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.



Adapt Google Maps

If you’re teaching Geography, preparing notes for a school trip, or doing anything at all that involves maps, you might find MapFab useful.  When you open this online tool, the whole world lies before you.  This app allows you to select any part of it, at whatever scale you wish, then add as many markers, labels, lines and highlights to it as you wish.  It’s very easy to use.  Once you’ve got it how you want it, you can either use the app to save a link to it online, or use the printscreen [PrtScrn] key to copy what you see and then paste it into an image editing tool for cropping to the size you want.

This map showing Loreto’s transport links was created in about 2 minutes when using MapFab for the first time:



If you ever want your pupils to try something new or challenging on a PC or laptop, you should consider using the free app Screencast-o-matic to model the activity by “recording” what you are doing on your own screen – you can add a voiceover to talk them through it too!

This tool could also help you to flip your students’ learning: they could practise using a certain app, website or piece of software in their own time, and therefore be already be prepared to use it for the purpose you have in mind when they get to your lesson.


Click on this link to watch a short video which explains how this app works, and this link to try it for yourself.



Remember this? # 3 – Living graphs

Another old favourite from the Leading in Learning initiative.  The idea of living graphs is that pupils track ups and downs in a very rough manner just to help them get a feel for something. 

This can work well in a number of subjects. In English, for example, they could create a graph which tracks tension in a certain story, with “level of tension” on one axis and time, page number, episodes or similar on the other axis.  After completing this exercise, they will have provided themselves with a simple visual record of how the author is operating – and a potential springboard for more detailed analysis.  In Geography this idea might be used to track how environmentally-friendly somebody is during the course of a day.  In History a living graph could be used to track the popularity of a certain monarch, or the success of a certain side in a war, as in this example from Class Tools [click to enlarge]:

living graph example

If you’d like your students to complete this activity on a PC, take a look at this app.