11+ Top Smartphone Apps to Improve Teaching, Research, and Your Life

I love finding articles entitled, 6 Top Smartphone Apps to Improve Teaching, Research, and Your Life written in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The article written by Jeffery R. Young discusses the ways smartphones have revolutionized the classroom, particularly in higher education. The article mentions some interesting ways smartphones have begun to change the college environment such as by taking attendance, collecting data, researching, taking notes, using textbook tools, and mind mapping to plan a lecture.

How could this technology be brought into the secondary school environment?

I just discovered Android Academics, which has 4 free apps that will make your life as a teacher easier: Grade-book, Attendance, Grade Rubric, and Grade Ticker.Android Apps for Academics has some pretty nice apps and features. The following information is directly from the Android Academics website. I have personally used the grade ticker and I can’t wait to try the following academic apps.

Grade Book for Professors (with Google Docs Sync)

Edit your grade book directly from your phone!

  • No need to sync two separate grade books! Use one primary grade that is stored in the cloud on Google Spreadsheets.
  • Email a student their grades with the click of a button!
  • Pin-number to protect your grade books in case your phone is lost.
  • NEW: Email ALL students grade report with one click
  • NEW: Grade session feature and Assignment View allows for quick and easy grading of a single assignment.
  • Direct Market Linknote this link only works when browsing from an Android Phone
  • NEW FREE VERSION – does everything paid version does – it’s just ad supported


Attendance (with Google Docs Sync)

A simple and efficient way to take attendance with your Android device! All attendance results are saved to a Google Spreadsheet.

  • No need to enter student names into phone. Just get the student names into a Google Spreadsheet and the app handles the rest.
  • NEWCheck out our demo video
  • Direct Market Linknote this link only works when browsing from an Android Phone


Grade Ticker

Simple tool to help professors and teachers make grade tallying more efficient

  • Integrates with Gradebook for Professors for easy grade entry
  • Direct Market Linknote this link only works when browsing from an Android Phone


Grade Rubric

Simple tool grading tool for professors and teachers who use a grading rubric for assignments. Option to auto-generate an email with detailed grade report for student.

  • Custom rubric labels.
  • Choose letter rubrics and numbers rubrics
  • Integrates with Gradebook for Professors for easy grade entry
  • Direct Market Linknote this link only works when browsing from an Android Phone


I checked my Android Market for some useful apps mentioned in this article that could be brought into the secondary classroom. I found an app called Teacher Aide Lite. This app allows teachers to use the Android phone to take attendance and send texts to parents to notify about tardy/absent students. I think this will help organize my classroom and bring it into the 21st century.

Current Features
* supports 45 students/class, 8 periods/day
* supports 3 Marking Periods/semester and 2 semesters/year
* default values set to Present for fast attendance taking
* import student names via CSV file
* export data via CSV generated file and send via email
* 1-click text to students/parents for tardy/absent students
* 1-click Random student generator (no more Popsicle sticks)

Upcoming Features

* Simple Grading interface to allow recording of assignments turned in
* Texting and emailing feature to notify students/parents of missing work
*Additional Grading options – using points and categories

Other uses for Cell Phones in the Classroom: Please see a previous post.

Online Exams- the new way to test

It is that special time of the year when teachers have the privilege of grading final exams. Grading is one of my least favorite parts of my job. I gave a few online tests during first semester. During my second semester, I was determined to not “hand grade” a single test.
I am proud to say that I did not give ONE paper test this semester. Most of my students have What do you think of online tests?commented that they enjoyed taking their tests online, like typing their responses, and getting instant feedback on multiple choice, true false, and matching questions. Short answer and essay take a little longer to grade because I have to go in and grade each section like you would on a paper test.

Some of the reasons I enjoy using online exams are:
  • Save time
  • Easily manage student performance
  • Offer students a better testing environment
  • Instant feedback
  • Correlation to state standards
    Comments from my students about online tests:
    • “I liked them because they showed you what you got right away so I know how my grade will be effected as soon as I’m done the test. I also liked how they were on the computer to because it  doesn’t use paper.”
    • “Taking online tests is great. It helps us save paper for other things, and is also more organized then paper tests. I would absolutely recommend it again.”
    • “It is faster to type and answer questions and students can go back to the question later on. the only downside is the fact that you can’t write on the computer like you could on paper.”
    • “I liked it a lot better. It was faster and easier than doing a test on paper, i thought it was a great idea and i think it should definitely be used again.”
    • “Yes i would suggest it again because you got your grade right after you were done. and it kept you more interested than staring at a piece of paper.”
    • “Well that’s what technology is coming to and its much easier for the teacher to grade and we get our results quickly”
    • “I didn’t overly enjoy taking tests online, i am more accustomed to taking it with pencil and paper. However i liked being able to see my grade right then and there and knowing roughly what my final grade would be on the test.”
Here are some online testing programs:
Quizstar- One of my personal favorites. Best of all it’s FREE and easy to use. Please refer to a previous blog post.
Google Docs- Here is a blog post, called Making Online Quizzes with Google Docs written by Quiz Creator. How to create a google form and online test with this blog post, called Google Forms: How to create a quiz or test that automatically grades itself with Google Docs written by Planet of the Web.
ClassMarker- Here is another online program for testing.
ExamGeneral- Teachers now have an easy to use online exam platform to make creating, administering, and grading exams an efficient and effective process through this website.
Zoho- website makes creating tests and grading a paperless and simple affair
Proprofs- website offers teachers more features than you might expect. Advanced options like security, scoring, time limits & more make this online quiz software perfect for corporations, educational institutions and just for fun.  If you are looking for a test generator, exam maker or a causal quiz creator,

