Whether teachers like it or not, students are going to use cell phones in their classrooms. A University of New Hampshire studyrevealed that 65 percent of surveyed students said that they send 1-10 text messages in a typical class. Another 15 percent admitted to sending 11 or more per class on average. Some teachers remain steadfast in their efforts to snatch smartphones, but others have embraced the new technology. A report by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project indicated that 73 percent of teachers use cell phones for classroom activities.
Educational apps open a world of possibilities for teachers and students. The growing pool of grade- and subject-specific apps can keep students engaged and make teachers’ lives easier.
Wolfram Alpha. A leader in computational knowledge, Wolfram Alpha also specializes in educational courses. Wolfram has a series of math apps that guide users through concepts and problems. Available courses include algebra, precalculus and calculus. Each course costs $4.99, but the expertise and resources make it well worth the purchase. Math teachers would be wise to recommend Wolfram Alpha to students struggling to keep up.
Algebra Tutor. Most students don’t have the money or desire to hire a tutor. Luckily, smartphones have come along to fill this diminishing role. Algebra tutor provides in-depth lessons on basic algebra functions and a broad base of exercises for students to test their skills. The 35 practice concepts include fraction division, polynomial multiplication and common multiple identification. Free.
Toontastic. Students can get an early start using creativity and expressive language with Toontastic. Kids learn storytelling principles while drawing and writing their wildest tales. A plethora of characters and settings will get students excited about writing and illustrating. Free.
Story Builder. Winner of the best reading app of 2011 by the Huffington Post, Storybuilder guides students through the authorship process. It’s designed to help students improve paragraph formation, integration of ideas and high level abstractions with it’s combination of verbal, visual and audio components. Storybuilder has 50 distinct story lines in which kids can fill in the the details (sort of like Madlibs). $7.99.
World Map. There’s no getting around it: Maps in text books look old and boring. World Map injects energy and vitality into geography with large, high-quality maps on which students can zoom in and out. World Map also includes political world maps and world time zones. As phones like the Galaxy Note and HTC One get bigger, these interactive maps are even more appealing. Free.
MyCongress. Students should leave high school with a substantial understanding of their government. MyCongress can keep students engaged with the legislative branch of the U.S. government. Track congressional affairs through news, video and Twitter feeds. MyCongress also enables users to contact congressmen and congresswomen directly. This interactive app can be the first step toward students taking ownership of their government. Free.
The Night Sky. Smartphone technology can greatly enhance a frustrating, oft-ignored branch of science. The night sky highlights constellations, stars, planets and galaxies using GPS location data. Hold a smartphone up to the sky and the app will identity objects.The Night Sky brings astronomy to live. It’ll instantly become one of the most impressive apps in your phone. $1.99. Check out this review:
Science Glossary. Students overwhelmed by science terminology will appreciate Science Glossary, a thorough, simple app that defines and explains thousands of science keywords. Free.