I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of days now, but I’ve been so busy preparing material, guiding students, providing feedback and at the same time studying for my DELTA course that I never seemed to have enough time to get down to it and actually write it. It’s been a month since schools -temporarily- closed and our lives changed, yet there is in this gloomy reality a ray of hope – teachers from all over the world ready to stand by their students, develop their skills and embrace this change with bravery and optimism. For those of us who have been using technology actively in our classes, the transition to digital support and/or teaching has been smoother. That’s why the actual process of writing this post was harder than I originally thought. I’ve used tons of tools, there even more tools available than the ones I’ve used and I keep discovering new ones every day – so which ones should I include and which ones should I leave out? At the end of the day I decided to make this list personal – write about the ones I’ve tried and used again and again and which have become something of a staple of my teaching diet.
Here’s a list then of my all-time favourite tools in random order of preference. I’ve tried to keep my descriptions short and to-the-point, otherwise this post would have turned huge!
Classroom Whiteboard Alternative
- https://classroomscreen.com/: It is thanks to Shelly Sanchez Terrell that I discovered Classroom Screen and it has been a life-saver ever since I started using it. It resembles the screen of an actual computer, only enriched with lots of amazing widgets from Random Name pickers and virtual dice to timers, work symbols, even QR-code generators!
Creating your own Vocabulary-based activities
- Quizlet: I don’t remember what it was like presenting new vocabulary before Quizlet. For those of you who are not familiar with it, Quizlet allows both students and teachers to create digital wordlists (simple or advanced ones) on any possible topic. Once creating your wordlist, Quizlet offers 5 ways of recycling the new vocabulary and 3 play modes which make it ideal for both studying and reviewing of material.
- Quizalize and Quizziz: I started using Quizalize as I was looking for a way to turn my Quizlet wordlists into game-like quizzes that my students could take both in class and remotely (at home) as well. Both tools offer you the chance to create quizzes on any topic which you then assign to your learners / the classes you’ve created. Students get instant feedback on their performance, you can track their performance and then differentiate your teaching by assigning follow-up tasks to students depending on how they did. Quizziz is more playful in a sense as it also gives students power-ups that they would find in games.
- Cram.com: A website mainly for flashcards, but one which I’ve been using because of its two great games, Jewels of Wisdom and Stellar Speller.
- SpellingCity: A favourite of mine for many years now and one which I’ve mainly used with younger learners, Spelling City gives you access to 7 games which are created from the wordlists you save. Its Pro version is quite expensive, but the games in the free account are -at least, for me- enough.
Creating your own activities/ games
- https://www.classtools.net/: I started using the site years ago because I wanted an easily adaptable classroom spinner/wheel. The site is a treasure trove of online templates that you can easily use to create your own content which you can then share either by link or by downloading a shortcut on your computer. What is great about it is that everything is free and there is no sign up required which means you can start creating instantly. My personal favorites are their classroom spinner, their Connect Fours template, their Breaking News headline creator and their Qwiki slides presentation tool.
- https://learningapps.org/: Simple in design, but really straightforward and practical to use, LearningApps has tons of templates you can use to create games on any topic or activities that you can then share with your learners. To give you an example of its layout and features here are four of the many activities I’ve created over the years: Endangered OR Extinct guessing game, Sports and Activities vocabulary , Cloze text, Present Perfect game
- https://www.playfactile.com/: I’ve used its free version only, but it is still my favourite tool to create Jeopardy style games and quizzes.
Creating your own presentations, videos, worksheets & infographics
- adobespark: It can be used literally for anything from creating Slideshows and Presentations to creating flyers and short videos. I love how simple it is to use and how impressive the final result is!
- https://genial.ly/: Possibly the most creative Presentation tool I’ve used! Genial.ly allows you to create animated presentations, learning experiences, educational games (which you can find in their Gamification category), Infographics, Interactive images (similar to the ones you can create on ThingLink) and so much more! I’ve used their free version so far, but the upgrade is not too costly per month or per year and I have a feeling it’s totally worth it!
- https://www.canva.com/: Canva must be the design tool I’ve used the most over the years as it allows you to create anything from Posters and worksheets to Powerpoint-like presentations and infographics. It has ready-made templates on anything you might be looking for which are fully customizable – from fonts to background colours to shapes and pictures. There is a Canva pro version as well which you can go for if you don’t want to have the Canva watermark on some of its premium photos or features (personally, I don’t mind). The Pro version also gives you the option of resizing your creations and creating materials with transparent backgrounds among everything else.
- wizer.me: A great website which allows you to create your own digital worksheets which you can then share with your students. Students sign in using their name and a password they’ve created and do the worksheet you’ve assigned. You can then check their work and give them inividual feedback. Its free account only gives you access to one class, but that doesn’t necessarily impact you as scores are saved independently for each worksheet you create.
- https://padlet.com/: No matter how many tools I’ve tried over the years, Padlet is still the one I enjoy using the most. Nearpod is another tool I’ve been trying for a while now, but Padlet is still the best for instant, straightforward collaborative learning experiences.
- Ahaslides: I’ve been a fan of MentiMeter for a while now, but I’ve found that Ahaslides is much easier to design and use. They are both used to create interactive presentations which your learners can access and interact with once you provide them with the link and code to join the session. You get to choose between different Question types or quz game features that allow you to mix different types of questions and forms of interaction.