The Best Apps for K-12 Teachers

Last updated: Jan 17, 2023

Across the world, the pandemic dramatically transformed education this past year, as schools shuttered and students and teachers alike logged into virtual classrooms. While this upcoming school year will bring a return to in-person learning across the U.S., the digital classroom is here to stay. The tools teachers mastered for distance learning can also help boost student engagement, sharpen assessment, and help with classroom organization and equity. Here’s a look at some of the best apps for K-12 teachers.


Scratch is a free visual programming language students can use to code their own interactive games, stories, and animations. Developed at MIT, Scratch uses a block-like interface to help students learn the basics of coding and develop logical thinking and problem-solving skills. Scratch offers resources for educators like Scratch in Practice and Creative Computing to help show educators how to effectively use coding in the classroom.

Alternatives: and Code for Life offer other resources to help get your students coding.


Equity Maps

Equity Maps is a powerful tool for teachers looking to bring equity into their classroom by making sure all students are engaged and participating. Equity Maps allows teachers to input basic profile data for students and then track how often each student participates in class discussion each day or in a given conversation. It offers a great visualization of engagement trends.


It can also help prompt important conversations about inclusion and equity. Teachers of upper grades may consider sharing trends and data with students so that they may take a more active role in keeping their classrooms inclusive and balanced. The standard version is priced at $1.99 for up to 20 students.



Nearpod was a pandemic lifesaver for many teachers who found themselves teaching online classes for the first time. Simply put, it helps teachers make lessons interactive through the integration of quizzes, polls, videos, collaboration boards, and more.


Nearpod’s standards-based library houses more than 15,000 interactive lessons and videos across grade levels; teachers can also import their own PowerPoint presentations and PDFs to NearPod and take their lessons to the next level with the addition of quizzes, drawing tools, videos, and more. ‘Live Participation’ mode allows teachers to control the pacing, making sure students don’t skip ahead or lag behind. ‘Student-Paced’ mode allows for more independent work, with students completing lessons at their own pace.


While demand for Nearpod soared during the pandemic, the tool’s integration of quizzes and multimedia like videos makes it an invaluable tool for in-person teaching as well, as educators look to seamlessly integrate teaching and assessment.


Alternatives: Socrative and Pear Deck are also well-reviewed options to help engage and assess students.


Female teacher teaching students using a K-12 app on their tablets.


CK-12 is a free educational content site offering a wealth of digital content for teachers to use in the classroom. It offers digital textbooks, as well as multimedia tools like videos and interactive simulations. Quizzes help gauge student mastery of skills. Teachers can also assign adaptive practice exercises that increase in difficulty as students answer correctly. Teachers are also able to customize content for individuals and small groups and assign videos and interactives to help drive concepts home.



Flipgrid is a video-response platform that allows students to explain their thoughts or show their learning through video, allowing teachers to gauge where they are in the learning cycle.


One of the great things about Flipgrid is that it offers teachers the opportunity to hear from all students, even the ones who can be shy in group settings and less likely to speak in front of others. Further, recording video responses at their own pace can allow students to engage more deeply with each other – and course material – in a format that goes beyond the traditional classroom setting.


Flipgrid can also be a useful tool for evaluating the thinking and comprehension of more reluctant writers, conducting classroom debates, and sharing presentations. Best of all, it’s free!



Remind is a teacher favorite for teacher-parent communication, allowing teachers to communicate by text message without having to give out their personal cell phone number. Remind messages can be simple texts, attachments or photos, and can be sent to individual parents or customized groups.


While Remind was especially useful during the pandemic transition to virtual learning, it’s a great tool in any setting to make sure families are up to date on student progress, needs, upcoming deadlines, and more. With its text-based format, Remind keeps communication tight and to the point. While it's not appropriate for all communications, Remind is an excellent tool for boosting classroom-to-home conversations in the digital age. As a bonus, it’s also free of charge.


Alternatives: ClassDojo and Bloomz are other free and popular platforms for keeping families in the loop.


Khan Academy

Khan Academy offers free online teaching resources to boost student learning in areas like math, science, history, and more. Lessons are organized by grade level, allowing teachers to hand-pick topics in which students need extra support. Khan Academy uses videos, readings, and interactive tools to keep students engaged, and quizzes to help measure comprehension. It also offers AP courses, giving students the ability to try their hand at earning college credit. Its dashboard function allows teachers (or parents) to monitor progress.



BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. can be great tools for introducing new lessons in the classroom across subjects ranging from science to math to English to engineering to social studies to health and more. Aligned to Common Core, it offers cross-curricular digital content including animated movies, quizzes, learning games, and concept mapping.


BrainPOP’s creative movies featuring Moby the robot can help explain complex concepts, while assessments allow teachers to track student performance and adjust lessons accordingly. To keep students engaged and make sure they’re grasping new concepts and vocabulary, teachers can pause the videos throughout to ask questions and have students share their thoughts on a given topic. Of course, students can also work on BrainPOP lessons independently or in small groups as needed.



ReadWorks leverages cognitive science research to offer teachers online research-based lessons and reading passages to help strengthen student reading and comprehension. It offers teachers and students more than 2,600 nonfiction and literary reading passages free of charge, with accompanying questions to help gauge student comprehension. All passages are searchable by keyword, lexile level, subject, grade level, text type, and skill/strategy.


ReadWorks helps educators teach the component skills of reading comprehension, and helps students develop valuable background knowledge and vocabulary. About half of the site’s passages were commissioned by journalists and writers, while half were provided by partner organizations like the American Museum of Natural History and the National Audubon Society.


Alternatives: NewsELA is another well-regarded tool to teach reading comprehension, although a new pricing platform may keep a significant portion of content behind a paywall.



Kahoot! offers a free game-based learning platform that allows teachers to create and share multiple-choice trivia games and quizzes in minutes that students then access on their devices via a web browser or the Kahoot! app. While most teachers use Kahoot! to get a quick picture of who’s mastered a topic and who needs more work, you can also do a ‘blind’ Kahoot! to introduce a new topic and assess base knowledge before crafting lessons.


After playing a round of Kahoot!, the class also has an option to redo the game in ‘Ghost Mode,’ where students play again against each other as well as their ‘ghosts’ (or previous scores), helping with topic mastery. Students can also work on Kahoot! challenges for homework or test review, playing only against themselves and opting to redo questions until they get it right.


A word to the wise: Students often love Kahoot! but can get a bit competitive. It’s best to set ground rules up front to keep games respectful and productive.


Alternatives: Quizizz and Quizlet are popular Kahoot! alternatives and great options for quick game-based assessment (and fun).


Students learning on a K-12 app that the teacher is providing through a classroom tablet.

Keep Learning With USF

In partnership with the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, USF offers courses for K-12 educators designed to help teachers master the skills necessary to thrive in the digital classroom. USF also offers summer camps for students designed to prevent summer learning loss in a fun, interactive environment.


Check out our upcoming courses and programs to see how USF can help grow your teaching career. Courses are delivered in a convenient online format to accommodate your busy schedule.


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