Now that I’ve had a little experience teaching I’m in the process of changing and improving the way I do things to make it easier for me and give me more time with my students. One of the biggest things I have spent almost 6 months looking into is the perfect tools to replace my word and excel documents for attendance, grades, and behavior. Every quarter I have to place grades into sheets for teachers. To get those grades I spend at least 20-30 minutes combined a day to add the grades in. My classes are back to back most days with about 20 seconds in between for transition times. I don’t have a ton of time to spend inputting grades. So what I began searching for was an Ipad app that could do everything I wanted. An Ipad app would allow me to be mobile, start class on time (The activity I start class with is 90% student lead most times), and be able to input quick behavior notes and grades without having to make time to visit my desktop which wastes class time and sometimes when time is not available leaves me trying to remember grades at the end. After several tries I think I finally found an app; TeacherPal http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/teacherpal/id389584618?mt=8
Now this app is free from iTunes so there is no money lost if it does not work out. When you first launch it your virtual desk with long empty hallway for your classes will appear:
You need to add your classes by hitting the + button on the top left. I teach elementary general music so there are many classroom now in my hallway which took some time, but an hour now will save me 4 later. I labeled each class with the teacher name and what grade level they were for the upcoming year:
I love the hallway portion. It allows me to have my classes all in front of me and the hallway acts just like a normal school hallway, the lights turn on and off, the bugs crawl over the plants, and the doors open right up, it’s kind of cool.
Once the classroom is set up you can enter it to begin entering in your student information by clicking the + button on the upper right corner. The great part about this is you can enter not only student names but parent contact info and pictures to help you learn names when September arrives. The student pictures can be uploaded to your IPad or you can take their pictures using the Ipad camera.
After all of your student information has been put in you can start playing around. When inside a full classroom you can drag the virtual desks around to create new seating plans (if you are unhappy with your current seating chart just hit the reorganize button to start fresh!):
Taking attendance is as simple as clicking the attendance tab at the top and touching the desk once with your finger if they are there and twice if absent which is recorded right away. If you have a rowdy student one day, go to the behavior tab and click their desk to write a note which is recorded into their information. When recording assignments in the grade book tab it looks a lot like this:
Just like a normal grade you can add in graded assignments.
Other features of TeacherPal include Dropbox integration and ability to send out mass emails to students and parents by class.
I turned a few other teachers on to this app over the summer and we hope to test it out together come September. So far I like how it works and it will be interesting to take it into the classroom!