Save Time This Year With 10 Free Tech Tools for High School Teachers

Alexandra Pannoni

Time is at a premium for high school teachers.

"I think that a lot of people forget that in middle school and high school we have so many more students than the elementary school teachers have," says Stephanie Richardson, an English teacher at North Harrison High School in Ramsey, Indiana. While an elementary school teacher may teach 25 to 30 students, she says, she is expected to give each of her 150 to 175 students the same amount of attention.

"If you think about it, even if you are grading just a regular paper, it takes five minutes for a paper," she says. "Well, if you have 175 of them, that's a lot of time."

One thing Richardson can't live without is a notebook she calls her "sanity saver." It has everything she needs, like her calendar and discipline record.

High school teachers strapped for time can also try using free tech tools that are designed to make their lives easier. U.S. News took to social media to find out which free apps teachers and educators recommend. Suggestions contributed via Twitter and collected in interviews are below.

[Read these four questions high school teachers should ask when vetting new tech tools.]

Organization and Productivity

-- Schoology: The learning management system allows teachers to create a virtual classroom -- assignments, discussions, grades and more can be hosted in the free version.

@alipannoni @Schoology is priceless, esp in blended classes

-- Holly Zimmerman (@hzimms) August 20, 2015

-- Google products: Educators whose schools use Google Apps for Education have access to tools like Docs, Sheets and Classroom, which allows teachers to easily give and grade assignments. But even those who don't use the service for educators can take advantage of Google's free productivity tools for the general public.

-- Cloud storage systems: Richardson saves lesson plans, tests and other materials she created and that worked for the future using a cloud storage system such as Google Drive and Box. That way she can access them anywhere.

-- Remind: High school teachers can communicate with students and parents via text message without exchanging phone numbers.

@alipannoni Both parents and students can sign up for it and receive updates, assignments and be kept up to date. It saves so much time.

-- Nicholas A. Ferroni (@NicholasFerroni) August 20, 2015

Teaching and Presentation

-- Newsela: Teachers can use this tool to assign the same reading content to all students, but the text is tailored to a student's reading level.

@alipannoni Current event news articles and standards based questioning. Students can read complex texts at/near their lexile.

-- Jenny Whitaker (@jenwhit35) August 20, 2015

-- Movenote: Teachers who want to flip their classrooms -- when students study content at home and do homework-like activities in the classroom -- could try this tool that allows users to record videos and add slides with notes, says Mandy Rice, a social studies teacher at Oak Hills High School in Cincinnati. Or they could try similar tools, such as ScreenChomp and Screencast-O-Matic.

-- Adobe Voice: Educators can tell enhanced stories using this free iPad app that allows users to add a voice recording over images and text.

Assessment Tools

-- Kahoot!: Educators can quickly create quizzes with this tool. It feels similar to a game show and even high school kids like the simple, interactive assessments, says Rice, the Ohio teacher.

-- Poll Everywhere: Teachers can use this tool to poll their students and gauge their thoughts fast.

@alipannoni love it. Immediate results. & They can see how they fit in relation to peers while remaining anonymous. + they can use phones!

-- Shawn Martell (@Marty_14) August 20, 2015

-- ExitTicket: This tool allows users to swiftly assess students in a variety of ways. Teachers can give launch and exit assessments, at the beginning and end of class. Rice likes the tool because it tracks students' growth and progress. And teachers can use that data to inform their instruction.

Rice says teachers shouldn't be afraid to try new things but also shouldn't feel that they have to try everything.

"Think of what you want to accomplish in your classroom and then find a tool that will help you do that," she says.

[Get ways teachers can bring 21st century skills into high schools.]

And time management gets easier, she says.

"The first lesson you have to learn in order to survive and be good at your job is work smarter, not harder, and technology is definitely making that easier," she says.

Have something of interest to share? Send your news to us at highschoolnotes@usnews.com.

Alexandra Pannoni is an education staff writer at U.S. News. You can follow her on Twitter or email her at apannoni@usnews.com.