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As a high school chemistry teacher, I have come across many technology tools, including some that have reshaped how I teach chemistry in my classroom. Using these tools, I have become more effective and organized as a teacher. I have also noticed my students appear more engaged when I use these tools, which benefits my students as well as myself.


Pear Assessment (formerly Edulastic)

When it comes to assessments, I have found that Pear Assessment is a valuable tool that allows me to easily create assessments, get instant data, and track student progress. To use this app as a teacher, you simply create a free account using an existing Google, Clever, or Microsoft account (you can later choose to upgrade your Pear Assessment account). Students can also create their own accounts using the class code, or you can sync your Google Classroom courses with Pear Assessment. To get the most out of Pear Assessment, I recommend that students interact with it using use their own device, such as a laptop or tablet. Pear Assessment also gives teachers the option to print out assessments.

During a lesson, I often use Pear Assessment to give students practice problems to work on individually or in small groups. Pear Assessment offers a wide range of question types for teachers, such as multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, classify, match, order, writing, and math. For each question type, you can also choose from subcategories, including multiple selection, drag-and-drop, and numeric entry.

For example, if students are working on a mass-to-mass stoichiometry problem, I will create a numeric entry question found in the math category. I require students to show their work on a whiteboard, so that I can easily walk around the classroom and identify any mistakes or misconceptions they might come across. However, students must input their final answers in Pear Assessment. This provides me with instant feedback, directly on my dashboard, on the questions students are working on.

As students are working in real time, I am able to see which students are answering questions incorrectly (see an example of the live class view on the Pear Assessment website), giving me the opportunity to check in with them to review specific questions and/or identify misconceptions. In the teacher dashboard, you can see the performance of all students throughout the assessment, along with the class average. Each student’s score appears in the dashboard, along with color-coded boxes showing their status on each question, as follows:

  • Green: answered correctly
  • Red: answered incorrectly
  • Yellow: answered partially correct
  • Dark gray: skipped question
  • White: question worth zero points
  • Blue: requires manual grading

Based on the instant feedback I get on each student’s assessment performance, I can determine if I need to make any adjustments to the lesson I have taught, such as reteaching or providing additional support.

As a chemistry teacher, I find that I am quite often occupied with meetings, lesson planning, setting up labs, and grading. To reduce the need to grade everything myself, when I’m giving students practice assessments that are not for a grade, I enable a feature on Pear Assessment that allows students to check their own answers. I find that this can foster a sense of ownership in the learning process, and ultimately build students’ confidence when answering specific questions. Additionally, this feature can be very helpful for students who are working on areas for improvement, but may not feel comfortable or confident enough to ask for help.

I have also found that my grading is simplified and easier with Pear Assessment. Using the new test option, I can create my own questions, select the question type, and enter the answers. I can also choose to have some questions auto-graded, while other questions, such as short-answer problems, must still be manually graded. After grading, I can apply a threshold score to the class.

This feature automatically determines how scores are returned to students. For example, for those students who score below 70% on their assessment, I can choose to have them redo the entire assessment, or only those questions they missed. I use this feature for every topic I cover in chemistry, but I have found that it is most beneficial when it comes to concepts that require calculations. I enjoy this setting because it allows students to learn from their mistakes so that they can be better prepared in the future.

Pear Assessment has several other helpful features, such as the option to enable the text-to-speech tool, which will read the question to students if needed as part of an IEP or 504 plan, for example. Additionally, if students need extra time to complete an assessments, due dates can be individually assigned.

Figure 1. The Notability app on the author’s iPad can be mirrored on the classroom screen.


In my classroom, I also use the Notability app to teach my students. Notability is a free note-taking app that allows me to upload my own documents (such as notes, worksheets, etc.) and annotate them using the tools that are built within the app’s built-in tools, such as pen, highlighter, and marker. Of course, there are other note-taking apps that do similar things, but I prefer Notability because of its layout and design.

To get the most out of the app, I connect an Apple TV to the screen at the front of my classroom, allowing me to mirror my iPad’s screen so my whole classroom can see it. I believe that this is really beneficial because students are able to see me modeling how to solve different types of problems. Compared to a typical slideshow, some of the steps and information when solving a problem may not be as easily visualized.

When I use the Notability app on my iPad, it allows me the flexibility to roam around the classroom while I am teaching. If students are off-task or talking during instruction, I can easily move close to them to give the hint that they are disrupting the class, and quickly redirect them.

Notability is also a great tool to use at the beginning of each class when I assign a “warm-up” question. I can model solving the problem or allow the students to use the Notability app on my iPad to show their response to the class.

Explain Everything

Explain Everything has been a powerful tool for recording my lessons. Teachers can create a free account on the app by signing up using their Google, Apple, Microsoft, or Clever account. This tool can be used on a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. I use its free interactive whiteboard feature to record my screen. I simply upload my notes and go over them as if I were teaching in front of my classroom.

