Updated January 2023
Isn’t there something so exciting about finding a new tool that you can use in your classroom?
All of these are fun and extremely simple. They’re free, and you don’t even have to create any kind of account to use them. Just pull up the site and start playing around.
Maybe I’m just a total dork, but I get all tingly when I discover little gems like these that will make my students smile, or make a routine task more pleasant.
Wheel of Names https://wheelofnames.com/
I mentioned this one in my most recent post about review games. This is a great way to fairly select random student names, assignments, or anything at all that you can think of! You can even put pictures on the wheel instead of text, if you wanted. (P.S.- If you recognize the names on my example wheel below, we’re kindred spirits. 😉 )
Classroom Screen https://www.classroomscreen.com/classic/
This is a fun classic that I would pull out when I felt like being different. You can choose from a variety of beautiful images for the background, or upload your own. Then add tools and text like instructions, timer, sound level indicator, QR codes, etc.
I haven’t had a chance to try it myself, but I *think* you should be able to use this with Zoom if you’re teaching remotely. You should be able to set up your classroom screen with everything the way you want it before class, then use the screen sharing tool on Zoom to display the Classroom Screen for your students. It works like a virtual focus wall/ white board. You can draw on it, too! If you have tried using Classroom Screen for remote teaching, I would love to know how it worked for you — comment below and let me know!
Similar to Wheel of Names, Random.org will randomize any list of data that you give it. It doesn’t look all cute like Wheel of Names; it’s better for just randomizing lists for your own use. I like to keep a couple randomized versions of each class list printed out for quick use to call on students.
Discovery Education Puzzle Maker http://puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com/
You can use this site to create 9 different kinds of printable puzzles! Some are number puzzles and others are word puzzles. You could customize puzzles with your content and keep them on hand for sub plans, early finishers, extra credit, review games, homework, etc.
(For more review game ideas, see my post with instructions for
social distancing-friendly review games [really just a great list of review games that can be used anytime]!)
Photos for Class https://photosforclass.com/
I love for students to incorporate their own unique style and creativity when they do a project to show what they know. One way to do that is of course to have them find and use photos, but we all know that image searches can accidentally go awry. Not to mention the questionable academic integrity of just yanking any image from the internet to use without the creator’s permission. Photos for Class solves both of these issues. Their image search engine pulls only photos that are guaranteed for both school and age appropriateness and for Creative Commons licensing (meaning it’s okay to use them for free without specific permission).
Bouncy Balls Noise Level Monitor https://bouncyballs.org/
This site gives students a visual indicator of whether their voice/ noise levels are too loud, in the form of bouncing balls. The louder the noise level, the crazier the bouncing! This is a great silent alternative to shushing or yelling. There are even several different style options for the bouncing balls such as bubbles, emojis, or eyeballs! (You’ll need a microphone connected to your classroom computer for this one to work.)
FreeRice is an educational trivia game owned by the UN World Food Programme (WFP). Each correct answer donates 10 grains of literal rice to be donated to someone in need. Great for early finishers or a few extra empty minutes at the end of class. (If you teach ELA, don’t miss this post with lots more ideas for filling a few extra class minutes with meaningful activities.)
Plickers is… hard to explain. But so cool. So let me try. Basically it’s a unique tool that lets you quiz your students and check for understanding in an instant. Perfect for exit tickets, pop quizzes, or a flash review game. You create a set of Plickers cards (free to print from the site or available to buy on Amazon) and give each student a card. Each card has a unique shape on it, similar to a QR code. You put a multiple-choice question up on the board, and students rotate their cards to indicate their answer choice, then hold up their cards. You scan the cards all at once with your device and it instantly gives you the results.
It’ll take a few minutes to set up initially, but after that, I could see this saving so much time!
If you try out any of these tools, I would love to know how you used them! Share in the comments below!