Teaching should not be hard. So in our last article, we curated ideas from teachers all around the world, made a list of 50 awesome teaching tools, and created a step-by-step guide you to get started on distance learning. Now that you are all set up, we have compiled a shorter but advanced list of teacher-created resources that have the potential to enhance learning, save time, or engage students in unprecedented ways.
As you read along, you will find a brief overview of every tool, followed by its key features and benefits. The article will also demonstrate how to implement these resources in your classroom. Finally, we will leave a pricing section at the end of each discussion so that you can make informed decisions. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Full Curriculum Teacher Created Resources
Albert is a powerful online library founded by a group of educators. It offers core curriculum supplements for ELA, Maths, and Science, including over 100,000 original practice lessons, assessments, and writing prompts for middle school and high school students. Moreover, Albert also provides test preps for standardized exams such as AP®, SAT, and ACT.
Pricing: Albert offers a free version that includes only foundational Algebra and Grammar. However, you can choose the Teacher plan for $300 a year to access all subject supplements and accommodate up to 20 students. You can also go for the School plan for $12 per student per school year (if your institution allows).
CK-12 is essentially a digital library of free and customizable K-12 educational resources that work as supplements to the state curriculum. The platform has a clear focus on science subjects with thousands of teacher-created STEM resources. However, you can find just about anything on the platform.
Fig: List of subjects under CK-12
CK-12 also offers interactive videos, simulations, exercises, study guides, flashcards, and multimodal lessons. Furthermore, you can integrate your CK-12 teacher account with the existing LMS, discover actionable insights about your students, and automatically generate graded reports.
Khan Academy is another non-profit organization like CK-12 that provides curriculum- standard videos, educational articles, practice questions, personalized lesson plans.
Although Salman Khan originally founded the platform to create explanatory videos on STEM subjects, volunteers and teachers from different backgrounds have joined Khan Academy over the years and rendered it a one-stop solution to education needs for both students and teachers.
Teacher Created Resources on English Language Arts
Michelle Brown, a former Language Teacher at Marywood University, founded CommonLit, a free, robust online library of reading passages and literary resources—articles, journals, excerpts, poems, stories, and historical documents. You can choose texts based on your students’ grades, reading ability, genre, theme, and even period. Moreover, each passage comes with essential background information, vocabulary footnotes, and strategically placed discussion questions.
Once you have found your desired passage, you can either download the PDF or assign it to your students on Google Classroom or Clever. Finally, you can track student progress and performance, identify their core reading and writing skills, and assess your whole class.
Tanner Hock, a former ESL instructor, founded ReadTheory with a mission to improve reading comprehension for people of all ages and abilities. The team consists of award-winning writers and educators who craft original reading passages for ReadTheory. Like CommonLit, ReadTheory also has worksheets sorted by age, Lexile level, and other performance metrics. The platform is perfect for students who have English as their second language.
You can try sample worksheets here.
Fig: A Sample ReadTheory Worksheet for Grade 4
Dr. Deep Sran, a former educational psychologist, focused on creating a learning environment that would promote critical thinking and logical reasoning while keeping students motivated and happy; Thus, ActivelyLearn came into being.
It is an online learning platform well-suited for group reading. You can assign passages to either individuals or groups from its rich library of texts and videos on topics such as ELA, Science and Social Studies. Each reading exercise contains supporting material and discussion-based questions. Thus, students can read together, annotate vital information, share them in class, and interact via text.
You can monitor your students’ reading progress and see how they are interacting. You can also lead a discussion on a proposed topic within the text. Once your students get used to the platform, group discussions will develop naturally, facilitating more organic class participation.
The learning curve can be a bit difficult for people new to Edtech. However, ActivelyLearn has some terrific blogs and videos to help you and your students onboard faster and integrate the platform seamlessly into your current LMS (Google Classroom and Canvas only).
Pricing: ActivelyLearn has a free but limited version. The platform offers quotes to schools on its premium plan based on the class size and requirements.
