Common Sense

TOP PICKS | 27 TOOLS

Awesome Productivity Tools for Back-to-School

Both students and teachers can benefit inside and outside of school from organizational tools like calendars, presentation templates, and note-taking apps. Whether students are setting goals, receiving homework reminders, using mind maps, or tweaking their schedules, they are sure to be building long-lasting skills. Teachers can also use these tools to curate the best edtech, easily grade student work, and organize lesson plans. We've found some of the best and served 'em up here.

Need help developing norms, routines, and procedures for all this technology? Check out our Teaching Strategies page on Digital Classroom Management.

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Note-Taking Apps and Sites

Pages

Impressive word processor and publisher with great sharing features

Bottom line: Impressive word processor makes layout and publishing a breeze, with easy file conversion and advanced features. And it's free for newer iOS devices.

Bear

Write, edit, and sync content on the go with flexible note-taking tool

Bottom line: For an app that doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, it's surprisingly versatile and useful for many types of writing and note-taking.

Evernote

Impressive organizational tool has limitless uses

Bottom line: This free information-management tool can help kids become tech-savvy and learn to better organize their digital lives.

Microsoft OneNote

Note-taking giant built for flexible, collaborative work

Bottom line: A powerful (and free) tool for thinking and organization that's making smart strides in the education space.

Notability

Flexible note-taking tool empowers learners of all abilities

Bottom line: An excellent tool that lets students make their notes thorough and useful in the way that best suits their learning styles and abilities.

Resources for Gathering and Organizing Ideas

SymbalooEDU

Organize favorite educational links into handy grid

Bottom line: It's a simple, visually clean, and very helpful way to organize online information for you or your students.

MURAL

Multifaceted message boards help kids collaborate

Bottom line: MURAL can encourage individual team members to contribute to a project by making idea sharing and presentation a simple, visual process.

Kami

Versatile annotation tool helps users critically connect with content

Bottom line: Kami is an effective way to promote student interaction with texts, authentic documents, and pictures.

MindMeister

Powerful mind mapper aimed at adults, simple enough for older kids

Bottom line: Sophisticated productivity tool enhances learning and organization with simple dashboard and slick workspace.

WorkFlowy

Simple tool helps teachers and students make lists, get organized

Bottom line: A simple, free way to get organized combining lists, outlines, and notes with some extra nice-to-have features that make this tool a solid option for teachers and students.

ZoteroBib

Fewer clicks and less clutter equal a new go-to site for citing sources

Bottom line: An intuitive site that takes the stress out of citing sources, but students will still need instruction to tweak auto-generated citations.

Google Drive

Nifty tool for collaboratively editing and syncing files across devices

Bottom line: Google Drive is a smart choice for budget-conscious schools, with its free productivity tools and file syncing.

LiveBinders

Cool organization and eportfolio tool; watch out for privacy features

Bottom line: A good tool for its organizational, storage, and digital publishing features.

Office Lens

Capture, annotate, sync, and share across the digital landscape

Bottom line: Sharing options and annotation features support paperless collaboration and instruction, especially for users proficient in other Microsoft apps.

Scheduling and Goal-Setting Tools

Goalbook Toolkit

Set tailored targets with pricey but worth-it kit of tools, strategies

Bottom line: You pay for quality with Goalbook Toolkit, including access to clear, well-crafted learning goals and strategies that allow for far easier differentiation.

Remind

Teachers' text reminders give students -- and parents -- a reason to check their phones

Bottom line: Well-designed, widespread messaging tool can keep students and families connected with their schools -- provided they have access.

Time Timer

Easily conceptualize, manage, and visualize time

Bottom line: Goes above and beyond standard timers to include handy customization and visual cues.

Showbie

Flexible desktop, mobile assignment tool works best with pro features

Bottom line: A flexible way to collect student assignments and offer written and verbal feedback, especially with the premium features.

Google Calendar

Simple calendars aid communication and keep kids up to date

Bottom line: As a fine replacement for paper-based planners there are some interactive components; the calendars still fill up quickly.

iHomework 2

Keep track of assignments, due dates, and tasks with digital planner

Bottom line: This flexible, easy-to-learn organizational tool will help students get set up for success, though teachers will need to follow up regularly to make sure the information is accurate.

myHomework Student Planner

Digital planner makes scheduling easy, if paired with teacher app

Bottom line: If used on a regular basis with teacher guidance and motivation, students can be ready to tackle their complex schedules with ease.

My Study Life

Organizational tool makes managing complex schedules a cinch

Bottom line: If they can make it a habit, students will love staying on top of assignments and test dates with this handy, pocket-sized "personal assistant."

Templates for Presentations

Educreations

Enliven lessons and presentations with easy-to-use whiteboard tool

Bottom line: An easy, functional way to create presentations on the fly.

Explain Everything

Powerhouse tool for creating stellar multimedia presentations

Bottom line: Teachers and students can make dynamic presentations that involve different types of media in this innovative, fun app.

Loom

Create, present, and assess with free, effortless screencasting

Bottom line: This intuitive tool is excellent for recording and responding to screencasts of any length.

Tiki-Toki

Create eye-catching multimedia timelines for any purpose

Bottom line: Multimedia timelines connect events visually, creating pathways for deeper analysis of any chronological story.

Prezi Classic

Stylish presentation creator with a unique 3D zooming effect

Bottom line: An elegant, flexible alternative to other online slide software tools, but it requires some finesse to make the effective use of the features and infinite canvas.

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