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!