Teacher Created Resources on Math
Like all the platforms we have discussed until now, Buzzmath was also founded by a teacher. Claude Laverdure is an educator and programmer who integrated the middle school math curriculum into an interactive learning software with student monitoring features. Students can practice high-standard math problems, get immediate and accurate feedback, and learn at their own pace. As a teacher, you can also evaluate and guide them based on the detailed result Buzzmath generates.
The premium version allows you to monitor student progress with better accuracy and gives students access to in-depth explanations and solutions.
Pricing: Buzzmath has a free version that comes with limited features. The minimum subscription starts at $300 for 30 students. However, Buzzmath offers a discounted price for 201 students or more.
Shane Hill, a former teacher, established Mathletics as an all-in-one solution for mathematics for teachers, learners, and administrators. The website features a vast library of printable math eBooks, explainer videos, full math courses, and customizable lesson plans for K-12 students.
You can find books and study guides for every grade and sort them out based on difficulty level, region, and standards.
Mathletics is unique for incorporating gamified learning into day-to-day math problems. Moreover, you can also produce powerful reports to get deeper insights into your class progress.
Pricing: Mathletics offers a 30-day free trial for schools and a 48-hour trial for home users. Since there is no fixed pricing plan, you have to contact them to get a quote.
In its basic form, Illustrative Mathematics is a digital math textbook for 5–12th grade. The free mode will allow you to access lesson plans and practice worksheets only. Even if you follow an existing textbook, IM free resources are great prompts to practice high-quality problems. However, you have to find a way to assess your students because individual accounts do not support a teacher’s dashboard or reporting features.
Fig: Group of educators working for Illustrative Mathematics
Pricing: Illustrative Mathematics has three certified partners —Kendall Hunt, McGraw Hill, and LearnZillion. If your school has a partnership with either of the organizations, you can access all IM assessment units, math simulations, and answer guides.
Teacher Created Resources on Science
Mystery Science is created for teachers by teachers. Doug Peltz had been a middle school teacher for seven years and tried to come up with ways to make young students excited about science. Thus, each lesson on the website starts by posing an intriguing question: "How does hair grow?" or "Where does salt come from?" You can then lead a classroom discussion based on the given short videos and science prompts.
You can also do hands-on experiments in the class (although that’s not an option in 2020). The units work as supplements to what you are already teaching. However, keep in mind that Mystery Science works best if you have a clear communication channel. Therefore, you must have a dedicated LMS, video conferencing tool, or a backchannel app for your class.
On another note, Mystery Doug posts fantastic weekly videos for elementary teachers based on real-life FAQs. These videos work as great hooks to retain attention in your class.
Pricing: Individual accounts will cost you between $69 to $99 based on your class size, but District and School Memberships are more cost-friendly. Check out prices on their website.
BrainPop is a bundle of education websites containing over a thousand short animated movies along with quizzes, supplements, and playful assessments for K-12 students. Although the website covers a wide range of subjects, its Science section is still mentionable. BrainPOP isn't exactly what you would call a Core-Curriculum aligned platform. However, it contains elements that make your students’ brains pop and nurture them to become open to creative ideas.
As a teacher, you can access lesson planning guides, assignment builder, interactive tools and features, and professional development programs offered by an expert group of educators. The following video will help you get started on BrainPOP.
Pricing: BrainPOP has three products, including Brain POP Jr. for K-3 students, BrainPOP® for 3-8th grade, and BrainPOP ELL for all ages. BrainPOP® also comes in French and Spanish. Since there are eight pricing plans based on your role, class size, school, and district.
Teacher Created Resources on Social Studies
Teaching Tolerance is a small group of active teachers and writers who have a passion for social justice and anti-bias. The team provides free classroom resources such as lesson plans, reading comprehension, student, tasks, and film kits to educators in charge of K-12 students. You can use the Common Core-aligned materials to supplement your Social Studies curriculum or implement an anti-bias program in your class.
