For new and veteran teachers alike, classroom management is likely the single most contentious area of teaching, and the one most likely to be left as an afterthought when lesson planning. However, most would agree that effective classroom management is essential to effective teaching. With the advent of such technology as the iphone and ipad and the corresponding apps created specifically for both educators and those being educated, classroom management tools can be found at your fingertips. The following apps were chosen for their cost effectiveness, ease of use, and most of all, for their ability to streamline classroom management, saving time and energy that can be better spent on other areas of teaching.
Teacher Pal is a free app for either iphone or ipad. It provides means to take attendance, enter grades, set up seating charts and track behavior of each student, all in one place on your mobile device. You can create a profile for each student in which you can store phone numbers and e-mails for parents or guardians and pertinent information about the student, such as allergies or learning issues. You can set up different classes for different subjects or class periods throughout the day as needed. Information entered into this app, such as grade updates, behavior issues or accolade can then be e-mailed directly from this app, eliminating the need to duplicate the data entry. In its most recent version, this app will also allow you to import student information, saving time that would otherwise be spent on needless data entry.
Class Dojo can be helpful to both teachers and students in even the most challenging classroom. By setting up each class and assigning each student an avatar in the program, teachers can track both positive and negative behavior throughout the class and throughout the day. For the teacher, one click can tally points for either positive or negative behavior, with the option of adding anecdotal information as needed. Results are viewed in real time, providing the option for the teacher to immediately offer feedback or even small rewards for good behavior. For the student, it makes behavior monitoring seem like a game, with the goal to have students take ownership of both their behavior and their learning. As with Teacher Pal, information can be e-mailed from this app directly to parents, guardians, or administrators.
This particular app for ipad takes the traditional names-on-popsicle-sticks method of questioning in a classroom to a new technologically advanced level. Not only does it allow for non-biased and randomness in calling on students, but it also allows the teacher to implement Bloom’s Taxonomy and set questioning levels to match each student’s ability or to scaffold lower level questions while building to the higher levels of Bloom’s six levels of cognitive development. Questioning skills are often one of the more challenging issues of classroom management for teachers, and the Stick Pick app can provide both a new twist on a traditional method for randomly calling on students and useful question stems at appropriate levels for whichever subject or material is being taught.
Regardless of which apps you choose to customize your classroom management experiences, the technology is available and here to stay. Using it in a way that will help to further our students’ education is a win-win situation for everyone.
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Janice White is a teacher in touch with technology and likes to share valuable resources, such as 15 Great iPad Apps for Teachers with her fellow educators.