Smartphones seem to be grafted to us now: we need them to communicate with each other, do our shopping and get around.
Recent studies have shown that they are mostly used by teens and young adults under 24 years of age.
So why not use these smartphones - which take up a just little too much space in our lives - to improve your grades at school?
Just like private lessons, home lessons or other methods, it is another - generally fairly affordable - means to give students supplemental instruction.
History, geography, chemistry, economics, mathematics - here is a series of apps useful for students young and old looking for an affordable homework helper.
Are Apps Effective in Helping Students Progress?
Before running to the nearest smartphone and downloading the best math and science tutoring apps, it is a good idea to first ask yourself if they are truly a good solution for struggling students.
As much as afterschool learning programs, homework help or peer tutoring, tutoring apps have their own place within a student’s study strategies and learning process.
Whether apps for reading and writing, school math such as geometry, algebra and trigonometry, French, English, maths or a second language - the games and quizzes make the subjects attractive to students.
The exercises are generally set up in a fun manner, improving numeracy and reading skills without being boring.
Even if the student is doing well at school, using these apps regularly can help improve their grades and help them get the A-levels they need to graduate and study at the undergraduate college of their choice.
Indeed, games let children have fun while still learning something - taking the boring out of lessons. This fosters an eagerness to learn and continue learning - an essential element for succeeding academically.
GSCE and A-level prep apps let you work on improving your grades no matter where you are, ensuring academic success even on a busy schedule.
Smartphone apps are also a good way for parents to follow their children’s progress. Many apps will save your progress and offer statistics on instructional videos viewed and test-taking. Parents can follow how their children are doing by checking the phone at regular intervals to see if they have done their online homework.
Of course, elementary school children should only use smartphones or tablets under adult supervision. However, learning apps might just be the argument that convinces the more reticent parents to get their older children their own phone.
In this case, a smartphone is a good weapon against academic failure.
But How Much Do These Apps Cost?
Some are entirely free (such as Zap-zap Math) while others ask for a few euros - anywhere from two to four.
But once you have downloaded the app, you’ll have access to all the lessons and games indefinitely. However, it is fair to say that some apps have extensions that will put you back another few euros if you want to take advantage of them. Others will be free for a certain number of levels, then ask you to pay to unlock the rest. But once you have, you can use it as often as you like, though how adequately the app functions if you don’t pay, depends on the app.
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Upward Bound Thanks to Education Apps at All Levels
Whether in first grade or 8th form, it’s sometimes nice to have outside help to catch up or get ahead. Apps can be very useful. Some of them are tailored to a certain level from the get-go, while others let you choose the level in-game.
Apps offer a flexibility unavailable in even an online classroom. Wherever you are - on the bus, eating dinner, in bed - you can learn. This accessibility is the edge that apps have over an after-school program, study groups or any other activity that needs scheduling.
With apps, your instructor is always on hand, even at school between lessons. Snap a photo of the physics lecture on the whiteboard and search for an online video, essay or even chat live with a qualified tutor before you even leave the classroom.
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Some Primary-School Learning Apps
Free - or almost free - Math tutoring for elementary school
- Squeebles by KeyStageFun offers a math bingo app for learning math basics for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Children have to save an ice cream parlour from the maths monster by solving problems of rising difficulty.
Other math apps by KeyStageFun include addition and subtraction, Squeebles Math Race, times tables and division. They cost on average £2.99 each, or you can get the whole package (including the spelling apps) for £22.99.
- Zap-zap Math offers math games for kindergarten and elementary school. It offers parents or educators the possibility of following their children’s progress; there is no separate student log-in. The app is free, and if you don’t want to use a smartphone, it also has a web-only version.
- Rookie Maths was developed with teachers in Australia to provide a fun atmosphere for learning math. Students go on quests in a 3-D, multiplayer world and improve their skills while practising maths - more fun than a math tutor.
While games are great for learning, some kids need the minimalism of a school blackboard to concentrate. This is what MathBoard offers: simple exercises that grow with the student’s abilities, written up on a digital blackboard.
Have you heard about the free tutoring organisations that offer academic support to special needs students?
Reading and Writing
- Teach Your Monster to Read encourages children to keep improving their reading skills by teaching reading to a virtual monster, for £3.99.
- The Cursive Writing Wizard is a tracing word game that’s customizable: you can enter the names of family members or other words you want your child to practise for an individualized experience.