Fig: Film Kit Compilation by Teaching Tolerance
The texts and film kits are designed in such a way that makes your students challenge their prejudices, respect human and welcome diversity.
Other Resources on Social Studies and Civic Education
Although the following websites aren’t precisely teacher-created resources, they are still worth mentioning. These websites contain free digital classroom resources such as lesson plans, articles, and assessments that you can sort by Common Core, theme, or State Content.
Teacher Created Resources for Assignments and Feedback
Jeff Solomon is an entrepreneur turned high school teacher in Los Angeles. He created a course in entrepreneurship six years ago and has been teaching his curriculum to high school juniors and seniors ever since. His school uses the popular LMS, Schoology, but Jeff still found it challenging to provide feedback to students. In response to this issue he created a software product called Markup Hero.
Markup Hero is a simple tool that enables teachers and students to annotate almost anything. You can upload a PDF, image, Google Doc, Google Sheet or Google Slides and instantly add arrows, callouts, comments, highlights and more. It’s perfect for providing teacher comments on worksheets or assignments. And it works great for students to submit their ideas on homework, readings and other assignments.
The most common use case for teachers using Markup Hero is:
- Teacher creates assignment PDF or Google Doc
- Teacher uploads file to Markup Hero
- Teacher copies the share link generated by Markup Hero and pastes it into an assignment in Google Classroom or other LMS
- Student clicks link and opens file in Markup Hero
- Student adds their feedback with comments, highlights, and other annotations
- Student submits the completed work in their LMS
- Teacher provides comments and feedback with annotation tools in Markup Hero
- All assignments are organized within Markup Hero by tag and filters
Pricing: Markup Hero has a completely free version but markups are limited to 30 per month. Their pro account is $4 per month (on the annual plan). However, they’re known to give free year coupons to help teachers out, so just message them on their support chat.
Melanie Kong, a former teacher and education consultant, founded Floop because she believed in a simple idea: students deserve feedback; the faster, the better. However, it is challenging for you to provide timely feedback to your students while trudging through the massive paperwork that comes with each class and preparing your next lesson. And when you finally manage time to provide comments, your students might have already moved on to the next chapter.
This is where Floop comes in. It is a web-based app that helps teachers better manage time and provide meaningful feedback to engage students. Here’s how Floop works.
- Students submit their work on Floop.
- You can instantly find the assignments on a shared dashboard.
- You can then add comments, questions, or suggest the next step.
- Students can also reach out to you via in-built chat if they have further queries.
- They can also revise and resubmit their work based on your feedback.
What makes Floop unique is that you can ask your students to run a peer review session if you fall behind the schedule. The peer reviews are anonymous, so you don’t need to worry about favoritism. This way, your students can reflect upon each other’s work and learn on their own accord.
Pricing: Floop is to remain free until October 2020. However, its usual monthly plan starts from $7. It also has an 84-dollar yearly plan and custom plans for schools.
If you are an English teacher looking to provide interactive feedback on your students’ writing, Kaizena is for you. It’s a Google Docs add-on that lets you provide four types of feedback.
- Voice messages: There are times when you need to provide a lengthy or complicated comment that cannot be written or appropriately explained in the text. Therefore, you can record yourself and provide voice comments instantly, thus saving time and speeding up the feedback loop.
- Text Comments: Although Google Doc already has an in-built comment feature, Kaizena allows you to change the highlight color. The feature comes in handy if you want to differentiate between two types of feedback.
- Skills Ratings: You can add rubrics, add custom descriptions, and rate your students on different skills.
- Links to curated lessons: Kaizena has a library of teacher-created materials on common writing topics that you can link to your feedback. You can also redirect your students to external learning resources.
To sum up, Kaizena makes learning interactive and efficient with the help of multimodal feedback.
The whole purpose of our teacher series content is to help educators navigate the ever-growing world of classroom technology. We hope you have found a few useful tools here and successfully try them out in your next class. All in all, don’t be afraid to adopt new technology; once you start using one, you will be surprised to find how fast you’ll learn it.