Deciding what to put in your makerspace or the right edtech to integrate into your classroom to transform learning can be overwhelming. Let UFO do the heavy lifting for you!
Lightworks – If you are looking for some serious power and professional features, Lightworks is for you. While it has a steep learning curve, Lightworks is the most powerful, free video editor out there. The only difference between free and pro is the 720p limit. Free.
WeVideo – This video editing software is easy enough for elementary school students to use, yet still produces a top quality video. If you find Lightworks to be too much, you won’t be disappointed with Camtasia. Worth the price.
Scratch – Scratch is a free programming language and online community where you can create your own interactive stories, games, and animations. The best way to get kids started with coding. Combine MakeyMakeys and Scratch for some awesome projects. Free.
App Inventor – App Inventor uses the same block-based coding language as Scratch to make apps for android devices. You can even test them live on the device before your eyes. Really cool. Free.
ScratchX – Play with Experimental Extensions for Scratch. With Experimental Extensions, you can create Scratch projects that connect with external hardware (such as electronic devices and robotics) and online resources. Free.
Minecraft: Education Edition– The brand new version of Minecraft made with the classroom in mind. Cloud login, the camera + portfolio feature, and custom NPCs are awesome for helping students share their work and make their world come alive. Worth the price.
Inkscape – Your free Adobe Illustrator alternative. Just as powerful. Just as awesome. Free.
Gimp – Your free Adobe Photoshop alternative. Just as powerful. Just as awesome. Free.
TinkerCad – Autodesk’s free, entry-level 3D Design program. Allows you to export 3D objects for Minecraft. Works great when teamed with Fusion 360. This is the place to start kids with 3D Design. A lot of new updates, including the ability to tinker with circuits and the addition of codeblocks, has made this a lot more powerful. Free.
Fusion 360 – Autodesk has made all their software free for educators. Fusion 360 is the future of 3D design. Fusions 360 has a learning curve, but if you’re looking for something more powerful than TinkerCad. This is the way to go.
VLC Media Player – This video player will play anything! I’ve never met a video file that wouldn’t work in VLC. Free.
Unity – Free for schools, Unity is used by the pros to make games like Pokemon Go! It looks intimidating, but thanks to the built in tutorials and plethora of YouTube guides, Unity is way easier than it looks. It can be used fifth grade and up, but you’ll need decent computing power. Free.
Skanect – If you have a 360 Kinect and a computer with a CUDA enabled graphics card, you can build your own 3D scanner using Skanect. You have to see it to believe it. Amazing! Free.
Codecademy – Still the best way to sit down and learn real code. Their tutorials and presentations are phenomenal. Free.
City Skylines – A modern take on the old SimCity like city builders. A great game that simulates real-world problems that my kids try to solve. Worth the money.
Blogger – Sure it’s nice to use for blogging, but the real power lies in using it as a way to push out student made podcasts and videos to the world. Free.
iExplorer – I use it to move Minecraft: Pocket Edition games from the iPad to the computer and vice versa. Free.
Offworld Trading Company – Entrepreneurial education is hard to find in most schools, but will be an important part of our kids’ future. Offworld Trading Company is a video game that puts you in control of a company on Mars attempting to turn a profit. You battle other players, not with weapons, but with your knowledge of markets and economic principles. An AAA title that teaches tons of entrepreneurial skills and is fun to play! Worth the money.
If This Then That (IFTTT) – An amazing site that lets you chain together your favorite programs with conditional statements so they can interact with each other. Free.
Cayenne – Cayenne is an Internet of Things project builder. I’ve been really impressed with how it works and how easy it is to manage multiple Raspberry Pis. Cayenne is a super powerful platform to start teaching students about the IoT and how to analyze data.
Flipgrid – Talk about taking the edtech world by storm. Flipgrid is killing it right now. I’m using it in every class for students to reflect on their learning and communicate with other classes about what jobs have to be done in our businesses. Might be my favorite edtech in the last few years.
Nepris – In the process of running our businesses, my kids have a lot of questions. This year I’ll be learning on Nepris to help connect my students with industry experts. Really cool service.
Real World Scholars – While they do provide teachers with online stores to sell student-made products, Real World Scholars isn’t just software. They are a charity helping bring entrepreneurship to the classroom. I wanted to make sure they got a shout out on here.
Sketchup – I love using the browser-based version of Sketchup with students to help them get their ideas out of their heads. Free.
Adobe Spark – Spark is awesome. You can use if for graphic design, website development, and cloud-based movie making. Free and outstanding. This has replaced sites like Canva as my go to graphic design program for our marketing adventures. Free.
Adobe XD – a program for prototyping websites and apps. Easy to use, great documentation, and a great way for students to speed-create wireframes for apps and websites. Free.
Microsoft MakeCode – Similar to Scratch, this is a block-based coding platform that also lets you see the real code behind your blocks. As a bonus you can also connect hardware like the Microbit.
Google Sites – The new Google Sites is fantastic for website making or portfolio building. Don’t forget: new Google Sites now lives in Drive!
MakeyMakey – A MakeyMakey will turn anything that conducts electricity into a button. You can then code this button to do pretty much anything. A must have! Worth the price.
