Engaging Students in Learning

Interactives refers to any website or app where a student can interact with the content that is on the page. Interactive websites are designed to enhance online learning opportunities and engage students in authentic learning processes. They incorporate a wide variety of content, including online video, quiz features, games, and interactive assignments. Some are skill based, but many of these will take a student through a whole lesson (and sometimes a whole unit). These sites can support best practices in a variety of ways in classrooms. This Thing will spotlight some that are well known for their standards based curricular activities.


While many interactives have multiple kinds of ways students can interact, it helps to think about the types of interactive sites that are available to help match them to instructional needs. Browse each of the categories listed below by taking a brief look at the example interactives. Which of these might have applications for your classroom?

Type of Interactive 



Study/practice web sites and apps

    Magic Cube

These range from basic drill-and-practice apps to sites where students can create flashcards and
play learning games.


Vocabulary Spelling City

Manga High

Great Grammar Practice Sites

Lessons with multimedia 


Students can progress through a lesson that is sometimes accompanied by video, formative questions, or other activities.

Annenberg Interactives

Interactive Learning Sites K-5



These sites allow students to manipulate variables to determine effects on outcomes.



Kinetic City

Mapping and timeline interactives 


Students can interact with maps or view images
of real places. Timelines allow students to get a perspective on events of the past or create their own. 

National Geographic MapMaker



Virtual Worlds 


These interactives allow students to learn programming, solve problems, and sometimes interact with other students virtually. 




When considering interactives, it helps to think about several different factors, including:

  • the availability and reliability of technology for your classroom and possibly outside of the classroom (if students are expected to use the interactive from home)

  • the purpose for using the interactive-what is the goal or objective?

  • the level of thinking the interactive promotes

  • the ease of use of the interactive - will there be a learning curve you need to address?

  • the appropriate age/grade/subject level for the interactive

  • the amount of time you expect students to spend using this interactive

Simulations, games, videos, and other interactives can help students visualize and understand concepts that are difficult to grasp. At other times, a non-technology option may be a better choice after considering the factors listed above.

Visit the Additional Resources Page for other educational resources in the Google family (Google World Wonders, Art project, Google Earth, and Google Lit Trips).

Check out additional resources for Interactives

Learning Objectives

After completing this Thing, the educator will:

  • Know how to locate appropriate learning resources that will engage the student

  • Understand how to use a variety of learning resources to support student learning and comprehension

  • Make connections with technology standards and best practice

  • Transfer the learning to professional practice by applying these resources to support learning



21 Things Assignment:

1. Select an interactive resource from two of the four different types listed. Select these to enhance one or more lessons you teach.

2. Briefly describe why you picked each one and how you expect they will impact student learning and/or achievement.

3. Take the very short survey giving feedback for this Thing.


Addressing the ISTE Standards For Educators

2b. Advocate for equitable access to educational technology, digital content and learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students.
2c. Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, 
evaluation, curation and adoption of 
new digital resources and tools for learning.

5a. Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
5b. Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.

6a. Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.
6b. Manage the use of technology and student learning strategies in digital platforms, virtual environments, hands-on makerspaces or in the field.
6c. Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.
6d. Model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections.

7a. Provide alternative ways for students to demonstrate competency and reflect on their learning using technology.
7b. Use technology to design and implement a variety of formative and summative
assessments that accommodate learner needs, provide timely feedback to students
and inform instruction.



1. Cues, Questions and Advance Organizers;
2. Assigning Homework and Practice;
3. Nonlinguistic Representations;
4. Identifying Similarities and Differences;
5. Generating and Testing Hypotheses

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