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Five tools for the world's best teacher

It's the final stretch of the academic year. We have a list of online tools teachers could try out to make their jobs just a little easier.

There are a variety of online tools available to teachers. And though they all focus on something slightly different, they can help make classroom instruction more effective.

Most online tools for teachers provide the option to both create and keep a grade book. Teachers can upload assignments and keep track of their students' attendance. The tools also let teachers share grades with parents. And since the syllabus and assignments are online, students will have access to the class resources no matter where they are. The classroom is truly anywhere the teacher (or student) wants it to be.

The majority of online teaching utilities are designed well. They guide teachers through the process of creating a grade book, uploading content, and making that information available to parents and students. The learning curve isn't steep.

If it's instruction help they're looking for, teachers can join social networks to find best practices or video sites to get class instruction ideas.

Here are five teachers' aids that stand out from the rest.

Top 5 teaching tools

Blackboard makes it all available to students. Don Reisinger/CNET

Blackboard is one of the most capable teaching tools in the space. Educators can upload grades, monitor student performance, and administer tests. Teachers can also input assignments and manage their syllabus.

Students can access all the information their teachers add to their class page, check their grades, and complete assignments. Blackboard combines all those features with an outstanding design to deliver a fine tool for the student and teacher, alike.

Classroom 2.0
Classroom 2.0 is a social network for teachers. Educators can chat, send messages, and exchange ideas on how to best educate students. I found Classroom 2.0 to be an ideal place for teachers to find best practices to create a more effective educational environment. Many of the educators discuss ways to use the Web to enhance classroom instruction. And since it's such a lively community, I'm sure most teachers will find at least something to bring into the classroom to enrich their students.

Engrade provides students with a place to monitor grades and see how they've performed on quizzes. All that information is provided by the teachers, who can also customize their Engrade grade books, input scores from anywhere they have Web access, and create instruction plans for students to download.

Engrade is a powerful tool that's easy to use for both students and teachers. And unlike most other services in the market, Engrade is free. That shouldn't fool you into believing it's not as capable as its competitors. Quite the contrary, Engrade is the best grading tool I saw.

MyGradeBook lets teachers modify grading scales. Don Reisinger/CNET

MyGradeBook is an impressive utility. Once the teacher buys a license (prices range from $30.95 to $39.95 per license per year) he or she will find one of the most powerful teaching utilities on the Web. With the option to create online assignments, manage grade books, administer quizzes, communicate with parents, and provide access to students, MyGradeBook literally creates a virtual classroom online.

Though it's a powerful tool, I was impressed by MyGradeBook's simplicity. Teachers won't have any trouble populating their class page with content. Students will find it simple to access all the information they need. MyGradeBook is a full-featured educational tool that teachers shouldn't miss.

TeacherTube is a video site for educators. Teachers can upload instruction videos, which can be viewed by anyone anywhere in the world. Videos can show classroom instructions on topics ranging from biology to Shakespeare. There are no limits on the content. I was impressed by the wealth of knowledge it provides.

Though its name might suggest otherwise, TeacherTube also lets students showcase their work. Most students are featured displaying their artwork, engaging in classroom activities, or showing off their special talents to the Web. In any case, I found the site to be a great learning tool for teachers. They can incorporate some of the ideas displayed in the videos in the classroom. And it's also a unique way to bring the Web into the educational process.

See also...

If you're looking for more grading tools, check out ClassBuilder, GradeNetwork, and SnapGrades.

Those teachers looking for other full-featured teaching utilities might also want to consider Digication, EdHelper, and WiZiQ. YouTube EDU is another video instruction site, similar to TeacherTube.