Tech Try It! 5 Need-to-Know Tools

Tech Try It! 5 Need-to-Know Tools
Kelly Mendoza August 26, 2020

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What are your “go-to” tech tools that you can’t live without? The ones that make teaching more efficient, effective, and engaging for students? Check out this list of five need-to-know tech tools. These tools can be used in face-to-face or distance learning, spanning most grade levels 3-12. All of the tools have fairly robust free versions for teachers to use with students. Organizations such as Common Sense Education have rated them very well as useful learning tools…as well as being crowd favorites among teachers and students alike. 


A quizzing tool that uses a game-like format. You can create quizzes, which are called “games”, to share with students. They can join with a code on any device. When you start the quiz, students respond to the questions with a countdown clock and exciting music in the background. Students see a scoreboard and leaderboard, inciting a friendly competition. Teachers can also use or remix ready-made games. You can use quizzes live, over video conferencing like Zoom, or assign to students for home study. Consider using Kahoot for a check for understanding, exit ticket, or hooking students into the anticipatory set. You could also use games for social-emotional learning, such as getting a “gut check” or having students select an emoji on how they’re feeling each day. The free format is limited by multiple choice questions, and a subscription offers more question options, collaboration, and reports. So why not get Kahooting? See ideas from Kahoot! on how to use it for distance learning. 


A video-response tool which prompts conversation and dialogue. Teachers can pose a discussion topic or questions to students via short video, share a link and a code for students, and students then record their responses via video (you can set a video time limit). And may I emphasize, it’s easy-to-use? Yep, super easy. Consider starting a discussion prompt for a reading assignment. Or have students react to a current event or issue. You can change settings so students can add video responses to other students’ videos too, prompting asynchronous dialogue. For respectful discussion, consider implementing response guidelines for students, such as: 

  1. Plan your talking points before recording
  2. Respond thoughtfully
  3. Disagree respectfully 

See the Flipgrid blog for helpful tips on using it for distance learning. 


A screencasting tool (records your screen) where you can edit, save, and share screencasts. You can record your screen, yourself on camera, or both! This is definitely an essential tool for distance learning, and you don’t need to be a video pro to use it. Record yourself delivering lessons or walking through assignments. For example, use screencasts to record instruction, and then use synchronous videoconferencing tools such as Zoom for assignment check-ins, discussion, and checks for understanding. Parents will enjoy watching a video version of your weekly newsletter, or hearing an overview of assignment and learning expectations for students each week. For students, consider transforming writing assignments like book reports into screencasts, or having students record their slide presentations. See more ideas on how to use Screencast-o-matic for learning.  


A platform that offers articles on a variety of subjects and current events tailored to five Lexile levels, for grades 3-12. Stories are derived from sources such as the Associated Press, Washington Post, and more. The articles feature diverse perspectives, are standards-aligned, with fresh content added regularly. You can assign the same article at different reading levels, without students feeling left out or different. Articles include reading comprehension quizzes, annotation, and writing prompts. subscription gives you access to their broad content library, collections, instructional support, and reporting. This is a great resource to find high-quality articles for students based at the right reading level. See more on Newsela’s distance learning offerings


A versatile digital portfolio tool in which teachers can assign multimedia activities to students. Students can upload all types of media, whether videos, text, images, and files demonstrate their learning. You can comment on and provide feedback on student submissions. And, you can make it accessible to parents so they have a window on their child’s learning! For example, have students conduct a home science experiment (think the good ol’ volcano experiment combining baking soda and vinegar), and invite students to document the experiment (and explain their learning) in a video. Visit Seesaw’s remote learning suggestions and training. 

Which one of these tools do you already use? Which are you interested in trying? In a time of distance learning and remote learning, various edtech tools can support you and your students. As a lifelong learner, why not try something new?

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