As a former teacher turned writer for an educational software company, I have learned several things over my years in these two industries.
- Teachers need easy-to-use, easy-to-incorporate classroom resources.
- Technology resources are usually the easiest to access.
- Teachers like things that are FREE.
- Technology can be used at all grade levels and in all subjects.
I recently posed a question to all of my teacher friends as to what websites and apps they use in their classrooms. I was blown away by the responses I received; I couldn't believe the number of free, quality, and readily available resources out there for the taking. However, the downside is that it can be overwhelming to navigate all of these websites and apps, and with precious little free time to dedicate to that kind of research, many teachers are often unaware of these potential gold mines.
Okay, most of you have probably already heard of Khan, but if you haven’t used it, now is the time to check it out. Khan Academy offers courses through a series of video content. Though its roots are in mathematics instruction (and still favors the subject), Khan offers courses in the sciences, arts and humanities, economics, computing, and even test prep. Use an entire course series or choose your favorites to help reinforce the lessons you teach in your classroom.
Similar to Khan Academy in that it offers instruction through video content, Crash Course offers more of the abridged lessons of any given subject. Created by bestselling author John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns) and his brother Hank, their videos feature entertaining animations, expert research, and top quality production. The videos are a great way to reinforce classroom lessons, as well as preview or review a topic.
Though produced by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), this site is not just for English teachers. Use the search filters to find comprehensive lesson plans (which include state and national standards in ELA) for a range of subjects/themes. You can also search by grade level, lesson plan type, and learning objective. Each lesson plan includes resources and preparation, the instructional plan, related resources, and a comments tab that provides feedback from teachers who used that particular lesson plan.
The Physics Classroom
Aptly named, anything you’ve ever taught or wanted to teach in your physics classroom can be found in the Physics Classroom with its animated tutorials, practice review tests, and printable worksheets all at the click of a button. You can create quizzes from their bank of questions, view over 150 lab ideas, and use Teacher Toolkits for a plethora of physics-related lessons at any grade level.
“Our mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more human and informed citizenry.” The mission statement of this resource says it all. Use the Topics, Subject, and Resource Type filters to discover the materials you can use in your lesson plans. Once you have narrowed your search, explore all that the topic has to offer in supplemental material through videos, PDFs, and other instructional tools.
The Biology Corner
This extremely easy-to-navigate site includes downloadable instructional material on every biology topic you can imagine, from anatomy to ecology to genetics. Explore activities in each subtopic, noting the recommended grade level and time required to complete each. The site also includes fully organized classes in Biology 1 & 2, AP Biology, and Anatomy 1 & 2.
Don’t be fooled by the name; this is not a site where teachers create puzzles. Instead—and luckily—it is a site dedicated to helping teachers make awesome educational videos. Within the videos, teachers can track when students are watching and embed questions for comprehension. Not feeling creative? No problem. You can use videos from Khan, Crash Course, YouTube, and other sources as well. In fact, EDpuzzle has a bank of preexisting vides from which you can choose. The easy-to-understand tutorial will have you creating helpful classroom media in no time.
Assign news and non-fiction reading at every grade level and in every core subject; assign reading quizzes and writing prompts; create annotations: these are just some of the incredible features instructors can use in Newsela. Use the search filters to find articles by reading skill level, language, or special features, including elementary level articles and articles containing the Max6 reading level. A Newsela Pro version is available for those looking to pay for additional features, such as tracking student progress against Common Core standards, annotation share and reply, performance data reports, and more.
While ReadWorks and Newsela have a lot in common, the differences are enough that you may choose one over the other depending on content availability and search options. ReadWorks contains both prose and non-prose, fiction and non-fiction material. Additionally, where Newsela only shares content from the 2nd grade through 12th, ReadWorks contains content from K-12. You can search for pieces that contain human-voice audio, StepReads, paired texts, informational texts, and so much more. With texts in Social Studies, Science, ELA, Skills & Strategies, and even a Special Collections accumulation from the American Museum of Natural History, this site is a one-stop shop for your literary and informational content needs.
Teachers Pay Teachers
Yes, the majority of the material on this site has a price tag attached (which is usually quite small); however, there is a plethora of free resources any search-savvy teacher can discover. In the search fields, select the Free option, and from there, you can whittle your results down to find materials at no cost to you. Bonus points: post some of your own original and brilliant lesson plans to earn a few extra bucks.
Remind (iOS and Android)
This safe and easy-to-use app allows you to text reminders and notices to individual students, student groups, and entire classes without giving out personal contact information. You can also set up parent/guardian contacts for information you want to send home without the students seeing it. Put in your contact hours, send file attachments such as photos and handouts, and schedule announcements to send automatically.
DuoLingo (iOS, Android, Windows)
If you’re a World Language teacher, this is the app for you. Students can bolster the lessons they learn in Spanish, German, Chinese and many more languages with this fun, interactive app that tests them on basic language concepts all the way through mastery. With its game-like feel, students are motivated to move through each level to earn points and maintain streaks. DuoLingo is also the creator of TinyCards, an app that allows you to make your own or use preexisting sets of flashcards on a range of topics.
Prodigy Math Game (iOS, Android, Chrome)
Though they have a website, the app is where it’s at. Geared toward math learners in grades 1-8, this platform provides a fun way for students to learn essential math skills. Parents can play along, and teachers can track progress with built-in data assessment tools. The student placement assessment ensures students are starting out at the appropriate learning level, and alignment with Common Core and other educational standards sets makes this app a necessary tool in supporting mathematics education.
Hopscotch (iOS only)
“Downloaded over 10 million times,” Hopscotch teaches young learners (approx. ages 9-13) how to code through the creation of their very own games. Students can use the built-in video tutorials to learn the ins and outs of creating customized projects. Upgrades that include additional tutorials and features are available for a fee.
Haiku Deck (iOS only)
Teachers and students alike can use this app to create unique and professional-looking presentations. Built-in design templates along with millions of images transform your lesson ideas into story boards, charts, photographic journals, and more that will dazzle your audience. Your iPhone even acts as a remote when you are in presentation mode!
Have you used any of the above? Perhaps you know of a website or an app not on the list that you’d like to share. Tell us all about it in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.