Friday, December 23, 2011

Apps For Students: Technology as a Resource, not a Distraction!

Most kids nowadays are even more technologically savvy than their parents. With iPhones, iPods, and iPads becoming more and more common among young teenagers and even grade school children, it's a wonder how homework ever gets done. While games, texting, and Facebook all contribute to distraction, did you know that smartphones can also be used to assist your child in school? Below are just a sampling of some student-friendly apps that can be downloaded easily right to their phone or iPad, some even for free!

  • iStudiez Pro - This app costs just $2.99, and is essential for the student who struggles with organization. Some of the features include entering course details and teacher information (i.e. subject, department, office hours, etc), icons and color labels to distinguish classes, a summary of what needs to be done each day, everyday, and alarms to remind you of class times and assignment due dates. There is also a section dedicated to keeping track of homework; you can organize projects by date, course priority, and pending to completed assignments. Good for students of any age!
  • Graphing Calculator - The major advantage for this app is that it is completely FREE. It has most of the functions of a Texas Instrument with none of the financial burden. The only downside is that your teacher or professor might not allow you to have your mobile phone out during an exam, but it can certainly assist when preparing for a test or completing assignments. 
  • VocabPlus Lite - This app is perfect for students preparing for the SAT or ACT tests. It offers over 1500 words with definitions and spoken pronunciation, and adjusts to suit your learning style. Different modes allow you to learn new words and definitions, or test yourself with multiple choice questions. Old words are even retired as they are absorbed into your vocabulary to keep you focused on new material. Like the graphing calculator, this app is also FREE. 
  • Dictionary and Thesaurus - This free app requires no Internet connection, and provides access to over 2,000,000 words. Set the Word of the Day notification to improve your vocabulary. Essential for any student - any word right at your fingertips!
  • iHomework - This app works like a planner, without the nuisance of an extra notebook in your backpack. It allows you to keep your schedule and your workflow streamlined by alerting you for deadlines, assignments, and class times (never worry about sleeping through class!). You can also share missed assignments via email with fellow students, log your grades, and keep track of your GPA. Only $1.99.
  • Todo5 - This is a task management app. Unlike iHomework and iStudiez Pro, Todo5 focuses just on organizing what needs to be done. It allows you to set reminders, group related tasks together in a project, or have one simple To-Do List in a checklist format. Search for tasks quickly and easily, star them in order of importance, leave notes for yourself, and customize your lists. You can also synch Todo5 with other related apps such as Outlook, Notebook, and GoodReader. This app is only $1.99, and perfect for students with organization issues or Executive Functioning Disorder.  

Apps don't always have to be a distraction for students. Encourage them to use their technological smarts wisely with organization and school-related tools, such as the ones listed above. Who knows? You might be surprised by what your child can accomplish with just a little help from their smartphone.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Families: How To Do Well in School!

Start the school year right by following these simple tips:
    Read for pleasure!  Everyone enjoys reading something, be it fiction, non-fiction, magazines, or even the sports section of the newspaper! Find an interest and read about it, or find a favorite author or series. This will not only help to sharpen your skills, but also allow for a welcome break from studying! Schedule a family reading time, limit time in front of the computer and TV, and take regular trips to the library and book store. 
    Be organized!  This is essential to doing well in school. Many students fall behind simply because they lack basic organizational and study skills. Go through your backpack weekly, keep neat and accurate notebooks, and always get your parents involved. Time management strategies, such as using calendars, prioritizing homework, and maintaining a personal, designated homework space will also help you to stay on top of things.
    Talk to your teachers!  Your teacher is there help you succeed. It’s always a good idea to find out exactly what they’re looking for when it comes to projects and assignments, or even classroom participation. Ask for help if you are having trouble understanding something. If you feel like you may need some additional instruction, talk to your teacher and / or parents about finding a tutor.
    Have Efficient Study Strategies!  There are many different strategies for studying, and it’s important to find the ones that work for you. Efficient reading and note taking help create a solid foundation when the time comes to prepare for an exam. Highlight your books, or use post-it notes to keep track of important points. Study notes periodically, not just right before the test. Flash cards, visual organizers such as a web or chart, and mnemonic strategies are always helpful, and working on sample problems is the best approach for math preparation.