A directory of high quality tech tools for teaching
These resources are among the best of the best because they can be used to intentionally:
- increase student engagement & independence
- celebrate student voice
- build discourse collaborative thinking skills
- develop academic vocabulary
- make complex concepts visual & explicit
- encourage creativity & whimsy
*You can visit the homepages for many resources by clicking on the icons in each snapshot below.
- an interactive lesson platform
Nearpod is best for:
- introducing new content
- reviewing familiar concepts
- formatively assessing student background knowledge or understanding
Best features: During Nearpod live sessions, students are able to self-pace. This means the teacher is able to circulate and do formative checkins of student understanding.Teachers can embed videos, images, and practice opportunities like matching exercises, practice quizzes, short answer responses, polls, and the sketch activity feature that allows students to sketch their responses to prompts and share their ideas to a viewable class gallery.
Troubleshooting tip: Students need to name themselves with their real names for the most effective classroom management.
- an online forum where students can record, edit, and post short video clips
Flipgrid is best for:
- celebrating student voice and collaborative learning
- a variety of instructional purposes: book talks, exit & entry tickets, guided oral language practice (so kids pronounce and process new academic vocabulary)
Best features: Students who are uncomfortable being on camera can artistically pixelate and blur their features using Flipgrid's editing tools. Flipgrid's editing and command buttons are user-friendly for students. Also, students can respond to each other's videos once they're posted, which fosters engagement and discourse skills.
Troubleshooting tip: To maintain a positive classroom climate it's helpful to be very explicit about the tone and nature of feedback students give to each other while using this tool.
To help students access a Flipgrid class topic for the first time, here's a Student Flipgrid Tutorial with step-by-step instructions.
- a browser-based platform where teachers can upload videos + guiding questions and students can make timestamped comments about the videos/respond to each other
- really cool
Vialogues is best for:
- scaffolding digital discourse
- getting students to consider and connect to multimedia texts in new ways
- making student thinking about multimedia texts visible
- formative assessments of where students are at in their understanding
Best features: When students add comments Vialogues timestamps their responses with the exact moment in the video that led to that thinking. As student comments accrue, their responses stream on the side of the video as it plays.
Troubleshooting tips: Note that students can click return to post their comments or hit the control key (both methods work). Double texts (video + comments) could be overwhelming to some learners and may require multiple read or watch-throughs.
- an online tool used to create group trivia games
Kahoot is best for:
- pre-assessing students' background knowledge
- reviewing before exams
Best features: Students can Kahoot individually or in teams using their devices. They get real-time feedback by seeing the answer of each question right after it's played. Kahoots have a built-in point tracker and set timings; games can be student-run, allowing the teacher to circulate between groups to hear their thinking and listen for misconceptions.
Troubleshooting tip: Kahoots are made up entirely of true/false or multiple choice-style questions, so it's worth careful planning to incorporate questions that target different depths of knowledge.
- an online collaboration platform
- works like an interactive bulletin board or digital chalk talk
- can be used synchronously or asynchronously with an access code.
Padlet is best for:
- honoring authentic student voice
- asking students to share their thinking about a topic in images, voice recording, or words.
Best features: Students can "love" each other's posts on padlet, which for many students builds engagement and provides a seamless extension of their existing social media literacy skills.
Troubleshooting tip: Management-wise, it's a good idea to require students to sign into Padlet with the names they've asked you to call them (to avoid anonymous posting and increase accountability).
- provides a way to present information audiovisually and interactively.
- provides a free associative platform for students to connect ideas
ThingLink is best for:
- creating virtual tours and immersive presentations
- ex: a science teacher could upload a 360 degree picture of a biome, then overlay audio clips, weblinks, text boxes, and supplementary images to help students learn more about each element of that biome
Best features: Viewers of a finished ThingLink presentation have the option to turn on virtual reality mode. Students in VR mode on their phones can put their cell in a cardboard VR headset for their visual tour (the SLHS Library has a class set available for checkout thanks to a grant funded last year).
Troubleshooting tip: ThingLink's free teacher plan does not allow for offline viewing of presentations, so students must have consistent wifi if you're sharing ThingLinks for homework or during remote instruction.
