Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Tools Being Talked About

November 03, 2015

A little over a month ago, I posted a blog on tools.  Since then I’ve been talking to teachers, superintendents, district leaders, and others in the field who have told me they want to know more about what’s available.


Over the last few years, it’s been exciting to see an increasing array of flexible, instructional tools available in the digital marketplace. Millions of teachers and school leaders are increasingly finding instructional tools online, outside of traditional textbook adoption processes. Many digital and content tool providers have succeeded in building large user bases with minimal marketing using “freemium” models. This shows how eager teachers are for good Common Core-aligned tools and resources. For example, the EngageNY open educational resource (OER) curricula, available nationally, has been accessed more than 22 million times.


As you know, the foundation has been talking to teachers about what they tools they need and reporting what we learn in a series, Teachers Know Best.  Last April, we released a report, Teacher Know Best: What Educators Want from Digital Instructional Tools which aggregated and amplified the voices of teachers and students to help strengthen digital content and tools. It surfaced valuable insights about the instructional purposes for which teachers use digital tools and identified gaps in the availability, usage, and perceived effectiveness of products across subjects and grade levels. Since its release, the market for K-12 digital content and tools has evolved significantly.


Next month the foundation will release the next Teachers Know Best report, which updates the availability of Common Core-aligned digital instructional tools by grade and subject.  Early findings show that a higher percentage of teachers believe that digital resources are available and sufficient to help students met college- and career-ready standards.

The report strengthens our understanding about how teachers perceive and use digital tools. By sharing this information, we hope to enable product developers to be responsive to the needs of teachers so they can create instructional tools that lead to improved student outcomes.  After all nobody knows teaching like teachers!


But teachers aren’t the only ones asking for tools.  District and school leaders are reaching out to their colleagues across the country and asking where they can find tools that tell them how well their school is doing on implementing the Common Core State Standards, conducting good observations of teacher practice, redesigning professional learning to better meet teacher needs, figuring out how to arrange time for teachers to collaborate or focusing district resources in ways that have greater impact.   To this end, attached is a list of tools and resources* arranged in some of these categories.  This is not an exhaustive list – there are likely great things out there that we don’t know about. Nor is this an endorsement. Rather it’s a means of sharing knowledge and information. And we hope you will reciprocate. Let us know what tools you are seeing out there that’s working for students and teachers, districts and schools.  As Mo Rocca would say, “The Mo’ we know!”



* The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided support for some of these tools.

blog comments powered by Disqus