Tech Resources

Free Tools

I have a list of links to free tools on the right under Tech Resources, and I describe some of them below.

Audacity – sound editor – When I owned a PC, I used Audacity to edit sound clips for free and found it relatively easy to use. Now that I have a Mac, I use Garage Band to edit sound clips as well as create them.

Big Huge Labs – poster maker – Upload your pictures and turn them into posters and puzzles. If you experiment with this site, please share your results in the comments section!

Bubbl – brainstorming tool – I’ve seen more organized writing from my students after they’ve used this tool. Plus, they love using it. They prepare their essays by brainstorming and structuring their ideas using bubbles to create a mind map. After sketching their essays or speeches, some students go back and write their paragraphs in the bubbles and then transfer the paragraphs onto a Word document.

Cooliris – 3D media browser – This browser makes looking for images and video much more entertaining, plus you can narrow your search by looking on Flickr, You Tube, Picasa, and a host of other browser and sites. On a Mac, use the mouse pad to flip left or right, and use two fingers up and down to zoom in and out. Cooliris works inside your browser as a plug-in or extension.

Ediscio and Quizlet – online flashcards – If you want students to study together, why not have them create flashcards? Too much to carry around? They can create them online and share. If they have a mobile device, they can review them anywhere.

Edmodo – social learning management system – Set up groups, add assignments, keep a gradebook, set up a calendar, post notes, contact other teachers — Edmodo does all of these for you for free. They have funding, so the site will remain free to use.

Gimp – photo editing – If you can’t afford the ever-pricey Adobe CS5 software, try Gimp — it’s open-source software that’s free to download. If your school doesn’t want to pay for CS5, try installing Gimp. Photo editors for my former school’s newspaper used Gimp with much success.

Google Docs – word processing – If your students don’t have Microsoft Word (or even if they do), this site is great way for students to create and organize documents. Our school this year required students to have flash drives, but they constantly lost them or left them in my room. By using Google Docs through their g-mail account, they will never lose their work again. Bonus! Students can also upload their Word documents for safekeeping as well. Google also has a slide presentation tool as well.

iCyte – annotation tool – This online tool allows users to annotate Web sites and PDFs, highlighting information and making notes. Students and faculty members may create a free account.

KeepVid – video saver – If you want to keep You Tube videos, this is the site for you. Take the link from the video you want to save and place it in the box on the page. It will then give you several options: I download the MP4 file. You might have to download a small program for free before you can download the file. On my Mac, it’s a Java Applet, but after that, I have no problem saving videos, which save to My Downloads on my hard drive. If your school blocks You Tube or if you want to place a video clip in your presentations, this site provides the most efficient way of keeping them.

LiveBinders – online “3-ring” binder – Create your own digital binders. If you don’t want to create a Web site but want your students to access organized information for activities, create a LiveBinder. Make one for each class. Instead of passing out handouts, create a binder with activity directions, videos, Web sites, and comment sections.

Picnik – photo editing – If you need to edit a photo quickly and don’t want to download software, use Picnik. Its features are limited, but users can add pieces of clip art or words to images, all for free.

Poll Everywhere – realtime polls – For a bell ringer activity, how about asking students a poll question where they text-message their response using their mobile devices and where the class can view the results instantly? That’s some of what Poll Everywhere can offer. You can create polls for free but are limited in the number of responses.

Prezi – presentation tool – If students don’t have PowerPoint or KeyNote, they can use Prezi, and with its 3D-appearance, presentations look cool when you can zoom in on words and pictures as well as jump from words to pictures. They also have an iPad app, but you can only play presentations you already made online from a computer, not edit or create them. When creating Prezis, make sure you have a systematic way of tracking your materials, as there are no rules as to form. In a PowerPoint, it’s one slide after another — with a Prezi, you can work in any direction and zoom in & out — you don’t want to make your audience dizzy. I do like how easy it is to add and play You Tube video during presentations. Check out my Prezi I made for my school faculty called Going Green, which shows ways to go paperless in the classroom.

Stixy – collaboration tool – My Speech & Debate students used this site to prepare their arguments when they worked in teams. The workspace acts as a virtual corkboard, allowing users to post Word documents and short stickies as well as pictures. Users can invite others via e-mail to their Stixyboard to collaborate.

Survey Monkey – survey maker – Students and teachers will find a limited version of Survey Monkey a free useful classroom tool. Surveys can be used to assess how much students know about a topic before it’s taught and to assess how much they learned after a lesson. They could use it during math class for statistical analysis, bar graphs, and pie charts.

TitanPad – collaboration tool – With TitanPad, users can work on a document in real time. Contributions are color coded according to each user, and documents can be exported in different formats, including PDFs and Word documents.

Viscosity – modern art generator – Need free modern art? Make your own with this site. To save the art, use a print screen feature on a PC or use Grab on a Mac to save the image.

Wix – Web site creator – My site uses Word Press, which is free open-source Web site content management system, but the content for my site is privately hosted. Wix will allow you to create your site and store your material for you.

Wordle and Tagxedo – word art – If you’re like me and you enjoy sprucing up your handouts with pictures, try Wordle or Tagxedo. Take a list of related words and paste them into the text box. Have fun with colors and angles. To save it as a picture file, I take a screen shot and then crop it with a simple picture editor (Image Tricks Lite on my Mac).

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