Let me preface this post by saying that I am an Apple fan girl. All of my products are Apple, the one exception was my classroom computer at school which was a PC. But I own a Macbook Air, and iPad mini and an iPhone so all of my advice and experience has been through the filter of someone using these products. These are my most used and most helpful iOS apps for teachers. There may be android versions of these programs but I have not checked and have not used them.
I use a lot of apps. As a busy parent and teacher, productivity is essential and there is so much information to keep track of. Anything that helps make that easier is something I am trying. I may in the future do a more detailed post about individual apps but this post is just a quick list for you to get started with.
Free app – service is $12 a year
The last 3 years, I have been using an online lesson plan book that you can access on your desktop and mobile devices. Prior to finding this website I kept going back to a physical lesson plan book because all of the other programs I found were bulky and difficult to use. Planbook.com is not like that. You can actually make it as simple or as complicated as you want because it doesn’t required you to use all of the features but they are there should you decide you want them. They do charge a small fee but it is only $12 a year and each year you can just roll your lesson plans over from the previous year. So if you teach the same subject year to year, you do not have to start from scratch. You can use last year (or last semester) as a starting point and just tweak your plans to fit your new kids and their needs. You spend a lot less time copying information from year to year and instead you have time to make changes and improvements. The iOS app is great to have because you always have your lesson plan book with you! There have been many times that I knew a lab was coming up for which I needed to purchase supplies but I couldn’t remember which day. Then there are the times when you wake up unexpectedly sick and need to figure out what you were planning to do that day. With the mobile app its as simple as texting to get someone your lesson plans. I have found that it is well worth the small fee.
This app is great for collecting loads of information about what happens in your classroom. Student behaviors, struggles, parent e-mails or phone calls, and conversations that you had with students can all be stored in this app. This is huge help around parent-teacher conference time and anytime you meet with parents, deans, or counselors about a student. I would simply print out a students file and take it with me to the meeting and was prepared to discuss anything that happened in the classroom. It may seem like it would take a long time to record but I just incorporated into my morning routine. Enter classroom, start coffee (because…priorities), put away purse, get out iPad and graded papers. During class (if there is time) or between blocks I would record any incidents or observations while they were still fresh. On crazy days (you have them too) I just jotted things down on post-it notes and stuck them to my iPad for entry after school. It’s important to note that I used a keyboard case for my iPad to make typing easier. Isn’t it pretty? On the screen is the Teachers Assistant app. You can assign certain behaviors to colors. (red, orange, yellow, green, blue) You can see at a glance that the student on screen has had some behavior issues because of the orange and red marks.
This app lets you easily make seating charts and rearrange students with a drag and drop interface. It has an easy import process to get your classes into the app. You can customize the rows and columns as well as change the amount of spaces between the desks so you can make it match your classroom pretty easily. I like to change things up quite a bit so this has saved me a lot of time. Check out the quick video below that shows how easy it is to change kiddos around and alter the layout.
Another absolute must for any teacher is a good list making app. I use Wunderlist because of its simplicity. You can name a list and be entering things in minutes. Adding a task to the list is as simple as hitting enter. However, you can add notes or due dates if you like. You can download the PC or Mac desktop version and it will sync with the mobile version. Pretty handy if you don’t like to have your phone out at school and want to be able to use it on your computer.
Free – Service is free up to 2 GB
Are you still carrying around a flash drive with all of your school documents on it? STOP IT!! If you do not have a Dropbox, you need to get one. Six years ago I left my flash drive plugged into my school computer (because I was at school and working) and the IT department stopped by to re-image my computer and they wiped my entire 4 GB flash drive! Everything I had created in the 5 years I had been teaching was gone. I was sick. Even before that I would leave it at home or misplace it and be frantic until I found it. I needed a new solution. Enter Dropbox. It’s basically a cloud storage service but they are different from something like Google Docs in that you can access it when your are not online. With all of the demand on school networks, they go down quite frequently. So having access to files without an internet connection was important to me. Dropbox creates a folder on your computer and you save things to it just like you would to any other folder. Super simple. You can access your files on any other computer too simply by logging on to Dropbox.com. They also have an iOS app that is free to download. Now, I like the dropbox app because it gives you access to your files while away from a computer. For example, when a colleague asks you for a copy of your latest lab or worksheet you can e-mail them a link to your Dropbox directly from your phone before you forget. Or during parent teacher conferences and meetings you can e-mail them copies of assignments right from your phone. You can use my referral link to sign up for your free 2GB dropbox today!
