Best Websites and Best Apps, my faves and a brief reflection on when it really needs to be an app

Joyce Valenza covers the top picks among the annual list. 

Greetings from ALAC18 in New Orleans, friends!  Here’s a partial tech awards update from yesterday

The annual lists honor 25 apps and 25 websites that provide enhanced learning and curriculum development for school librarians and their teacher collaborators. These technology resources are chosen for their ability to foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation and collaboration and for their support of AASL’s “National School Library Standards.”

The lists connect these digital resources with our Shared Foundations, offer links, platforms and suggested grade levels and you’ll be led to the rich archive of eBL-AASL-logoxceptional tools from years past.

Best Websites

Committee Chair, Jane Lofton led the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning in their big reveal.

The 2018 Best Websites for Teaching & Learning are:

AllSides for Schools, App Inventor, Be Internet Awesome, BioInteractive, Book Creator, BoomWriter, Classcraft, CoSpaces Edu, EarSketch,, The Global Goals, Global Oneness Project, Kapwing, The Learning Network, Loom, Metaverse, NewseumED, Pencil Code, Prodigy, Recap, Science Friday, Stanford History Education Group, Time.Graphics, Tinkercad, and Typito.

While it is so hard to choose favorites from among the many websites I’ve fallen in love with on this list, a cover of my current personal go-tos are:

Loom: Students and teachers will find this screencast and webcam video creation tool helpful on a daily basis. Teachers will find it especially easy to create videos of tutorials, review sessions, or feedback for students assignments. Students can use it for presentations, how-to videos, or responses to assignments. The options are endless, and teachers with a flipped classroom will love the ease of use. Grades 4 and up.

Kapwing provides a multi-tool solution for teachers and students to create everything from video montages and memes, to stop action videos and sound effects. Its simple yet robust platform makes it useful for students of all ages. Teachers can use the various tools to engage students in any subject, and students will use these same tools to showcase their learning and improve presentations. Grades 4 and up.

Best Apps

Committee Chair, Deb Logan, led our committee (one that I am so sad to leave) in our big reveal:

AASL_BestApp-2018-CS6The 2018 Best Apps for Teaching & Learning are:

Clips, Complete Fairytale Play Theatre, Engaging Congress, Google Spotlight Stories, Google Translate, GooseChase, Hopscotch: Make Games, Human Anatomy Atlas 2018, Incredibox, Libby, Metaverse – AR Browser, Office Lens, PBS KIDS Games, PBS KIDS Video, Periodic Table, Pixie, Procreate, PuppetMaster, Recap, RelationShapes, Science Journal, SDG in Action, Seeing AI, Signed Stories, and Swiipe: News That Knows You.

If I had to choose a favorite among these children, it might be Science Journal:

Turn your phone into a light, sound, and motion sensor. Measure these experimental variables with greater accuracyandcreate detailed data displays. Use photos and text to record observations within the app. Teachers can connect external sensors and search Science Journal’s website for possible experiments.  Platform: iOS, Android   Grades: 5th +

Reflection on appyness

You may notice that we often have a little overlap among committees’ selections. I think that’s okay.

This year it has been more clear to me than ever before that there are growing differences between websites and apps. Some tools work well across platforms and devices. Some tools require both web and mobile versions. And some tools work best or only when they are natively developed as mobile apps.Screen Shot 2018-06-24 at 12.11.48 PM

Here’s a beginning list of the reasons some digital tools have to be appy. A website could not possibly do the job. This list is included in our slidedeck with apps that offer examples of when native appyness matters.

  1. Portability: immediate mobile accessibility
  2. Manipulability: being able to use a touchscreen and use scootch features
  3. Access to the camera for saving, recording, producing and sharing
  4. AR/VR/MR features
  5. Personalization
  6. Multiple response experiences
  7. Use of specialized tools/accessories/pens

Help enrich our 2019 list!  Nominate your favorite apps and websites at by March 1, 2019.




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