1. Name, publisher, contact information, URL & brief description. This provides other teachers with the ability to look at new teaching tools. This is a great way to share and I often get new ideas from other teachers. This is one reason I go to MACUL each year, the resources from others is amazing. I know that I don't have all the time required to find something new, but there are some amazing teachers out there with good ideas. (Nikki Torrey 11/7)
The brief description part is what I look at right away to get a general idea of whether or not this is something that will be useful to me. (Tracy Bennett-Clare 11/7)
The brief description is sort of that "first opinion" for me. I use it as a way to quickly decide if this is or is not what I am looking for in an educational site. I feel that a well written description will help keep the websites viewers there longer, and probably will encourage them to dig deeper to see what the site has to offer. I feel this is a good way to get a feeling for the site. (Drew Rutenbar 11/8)
Well written in my professional view means visuals that are brief to the point and that meet the standards in a consise yet informative way(Marla Baldwin 11/9)
I know that I am always looking at what else the publisher has put out there in terms of other software, websites, etc that may help me and my class. I am always one to ask my coworkers for a brief description of a website that they may have mentioned in hopes that the website that they ahve used can help me with my class based on it's rigor, its content, and its overall functionality.(KMeyering 11/9)
I also like to know whether or not the site requires registration. Having this information in the description helps determine how the site may be used for instruction. Having students create log-ins is not always ideal. (Sara Papineau 11/10) AGREED!! Especially at the elementary level! It's a very difficult task to get 30 third graders logged in! (J. Bowen 12/3)
I would like to compare it to buying a book...one of the things I do is read the inside of the jacket or the back over to get a feel of the book and decide whether or not I want to purchase it...it's the same thing when trying to find websites appropriate for my classroom and students...the description is huge in deciding it is something I am going to spend time investigating. (Greg Holstege 11/11)
The description is what sells me. I also look for comments from others. I rely a lot on reviews from other people to help me make my own decisions! It's important to know that it will be worthwhile. (Jenni Clark 11/13)
I think it's important to know if there is a cost involved, too. (J. Bowen 12/3)
2. Type of website: using instructional technology taxonomy.
Am I the only one who really doesn't care about the "taxonomy" and will say it? If it's a useful website, I don't stop to think about or figure out what taxonomy it falls under. (J. Bowen 12/3)

3. Educational setting - grade level(s), subject area(s), etc. This is pretty important to educators and administration. I teach at a k-12 school and often we are looking for tools that can be used school wide. This is not an easy task and it is one reason I picked what I did for my evaluation assignment. This is also a good way to narrow down possible tools for teachers. I know that I won't pick a tool used at the elementary level or a tool used for high school math. This again provides a quick way for a teacher to find a new tool when some of the leg work has been provided. (Nikki Torrey 11/7) Couldn't it be beneficial to use tools that students have used in the past or will use in the future? For familiarity with how a tool functions...(J. Bowen 12/3)
I've come across many sites that do not include the grade level. I have to figure it out by clicking through some of the lessons. (Tracy Bennett-Clare 11/7)
When evaluating the education websites, I feel that this is an area that should be very easy to evaluate. For the most part if the website is promoting a specific grade(s) or specific subject they will usually make it pretty clear and right out in the open. I think it is a big mistake when websites don't take the extra time to go in depth in what their website provides and who it is best for. I realize that might send viewers away faster because they might realize it is not what they are looking for, but in the same respect if they have it posted clearly, those people who would normally leave after a reading a brief description might be more likely to stay if they see the specific subjects or grades that the website is designed for. (Drew Rutenbar 11/8)
I am always looking for websites that cater to kids from birth to 99. Therefore, it is important to have a site that builds upon itself. Like a sequel of educational websites (Marla Baldwin 11/9)
I have the same issue as Tracy, many of the sites I have looked at do not differentiate for grade levels, but the subject area is pretty obvious. I think looking at the vocabulary helps me when checking out a website for Social Studies. (Jessica Ruthsatz 11/9)
When looking into different websites I use, I am one who really enjoys finding sites that offer different levels of activities so I can differentiate for my class more easily. One such site is Reading A-ZYou must pay for--but it is SO helpful when teaching reading as it offers multiple levels of the same text! (KMeyering 11/9) I will have to look into this one!! Sounds great for third grade! (J. Bowen 12/3)
I find that a lot of sites will offer grade-level ranges, especially for middle school and high school. I'll then be looking at the objectives for those grade levels. (Sara Papineau 11/11)
As instructors, it is important that we use appropriate grade level websites for our classrooms...for those that sit in our classrooms, it is important for us to challenge and educate them using grade appropriate sites. This may require us to try the websites to insure that the website is an appropriate teaching tool for us. A lot of the history ones for the content I need that I have looked at seem to be geared more for younger students or others seem to be at a higher level than 6th grade but it ook a lot of checking out to find them. (Greg Holstege 11/11) There are so many wonderful websites out there. Knowing right away if it is appropriate for the grade/content you teach is very helpful! If I find something that I think is a great resource but not for me, I make sure to pass it on to others so someone can make use of it! There is SO much available, it's a never-ending task for teachers to find all of the amazing resources being offered. (Jenni Clark 11/13) Teaching third grade, reading level is so imp0rtant...I have students who can read at a middle school level and students that can't read. It is very difficult to find a good website that will stimulate all of my learners. (J. Bowen 12/2)



