A wonderful app I have been using lately is TeacherPal. It is indeed a friend to me. I discovered this free app a while ago, but never got much of a chance to use it. For the most part, it is a graphical classroom management app that allows you to make classes, take attendance, assign grades, and take notes on student behavior.
Now, I did not intend to use this much. Like most schools, we already have a web-based attendance and grading suite made right here in Wisconsin, called Skyward. But being web-based it is tricky and often cumbersome to use on a tablet. TeacherPal just looks great. My classroom is organized by large thumbnail photos of my students. I tap one and it gives me all their attendance info, lets me take notes on their behavior or reading scores, see what their grades have been like, and even send an email to a parent.
I still am going to use Skyward for grading and attendance because I have to, and because I am not going to do the same job twice. But TeacherPal has been great in letting me keep track of the dozens of behaviors and interventions that I previously had to put into a spiral notebook.
My partner in the iPad trial, Scott, said it best when he mentioned how great it will look at conferences to click on a student and have all the important information right there, rather than a stack of papers in a manila envelope. If a hard copy is needed, say for permanent records? TeacherPal allows you to either upload your data to DropBox or emails you a handy Excel file, organized by student.
For everything that this app does, the only thing that hampers it is the occasional crash and subsequent loss of data. Though in using it in the last two weeks, I have lost only a single note. To its credit, it did warn me that it had not been uploaded to the database and a restart fixed it. In education, where records are vital and can cost you your job, I hope it’s something they take care of soon in an update. If you are a teach and own an iPod or iPad, trust me and download this soon!