Top Pick

Essential Back-to-School Tools for Teachers

If you're looking for ways tech can boost your teaching, this list is here to help. These top-rated apps and sites -- ranging from instructional supports to organizational tools to social networks and beyond -- help make one of the world's toughest jobs a bit easier. Whether you need to streamline parent communication or improve classroom management, you're sure to find a tool or two here to get your year off to the right start. 

Once you've found a few great tools for back to school, head over to our Teaching Strategies page dedicated to helping you Set Up Your Digital Classroom for Success.

Curriculum and Lesson Planning

BetterLesson Visit Website: http://betterlesson.com/
Exemplary Common Core-aligned lessons from rock star peers at large
Grades Pre-K-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Common Curriculum Visit Website: http://www.commoncurriculum.com/
Sleek lesson planner replaces bulky binders, promotes collaboration
Grades Pre-K-12
Type Website
Price Free, Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Goalbook Toolkit Visit Website: https://goalbookapp.com/toolkit-info/
Set tailored targets with pricey but worth-it kit of tools, strategies
Grades Pre-K-12
Type Website
Price Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Metria Master Teacher Edition Visit Website: http://www.metrialearning.org/masterteacheredition/
All-in-one standards planning, assessment tool supports quality instruction
Grades K-12
Type Website
Price Free, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Versal Visit Website: https://versal.com
Slick course creator is full-featured, but lessons remain traditional
Grades K-12
Type Website
Price Free, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated

Feedback, Assessment, and Portfolios

Seesaw: The Learning Journal Publisher: Seesaw, Inc.
Versatile digital portfolio appeals to teachers, students, and parents
Grades K-12
Type App
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Chrome
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Recap: Video Response and Reflection for Education Publisher: Satarii Inc.
Video-reflection app puts new spin on formative assessment
Grades 2-12
Type App
Price Free
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say
FreshGrade Visit Website: http://freshgrade.com
A fresh way to capture, document, and share student learning
Grades 3-9
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Spiral Visit Website: https://spiral.ac/
Provide instant feedback with collaborative, multimedia assessment tool
Grades 3-8
Type Website
Price Free, Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say Not Yet Rated
Formative Visit Website: http://www.goformative.com
Superb real-time assessment tool a fit for BYOD, 1-to-1
Grades 3-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Kahoot! Visit Website: https://getkahoot.com/
Game-like student-response tool can spark competitive fun
Grades 4-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Kaizena Visit Website: https://kaizena.com/
Make feedback count, save time assessing digital work on Google Drive
Grades 7-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say

Organization and Productivity

Turnitin Visit Website: http://turnitin.com/
Encourage original work and give feedback with this valuable tool
Grades 3-12
Type Website
Price Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Evernote Publisher: Evernote
Impressive organizational tool has limitless uses
Grades 6-12
Type App
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Nook HD, Chrome, Windows Phone, Apps for Windows
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Notability Publisher: Ginger Labs
Flexible note-taking tool empowers learners of all abilities
Grades 6-12
Type App
Price $9.99
Platforms iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac Apps
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Diigo Visit Website: https://www.diigo.com
Social bookmarking encourages discovery, collaboration, and sharing
Grades 7-12
Type Website
Price Free, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Google Drive Visit Website: https://drive.google.com/
Nifty tool for collaboratively editing docs and syncing files across devices or online
Grades 9-12
Type Website
Price Free, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say

Parent and Student Communication

ClassDojo Visit Website: http://www.classdojo.com/
Handy management and messaging tool helps recognize, reward students
Grades K-6
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Remind Visit Website: https://www.remind.com/
Teachers' text reminders give students -- and parents -- a reason to check their phones
Grades 1-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Skype Visit Website: http://www.skype.com
Live video communication has potential to open lots of doors
Grades 1-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Google Hangouts Visit Website: http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/
Communication, learning, and fun converge nicely in Google's slick platform
Grades 6-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Backchannel Chat Visit Website: https://backchannelchat.com
Real-time, moderated online discussions can engage and encourage
Grades 7-12
Type Website
Price Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
TodaysMeet Visit Website: https://todaysmeet.com/
Easy online conversations supplement and extend the classroom
Grades 8-12
Type Website
Price Free, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say

Presentation and Video

Nearpod Publisher: Nearpod, LLC
Interactive slide show tool engages students and promotes collaboration
Grades K-12
Type App
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Chrome, Windows Phone, Apps for Windows, Mac Apps
Common Sense says
Teachers say
EdPuzzle Visit Website: https://edpuzzle.com/
Crop, customize, and remix online videos for your classroom
Grades 3-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Screencastify Visit Website: https://www.screencastify.com/
Easy screen-recording tool facilitates outside-the-box teaching
Grades 3-12
Type Website
Price Free, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
ClassFlow Visit Website: https://classflow.com/
Robust lesson-creation, presentation tool offers built-in assessment
Grades 4-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Office Mix Visit Website: https://mix.office.com/
Transformative PPT add-on gives a personal touch to flipped lessons
Grades 5-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say

Professional Growth

Teaching Channel Visit Website: https://www.teachingchannel.org
See colleagues in action with digital PD for discussion and reflection
Grades K-12
Type Website
Price Free, Free to Try, Paid
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Voxer Walkie Talkie Messenger Publisher: Voxer IP, LLC
Voice- and text-messaging app is a teacher PD standout
Grades 7-12
Type App
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense says
Teachers say
Twitter Visit Website: http://www.twitter.com
Smart classroom tool if used with care; priceless for PD
Grades 9-12
Type Website
Price Free
Common Sense says
Teachers say