4. Specific plans for educational use with a rationale and consideration of individual, small group, large group, whole class; computer lab vs. classroom or media center. This point needs to be addressed because all educators are not provided with the same tools. I have iPads in my classroom but if I find a project that requires the use of a tool not on an iPad I know I can't do it. There are some schools without good internet connection or even a lab large enough for their class. All of this needs to be considered when working on lessons and using technology in the classroom. (Nikki Torrey 11/7)
This is another part of the evaluation that if the website puts in effort when informing its user what is needed it really makes life much easier for the teacher. Instead of having to spend all day reading through the website to see what is needed to properly use this website, the creators can inform teachers right away how to use this website and what is needed to get the most from the site. (Drew Rutenbar 11/8)
I find this part challenging....so many of the sites I use are something I introduce to a entire class, we use together, but they reflect on individually in forums or in groups of 2. I think I need to be very intentional about describing all the specific plans and rationale. (Jess Ruthsatz 11/9)
I try to find websites that I can use in a variety of settings. I tend to use websites mroe if I can use a part of itin whole group settings, small group activities, as well as individual usage. I think most websites that are 'easiest' are set up for individual usage which most times an account is needed which can be troublesome at times. (Kmeyering 11/9) This is why I often partner my students in the computer lab. I try to get a good reader in each partnership. I pull aside the good reader who may be working with a non-reader and explain to him or her that he IS THE READER, but that doesn't mean the other student can just sit there and not contribute. (J. Bowen 12/3)
With limited access to technology in the classroom, I will have to make assumptions about how students may be able to benefit from individually accessing the site's content. This also applies to the differences between having access to a computer lab versus classroom sets of laptops. (Sara Papineau 11/11)
I like to use websites that have a variety of uses for either groups for in-class instruction or for individuals should they wish to learn on their home at home....our class time in the lab is for the group work where we have access to more computers rather than the one in my classroom. (Greg Holstege 11/12) I feel guilty when I suggest websites for use at home, but I know that's where students will really get "into" and explore a website. It's unfortunate because I know there are many students who don't have access at home. (J. Bowen 12/3)

I teach first graders who are such hands-on learners. I try to find websites that I can use on computers as well as on the Smart Board. They love being able to participate as a group! (Jenni Clark 11/13)


