Teach with tech like a pro with these 10 snazzy tools

By Karen on December 12, 2016
Posted to Using Technology

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30 tool spark small

After a year of working with teachers; online, in schools and as consultants, we’ve tallied up a long list of apps and digital tools for a range of learning purposes.

I have often been asked, “What are your favourites?”

I hate seeming to make it complicated (because its not), but it does depend on purpose. It’s no good to ‘wax lyrical’ about everything one can do with a stalwart like iMOVIE, if the learning requires the digital function: Curation, or sing the praises of my current favourite graphic maker: CANVA if the task needs collaboration and team work.

So, I’ve put together a short list of my absolute favourite apps for 2016 - organised by purpose. Purpose in this post has been defined by the 3 key learning with technology functions, three processes we want students to master (instead of just using technology to Consume) i.e.:

  • Curate
  • Create
  • Communicate


For digital jobs like: investigate, research, store, file, manage, track …

My favourites:

I’m a huge fan of PINTEREST, and recommend that teachers have a class account, switching boards from Secret to Public as needed. Pinterest is a terrific way to have your class help you gather useful resources on topics - resources you can revisit and build over time.
Many useful sites don’t have a ‘pinnable’ image. Sigh
And many systems and districts have blocked Pinterest. Grrr
My next best choice is POCKET.
Completely free, integrated with 1500+ apps and cross platform and device type, POCKET is a wonderful way to bookmark and tag websites for future reference. With the ‘Save to Pocket’ icon in once browser, its as simple as click, add tags (if you want to) and press save. Filed and accessible anywhere!

I have had more Facebook comments about SEESAW than any other app this year. This system for managing classwork and creating digital portfolios is growing in popularity, and is now supported by its own thriving Facebook group.

And another that I am playing with now, is VISUALISE.ME. This is one to use to update your resume (or older students’ resumes). There’s a great how-to video on their home page, and the results are really interesting. Have a play!


Creation is where I think digital tools are truly amazing, and new options proliferate. Students can create text, images, graphics, video, comics, tutorials, demonstrations of their learning and so much more!

Great tools for having one’s say, developing a voice and making a point. Increasingly there are collaborative options too, such as GOOGLE apps, PADLET and POPPLET.

My favourites:

Make a range of visuals simply, I love the preset Twitter, Facebook etc sizings, and the templates to use as a base. Mostly free, and even if I do chose an element with a $$ tag, they are inexpensive.
Middle primary/elementary and older will love CANVA, there are so many possibilities for creating.

Use ADOBE SPARK to create impactful social graphics, web stories and animated videos with their free graphic design app. Everyone we’ve pointed in this direction has been captivated - will you too?


Once new content has been created, or in the research process, the digital space enables students to have incredibly open opportunities for collaboration and communication.

My favourites:

I’ve had a run of sessions looking at digital storytelling lately. There are so many ways to communicate learning in this area, that I am tempted to cheat and just send you to this link for an extended list of apps. But I won’t LOL.

Check out LITTLE STORY CREATOR, a deceptively simple, but really useful app for creating collages, digital scrapbooks and digital stories. I love its simplicity and the fact that the product can be emailed!

Audio is another great communication medium. Inbuilt recorders are obviously ideal, but you might also have fun with FOTOBABBLE. Take three images, add voice over - voila! A very simple way to have students report on their learning or the main messages.

And WOW Finds

This year, I was committed to creating a directory of great apps and digital tools, organised around pedagogical choices, to share with our subscribers. I planned to ensure that the learning purpose was the first consideration when choosing apps and digital tools. Then I found these sites!!

Please check them out and bookmark (or Pocket) them!!

COOL TOOLS FOR SCHOOLS is a wiki with 20+ categories of digital tools and masses of links and ideas, this is a MUST SAVE!

I worked in a classroom where the teacher and students had determined a set of criteria for assessing apps and digital platforms. When there was a need for a new tool, teams of students used the Cool Tools site and reviewed some apps each. Recommendations were made by each team, decision made but the class and volunteers became ‘experts’ in the use of different tools. The experts made posters (with Adobe Spark) explaining function, opportunities and limitations and made themselves available to support others in the class with the tool. Brilliant! The teacher said she had finally gotten over not being able to keep ahead of the class, and almost every student in her class had taught her something new this year.

EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY AND MOBILE LEARNING is a fabulous list of teacher resources, web tools, Google tools, iPad apps, content area links, and social networking suggestions. Regularly updated, it’s a must bookmark (or Pocket!)

INSPIRED WRITING is yet another fabulous collection, this time for literacy learning in particular.

What ever you choose, Justin Tarte’s suggestions, 10 ways technology transforms learning, and particularly No. 1. “Technology elevates the depth and scope of learning that can occur in the classroom.” should be foremost in your mind.

Our goal is to achieve learning engagement and in this post Almarode describes behavioural, emotional and cognitive engagement at play together. Technology, used well, can give us this trifecta.

Want to talk more about these topics?
Feel free to join our free Facebook groups: Digital Technology and Computational Thinking and Let’s Talk About Pedagogy to continue the conversation.

Or follow Teacher Solutions on Pinterest to see all of our curated technology and pedagogy links in one place.

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