Five Apps to Use in Any Classroom
We all know the push to get more tech into our classrooms. Better living through the internet, right? There are so many different apps out there, and some of them cost money. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time plunking down $12.99 (or more!) on something that I'm not 1000% sure I will use all the time. So, full disclosure, I teach high school, but talking to my friends who are living in elementary land, I know that these apps will be useful to you too!
- What it is: A web app to create and use study resources.
- Cost: Free
- Pros: As a free resource, it's accessible to anyone with a computer or smart phone. You can put in study sets for your class (I do!) or kids can seek out any of the user-generated study sets for when they need a little more study help. It makes flash cards and games out of vocabulary lists, so you can tailor it specifically to the units that you're covering.
- Cons: There is a lot of user-generated content, and if the kids are using that, sometimes there can be some less-helpful material, or questionable themes (depending on how old your kids are).
- How often do I use this: I set up a new vocab set for every chapter we cover, so probably every 2-3 weeks. I have kids who use it to study before every test and quiz.
- What it is: An automatic test-grading app for your phone.
- Cost: $6.99 per year, but you get a free trial good for your first 100 scans to test it out.
- Pros: Serious worth every penny. You download free bubble sheets, have the kids do their tests on those (anywhere from 10-100 questions) and then scan it with your phone. It's that easy. It has cut my grading time by 85%, not an exaggeration. It also saves all the files onto their website, so if a kid wants to go over their test, I can pull it up and email it to them with the wrong questions marked automatically. It also creates an item analysis so you can see the questions that most of the kids got wrong. They show up in bright red. One of my favorite features...if you do standards-aligned tests, you can tag individual questions by chapter or standard (great for final exams!) and see where your kiddos are struggling.
- Cons: Only works for multiple choice...darn. You also need a phone or tablet with a camera.
- How often do I use this: For every multiple choice test and quiz that I do. It's wonderful.
- What it is: A way to send text messages to students and parents.
- Cost: Free!
- Pros: I want to be able to text parents or kids, but I DO NOT want them to have my personal cell number. You can also decide if you want the communication to be one way, where you send messages and do not get replies, or two-way, where the kids (or parents) can message you back. I have two-way turned on, but I only have a couple of kids that use that feature. You can also set up "office hours" to let kids know that you won't respond after 5pm or on weekends.
- Cons: Relies on kids and parents signing up for it, so you might not get all of them on board. Also requires them to own a phone that can receive texts.
- How often do I use this: A couple times a week.
- What it is: A way to provide feedback on class behavior to kids and parents.
- Cost: Free!
- Pros: It gives you an opportunity to communicate frequently with parents and students about behaviors to build a more respectful classroom culture. You can tell students what positive behaviors they are exhibiting, and what behaviors need improvement.
- Cons: I don't need this anymore because my school has other programs in place as behavior monitors. It's also mostly geared toward upper-elementary or middle school kids.
- How often do I use this: I'd update it once a week or so.
- What it is: Interactive quizzes, to do in class or to assign as homework.
- Cost: Free!
- Pros: Kids love this. It's fast paced, and it has a scoreboard. It also has some protections to stop kids from using naughty names, since they get to enter their own. You can also use it for group activities or surveys to check for understanding.
- Cons: It requires each student or team of students to have an internet-connected device. My high school kids also know how to get bots to sign up for a game, ruining it for everyone.
- How often do I use this: Once every week or two, more during review time.
Alright -- your turn. What are your favorite apps for use in the classroom?