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21 helpful apps for teachers and educators

Students attempting to text in class might be the bane of teachers everywhere, but even the most jaded luddite would have to admit: Tablets and smartphones in the classroom bring a number of advantages too. From greater student engagement to an expansion of the learning environment beyond normal school hours, gadgets can open new educational doors. But hardware is only part of the puzzle. You also need the right software to spool up those eager young minds.

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That’s where these come in. From creating lesson plans and keeping attendance, to behavior records and communicating with students outside the classroom, these apps let teachers harness tech instead of fighting it. Knowing, it turns out, really is half the battle.

Kahoot

Kahoot app

Teachers love to turn a boring lesson into a game to motivate their students, but not everyone has the skills to make a game from scratch. Thankfully, the GetKahoot website makes it easy to turn your class into a gameshow. All you have to do is enter your prepared questions and answers into the site to create an instantly playable game with a web browser. Your students can then download the Kahoot app to use as a buzzer to join in on the fun.

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Seesaw

Seesaw app

Parents want to celebrate their kids’ achievements every step of the way, so it’s important to keep them in the loop on their kids’ progress throughout the school year. With Seesaw, a student portfolio app, students can store and post their best work to share with their parents. Teachers, on the other hand, can provide concrete examples of their students’ strengths and weaknesses to their parents during teacher-parent meetings.

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Google Classroom

Google Classroom app

If your school already uses the G Suite for Education (formerly known as Google Apps for Education), chances are you already know about Classroom. Not only can you distribute and grade assignments through the app, as well as organize all class materials on Google Drive, you can also reach your students more easily — either to make announcements or to engage them in discussions.

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Teach Learn Lead

Teach Learn Lead app

Don’t you wish you could meet other teachers who teach the same subject or grade as you, even if they don’t work at your school? Teach Learn Lead is like Facebook for teachers, where you can meet like-minded colleagues who may be anywhere in the country, but have relevant experience to share. You can start discussions and polls to share lesson plan ideas or career advice, or just gab about your students.

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Remind

Remind App 1

Remind (formerly known as Remind 101) makes it easy for teachers to communicate with students and their parents beyond the classroom. You can make class announcements, group chats, or contact individuals privately through the app. Your messages can even be translated into over 70 languages, making it possible to communicate with parents who are non-native English speakers.

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Classtree

Classtree app

Collecting those pesky parental consent forms from your students for field trips can be a nightmare, but Classtree makes the process painless and paperless. Unlike Remind, which simply notifies parents of the logistics of an upcoming field trip, Classtree actually lets you attach a consent form for parents to e-sign to go along with the announcement. The app even shows you exactly who has seen your note and who owes you a signed form.

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Slack

Slack app

It’s not just businesses that rely on Slack to keep employees connected: Professors and college students are increasingly turning to the messaging tool to stay in touch beyond school hours. Not only are some instructors hosting text-based “office hours” on the platform, they are even pushing important reminders through the app to their students, just in case.

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Additio

Additio app

There is a better way of keeping attendance, grades, and class notes than in easily misplaced notebooks or on random pieces of paper. As a digital gradebook and classroom management app, Additio lets you take attendance, calculate grades, and plan your timetable, all on your mobile device. For additional features, like performance analytics and note-keeping, you need to opt for the $8-per-month Plus edition.

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Doceri ($5)

Doceri interactive whiteboard app

Taking advantage of the iPad’s touchscreen and portability, the Doceri app turns the mobile device into a portable interactive whiteboard. You can annotate whatever material you have on-screen as you teach, which makes for a more interactive lesson. Besides letting you handwrite complicated math equations or brainstorm Venn diagrams on the fly, the app can also record the class and post it online directly from your iPad.

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Epic Unlimited Books for Kids

Epic Unlimited Books for Kids app

Elementary school teachers are always on the lookout for new books for their students, but worry about spending too much of their own money for their classrooms. With the aptly-named Epic Unlimited Books for Kids app, teachers in America and Canada get free access to over 15,000 kid-friendly books ranging from National Geographic Kids to the Goosebumps series. The Educator’s version also includes lesson ideas and videos to make life easier for teachers.

