10 Teacher Picks for Best Tech Tools
This is the year teachers should be able to borrow, borrow and steal great ideas. This is how teachers get better. I am proud to share a list of tools I borrowed and begged for from other teachers. I also didn’t need to steal any of them as I don’t think there was a better year.
These are the best teacher-tested tools I have identified based on the lessons I gave college students and the responses of 1,461 participants in a virtual learning academy. The survey was conducted between May and December 2020 and included over 70 webinars and online learning sessions. My learning was based on my students’ mistakes and my own experiences. I also received great ideas from educators around the U.S.
These tools will be used and recommended by me regardless of student-level or the way we deliver education in the future.
TOP TECH TOOLS – EDUCATORS
10. Parlay: Parlay allows us to connect with students remotely and facilitate discussion. We can also track the progress of the dialogue. Parlay visually tracks students’ responses and shows them who is contributing. Built-in tools allow teachers to evaluate the frequency of student answers even when they are not present in the same room. Teachers can use this time to assess the depth of student responses at a deeper level. This can also be recorded.
9. Flipgrid: A popular technology tool in schools, Flipgrid has been praised by teachers all over the country for its flexibility and ability to allow students to submit digital projects. It also supports peer and teacher feedback.
8. Edpuzzle: Although I have used Edpuzzle for some time, it has become more important as my content moved online. Edpuzzle allows teachers to make videos interactive by asking students to respond. This makes it easy for them to assess and collect data.
7. Pear Deck: Pear Deck is Google Slides’ equivalent to Edpuzzle for videos. Slides can be interactive and teachers can get immediate feedback.
6. Prezi: Prezi is virtual presentation software that I have used for many years. The latest update allows me to be on one screen with the graphics which makes it more engaging. Prezi is a great tool for teachers to create short explanations or lectures.
5. Screencastify: Every student could be Sal Khan solving problems with explanations. Screencastify was recommended to me first by a teacher from Kenya. She explained how Screencastify helped her improve her math assessments. Screencastify allows students to show their thinking wherever they are working. Screencastify can also be used to reduce cheating because teachers can see students working and explain the problems, rather than recording them.
4. Mural: This is a great tool for virtual collaboration. Mural allows students, teachers, and others to create virtual sticky notes, then organize them and reorganize them instantly. In-person meetings that capture the collective knowledge of the group visually are the best. The mural is a great alternative to having to be there with colleagues or students. Even better, you don’t have to go back and resuscitate or clean up the evidence from the meeting. The artifact is called the Mural. Jamboard is being used similarly by many teachers.
3. Gimkit was created by a high school student to improve on Kahoot! Gimkit allows teachers and students to create question sets they can answer over and again. Students can compete against each other in a game that is great for review and surface learning. Gimkit makes it easy for students to work at their own pace and allows them to repeat answers.
2. Mentimeter and Slido are excellent tools for gathering feedback from groups. I have ranked them together. These are used almost every week in professional learning as well as in my classes. Slido lets participants ask questions and upvote each other. Although there are other similar tools available, Slido is simple and free. Mentimeter lets teachers and students collect real-time data about questions that they have in the form of word clouds, rankings, and other scales. These are great conversation starters and allow everyone to contribute to the collective wisdom.
1. Learning management system: An LMS can help reduce stress for students, teachers, and parents. If you have a list like this, it would be counterproductive. A good LMS will help organize all your tools into one place.
While I love Schoology and Canvas, I also love Google Classroom. However, I’m sure many teachers will be able to do miracles with Google Classroom. Google Classroom is truly free only if it doesn’t require significantly more human capital in terms of time and energy than a paid-for-service platform such as Schoology or Canvas. Canvas has been an invaluable tool in managing the chaos and learning during this school year.
I’ve taught virtual, taught professional learning in many time zones, delivered content online, and taught students in masks together with others Zooming in due quarantine, Covid, personal preference, or other reasons. Although online learning and teaching are still the best, it’s not possible to replace face-to-face learning. However, like many teachers and administrators, my ability to facilitate learning in previously unimaginable circumstances has helped me become a more effective teacher. We have learned a lot from this school year, thanks to our desperation. All we need is a few tools to make space for ourselves to breathe.