10 + Apps for teachers that are not really about teaching.

There are many posts about lists of apps for the classroom, for Maths,Phonics, SEN etc. But what about when you have downtime, when you close the classroom door and hang up your green pen?

Here are my current home screen iPad apps which are part of my daily tap and press routine both before and after school. Most of the 157 + apps that I have downloaded are now parked in the cloud, but these are some of the apps that have been allowed to stay.

Flipboard – This is essential for any teacher who wants to stay up to date and informed on anything from DFE directives to cat animations. Flipboard presents your news feeds, tweets, Facebook, youtube, newspaper articles and other news sources in a flip style magazine format. The beauty of this app is that you can customise the app so that it delivers just the subjects you want to read. Once read, you can either share your finds of videos, news stories etc via social networks or save them to Pocket – a linked app that serves as a sort of digital scrap-book or magazine rack for later reading.

Use it for: Staying up to date with just about everything and everyone you are interested in.

Tracktor

As a semi amateur DJof a number of  house parties  and the odd wedding, I have spent many an hour trying to perfect the ultimate mx. There is nothing like the seamless transition of two tunes as opposed to the horse’s hoof like clashing of badly mixed tracks. I would literally spend hours trying different combinations of music on my CD decks, before of course the advent of babies took away my time and my DJ room. But now I can compensate for a lack of mixing talent and lack of space with apps like Tracktor.  No more worrying about beats per minute and getting the two records in time, the app removes that headache.This app does go way beyond just mixing and beat matching. It is exceptionally intuitive and easy to master as well as including features that other DJ apps either omit or make cumbersome to use.  The app lets you mix both whole tracks or loops of a track and all the while you can apply effects like beat mashing , reverb or delay to your sound. Despite the large feature list and autonomous nature of the app, there is a lot you can do and so it still feels hands on and down to you as a DJ, this is not just automix – leave that to other apps and some clever crossfading on Spotify.

Here is a video of the similar technology from the makers of the app as shown by a DJ who has a similar talent to my own, Felix Da Housecat:

Amazon

The digital equivalent of leafing through the shelves of book and toy shops as a child. Because of Amazon, I buy and read so many more books though most of these are pedagogy or Doctor Who texts.  My only difficulty with this digital shop is that it is just too easy to use and the funds transfer so hidden thatII end up stocking my digital shelves far quicker than I might if I was actually in a physical shop with a wallet of limited cash.

Kindle

I do have a Kindle, but having the Kindle app means you can read your Kindle books on your iPad. It also syncs across devices like a collection of digital bookmarks. I wish the Kindle app had text to speech as if it did I would probably have little need for my actual Kindle. Be it Kindle device or IOS app the other huge advantage of this technology is minimalism and space-saving. I suffer from a hoarding disorder and a penchant for pedagogy themed texts with pretty covers and this has caused some very bowed Ikea shelves in the past. No such hassle with ebooks and if the device gets a bit bloated then archive a few books to the cloud.
Use it for:  Reading books of course.

Popplet

Due to the nature of my job I need to make copious notes to both record  meetings and to makes sense of strategic planning.Though I love the feel of a pen and a Moleskin notebook, jotting notes in this way forces one into pages and pages of disjointed linear chunks of thought. It can be difficult to see the whole picture or big idea. I have used digital equivalents of this process such as ‘Notes’ on the iPad, but these often feels tedious and much slower in comparison. Though not a quicker process, Popplet has allowed me to organise my thoughts more in line with how my brian works. It is basically a mind mapping and idea linking tool that allows me to illustrate thoughts with googled images, colours  and text. These big ideas be exported as images or pdfs for future reference.

Any.Do

I use this app alongside Cal for Task Management. It is the to do app that I have been looking for since I started using PDAs and Outlook years ago. It goes beyond the simple tick list model of organising your jobs and ideas and it feels so much more manageable. Approaching lists of outstanding tasks can fill you with guilt and anxiety, but the simple almost “2Simplesque” feel of this app’s interface compensates for that feeling. Tasks can be entered as text with many autocomplete options or using voice. Your tasks can set a time limit for completion, but there is now annoying alert for these, they can sit happily in the app until you are ready to tackle them or reprioritise. My favourite feature of the app is the organise your day aspect. When you open the app you are prompted to organise your day and then it is time to draw from your list of outstanding tasks.  If like me, you have an unmanageable list of tasks that grows almost by the hour, then this app serves as both an easy collection point and as a means of organising and prioritising.

BBC Radio Player

When I was a child my Dad used to take his wireless (portable radio) with him to the bathroom, the kitchen and as an accompaniment to his 3 day long house painting tasks. The BBC Radio player is my 2013 equivalent, just without the scratchy/hissy sound you’d get when you tuned the thing in, maybe they could add this retro lovers like me.

Adobe Reader

This app save me ink. Both in terms of printer cartridge and highlighter pens. It allows me to save all those important documents I come across as an on the ball teacher. Furthermore, (and this is the best bit) you can annotate and highlight the important bits on-screen and save your annotated version for later viewing, emailing, printing etc. I recently had to plough through the OFSTED handbook for inspectors and summarise the main points. This app really helped me with this task.

Spotify

Ok, so you can listen to music for free or for a few quid if you pay, like I do. But the true beauty of this app is in the creation of playlists. It takes me back to my teens and early twenties when I’d take weeks to put together just the right eclectic or themed collection of songs on cassette. These would live on my Sony Walkman for weeks, until I got bored and then the process would begin all over again. Spotify lets me and others create these 21st century mix tapes and share them with friends or grab those made by celebs and/or DJs.

Netflix
Mostly full of B movies and TV serials that you would rather forget. But, what’s this? Lots of Doctor Who and fine British comedy such as The Office and 2012.

There are more but let us leave it there for now.

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2 comments on “10 + Apps for teachers that are not really about teaching.

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