MORE Great Web Tools and Apps for Student Engagement

web2.0withWordsIn my last post, I included some great ideas for K-12 library media specialists as they collaborate with classroom teachers about quality online tools for instruction. Here are a couple of others, along with lesson plan ideas, that work well for some of my students. (Posted with permission)

HSTRY: (Middle School level) Students will be required to build a timeline focused on an issue or a figure that impacted World War II. The HSTRY site is free for students and teachers. There is a template that includes information such as:

• Quotes (for the time in history or from a specific figure in history)
• YouTube video insert
• Mp3 audio insert
• “Did You Know” facts
• Quiz Question
• Place for Images to be inserted
• Places for Text to be inserted

HSTRY is a user friendly site IF students have already researched the information for their project or report. Students are able to chronicle important events and figures and demonstrate their impact on the war. HSTRY is a free tool and has links to helpful supporting information such as Class Management and Engagement . One huge benefit of HSTRY is that school administrators and parents will have no concerns about the content. Moreover, students who don’t have internet access at home and utilize the school media center or public library computers because it does not have to be downloaded to the computer.

This interactive timeline builder can be found at
Pamela Hurst

Newsela and Pixton: (All levels) Students use Newsela to keep up with current events. Newsela is an online-leveled reading site with news stories rewritten for different reading levels. It is common core aligned and students are quizzed on the articles they’ve read. A second step is to have students report their findings through cartooning. Students complete the readings then develop a comic strip using Pixton that demonstrates their understanding of the news article they read.

Initially, students look at examples of comic strips in the Atlanta Journal Constitution as well as graphic novels. Differences and similarities between the two should be discussed. The goal is to explain satire to the learners. Students then develop six panels that summarize their article. Panels should include character interaction and display the student’s understanding of the article.

Pixton Comics is a very easy drop and drag web 2.0 tool that anyone can use. It includes a variety of choices for creating characters such as: settings, facial expression and backgrounds. also allows you to create student accounts and lets you monitor the accounts. The teacher has the ability to determine if the comic will be published. Pixton may be used for $90 a year and includes up to 40 students simultaneous use at any given time.

This lesson teaches students creative writing, critical thinking, research skills, knowledge of copyright laws and becoming the owner of their work. Students will more than likely use their own words when developing a comic script. They won’t have enough room to copy and paste information and this translates to students actually having to read and decide how to express their learning in their own words for the comic script. This is a fun, creative, and engaging way to learn about current events, satire, and web 2.0 tools!

Websites are: and
Janice Jackson

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Author:Phyllis Snipes

I am all about school librarianship!! I taught in P-12 schools as a Kindergarten teacher, first grade teacher, and second grade teacher for five years. I was a school library media specialist (or teacher-librarian!) for ten years, coordinator of library services for the Carrollton City School District, GA, for 15 years, and am now full time associate professor in the School Library Media Program at the University of West Georgia for eight years, plus 17 years as an adjunct prior to full time. My passion is teaching. I write, I present, I serve on committees, but my true passion is to help future librarians understand what the job is really all about. I love to present new web 2.0 toys and envision ways to engage kids and really give them choices. The school library is the place where all kinds of excitement can happen. It's truly the place where knowledge lives (virtually, mostly) as well as the Agora of the school campus! I am certain of the huge impact strong school library media programs have on student achievement, and I want the rest of the world to recognize it. My daughter (also a library lady!) used to come into my school library media center BOOK FAIR when she was a little girl and take a deep breath, exhale, and softly say...I love the smell of the book fair! Even though I'm an avid online researcher, I still love the tomes!!

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