Eric's Favorite Ed Tech Tools

Eric Nentrup's Dynamic List of Ed Tech Tools (in a constant state of flux, and always available at:

Below, I will maintain a current list of the most effective tools for teachers to implement into their instructional practice. As an English teacher, I might be a bit heavy on "right brain" stuff, but I will do my best to find STEM tools, sites, and apps as well. If you wish to participate, hit me up (, @ericnentrup)



SimpleNote has become my Ubiquitous Capture Device (from David Allen's Getting Things Done). I use it with Notational Velocity on my Mac and toss into it EVERY random thought or tidbit of useful information. Links, to do lists, lesson plans, quotes, someday-maybe stuff. Anything.

It's a bit NOT SO obvious at first, but if you can devote 5 minutes to making a few notes, you get it. Learn a few keyboard shortcuts for NV and you're COMMITTED. There is no better app for grabbing those insights before they're gone AND efficiently retrieving them later. I can do it from my Mac, my iPhone, iPad, or ANY internet device I can borrow. There's no excuse to miss a thing. It's my EXO-BRAIN, My New Hipster PDA. I can NOT live with out it. For me it works exponentially better than EverNote because it's TEXT ONLY. I can link to other stuff, and cross-link to other notes in my database. It's wicked fast, saves and syncs automatically, is loaded with keyboard shortcuts, and is a welcome departure from convoluted "productivity" apps. It makes my thinking and organization much more clean and inarguably more powerful.

Case in point: I am going to use it to record field note for a research project I'm working on for grad school. I'll have a SEPARATE entry for each student, cross-tagged as "student" and "name of class enrolled in". I'll time/date stamp my entries of observations, using DevonThink's free WordService. Upon completion of the study, I'll develop an observation data analysis matrix or construct of some sort, and be able to process my notes by searching by student, class, or other tag I discover to be useful along the way (i.e. growth, struggle, insight, etc.)

Give it a go. If you "get it", it'll transform your note-taking.



A Google Docs centered writing class is one of the most flexible, innovative, and enjoyable experiences for the modern writer. An emphasis on feedback, availability on the closest device and security push the days of composition notebooks and even Microsoft Word aside. Not that those tools are bad or totally obsolete, but we're kidding ourselves if we still think they're the most efficient means to get students making progress in owning their identities as writers.

These tools streamline the work so we can focus our attention on incividual students we are instructing.


If you start with this amazing writing and research tool, you can very easily get students up to speed by organizing the materials for a writing assignment, and monitor their progress in previously unimaginable ways.


Sometimes you don't need the power of Citelighter for an assignment. But you also don't need the headaches of organizing multiple Google Docs. This GoogleDocs add-on is the answer.


Let your students get feedback on their writing quality even when you're busy in a writing conference with another student. This is the dental hygienist of your teaching practice. It helps students clean up those drafts before you dig into the really troublesome nuances of the English language.

No Red Ink

A POWERFUL, simple, brilliant way to quiz students on specific grammar skills in the guise of their personal interests.


You are no longer bound by the bells to give students individual feedback in a writing conference. Kaizena lets you record a voice track of your comments as you walk through the document.



It's all in the name, right? Well, this writing environment is fantastic for creating a mindfulness towards efficiency and cuts to the quick if you start padding your writing. The feedback is great and can guide writing conferences with your students.

Curriculet (Formerly "Gobstopper")

A killer way to create a digital reading experience available in ANY browser.


A comprehensive ELA instructional environment.


SITES FOR READERS (as opposed to "book buyers")


This is the most disruptive thing that has come about to make speed reading a possibility. Watch this thing.




Now owned by Amazon.


Also, now owned by Amazon. I prefer this one with students because it plays nice with Google Sign in.

Talking to the Text


I mention it above, and it bears repeating here. A Google Docs based citation tool! I wish it preserved highlights like Diigo, and I'm STILL looking for the tool that also does this with PDFs.


I still really like their highlighting so that you can see the text in the original layout of the website.



Wow. All I can say is, "wow". It's Google Docs for visual communicators...and conspiracy theorists.

Better than "Wall Wisher" and now functions hellagood on the iPad.


Another riff on the cork board idea with more features.

It employs Flash in the browser, but no fear, there's an app for iOS (perhaps Android too!). PDF export from the app means you can export VECTOR images of diagrams and print them HUGE or blow them up.


Possibly the BEST tool for creating a well-organized, detailed timeline. And for teachers, there's an EDUCATION account where you can share your login with students and they can work as a team to build a timeline.


Shareable task lists accessible from ANY smart device. Beautifully executed in HTML5. This is a gorgeous list manager with tons of potential.