5. Alignment with specific subject area and technology or information literacy standards or NETS-T for professional development. Provide summary of standards addressed in plans above.
This can be a very difficult task when you're on a site that teaches math, reading, social studies and science for grades K-12. What do you do in this situation? You can't possibly list every standard for every grade for every subject on the site. (Tracy Bennett-Clare 11/7)
True, but you can identify specific standards a specific activity - unit & lessons - satisfies so the reader understands how use of elements of the site support instruction and assessment for a particular grade & subject area. The key is not to be general and vague, but rather describe a specific use of the site and standards addressed. [AT 11/08]
I agree that it can be a difficult task. I have found that I think of a specific unit and that helps me to focus on the standards. I had to do this with our last assignment so that I wasn't all over the place. (Nikki Torrey 11/8)
If I write that I am using a website in my lessons, I normally always state what objective it lines up with from my standard course of study. If I didn't, I think my principal would be skeptical about the validity of using it. (KMeyering 11/9)
This is something that we are working on with our tech committee, that we show what we do in our classroom and during our labs the tech standards that are being met....the idea is that we use our lab time, not for frivilous things but to use for what the lab time was meant to be for...teaching our students. (Greg Holstege 11/12)
So many websites cover such wide variety of subjects. I agree with what everyone else is saying... it's hard to narrow it down without covering a hundred objectives. With the use of technology being more present in classrooms today, I think a solution to this will present itself in the near future. (Jenni Clark 11/13) I agree with Dr. Topper though... if you identify which standards you are working on with that particular lesson, you've covered your bases. You don't have to identify every standard covered on a website...but the ones for the lesson (or lessons) that YOU are using the website for. (J. Bowen 12/3)

6. Special requirements - plug-ins, audio, video, etc. A tool in the classroom won't work unless any special requirements are figured out. For many of use, the purchase of additional tools is not an option and our districts would prefer to buy technology that doesn't need additional supports or special requirements ( I know mine works this way). (Nikki Torrey 11/7)
Sometimes those plug-ins and downloads are a pain, but what I like even less is having to create an account to gain access. (Tracy Bennett-Clare 11/7)
I have had problems in the past with the creation of accounts. Is there a way around this? If we don't create an account do we get less out of a product? Sometimes we can only benefit from a site if we are able to view our students and often times this is done with the creation of an account. (Nikki Torrey 11/8)
While it can be a huge pain making the accounts, I understand why. Some sites you need to create accounts simply so they can track the usage, your age (for age range of users purposes), location and things like that to help them see what type of people are using them. I feel that a site is worth creating an account if it allows me to add my students, and monitor their progress. I would prefer to use a site that will give me information about my students, instead of having to take notes as I walk around and see how the students are doing, which the site providing information is usually connected to providing them with information. (Drew Rutenbar 11/8)
I agree that it is sometimes a pain to have students create accounts. However, I am with Drew. If I am using any form of technology for students and there is a possibility to track and monitor their progress I want to do that. This is possibly because I am a math teacher and I love the numbers and data! I know it costs more money, but I think it is sometimes better for a district to look into a web resource that allows teachers to have some control of the accounts and creation of these accounts. (Jamie Dorsey 11/9)
The more audio visuals--the better. I need sites that engage and 'hook' my students. But what sucks for me at times is when those plugins fail to work properly due to my districts computer systems. SO FRUSTRATING!
Yes, while making accounts for each student is a pain, I try to look at it as a good way to show growth from the beginning of the year--to the end of the year. One site TweenTribuneallows students to comment on ews stories from around the world with other students. It keeps track of all of their own stories as well as whatever comments they had left for others. This is a great site that connects stuents globally, puts them 'in the know' with what is happening in the world, allows them to use their own knowledge to write as well as gaining practice in reading. It is a great site to show parents how their student has grown. (KMeyering 11/9)
This is where things get sticky for us at our school...anything that needs a download requires an administrator password to activate the download....this can be cumbersome because we do not have the password but only one of our teachers who serves as our liason between our tech committee and us....it often does not get done for a day or two....depending on how busy he is with his own classes....by the way, we have no tech specialists in our school...they are volunteers who come on the weekends to check over the computers and do any work on them if needed....it is one big downfall to our tech program at the moment. (Greg Holstege 11/12) Our computer lab assistants (CLA's) used to do work on all lab computers, as well as the mobile lab, our desktop computers, the NEO2's, the alphasmarts...but with funding cuts, they are now paid through Title 1 funds, and are teaching reading interventions. They have been "demoted" from the position of CLA, and are not "allowed" to help us with tech concerns, even though that's what they were originally hired to do. So frustrating...when y0u run into a situation like Jenni states below, there is no immediate solution. It has to be sent to a "help desk" for a "fix" in days, not minutes. (J. Bowen 12/2)