- Squeebles also has spelling and vocabulary apps to improve your child’s literacy.
- Safari Tales is a game that will improve your child’s vocabulary (including expressions) and syntax. As they explore a safari world, they create a storybook with their adventures, while Darwin the Meerkat guides them through the proper syntax of questions before answering them.
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Science apps for budding scientists
Science apps tend to focus on a single area of science. For example:
- Earth primer takes you on a journey to the centre of the earth, teaching you all about the composition of our blue planet.
- Weather by tinybop lets kids play with factors such wind, sun and temperature to create their own weather. Tinybop also offers other introductory science apps such as The Human Body, Plants, The Earth, Space, and Mammals.
- DNA Play introduces the concept of genetics by letting you play around with pseudo-gene sequence to create your own creatures - and experience the outcome of mutations etc - without having to hijack science labs and become a mad scientist.
Apps For Teens and Veteran Learners
Teens studying toward GCSE and A-Levels will find these apps useful in learning for a specific assignment, studying for exams or improving their study skills.
- DragonBox Algebra uses games to bring equations into context and encourage problem-solving skills.
- Incredible Numbers by Professor Ian Steward offers a view on mathematics beyond what is taught in the classroom. Students will learn to look at maths in a completely different way through interactive instruction, though some of the long texts are a bit heavy and academic.
Learning Languages at GCSE or A-Levels
- DuoLingo is a free international app offering lessons in dozens of languages. You can track progress and get points for your exercises.
- Babbel offers lessons grouped by subject. It includes audio files spoken by a native. It has a variety of different exercises so you can learn a language no matter what your learning type - visual, auditory or written. A student finding instruction tailored to their style of learning will feel encouraged and be eager to learn.
Science and Engineering
- TocaLab is a virtual chemistry set that lets you blow things up without any collateral damage. The elements are explained with simple lab experiments and games.
- For older teens, The Elements offers a visually stunning tour of the elements. The same designer also offers The Molecule and elements flashcards for download to help students excel at chemistry.
- Cell Biology 101 gives an in-depth look into the building blocks of life at a cellular level.
- Essential Skeleton 4 The basic app is free, but add-ons cost money. It lets you explore all the bones of the human body and how they fit together.
- Tinybop’s The Everything Machine lets you use the features of your Apple device (microphone, accelerometer, flashlight) to build machines. You can hook up with friends and exchange machines, or build something extending over several devices.
- Hakitzu Elite lets kids duel with combat robots while teaching them to code.
Consider also the benefits of online tutoring, especially in conjunction with all of these learning tools!
Some apps focus specifically on exam revision, tailoring their questions to what is likely to come up for your GCSE and A-Levels. Some exam revision apps are:
- Synap lets you set up your own revision by entering what you want to learn and creating multiple-choice quizzes from it. You can share your quizzes and use those made by others.
- Gojimo has thousands of exam questions on 28 GCSE subjects and 20 A-Level subjects. It has downloadable quizzes, the ability to track your progress as well as time-management options, revision advice and advice on taking the next step and applying to university or apprenticeships. It’s free.
- Temple GCSE lets you build a temple by getting the answers to quizzes about a GCSE subject correctly.
- Revision has revision resources for GCSE and 11+ levels, made by educators with learning videos and interactive quizzes.
- Revision Buddies has apps to help with revision for all the main GCSE subjects, available separately or as a bundle.
Are free tutoring apps an effective way to learn without a tutor to guide you?
Apps for Children with Special Needs
Attending school when you are on the autistic spectrum can be exceedingly stressful. Here are a few apps that help autistic students or students with other disabilities to cope with school life:
- Special iApps offers two uncluttered apps for learning vocabulary and describing the world. There are no animations or ads to confuse or irritate your child.
- Talking Mats offers a series of symbols to help children who have difficulty talking to communicate with others. Proloquo2go takes it a step further, with hundreds of symbols (from symbol-based AAC) that can be tailored to the students. It speaks the symbols out loud, facilitating communication.
- DayCape helps people with autism plan their day, taking some of the anxiety away from what the future holds. It also lets them rate each activity with an emotion, helping parents and teachers understand how their day went.
- Brain in Hand takes this to the next level. In addition to reminders, it presents coping strategies to help master anxiety attacks and stressful situations and even features an “emergency red button” to put the user in touch with someone at the National Autistic Society. It offers a true support structure for the student and the learning institution.
Now discover where in the UK you can turn for free academic support and learning materials.
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