Teachers have always been a portion of the population to rise to meet any challenge. The COVID-19 crisis has proven to be this generation’s greatest educational obstacle. What other group found itself forced to convert to working and instructing others online within the time span of a few days? We adapted. We were flexible. And we proved our value as we overcame this challenge. It was our time to shine. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were required to augment their instructional techniques and convert to remote learning environments, all in a matter of days. This left teachers scrambling to find resources that were convenient and freely accessible to them and their students. The good news? These resources, such as ReadTheory, are still helping teachers and parents today. Let’s discuss some of our favorite resources and create a list of our top digital learning tools.
Video Conferencing and Communication Tools
- Zoom is a video conferencing software typically used by those in the corporate world. The program allows users to schedule conference times then send out invites to others who then log on at the designated time. This gives the teacher the opportunity to schedule class times or office hours. They can be ready when students log on. From the student perspective, they can choose to share video and/or audio as well as being able to type and share. I have also seen some very creative teachers that have incorporated multiple devices into their Zoom sessions. These involve setting up on their laptops/computers so kids see their faces. Then logging on again with their phone which is positioned to view their work (typically a lapboard or piece of paper). This duality allows the students to see their instructor, something I think we all take for granted. Kids like to see those who care about them. For most of us, we didn’t get to tell our kids goodbye, they left us one day and were told not to return the next. For some of these students, we were the only bright spots in their tumultuous lives, and they were being told they can’t see us. Having a zoom session even if it’s just to check in with them can go a long way even today if students can’t come to class or are learning remotely.
- Remind — A communication app that allows teachers to securely message students and their parents with important updates without giving out personal information .
- Pear Deck — Google Slides add-on that allows teachers to make their GoogleSlide presentations interactive. Fantastic for presenting remotely because it gives real-time feedback while you advance through the presentation.
- Class Dojo — Communication and classroom management app geared toward younger students. It allows students to earn points but also creates a feed similar to Facebook that allows teachers to update their students’ guardians.
- Class Craft — Communication and classroom management app similar to ClassDojo geared toward upper-middle and high school students. Graphics compare to World of Warcraft making it a hit with the older age group.
- SeeSaw — Recording website that makes it easy to share videos with students. It allows students to create digital portfolios of their own learning.
- JamBoard — Digital whiteboard app that is shareable through the Google Platform.
- Glide — Create your own app that you can share with your students. Easily done through a spreadsheet. This would be great for uploading assignments.
- Skype — One of the most popular and well-known VOIP (Voice Over IP) solutions. Skype has a video conferencing feature that allows you to contact anyone with the app and a WiFi signal.
- Google Hangouts — Another Google product that allows you to video conference with your students by giving out a specific code.
- Playmeo — Interactive group games database. Groups are assigned by the teacher. This is great to build class culture even when you are remote.
- Post It — An app allows you to post digital sticky notes. This would be a great discussion board type activity.
- Flipgrid — Create short videos that will engage students with their learning. Students can then create videos to reply. You’re able to add stickers so the videos are more fun.
- Insert Learning — An app that allows teachers to insert annotations in any online text. This would be awesome for text-based questions. Math teachers could also use this to insert equation steps.
Progress Monitoring and Data Management
For younger grades, I found EasyCBM to be especially helpful. It gives you data on fluency and lower level math skills. Students can log on from home and take the assessments needed. The teacher then receives the score and it is graphed for easy comparison. For middle school, try Avenue PM. It takes a few days for accounts to be approved on this website but the program is worth the short wait. For highschool, TeacherEase seems to be the best for upper levels. It is a straight forward LMS system that is free to use. ReadTheory also has features to track students’ progress and generate reports about the entire class. It also automatically grades every quiz and provides teachers with information about current Lexile levels. Read this article to learn how to ideally use ReadTheory for remote teaching.
Other recommended tools for (or with) progress monitoring and grading:
- Edulastic — Provides assessment feedback and data tracking. They also offer technology-enhanced assessment tools that provide student data for analysis.
- MasteryConnect — Benchmarking and progress monitoring site that integrates with Socrative
- Parlay Ideas — Inspire meaningful discussions and access usable data .
- nearpod — Formative assessment coupled with digital media.
- Mangahigh is a mathematics specific tool that is offering free access for schools affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. As an English teacher, I have never used this program, however, from what I have researched, it is targeted for all age groups (K-12). Teachers can dictate which activities their students need the most. Then Mangahigh tracks and incorporates into a variety of data charts and tables. They support standards from around the globe making the program usable in various countries.
- ReadTheory — a free, online, adaptive reading comprehension program.
- Green Brothers — Green brothers, John and Hank, make short videos on a variety of topics for each subject area. Quick videos that are engaging and informative.
- The Smithsonian Museums — The US Smithsonian Museums offer various interactive features from their exhibits. This would be great as a virtual field trip opportunity.
- PBS Learning — Public Television offers various digital activities for the arts. Music and visual arts lessons that are accessible.
- Jumpstart — Geared for preschool-aged children, this offers activities to help build foundational skills. This would also be great for special education.
