For years, I’ve suffered from a horrendous disease known as ‘food envy’. You know that terrible feeling when your dish comes out and you suddenly realise that the person across from you has a much better looking meal. Unfortunately, this disease affects my iPad/iPhone app selection process. I always seem to find an app that I love, only to discover that someone else’s app seems to do what I want much better.
I get asked all the time which apps would I recommend and I always struggle with answering that question. This is due in part because I’m never fully satisfied with the apps I’m using and also because, much like with food, everyone has different tastes. However, with those two caveats in place I’ve put together a list of some apps that I use regularly and can happily recommend.
This little beauty has to be my ‘go to’ app at the moment. It is the closest thing to the old school teacher’s chronicle that I could find. It has a fantastic seating plan, gradebook, calendar, resource organiser and can even link with a variety of cloud based services.
I can link my Google calendar with the app and even show lesson slides via Google Drive straight from the app. The import and export facility is really functional and easy unlike many other apps that I’ve used.
The gradebook function allows you to customise your grades and create tabs so you can organise your grades into sections to avoid the ‘scroll of death’ that you get with other gradebook apps. My favourite aspect of the gradebook is the icon list you can use instead of numbers for the gradebooks. This is the added sparkle that kind of makes checking homework fun again (well, sort of, at least).
My students get a kick out of using this app. It works well through laptops as well, so it is multifunctional. Basically, I set out a list of vocabulary or questions that I want students to study. Then I assign the ‘set’ to the students who then answer the questions and get a chance to play games while they do it. My students most favourite aspect of this is the ‘teacher goodies’ section where students get to purchase things through the ‘zollars’ they earn playing the games (studying) I set them. You’d be amazed how much time kids will spend playing these games in a race to be on the ‘zondle leaderboard’.
Here is another vocabulary/topic learning tool that I regularly use. The premise is much the same as most other flashcard type apps. The beauty of this one, is that once the students download the vocabulary set, they can study it without connecting to the internet. I basically set up a class with various ‘topics’ and students can access them via the app or via the internet. This allows for multi-functionality if you have pernickety firewalls to deal with.
I’m a language teacher, so this particular one is subject specific. I love this app and my students and I regularly have mini competitions with this app. The app has a few in-app purchases that I’d recommend. The ability to draw the symbol along with just memorising the meaning is a fantastic tool for anyone learning Kanji. This particular app also has a web-based version which means that again you have that added functionality to really utilise this app. You can create classes, import specific vocabulary lists, search for other lists and really improve your knowledge of Japanese.
Okay, my own little guilty pleasure. Let’s be honest here, how many times have you needed your own personal drummer on the side to do the old ‘badum tish’ at one of your jokes in class? I regularly have this little beauty on to add personality and make the lessons fun for both myself and my students. Basically the app has buttons which turn on and off little sound effects to accentuate the best parts of your lesson. I often let students ‘earn’ the right to be my ‘sound’ technician during class. They really enjoy that responsibility and everyone tends to pay attention just that little bit more, waiting for the right sound. Look, it’s not for everyone but if it sounds (badum tish) like you, then I’d definitely consider it.
Lee is a teacher at McCarthy Catholic College, Emu Plains, NSW.