It’s time to upgrade your classroom! These handy digital tools will engage students, involve parents, and make your life a whole lot easier.
Teaching young minds is exciting, gratifying, honorable — and sometimes, overwhelming. From lesson plans to designing projects, keeping students engaged and keeping them under control, there’s a whole boatload of bits and pieces to keep track of.
While the use of phones or devices in class was once frowned upon, many educators are opening their minds to the possibilities that they present, both in the classroom and at home.
There’s an ever-growing market of educational apps to sift through, though, and figuring out just what they all do is another matter entirely. You already have enough on your plate, so we’ve curated some of the best free teacher resources that won’t be cycling out of the spotlight come tomorrow. They include both apps for teachers and apps for students.
Whatever the subject and whatever the struggle, these applications are sure to keep your curriculum on the cutting edge!
Classroom management tools to make your life easier
Even just from an administrative perspective, being a teacher is a bit of a handful. That’s why we’ve compiled these apps, all designed to help you manage various aspects of your classes and lessons. Let’s take that handful and transfer it to an environmentally-friendly reusable bag (so to speak).
If you ever struggle and stress over creating and organizing your lesson plans, Planboard by Chalk is a lifesaver. Plan out lessons using their intuitive streamlined editor, with the ability to add multimedia attachments, keep track of the curriculum, and build templates to speed up the process in the future. You can even copy lesson plans and schedules to tweak and reuse them next year! Plus, Planboard is accessible from any device, so you can adjust and review lessons any time, any place.
#2: iBooks Author
If you’re running an Apple-based classroom, Apple’s free ebook creation platform is the ideal way to put together a modern textbook just for your class. The editing capabilities of this program are legitimately astounding, on the same level as most paid software!
Design your iBook with a template or from scratch, and bring it to life with images, videos, text styles, and more. Incorporate easily customizable widgets, like interactive images and built-in review questions. Once you’re finished, you can share your textbook with your students’ Apple devices.
Not to mention, iBooks Author even provides accessibility options for students with disabilities. The book itself can automatically take advantage of VoiceOver technology, while you can add accessibility descriptions to any additional widgets and media.
Edmodo is a centralized multi-tool for teachers to compile resources, manage grades, and communicate with students and parents. It’s basically the classroom swiss army knife — instead of a knife and scissors and maybe a pair of tweezers, it folds out into a ruler, whiteboard marker, and attendance sheet.
In a practical sense, it’s kind of like a classroom social media platform. You can share grades with and send direct messages to parents, make announcements and reminders, and interact with your students while they get to interact with each other. With an intuitive commenting system, even the quietest kids get the chance to be heard.
Interactive learning to engage students
Now is where the kids come in. In the end, the focal point of being a teacher is, well, teaching! What’s the point of having a perfectly organized lesson plan if the students aren’t getting much out of it?
Here are some great tools to keep your students engaged and make learning fun.
We’ve all seen at least one TED Talk in our lifetime; those free-to-watch conferences with speakers from Stephen Hawking to Pope Francis. TED-Ed is TED’s youth education initiative, in which students can view original animated shorts created via collaborations between experts and animators.
The creative platform’s videos cover a wide array of subjects at various levels and it has a network of over 250,000 educators worldwide. With provided review quizzes and discussion topics, along with links to further resources to learn more, TED-Ed has over a thousand potential lessons that will both teach and entertain.
#5: Go Noodle
With a focus on kinesthetic learning, Go Noodle hosts hundreds of fun videos to get kids moving. The platform’s guided movement-based games combine various subjects like math and vocabulary with exercise, allowing rambunctious kids to release all of that energy while still learning and participating in class.
Use it as an introductory exercise or a mid-lesson break, or even assign a video as homework with multi-device compatibility. It even features videos that playfully introduce useful mindfulness concepts, helping kids wind down with meditation and breathing exercises
It’s no secret that coding is one of the most profitable and versatile skills you can have in this day and age. Code.org is dedicated to introducing young students to computer sciences through engaging projects and games, featuring well-known characters from beloved franchises like Angry Birds and Minecraft.
While there are individual lessons you can take on the website, Code.org also provides free fundamentals courses designed for any classroom. Implement the lessons as you please, and guide students through projects like making their own minigames.
Let’s get a little bit old-school with this new-school learning! Remember the days of writing out quick review questions on index cards and asking a friend to read them for you? Quizlet is a simple-yet-functional platform for using and sharing flashcards (and doesn’t require a second party).
Make your own study set and share it with your class, or find sets shared by others for subject levels from childhood to college. You can even sync between students’ devices for a collaborative classroom game — and let’s be honest, is there anything that gets students more excited than trivia games?
Nearpod is an app that connects student devices for fun interactive lessons in class. Teachers can import and create lessons in moments, and instantly get every student involved.
View everyone’s answers individually or as a class, and provide instant feedback. It’s a great way to give kids charge over their own learning and how they interact with their education.
#9: Family Playlists
Learning playlists are a learning method based in shared planning. The teacher presents students with a roadmap of lesson plans before the unit even begins, and the students can study and refer to this streamlined compilation of resources as they wish. Family Playlists (hosted by nonprofit organization PowerMyLearning) are kind of an offshoot of the concept; they’re mobile-friendly playlist-based assignments that teach students by helping them teach someone else.
Select or design a playlist for your students, lead them through it in class, and then leave them to teach their family. Family members can send you feedback on how their child did in any language, with provided auto-translation.
The program has been covered by The New York Times, with interviewed parents praising it for personal engagement and the positive effects on children’s attitudes regarding speaking up and sharing their thoughts.
And of course, how could we not mention our own service? One of the most vital early skills to be teaching our younglings is the blessing and privilege of literacy. The sharing of words are what open up the world into something more beautiful and exciting; Lalilo was designed by teachers, for teachers, to promote that wonder.
Students from kindergarten to second grade can progress through creative interactive exercises in phonics, word recognition, comprehension, and more. You can assign specific lessons to individuals or to the whole class, while our AI technology constantly adapts to meet every student’s needs and provide the best learning experience possible.
The teacher dashboard features at-a-glance data on student progress, with the option to print out quick and easy reports to send home to families. Additionally, Lalilo provides weekly in-depth reports on each individual child’s growth so both you and the folks at home can see how the student is thriving, and where they need a bit more practice.
Lalilo is available in via web browser on any device. Use it during class as a complement to your own lessons, or have students log on at home as homework, while the progress reports inform you of how much time each student put in and where.
Don’t just teach a class; lead an experience
From management to teaching, written exercises to physical ones, your classroom can be transformed with just a little help from the digital age. The world is changing, and so is how our children interact with it — so shouldn’t their education change as well?
Go forth with your brand new toolkit and build your class into something even greater. The best part: this toolkit can fit right in your pocket!