Google Draw App
- a Chrome extension
- adds annotation tools and shape drawer options to google docs
Google Draw is best for:
- annotating digital texts for patterns (ex: identifying parts of speech, marking shifts in diction and tone, tracking motifs or symbolism)
Best features: Google Draw adds tools to the existing toolbar in google docs. Since many of our students are already proficient with Google docs they tend to transition more easily into the new drawing tools.
Troubleshooting tip: If you're having classes code a piece of text it is helpful to either create a key/legend on the google doc beforehand, or plan in a mini-lesson that teaches students how to create a key/legend.
- a website that allows teachers and students to create sets of digital flashcards
Quizlet is best for:
- for introducing, developing, and practicing academic vocabulary
- helping students experiment with different study modalities and reflect on which work best for them
Best features: Quizlet has great features for teachers and for students, including the ability to put images on each flashcard to help students visualize and understand. Students can choose different practice modes to learn and review academic terms, including flashcard mode, matching, write-in practice, self-quizzes, even spelling.
Troubleshooting tip: Students need to create their own free quizlet accounts using their student email credentials in order to access the full menu of tools.
- an Apple-compatible app
- allows students to annotate texts, sketch out their thinking, and write or type in responses on their iPad screens.
Notability is best for:
- building annotation skills across disciplines
- teaching students how to actively process academic texts
- interacting with text-based evidence during research units
Best features: Notability allows students to use the split screen feature on their iPads to see their Notability notes as well as additional texts (like a video, a website, or a textbook page that they are gleaning information from).
Troubleshooting tip: To be free of tech issues while using Notability, it's helpful to teach students how to update the app by reinstalling it periodically.
- provides a platform for digital science simulations
- offers free banks of pre-made simulations
- provides the tools to create your own simulation
- created by University of Colorado Boulder
PhET Simulations are best for:
- modeling Earth Science, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Math scenarios
- borrowing or creating engaging, dynamic digital models for physical and chemical scenarios, including electricity, flow patterns, atomic bonds, force and gravity.
Troubleshooting tips: The PhEt site provides open-access to a number of existing simulations at a variety of grade levels, but leave yourself some practice time to create a brand new simulation (I'd be happy to help with this!).
- a browser-based platform that allows users to create comic strips
Best features include:
- can be used for visual storytelling and storyboarding
- aligns to Common Core priority standards since features include elements of setting, dialogue, characters
- could be used for classroom community building exercises as class intro/opener
Troubleshooting tips: Pixton is user-friendly and also has a a lot of features/tools. It's a good idea to plan in intentional time for students to experiment with the tools the first time they work in Pixton.
- an online polling tool
- teachers can create polls that incorporate Likert scales, multiple choice responses, and/or word cloud response
- polls can be done in real-time with students
Poll Everywhere is best for:
- formatively assessing understanding
- gathering feedback from groups
- gauging a group's opinions towards a topic
Best features: Poll everywhere can be an abbreviated and fun way to celebrate student voice. As results post on the screen, kids can practice numeracy and inference skills by analyzing the graphs and charts that Poll Everywhere generates from their class's poll data.
Troubleshooting tips: To create equity for students without personal devices, the teacher has the option to distribute printed QR codes and use a single central device to scan student's votes (the QR codes read "A/B/C/D" depending which side of the code is facing up).
Adobe Spark: Pages
- a free design app
- used to create slide panel multimedia presentations and websites
Adobe Spark Pages is best for:
- professional-looking visual storytelling
Troubleshooting tips: Initially the choices offered by tools in Spark could be overwhelming to students unfamiliar with the program. It would be a good idea to plan in low-stakes practice with the tools before students start their final products, and also to model for students how to do storyboarding to plan for their visual story.
Teachers, are you interested in trying one of these tools?!
- designing a lesson to incorporate a new tool
- troubleshooting all the tech steps so the lesson goes smoothly
- co-teaching a lesson
- teaching a guest lesson
- teaming with small groups of students to use a tech tool for differentiation
- gathering feedback from students on how the tech tool worked for their learning
Let me know what your instructional needs and goals are!