No more apples for the teacher with these BlackBerry smartphone and PlayBook apps
Another year of school is coming to an end- for some, it already has. For the following couple of months you can relax, enjoy the sun and forget about the next school year. At that point, you ready your new school clothes, supplies and hopefully a new BlackBerry. That’s fine and dandy, but as you run out of the halls, and into the outside world, most forget about another group of people that have worked so hard the past year – the teachers. Yes the Coopers, the Kotters and the Beldings (wait… he was a Principal).
In the past, we have covered applications geared towards helping students throughout the year, as many others have as well. Not so much when it comes to teachers. I’m pretty sure that they need less apples and more applications these days. Welcome to the CrackBerry Guide to Teacher Applications. I’ve tried to put together a list of applications that teachers could benefit from. I’m not, nor have I ever been a teacher – in fact, it’s been quite a few years since I’ve even sat in a classroom. Hopefully teachers will give me extra credit for this list.
This guide will grow as time marches on and more applications are discovered. The following applications are divided into the following categories: In Class Aids, Pre/Post Class Preparation and Reference guides. Applications for both smartphones and tablets are covered.
In Class Aids
Trigonometry is the study of triangles, as well as the relationship shared between a triangles angles and sides. Seems simple enough, but the ideas of Sine, Cosine and Tangent functions may run the risk of becoming lost on some students. Pythagorean Helper turns your PlayBook into a visual aid, providing a visual aid for when you are explaining the Pythagorean Theorem and basic Trigonometry.
Pop quiz (Professor) Hotshot: You have a classroom full of bored young kids and if their attention span drops below 55 seconds, the classroom will explode. What do you do? Enter: Quiz Master, which is geared towards kids who are in grades 4 to 6. The application includes questions that dip into the subjects of Science, Geography and History. It keeps them entertained, keeps score and provides animations. It almost turns quiz time (and your PlayBook) into a quiz show.
If you’re looking to quiz an older audience, you may want to have a gander at QuizIt. It’s a simple, straight forward quiz generating application with randomizing capabilities. It also includes preloaded quizzes, as well. Students make their selection and will discover if they are correct or not before proceeding to the next question. A summary at the end will show which questions they got right or wrong and a grade percentage will display on top.
Learning to read – it’s kind of important to do this early on in a child’s education. The Learn to Read application acts as a flashcard tool, helping you teach a child to learn how to read and spell words. The app has numerous lesson types to choose from, such as; nouns, 1st grade, colours, top 20 and so on. As the teacher you can choose which lesson to select and the number of words you would like to cover. It works for one on one lessons or full class participation – all from your PlayBook.
If they’re going to learn how to read, isn’t it a natural step to teach them to write as well? In Learn to Write, the entire English alphabet (yup all 26 of them) is laid out before them, and not in a QWERTY layout either. Either you or the student selects which letter to practice. The next screen will display the selected letter in a much larger font. All they have to do is trace the letter – their tracing path displays in black on top of the white letter. If you think they’ve got the hand of it, take away the PlayBook and have them try freehand on the blackboard or a piece of lined paper.
Do you spend tests, study periods or lunch time in the teachers lounge playing Sudoku? Thought about applying the addicting game to your lessons? That’s what Mathoku Junior for the PlayBook does. It combines a Sudoku type of play with mathematical equations. Not 1+ 1=2, it’s now something plus something equals 11, but that first something plus another something must also equal 4. With 5 levels of difficulty, you can almost smell their little brains melting. Luckily Mathoku provides hints as well.
Years ago, I remember my Mom was addicted to this game. I would constantly see her playing on their desktop – sometimes for hours on end. While it is entertaining, it is also educational. Essentially you link letters in order to form words; in turn satisfying the hunger of the book worm. The greater the wordsmith you are, the more levels you’ll tackle with increasing obstacles. The library isn’t going to be so quiet anymore.
Rubrix is a dependable evaluation service. If you want to manage and track the development and progress of students, you should have a look at this. You can set up the used rubrics from their collection or create them yourself. Through the BlackBerry app, you can then capture the information when you want; it’s automatically synced to your account. Images and notes can be included if need be. The data you collected is then available in reports that can then be analyzed, shared or even exported. Rubrix account pricing found at rubrix.com
TAGteach is a method of teaching that follows operant conditioning to promote learning with great speed and accuracy. TAG stands for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance. If a learned behaviour is exhibited, an audible tone is sounded. If you follow this method of teaching, you can use TAGtone to provide the necessary tones. That or you could access your tone library on your BlackBerry smartphone.
This application gives teachers a way to capture, graph and report on the behaviors of Autistic children, in order to provide continued support. It allows the use of ABC data (Antecedent, Behavior or Consequence), which can be graphed. Behavior Tracker Pro also supports frequency and duration or high frequency data. The application can be customized to meet the needs of the child and help support treatment plans.
