8 Apps to Enhance Learning
We’re in the Golden Age of Educational Apps, according to Shannon Holden, Assistant Principal at Republic Middle School (MO). However, many parents and educators question the educational value of apps and worry they are taking away from actual instructional time. Holden reminded attendees in his recent edWebinar “10 Apps Every Teacher Needs NOW!” that like any instructional resource, teachers should carefully review each app’s purpose and potential for aiding the learning process. The apps showcased in the presentation help reinforce lessons, organize lesson content, and assess student progress.
- Quizizz: This app does exactly what its title says – teachers can make quizzes (or choose from a library of quizzes) to assess student understanding of a topic or lesson. In addition, it keeps track of student scores so teachers can assess comprehension across a class. Finally, it offers a variety of ways for students to learn: flashcards, quizzes they can explore on their own, and more.
- Kahoot: Similarly, this app also tracks student progress, providing a bar graph of student answers and helping teachers take corrective action. Teachers may also create timed quizzes. Most important, students can use their own devices.
- Quizlet Live: Part of a family of Quizlet apps, this program lets students work in teams. It also has flashcards and study aids on many subjects for students.
- Flipgrid: Here, teachers pose a question, and students can record an answer. This can be used for formative assessments, to engage students in discussion topics, or to let students make presentations and videos.
- Wakelet: Through this program educators can make and curate collections of materials they find online: photos, web pages, podcasts, etc. They can make the collections public or private, but best of all, teachers don’t even need to sign up for an account to use them.
- Duolingo: This free app teaches over 30 languages; students can use it at home, in school, and on-the-go. Broken down into bite-size lessons, this app can reinforce language lessons or be used as the primary instructional tool.
- IXL: Based on current educational standards, this app provides reading, writing, and math instruction. It also tracks student progress and gives the teachers thousands of questions to ask for each subject. For the student, its key feature is that it explains why a student got a question wrong.
- Photomath: Using the camera on their mobile device, students can take pictures of a math problem and get step-by-step explanations on how to solve it. While not a good app for students to use during exams, it helps students and parents work through problems after hours and understand not just what the right answer is but why it’s the right answer.
Of course, there are some caveats to using apps. First, teachers must make sure that there is good company support. Even as Holden prepared for his presentation, two of the apps he wanted to share were discontinued. Next, there are hacks for many apps, letting students either game the system or overload it so the program can’t run. What Holden doesn’t like to hear, though, is that tech is bad for learning or that kids are spending too much time in front of a screen.
“You can say that things are bad—if you use them to excess—about anything. Even if you drank too much water, you could cause yourself some health problems,” said Holden. “People want to say, ‘Mr. Holden, I hear that technology is bad.’ Well, technology used to excess is bad. So, what we want to do as adults is give [students] positive ways to use their screen time.”
This broadcast was hosted by edWeb.net.
This article was modified and published by eSchool News.
About the Presenter
Assistant Principal at Republic Middle School in Missouri, Shannon Holden has been a high school and middle school administrator and teacher in Texas and Missouri for 20 years. Shannon presents frequently to teachers and administrators about classroom management, maintaining positive relationships with parents, instructional strategies that engage students, and implementing technology in the classroom. He is the host of the Teacher HELP! and TechTools for the Classroom communities on edWeb.net. Follow him on Twitter @newteacherhelp.
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