“Every classroom in America must have a comprehensive daily communication system made available to parents,” said one reader.

Every carpenter has his tool belt, and every journalist has her AP style guide—but what are the resources that a teacher in the 21st century should have?

We recently turned to our readers for help with this question, asking: “If you could recommend just one teaching resource to your colleagues, what would it be and why?”

Although we assumed many of the suggestions would focus on technology tools and mobile devices of some kind, we received a wide range of ideas. While our readers are certainly tech-savvy, their responses seem to suggest they believe good teaching is about much more than gadgets or websites; it’s about using your own experiences, resources from other peers—and even the great outdoors.

Do you agree with these suggestions? Or, do you have ideas of your own you’d like to share? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section of the story.

(Some responses edited for brevity.)

1. A tablet

“I would recommend an iPad. I purchased one earlier this spring and am amazed at how much I use it. I can use Dropbox to check files, keep track of student meetings, quickly look up pictures and information when my GED students need more info, keep in touch with students by eMail, look up lesson plans and strategies for teaching concepts to my math students, demonstrate something I looked up on my iPad using the [document camera] … I could go on. I initially purchased it just because I wanted one. I never dreamed how very useful it is in a learning environment!” —Rina Hallock

2. Tools for student understanding

“The single resource that I would recommend is some form of Understanding by Design. Although somewhat daunting to tackle on your own, the level of competence in teaching gained when you truly know how to teach for ‘understanding’ is well worth the climb. If you are able to quickly grasp the ‘Why’ of the learning, the What, When, Who, Where, and even the How are infinitely easier to teach. Now that’s only half of the story. Children taught with ‘understanding’ as their goal come to master far more than the lesson at hand. They learn patterns of thinking, they connect things learned much more readily, they ‘know’ rather than just to recall or remember. Yes, they will test better as well, but that is just a collateral benefit! They learn, truly learn!” —Dr. W. Tom Pearce, Ky. District ISS, Ft. Campbell, Kentucky

“Think of your job as helping kids to learn rather than as ‘how to teach’ them.” —M.B. (Barry) Wansbrough, Bracebridge, Ontario