Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Back-to-School App Roundup for Teachers

The back to school season is upon us. Parents are busily securing school supplies and updating fall wardrobes in order to get their children ready for the new school year.  Teachers are also hard at work during these past few moments of August as they organize their classroom and polish up their curriculum. Even if your schools have started already -- quite common outside the northeast section of the country -- you may enjoy some of my favorite digital learning tools I have rounded up to help usher in the new school year.

 Math Story is an excellent website that uses music to help students learn foundational math skills. The catchy, upbeat songs span a variety of topics from the times tables to fractions to basic procedures.  Each song is integrated into a YouTube video, allowing students to watch visual representations of the words as they are sung.  This is an excellent, multi-modal way to have students master their numeracy concepts.

Sometimes struggling writers are intimated by a blank page and struggle to generate ideas.  Prompts, the handy writing app, gives students access to over a thousand creative writing prompts.  Furthermore, if writers' block hits during the writing process, the app will send additional prompts based on what has already been written to help guide the student along.  This is an excellent way to gently build a student’s independent writing abilities.  Students can then share their writing via email, Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, or Dropbox.

           Touted as the Schoolhouse Rock for the 21st Century, Grammaropolis is an interactive and engaging application and website that uses animated characters whose personalities are based on the parts of speech they represent.  This witty characterization allow students to visualize the roles of the parts of speech and to identify how a correct sentence is constructed. To augment learning done in the digital space, Grammaropolis also has a series of books and videos that highlight a different part of speech using the same characters.  This literacy program is a much more exciting way to teach students about adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions than a traditional grammar workbook.

      For learning and reading specialists, the Reading Record Calculator will be incredibly advantageous during your assessments. The app is a running record calculator and stopwatch with the added benefit of integrated audio recording and playback. Teachers able to play back the audio and flag all errors and self-corrections. From there, the application seamlessly calculates a student’s reading rate, percentage of accuracy, and self-correction ratio. You can than e-mail the data, along with any notes on the book, reading level or student name to yourself or any other member of the student’s educational team.

 Noise control is a vital component of classroom management.  Too Noisy, is a fun app that can be displayed on a computer, TV or Smartboard in order to help teachers maintain an appropriate level of noise in the classroom.  According to the app description, “as the noise level in a classroom increases beyond an acceptable level the noise level meter dynamically indicates the level of noise, and the background graphics within the app change to reflect the noise levels.”  Teachers can personalize their display by choosing from a variety of background images, or setting timers where students can earn rewards for remaining quiet for designated amounts of time.  


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