Current Events as Interactive Guides

From the E coli outbreak in Europe to the US presidential election 2012- Guardian News and Media takes the top current events from around the world and makes them into interactive colorful graphics complete with images, information, and links.

I particularly like the US Presidential Election, which comes with graphics and information on all the potential candidates.

The website says “No clear Republican challenger to Barack Obama has emerged for the presidential election on 6 November 2012. Click on the faces to see who is standing and who else may join the contest. Use the menu (top right) to see who is a serious contender, who has stood before and who has Tea Party links.”

Flip Snack- Make PDF Files Flip

I am organizing some of my AP government readings  and uploading them to my website. Rather than uploading to word for my students to download, I am uploading them to an amazing program called FlipSnack. This program takes PDF files and makes them into easy to read and embeddable into any blog, wiki, or website.

According to the website, “FlipSnack is an online flipping book software that allows you to convert PDF documents into Flash page flip digital publications. It’s the ideal solution for those who wish to embed a book, magazine, catalog, newspaper, portfolio or any other kind of document into a website or blog. Once created, you can embed your flipping book collection, download them or share them on social networking websites such as Facebook.”

Help your students study for finals with Quizlet

This weekend I started looking for ways to help my students on their final exams when I came across Quizlet.  Quizlet is a wonderful resource to help students study and review vocabulary.

I found vocab words for every unit of US history and AP Government, already organized and created on Quizlet. Rather than recreating the wheel, I used flash cards already on the the site and modified them to fit my students needs.

Another wonderful feature is that the flash cards can be sent to students digital devices, vocabulary games played on the computer, and even quizzes can be adapted for teachers. The website has a new feature of adding images to the vocabulary cards to all types of learners. The flashcards can be embedded into a blog, website, or wiki. The best part is that it is FREE.

According to Quizlet’s website, “Quizlet is a free flash cards and study games website. It was created by high school sophomore Andrew Sutherland in 2005 and now contains over 170 million flashcards. All of the material is user-generated.”


Make your own flashcards or search the millions already created. You can even share your flashcards with friends and classmates.

Study Modes

Next study your material study and track your progress.

Flashcard Mode—This mode is similar to traditional paper flash cards. Quickly review your material, make it full screen, shuffle/randomize, or listen with audio.

Learn Mode—A powerful study mode that tracks your correct/incorrect answers and retests you on what you’ve missed.

Test Mode—Generate a test based on your flashcards and pick the type of questions: write-in, multiple choice, matching, or true/false.

Game Modes

Have a little fun while you study and track your high scores.

Scatter—A matching game where you race against the clock. Your terms and definitions are randomly scattered on the page and you must drag and drop them.

Space Race—Terms scroll across the screen and you must enter in the correct definition before they reach the other side. The speed of the terms increases over time.


Quizlet’s advanced text-to-speech software lets you hear your flashcard content. We currently support English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. More languages are coming soon.


Study your material anywhere. There are over 40 Quizlet-powered mobile apps available on iOS (iPhone, iPad), Android, Windows Phone, and HP webOS.


Make your classroom interactive! Create and share Quizlets with your students and host a group just for your class so students can study, share, and discuss their material.

Amazing “Freedom Riders” Images

I just discovered a great post from Larry Ferlazzo’s blog about the Denver Post’s AMAZING story on the Freedom Riders. The Post’s story entitled, 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Riders has stunning images and descriptions of the history event. The photos and words tell a story from 50 years ago celebrating the legacy of Civil Rights Activists.

The Freedom rides involved men and women who bravely rode buses deep into the heart of the South during the Civil Rights Movement of the 50’s and 60’s. These courageous individuals risked their lives to integrate the public buses and terminals to enforce laws against Jim Crow Segregation.

I took the images and words from the Denver Post and made a photopeach slideshow based on the legacy of the Freedom Riders. I put the slideshow together. The photos and powerful story is credited to the Denver Post.

50th Anniversary of the Freedom Riders on PhotoPeach