Tech has transformed the classroom, and no one can dispute that there are more advantages than liabilities to harnessing the potential of smartphones and tablets as mobile devices integrate ever more tightly into students’ lives. From greater student engagement to an expansion of the learning environment outside of school, mobile gadgets offer unique educational opportunities.
While school districts continue to integrate technology into the classroom, hardware is only one part of the puzzle. You also need the right software to inspire young minds. From creating lesson plans and keeping attendance to behavior records and communicating with students and parents, we’ve compiled a set of the best apps for teachers that enable them to leverage tech instead of fighting it.
Teachers love to turn a boring lesson into a game to motivate their students, but not everyone has the skills to make a game from scratch. Thankfully, the GetKahoot website makes it easy to turn your class into a gameshow. All you have to do is enter your prepared questions and answers into the site to create an instantly playable game. Your students can then download the Kahoot app to use as a buzzer to join in on the fun. Start off with simple tasks on your home screen and view your key stats in your Profile area.
Parents want to celebrate their kids’ achievements every step of the way, so it’s important to keep them in the loop on their kids’ progress throughout the school year. With Seesaw, a student portfolio app, kids can store and post their best work to share with their parents. Teachers, on the other hand, can provide concrete examples of their students’ strengths and weaknesses to their parents during teacher-parent meetings. Improvements to Activities make it a cinch to share activities with your classes, copy voice instructions, and find other teacher-contributed activities in the library.
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If your school already uses the G Suite for Education (formerly known as Google Apps for Education), chances are you already know about Classroom. Not only can you distribute and grade assignments through the app, as well as organize all class materials on Google Drive, you can also reach your students more easily — either to make announcements or to engage them in discussions. Teachers can now boost engagement with the Student Selector, which randomly selects students from the roster, so you can motivate full classroom participation.
Remind makes it easy for teachers to communicate with students and their parents in real time outside of the classroom. You can make class announcements, initiate group chats, or contact people privately through the app. Your messages, which can contain files, images and links, can even be translated into more than 90 languages, making it possible to communicate with parents who are non-native English speakers.
Collecting those pesky parental consent forms from your students for field trips can be a nightmare, but Classtree makes the process painless and paperless. Unlike Remind, which simply notifies parents of the logistics of an upcoming field trip, Classtree actually lets you attach a consent form for parents to e-sign to go along with the announcement. The app lets you add optional questions, facilitates urgent queries, and manages comments from parents. The app even shows you exactly who has seen your note and who owes you a signed form.
It’s not just businesses that rely on Slack to keep employees connected: Professors and college students are increasingly turning to the messaging tool to stay in touch beyond school hours. Not only are some instructors hosting text-based “office hours” on the platform, they are even pushing important reminders through the app to their students, just in case. You can now use the settings to switch Dark Mode on or off and upload multiple images simultaneously from the message box and in channels and threads.
There is a better way of keeping attendance, grades, and class notes than in easily misplaced notebooks or on random pieces of paper. As a digital gradebook and classroom management app, Additio lets you take attendance, calculate grades, and plan your timetable, all on your mobile device. Recent versions incorporate a new system to calculate averages based on categories and subcategories. For additional features, like performance analytics and note-keeping, you need to opt for the $8-per-month Plus edition.
Taking advantage of the iPad’s touchscreen and portability, the Doceri app, only for iOS, turns the mobile device into a portable interactive whiteboard. You can annotate whatever material you have on-screen as you teach, which makes for a more interactive lesson. Besides letting you hand write complicated math equations or brainstorm Venn diagrams on the fly, the app can also record the class and post it online directly from your iPad.
Epic Unlimited Books for Kids
Elementary school teachers are always on the lookout for new books for their students, but worry about spending too much of their own money for their classrooms. With the Epic Unlimited Books for Kids app, teachers in the U.S. and Canada get free access to over 15,000 kid-friendly books ranging from National Geographic Kids to the Goosebumps series. The Educator’s version of the app also includes lesson ideas and videos to make life easier for teachers. Recent updates include features that help kids pick the next book in their favorite series and Epic! Originals, which offers stories from the kids’ favorite authors.