“We are heading towards a paperless classroom,” says Sherry Maysonave, a former educator and author of the children’s e-book series EggMania: Where’s the Egg In Exactly (for the iPad). Maysonave has become an expert in technology in the classroom and emphasizes the benefits for both teachers and students. “Digital media offer children a whole new way to learn. Some people mistakenly think of ebooks as digital pacifiers when, in fact, they’re actually vitamins for the brain and can open up whole new stimulating worlds for children,” she said.
According to Maysonave there are now more educational apps than ever before. Many are for students, but there are also several for teachers and parents. Whether it’s helping to boost a child’s reading skills, make a teacher more organized, or helping parents stay in the loop, digital technology is adding several new tools for education.
Here is a look at some of the best apps for the upcoming school year:
Students can manage everything they do inside and outside of the classroom with the iHomework app. Quickly enter homework assignments, course and teacher information, important tasks, and reading in a fun, intuitive, and convenient way. Keep up-to-date with school work, grades, to-dos, teacher’s information (create a contact list of all teachers!), and almost everything else you need during the school year. Set reminders so you never miss assignments or tasks. This ultimate school organizer is available for iPhone/iPod touch, iPad, or Mac ($1.99).
Remind101 gives teachers a way to use text messaging to connect with students and parents. The free app, which is used by more than 200,000 teachers, allows teachers to send a message to a single student, group of students, or whole class, without displaying any phone numbers. It’s an easy way to communicate outside of the classroom without risking privacy issues on either side.
Available for both iOS and Android (free with upgrades available for varying fees), gFlash+ is a handy and innovative learning tool for students of all ages to create digital notecards. Its goal is simple: make studying easy and fun. Its integration with Google Docs allows users to create and share flash cards easily and on the go. gFlash+ allows users to create, download, and edit flashcards in any subject they would like. In-app purchases are also available and allow students to upload flashcards with information on specific tests (SATs for example) and subjects.
The ultimate app for helping teachers get organized, TeacherKit helps instructors avoid piles of paperwork and combine all notes and grades into one simple digital system. With TeacherKit teachers can take attendance, keep a gradebook, maintain a seating chart, compile notes on student behavior, and even upload student ID photos. It’s truly an all-in-one app for instructors of all grade levels. And best of all, it’s free.
Pencils, Words & Kids (PWK) is a creative writing app that helps teachers and students with the creative writing process — specifically, to make it more fun and get the school year started right. PWK ($4.99) is based on the premise that writing is like weightlifting: every repetition makes you stronger. PWK has 203 inspiring photo prompts and 81 entries of kids writing, original artwork, and inspiring scenes. The photos show what real writing looks like and will fuel brainstorming for stories, essays and poems. Reading is emphasized as part of the PWK creative writing process, so the app includes commentary from authors and writers on the books that inspired them to write.
This is an app that makes life easier on special-needs children who are non-verbal. Created by the mother of an autistic son, My Words ($9.99) facilitates communication for people with a wide spectrum of special needs by allowing users to simply tap a word in order to play it audibly. Users can create custom word lists in which each word is associated with a sound and a picture. My Words has also been used by people who are trying to learn a new language.