26 Essential FREE Tools for Your 1-to-1 Classroom
By Samantha Cleaver
So you have a class set of laptops or tablets? Perhaps the most daunting thing about a 1-to-1 classroom is how to fill those screens with meaningful learning. As you set up your 1-to-1 classroom, take these 26 1-to-1 classroom websites, tools, and apps recommended by teachers who have already vetted them.
(Bonus: they’re all FREE!)
How It Works: Schoology is a platform that allows you to manage and integrate all the information you’ll ever need for your classes. Post class websites, send assignments, give feedback to students, and monitor student work, grades, and participation.
Beginner: As you use Schoology to create, assign, and grade student assignments, track your students over time (even across school years if your entire campus uses Schoology) to see how they’re progressing.
Expert: Once you’re confident with Schoology, reach out and start connecting with the more than three million K-University users around the globe to share best practices, get new resources, and expand the reach of your classroom.
How It Works: EdModo is a social media platform for education that connects you to your students as well students to each another under your supervision. On EdModo you can post assignments, monitor progress, quiz students, and dole out reward badges.
Beginner: Use the poll feature to check for understanding throughout a lesson.
Expert: Create small groups of students that vary by topic, performance, or student choice and use EdModo as a way for students to discuss online, work in small groups, and collaborate from home.
How It Works: You use Google already, but it’s time to up your game! Alice Barr, a Google certified educator in Yarmouth, ME, uses Google as a platform to support the work that her students are doing, from sharing work on Google Drive to collecting student work in Google Sites.
Beginner: Create an assignment on Google Drive so that students can share their work and get feedback from you and their peers before it’s due. Drive also allows you to monitor how students are progressing on their assignments and who needs support.
Expert: Create a Google Calendar of homework assignments, upcoming school events, and notices. Parents can subscribe to the class or their student’s calendar.
How It Works: Popplet, a website that allows students to collaborate, post, and collect information and ideas is as adorable as the name implies, with an easy, user-friendly interface and simple graphics.
Beginner: Post Popplet during your next brainstorm or thought-mapping session for a way to record student ideas.
Expert: Create pages based on themes that you’re going to cover during the year and collect resources for students to use in class and at home.
How It Works: Create rich online presentations, including videos and web content, with this app. During class, you can control how students are using the presentation.
Beginner: Set up and monitor your students’ understanding with interactive Q&A, polls, and quizzes throughout your presentation.
Expert: Turn your students into the content creators by assigning them the option of using NearPod in their next in-class presentation.
How It Works: Educreations is an interactive whiteboard app that creates videos based on lessons that you make using your own voice and handwriting.
Beginner: Many videos are already available, and Educreations is committed to spreading quality instruction, so assign your students videos to watch from their bank.
Expert: Create your own videos of content that you’ve covered in class and assign them for homework, review, or remediation.
Teacher Tip: Todd LaVogue, environmental science teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in West Palm Beach, FL, assigns his students the task of making their own tutorials through Educreations. “It is a great way to see if the student truly understands content and can apply it by teaching someone else,” says LaVogue.
How It Works: Upload photos into the Pixntell (iPad or iPhone App), order and organize them, add a recording of your voice, music, or a conversation, and save it to share.
Beginner: Create a slideshow of vocabulary words and images to go with them for your visual learners to view and review.
Expert: When students are working on summarizing events in a story or article, have them create and use photos and narration to capture the story.
How It Works: Prezi is a way to create and share presentations that go far beyond the PowerPoint. The action and surprise in a Prezi presentation will engage students and keep them interested.
Beginner: Have students create Prezis that showcase who they are, what they learned about a topic, or what they’ve covered in a semester’s worth of work in a concise, interactive format.
Expert: Students can view Prezis independently, so have students create Prezis about a topic and then critique each other’s presentations on how clearly they explained the topic.
Teacher Tip: Stephen Malone, a sixth grade math and science teacher at Carlos Fuentes Elementary in Chicago, IL, assigns Prezi when he wants students to show the math process they used to solve a problem, including an explanation of why their answer is reasonable.
- Explain Everything
How It Works: Use the Explain Everything app to create presentations that incorporate a virtual whiteboard, photos, movies, and more.
Beginner: Have students use Explain Everything to create a video explaining a procedure, such as a science experiment, recipe, or math problem explanation.
Expert: Check out the EE Showcase for tutorials and videos about how to impress your students (or have your students impress you) with your presentation-making skills.
- Skitch (from Evernote)
How It Works: Skitch is an app that uses video, photos, and drawing to create non-verbal explanations of content.
Beginner: Have your students use Skitch with photos, videos, drawings and music to create a diagram or map based on a recent lesson. For example, students can label the parts of a frog.
Expert: Have students use Skitch to communicate the major elements of a character or story plot without saying a word, simply using Skitch’s drawing elements.
How It Works: The ShowMe App (for iPad) is a way to create and share lesson videos.
Beginner: Assign expert videos to extend and expand students’ knowledge.
Expert: Use ShowMe to create re-teaching videos or have students who have mastered a concept create a re-teaching video that others can watch.
How It Works: A way to organize and manage tons of information and your favorite sites. Consider it a bookmark site that allows you to keep all of your favorites in one place.
