Appschooling: Planning and Organization

Before I even begin to write this post, I must confess something to you. 
I am not a planner. I’m also not very organized. 
It’s my right brain. It tries to take over my life most every day. Truth be told, I desire to be more organized. I would love to be successful at planning, especially in homeschooling. But, for the most part, I fly by the seat of my pants. 
Or I used to. 
In the past several months, we have made 2 purchases in our home that have gone a long way in helping me to plan easier and be more organized — first it was the Kindle Fire, and then a few months later, the new iPad. 
At first, we mostly played a lot of games, but as time goes on and I explore what’s out there, I am finding both of these tools to be more and more useful. Currently, I mostly use the iPad, and Ben uses both. However, it is my goal to move Ben more toward using the Kindle Fire a little more. So, this week I am going to share with you some of my favorite apps for both. Today, my focus is more on planning, but as the week goes on, I’ll be sharing lots of great apps you can use in your homeschool  for geography, history, language arts, math and science. 
Let’s get started. 
Homeschool Helper – iPad ($4.99) Kindle Fire ($4.99) — I just wrote a review about this app. If I could have just said, “BUY THIS APP!” and stopped there, I would have. But I didn’t, so, I’ll say it now — if you have an iPad and wish to do most of your homeschool planning and record-keeping with it, then do buy this app. You can go read my review, if you need more convincing. There’s a Kindle Fire app currently in process. Watch their Facebook page for updates. They are great about keeping their customers in the loop.  
myHomework – iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch and Kindle Fire (free) — I had begun using this app before Homeschool Helper was released. It’s designed more for classroom use, but if you have a Kindle Fire and not an iPad, it’s a still a good alternative. It has a calendar, a way to make assignments and interfaces with your PC, so you can do all of the scheduling on your computer and it will be there on the Kindle Fire for your students. There is a low cost of $2/yr to sync everything. It’s also available for Apple products, but I would highly recommend Homeschool Helper over myHomework if you have an iPad. 
iPlan Lessons — iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch ($6.99) Today we find ourselves juggling multiple classes, students, and resources. The last thing we do well is lesson tracking. Record keeping is often neglected and error prone. Different states and schools have different record keeping requirements. We hope iPlanLessons will help you get organized and help you put your students first.

iPlanFieldTrips — iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch (free) Make the most of your Field Trips with your students. Capture Field Trip reports into your notebook:

Destination
What we did?
What we saw?
What we learned?
Best Part?
Recommendations?
Student?
Resources?

Contains the following views:

Calendar
Notebook Entry Definitions
Resource, Publisher, and Author Definition
Topics Definition
Student Definition
Report Definition
Instructions

DropboxiPad/iPhone/iPodTouch (free) Dropbox is a cloud storage service and is an amazing tool for anyone, not just for homeschooling. But since we’re talking about homeschooling, I tell you how we use it. We have quite a few ebooks and unit studies in PDF format. I have Dropbox downloaded on my laptop, Ben’s desktop, and the iPad. I can drop our PDF file unit studies into the Dropbox on my computer, and it will then automatically be available on Ben’s desktop and the iPad. My documents are also available online as well, so if we end up somewhere without any of our technology, we can log on from the library or the hotel business center and access our them. Very cool.
ezPDF Reader — iPad ($1.99) and Kindle Fire ($2.99) — Those PDF unit studies I mentioned have clickable links and embedded videos. It took me a while to find a PDF Reader that allowed Ben to click on the links in his unit studies. ezPDF Reader does this for the lowest price I’ve found. It also supports annotations and PDF form filling. There are a few pages of the Schoolhouse Planners that I use a lot. This app allows me to fill in the interactive cells on the Planner!
Pocket (formerly Read It Later) — iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch and Kindle Fire (free) — I absolutely love this app. The basic premise is that you can save things you find online to Pocket and then view these things offline. Websites, videos, articles. I love that Ben can view and read things online without actually being online. For our upcoming Elections unit study, I’ve already saved several website articles and videos for him. And just like Dropbox, this app has a PC interface, so I can save something on my PC or  iPad and it will show up on Ben’s Kindle Fire. This might be my favorite app for homeschooling so far. 
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine —  iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch and Kindle Fire (free) You might think it odd that I would list a homeschool magazine as a part of my planning/organization post, but please allow me to explain. First of all, many times, there are articles in the magazine about this very topic. Also, the advertisements and reviews are great for letting me know about products I might want to check out. This all helps with homeschool planning! And if you’re honest, don’t you just need a break from the planning sometime? 
SchoolhouseTeachers.com — ($5.99/month) This isn’t an app, it’s a website. But I mention it because sometimes you need a plan for when things don’t go according to plan. With the health issues I deal with, I sometimes need to just let Ben be to explore and learn on his own. Schoolhouse Teachers has daily, weekly, and monthly lesson plans in every subject you can imagine, led by experts teachers like Diana Waring, Kim Kautzer, and Terri Johnson. Ben’s favorite though is Technology teacher, Andy Harris. Andy introduced Ben to Google Earth the very first month and he’s been hooked ever since. For the past couple of months, Andy has been teaching Ben simple programming.  
These last 2 apps are for field trip planning. We love visiting our State and National Parks. These apps not only tell us what’s available, but they also contain all the information you need to plan a great field trip. 
National Parks by National Geographic – iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch (free) — This app is great for planning a trip to a National Park near your home, or for finding National Parks to visit while you’re on vacation. It gives you basic information about several (but not all) National Parks. You can also download a more complete user guide for each park for $1.99 each (the first one is free). 
Official Kentucky State Parks Guide — iPad/iPhone/iPodTouch (free) — This is the guide for my state’s State Parks, but there are apps for other states as well! You can check out upcoming events, amenities, activities, and accommodations, and get direcitons with this app. There is a new State Parks app in the making, that will cover all 50 states. I’m looking forward to checking it out. It’ll be nice to be able to look for State Parks in other states when we are traveling without having to download every single State Parks app! Watch for it here — America’s State Parks.
I hope you find at least some of these apps useful for your own homeschool. Since most of them are free for the downloading, you won’t lose anything by giving them a try.
For more of our favorite apps, visit my page called iEducation for the Homeschooler. Or to search by subject, click over to: 
Appschooling: History and Geography
Appschooling: Language Arts
Appschooling: Math
Appschooling: Science 
Appschooling Bible

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