You’re practically swimming in “must-try” tool lists right now—we know. That’s why we created this unique one for you. These tools can be used in almost every classroom, from kindergarten to high school, and teach students important skills that they’ll need in our modern world, including coding, creativity, and kindness.
As you prepare for 2017, keep these tools on your personal “must-try” list; you may just find that you’ve been waiting for them all along.
Students hate taking quizzes and tests—and you hate grading them. With Quizalize, everyone wins. You build your own quiz, send it to your students, and get instant data about how everyone is doing. You can also turn your quizzes into a team game, and students can track how the two teams are doing in real time.
The best part is that you can choose from 20,000 pre-made quizzes if you’re running low on time, and you and your students can take them on a laptop, computer, tablet, or mobile phone.
Finally, Quizalize provides you with data about improvement over time, making prep for parent-teacher conferences a breeze.
The Great Kindness Challenge
In a 2016 kindness survey, 57 percent of teachers said that they don’t feel the American school system places enough emphasis on kindness and respect. While you can’t control what the school does, you can control what happens in your classroom. This the perfect tool to bring kindness to your students in 2017.
The app, built for students from kindergarten to high school, is a great way to teach kindness to your students. Students are tasked with completing 50 kindness challenges over the time period of your choosing—perhaps from the first week back at school in 2017 through to the end of the school year.
The app is free to download and you can print a checklist and toolkit from their website as well. Hang these in the classroom so students remember to complete their kindness tasks whenever possible.
If you thought virtual reality was a passing phase, think again. This growing industry is inching its way into education, and Google Cardboard is the first to provide teachers with an affordable way to bring it into their classroom.
Google Cardboard, which is literally a piece of cardboard that folds up into a virtual reality headset, is only $15 and compatible with most smartphones. Once you’ve gotten your headset set up and strapped your smartphone in, you can use a variety of apps to dive into a new world. Students can go under the ocean, into space, and much more.
Scratch for Kids
This app, built by coders at MIT, is considered one of the best for learning code—especially if you’ve never coded before. Their ScratchEd Community allows you to access stories, tips, and information from other educators teaching code with this tool. ScratchEd was developed and is supported by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, making it a resource you can trust.
There are also Scratch Educator Meetups, where you can talk face to face with other educators who want to learn more and share their ideas.
If you don’t have time to learn and prep specific lessons, your students can hop on and take their own tutorial to get started. It’s a great option for free time in the classroom, engaging the students who need to be challenged.
Bring out your students’ creative sides with this web app. Students can use it to create comic strips, mind maps, videos, and more. The idea is simple: Within the tool, you send students an assignment, such as “Create a 3-minute video about Rome, including audio clips, history about the city, and images of what it looks like now.”
You can include resources for students to use along with a due date, and when they’re ready to create, they’ll have access to templates that help them jump-start the project. Students then create their video right within Creaza and send it to you for assessment, which you also do within the tool.
While this does come at a cost—$155 per year—it comes out to a relatively inexpensive monthly cost for what students can do with it. If you’re a project-heavy teacher, this is the perfect tool for engaging students and allowing them to be creative.
This simple, easy-to-use app brings collaboration and formative assessment to any classroom. With the MimioMobile app, you can use your classroom mobile devices and laptops for both formative and summative assessments, as well as collaborative and one-to-one learning. This helps students build their knowledge across all curricular areas, while giving teachers a more in-depth understanding of the students’ comprehension.
Whether you prefer to have two students working together or split the classroom into larger teams, collaborative learning helps students develop communication and critical thinking skills. This convenient app is available on almost any mobile device, including Chromebooks, and connects in seconds to the MimioStudio software. You can subscribe either by classroom or for the entire school, and even try it out free for 30 days to see if it’s the right choice for you.
There are hundreds of tools for teachers to use in the classroom now, and it’s hard to decide what’s right for your students and what isn’t. These tools are at the top of most “must-try” lists because they’re valuable in almost every single classroom—learning to code is quickly becoming necessary for young kids and kindness will never be unimportant. Use these tools to keep students excited and bring your lessons to life.
Bio: Jessica Thiefels is the editor of Whooo’s Reading and an education blogger who has been featured on PBS.org, EdTech Digest, and Daily Genius. Her favorite books growing up were My Side of the Mountain and The Giver. She hopes to inspire a similar love of reading in students, while helping educators give the best to their students.