Raspberry Pi – A credit card sized computer. The Pi is a great tool for teaching kids coding and physical computing. All the rage in the UK, it’s finally made its way to America. Minecraft Pi, Sonic Pi, and Scratch are amazing programs. Worth the price.
The Extraordinaires – A fun, tech-free way to teach Design Thinking basics. We start teaching our kids about Design Thinking using this card game. Worth the price.
Dremel Rotary Tools and Accessories – When we are turning parts into arts, we need something powerful to cut and shape our parts and that we can use indoors. Dremel is perfect. I was really excited to see how far Dremel has come. I have all the basic shop tools Don’t forget the clamps, flex shaft, and the drill press. Update: loved this package so much I bought a second one this year!
Hurion H610PRO Graphics Tablet – I had never heard of speed painting until last year. A group of talented students loved to screencast themselves painting. It was painful to watch them do it with a mouse, so I grabbed a few tablets this year!
Video Studio Kit – I bought this almost four years ago when I started Bengal Buzz, a student run news show, at my old high school. I was stoked to see it was still on Amazon. For the price, you can’t beat this kit. It’s not top of the line quality, but it’s damn good and the price can’t be beat.
Play-Doh – Play-Doh is great for MakeyMakey projects, but here’s an even cooler use: we use Play-Doh to make molds. We then fill the molds with hot glue. The dried glue pops right out an the Play-Doh is still good to use. Great for quick prototyping.
Arduino Uno Wifi – Everyone’s favorite microcontroller now with integrated WiFi!
SKIL Power Screwdriver and Cutter – I wanted students to start using more power tools. This Skil drill is the middle school version of a real drill. As a bonus it comes with a circular saw-ish cutting attachment that helps kids cut through cardboard and other light materials much faster and with more precision. Watching kids cut cardboard with scissors was getting painful. Happy I found this cool tool.
Makerbot Replicator+ – Before I got to Fair Haven, they had bought a Replicator 2x and it was an absolute nightmare. After running into my new best friends from Makerbot at ISTE, they stepped up big time and replaced my dysfunctional Replicator 2x with a Replicator which has been solid so far. I still would recommend a Lulzbot over everything.
Glowforge – We were lucky to get in on the Glowforge early. It has been wonderful and easy to use!
In The Classroom
uBlock Origin – A Chrome Extension that blocks most ads on the internet. Better than Ad Block
Share to Google Classroom – This extension does three things. 1) Allows you to push a website to students computers, meaning that you don’t have to write a URL on the board or in Classroom anymore. You can actually make it popup on their screen. 2) Students can push their work or a website to you to the teacher. 3) You can turn anything you find on the web into an assignment or announcement in classroom. A must have if you use Google Classroom. You have to see it to believe it!
Chrome – Extensions and GAFE integration make it the best browser around.
Colorzilla – The Dropper and Gradient Generator are great, time-saving Chrome extensions for helping match colors and create graphics.
Dropbox – Still the best Cloud storage out there.
Edulastic – My favorite place for next generation assessments that mimic PARCC.
Explain Everything – If you want to make a screencast using the iPad, Explain Everything is the best out there and my favorite app on the planet. Kids love this one. Great for elementary school through high school.
Gsuite for Education– No explanation necessary. Just don’t forget about the lesser known “GAFEs” like Sites, Books, Voice, Scholar, and Blogger.
Newsela – Newsela is the place to go for Current Events. What makes Newsela extra special is they align current events to Common Core, complete with anchor questions. Newsela even allows you to increase or decrease the reading level.
Pear Deck – I like using Pear Deck to make direct instruction more fun. It lives in Drive and is a great way to to gather quick formative assessments.
Poll Everywhere – PE is a text-message based polling program. I used it for my Do Now, Closure, and a lot more.
Mercury Reader – A chrome extension that will cleanup an article and make it fit for print or to share with kids. Removes all the distracting side bars and videos.
Read&Write For Google – Annotations, voice/text, dictionaries and so many more useful features! Great way to simulate PARCC like accommodations. The best part is the ability to add voice feedback to Google Docs. The best way to leave voice comments for students. Check their site, Read & Write is free for teachers!
Save to Drive – I use this Chrome extension to save a copy of a website or article directly to Google Drive.
Screencastify – Screencastify shines as the best way to make screencasts when using the Chromebook.
Tab Scissors and Tab Glue – Sister Chrome Extensions that make it easy to split a tab in Chrome and work on two things, side-by-side, at the same time. No more wasting time resizing windows side-by-side.
Hudl – For you coaches. Video feedback is important to athletic success. This is a great app for coaches to record, slowdown, and annotate an athlete’s performance. Formerly called Ubersense.
EDPuzzle – A nice option for teachers using the flipped classroom. Has a lot of nice features that can help hold students accountable for watching assigned videos.
ViewPure – Take a YouTube URL and plug it into ViewPure and it spits out a new URL that eliminates the comments, sidebar, and other things teachers don’t like about YouTube. A must use for if you teach little ones.
Google Cast – With Cast students can share their screen directly to the teacher’s projector-connected device without the need for wires. Cast eliminates the headache of having to swap device to show student work to the class.