Principal's Office

Back-to-School Tools to Build Community, Explore AI, and More!

By Bianca DeJesus
Editor, Learning Content

Do you want to stay on top of the best new edtech tools? Don’t worry—we’ve done the hard work of finding them so you don’t have to! Our carefully chosen Common Sense Selections feature a wide range of excellent edtech that covers a lot of ground so you can kick off this school year with student well-being in mind in addition to core curriculum.

But wait—what are Common Sense Selections, again? Well, real people (like me 🙋🏽‍♀️) review a ton of tools based on our independent rating criteria and pedagogical rubric. Once rated, we discuss the tools in depth and decide which ones facilitate top-quality learning experiences for students and educators. (And we do all this for free!) 

Here are some of our Selections:

Which tools will support student well-being?

  • Empatico (Grades 1–8) isn’t a new Selection, but it’s worth mentioning: It allows you to easily (for real!) create a routine around connecting with a classroom somewhere else in the world. These experiences create community, broaden horizons, and help students feel connected. 
  • TalkingPoints (Grades pre-K–12) isn’t new, either, but it’s a wonderful, free platform to connect you with families. Its translation features are top-notch, and closing the loop with all caregivers can boost student well-being.
  • CTRL-F (Grades 6–12), on the other hand, is a new Selection. It’s a full, free, up-to-date news and media literacy program. Since  media literacy skills are so critical to kids’ digital well-being today, a relevant tool like this is very valuable.
  • Roadtrip Nation (Grades 8–12) is an amazing tool if you want to get your students thinking positively about their futures. It just might inspire them to start working toward their dream career, by seeing all kinds of kids pursuing a wide range of jobs. Learn more about Roadtrip Nation in our video review.

What about computer standards and AI?

  • SAM Labs (Grades K–8) empowers students to use block code and wireless blocks to harness their programming and engineering skills. 
  • Ozaria (Grades 3–12), on the other hand, is a game-based coding program chock-full of activities (with a focus on SEL!). Check out our quick walkthrough video of Ozaria here!
  • The AI Education Project (Grades 6–12) offers super relevant bite-sized AI literacy lessons and a 9-week course. As artificial intelligence conversations abound, it’s a great way to keep students up to date with media literacy lessons.

How about supporting creativity?

  • WeVideo (Grades 3–12) is an all-in-one multimedia editor that offers students those skills in video creation and editing they crave. Or use it to create lesson content to share in class.
  • Flat (Grades 7–12) is a versatile music program with unique features that will have you singing its praises!

And that’s not all: Ultimately, we want to save teachers time by testing everything out beforehand. To that end, we post new reviews to our site weekly, have curated lists by topic, and create Best in Class comparisons that elevate the outstanding tools in a category and set them side by side so you can easily determine which is best for your circumstances. 

Please share any or all of these resources with your colleagues, and encourage them to sign up for this very newsletter, too! Happy back-to-school season!

Welcome to Greater Good in Education—a wellspring of resources to help you build happier, kinder, more equitable school communities. Explore our collection of 300+ practices related to social-emotional learning, character education, and mindfulness—all free to access and drawn from the science of well-being. 

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