to co-construction of learning, confident in the knowledge that once they type in their views, they will be read and considered by all
  • This style of chat is perhaps less intimidating for learners when asking them for feedback around a particular topic
  • Learners can create their own chatrooms to have online mini-conferences when working together from a distance - consider its usefulness in inter-school collaboration