Technology can make Homeschooling easier
Despite the fact that I teach online and blog about technology, I am an incorrigible technophobe. I continually expect technology to be more of a pain than a benefit and I am always surprised when some gadget or gizmo truly makes my life easier.
Furthermore, I do not have a knack with these things, so the tools truly do have to be accessible and intuitive if I am going to incorporate them into my life.
With that in mind, I can tell you that these apps for homeschool planning are winners. They will make your life easier and they will help you keep track of your lessons, your ideas and your life. They are organized from the absolute easiest on towards the more complex. Each one takes a little more work, but has more benefits. Do be sure to read my last review on Evernote, because it is truly remarkable.
Quickly and easily save articles (videos and more) from the web, on your device, to peruse later. How much does it cost? free
What is Pocket?
Pocket was founded in 2007 by Nate Weiner to help people save interesting articles, videos and more from the web for later enjoyment. Once saved to Pocket, the list of content is visible on any device — phone, tablet or computer. It can be viewed while waiting in line, on the couch, during commutes or travel — even offline.
How can it be used by homeschoolers? I, for one, live in the sticks, and we do not have consistent high-speed internet. The beauty of being able to quickly and easily store info is invaluable. Furthermore, after you save something, it is easy to tag it, so that you can find it again when you need it. For example, yesterday I found an article that talked about how Amazon.com is monstrous to its employees. I have been thinking of running a class on Social Justice in the US labor force. I saved the article by clicking on a convenient button in the navigator window:
Then I archived it with the tag “Social Justice.” Once I have enough articles, I will be all set to string them together into a meaningful and cohesive unit for my students.
2. Screen Time
Monitor how much time your kids spend doing various activities online. How much does it cost? $1.99
What is Screen Time?
Screen Time is a brilliant app that helps parents control and monitor how their kids spend time on tablets and phones. Screen Time is kid proof and effectively does what it claims to do. It is well-suited for older children and teenagers, as well as younger children. Screen Time allows you to institute a time-limit, lights out control, bedtime control (which allows reading apps but not games) and a school time control (which allows only educational apps from the list that you have approved). There is a remote control button, so when it is lunch time, you push a button, and all of your kids are instantly timed off. You can monitor what your kids are doing in real-time, and see a log of what apps they are spending the most time on. Furthermore, you get an alert whenever your kid installs a new app. You need not take the device from him, you are informed instantly.
How can it be used by homeschoolers? I am a big fan of both “free choice” and of “choice shaping.” Even lovely, trustworthy children (and adults, and me and probably you) would benefit from some external monitoring.
Quickly access the Common Core standards. How much does it cost? Free
What is the Common Core Standards App?
This app is an elegant and easy to navigate tool for accessing the Common Core Standards. Just to be clear, I am not a fan of the Common Core. I do not base my curriculum around it, and I do not think that it is going to last forever. Nonetheless, I teach children who might want to transition into a public school and it is useful to be able to quickly and easily see what would be expected from them.
How can it be used by homeschoolers? Recently, I put together a writing unit for the 7th graders who I tutor. In seconds, I was able to find these standards:
They simply gave me a guideline to help me plan my lessons and expectations.
Easily plan and keep records of your children, the time they spend learning and their grades. How much does it cost? $4.99
What is Homeschool Helper?
“Homeschool Helper is a feature rich app designed to assist with the many aspects of homeschooling.” As it was specifically designed for homeschooling, it is ready made to meet your needs. The creators of the app state, our “features streamline and simplify the many responsibilities of homeschooling.” This allows you to spend more time teaching and less time managing.” A series of thorough instructional videos is available here.
How can it be used by homeschoolers? Homeschool Helper is very “School-y.” It has calendars and lists and places to write assignments. It has boxes to check when the assignments are completed and places to enter numerical grades for tests. You can track attendance and have reading lists ready to go. As such, this all is much more geared toward a traditional model of education, provided by a mom who really likes to keep things organized.
What is Evernote?
Evernote is software designed specifically to facilitate note taking and archiving. It can be used to keep track of what has been learned, to keep lessons and curriculum ideas organized, archive field trip ideas, and even organize meals! A “note” can be a voice memo, a full webpage, a piece of formatted text or a photograph. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can be simply organized sorted into folders, tagged, commented on, searched and exported. It can also sync with all of your devices. Evernote takes a little bit to set up, but it really can revolutionize your life and your homeschooling curriculum. I am new to Evernote, but I can‘t get enough of it. I am not only using it for homeschooling, but for shopping lists, recipe ideas, keeping track of business receipts, mileage notes and remembering birthdays. It is really great.
How can it be used by homeschoolers? The possibilities are endless. Here is how one homeschooling mom uses it to plan. Here is how one family uses Evernote to create a homeschool portfolio. I really love how you can easily archive what your students have done. You can take a picture, record them talking about their project, and then easily access it when it is time to put together a portfolio. Get Me Geeky, a great site for tech-novice moms, offers a great e-book called Evernote-for-Moms. It costs $5 and it will change your life.
Technology has to work for you
Technology can make your life as a homeschooling parent easier. I hope these apps help! Also, please let us know in the comments if there are any apps that have rocked your world.