Edtech in K–12: The best tools and apps

Not so long ago, the most advanced technology you would see in a classroom was probably a blackboard and chalk. But things have changed a lot since then. Education technology is a fast-moving world, and sometimes it can be hard to keep up.

That’s why we decided to put together this handy list of edtech tools. They’re aimed at the K–12 age group and divided up into four categories: reading & writing; math & science; history & geography; art & music. Whatever subject you’re interested in, this list should have you covered. 

You might have heard of a few of these edtech tools before, but we’re hoping most of them will be completely new to you. After giving them a go, you’ll find yourself wondering how you ever lived without them. 

Reading & writing

Quill.org

Quill is targeted at students who find it hard to express themselves in writing. Their digital platform provides simple exercises which help to develop sentence structure and grammar skills. By the time a student is finished with the course, they will find themselves writing in a clear, confident style, making parents and teachers proud.

Proficient writing is such an important skill. At school, it’s hard to do well without it, with so many essays and tests. And it’s equally important in the adult world. In other words, the lessons provided by Quill.org are invaluable in the short term and the long.

Storyline Online

Storyline Online is a vibrant library of audiobooks, all of them aimed at kids. What makes these audiobooks really special is the fact they’re read by famous faces, including major celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Costner, Viola Davis and Kirsten Bell.

Some students, who have always found storybooks boring, might change their minds when they hear the voice of their favorite actor or presenter. If Viola Davis loves storybooks, shouldn’t the rest of us love storybooks too? It’s a brilliant way to boost engagement. 

FlipGrid

FlipGrid is an online tool that lets students record short videos of themselves. It isn’t specifically designed for reading and writing, but it can definitely help. If a student records themself reading aloud, then plays the video back again, they’ll get a new perspective. Were they reading too fast? Was their voice too quiet? Did they mispronounce any words?

They can set themselves reading challenges too. How many pages can they read aloud in 5 minutes? Can they read aloud, without stopping, for 10 minutes? How about 20? Overall, FlipGrid is just a really good way to grow comfortable reading aloud.

Book Creator

Book Creator is a colorful app that lets students build their own ebooks. That’s right: they can turn a piece of creative writing into a real, readable novel. As well as writing the text, students are able to choose the font, design the cover, upload illustrations, and even record a voiceover. 

If students aren’t fond of creative writing, they could make a non-fiction book instead. An official textbook explaining something they recently learned about at school: the human body, or viking history, or bubbling chemical reactions.

At the end of it all, children can share their unique ebook with teachers, family and friends. After receiving a couple of good reviews, it won’t be long before they’re itching to write a sequel.

Education technology

Math & Science

RealWorldMath

Teachers are constantly talking to students about the importance of math in the real world, and RealWorldMath is the perfect way to prove it. The website poses mathematical problems against the 3D backdrop of Google Earth. Students can learn about oil spills, and time zones, and coordinates, and mountain ranges, all in the context of mathematical theory.

It’s fun. It’s refreshing. It’s a break from the walls of sums and numbers which usually dominate a math class. And it’s especially useful for more practical students who want to see the effects of math in practice.

AnatomyLearning

This free-to-access online database contains thousands of 3D digital models. Each of them shows a different feature of human anatomy: the muscles between your toes, the villi in your intestine, the chambers inside your heart. These digital models move and breathe, giving a dynamic demonstration that a static illustration will never be able to match. 

There are thousands of anatomical models here. Digital demonstrations of bodily functions you didn’t even know existed. One thing’s for sure: after spending some time on AnatomyLearning, you’ll no longer see your body in quite the same way.

CueThink

CueThink is an online platform that teaches math in a different way. They’re hot on collaboration, with students encouraged to solve problems together, instead of working alone as they would usually do in class. CueThink offers a lot of visual options too, which is something else that math lessons often lack.

For students who struggle with traditional teaching, CueThink can be a real game-changer. It helps them to rethink their relationship with mathematics and to realize, hopefully, that it isn’t as hard as they always thought. Sometimes, just by looking at a subject from a new perspective, a student’s potential will suddenly start to shine.

BirdBrain Technologies

Most of the tools on this list are digital: websites, videos, apps. But there are also some hands-on technologies out there that help to bring learning to life. 

