Build your teaching toolkit with these top classroom resources.

first-year teacher planning lessons

First-year teachers have a lot to think about, especially at the beginning of the school year: decorating their classroom, planning lessons and learning units, trying out different classroom-management techniques, and -- most importantly -- getting to know their students. Technology can often seem like an afterthought, but if used wisely from the start, some edtech tools and resources can be a big help to a teacher who's just starting out.

The apps and websites on this list cover a broad spectrum of categories, from communicating with families to finding lesson plans and learning materials. First-year teachers probably shouldn't tackle too many of these at once. Instead, consider what's most likely to benefit you and your students the most and start there. Later, once you've established some classroom routines, you can experiment with other resources, building your edtech toolkit as you go. Whatever you decide to try out, make sure the tech you use solves a real problem in your classroom, builds community, and cultivates creative, student-centered learning. 

Parent and student communication

Teachers can use this simple and safe tool to quickly communicate via text -- which can be translated into many languages -- with both families and students. Remind also has features to help teachers collect funds for much-needed school supplies.   

Seesaw: The Learning Journal
This popular platform has everything new teachers need to demonstrate student progress and mastery of learning. Through videos, photos, text, and more, these digital portfolios provide evidence of students' learning for all stakeholders (including families) and strengthen school-home connections. 


Classroom management     

Microsoft Teams
Microsoft's collaboration platform is ideal for sharing resources, working on projects, communicating progress, and more with its whole-class "notebooks." Teachers can also moderate chat sessions and send private feedback through students' individual notebooks.

Google Classroom
Want to simplify how you communicate, collaborate, and share documents? Google Classroom is the go-to resource for teachers looking to organize and streamline their workflows. With tons of third-party integrations, it's ideal as a central hub for learning and productivity. 



Notebook - Take Notes, SyncNotebook - Take Notes, Sync
Teachers accumulate a ton of materials over the course of a year. Notebook is the perfect place to store all those lesson ideas, web clips, checklists, and voice memos. It's also a place for students to save research and learn organization skills. Best of all, it's free.

Kami helps teachers convert documents into PDF files and share them with students. Students then can annotate the files, and teachers can provide feedback. Kami automatically saves all files as they're uploaded -- a great option for those who want to make their classroom paperless. 


Lesson planning

Common Curriculum
Lesson planning can be challenging, but having details of their first experiences will help teachers reflect on what went well. Common Curriculum makes it easy to plan with meaningful goals in mind, customize templates for any subject, and share lessons with colleagues.

OER CommonsOER Commons
Every teacher should become familiar with open educational resources, or OERs. These free resources exist in the public domain for teachers to legally copy, use, adapt, and share. Through the OER Commons platform, teachers can search for thousands of lessons or create and share their own.  


Formative assessment

True to its name, this assessment tool works on any device and gives teachers the ability to see student's learning processes in real time, and to step in and guide their learning throughout a unit. Premade assignments and tons of built-in question types make it a great fit for any subject.

Teachers can post questions on this free platform for students to answer with video responses. Because it's often hard to get all students to participate, especially at the start of a school year, this tool offers a great way for kids to respond and contribute at their own pace, without feeling put on the spot. 

Using video in the classroom is a great way to stimulate students' critical-thinking skills, so it's not surprising that YouTube is a popular resource for teachers. With Edpuzzle, teachers can customize videos from YouTube (and elsewhere) with their own voice-overs, audio comments, embedded assessment questions, and more.  


Professional learning

KQED Education
It's important to keep up with trends in education, and KQED does a great job of digging into topics like media literacy and civic discourse. In addition, they offer free online learning courses, standards-aligned resources, and a community where teachers can find inspiration. 

Teaching Tolerance
Yes, it's geared more toward ELA and social studies classes, but this site tackles tough topics like bullying and racism that all teachers need to address. Teachers can take advantage of the numerous workshops and trainings provided to better reach their diverse populations.


Danny W.

Danny was Senior Editor, Education Reviews at Common Sense Education. His focus was on guiding the editorial direction of the Ratings & Reviews platform to discover the best in education technology. In addition to reviewing digital media for learning potential, Danny produced content and wrote articles for a variety of topics, including STEM and social and emotional learning. Previously, he was Curriculum Technology Integration Specialist for San Francisco Unified School District and a science and robotics teacher for a decade in the Midwest. Prior to his career in education, Danny worked as an Environmental Engineering consultant.