There is nothing more frustrating than planning an awesome lesson at home and getting to school and it not working properly. (Jenni Clark 11/13)

7. Ratings -
I never thought about ratings for educational websites but it is just like anyother educational medium there is validity to ensuring that evaluation websites meet educational standards. The best way to know if a site does meets the needs of the targeted group of people the site is created for is through ratings. Just as word of mouth is important to keep a business flourishing, it is necessary to have a rating system for educational sites. (Marla Baldwin 11/9)
Looking at ratings is key to establishing the thought of investigating the website more thoroughly...if I see ratings that are very low across the board, I may not take the time to peruse the website and its materials...ratings are valuable in other facets of life in determining whether or not to use or buy a product...just as important for us as instructors. (Greg Holstege 11/13)
7.1 content (with scale)
7. 2 Accuracy (with scale) considering authoritative source, free from bias, appropriate use of media, etc.
7.3 Educational value (with scale) considering usefulness, timely, readable, consistent with other sources, collaboration supported, etc.
7.4 Technical quality (with scale) considering links, navigational elements, tracking, search feature, bread crumbs, etc.Okay so maybe I am not as tech savvy as I thought I was---what are 'bread crumbs'??? (KMeyering 11/9) Bread crumbs are icons or text in the navigational area that visually display where you are on the site. Some sites have a map that you can click on to move around. This makes it easy to jump back to a page you visited or go back to the home page without having to press the back button several times and provides a sense of location. [AT 11/11]

8. Accessibility for ESL and students with special needs. I didn't have the need for teaching students with special needs when I started teaching. Most of the students were pulled out for the subject I teach and I didn't create assessments for them. Every year I have more and more students with special needs and I have had to get help for our special ed teacher in order to make sure that I am doing this properly. The technology tool I chose to assess does a great job of allowing for me to make accommodations for many students at one time and to do it easily. (Nikki Torrey 11/7)
What kind of accommodations would there be for special needs students? (Tracy Bennett-Clare 11/7)
There are a variety of things that can be done to help students with special needs, including use of hardware - like special keyboards or mice - and software - like text-to-speech software, large screen display, etc. The critical thing is to describe how these items, in addition to what might be available on the site, help support these students' needs and abilities.[AT 11/08]
I don't have any experience with using this technology for students with special needs physically. Do I still have to address this or can I look at it from what I do in my classroom? (Nikki Torrey 11/8) Yes, you need to consider how use of the website you choose could be adapted to fit the special needs of students. [AT 11/09]
Sturgis Public Schools does impress me with the support and funding we have/use for instruments for special needs students. We do a nice job of trying new technologies for special needs students which is nice because the general website may not be designed for special needs, one that is really cool that we have is a special laptop with a huge screen that has a special magnifying program that allows a student who is losing his sight to access any website his class is using. I think this category is almost more talking about what the school has, but there are some important things a website could include to help special needs, such as a text to speech option that will read any text that is on the website. (Drew Rutenbar 11/8)
I spoke recently with one of the special education coordinators at my previous district. I was shocked to find out that the text-to-speech software that we use is only compatible with documents in a format such as Microsoft Word. There are other T-S products that work with anything right? This honestly surprised me to find out that it would only work with word type documents. (Jamie Dorsey 11/9) Yes, there are many software products available that can take typed text and read it out loud. One example is WynReader. Another is all of the products available on a Mac computer. [AT 11/09]
I very rarely see sites that are in more than one language which is frustrating since at least one student every year that I have been teaching would have benefited from some of the sites I use if it had been in in their native language. (KMeyering 11/9) True, but there are sites that will translate other pages for you into any language. One example is google translate (http://translate.google.com/). [AT 11/11]
This is one that I may have to be creative to some degree for my website evaluation...if we have a special needs child, they go out of our room to our Discovery Center where they have the equipment and materials to assist them rather than in our regular lab....the other thing is is that we have very few adaptations available for those who need them...we have very few students who have throughout the years who have had to have adaptations (Greg Holstege 11/12) Greenville Public Schools (or at least my elementary building) does a great job getting technology into our special needs students' hands. As a building, we even did a "Jeans Day" fundraiser to buy an ipod for one of our nonverbal students. Our tech team is constantly looking into new programs to use with our special needs students as well. I know we just recently bought Dragon Dictation?? (Something like that.) for our students who struggle with the fine motor aspect of writing. (J.Bowen 12/2)

