Building Your Digital Toolkit: 6 Must-Have Apps for Every Teacher

Digital DivideBuilding Your Digital Toolkit: 6  Must-Have Apps for Every Teacher
Getting (and staying) organized is one of the best things you can do to keep both you and your students happy and engaged throughout the year. Just ten years ago, this was a huge challenge in and of itself, but thanks to an abundance of tech tools that help keep us organized, the challenge these days is in finding the best apps for the job. More and more schools are bringing iPads and tablets into the classroom, and many apps designed for planning and organizing can also double as teaching tools. So what apps should you have in your digital toolkit?  Building Your Digital Toolkit: 6  Must-Have Apps for Every Teacher - Here are 6 apps I use that every teacher should know about.
Free for Basic or $51.99 annually for Gold
iOS / Android / Desktop
Trello is an easy-to-use project management tool that allows you to create boards for each project you’re working on. Fill those boards with lists that break the project down into stages, and fill the lists with cards for individual tasks. As tasks are completed, you can drag and drop cards into the appropriate list to track your progress across the board. Organize everything from parent/teacher conferences to daily lesson plans to student projects. You can create individual boards for each subject or class to plan tests, papers, and projects, or you can work collaboratively with your colleagues on school-wide projects. Use Trello with your students by creating boards for group projects and inviting them to work together.
Free with a GAFE (Google Apps for Education) account
iOS / Android / Desktop
Google Classroom is a document management tool that connects teachers and students by simplifying assignment creation, distribution, submission, and grading. Google Classroom allows teachers to create templates and assign work to their class via Gmail, and have students do their work right in Google Docs. When students submit a completed assignment, teachers are notified in real-time as assignments trickle in. You can review, grade, and provide feedback right in the app, meaning you can run a virtually paperless classroom. Students can ask questions or post comments to their teachers privately within the app, allowing for easy student-teacher interactions.
Free or Enterprise pricing available
iOS / Android / Desktop
Schoology is a comprehensive learning management system (LMS) for the classroom. Post content for students, run online tests, create and collect assignments via Google Drive, and conduct online discussions that work much like other social networks that students already use regularly. You can also use Schoology to track attendance, record grades, assess student performance, and provide one-on-one feedback to students and parents. The secure platform can connect with classrooms anywhere in the world, and provides a forum for teachers to share resources and communicate, both in groups and privately.
Free for lite version or $28.99 for full version
iOS / Android
When Seattle-based teacher David Lowe found that his classroom note-taking system was inadequate for his needs, he decided to build Confer, an app for student data collection and group insights. Sort class notes by subject, strengths, needs, levels, and next steps. Add photos for quick reference, and collaborate with other teachers and specialists. Confer is in the process of evolving into a new app called Snapfolio, which has yet to be released, but will have similar features.
Free for basic version or $35 annually for Classroom tier
iOS / Android / Desktop
Symbaloo is a cloud-based social bookmarking tool you can use anywhere. The easy-to-read tiles are laid out on a grid so you can quickly find and organize your favorite links and share them with friends, colleagues or students. This is a great time saver for the classroom because students can quickly find what they’re looking for. And since there’s no advertising on the site, you don’t have to worry about what students might see. You can set Symbaloo to public or private viewing, meaning you can search other users’ Symbaloo pages. This is handy for educators looking to see what their colleagues are reading.
Free for basic or $9.99 monthly for Pro
iOS / Android / Desktop
There’s a huge community of educators on social media, and while it’s a great way to keep up with trends and news in education, staying on top of everything can be overwhelming. Hootsuite is a social media management system that connects your Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram accounts all in one place. If you use any of these platforms regularly, HootSuite is handy for scheduling posts, staying on top of the latest developments in your field, and keeping up with and participating in Twitter chats. You don’t have to tweet or be active on Twitter to get something out of HootSuite. You can simply set up a Twitter account, sign up to HootSuite, and start following people who post useful content. Create and organize multiple streams to monitor as many accounts and hashtags as you like.

Angie Kalthoff is a technology integrationist working with the St. Cloud, MN public school district. She developed her passion for helping people use technology early in her career while teaching ESL students. Angie is a Google Certified Teacher, Affiliate, and EdCampCentralMN organizer with a BA in Linguists and EL and an MA in Teaching and Learning. She loves to travel and has a thing for buying a new pair of shoes - “shoeveniers” - from each new place she visits. Angie would like to thank the teachers @teachernorman, @alicekeeler, @nandruschak who first introduced her to some of the apps in her article.

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