For all sorts of knowledge-building.

There are other ways to do vocab, but THIS is the bees knees.


Ever search for something and a top link is from and it's UTTERLY WORTHLESS? Yeah. Well, Quora is the solution. It's a network of INTELLIGENT answers to big questions. Students should use it for developing smart questioning strategies, as well as trying their hand at answering questions others have posed. The community will vote up or vote down the posts. Can't wait to use this in my COMPOSITION CLASS (Adam!)

I can't even describe this computational engine behind Apple's Siri. I feel very small using it.



This is a mainstay for me. It's something transformative. Read the overview, try it for three days and then give me your opinion.


One of the most elegant and well-designed web-based word processors I've yet to use. And with so much promise, this app will become a delight for writers of all stripes, and I predict, a boon for English teachers.


280Daily Like Twitter times two! Crazy fast way to write and publish online. Clean, simple, cool as all get out.

OneWord Great for DO NOW's to get kids writing fast! Fun to review after a session! and For teaching students how to write expanding text descriptively

Phrays Another great word game to use for vocabulary, for DO NOW's, etc.



Here and at home


Collaborative Screenwriting!


Okay. This is a "syntax", not an app. Which means, ANY plain text editor can be used for screenwriting, i.e., the venerated Google Docs for its collaborative power. Just write in the Fountain syntax, export as plain text and import into your favorite screenwriting app (Scrivener, Final Draft, etc.).



In my former life I used teleprompters regularly to assist talent with delivering their messages clearly. As an English teacher with iPads, I'm thinking that this app might be an amazing way to help kids take ownership of their communication, knowing that they will be PERFORMING their words. I can imagine their vanity kicking in and motivating their editing and revising to make themselves look as good as possible. Stay tuned.

The easiest cross-platform tool for students to keep journals, project logs, d essays.

Goodbye boring PowerPoint!


Conversations in the Cloud. Again, goodbye PowerPoint!

[]( It's a story aggregator.

[]( It's a story aggregator.

[]( A simple but powerful digital portfolio that follows the student wherever they go, powered by the teacher.

[]( Ditto, but powered by the student.



[Pinterest]( I'm working to make Pinterest stick for me, but I'm just not there yet. Soon!

[EdCanvas]( Other than the fact that this app is going to be confused with my favorite LMS, Canvas, I can't complain. It's a GREAT idea for making a collection for a class to explore in a virtual gallery walk. I plan on revisiting this one for each of my Film Studio class units.



[]( A new approach to lesson creation and consumption conceived by a friend of mine!





[Socrative]( A lightweight but powerful response gathering system.


[Canvas]( There is no LMS but Canvas.

[]( Hands down the best designed grade book and lesson planning app on the web. It's integration with Google Apps is a BOON!

[Rubistar]( The de facto rubric generator, even if it looks straight out of 1999.

[]( The EASIEST to use Classroom Management and Behavior 

[]( For safely sending text messages to students and vice versa (watch their tour)

[]( A familiar, Facebook-looking LMS with companion apps for iOS and Android

[]( Ditto.



The Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) and the metric of the "Lexile" is a fantastic measure for a student's reading comprehension and it provides a framework for EXTENDING a student's reading level, but stops short of delivering it. I envision an entire ecosystem from the point of taking the SRI test all the way through to the student's smartphone. Take the test, get the immediate results, be presented with some suggestions (a la Amazon's "If you like ___, then you might like one of these three titles" approach), and be able to start reading a new HIGH INTEREST and FREE AND VOLUNTARY reading selection in minutes (Kelly Gallagher, 2009)


As a writing teacher I would like to see an environment that combines the three features below:
    • The cloud and collaboration of Google Docs
    • The writing performance (technical) feedback of SAS Curriculum Pathways THE WRITING REVISER
    • The empathic feedback from's beautifully styled use of the REGRESSIVE IMAGE DICTIONARY and the LINGUISTIC INQUIRY AND WORD COUNT engine.
    • A sense of progress or growth as a writer over time (charting).
    • A FEEDBACK popup at the completion of a writing session.
    • I'm digging []( but I am concerned about it's developmental roadmap.


Google Apps is another one of those keystone suites of tools that I couldn't live without regardless of what profession I worked in. But they get more press than the rest, hence why I put this chunk so far down the list. 
    • Become a GMail Ninja -
    • Intro to the GMail's "New Look" -
    • Google Docs in Plain English -
    Google Forms Logs
        • EXIT TICKET (Self - Eval Daily Effort)
        • VIEWING LOGS
        • Gotta learn the vocabulary for Film Studies