There are so many free productivity tools available on the Internet for today’s educators. I’m creating a resource page that list many of the most useful ones, and I’d love to have your input!
By “productivity” tools and resources, I am referring to tools that can help teachers get their jobs done more efficiently or effectively, at no cost (beyond the effort required to use the resources, of course). There are so many of these types of tools out on the Internet – sites providing free lesson materials, quiz and test banks, worksheets and flash cards, and much more.
It would be nice to have a page here on EmergingEdTech where I would collect and organize links to good quality sites like this as I come across them, a page that educators could reference any time that they are looking for these types of resources. My goal with this series of posts is to lay a foundation for such a page – a list of free productivity resources intended specifically for educators, grouped into logical categories. I will limit the listing to better quality sites (those with more resources, better organization, easier use, etc.), and update it regularly.
I did a lot of searching around the ‘net for this sort of thing over the long holiday weekend, and developed a list of categories, with some example sites for each category. Defining these categories and organizing them in an informative way seems to me to be the biggest challenge here – once the categories are in place, it’s easy to find and add listings of sites. I realize there are many sites out there that offer similar listings, but most of them don’t seem to be very well organized. I am hopeful that you, the reader, will share your ideas and input, and help me expand and organize this listing to make it highly useful.
Here’s my first draft of some categories, with examples of each (if you know of better resources in these categories, please comment  and let us know about them!):
Activity & Materials Creators
- Awards Certificates: www.educationworld.com/tools_templates/index.shtml#awardCertificates 
- Bookmarks and Book Plates: www.educationworld.com/tools_templates/index.shtml#book 
- Calendars & Classroom Organizers: www.educationworld.com/tools_templates/index.shtml#book 
- Flash Cards – Create Your Own at StudyStack (have to register): www.studystack.com/CreateStack.jsp 
- Flash Card Exchange (register for adv. functions): www.flashcardexchange.com 
- Form filler (have to register): www.fillanypdf.com 
- Holiday & Seasonal Worksheets: www.abcteach.com/directory/seasonal/ 
- Puzzle Maker (lots of types – word search, math squares, mazes, much more!): puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com 
- Word Search Puzzles (lots of them): www.thepotters.com/puzzles.html 
- Worksheets (lots of preformatted worksheets): www.superteacherworksheets.com 
Communications Tools (Print & Electronic)
- EducationWorld Newsletters & Parent Communications: www.educationworld.com/tools_templates/index.shtml#newsletters 
- TeacherFiles: www.teacherfiles.com/resources_newsletters.htm 
Course Management Systems & LMS alternatives
(You have to register to use these tools, so you can save your own personalized content. Note that these tools are generally more involved than many of the other resources on this page.)
- Blackboard’s “CourseSites”: coursesites.blackboard.com/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp 
- rCampus: http://www.rcampus.com/help/about/course_and_learning_management_system.cfm 
- Schoology: www.schoology.com 
- DiscoveryEducation: school.discoveryeducation.com/clipart 
- School-Clipart: www.school-clipart.com 
- TeacherFiles: www.teacherfiles.com/clip_art.htm 
Interactives (for White Boards, or Powerpoint)
- ABCTeach: www.abcteach.com/directory/interactive 
- Promethean Plant (have to register): www.prometheanplanet.com 
- SMART Exchange: exchange.smarttech.com 
- TopMarks: www.topmarks.co.uk/Interactive.aspx 
- AtoZ Teacher Stuff: atozteacherstuff.com/Lesson_Plans/index.shtml 
- Discovery Education: school.discoveryeducation.com/lessonplans 
- LessonPlansPage: www.lessonplanspage.com 
- Scholastic: www2.scholastic.com/browse/lessonplans.jsp 
- Teacher.net: teachers.net/lessons 
Open Educational Resources
Quizzes & Tests
(These types of sites require sign up)
- 4TEachers: rubistar.4teachers.org 
- Rubrics4Teachers: www.rubrics4teachers.com 
- iRubrics: www.rcampus.com/indexrubric.cfm 
Seeking Your Input!
Is there a category that you think I am missing (I struggled with certain types of free tools that can be useful, but are not intended specifically for educators, and decided for now to leave them off the list, to help keep it manageable). Do you have any favorite productivity tools that you think I should add to one of these categories? Are you aware of better resources than those I have listed? Have you used any of these tools and had a particularly good or bad experience? I need your informed input to help me refine these listings and make them all solid recommendations. Please comment  and share your knowledge.
As the next few weeks roll by, I’ll be using reader input and further research to continue to update and organize this collection of resources. Next Sunday I’ll put up the new page – I’ll rename the “Free Tools & Resources” tab to “Free Productivity Tools & Resources”, and build out an organized, formatted page of resources.
[Incidentally, I do realize that this is slightly off-topic from the site’s main theme of “engaging students and enhancing learning outcomes”, but it’s still about leveraging technology for educator’s needs, and I’m sure you’ll forgive the “transgression”! – KW]
Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Video blog entry for this post 
30 Posts About Free Education Technology Tools & Resources 
10 Free Educational Game Sites