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January 28, 2014 5 Free and Fun Online Tools for Stress-Free Studying By Erin Klein
Grades 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    I always give my Scholastic posts a lot of thought. My goal is to make each week's post meaningful and relatable to what is going on in my own classroom. I am writing reports this week, and this time of the year tends to be full of assessments. Though we do not do any sort of formal exams in my class, I know that many children across the country are gearing up for important projects and tests that will greatly affect their grades.  

    I am excited to share a few of my favorite studying tools with you. I am aware that there are tons of tools available for studying; however, I always use the following to determine if a tool is awesome.

    Awesome Tools Are:

    • free

    • easy to use

    • get the job done

    • fun

    It is really quite simple. When generating my list, I wanted to keep it brief. Too often, I find resource lists that state something like "100+ fabulous ____" While I always enjoy these lists and share them via my social networks, I find that I rarely check out all 100 or so tools. I just don't have time. I really love the posts that focus on fewer, but favorite tools. Thus, I am happy to tell you about five resources that I have used for a number of years. They are amazing!



    Quizlet states it best, "We make simple learning tools that let you study anything, for free." I especially love how as soon as you sign up for a free account, you can start browsing content. Their site has so much free content that users have already added. You are welcome to use it. Cool, right? If you want something more directly relevant to your curriculum, you can create your own flash card set. It is very easy to do.  

    Quizlet automatically generates a variety of assessments you can take. They also have different games you can play to help you learn in a fun way. When I taught middle school, we would always have the game Scatter on for students to play as they entered the room while classes were switching. It was amazing how quickly the students would get to class just to drag the terms over the definitions and see them disappear. Partners began to team up and try to beat their friend's time. They were encouraging each other to learn the information while having a great time. Be sure to check out the Quizlet app, too.  



    My favorite! Yes, this super awesome activity is through Scholastic. I honestly can't believe it is free. This past week, I was telling our recess supervisor about how wonderful it is. He had to prepare a science lesson for one of his teaching classes. I told him he had to check StudyJams! out.  

    Study Jams! offers TONS of free and fabulous content for math and science at the elementary level. Students and teachers can select the subject area and then view a treasure trove of related content. You have access to vast amounts of high quality and high engaging videos, step-by-step slides, and fun quizzes. Many of the concepts even include fun songs the students can sing along with in a karaoke style fashion. Way to tap into those multiple intelligences!  

    If you haven't ever been to Study Jams!, stop what you are doing right now, click here, and fall in love with you new favorite site! I put this on our class website so parents can use it from home to help their children. They love it!



    Citelighter is the most efficient tool for writing a paper. This handy site will be your best friend as you embark on the journey of gathering research, drafting your paper, and composing your bibliography.  

    Imagine never having to worry about the tedious task of writing the perfect bibliography. What if you could focus on the content of the paper without the worry of formatting citations? Well my friends, Citelighter has made this possible. I only wish that I had this resource when I was in high school or even doing my graduate studies. With Citelighter, users can explore sites, copy the information they're interested in saving, and jot their notes directly under the copied information. The site automatically generates the proper citations from the resource you were exploring. You select the style, APA, MLA, or more. When ready, click export, and all of your organized information is sent to Word or Google Docs. It is that simple!



    VirtualNerd is a middle school and high school math student's dream! Every time I share this site with a student, colleague, administrator, or parent, the reaction is overwhelming. People have even slapped my arm in excitement after seeing the potential of this resource. Again, it is free!

    Users can select a math subject area and start to refine their topic by skill and strand. Once users have identified the information they need help with, they have access to view a brief, visual video explaining exactly how to solve the problem or understand the concept. I think the most impressive feature of this resource is how specific the site gets. Students can spend hours online searching for tutorials on how to do certain problems. With VirtualNerd, the time spent searching is significantly reduced so that students can quickly find what they're looking for and get to work applying their knowledge. Even if you don't teach middle school or high school, it would be worth the trip to hop on over just to check the site out. I think you'll be in awe of how user-friendly and sophisticated the resources are.  


    Vocabulary Spelling City 

    Sometimes when sites are so amazing, you just figure that everyone already knows about them. I get so happy when I find someone that hasn't heard of Vocabulary Spelling City. I just know that after they visit the site, they will be impressed. The feedback is always 100 percent beyond positive. I have honestly never heard one negative remark about this tool.

    SpellingCity allows users to practice spelling and vocabulary while engaging in game play or reviewing via assessments. Participants can practice by using already uploaded word lists or by adding their specific word list. That is right... your students can enter their weekly spelling words and then have this site automatically generate assessments for online practice or games to play for review. These tools are all specific to the child's list.  

    My students love playing Hang Mouse. Most of the time, the kids come up to the SMART Board to use it and play games. However, when we play this game, we pass around my wireless mouse. They think that is really neat. I like it because it is a super quick and easy way to practice a ton of words and have each student get a turn. Passing the mouse takes far less time than having each child walk to the board. Yes, there is something about tactile manipulation and the benefits of interacting with the board. We do these sorts of activities, but for this game, passing the mouse works well.  

    Be sure to check out the Spelling City app, too!


    What are some of your favorite study tools?

    Please drop a comment in the box below — I'd love to find out about more great tools.  

    I'd also appreciate it if you would share this post via the social networking sites you visit so that other teachers, students, and parents can find out about these amazing resources.  

    You can follow me on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest for more teaching ideas and tips!



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Susan Cheyney