It’s official, this upcoming school year will be quite different than any we’ve experienced before. New schedules, procedures, and health and safety standards due to COVID-19 have left many of us buzzing with overwhelm. While we can’t change these circumstances, we have researched the best tools for educators who will be teaching in classroom settings, via distance learning, or a combination of the two.
Most schools determined the Learning Management System (such as Google Classroom or Blackboard) they would use as the main hub for the school community this past spring, and we hope the tools we discuss below will further aide in creating a happy and successful school year for you and your students.
Here are our top recommendations for teaching tools that will help with communication, engagement, accessibility, and interactive learning for you, your students, and their families.
To enable simple parent-teacher communication… ClassTag. ClassTag is a free, streamlined communication platform for teachers and parents to communicate with ease. It allows schools to reach parents according to their preferences via email, SMS, apps, or web.
To communicate with multilingual families… TalkingPoints. TalkingPoints is a non-profit organization providing high-quality, accessible translation for underserved and multilingual families. TalkingPoints is free for teachers and allows you to communicate via the web or mobile app with families in 100+ languages.
To facilitate robust class discussion… Parlay. Parlay puts your students and their unique perspectives at the heart of learning and gives you the data that you need to help them grow. Parlay offers peer feedback and includes inclusive options such as secret identities and digital hand raises to increase student voices and encourage a diversity of perspectives.
To use accessibility features for all… Microsoft’s accessibility features. Microsoft has developed built-in accessibility tools and features in its products and services, designed for people of all abilities. This includes innovative tools for neurodiversity and people with learning disabilities, such as dictation and Windows Hello sign-in and applications to improve reading and writing skills.
To engage in interactive learning… Kahoot. Kahoot is a popular game-based learning platform that allows you to build quizzes from scratch or use the provided templates. You can use Kahoot as a fun, engaging tool to introduce new topics, review content, and identify topics that need follow-up. Kahoot is suitable for use both in the classroom and via distance learning, as you have the option to host live games via video or in class on a big screen.
To explore the world through education… National Geographic Education’s Learn at Home collection. National Geographic has a free resource library where students can virtually visit different parts of the world and learn about geographic features, population, climate, ecology, biodiversity, culture, and history. There are also live broadcasts of Explorer Classroom, connecting students with National Geographic Explorers.
To keep track of time at home on in the classroom… Time Timer. Allow us to mention our very own line of products, designed to empower everyone to conquer time! Time Timer visual timers can help you stay on track during lessons, provide a simple method for showing the time left for students during activities, quizzes, or tests, and help students to improve focus and concentration. In the classroom, the Time Timer Original 12” or Time Timer MAX are ideal options for everyone to see the timer, depending on the size of the space. At home, set up a Time Timer in the background of your video lessons with students, use the Time Timer Watch PLUS for your personal time tracking, or check out one of our (currently free!) Time Timer apps for you and your students to download on personal devices and use wherever you are.
We wish you and your students a safe and enjoyable school year, and hope that these suggestions will make it even better!