Apps That Help Me Teach More Efficiently

Saving time and working efficiently ranks high on most teachers’ lists. We are always looking for ways to work smarter and get more done. This post shares some of my favorite apps that help me teach more efficiently.

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Teaching with Technology

Teaching with technology makes a huge difference in how much I am able to accomplish each day.

I started teaching almost 10 years ago as a young widow and single mother. (See my story here.)

Carrying such a full load makes my days busy Every. Single. Day. I do not think I could make it all fit without using technology for help.

Technology doesn’t make my to-do disappear, but it does add an extra “oomph” to my productivity! [tweetshareinline tweet=”Technology doesn’t make my to-do disappear, but it does add an extra “oomph” to my productivity!” username=”tanyagmarshall”]

So I want to share some of my favorite apps that help me activate my teaching superpowers.

Disclaimer: I am an Apple User so many of these may be IOS apps, but many of them may also be Android compatible.  All the opinions shared here are fully my own. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lesson Planning  and Grading

Notes Many people talk about using Evernote, but I honestly don’t have a problem listing all my random thoughts, passwords and log-in info, etc. on the Notes app that comes with my iPhone.

Drive – I store almost all my typed lesson plans and resources here.

Dropbox – You can never have too much storage space for all your teaching goodies!

Pinterest – This app and website hold so much value to me, that I am tempted to put them in a separate VIP category! It is such an understatement to say that I LOVE Pinterest! You can find my page here.

TpT – Teachers Pay Teachers offers so many teaching goodies. You can no longer make purchases straight from the app, but I still often use it to add items to my wish list. I also download freebies from the app.

Groovy Grader- This app replaces the E-Z Grader slide-out ‘calculators’ like these.

The Groovy Grader App has easy to understand settings that help make grading calculations faster.

Learning and Professional Development

Plickers – I love Plickers so much that I have an entire post dedicated to it here.

Bee Tagg QR Code Reader – I enjoy using QR Codes in my lessons like my Haiku Poetry Set here.  This QR Code reader works great because you do not have to sign up or create a username to use it.

Kindle – I am old school when it comes to books. I prefer having pages to touch and turn when reading. But there are times when the need for convenience kicks in and that’s when an e-book does the job!

With some of my reluctant readers who benefit from being read to, I will use the Kindle app to play audiobooks for them.

This headphone splitter allows each child to listen to the same Kindle book on our class iPads with their own headphones during our literacy centers. You can read more about how I teach reading here.

Twitter-It may be surprising to see a social media app listed under learning, but I adore Twitter chats with other educators.Twitter is my favorite app for professional development.

Periscope- This is another one of my faves for professional development. So many awesome teachers share tips and tricks on here through video.

If you are a visual learner like me, you’ll love seeing other teachers demonstrate their tips and ideas.

YouTube – Video reigns as king these days! Finding a cool video hooks your students to the lessons you teach. There have been plenty of days when I stream YouTube videos from my phone app straight to my computer/projector in the classroom.


Class Dojo- Class Dojo does a great job of helping students and parents stay accountable. It even allows you to send messages to parents. Plus the kids love having their own avatar. 

Remind- I could use this as an opportunity to tell a great story. A really funny story about the year I mistakenly gave my cell phone number to a helicopter, I mean, ‘helpful’ parent.

I will spare you the details and just say that this app saved my life and sanity! Now I can text parents without dread. (#happydance)


Alarm- Yes, the simple Alarm app on my phone helps me stay on time throughout the school day for class changes, co-curricular classes, schedule changes, etc.

This screenshot shows the different times my phone alarm reminds me to switch classes. HR stands for Homeroom. SS stands for Social Studies. LA stands for Language Arts.

Decide Now- For years, I prepared popsicle sticks with my students’ names on them. I used these sticks for everything. Now I have the Decide Now app.

It looks like a Wheel of Fortune wheel that spins to land on a student’s name. My students love the sound effects as it spins.

The Decide Now app allows you to make a wheel out of any topic with any number. You can create a wheel with your students’ name to replace popsicle sticks.

You can create wheels for any topic you like.

All the Google Apps- Gmail, Drive, Calendar, Chrome…yep–they even have their own folder on my phone!

Shopping and Saving Money

Ibotta- Hands down, this is my favorite app that saves me money. The app offers digital coupons for items at a variety of stores.

When I shop for things to use in my classroom or home, I scan my receipt and select the appropriate coupons.

The app sends me money for the face value of the coupon selected! Once I build up my account to at least $20, I have the cash sent to my PayPal account. Many of my teacher friends choose gift cards to use instead of the cash. Either way, you get money back so easily from using this app.

If you are interested in signing up or learning more, I have a referral code you can use here.

Amazon- I might have just a tiny little addiction to Amazon. (Especially since I am a Prime member!) That two-day shipping has spoiled me for life. Most of the books and supplies I buy for my classroom come from Amazon. I just pop open the app, buy and move on!

Psst!-I can’t help but include this, but I found a great way to manage all those classroom pencils that magically grow legs and walk off! This pencil management system has saved me from buying extra pencils. Less to purchase from Amazon-yay for my wallet!

Target Cartwheel- Confession time again–I might also be just a tiny bit addicted to Target! (Who knew that a blog post on apps would reveal so many of my weaknesses?!) 

As I walk around in Target, I toggle between my Ibotta app and the Target Cartwheel. It shows coupons and deals with Target items. I select the coupons and have the cashier scan my phone at checkout. Wa-lah! More money in my pocket, which keeps me smiling.

Wal-Mart Savings Catcher-The Wal-Mart app is just like the store–full of everything. My favorite feature is the savings catcher. When I shop, I scan my receipt. If an item I purchased is on sale somewhere else, Wal-Mart will refund the difference to me in the form of an e-gift card.

Checkout 51-This app bears many similarities to the Ibotta app I mentioned above. The major difference is that all offers are valid until midnight each Wednesday. New offers are introduced every Thursday morning. So you have to scan your receipt to redeem the coupons by Wednesday night.

The other major difference is that Checkout 51 only gives cash payouts; no gift card options.

Shopkick- This is one of the easiest apps on my ‘money’ list. With Shopkick, you walk into selected stores (there are SO many on the app to choose) and you get points just for walking in the store.Your points are called kicks. When these kicks build up, you redeem them for exchange on e-gift cards.

Another way to build up Shopkick points is to scan selected items in the stores based on the app instructions.

For example, I may be in Bi-Lo and the app will offer me 20 kicks for scanning the barcode on a Rimmel Lipgloss.

The items seem random to me, but I don’t mind doing it because it only takes a few seconds. I have earned more than 40 gift cards using this app.

If you want to give it a try, use my referral code COOL648499 and you will get 250 kicks on your first walk-in or scan.

Why would someone include money apps on a list about teaching more efficiently? For me, teaching efficiently goes beyond just lesson planning or standing up in front of students talking.

Teaching is a juggling act of so many decisions and responsibilities.

As all teachers know, it is inevitable that you will end up buying things for your classroom/students.

So apps that help me save money definitely make a big difference!

Why I Have So Many Apps

I do not use every app listed above every single day. [tweetshare tweet=”Technology enhances certain parts of life, but it isn’t a replacement for living well. ” username=”tanyagmarshall”]

As a busy school teacher and single parent, I enjoy the convenience that these apps provide. When life as a whole runs more smoothly, I can be focused to transform learning more beautifully in my classroom.

Do you have any favorite apps? Share your comments below.

Then be sure to share this list with others.

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