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 areas for improvement 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.
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.
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.
Chances are you’re already familiar with Dropbox. The service and accompanying application are terrific when it comes time to upload and store presentation photos, assignments, videos, and anything else you might need to access while at home or in the classroom. The dedicated app also lets you create and edit Microsoft Office files on your mobile device and share file links with your students so you don’t have to clutter their inboxes with an abundance of enormous files. You can now control how people can access content with link settings like audience, password, and expiration as well as disable downloads. More refined parameters around camera uploads let you choose when automatic camera uploads begin and whether to upload your entire camera roll or only new images, as well as edited photos.
Education takes place in and out of the classroom and Pocket gives you a way to quickly save articles, videos, and other web content pertinent to your current or future class lectures. The app also lets you view anything you save offline, while presenting your articles with an easy-to-view layout that enhances the reading experience, regardless of your device. Sharing that enlightening article on the Roanoke colonists with your students couldn’t be easier. Recent versions introduce offline listening, so even without a network connection, Pocket automatically uses your device’s text-to-speech voices.
ClassDojo isn’t your typical classroom-management platform. Whereas many concern themselves with gold stars and charts, this app lets teachers emphasize positive feedback, allowing you to elaborate on the behavior of your students with comments such as “working hard” or “participating.” You can even send parents public and private messages regarding their child’s progress, and if they desire, they can view their child’s feedback in real-time. No school newsletter required.
Edmodo allows the discussion to continue even after that school bell rings. Teachers and students can share content and use the app as a conduit for new information or notifications, submitting assignments and receiving grades in the process. The ability for teachers to post assignments, messages, polls and quizzes, while providing access to relevant resources and calendars, is simply invaluable. Check out the new Discover, an after-school activity space that features low-stress activities and games.
Organization is key in the classroom, but it’s not always easy. Teacher’s Assistant Pro allows you to keep a set of behavior records for each student in your class, offering a quick method for looking up and noting bad behavior, and letting you email specific incidents from directly within the app’s main interface. The app collects your entered data, stores the infraction or accolade, the date, time, and location, images, class period, details, teacher action taken, and any parental involvement.
Anyone in the knowledge profession will find WolframAlpha helpful in checking facts, doing calculations, discovering new information, and researching new angles on practically any subject to boost teaching and learning. The WolframAlpha computational knowledge engine covers a huge array of topics, offering information on disparate subjects like mathematics, physics, astronomy, earth sciences, life sciences, weather, geography, history, music, linguistics, sports, finance, socioeconomics — you name it. It is a superlative resource for both teachers and students in any field of study.
Are you still grading the old fashioned way? Groovy Grader lets you update your technique for calculating that all-important bottom line for students, parents, and you. Optimized for iOS 12, Groovy Grader replaces your paper grading calculator to provide more flexibility in figuring out the most accurate and fair grade you can bestow. You can configure it for hundreds of questions and have it display grades as whole numbers or with an added decimal place. The app lets you view grades for number correct, number wrong, and half points with convenient color coding. You can view more than 50 grades on the screen at once.
Educreations is an interactive whiteboard app that allows you to create easy-to-follow tutorials for students. You can record audio to narrate your actions, allowing you to create diagrams, commentary, simple animations, or instructions with coupled audio covering any topic. Plus, you can share video via email, Facebook, or Twitter. The latest versions debut lesson draft syncing where you can use your account to access your saved drafts on all devices, support for Apple Classroom, managed accounts, iCloud Keychain, and more.
Flashcards are a time-tested method of study, but they can be easy to lose track of given their size and flimsiness. With Studyblue, teachers can create digital sets of flashcards, study guides, and quizzes, each complete with optional audio and video. Moreover, students can create and share their own sets of flashcards and study tools, giving them a convenient place to start studying outside of simple lectures and textbooks. All students get unlimited access to over 500 million StudyBlue materials, study guides, and the ability to copy and modify any flashcard deck — for free.
You can’t go wrong with TED. The organization’s official app houses hundreds of inspiring and intriguing TED Talks, featuring fascinating lectures from industry and subject experts spanning a wide swath of topics such as neuroscience, traditional folk music, human evolution, and many more. Some are perfectly suited for sparking classroom discussions and online debates, while others can serve as inspiration for educators creating new lesson plans or lectures.
Group projects can be difficult when everyone is operating on a different schedule and page. Fortunately, Trello lets students stay organized, providing handy tools designed to keep them on task. The app allows them to create checklists, upload images, and assign tasks to other users among other actions, while conveniently syncing content across devices via the cloud. Content is displayed within a card-peppered interface, with options to easily delete tasks once completed. You can add outside elements like photos or links, directly to Trello, for immediate viewing. The app honors your last card, so that when returning to the app, you’ll get right back to the last board or card you were viewing.