Tech Toys

The internet has its pros and cons. Here I'd like to share some of my favorite "pros:" toys, that if used correctly, could definitely increase advance student learning.
All services are free unless otherwise noted.

Creating a digital portfolio:

Absolutely ADORE this! Make a multimedia poster, with sound, links, videos, comments, etc and then present it as is export to Facebook, Google+ or Tumblr. The final result is gorgeous. Here's an example teaching about figurative language.


Want to link up with other classrooms that are blogging? This is the way to do it!

It's a whiteboard/notebook/binder/post-it collector online.

Made animated videos that look like you paid a lot of money for them. It's currently in Beta (usually a great thing) and has a special side for educators/learners.

It is exactly what it sounds like: a simple book online. You can embed pictures and videos.

This is too good to explain in a few words. Get students participation via forums, bring in PDFs, Word docs, videos, etc, and receive comprehensive reports once you close a conversation. My only concern is I don't know how much of it the students can control. 
Make gorgeous charts and infographics.

Piktochart is another way to build infographics for free

A free screencasting download. Why not comment on papers via screencast instead of writing illegible notes?

Build your own simple app (sans coding!) for mobile devices. Given that I am not exactly a technical genius, here is a great blog post that enumerates the details of this nifty app creator.

Digitize your document (it ends up looking quite like a glossy magazine) and then put it on any platform you like. You can also read tons of other sources uploaded by different users. Here's an example:
Create and edit sounds or listen and download other's sound clips. Lots of music and other recordings are registered under Creative Commons here; useful for video projects.

Other useful sites:

If This Then That
Connect your various web-based platforms, and even automate information transactions between them.
This site provides news from all over the world and is ideal for showing points of view and building global empathy. PLUS! You can pick which country you want the information to come from...and thus what language you would like the information to be in.

A screenshot of Newsmap

My favorite way to make word clouds. You get to choose the shape, color, font, etc. Here is a cloud of my Tweets. Also, have you ever thought of using a wordcloud like this to show students how often they use certain vocabulary in a piece if writing? Idea credit goes to Erin Olson.

This is now!
Sometimes it is hard for students (and everyone else) to understand that the rest of the world is just like them. This cool live streaming of Instagram photos shows both the unique differences of other cities (Tokyo, London, Sao Paolo, Sydney) and the universal human interests that are quite similar to our own.

Pandora but for books! A fantastic way to help reluctant readers find material that they enjoy.

Visuwords in action. Note the color code legend on the side.
Visuwords is a beyond cool way to help students with vocabulary. It pops up these little structures of words that show correlation and color-codes by part of speech. It also provides a basic definition and examples in phrases or sentences when you hover over a word.

Sort of like TurnItIn, it allows students to see how much of the word is their own, at which grade level they are writing (great for teaching how to tailor to audiences), and grammar and spelling checks.

A great to make any classroom activity, from guest lectures to movies, more student-centered. Students can ask questions, answer each other's questions, vote for other questions (so that leaders answer those first), and respond to polls. (Editor's update: unfortunately, it is no longer free.)

Learn it in 5
Don't know how to do something tech? Learn it here. Better yet, have your students learn it and then they can be the techies.

Foreign-language specific:
Veinte Mundos learner page
Did you know that portions of the Khan academy has been translated into Spanish? Another great way for students to hear Spanish in context. Great for math-minded students: they already understand the mathematical concepts, so know they can begin to understand the Spanish as well.

A great website for Spanish language learners with contextualized grammar and vocab learning. Also has a teacher page.
All my students are dying to go to Spain and we really just have no where near the money. With this gorgeous video/audio you can at least tour the Museo del Prado and learn glorious quantities of advanced vocabulary relatively in context.
This site has great phone conversations in Spanish and Arabic in a variety of accents/dialects about a bunch of different topics. I like it because the speakers don't sound scripted and there are natural pauses, they speak over each other, and they use every day slang and fillers.

Pronunciations of many words by many speakers in many languages. You too can record a word, or request for one to be recorded for you by a native speaker. I also send my English-speaking students here if they read a word that they don't know how to say.

Places I find personally interesting and inspiring:

It's Nice That