Beginner: Organize the tools that you want students using the most through Symbaloo, so students can quickly and easily find research, reference materials, and other tools.
Expert: Use the Webmix feature to create a new set of sites and bookmarks for each course, topic, or class assignment.
How It Works: An app that collects and saves all kinds of information, including videos, recordings, notes, and more.
Beginner: Use Evernote to save and organize all the PD that you want to reference later.
Expert: Use Evernote on your iPad or iPhone to capture and collect student work samples, including student audio recordings to questions, student writing samples, and more so you have ongoing portfolios of student work.
How It Works: The BrainPop featured movie of the day is free (the website is subscription). The short animated films on topics from Art Concepts to Math to World History all feature a quick comprehension quiz afterwards.
Beginner: Have students watch the video and take the accompanying quiz to hook them into current events.
Expert: Use BrainPop videos as a jumping off point for new units of study and student debates and discussion.
- TED Talks
How It Works: TED talks by experts in all sorts of fields about creativity, innovation, and specific topics will build students’ listening and thinking skills, and always give them something to talk about.
Beginner: Use the iPad or Android TED Talks App to engage students who finish early.
Expert: Once students have found a TED Talk that resonates with them, have them use a presentation app to create and share their summary, analysis, and discussion of the talk.
- Duo Lingo
How It Works: Duo Linguo is a free website and app for learning languages for kids and adults. It offers courses in Spanish, French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, and Italian. Kids can progress through a series of lessons at their skill level.
Beginner: Students can use the apps to do lessons disguised as games. In each lesson, players get four “lives.” Get an answer wrong, you lose a life. Run out, start the lesson over again.
Expert: Have students work in groups to compete for the most points!
Use Kid Blog to have students write about a topic or just to get their ideas on the “page.” Students post but nothing goes live without your approval.
Beginner: Expand Kid Blog into an e-Portfolio for students by adding multimedia content, presentations, and other documents into their blogs.
Expert: Connect and collaborate with other classes around the world through Kid Blog. First, reach out to other teachers and determine a focus for the student blogging. For example, students might blog on a book they’re all reading or a topic they’re all studying in social studies, to connect blogging with the curriculum.
- Khan Academy
How It Works: It had to come up eventually. Khan Academy hosts tutorial videos about math and science topics.
Beginner: Students can log in and take quizzes to practice and demonstrate mastery, and you, as their “coach,” can track student progress.
Expert: Preview the Khan Academy series and sequence of videos to create customized plans for students who need to be pushed out of their comfort zones.
How It Works: Quizlet is an online tool that allows you to create study tools, flashcards, and quizzes about any subject or topic.
Beginner: Create quick review sets that students can use at home.
Expert: Group students into collaborative study groups and have them create their own Quizlet vocab or other tests to share with the class.
- Class Dojo
How It Works: Using this computer tool, students create avatars on their class page and earn points and badges for positive behavior.
Beginner: Use Class Dojo’s information as a way for students to explain their behavior to their parents during conferences.
Expert: Use Class Dojo to organize students into groups, then stage a competition to see which group can perform the best based on your class rules or character trait of the week.
How It Works: Socrative is a student response program that allows students to respond directly to questions.
Beginner: Create checks for understandings and on-going short assessments that vary from games to true-false quizzes.
Expert: Use the data that Socrative provides (in a Google or Excel file) to group, re-teach, and reassess students on core skills.
- For All Rubrics
How It Works: This iPad app allows you to create rubrics and use them to grade and give feedback on student work.
Beginner: Create rubrics for your assignments that introduce and familiarize students with the process of using and understanding rubrics to improve their work.
Expert: Have students generate their own rubrics and give each other feedback (supervised of course).
- Three Ring
How It Works: A virtual online three-ring binder that allows you to create and keep snapshots and collections of student work.
Beginner: Have students use Three Ring as virtual portfolios that they can present to their parents.
Expert: Set a goal for your professional development this year. Then, use Three Ring to track your progress toward that goal by capturing snapshots of your class throughout the year
- Motion Math Wings
How It Works: Motion Math Wings is a game that shows students six visual ways to illustrate multiplication (rows, clusters, groups, and more) as they progress through this multiplication game.
Beginner: This game is great for multiplication remediation for students who need to see the process.
Expert: Once students have mastered the multiplication illustrations, have them create a game of their own that advances their understanding (multiplying fractions anyone?).
- Thinking Blocks Ratios
How It Works: This iPad app helps students visualize and use six problem-solving models for ratio problems.
Beginner: As students play Thinking Blocks Ratios, they will earn stars. Have students track these stars over time to see their progress.
Expert: Challenge students to use an interactive whiteboard or other online presentation tool to create a presentation based on these problem-solving methods.
How It Works: Mathtoons’ The Ultimate Master Practice! app (available for iPad and Google Play) is a series of multiple-choice questions in a game-like format that allows students to progress through math concepts from pre-algebra to trigonometry.
Beginner: After students have played ThUMP!, challenge them to write their own questions that could be included in these math games.
Expert: Interested in developing a game that would engage your kids in content? Consider connecting with Mathtoonsto become an app designer.