23 top-rated websites for teachers and librarians

AASL's list of best websites is unveiled during TCEA 2018

Do you want to create a game to help students learn a new concept? Are you looking for free pictures and videos for students to use in digital presentations? You’re in luck: Websites for educational game creation, copyright-free images and videos, and video-based quizzes are among the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) top websites for teaching and learning.

During a packed 400-person session at TCEA, Shannon McClintock Miller, a consultant and former district teacher librarian at Van Meter Community School District in Iowa, presented the list of 23 sites. The sites offer resources for media sharing, digital storytelling, social networking, management and organization, content resources, and curriculum collaboration.

To make it on AASL’s list, Miller said, a website has to have an education component, must be for K-12 use, and has to offer a free version.

The list is organized by category.

Media sharing

1. Elink.io offers a way to curate and share links in a newsletter or list. Users choose a template, add links, and share as a webpage, newsletter, or embed in a website. Miller said the site is appropriate for grades 6-12; teachers can use it to gather links on digital makerspaces for students before they visit the school library, for example. Teachers also might use it to share links in a newsletter to peer educators.

2. Screencast-o-matic helps users create how-to or flipped lesson videos for libraries or classrooms, and it is free for up to 15 minutes of recording time.

3. My Simpleshow is a great resource for tough-to-describe concepts in math and science, Miller said. Teachers and students can create explanatory videos by writing a short script, choosing images or animations, and letting the site take it from there.

4. Pixabay offers more than one million copyright-free images and videos. Images and videos can be used for writing prompts, vocabulary development, and in student presentations, Miller said. It also features a SafeSearch filter.

5. ClassHook helps users find clips from TV shows and movies. Teachers can search for subject-relevant and age-appropriate clips to augment lessons, and students can add clips to projects.

Digital storytelling

6. Spreaker lets students write, create, record, use video, and more. It’s an easy tool to use to create podcasts, Miller said, rate podcasts, or find podcasts for different topics or lessons. Users can put their Spreaker into a channel to share with others.

7. Write the World is committed to helping high school students improve their writing, Miller said. The site can be used for poetry slams and writing competitions or for a writing club.

8. Buncee, which won an AASL best app in 2016, is a one-stop shop for creating interactive multimedia presentations. Users can add images, stickers, animations, links, video, and assessments. Teachers can direct multiple students to collaborate on a project. For instance, students on field trip took pictures of animals at the zoo and made Buncees on the ride home.

Manage and organize

9. Sugarcane offers educators and students a way to easily create learning games and access existing games. Students in grades 6-12 can create challenges for peers, or teachers can create games for different groups of students.

10. Google Keep can help with bookmarking, note-taking, and setting reminders. The tool is great for middle and high school students to organize and manage information in libraries and classrooms.

11. Baamboozle provides a platform for creating and playing games. Teachers can organize teams and play games in the classroom and use the games to introduce new topics.

12. Cite This For Me teaches students how to put together bibliographies and citations in the correct format using the APA, MLA, Chicago, Vancouver, or Harvard referencing styles.

Social networking and communications

13. Vizia is for creating video-based quizzes. Teachers choose a video or load their own into YouTube and move through the video adding multiple choice, polling, and open-ended questions. Teachers can share quizzes with individual students or the entire class.

14. Formative offers teacher-librarians and their peer educators a chance to create assignments, deliver them to students, and provide real-time individualized feedback.

15. Flipgrid lets teachers post a topic for students to respond to with their own video responses. Teachers can respond with a video or text and can add links to outside information.

Curriculum and collaboration

16. Wizer.me helps educators make “smarter” worksheets that are interactive, ask meaningful questions, and give feedback easily. Teachers can record responses and feedback as audio commentary and use those responses for students who are still developing reading skills.

17. OER Commons, a collection of community-cured and curriculum-aligned resources, gives teachers access to existing curriculum materials and also lets them create and add their own materials.

Content resources

18. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum offers lessons about hatred, genocide, and human dignity. The website includes an online encyclopedia, teaching materials and lesson plans, and reference services.

19. CommonLit includes a free online collection of Common Core-aligned reading materials. Users can browse news articles, poems, historical documents, and short stories. The site also suggests similar resources related to selected resources.

20. MediaSmarts, a digital and media literacy program, raises public awareness about appropriate internet use for children and youth.

21. ListenWise leverages the power of listening to improve student literacy through its collection of current events, English language arts, science, and social studies podcasts that connect teaching to the real world.

22. Poets.org gives educators a way to tie in poetry not just during National Poetry Month in April, but throughout the year.

23. Duolingo provides free and bite-sized lessons to learn 23 different foreign languages. Students can use these in their classrooms, but educators also can think about sharing the resources with parents for use at home.

Laura Ascione