The app is easy to use, especially when it comes to editing. I then upload all my video lessons to Google Classroom to give students easy access to them as needed, such as when they need to spend extra time with a particular concept. These videos can also be used as part of a flipped classroom model. While I started this practice during remote instruction during the Covid pandemic, I now use Explain Everything to record each lesson, so that students don’t miss instruction time when they are absent.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets has become my go-to digital planner for keeping track of my weekly lesson plans and making sure I have all materials ready for each day. Figure 2 shows a snapshot of my digital planner. In the top-left corner, it keeps track of the total number of lesson plans that I have completed, as well as how many days have corresponding materials ready. In the top-middle section, there is an automated progress bar that updates as I finalize lesson plans and daily materials in the calendar section below it.

The main section of the Google Sheet is a day-by-day calendar that displays the days of each school week. I enter a brief description of what I plan to do each day and, when I have all the materials ready and/or printed for a particular day, I simply click the checkbox. Doing so turns the specific date green, indicating that the day is “ready.” On the far left of each week, I have a checkbox that indicates whether or not I have completed designing my lesson plans. When I complete the lesson plan (and submit it to my administrators), I click the checkbox, and it turns green as well.

In my digital planner, I can keep track of my progress and make sure I am following my scope and sequence for chemistry. If I need to spend additional days on a specific unit, I can do so by readjusting my planner. I also include school holidays, professional development days, early release days, and other school-related events. Last but not least, there is a note section in the far-right column of the planner that I use to write notes to myself as I consider what I need to implement the following school year and/or remove. Of course, not every digital planner needs to be as complex or as detailed as mine, but if you are proficient with Google Sheets, I encourage you to explore the features and personalize them for your own use.

Figure 2. An example from the author’s digital planner, designed using Google Sheets. 


ChemQuiz.net is a free resource I use to easily generate extra practice questions for my students. This resource does not require a student or teacher account, and there are over 30 different topics to choose from that can be tailored to meet student needs. It is adjustable by topic, as well as by number of problems, difficulty level, and how the quiz can is displayed (online or printable).

In my classroom, I use this web-based app as an additional resource where students can do practice questions of various types, including bell ringer, exit ticket, homework, and independent practice. When questions are generated, each student will usually get a different set of questions to work on. Teachers have the option to customize the settings for the quizzes.

For example, if we are learning about different reaction types, I can choose which reaction types to include. This feature is illustrated in Figure 3, and shows how I did not select the acid-base neutralization reaction type (because I planned to cover it later, in the acids and bases unit). I can also set the question difficulty level at easy, moderate, or challenging. Before we begin practice, I let my students know which settings to select, based on the level of the chemistry course (on-level, honors, AP, or dual enrollment). I may select more difficult settings for students in AP or dual enrollment courses to help challenge them, while using easy or moderate settings for students in on-level or honors courses.

After students have completed the question(s), they can submit their answers online and receive immediate feedback. If students need additional support, they can simply click on a button that will generate more questions for them to work on.

Figure 3. A screenshot from ChemQuiz.net displaying the preferences for the topic of balancing, identifying, and predicting chemical equations. Image used with permission, ©ChemQuiz.net.


Another free tool is Gimkit, which provides a fun and engaging way for students to practice chemistry concepts — a strategy also known as “gamification.” I create multiple choice questions or search from existing ones in the question bank. Then, I can use the app to assign the questions as homework or play a live game. I prefer to play a live game with my students so that everyone can actively participate. The game offers a “Read to Me” option, which can be helpful if a student requires text to be read aloud to them. I also use Gimkit when we are reviewing concepts or learning new vocabulary. It’s important to note that students need their own device, such as a tablet or laptop, to use Gimkit.

While Gimkit has a wide range of games that require students to answer questions correctly, in my classroom, we like to play the app’s “capture the flag” version. In order to move their characters, students are tasked with answering questions correctly. Afterwards, teachers can view a report to see the accuracy of responses, including the number of students who got specific questions correct or incorrect. This information helps me to go back and focus on particular concepts that students missed the most. Some other Gimkit games require students to work together. Regardless of the game played, I’ve found that students have fun while applying their chemistry knowledge.

Figure 4. Some of the game options and playing modes available in Gimkit. Image used with permission, ©Gimkit.

At different times over the course of my career, teaching chemistry has presented a variety of challenges, including lack of student engagement, difficulty with abstract concepts, solving mathematical calculations, and time constraints. Finding and developing strategies to combat these obstacles while keeping students engaged can be quite difficult. However, I’ve found that by integrating these technology tools, I have helped students be successful in chemistry. I hope these resources might be a positive addition to your teaching toolbox as well!