Software Toolbox

My Toolbox

There are a lot of little programs and websites, that I have started to take for granted at work. This is not intended to be a list of educational software, rather a list of programs that it is worth getting hold of (95% of the time, they’re free!)

Please feel free to add any that you think are missing from this list.

Smart Notebook

This is the software produced by SmartTechnologies to use with their Interactive Whiteboards and is a fantastic piece of software, that I use almost everyday – don’t make the mistake of only having it installed in your classroom, it’s really useful to have on the computer where you have all your create/plan most of your lessons. I have used it to create all the resources you can find on the following page:

I’ve created a guide for some of the features in Notebook v9.7, which you can read/download here.

I find that as well as helping maximise my use of the Interactive Whiteboard, I end up using it for other things as it is just so intuitive to use. Most of the worksheets that I produced, which include graphics, have passed through Smartnotebook – it’s just so easy to clip graphics from other places and re-arrange them in the program.

This is the only program here, that is not totally free, it is easy enough to download SmartNotebook 9.7 from here:

But in order to satisfy the license requirements, you need to be employed by an organisation which has purchased a Smartboard.

The latest version is V.10, but this requires you to obtain a product code, using the serial number of a SmartTechnologies product. It can be downloaded from here:

I am hoping to be able to get a chance to used this program soon, it appears to have a lot of extra features, particular in terms of activities provided in the Gallery. E-blah-blah from Sandra Pires at WAES is a good source of ideas for this program, you can find her blog here:


I’ve blogged about the potential of this resource already:

However, since writing that I have become even more enthusiastic about this program. Whether you are getting students to do a simple word recognition/picture matching exercise, or you are dealing with complex concepts, it seems to engage them in discussion about the point being dealt with. It is an excellent way to create warmer exercises, or revision tasks or as a group consolidation exercise.

You can download it free from: frankly, there’s no excuse not to….

Now how about the export to PDF function?

Stop Press – I’ve now found a work around for this……

Cute PDF Writer

I found this from the FAQs on the Wordle website, so a big thanks to them. Basically you install this free programme and it acts like a printer (I know… but it does make sense somehow) – so when you go to print a file, as well as the printers that are attached to your computer you will have the option to send your file to CutePDF, which instead of printing opens a save dialog box where you can choose where to save your newly created PDF.

You need to download two programs to make this work – the links to do so are both here:

You need to click “Free Download” and “Free Converter”, run the programs and it should all be set up for you.

This is great for saving & printing out things that are otherwise difficult – Tarsia is a great example of this – usually you need to have Tarsia installed to be able to open a Tarsia quiz or print it out, so sharing files with colleagues is difficult unless they download the Tarsia creator itself. With CutePDF all you need to do is to ‘print’ a PDF of the output and then you can share that with pretty much anyone.

Barking College e-templates

These should high on the list of anyone who wants to make simple interactive games for their students. It’s really easy to put together a Look, Cover, Write, Check spelling exercise for your students to do on-line. Or you could set up a picture matching vocabulary game really easily

I have to do a blog post on this to go into a bit more detail…


If you do any sound recording work with your students, this is a great free program for editing the MP3 files created. Again, free to download from:

Irfan View

This is a dead simple image program, I often use it for preparing resources, or saving image files that I’ve clipped from places with SmartNotebook.

Available free from:


Dropbox is a great tool is you ever work from more than one machine/network. It creates a folder that is shared between all the machines that you use. As soon as you add a file to the folder, it appears on all the machines you have set dropbox up on. You can also access them all from your web browser or from apps for iPod/Pad/Phone, Android or Blackberry devices. You can also set folders to be shared with colleagues/students.

You get 2GB of free storage to start with and can get up to 8GB by referring people to use it – both the referrer and the referred user get the extra space – so if anyone wants to be referred – just click this link 😉.

This is a really simple idea, that works really well – you might not have a need for it, but if you ever work across two computers or networks this will really improve things!


This is a tool that has taken me a little while to get my head round – but now I’m using it more and more.

Evernote is an application that allows you to store and tag bookmarks or file attachments, or notes that you write yourself… Used together with Dropbox it is a great way to organise your thoughts.

I use it a lot for tagging links that I find or for informally planning lessons.

As with Dropbox you can use it through a desktop app or use the many different mobile versions.


For video work with students, this media player will play most filetypes.


I have used this to turn image files into worksheets, its simple and free to download from:

For more info, have a look at this blog post:

IPA Typewriter

This can be used to easily create text using the International Phonemic Alphabet characters, which can then be cut and pasted into a wordprocessor or webpage  – /i:zi:/!

My Study Bar


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