Every teacher knows, or quickly learns, that their job is much much more than teaching. Lesson planning, classroom management, communication, and keeping records are just some of the things that require hours of extra work but can be simplified through the use of some very user-friendly apps. Here are some of the best apps teachers are using in 2017 to enhance their teaching, stay organized, and communicate better with students and families:
Apps for the Classroom – projects, study tools, class activities, and instructional tools
- This app is an interactive whiteboard that allows teachers to create instructional videos for viewing in and out of class. You can annotate, animate, and narrate content and share it instantly with students. You can even invite the students to get involved, explaining and sharing what they know with their own tutorials to help other students.
- When you're struggling with how to make a boring lesson fun, Kahoot can turn the subject matter into a fun game for the whole class to play together. Just enter study questions and answers into the app to create a game show style game that can be played immediately. You can also add diagrams, pictures, and videos to step it up. To add to the fun, students can download the app on their tablets and use the app's buzzer.
- This digital storytelling app is great for projects, allowing students to create their own videos. They can choose a theme, add music, images, video, and text and share the content with the rest of the class, letting them engage and get creative in a fun, user-friendly way.
- Epic! Unlimited Books for Kids
- As its name proclaims, this app gives teachers access to more than 20,000 children's books, with everything from National Geographic to Goosebumps. It's great for elementary school teachers who don't always have the means for a decent class library and for getting kids more interested in reading. In fact, 92% of educators say their students read more overall because of Epic! And the best part – it's absolutely free for educators.
- Study Blue
- Flashcards, although one of the best methods of studying, can be bulky and are often misplaced or damaged. Study Blue allows teachers and students to create digital flashcards, as well as study guides and quizzes.
- When you're at a loss for what the next school project should be, Instructables can help you craft a great DIY project. Fittingly, their slogan is How to Make Anything. So whether it's wood shop, art, or science class, the app will probably have something you're looking for.
- This app introduces kids to the mechanics of 3D engineering. With Tinkercad, students can start from basic shapes to create 3D models of whatever they like. It's easy to use and has built-in lessons to get you started. And if your school has a 3D printer, students can bring their models to life.
Apps for Outside the Classroom – communication, feedback, grades, and organization
- This app helps you keep track of grades, attendance, class notes, and your timetable all in one place. You can also collaborate and communicate with other teachers and calculate grades. For more features like performance analytics and note-keeping, you can upgrade to the Plus edition for $8 a month.
- Typically used in the business sector for collaboration and easy communication, Slack is a messaging app that teachers are using now to communicate with each other and with their students. Teachers can send out reminders and students can use the app for group projects. College professors are even using the app to hold digital “office hours”.
- Teacher's Assistant Pro
- With so many students, it can be difficult to keep a record of classroom behavior. This app helps you get organized and keep track of that. You can create a digital incident report by entering an infraction or an accolade with the date, time, and location it occurred as well as a detailed description and even photos. This way, when it's time for a parent-teacher conference, you have all the information you need to give the parents a detailed report.
- Simply put, this app is for sending your students, and their parents, important reminders. Used in more than 70% of U.S. public schools, it allows for group chats and private messages without the use of your phone number, an important detail for teachers' privacy. A really great feature is that messages can be translated into more than 70 languages, allowing teachers to communicate with parents who are non-native speakers.
- Parent consent forms can be a nightmare for teachers, parents, and students, but Classtree makes it all digital, eliminating the frustration and the paper. This app lets you notify parents of upcoming field trips with all of the details and allows them to give consent through e-signature. To keep it even more organized, the app shows you exactly who has seen your message and who you're still waiting on for a signature.
- Edmodo is an all around useful tool for education. You can post assignments, notifications, and grades, as well as class resources, calendars, quizzes, and polls. You can give students direct feedback through the app and keep parents in the loop about the goings-on of class.
- Google Forms
- Many of these apps allow teachers to give feedback on their students' work. But what about your feedback? Google Forms is a free survey creator that you can use at the end of the semester to collect feedback from your students quickly and easily. The app organizes your responses into charts and graphs for easy viewing and analyzing.
- Most people are familiar with Dropbox, the start-up unicorn that allows you to store and share files and access them from anywhere. But it's also useful for teachers when it comes to sharing assignments, video projects, presentations, and anything else students and teachers might need to share with each other. Instead of flooding computer memory and inboxes with all the year's files, use a Dropbox and then wipe it at the end of the year.
Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education. When she's not watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.