Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday's Five: Great Apps for Teachers

Friday's Five is a feature every week where I pick a new topic and list five items that I think fit best.  Then I ask you, my readers, to share your thoughts in the comment section.  For an archive of past topics, check the Friday's Five Page.  If you'd like to make suggestions about future topics or discuss topics I bring up on the blog with others, make sure you click the "like" button on the right hand side of the page to join A Teacher's Life for Me on Facebook.  Don't be shy about sharing the blog and Facebook Page with others.  Each post has a "Tweet" button on top and buttons on the bottom that allow you to share in several ways, including e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.

For the past few years, I've been resisting the temptation to upgrade my phone to an iPhone.  It's not that I didn't want one.  Anyone that knows me can tell you that I'm an Apple fan boy.  My problem is that I'm cheap.  I honestly didn't want to pay for the monthly data plan.

Finally, a few weeks ago, I broke down and my wife and I upgraded our phones.  It's a move I don't think I'll ever regret.  Like every other new iPhone purchaser, I spent the few days after buying looking for the best apps with which to load my phone.  In today's post, I'm going to share five of my favorite apps for iPhones and iPads that help me as a teacher.  This list will focus on apps that help the teacher, but it's a pretty safe bet that a future post will cover great apps to use in the classroom.  I'm sure there are many, many other great educational apps out there, so I hope you share a favorite or two of yours in the comment section when you're done reading.

  1. Common Core Standards - Like many other educators in the country, I've spend plenty of curriculum alignment meetings lately flipping through pages of the new Common Core Standards.  I won't have to anymore.  This app lists all of the Language Arts and Math standards and organizes them by grade level.
  2. Animoto - One of my favorite web 2.0 tools has an easy to use app that allows you to create dynamic videos from your photos.  Off course, the added benefit of having a camera in your phone or iPad allows for even easier video creation.  
  3. Social Networking Apps (Plurk, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter) - If you've followed my blog for any amount of time, I'm sure you know the value I place on my Professional Learning Network.  The educators from whom and with whom I get to learn on the above four sites have been a great influence on my growth as a teacher, and continually inspire me.  Being able to access their blog posts, opinions, discussions, and comments from anywhere through the above apps is wonderful.
  4. Evernote - This great app allows me to take written and voice notes and save pictures,  from anywhere I have my phone and access them anywhere I have a computer.  It's been useful for me so far this summer, and I anticipate that it will be even more useful when the school year begins.
  5. TED - If you are not already familiar with TED, you need to be.  Basically, TED is a series of free, availably videos of some of the most forward thinking, interesting people in the world sharing their ideas.  The subtitle on their website pretty much sums it up:  Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.  Two of my favorite are talks on education are by Sir Ken Robinson (Schools Kill Creativity) and Dan Meyer (Math Class Needs a Makeover), but there are many, many others.  This app allows you to search and view them from anywhere.   
Now it's your turn.  I know that there are lots of other great apps out there for teachers.  What do you have on your iPhone or iPad that helps you?  What does your iPad or iPhone allow you to do as a teacher that you couldn't before?  Do you find that you use your mobile device to keep you organized, to further your learning, or a combination of both?  Please share below in the comment section, and pass the post along to others so that we can hear about their experiences as well.