Snipping Tool

If you’ve ever found a great image you’d like to add to a presentation, or a piece of text you’d rather not have to retype, only to find that you cannot copy it to your clipboard, then you will  certainly like Microsoft’s “Snipping tool”.  This is a simple little gadget which basically gives you a better alternative to using the “print screen” button.

snipping tool

Unfortunately Snipping Tool is not available in school due to Microsoft’s licensing set-up, but if you’re using a Windows PC or laptop at home, you’ve almost certainly got access to it there.  To find it, just click “Start” and then type “snipping” into the search bar.  You can see a short video explaining how the tool works here.

Thanks to Peter for sharing this.

Word Cloud Generators

Nothing new here: just a few links to various online word cloud generators.

Wordle is the best-known and most widely used application.

Tagul Clouds allows you to put your words into a custom shape, to use a variety of fonts, and to orientate the words in a variety of ways.  Here is an example drawn from my recent article about the Times Festival of Education:


Tagxedo is a similar package, but has a different variety of shapes on offer: it would lend itself well to Biology and the Humanities as it includes the outlines of countries, plants and animals.

VocabGrabber takes a all this a step further by analysing the text you want to feature in your word cloud.

A step towards better student presentations?


Voki is an online app which allows users to create an avatar to deliver presentations for them (like the example on the right).  You could use this yourself as part of an approach to flipped learning, for example by getting the avatar to explain a task.  Alternatively, you could get the students to create avatars which deliver presentations on their behalf.

Potential benefits:

  • It might encourage students to think more carefully about the oral delivery of presentations.
  • It may help them to build their confidence in writing the oral part of their presentation, and to become more confident about delivering this themselves in due course.
  • It’s a bit of fun.

Potential drawback:

  • The students may well spend far longer choosing the face, hair, etc for their avatar than thinking about what it actually needs to say.

This app was designed with educational use in mind and is entirely free to use – provided you don’t mind there being significant limitations on what you can do.  As always, to really get the best out of anything claiming to be free, you need to pay for an upgrade.  To find out more about it, and maybe give it a go, click here.



Creative ideas for teaching English

Here are some creative ideas shared on twitter in recent weeks:

1. A tube map of connectives created by @JamieClark85 and inspired by @LauraLolder.  For more details, and instructions on how to create your own tube maps, click here.

tube map

2. “Said is dead” – so peg something different, created by @Ellabumblebee:


3. Make your writing more colourful by @murphiegirl:

colourful writing

If you liked those, you might also like this pervious post about a “mood wheel”.

Using images

It is getting easier and easier for teachers to access high-quality images online for use in presentations, displays, hand-outs, tasks sheets, web pages, etc.  However, many of these are subject to copyright, and it is important not to abuse this.  Here are a few tips on how to get this right.

If you are searching for an image on Google, you can use the “Search Tools” to be discerning about usage rights – select the option “labelled for re-use”, as shown here [click to enlarge]:


This website offers copyright-free images.

Here you can find a list of websites which provide access to copyright-free images.

A further image database and information regarding their public use can be found here.

For blogs and websites, you might like to use “Compfight” to find copyright-free images.  Type in your search term(s) and then select an image from below the faint line across the screen.  You can use this image for free in your work, provided you credit the source.