My fellow teacher friends out there, I know you will agree with me when I say that we are always looking for good (and often free) resources to use in the classroom. I know I am! Right now since I teach technology to grades preK-8 I find myself doing this even more. I will say I have found some that I like better than others and the main one that I am using now I do have some pro’s and con’s, BUT I do have a small list for you!
1. Google Classroom
Now I will say that this is probably my number one favorite tool for the classroom, especially if you’re a middle school or high school teacher. This resource will be a game changer for you I swear. I will say that I’m not using it right now, but I do have it in the works and I’m hoping that my school will start to use it soon (my hope is next year!). But I was first introduced to this amazing tool when I was doing my student teaching. I was back in my old high school with one of my favorite teachers and a lot of things had changed. This was one of them. The school now had an iPad for every single student in the building and every teacher was being taught how to use Google Classroom. With this resource you’re able to post homework and the students can then put their answers straight onto the document from their iPad and submit it back to you. Umm hello who doesn’t love not having to run off 30+ copies of assignments?!? And no more taking home piles of papers to just not grade them! (Now you can just carry your iPad or laptop back and forth and still do the same thing…I kid….kind of!) Having this also meant that the students didn’t need 7 or 8 different notebooks for their classes. They could take their notes on their iPads and if you uploaded a PowerPoint presentation then it was right there for them and they could take their notes right on the slide.
I mean I could honestly talk forever about Google Classroom. It’s just an overall great resource for the classroom especially for older students. The only reason I have not set it up myself is that an administrator needs to initially set up an account for your school. But like I said it’s in the works! Now I know if you’re like me you might be worried that your kiddos might not stay on what they are supposed to be working on. But you my friend are in luck! Thanks to @mrswelchknows (on Instagram) I found out that Apple has created a free app to monitor student use! It allows you to “force up apps, lock the screen, see exactly what the students are doing and so much more” (her words! please go give her a follow on IG!!).
Now I wouldn’t say that this is my second favorite resource by any means, however I would say that if you can’t get access to Google Classroom right now, this is your second best option. (At least that I have found!) A teacher that I work with actually introduced this resource to me, he is currently using it with his 5th grade class and when I looked at it, it basically reminded me of Google Classroom except you don’t need an administrator to get it set up. Kiddom has the same basic setup as Google Classroom. You have different classes that you set up and name and add your students to (using a class code).
Kiddom does have a few different options than I remember Google Classroom having. When you post an assignment you can set a due date and if a student doesn’t post it by the time the assignment is closed then it’s late (obviously) but then there’s no questioning that you lost the work that the student “turned in” when in reality they didn’t do it. You can attach a point value directly to the assignment and you can also attach rubrics and standards to them as well.
In all honesty Kiddom is a great resource, but there is just one issue that I have with it. If you upload a document and when the student goes to download is, if they accidentally hit “submit” without realizing it then you can’t undo that action. You have to completely delete the assignment and start from scratch. Which I know is a first world problem but when you have this happen multiple times it gets frustrating (been there done that!).
Now I am of course still playing with this resource and I do not know everything about it. But what I do know, I like. I’m sure that there are tips and tricks that I haven’t come across yet. If I do I will be sure to do an update!
3. Starfall (free or paid)
If you have little ones this is great! Now I will say that last year we only had the free version and although the free version is great now that we have the paid version (we bought a subscription for our school) I would never go back.
Like I said earlier I teach technology to preschool – 8th grade and when I have my K,1 and 2 kiddos in there more often than not I already have Starfall up and running with headphones plugged in and all they have to do is sit down and play. Let me tell you I have never had them that quiet. It’s amazing. There are so many different things that they can do on there and it’s all educational and they love it. It makes their time in the computer lab go by so quickly they get upset when I tell them it’s time for them to go!
We even use it in the classrooms. I help out in the first grade room a lot and the other day we had the tablets out with our kiddos and we had them logged into Starfall and they were silent for a good 45 minutes, maybe longer. It amazes me every single time we do it how focused and quiet they can be on this site!
Now I know a lot of my teacher friends probably know all about this one so I won’t stay here too long! This site is amazing for students all the way up to grade 5 and the games are awesome too! My kiddos love this one too! They have math games, word games and themed games. Personally I love using this website around a holiday because they have several themed games for that specific holiday that the kiddos can choose from and they are of course distracted for the full 30 minutes they’re with me. They love it, I love it and everyone is happy!
Now I know that there are a lot more websites and resources out there but like I said these are my favorites and my go-to ones.
Do you have a favorite website, app or other resource that I didn’t mention?? Leave it in the comments below! I would love to check it out!