The Best Productivity Apps for Every Educator

The iPhone is an amazing productivity tool or an amazing distraction depending on the apps you use. I have my share of apps for distractions, but I also accomplish a lot of work on my iPhone too.  It surprises me that more people don’t know about how the iPhone can help you accomplish more wherever you are at.  You can waste a lot of time and money trying to find the best productivity apps, so let me save you a little of both.

In this post I will share thirteen of my top productivity apps and annotate them with suggestions on how they can be put to best use.  I will elaborate on some of the apps in separate, individual posts later.

I would love to read what apps you would include on this list and how you use them in the comments below.


Icon175x175 Day One: I have kept a daily journal now for over sixteen years. I credit most of my accomplishments to journaling, and up until the last couple of years my journals have always been paper journals, like Moleskine. (I still use Moleskine for projects.)  I made the leap the Day One app, and I have no regrets.  The best journal is the one you have in your pocket. It has a beautiful user interface, looks great, and you can search your journal for the information you are looking for.  The search feature is key! So often I tried to find information in my written journals by flipping pages.  Most of the time I never found what I was looking for, and when I did I lost huge amounts of time. Day One is simple to use, is password protected, and has some great advanced features.  I highly recommend this app for your iPhone.

SCOI0091 summary icon 100x100 Evernote: Evernote is my secure electronic filing cabinet.  While I don’t keep a daily journal in Evernote, all of my notes from meetings, conferences, upcoming events, and projects go here.  Evernote is secure and searchable.  I can find whatever I am looking for.  When I want to remember something I use Evernote. It includes audio, picture, web clippings, and so much more.  I keep finding more and more uses for it. You can start using Evernote for free at this link forever; it only costs money when you out grow the free amount of space. Also, and most importantly, it is safe and secure.
(Please click the ‘continue reading’ below in red on the right to read about eleven more great apps.)

Google Earth Pro Now FREE (Formerly $400)


The only thing better than really cool educational technology is FREE really cool educational technology.
Today Google announced the Google Earth Pro will now be free. Google Earth Pro was $400 a year, and now you can have it for free.
From Google:
Over the last 10 years, businesses, scientists and hobbyists from all over the world have been using Google Earth Pro for everything from planning hikes to placing solar panels on rooftops. Google Earth Pro has all the easy-to-use features and detailed imagery of Google Earth, along with advanced tools that help you measure 3D buildings, print high-resolution images for presentations or reports, and record HD movies of your virtual flights around the world. (click the link for more and a video)

New Khan Academy iPad App Brings Full Experience and Handwriting Recognition to Users

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Khan Academy’s iPad app just got overhauled making the iPad an even more powerful tool in the Education market.

iPad users now will have the full Khan Academy! Users will have access to session video, choose from from more than 150,000 interactive math exercises, and receive immediate feedback.

Yep, you can now take EVERY course on Khan Academy on your iPad.

It’s most amazing feature may very well be it’s ability to recognize handwriting allowing users to submit answers by writing on the screen.  The app employs MyScript-powered handwriting recognition for this magic to happen.

My Pet Monster: an iBook by Jason Sand, Robyn Torry and Their Classes

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Over the past four months, my friend and fellow ADE, Jason Sand has been working on a new book titled, My Pet Monster.

My Pet Monster is a collaborative project with Jason Sands and his class of eleventh graders, and a second grade teacher, Robyn Torry, and her students. Yes, second graders and eleventh graders working together to publish a book. The second grade students wrote imaginative descriptions about a monster and created an illustration of a monster to match. The eleventh graders reimagined the artwork. 

Eleven Resolutions Every Educator Should Make!

Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes.

Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes.

As educators we set high standards for our students and we motivate them to become their best.  We share and encourage resources to improve the lives of our students. We care passionately about their current and future success.

I encourage my students to create resolutions for themselves each year, and I always set resolutions for myself. (This is a slightly revised post from last year.) This year I want to encourage you to try on these ten professional resolutions:

1) Blog: I want you to create your own blog. It could be a personal blog, one for your students, or maybe one for you colleagues. Share the accomplishments you and your students are experiencing. Share with us what you have learned. Perhaps you can help us solve a problem. Archive your best work. I wrote an article awhile back on specifically why I want teachers to blog.

Mac Bundle! Name Your Own Price!: Black Friday Deal. Only a couple bucks.


Wired Educator Black Friday Name Your Price

Here is a nice deal that is a name your own price with the bids starting at $1.  The earlier you get in, the less you pay. Here’s the list of apps, but just so you know… Typinator alone is worth it. Go big and 10% of your purchase price goes to a charity of your choice and you’ll be entered to win a Gold iPad 2 & iPhone 6.

Again… this is a name your own price.

The Hour of Code is Coming!

Wired Educator Hour of Code

The Hour of Code is coming.

Most schools don’t teach coding. Most schools don’t even try.  Perhaps teachers and administrators don’t know how valuable  teaching code can be or perhaps schools think that teaching coding is difficult, expensive, would require new positions, or would take away from the current curriculum.

The Hour of Code is a great opportunity to highlight the values, benefits, and ease of teaching coding and impact a few lives at the same time. Students at any age can learn to code.  Kindergarteners through high school are all welcome to join for free and begin to learn to code.  It’s fun.

Please check out and consider joining the hour of code.  You don’t need to know how to code. Host an event this year and consider starting a coding club at your school.

A few years ago I was approached by a seventh grader to start a computer programming club.  I tried to explain to him that I wasn’t the person to start the club for various reasons including knowledge and time.  Thankfully he didn’t take ‘no’ for answer and kept after me until I gave it a try.

My club started with MIT’s free Scratch Programming language which is highly visible, yet remarkable in what can be created. We moved up to several other online coding education options before focusing on Code Academy.

Help! There’s a Google Glass in My Classroom!

Google glass prescription frames curve

Help! There’s a Google Glass in My Classroom!

No there isn’t, but there could be any day.

Would you welcome your student or colleague wearing the Google Glass device that went on sale to the public yesterday, or would you be cautious and maybe voice your reservations?

Google Glass is appearing in select classrooms across the country, largely in part to Google’s Glass Explorer Program.  Teachers use the glasses to share experiments, give tours, video student projects, and a host of other activities live via Google Hangouts or collect them for later viewing in YouTube.  As more apps for the wearable device are developed for education the possibilities will be endless.

Some schools have created Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs that allow students to take their own technology to school, rather than having the school provide laptops and other devices for them. The programs are popular gaining momentum.  Will Google Glass be a welcome addition to the BYOD programs?  

Suggested Apps for World Autism Awareness Day: Today! Some Free!

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Today, 2nd April, is World Autism Awareness Day.  I am always impressed to see how schools and teachers address autism, but there is always so much more we can learn and do.

I was a link today by Francesc Sistach about a great list of apps to address autism.  Here is what Francesc sent Wired Educator:

 iAutism publishes an exhaustive list of iPad, iPhone and iPod touch apps that can be purchased today at special discounts or even for free.

It will be the fourth edition carrying out this initiative that has served not only to users that didn’t know the existence of these discounts, but also to encourage many app developers around the world to celebrate this day reducing the price of their apps.

iAutism, which was founded in 2010, is a web devoted entirely to the use of smartphones and tablets for people with autism and other special needs. iAutism publishes  in-depth reviews of apps and other resources of interest.

The app list can be found at