by Lizandaa Alburg, NJEA Teacher Leader Academy (TLA) consultant, and Sharon Ortiz, TLA participant; with additional contributions made by TLA participants Charlene Gerbig and Megan King; and Shaye Brown, technology educator at Paterson’s Dr. Frank Napier Jr. School of Tech-nology

Welcome back! During the past few months, many of us scrambled to develop technology skills, identify valuable digital resources, and continue student learning remotely as our workplace moved from brick-and-mortar schools to our kitchen tables, couches, or any available space. Gone were the days of group seating arrangements and interactive white boards. Instead, platforms and resources such as Google, Zoom, BrainPOP, and Newsela became instructional staples statewide.

It’s now September and your district may have opted to begin this new school year with a hybrid or all-remote instructional model. You may need to increase your student engagement, diversify your instruction and heighten your use of 21st-century skills even more. Consider using some of the following technology gems to ensure that you have a successful 2020-2021 academic year.


Flip Grid

Free–Flipgrid is styled to embody popular social media sites and contains discussion starters from Wonderopolis, NearPod, Conversations about Race, Equity and Justice, The Met, Flocabulary, Skype, MSN Kids, Learning from HOME and more.


Free/paid–Kahoot is a game-like assessment tool with high student engagement. It gives the teacher the ability to implement a formative assessment of the whole class at one time without putting students on the spot. Gimkit ( is a paid site similar to Kahoot that allows for differentiation.


Free/paid–Padlets are user-friendly “virtual walls” that can be used for hosting introductions, posting writing prompts, questions, exit tickets, videos, links, pictures, collaborative research, literature discussions, peer critiques, presentations, project progress and more.


Free–The only dashboard you need for interactive instruction. Nearpod offers live participation, student-paced and front-of-the-class options. You can also find lesson plans, games, videos, assessments, and more on the site.


Google Arts & Culture

Free–Google Arts & Culture offers virtual field trips, museums, scavenger hunts and other ideas.


Storytime Online

Free–Celebrities reading aloud.


Free–A great site for inquiry, reading comprehension, vocabulary development and extension activities.


Talking Points

Free–Talking Points is a two-way communication tool used with ELL students and their families. Typed messages can be translated to and from English to 100+ languages.



Free–A collection of virtual math manipulatives including dice, unifix cubes, spinners, number lines, pattern blocks, geoboards, and more.


Daily Caring

Free–Virtual field trips

Conversation Starters World

Free–Would You Rather… and other conversation-starting questions.


NGSS Phenomena

Free–Short GIFs of science phenomenon can be used as bell ringers or conversation starters. Virtual science education cards are also positive resources.



Free–Helps with reading comprehension and vocabulary development by simplifying English to a lower reading level. It lets you reword a sentence or reword a paragraph. It will simplify English by reducing text complexity. It’s an important part of reading instruction and vocabulary instruction for ELL students, students with reading disabilities, student with a learning disability, or anyone who wants to improve reading skills!


Free–Students analyze the pros and cons of current events. Useful for rigorous discussion, debates and citing evidence.


Free–This amazing resource has music-based lesson plans related to most content areas and grade levels.


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