If you’re anything like me, daily organization is a challenge. Additionally, I am also challenged with consistency–being able to stick with something for an entire year. I tend to get excited about an idea I want to put into my classroom right away. I am full of enthusiasm when I launch the idea, but then it eventually falls out of focus. It usually ends with the next big exciting idea that comes along, and the cycle starts all over again.
Thankfully, I have found a few FREE mobile apps that have really been a remarkable help at keeping me organized and focused through an entire school year. Apps I can trust to really help me, deliver long-term, broad use, and are user-friendly.
Now, I wouldn’t describe myself as a technophile teacher. You won’t walk into my classroom and see blinking tech hanging off my body with my students pointing their phones at me as part of a lesson. But the easy-to-use tech I’m about to tell you about can be downloaded to your mobile phone and easily integrated into the flow of your day.
My Top 3 Productivity Apps for Teaching
1. Remind. I’ll admit it. When I first heard of this app, I was skeptical. I didn’t want to use it. But the functionality! I can schedule class announcements, directly message students, and the students can pose questions directly to me about assignments. And it is so easy to use!
Here’s a scenario where this app helps someone like me: I just pull into my driveway after getting home from work and I realize that I forgot to remind my students about their assignment due tomorrow. I pull out my phone and type up a class announcement. But I know many of the students are finishing up practice or other extra curricular activities, so I set the announcement to send at 7 PM. I hit the “schedule” button, close my phone, and go hug my kids.
I can send the communication when I remember but for the best time to grab the students’ attention, like early morning reminders to bring their books! Now, if I can only find an app that will carry that same function for entire lessons. (Note: students will need to have the app or allow the app to send SMS messages to their phones).
2. CamScanner. This app has bailed me out more times than I can count. I have used it to take quality pictures of student work samples or of an assignment template to share with students. The app will convert the picture into a PDF and you can share it directly from the app.
It has been invaluable when I give students instructions for assignments that involve the use of notebook paper. I will draw up a sample template of what I want from them, snap a pic in the CamScanner app, then ship it to them, usually through the Remind app. Done!
And if you need to “hold on” to student work, but want to communicate with parents about the quality of a particular student’s efforts in your class, you can grab a picture and email the PDF to mom and dad . . . and the counselor, and any other administrator. No more he said, she said.
3. Dropbox. This is my go-to app for collaboration. I work with others who have the app and it is like a magic pocket. I drop a file into a folder and they can pull out the same file somewhere else. How about a sample assignment your team is working on? Use the CamScanner to take a picture, then put it in the dropbox. It will notify each person that shares the folder.
If I come up with a handout that my colleagues really like, I can drop it into a dropbox folder we all share. They can download it and use it whenever they wish. And if we keep it organized, retrieval is easy. Access the app on the web, on your mobile, or download the desktop app.
No more email chains that clutter your inbox where colleagues are looking for that one handout you shared a year ago. Instead, as my colleague and I say, “drop it like it’s box.”
If you didn’t have these apps before reading this post, download them now. Like, right now! You won’t be disappointed.
Truly, these three apps have saved me immeasurable time and energy. They have been especially helpful to me as a teacher who doesn’t have his own classroom. As I move from one room to another, they keep me and my students on the same page.
What’d I miss? Do you use any apps that help you week-to-week that we need to download right away? Please let us know about it in the comment section below.