Andrea Ferrero, Co-Founder, Pockets Change

Hit the beach with these tech tools for back to school!

This week we have another guest blog post from Andrea Ferrero the co-founder of Pockets Change.

Summer is in full swing! Finding space for reflection and professional growth can seem like one more task to squeeze into busy, warm days before heading back to school. That’s where tech can help, offering bite-sized personal PD for you to explore at your leisure.  Whether you’re traveling or staying in to recharge, tech tools offer an easy way to find new ideas and connect to vibrant communities. Check out some new ways to inspire playful and creative professional exploration!

Social Media for PD

Social media has much more to offer than memes or the latest celebrity gossip. Connecting with educators online, you’ll find trends in education and classroom ideas to put into action.


  • Follow a few influential educators and organizations. I like @KatieHenryLearn for STEAM ideas,  @MindShiftKQED for trends and innovations in K-12, and @texthelp for math and literacy tools that personalize learning.
  • Search a #Hashtag that sparks your interest. If you’re looking for tech tips try #edtech, #blendedlearning, or #makemathdigital
  • Check out an Education Chat. These online events generally last an hour and bring together teachers from around the world to share insights on a common topic or interest.


  • Join a group. Many companies and organizations have active forums for asking questions, finding new tools, and getting suggestions. WeAreTeachers offers groups for new teachers, K-12 teacher chats, and helplines by grade level.
  • Resources in action. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. I always enjoy scrolling through TeachersPayTeachers posts for activity ideas.
  • Facebook Live. These short, live broadcasts are an incredible way to connect with inspiring educators and organizations. One of my favorite aspects of Facebook Live is getting to “attend” conferences and events I couldn’t make it to in-person. So, if you missed ISTE, one of the big summer tech events, consider searching #ISTE18 Live for quick takeaways.
teacherspayteachers classroom idea


  • Collect classroom inspiration. Instagram is a visual feast. Search for #classroomdecor or  #classroomeyecandy to spot approaches to flexible seating, classroom organization, stations, and much more.
  • Follow a book snap study. This is something new I’m trying out for the summer. I’m following educator and author George Couros’ The Innovator’s Mindset book study. Each day educators around the world read a chapter, reflect on take-aways, and share a visual summary of their thoughts. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to read every chapter or share a post every week. Just like a great book club you can pop in and find great insights from others.
  • Discover daily inspiration. Beyond the quotable messages, organizations like @tchr2tchr share quick reflection prompts, teacher polls, encouraging stats, and insightful tips.  
 tchr2tchr quote

Podcasts on Pedagogy

Podcasts are perfect for long drives, entertainment as you cook dinner, or for relaxation on a walk. Episodes cover a wide variety of topics including classroom stories, content ideas, teaching strategies, and tech tips. My favorite shows tend to fall between 15-30 minutes and leave me with some food for thought and something I can put into action.

The Creative Classroom featuring John Spencer

On a quest to transform schools by empowering creativity and wonder, John Spencer pulls from experience teaching middle school and college. Each episode looks at practical ways to innovate in the classroom. Check out a recent episode to find out Which of the Seven Types of Creative Teacher are You?

what is your creative approach

Cult of Pedagogy with Jennifer Gonzalez

Looking for the magic feeling of crazy-good teaching? This podcast celebrates the art and science of teaching with powerful interviews and practical strategies. Check out the 6 Tech Tools to Try in 2018 episode for quick ways to bring content to life in the classroom.

The Google Teacher Tribe with Matt Miller and Kasey Bell

Whether you’re a G Suite pro or just starting to use Google apps this podcast has you covered. In each episode they share Google tips and tricks to put into immediate action. Check out this post on Creating a Dynamic Reading Experience to hear more from Kasey Bell on using the Read & Write for Google Chrome Extension to embed incredible reading supports for all learners.    

Review your Tech Tools

Time off from teaching can give us all a chance to think more about what it’s like to be the learner. Before you’re back in school consider what tools might enrich and extend learning opportunities.

Assessment Tech Tools

When it comes to using tech for assessment, it’s far too easy to recreate the paper and pencil experience. To get beyond this recreation and deepen engagement along with impact consider the following questions.
  • What is the goal for using the tool? How does this tool specifically meet that goal?
  • What is it like to use the tool as a student?
  • Does the tech enrich the experience of self-reflection, personal evaluation, or group understanding of a learning concept?
Formative Assessment in Class: Explore a digital mathspace where students can create and solve math problems with manipulatives to showcase their understanding.

Data Visualizations: Take showing what you know to the next level with infographics, digital maps and other multimedia.


Collaboration Tech Tools

Tech tools open new avenues for students to collaborate in the classroom and outside of it. While we often think of our students as digital pros, they need coaching and support to effectively use tech tools to solve challenges, communicate ideas, give meaningful peer feedback, and ask critical questions.

Project Based Learning: Create a city in the sky, a new sport, or a tiny house with project-based learning prompts. Students can team up to create designs online or as hands-on activities.

Getting Creative with Content Areas: Solve math problems together in real-time or even provide peer feedback on solved problems.

What tech tools are you trying before you head back to school?  If you're looking for some FREE tools for teachers, Texthelp has got you covered. Simply fill out their Free for Teachers form to start exploring Read&Write, their literacy support tool, and EquatIO, their digital STEM solution. Enjoy!

free for teachers icon


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