One of these is BirdBrain. They use real-life robots and electronic kits to teach computer science to kids. After receiving a robot, students can link it to a phone or laptop, and start writing code that tells the robot what to do. This code can be basic or advanced, block-based or text-based, making it perfect for any age group.

We’ll be honest here: these robots don’t come cheap. But to make things easier, BirdBrain offers a free sixty-day demo for teachers. 

History & Geography

Seterra

Seterra is a quizzing tool with questions all about geography. There are quizzes on maps and capitals, on flags and climate, and on absolutely everything that a geography student might need to know. 

You can access Seterra through the website, and it’s available as an app as well. The quizzes are available in more than forty different languages, and it also has a voice feature that teaches students how far-flung place names are pronounced. It really is a multinational platform that students everywhere can enjoy.

Britannica School

The internet is full of interesting historical sources, many of them free to access. The problem is, not all of these sources are suitable for children. Some periods of history are dark and bloody, and definitely not age appropriate. 

That’s where Britannica School comes in. It’s an online encyclopedia full of carefully researched stories and sources, all of them suitable for kids. If a student loves history, they can go wild on Britannica School, diving deep into any subject without needing to worry about stumbling across something adult.

eChalk Globes

These digital globes each show our planet in a slightly different light. One might demonstrate energy consumption in different countries. Another might show climate, or population, or GDP. They’re a great way for kids to visualize the world around them.

The eChalk Globes are nowhere near as detailed as Google Earth. When it comes to digital globes, that will always be the gold standard. But eChalk is a great alternative: fun and free and easy to run in your browser. 

Kahoot!

Kahoot! is an online learning platform jam-packed with educational games. Most of these games are puzzles or quizzes, which can be used to test a student’s knowledge of significant places or events. Students can even go head-to-head, which is great for competitive learners. They might even manage to beat their teacher! Stranger things have happened.

We decided to place Kahoot! in the ‘History & Geography’ list, but honestly, this website could go anywhere. It has more than 100 million games to choose from, covering every topic you could think of. You can even use it to make your own quizzes if you can’t find the one you’re looking for.

Art & Music

Go Noodle

Go Noodle is a website full of exercise videos and dance routines. These videos are always fun and musical, encouraging kids to leap from their seats and follow along. Grownups are welcome to join in too. Every age is welcome. Just get to your feet and dance!

Go Noodle is great for fitness and health, but that’s not the only thing. There are mental benefits to dancing too. Healthy kids are happy kids, and that’s what this website is all about. The videos can be used at home, or in the classroom, or anywhere else you have access to a phone or computer. 

Bandimal

Bandimal is a music creation app. A music creation app with a twist. Instead of musical instruments, users compose songs using brightly colored cartoon animals. Line up a turtle, a panda and a chicken, choose the pitch and tempo, and see what kind of song it creates.

The app is aimed at the lower end of the K–12 age bracket. According to Common Sense, it’s best enjoyed by children five years old and under. But there’s no reason why an older student couldn’t have fun with it too. Or an adult, for that matter. We certainly did. 

Artful

Artful is a subscription service that delivers quarterly art packs to a student’s door. Each pack is full of paints and pencils and other materials, which have all been chosen by a real-life, professional artist. For budding creators, there’s nothing more exciting than opening that pack and seeing what’s waiting inside.

After receiving their supplies, students can visit the Artful website and watch video tutorials provided by the artist who chose the materials for the pack. If they follow these tutorials carefully, and throw in some flair along the way, students will find themselves making something amazing.

Stop Motion Studio

Stop Motion Studio is a powerful app that we really couldn’t recommend more. It allows kids to create stop-motion movies, using clay, or soft toys, or whatever else they have to lie around. The app has loads of excellent features, including a frame-by-frame educator, an animation guide, and a library of brilliant sound effects.

There’s nothing more creative than making a movie, and with Stop Motion Studio, anyone can give it a try. Just make sure to have some popcorn at hand — when the movie is ready, students will definitely want to arrange a screening.

Final words

There are so many amazing edtech tools, and this list is just the tip of the iceberg.

If none of them take your fancy, try searching the internet for more. Just open a search engine, type ‘the best edtech for music’ or ‘educational technology for history students, and see what else comes up. We’d be astonished if you couldn’t find an edtech tool that does exactly what you need.

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