Turn Whining into Shining: 5 Apps that Make Schoolwork Come Alive

Your students are probably dragging their proverbial feet by this time in the semester, and with the holidays around the corner. So, how do you keep them both engaged and—dare we say—entertained with your curriculum? Advisory Board contributor and tech guru, Rebecca, offers up 5 apps that are tried and true and sure to turn humdrum to fun...fun for your students!

Updated on: December 16, 2020

5 Apps that make teaching online easier

I’m sure your students must be starting to drag their proverbial feet by now, and are counting days and how many assignments they have to turn in until they can “check out” for the hard-earned holiday break. . .But rest assured—alleviating the complaining and ho-humming with the holidays around the corner is not completely out of reach. There are so many online tools and apps out there (too many to share here!) that can reignite some of the spark that the beginning of the school year brings. But, here are just a few that I have used before that will make your students’ schoolwork come alive and hopefully help you survive...at least for now!

ClassDojo

Yes—I know what you are thinking: ClassDojo? That is for behavior management. In fact, it is one of the most well-known apps used by teachers for classroom management; but many don’t utilize all that it has to offer! One of my favorite features of this app is the “Digital Portfolio.” I personally use ClassDojo for messaging parents, reporting positive and negative behaviors, as well as their work portfolios. This allows everything to be stored in one convenient place for students and parents. My students loved uploading and adding work they have created to share. Students can upload files, display drawings, annotations, journaling, videos, and photos.

Flipgrid

Flipgrid is one of the most useful apps for teachers who are teaching virtually. The idea is that teachers first post a discussion question, requiring a lot of thought on their students’ part. Then, students respond with an extensive video recording. The video can include emojis, clips, text, and more. The discussion question can also be accompanied with resources, articles, images, and videos that you want your students to review prior to the question and response. Flipgrid provides an environment that feels like you are “in” the classroom. Students feel heard and are usually excited to make their video thoughtful and fun.

Storyboard That!

Storyboard That! is a program I have used for several years now. It is always a favorite amongst my students because they can display their understanding using comics! The program provides backdrops, characters, objects, and text boxes to create their comic. I usually provide an example and then allow students to get creative. I have had students present the phases of the moon, how the water cycle works, or recreate a favorite scene from a book. Students can then share their comic with parents, teachers, and classmates to show what they have learned.

Padlet

Padlet is an excellent online bulletin board. The app is easy to use, very secure, and allows for collaboration. The app looks like a bulletin board and can be used in several ways, such as for student reports and portfolios. I have used this platform for journaling, exit tickets, discussions, class polls, and even research. The collaboration part is key, as students can view each other's responses, files, and links. It is visual and easy to monitor too! 

Prezi

They say you learn by teaching. That is exactly what Prezi can do for your students. Allow students to create a presentation, including their voice, images, and resources. I used this app quite often during remote learning to allow students to create presentations to demonstrate their understanding of any topic we are currently covering. This app is an excellent resource for teachers to also create presentations that are exciting and personable. Students will show off their creativity while demonstrating their mastery of the topic. It is also a great way to teach 21st century skills since it resembles PowerPoint, so it could be good practice for planning and presenting in their careers in the future.