Need some new tools for your teaching toolkit? We got you covered. We asked educators to tell us about their favorite edtech apps and resources. Here are their top picks, from science and math to reading and social studies and everything in between.
Science and Math
We incorporate hands-on learning in a variety of ways to create real-world connections for students. One way we do this is by creating a weather station at our school with WeatherBug, a free weather app with 18 different weather maps. Students use this tool to gather real-time weather data, which enhances their studies in math, science, geography and technology. Our school is part of a network of 8,000 sites collecting weather data, and we offer this data to our community. — Sue Shepard, principal, Ash Creek Elementary School, Pearce, Ariz.
PhET Interactive Simulations enables students to see and interact with difficult to understand chemistry topics in a meaningful way. Discovery Education Experience is a tremendous resource, but in particular, I am a fan of the SOS — Spotlight on Strategies — feature. These are vetted strategies that are simple to understand and implement. Plickers are cards that allow for a quick assessment for understanding or a vote or a quick review and with the ease of use and valuable data I can pinpoint quickly who may need some extra help with a topic. — Rob Lamb, science teacher, Pattonville High School, St. Louis, Mo.
POWERUP Toys are research tools that are disguised as toys. I use it to teach middle schoolers aerodynamics, the lift equation and systems engineering. My students can apply math concepts and see immediate outcomes in their powered paper airplane designs. I also use Matlab/Simulink computer programming to help my students learn science and engineering. They are feeling more confident and empowered to take on challenges that enhance their knowledge, skills and abilities. — Diallo Wallace, teacher and science department chair, TVT Community Day School, Irvine, Calif.
It was my first day with my group of Tier III second-graders, and they were going around the room and introducing themselves. It was going fine until one student said something surprising.
“I’m Jacob, and I can’t read.”
It surprised me. I learned later that Jacob was a competitive gymnast and a smart kid, but he chose to identify himself as someone who couldn’t read well. I told him that I specialize in reading and that I’d help him fix that. I started him on a phonics-based literacy program, Reading Horizons. This approach to teaching students how to read has been proven to be the most effective way to alleviate some of the challenges that come with having dyslexia.
Three years later, Jacob is so much more confident in himself and his reading abilities. He no longer sees dyslexia as a disability but as something that makes him special. — Hollen Carpenter, reading intervention specialist, Fallston Elementary School, Lawndale, N.C.
We’ve implemented Skoog, a music instrument from Skoogmusic, into our district’s special education program and our performance-based high school band class. The Skoog allows us to incorporate music into curriculum for all of our students. In my work as a special education teacher and now as an instructional/assistive technology integration specialist, it can be challenging to provide all learners with meaningful exploration and learning surrounding music, especially in secondary schools. Everyone loves music, and I feel like our story with Skoog is just starting. Currently, we are in the beginning stages of integrating additional Skoogs into an adaptive music class with learners who are more dependent on support to navigate their day. We hope to continue furthering this program with plans to include the iPad and Skoog in an additional performance-based group as well. — Melissa Piette, assistive and instructional technology integration specialist, Wausau School District, Wausau, Wis.
One of my favorite coaching tools is Edthena. Teachers can upload videos of lessons that they want coaching around and then coaches can go in and leave comments that are connected to the playback of the video. It’s very easy to use and helps elevate teachers’ practice every day.
Another tool that I use when coaching is Notability. I like Notability because it allows me to pull in coaching forms such as time on task analysis, CHAMPS and so forth. It then allows me to digitally mark them up and share them back to the teacher. — Courtney Groskin, learning and technology coach, St. Vrain Valley School District, Longmont, Colo.
ClassLink saves valuable instructional time, creates efficient classroom transitions, and organizes content in a seamless single sign-on solution. Teachers and students spend less time logging into each site and more time on instruction. ClassLink has been a game changer for our district by organizing websites, network drives, and Google all in one portal. — Mark Hess, executive manager of instruction, technology and data analysis, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools, Walled Lake, Mich.
Listenwise helps improve listening skills. It contains thousands of podcasts — mostly from NPR — that are designed for students in grades 5-12. These podcasts cover daily current events, plus science, social studies and ELA topics. The platform also includes quizzes. My students enjoy listening to the podcasts and many of the topics spark debates which lead to more opportunities for speaking and listening in the classroom. More importantly, my students are learning the attributes of composing a great podcast as they begin to curate podcasts of their own. — Michele Downey, English department, Piedmont High School, Piedmont, Ala.
Everyday Speech is a social-emotional learning curriculum, with video lessons to illustrate specific skills. I can pick and choose the skills I want to target. It is available online and as an app. With three groupings of content for different skill levels, I can quickly find relevant content for students of varying ages and ability levels. I like the videos and that there are follow-up activities for review, which is so important.-– Kaylee Dunnigan, speech language pathologist at Eisenhower Center for Innovation, Mesa Public Schools, Ariz.
Xello, a digital K-12 future readiness program, helps our students make the connection between school, career and life success. Every student creates a shareable, online portfolio that showcases their interests, skills and abilities. Our kids love the career exploration feature, which allows them to investigate different career and college options. Students also complete interactive career, personality, and learning style assessments to help them better understand their strengths and passions. — Dana Jackson, executive director of counseling services, Grand Prairie Independent School District, Grand Prairie, Tex.
Kanoe Namahoe is the editorial director of SmartBrief Education and Leadership.
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