- Energize Schools — Curricula developed to center around the sciences. It offers interactive experiments to help engage.
- Great Minds — Free resources for all subject areas available for download for non-commercial use.
- Experiments With Google — Digital experiments using art, music, ect. Highly engaging activities that cross curricularize.
- TED under 20 or ED-TED — Videos on various topics. These are very thought-provoking and would be great as a choose your own activity, let students decide which topic they are interested in and then respond.
- OER Commons — Open Educational Resources compiled in a central location. Free to use in most cases. Check the Creative Content license to verify usage stipulations.
- Khan Academy — Curricula for all age groups (currently offering schedules for each level for homeschooling). Amazing review activities that are engaging.
- BrainPop — Videos and activities uniquely targeted for various age groups and subjects. Highly informative and engaging especially for younger students.
- Learn American English Online – A tool for ESL with a huge content library serving beginners to advanced English learners.
- Numerade — Offers videos from professors and TAs on a variety of STEM subjects. Content on Numerade is broken down by both subject matter and by textbook, providing students with support for studying and for specific homework questions. It is updated regularly to add to their 300,000 current videos.
- Brainly – Peer-to-peer platform designed to help students and teachers solve questions together.
Homework Management and Online LMS
- The best homework management tool is Google Classroom. This free platform for Google districts allows teachers to create virtual classrooms and share curriculum while also assigning work. Google Classroom is great because it not only timestamps when it is submitted but you can also view when the assignment was edited by the student.
- Edmodo — Online program similar to Google Classroom, allows teachers to post and grade assignments. A bit more basic in design but still effective.
- Moodle — Online program similar to Google Classroom, allows teachers to post and grade assignments via modules. This is used by a lot of higher education institutions so it’s geared to older students.
- StartMe — Collective organization for students and teachers to keep websites saved for quick and easy access.
- Webjets — Curate collections that fit and focus on your content. Allows students to produce their own documents and share with the teacher.
- Equity Maps — Visual representation of who does the most talking. This is especially important when video chatting with students because you can’t “see” who dominates as easily.
- McGraw Hill — Online textbooks and remote learning resources for all grade levels and subjects.
- Discovery Education — Videos and supplemental materials on a variety of subjects. These activities are great and can be assigned to classes.
- Clever — Single sign-on access to a variety of sites (including ReadTheory), eliminates the need for multiple passwords.
- Wakelet — Can be used as a custom curricular curator that allows teachers and students to save videos, articles, and other web files to a central location in a collection.
Teacher Aides: helps assist teachers who teach remotely
- Hapara — Helps teachers using Google Classroom by offering training webinars from other educators.
- Genially — Offers infographics and interactive photos online for lessons. For a limited time they are offering various free templates.
- CK12 — This is an open source interface that allows for easy distribution of online materials including textbooks, flashcards, videos, and activities.
- Charts Bin — Create your own digital maps and share them with students.
- Tableau — Make your data charts come to life by using Tableau’s tools.
Digital Field Trips: Travel the world without ever leaving home
- We Are Teachers- Slime in Space — Making at home slime is a great science experiment for students. Take it a step further by seeing how that slime would behave in space.
- Atlanta Zoo — See the adorable pandas at the Atlanta Zoo when their live feeds are on.
- San Diego Zoo — The San Diego Zoo has a variety of videos for their exhibits. See how their keepers care for the varying species.
- Georgia Aquarium — The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the US. They offer rotating exhibits and offer a webcam for those who cannot attend the aquarium in person.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium — See the jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This is a live camera so you can view their adventures in real time.
- US National Aquarium — The National Aquarium offers self-guided, interactive, virtual tours of their exhibits, including one on American Samoa and it’s unique wildlife.
- Seattle Aquarium — Seattle Aquarium offers virtual tours of their marine exhibits. They also offer various live webcams so students can view harbor seals and sea otters in real time.
- Farm 360 — Ever wonder how your food is grown? Take a tour of a variety of farms and see how food is grown, processed, and packaged for your consumption.
- Nature Lab — Over 500 scientists have created a virtual lab to help students discover how nature works.
- US Census — Research population distribution through the US Census website. Great way to tie in the importance of completing the Census for American teachers.
- World Cities — International cities ready for students to immerse themselves while at home. They also offer VR tours making the experience even more realistic.
- Alice Keeler — Alice Keeler is the Queen of Google, anything you need to know about the platform you can find on her site. She has documents and videos with instructions as well as unique assignments.
- CommonSense — Central location to search for EdTec apps and tools. If you need something specific that’s not listed here check out this site.
We’re here if you need us
Our team is here for any questions or concerns that you might have. We continuously post content to ease the lives of both teachers and students, so stay tuned!
Amber holds a BA in English with teacher licensure. She is certified to teach grades 6-12 but currently teaches high school students in an alternative setting. She is Google Levels 1-2 certified, SmartBoard certified, and Newsela certified. In her free time, she mostly enjoys playing with her dogs or plan for her upcoming wedding.