The advent of the smart phones and the proliferation of apps has transformed the way our society interacts, works and has fun. There are literally thousands of apps available, and more are created every day. Almost two years ago, I joined this bandwagon and it truly did revolutionize many of my job responsibilities as a teacher. So today, I want to share with you my favorite apps and why I can’t live without them.
App #1: Evernote
Remember writing notes to yourself about important information you wanted to remember…only to misplace it? Those worries are a thing of the past thanks to this awesome app. Evernote allows you to create notes and organize them into notebooks. You can also tag notes and search for them by tags. I use it to keep track of ideas for lessons, reminders about field trips and anecdotal observations on students. I have this app on my laptop at school, my iPhone, my Nook and my desktop computer at home. You know what that means? Besides the fact that I may be a little too intense about organization, it also means I can instantly access my notes just about anywhere. Whatever I put in Evernote on one device is automatically synched with the others. I have the free version, but if you need more memory there is a small fee. However, I use my Evernote to keep track of everything – literally everything – and I’m nowhere near my limit on memory. Check out this short video about Evernote to learn more.
App #2: Groovy Grader
If you’ve been teaching as long as I have, you remember the good ol’ E-Z Grader. This card stock creation instantly provided you with the percentage for a score simply by sliding the inner piece until you had the list you needed. The only problem was that you had to remember to bring it with you wherever you planned to grade papers. I left mine at school so many times that I eventually gave up and bought two – one for school and one for home. Now with this app, I don’t even know where the old paper copies are anymore. This app replaces the paper version and is a cinch to use. Tap the white box to enter the number of questions in an assignment and a list of percentages appear. There are several versions on the market, so you may have to experiment until you find the one you like best.
App #3: Timer
I absolutely LOVE this app, which comes standard with your iPhone. You can customize dozens of specific timers to keep you on time for any appointment. I use to have the hardest time remembering when to send a student to speech or occupational therapy. Not any more! I can create a custom timer for any student, including the specific days of the week they have therapy. I just set the alarm to go off one minute before their therapy time begins, and off the student goes never to be late again. You can choose specific alarm sounds, too. My students love hearing their alarm ring and they instantly recognize it. I love it so much that I have timers set for recess, special area, snack time, dismissal and more.
App #4: Random Number Generator
When creating math problems for your students, coming up with random sets of numbers can be a bit challenging. It’s so simple, but somehow I end up with the same set of numbers over and over again. It’s like when someone tells you don’t think about an elephant…all you can think about is an elephant! This easy app takes care of that for you. Enter in your minimum and maximum values, and tap “generate random number.” Keep tapping for as many numbers as you need. This app helped me stay sane during our multiplication and division units.
App #5: You Can Handle Them All
This is the one app I’ve included in this post that is not free. However, if you have extremely challenging students (or just normal students who sometimes exhibit challenging behaviors), this app is a valuable resource. The cost is $1.99, which I thought was worth it considering the amount of practical information it provides. Since I keep my phone close at hand, the app allows me to access the information in a convenient form. If you don’t want to pay the money for the app, don’t worry. You can access all the same information for free at their website, but you will have to create an account. It’s more a matter of which is most convenient for you.
Apps Make Me H-app-y
There are so many more apps I use that help me do my job as a teacher. If you already own an iPhone, check out these apps and let me know what you think. Or if you have some of your own favorites, share those too. For those of you who haven’t taken the plunge and bought a smartphone, just keep this post in mind for when you do buy it. I promise that there will be even more wonderful apps available for you when you’re ready to join the revolution.