I'm with Greg. I personally haven't had any children with special needs in my classroom, and they usually go to special resources anyways. This is something I'm going to need to explore. (Jenni Clark 11/13)


9. Use with learner-centered activities, support for development of higher order thinking skills, and open-ended projects OR professional development support.
I feel that this is sometimes hard to evaluate. Should we evaluate this based on how the website itself stands or if we could expand on the website offerings to create a learner-centered activty etc.? (Jamie Dorsey 11/9) Ideally, the site will provide opportunities and/or activities that promote development of these skills. If not, you should describe activities that could use the site to accomplish this goal or purpose. [AT 11/09]

10.Special features. It's important for technology to adapt and change as the educator needs it to. If a piece of technology or software is not able to do this, chances are a school can't spend money on it. The software I chose has the ability to be changed and this is important as we face the change of standards and the way we teach. (Nikki Torrey 11/7)

11.Best features. The best features should include: quick feedback for students, possibility for accommodations and changes as education requirements change, cost (big for many districts right now), something that is dependable and doesn't need the constant care of a teacher (once you create it, you can go back to it again and again with few modifications), flexibility of the tool, reliability (especially if you put work or money into it), and allows interactivity and multimedia for the learners. (Nikki Torrey 11/7)
Things I look for are: is the website user friendly for the students in my class; does it provide the user to learn in different ways like visually or by auditory means; is the website keeping the user attentive and enjoying the website as they use it; is it flexible for different usage, etc.......( Greg Holstege 11/13)

I think that it is important for a description of the best features to be given. Educators don't always have the time to look through materials they want and if another educator recommends something we know that the time can be spent looking at the new material. (Nikki Torrey 11/15)



12.Worst features. A tool or software that requires lots of work or maintenance, or costs a lot for the district (Nikki Torrey 11/7) It is also helpful to list these features for an educator who might not have the time to look at all sources. If another educator has said that this is not good material then we can move on to those features that are better for our classroom and teaching. (Nikki Torrey 11/15)
Are we supposed to shy away from sites that require paid subscriptions? (Sara Papineau 11/11) No, but you'll want to indicate how much they cost in your evaluation so the reader can decide whether it's worth paying for use. [AT 11/11]
Do pop up advertisements have a place here?? I know they are not necessarily a "feature" of the website, but the fact that a website allows them is really annoying. I love the website I am using for the evaluation, but at times the pop up advertisements are a bit racy. (Jessica Ruthsatz 11/11) Yes, absolutely. Any advertising that is part of using a site should be considered as a drawback, since it exposes students to ads that may distract from the content of the site. I definitely see these types of ads as a drawback for use of some content. [AT 11/12]
Although I do not like the ads personally, one has to understand that the ads are probably helping pay for the website to be up and running....I try my utmost to find ones that either have none or very few...ones with any kind of questionable material is eliminated from usage. (Greg Holstege 11/12).
Customer service is one thing that after using a variety of programs that I have seen some good and some bad. If there are problems or questions with the website, how helpful or reachable is help? (Drew Rutenbar 11/8)
Advice on how to navigate through a software tool without actually benefitting from the intended use of the site is a problem because users are really cheating themselves of valuable knowledge. ( Marla Baldwin11/13)

14.Additional comments - add your own additional items or considerations.

[at 11/04/11])