Top 5 Tech Gadgets to Support Learning at Home and in School

Integrating technology into learning is not something that comes naturally for many of us, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Great parents and great teachers have a lot in common, perhaps most importantly, their passion for supporting growth among the children in their lives. Many parents and teachers want to use technology to improve and even increase learning for their children but don’t know where to begin. Here are my top 5 picks for gadgets that can support learning both at home and in school.

1. Microsoft Word

Here is a great everyday tool that is already in many homes and classrooms today! You might not know it but this is one of the most under-utilized software programs in education today. Most people think of Microsoft Word as simply a word processing program, but it is much more. Imaging your child using Word to listen to a text read aloud, or even to simplify a text that is too challenging to read independently! All of this is possible. Functions such as Speech-to-Text and AutoSummarize can support student learning. Click links above to learn more about how these functions can support your child!

2. LiveScribe

This gadget is revolutionary and what I love most about it is that adults use it too! Today you can find the LiveScribe in universities and even office environments today. That means it can grow with the child and follow them all the way through their career as a student and into the working world! In a nutshell, this device is a computer inside of a pen. You can use this tool to record audio and to transfer your written notes straight to your computer. It has a USB port and is easy to connect to your home computer. To learn more about how the LiveScribe can be used to boost learning at home and in school, click here.

3. Speech-Recognition Software

Today there are a variety of speech-recognition programs. One software program that is getting a lot of hype is Dragon Naturally Speaking. This program is being used in many different fields and lucky enough for us, it is making its way into education hop on board! Dragon is a speech-recognition software program that allows you to speak words that are translated into text at a much faster rate than most people can type. One might say that using Dragon is like having a personal scribe! This technology has many implications in the classroom. This type of program can be used during writing activities to assist: hesitant writers who struggle with the mechanics of writing, English Language Learners, students with learning disabilities and students with motor limitations. Click here to learn more about ways to use speech-recognition software to improve writing.

4. Clickers

Here is a neat tool that can help teachers keep track of the learning in their classrooms. The tool is called a “Student Response System” but I like to refer to them as “Clickers.” A teacher can use a class set of Clickers to get real-time data that can inform instruction. Each student has a Clicker and can use it to respond to various types of questions. Some Clickers have advanced functions such as: true/false, multiple choice, cold call and even texting! Clickers are highly engaging for students, yet also can teach them how to become more independent in their learning. I know an amazing teacher who used Clickers in his classroom and developed rules surrounding appropriate uses for students. To learn more about how he used them in his math class, click here.

5. Reading Pens

A reading pen is a portable device that can scan text and read it aloud. Many reading pens also have a dictionary function where new or unknown words can be defined. A reading pen can connect to a computer so that the reader may upload the words they read after each use. Challenging words can then be stored for future use.

Reading pens are appropriate for children of all ages and even adults! Today there are many different companies who make reading pens so you can choose one that fits your child and that has a design that is age-appropriate. To learn more about how to use reading pens at home and in school check out this article.

Marisa Kaplan is creator and writer of, an educational blog that focuses on bridging the gap between home and school. She is a former New York City teacher who recently left the system to pursue other avenues of creativity with the major goal of making an impact in education. Dually certified in special education and general education, her main area of expertise is in modifying curriculum and learning strategies to meet the needs of all students.

Comments (10)

  1. The issue with Speak Naturally and Dragon is cost. Windows 7 has a free speak to text feature. Simply go to your control panel and search “speech recognition.”

  2. FYI – Autosummary doesn’t exist on MicroSoft 2010.

  3. Pingback: Top 5 Tech Gadgets to Support Learning at Home and in School- article | TeacherTime123

  4. This isn’t a gadget so much as a free tool, but there is a free service called mailVU which is great for language training. It allows teachers and students to record and send video email privately to each other. The student can practice speaking their language assignment and then send it to the teacher’s email address. It’s easy to use and completely free.

  5. As a teacher, I love the LiveScribe Pen. During class, I use it in conjunction with a document camera. Later, I’m able to download the written notes with corresponding audio to my class website. Students can then access the lesson at home.

    • What a brilliant way to use this tool! A major recurring issue for students is that they cannot remember what was said/taught/worked on during class time. Then when they go to practice a skill for homework, they have limited resources. This gives students a real chance to be successful at home. I’m so glad you wrote in about this!

    • I used a Livescribe pen the same way for my HS special education English classes last year. After teaching, I posted the audio notes to my Moodle account. I loved being able to say to a student who was absent that they could just go online to see the lesson they missed. I also taught the students how to use e pen in conjunction with my note giving. My district was able to purchase about 40 pens for the department and now I get to sign them out to students.

      • Gosh! Today’s comments are making me so happy. Renee – the way you are using it is so smart and I am impressed that your district was able to purchase 40 pens. The truth is that is all you need, teaching students respect over shared equipment is half the fun anyway! It’s really cool to use livescribes to support absent students, but even moreso to support the ones who are present and truly struggle with note-taking abilities. Impressive work, thanks for sharing!

    • Appreciating the ddticaeion you put into your site and in depth information you provide. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed material. Wonderful read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

      • Thanks so much for stopping by and I’m so glad you are finding the material fresh! If you, as a reader, are curious about any particular topic, write in and i’ll put it on my list – I don’t want my site to be a one-sided conversation:) Thanks so much for your kind words!

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