by Katrina Baran & Deirdre Marlowe

At BGL, we’ve been teaching using video conferencing for more than a decade and are still awed by the number of tools available. The internet is crowded with apps, programs and websites that promise to be the best ones to use to engage your learners. Face it, the world of edtech can be more than a little intimidating at times. How do you know which app is the right app? We’d like to help you make your choice. Here are some of our favorite app.

1. FLIPGRID

Students use Flipgrid to inspire student conversation and improve their speaking skills. Rather than type messages on a message board, students record themselves speaking about a topic. Depending on how the teacher sets things up, students can view each other’s messages and record responses. We love how Flipgrid provides a safe space for students to speak publicly.

2. PADLET

Our students post info, links, videos and images on a teacher-created Padlet board, or create  their own boards to display their work and ideas. The many styles of board available make it  flexible. When given the opportunity students enjoy commenting on, liking and ranking each other’s posts. We use Padlet both synchronously and asynchronously.  

3. GOOGLE WORKSPACE

Our go-to collaborative productivity software is Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). Students can work together in real-time in slides, docs and sheets, and teachers can check in on students’ progress in real-time, too. Students and teachers need Gmail accounts to use Google Workspace programs collaboratively. We love how these apps can all work together.

4. MENTIMETER

Our teachers use Mentimeter to create word collages or clouds based on student input. The most common words are largest and the least common words are smallest. While Mentimeter can be used as another approach to KWL charting, we especially appreciate how Mentimeter can provide a quick formative assessment especially while a new topic is being covered. 

5. GLOGSTER

Although a bit more complicate, Glogster enables our students to make interactive collages using video, text, images and external links. While students cannot (yet) collaborate in one glog, they can view, comment on and link to each other’s glogs. We love how Glogster helps students build on each other’s work and facilitates teamwork.

6. CANVA

Students (and teachers) no longer need to be graphic designers! Canva is a free web-based graphic design program that comes with many templates and graphics for all of us to use to create interesting posters, infographics or other graphics. We appreciate how Canva helps us make headers in documents we create more interesting and student certificates display-worthy. 

7. TINKERCAD

Students can let their imaginations run wild using Tinkercad. They can design anything! Students take screenshots of their work to turn it in, and share it on Padlet or in class presentations for students to view and comment on. We love this free, student-friendly version of Auto-Cad. 

8. KAHOOT

Who doesn’t love a quiz? Kahoot gets the students excited to demonstrate their learning as they compete singly or in teams in timed quiz games. We use it  to review concepts or vocabulary, and sometimes as a way to introduce a topic. We love how Kahoot’s music and visuals ramp up student excitement and enthusiasm!

9. QUIZLET

And, for those who might not immediately engage group quizzes… Students can use Quizlet, to study with pre-loaded flashcards (we make our own class sets). While they study, students review playing different single-player games. Teachers can make things even more interesting by generating speed-based quiz games for students to play in groups. Quizlet helps save trees, too, because the flashcards are virtual!

10. PEAR DECK

Our go-to add on for Google Slides (it also works with PowerPoint!), is PearDeck. We use it to create interactive slide decks. Students don’t need to be registered anywhere to participate, they just go to the link (or scan the QR code). Students can participate in many ways: by writing answers to questions, indicating where they fall on a scale, and more. We appreciate how PearDeck is K-12 friendly. 

11. GOOGLE CLASSROOM

We use Google Classroom as our LMS. Teachers post assignments, materials, resources and questions for students on Classroom. We love how simple and straightforward Classroom is to use which helps save time and prevent confusion during class time.  

12. CLASS DOJO

Class Dojo is a web-based classroom management program that keeps students motivated and helps teachers track participation and behaviour. We use Class Dojo to reward students for being on task or actively participating, but can use it to take points away from students for breaking class rules or not being on task. Students and teachers alike enjoy Class Dojo tools like the timer and the random student selector!