Many of my friends and family members own an iPhone or a smartphone or an iPad. We all know that there are apps available to help you with everything—whether it’s starting your car or checking your bank account. For teachers, there are apps that can help with all aspects of teaching, including connecting academic content to the real world, keeping in touch with parents and families, and grading papers and assignments.
Here's a roundup of five apps that I believe will benefit educators, families, and students.
(Price: $4.99, 5 stars – 13 ratings; iTunes link)
Several teachers in New Orleans, including Aliya Bhatia, created this app that focuses on parent contact and home visits. Dash4Teachers allows teachers to log student behaviors for 1 to 100-plus students, their initial contact with parents, and follow-up communication with families. Aliya emailed me about it: “This spring, I was really frustrated with my parent-contact systems and [ended] up building an iPhone app for teachers to connect more easily with students' families. I, along with teachers at the school where I intern, have been using Dash4Teachers for the past few weeks to coordinate home visits. It has been a godsend and keeps track of all the data I need to make informed calls to parents.”
(Price: $0 - $6.99, 4.5 stars – 4445 ratings; iTunes link)
BrainPop is an amazing animated video tool that can be used in the classroom via a projector, SmartBoard, iPad, or mobile device for on-the-go learning with an accompanying quiz. This app features a learning video for the day and a daily quiz. The full version of the app, with more than 750 videos, is $6.99. BrainPop Educators features lesson plans and other teaching tools for educators on a variety of subjects from grammar to physics. There is also BrainPop Jr for K-3 teachers. Their main site offers free materials and videos at http://www.brainpop.com/. After a free lesson on the Harlem Renaissance, my kids had enough background knowledge to fully participate on a trip to the Apollo Theater. Jahyra squealed, “I know that answer, we just had a lesson on it and that question was on the quiz!”
3. Anatomy Quiz Pro
(Price: $1.99, 4.5 stars – 248 ratings; iTunes link)
Anatomy Quiz Pro is an app for students and teachers to test their skills on the human body. With this app, students can learn about their toe bone connecting to their foot bone, and foot bone connecting to their ankle bone, and so on. My friend Kit, who taught seventh and eighth grade science at M.S 223 in the South Bronx, said that she wished she had used this app with her middle schoolers. One user, kelsodork, raved: “I love this app. Even my anatomy professor was using it [and] we all loved it!”
4. PBS Kids
(Price: Free, 4 stars – 615 ratings; iTunes link)
This app features educational programming for kids 2-to-12 years old. The only downside is that the app does not feature full episodes for most shows. The actual PBS app crashes a lot and only received 2.5 stars, but I wouldn’t give up on PBS altogether. For our older kids, I’d suggest checking out the PBS website (http://www.pbs.org/) . I absolutely love PBS; I grew up on it, and it helped me immensely in my classroom with great lessons vetted by teachers who have taught for 20 years or more, including lessons on tolerance and videos that are relevant to kids in a variety of settings. The user Izzy's momma said, “Cute clips, great shows, I'm definitely pleased. I'd love to see full episodes and some offline content too.”
5. GradeBook Pro
(Price: $9.99, 3 stars – 5 ratings [older version 4.5 stars, with 197 ratings]; iTunes link)
Grading assignments for 20 students is a lot of work, and many teachers have a lot more than 20. It takes so long, and there is so much paper! Lucky for teachers, there's an app for that. GradeBook Pro allows users to calculate average scores for each assignment to evaluate overall class performance; email grades, attendance, or status reports to students and/or parents; and create PDF reports of class grades, rosters, and attendance records. One user, tarusnacks, said, “If you ever had any doubts about shelling out ten dollars for this app, I would like to stress that this is (in my honest opinion) one of the most stable, intuitive, and useful grading tools you can use as an educator in any class.”