Are you using Remind yet? This free service lets you send messages to whole classes of students as easily as you would send a text. The iOS app is great for last minute messages that you forgot to schedule before you left school. It also lets you field questions from students utilizing the chat feature of the app, no need to be stuck at a computer! The conversation below took about 2 minutes and it allowed that child to complete their homework assignment with confidence and on time. How awesome is that?? *note* you can set “office hours” on the app so that you do not receive texts at all hours of the night.
7. Gradecam Go!
Gradecam is a program that replaces the old scantron machine. It uses a camera (webcam, hoover cam) to scan and grade quizzes and tests. You print out bubble sheets on a regular printer for your quiz/test, enter an answer key and you are ready for the camera to do the grading. Instant grades, instant item analysis! What I didn’t know is that they have a Gradecam Go! Basic subscription that is free! So if your district has not purchased this program for you, you can still use it in your classroom using your phones camera. Generally, once students are done taking a quiz or test I had them come to my Hoovercam, place their answer sheets underneath and grade their work themselves. They get instant feedback! Sometimes, however, I would tell them to stay in their seats and I used my phone to go seat by seat and grade their tests. I did this when I didn’t want everyone up and moving around or when I had a class of kids that like to “help” each other. You can always collect the quizzes as usual and use your phone to grade at a later time.
This one is a little pricey. But I have tried about 25 different note apps and this is the one that is both easy to use and wasn’t missing any of the features I need. It allows me to import Word, PDF or images and annotate them. So when you get the inevitable monthly agenda for a faculty meeting or department meeting, you can import it right from your e-mail and take your notes with a stylus. You always have your notes and don’t have to print or file anything. I keep separate notebooks for meetings, professional developments and grading notes/lesson reflections. Below is an example of notes taken during a faculty meeting. I like to use lots of colors and highlight things I need to take action on after the meeting.
9. Easy hours
This app is really kind of awesome to keep track of the number of hours you spend at school (or anywhere). This app lets you drop a pin on a map and set a radius that will automatically record the time you enter or leave the radius. You can see the actual number of hours you were at school per day, week, month, etc. I like the app because I didn’t have to do anything after I set it up except have my phone with me. In my last year of teaching the stress was just killing me. My husband suggested that I cut back on my hours but I really didn’t think that I worked that many hours outside of the school day. Let me tell you…I was astonished. I had no idea that I had been spending so much extra time at school. According to our contract, our workweek was about 35 hours. I was averaging about 58 hours. That is an extra 23 hours of my personal time that I was donating EVERY WEEK! To me, the best thing about this app was that it gave me an awareness of the number of hours I was putting in and I began to make different choices in order to cut back. I encourage you to give it a try!
10. Periodic Table
Every science teacher needs a good periodic table app on their phone. I feel like I have tried about a billion of these. All have their good points but this one is clean, simple and gives me the information I want easily. I use it a lot when I am making worksheets, keys, labs or grading student work.
I just remembered this one and didn’t want to leave it off of the list. (I’ll try not to let it bother me that now my list has 11 apps instead of 10) I use this so often! Everything these days requires a password. I had one for the computer, one for e-mail, one for our grading program, one for our state portal, etc. etc. Add to that all the websites and online programs we use and you can be juggling 20-30 password just for school. 1Password keeps them all in the same place and allows you to generate unique, secure passwords for each application and you get into it with one master password. If you have a newer model iPhone, you can use your fingerprint to open it as well. No more calling IT to say that you forgot your password again!
I hope you check some of these out and find them as useful as I have. What apps do you love? Tell me about them in the comments!