If the past school year has taught us anything about technology in the classroom, it’s that quality trumps quantity every time. We live in a world with no shortage of tech teaching tools quantity-wise, so the key lies in sorting through them all to find the gems.
True, after a year of fully virtual school, many parents, students, and teachers are looking forward to needing less technology next fall.
So, what are the best tech tools and websites for school? You know, the ones that can actually enhance virtual or in-person learning and everything in between?
Best EdTech Tools for K-12
These educational apps and websites make the cut because they are user-friendly and can enrich learning in a valuable way. In other words, they’re not just another bell or whistle for a “techie” classroom: they actually enhance learning in ways that would not be possible without technology.
Plus, by engaging with each of these platforms (though certainly not all at once!), kids can build their tech savvy, learn about online safety, and increase their digital literacy.
This was a favorite of my middle school students; Kahoot! is an interactive platform that transforms traditional hand raising into a game the whole class can enjoy. It makes an appearance in thousands of classrooms for good reason! Ideal for distance learning or jazzing up an in-person activity, the site recently expanded to include pre-made content and tools for group work, assessment, and more.
2. Minecraft Education Edition
From learning to code, to building math and other STEM skills, Minecraft Education Edition has a lot to offer teachers and learners. Kids can bring valuable prior knowledge to the table, and it’s amazing to see their engagement skyrocket because they’re learning alongside the game they love.
Some of you may be thinking - hang on - sure, it’s fun, but can Minecraft be educational? Our answer: absolutely! Check out the many reasons why Minecraft is good for kids.
Recently integrated with Google Slides, PearDeck is an excellent tool for elevating direct instruction to include engaged student participation. Teachers can collaborate in creating great content, add audio and gifs, and seamlessly add engagement components to their lessons.
If students could use a little more face time, FlipGrid is an excellent way to bring it into the classroom, virtual or otherwise. It’s a secure platform that allows students and teachers to record video responses, discussions, presentations, performances, and other video content.
Kids preschool age and up can use Storybird to bring their amazing stories and other creative writing to life. From picture books and comics to poetry and novels, Storybird allows students’ voices to shine and be shared.
6. Google Expeditions and Virtual Tours
Students can feel like they’re there—even in a time when travel is off the table. Plus, the impressive archives of Google Virtual Tours and Expeditions can bring history to life and transport students into hundreds of museums, landmarks, and other fascinating places around the world.
Kids benefit enormously from building de-stressing, focus, and mindfulness strategies, but unfortunately, these skills rarely appear in official curriculum. Headspace is free for teachers to use and offers a number of exercises and resources for bringing mindfulness and mental health awareness into their classrooms.
Teachers looking to record key content will love Edpuzzle, a website that makes it easy to create videos for students to reference at any time. Edpuzzle also allows educators to select existing content from YouTube and post the videos with questions that check for understanding, ensuring that students are engaging with what they watch.
With over 3,700 coding lessons to choose from, it’s no surprise that Tynker is a popular computer science educational site. Teachers who want to bring fun events like Hour of Code into their curriculum or STEM enrichment programs will love how Tynker has something for every experience level.
Podcasts have taken the world by storm, so why not make creating one a class project? Anchor is a free podcasting tool that students can use to dive deeper into virtually any content area and share their insights with an audience.
Reigning supreme among math apps for kids, Prodigy is so engaging, it can get even reluctant mathematicians excited about practicing and studying. Teachers can use Prodigy to extend in-class activities, suggest supplemental practice at home, and track students’ progress.
I know from experience that teaching kids about media bias and finding quality information online can be challenging, and I wish I had known about AllSides! This website presents what multiple news outlets are saying about contemporary issues and news in a way that helps kids get the complete picture.
EmbraceRace provides valuable resources for teachers and organizations working to teach kids about inclusivity and racial equity. These can be tough conversations to have, but they’re critically important. This website provides a wealth of useful articles, books, and other resources to help educators have them in a meaningful way.
Teachers eager to try a “flipped” classroom model should definitely check out ScreenCastify. Its Google integrations make it easy to link to staples like Google Classroom or Slides, and teachers can easily create and share videos with their students. Plus, this tool can be used for sharing personalized feedback with kids, which many teachers report is a time-saving lifesaver.
Talk about rapid-fire assessment! PollEverywhere makes instant formative assessment a breeze. Teachers can use this as a formal quizzing platform, or they can gather anonymous (to their peers) data that can help inform grouping and indicate who might need extra support or an extra challenge.
16. TED Ed
A great TED Talk can do so much more than fill class time with a nifty video. TED Ed offers a plethora of inspirational material, enriching academic content, discussion questions, and more ways to get kids excited about technology and how it can be harnessed to change the world. Secondary students might enjoy creating their own TED Talk, and kids of all ages can broaden their horizons with TED Ed.
17. Explain Everything Whiteboard
Visual learners rejoice! Explain Everything allows teachers to weave interactive examples into lessons so kids can literally see what they mean. Whether illustrating a science concept, grammar trick, or artistic style, the online “whiteboard” feature makes step-by-step examples accessible to kids that they can watch and rewind at their own pace.
Educators can be somewhat divided on this one, and we understand why: as an educational tool, YouTube is best used in the classroom with caution and with careful vetting. Luckily, we've done the research for you with the ultimate guide to the best educational YouTube channels, and there are some real winners on this list!
For the best learning, kids deserve the best tech
Technology is more essential than ever these days, which makes finding quality resources all the more critical to kids’ success.