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Dropbox

Dropbox App Final

Chances are you’re already familiar with Dropbox. The service and accompanying application are terrific when it comes time to upload and store presentation photos, assignments, videos, and anything else you might need to access while at home or in the classroom. The dedicated app also lets you create and edit Microsoft Office files on your mobile device, and moreover, share file links with your students so you don’t have to clutter their inbox with a cacophony of enormous files.

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Pocket

Pocket App Photo

Education takes place inside and out of the classroom. That said, Pocket gives you a way to quickly save articles, videos, and other Web content that might seem pertinent to your current or future class lectures. The app also lets you view anything you save offline, while presenting your articles with an easy-to-view layout that typically enhances the reading experience, regardless of your device. Sharing that enlightening article on the Roanoke colonists with your students couldn’t be easier.

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ClassDojo

ClassDojo

ClassDojo isn’t your typical classroom-management platform. Whereas others concern themselves with gold stars and charts, this app lets teachers emphasize positive feedback, allowing you to elaborate on the behavior of your students with comments such as “working hard” or “participating.” You can even send parents public and private messages regarding their child’s progress, and if they desire to do so, they can view their child’s feedback in real-time. No school newsletter required.

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Edmodo

Edmondo 1

Edmodo allows the discussion to continue even after that school bell rings. Teachers and students can share content and use the app as a conduit for new information or notifications, submitting assignments and receiving grades in the process. The ability for teachers to post assignments, messages, polls and quizzes, while providing access to relevant resources and calendars, is simply invaluable.

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Teacher’s Assistant Pro: Classroom Management Notes ($6)

Teacher's Assistant Pro App

Organization is key in the classroom, but it’s not always easy. Teacher’s Assistant Pro allows you to keep a set of behavior records for each student in your care, offering a quick method for looking up and noting bad behavior, and letting you email specific incidents from directly within the app’s main interface.

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Teacher Aide Pro 2 ($15)

Teacher Aide App

Teacher Aide 2 is the Android counterpart to Teacher’s Assistant Pro, allowing you to easily record attendance and student information. Clicking a student’s name reveals their contact information and that of their parents, providing options for calling and emailing on the spot. The app even houses a gradebook function for assigning different weights to assignments.

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Educreations

Educreations App

Simply put, Educreations is an interactive whiteboard app that allows you to create easy to follow tutorials for students. You can record audio to narrate your actions as well, allowing you to create diagrams, commentary, simple animations, or instructions with coupled audio covering any topic. Plus, you can share video via email, Facebook, or Twitter in addition to the classroom.

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iTunes

StudyBlue

SkyBlue App Final

Flashcards are a time-tested method of study, but they can be easy to loose track of given their size and durability. With Studyblue, teachers can create digital sets of flashcards, study guides, and quizzes, each complete with optional audio and video. Moreover, students can create and share their own sets of flashcards and study tools, giving them a convenient place to start studying outside of simple lectures and text books. For $8 a month per semester, students have access to more study materials with StudyBlue PRO.

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TED

TED App Final

You can’t go wrong with TED. The organization’s official app houses hundreds of inspiring and intriguing TED Talks, featuring fascinating lectures from industry and subject matter experts spanning a wide swath of categorical topics (neuroscience, traditional folk music, human evolution, etc.). Some of them are perfectly suited for sparking classroom discussions and online debates, while others can serve as inspiration for educators creating new lesson plans or lectures.

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Blackboard Mobile Learn

Blackboard Mobile Learn App

Transparency and collaboration are pivotal with students. With Blackboard Mobile Learn, you can send push notifications regarding course activity and start discussion boards among your students, and even post blogs, grades, and announcements in addition to mobile-friendly exams and other content items. Though some schools offer the app for free, a life-long personal license only costs a mere $6.

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Trello

Trello App 1

Group projects can be difficult when everyone is operating on a different schedule and page. Fortunately, Trello lets students stay organized, providing handy tools designed to keep them on task. The app allows them to create checklists, upload images, and assign tasks to other users among other actions, while conveniently syncing content across devices via the cloud. Content is displayed within a card-peppered interface, with options to easily delete tasks once completed.

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