Organization is key- definitely when handling multiple classes. Teacher Pro has the ability to maintain your class schedule, meetings and details of your students. I remember having a teacher in high school who was old enough to teach a couple of generations of Blundells. He would continuously cycle through the names of my dad, brother and all 4 of my uncles before he got to my name. Teacher Pro can also help you set reminders and provides various sorting options.
Agendus is another option to look at –especially when you are trying to balance classes, after school activities and of course your personal life. It combines contacts, tasks and your calendar into one easily accessible package. No more switching between applications to manage your day to day – not with the various viewing options it gives you. What you view is up to you. For example; you want a look at today? Check out the Weather, meetings, recent calls, daily quotes and so on. Make it work for you; the way you want it to.
This PlayBook application was actually made with students in mind, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t use it yourself. You obviously keep your own records, but it’s easy to visualize what the student needs to pass by entering in marks and their weight. I used to have a Calculus teacher who told us our final mark was measured by test results alone – if only other classes made grades that easy to figure out. If you put in what mark you would like to strive for, it will tell you what you need to do.
Some schools make use of Blackboards online learning and teaching software. Blackboard has many different programs – some are designed to help reach out to parents, create virtual classrooms and more. Through the BlackBerry application, students and faculty are able to view school announcements, course blogs, grades, course material and forums. It is arguably the best way to gain access to your school anytime (it sure beats breaking in after hours). The app itself is free from BlackBerry app world, but must be enabled by your school first.
This application covers almost as many facts about astronomy that there are stars in the sky. Within Astronomical Glossary, you will find definitions, terminology and explanations with practically anything to do with particle physics and statistics (to name a few). Consider the app the big dipper, as it scoops up as much information on astronomy as you can handle. Sadly, the only star subject that this app doesn’t cover is Star Wars.
Psst. Hey. You can tell me; I’ll keep it between us. You don’t actually know all of the math equations, do you? It’s ok, I know of an application that can help. It’s also conveniently called Math Equations, for the PlayBook. As it stands, it currently covers equations found in Physics. More specifically, it includes equations for Waves, Heat/Thermodynamics, Kinematics/Dynamics and Magnetism/Electricity. Each equation is neatly presented, and a sub menu includes definitions of the constants. The developers are looking to add Calculus, Chemistry, Geometry and more Physics into the equation in the future.
This application invites you to step away from the chalkboard and try another option for visual aids. GraphPlotter effortlessly allows you to plot functions, no matter how complex they may seem. You can input any function and assign values. You can use it to show your students how the graph looks, or keep it to yourself to help you seem less forgetful.
gRefPro is a one stop shop for references personalized for you and by you. There’s no way to misplace these references (unless you misplace your BlackBerry). Whether your reference guides contain text, images or both, as long as you have a data connection, you can access them. Their online catalogue also contains guides if you don’t wish to create one yourself. The app offers quick search options to help you find a guide in a hurry.
I found that some teachers like to record their own lectures. It’s probably not the fact that they like to hear themselves speak, but they want to see how they did. They may change up their style or make sure the content was covered. Lecture Notes turns the PlayBook into a smart memo pad. On top of entering in text, the application also allows recording sound, as well as capturing drawing and handwriting; all of which can be played back at anytime. Perfect for attending seminars as well.
Tap into the power of Dictionary.com with their Dictionary and Thesaurus combo application. It provides online access to hundreds of thousands of words, definitions, spelling suggestions, synonyms and antonyms. Dictionary and Thesaurus can also present audio or phonetic pronunciations – So in the tom”ay”to vs. tom”ah”to battle, you don’t have to call the whole thing off. If you are grading papers in the wee hours of the morning, and you doubt your own spelling, this is a great companion.
The native calculator is handy to have when you’re in a pinch and want to use it for basic mathematics. The scientific calculator seems to be the easiest item borrowed that is also just as easily forgotten. This application provides you with an RPN (Reverse Polish Notation) scientific calculator. Now you have access for scientific, polar or rectangular conversions, gamma functions and others. You can easily double check your work or review tests if you doubt your own calculations.
A staple for every science/chemistry class is a picture of the Periodic Table. Most of them will display the atomic number, symbol and mass and category. The Periodic Table app for the PlayBook does the same thing. What it also does is provide in-depth information on each element. This includes; melting/boiling points, group, density at 293 Kelvin, crystal structure and even shortcuts to the elements Wikipedia page. This provides both a decent reference and an interactive presentation for lessons.
Your assignment over the Summer is to try out these applications and see if you can apply them. Yes, I can assign homework to teachers, what are you going to do about it. App World and our own CrackBerry App Store are just littered with amazing apps that are geared to teachers. What do you currently use that isn’t mentioned here? Let us know in the comments!
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