3 Websites for High School Teachers to Try in 2013

Kelsey Sheehy

Technology continues to make inroads into high school classrooms via bring-your-own device initiatives, 1:1 proposals that put a tablet or laptop in front of every student, and blended learning models that mix online courses with in-class instruction.

But teachers don't need a classroom stocked with iPads to start incorporating tech into their lesson plans. In fact, 40 percent of educators say online apps and games are the most effective way to engage students, according to a reader survey by SmartBrief for EdTech, an industry newsletter.

[Discover why student engagement nosedives in high school.]

Below are three Web-based resources for high school teachers to try in 2013.

1. Persuasive Games: The games offered via this website go miles deeper than Angry Birds or Farmville. Science teachers can use Killer Flu to put pandemics such as the swine flu in perspective. In this game, students are the virus and must attempt to mutate and spread in a host of different conditions.

[Learn how teachers are making gaming academic.]

Other games available through the site include Debt Ski, which teachers can use to help students understand the impact of excessive debt and reckless financial decisions, and Food Import Folly, where students act as inspectors for the Food and Drug Administration and check foreign food shipments for contaminants.

2. GlogsterEDU: Students and teachers can use this website to punch up presentations by incorporating text, video, images, and custom graphics.

"Gone are the days of laboring over a diorama made from a shoebox or wrestling with markers on a poster board," Julie DeNeen, a former assistant to the technology director at Regional School District No. 4 in Connecticut, wrote for InformEd. "When it is report time, students can use Glogster to creatively display their research."

The site is free for students and teachers, but teachers can purchase premium versions for less than $10 per month to access previously published "Glogs" to use as part of their lesson plans, as well as class and project management features that allow teachers to create assignments and keep track of multiple classes.

3. Vocabulary.com: Dubbed one of the "50 Best Websites of 2012" by Time, the premise of the site is relatively straight forward.

"The site beefs up your word power with more than 40,000 multiple-choice questions and refines its choices as it learns about your knowledge of the English language," Harry McCracken writes in the Time article.

Teachers can create vocabulary lists to complement lesson plans or build up students' word banks with premade lists such as "PSAT Words," "NAEP Test Words," and "100 Top SAT Words." Literature teachers transitioning to the Common Core State Standards might also like "10 Words from Today's NY Times," "Loaded Words from the Gun Violence Debate," or "President Obama's second inaugural address."

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