AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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Tools for Teachers

Web tools recommended by teachers for teachers


Teaching History Website

Teaching History

This site helps K-12 teachers find resources that bring U.S. history right into the classroom. Beyond lesson plans, teaching strategies and research, this free site links you to master teachers who can answer questions or help compare ideas and concepts through video teleconferencing on Skype. All teachers can browse through updated materials, including primary sources.

AFT members found the site easy to use, organized and comprehensive. Other strengths: It sorts material by elementary, middle and high school; appeals to various learning and teaching styles; has a plethora of possible uses; and validates information. There’s even a weekly history quiz.


This online community for sharing lesson plans applies social networking to education. You can find resources, share curricula, exchange feedback and upload information. Lessons can be used instantly; they include objectives, plans and feedback from other teachers. The website is free, and anyone can sign up.

AFT teachers who tried this site say it is valuable, current and easy to use. No wonder—it’s developed by teachers!


This free online project is designed to teach civics and inspire students to be active participants in a democracy. It’s organized around games that turn even the most challenging concepts about governing into fun. Individual state civics standards also are available to help you plan lessons.

AFT educators say the site is designed so that kids want to use it. Extremely interactive, with bright and clever animations, the programs keep students motivated. For example, the site covers facets of social studies through games such as playing president for a day or running a law firm specializing in constitutional rights. In the game “People’s Pie,” your students can control the entire federal budget.


Wiggio manages groups. Whether you’re part of two or 17 groups, you can manage them here. Wiggio lets people do mass texting and send voicemails to multiple groups. It keeps a shared calendar of meetings, practices and deadlines. You can store files and set up conference calls or online meetings. Everyone can upload and download shared information. No registration is required, and it’s free.

Teachers who used this tool said it takes their work environment into account, eases communication, is flexible, can be multifunctional (encompassing conference video, e-mail chats, Facebook, study guides, group work and surveys), manages time, provides privacy, doesn’t require an account and is simple to use.

Teaching Channel Website

Teaching Channel

The Teaching Channel lets you watch other educators in action. It captures individual techniques as you take notes, trade ideas and build your own workspace. There are many lesson plans and ideas for both new and experienced teachers. The website also tailors technology to what works for you.

Main subjects include language arts, math, science, and history or social sciences. You’ll find videos right out front on topics such as attention-getting signals to use in class, writing fruit haiku, and using the Iditarod sled race to teach math. Some topics discussed in detail include planning, class culture, behavior, engagement, differentiation, assessment, collaboration and celebrating teachers.

Teachers who used this tool said they were able to customize it. They also said it provides a useful opportunity to see others teach. The practices and classrooms used for demonstrations are real, and the website is user-friendly. Viewers also liked its on-the-spot resources and calendar.

National Geographic Education Website

National Geographic Education

National Geographic Education has some new toys. Its website, now in early beta testing, is accessible to educators, family members and children; the site’s latest playthings include teaching resources, an expanded library, activities and mapping tools.

Teachers who used this site said it was comprehensive across content areas, easy to follow, substantial, interactive, adaptable to different reading levels, and that the map maker and map floor puzzle are useful and unique.

Reprinted from American Teacher, November/December 2011 issue