Apps We Use: Joey Feith
by Joey Feith
With so many apps out there, it can be hard to know which ones are worth checking out. To help you in your search for great apps, we’ve decided to create a new blog post series in which members of the #physed community can share their favourite apps and how those apps help them as physical educators. Each post will be divided into four sections: Introduction, Desktop Apps, Mobile Apps, and Web Apps. The first post in this series comes from, well, myself. I hope you enjoy the Apps We Use series and be sure to fill out the Google Form if you would like to be featured in it!
Name: Joey Feith
Blog/Website: You’re on it
Where do you teach? Royal Charles Elementary School in St-Hubert, Quebec.
Desktop Computer: 13” MacBook Pro (Late 2011) and a Mac Mini (Late 2009)
Mobile Devices: iPhone 4 and iPad 2
Preferred Browser: Google Chrome
Pages (Available for Mac and iOS)
Pages is one of those apps that seems to always be open on my computer. All of the artwork you’ll find on ThePhysicalEducator.com (including the artwork for the Blog, Infographics, and Skill Posters) is all created in Pages (which is a very backwards way of creating graphics, but I get it done).
I also use Apple’s word processor to create all of my assessment tools and posters for my physical education classes. I like creating things that students find to be nice, and Pages allows me to do just that.
Apple’s awesome presentation tool has so many great features that it allows me to create visually appealing presentations as well as animated videos. I’ve even used it in class to create interactive diagrams for my students, and am currently working on a cool YouTube project that I will hopefully be able to share in early 2014.
Although most of the animation for ThePhysicalEducator.com’s videos are created in Keynote, the voiceovers, final editing, and publishing take place in iMovie.
iMovie is an intuitive video editing app that can make anyone feel like Steven Spielberg (well, kinda… I haven’t produced any animatronic dinosaurs with it yet). I have used it to create videos of my students in physical education, and have even taught my students how to use the iOS version so that they could create their own movies.
GarageBand is what I use to edit the different podcasts I am currently involved with: The #PhysEd Podcast (which Nathan has done a great job at setting up for future episodes… we’re recording on Thursday!) and another super secret podcast that will be out in early 2014 (hint).
I always seem to have a lot of projects on the go and I always seem to come back to Things to help me manage those projects. Things is a project management app that is perfectly aligned with the Getting Things Done productivity system.
That being said, although I love the Things family of apps, I am annoyed with how slow CulturedCode (the development team behind Things) is at releasing new features. Having invested a lot of money into these apps, it would be nice to see Things keep up with comparable apps such as OmniFocus, or even free apps such as Wunderlist and Asana.
Fantastical is a little app that sits in my menu bar and that gets used so often I forget that it didn’t ship with OS X. Basically, Fantastical is a calendar app that is quick to access and that allows me to enter events in natural language (e.g. “Podcast recording session with Nathan at 7:30 AM on Thursday on Skype). The app picks up all of the details from my natural language entry and places the appropriate information into the right fields automagically (I’ve been dying to use that word).
I use my calendars a lot: everything from meetings, to classes, to content publication dates for the site gets entered. When it comes to physical education, I use my calendar (along with KustomNote and Evernote) as a planning/mapping/reflection tool.
Rapidweaver (Available for Mac)
One of the questions I get asked the most is “How do you create your site?” The answer is Rapidweaver.
Rapidweaver is another one of those apps that is just constantly open on my computer. It makes it very easy to create an awesome website and has a ton of great 3 party plugins that save me a ton of coding time.
Although I do not use Rapidweaver specifically for physical education, it is what I use to blog, which has been an amazing professional reflection tool.
Day One is a beautifully designed journal app that I have been using for a long time.
One of the habits I’ve always tried to build/maintain is to keep a journal. Most days, I’ll simply enter three things that I am grateful for that day. On other days, I’ll share a story from my day that had a real impact on me. Having Day One available to me at all times (it syncs via iCloud) makes it easy to do so.
It might sound a little silly, but I’ve found that keeping a journal has done a lot to help me stay positive during difficult times and to remain grateful for everything I have. I’m extremely lucky to have a job that I love (teaching physical education) and to get to travel around and meet so many amazing people.
Mailbox (Available for iOS)
It’s no secret that I hate email. No matter how hard I work to stay at Inbox Zero, my inbox always seems to be overflowing.
Mailbox helps me manage my email through a variety of swipe gestures. I can easily archive/delete emails by swiping them to the right, or I can “snooze” emails (i.e. they will reappear in my inbox at a later time) or save them to a list by swiping to the left.
All in all, Mailbox provides a very nice experience when it comes to dealing with something that drives me crazy. Also, since Mailbox was acquired by Dropbox earlier this year, connecting your Mailbox account to your Dropbox account can allow you to increase your Dropbox storage by 1Gb.
Tweetbot is by far my favourite Twitter client. It’s intuitive, gesture-based design make navigating through my different Twitter profiles a breeze. It is also what I use to try and stay on top of all of the tweets during our bi-monthly #pechat.
Tweetbot 3 is iPhone (iOS 7) only for now, but it should be coming to iPad pretty soon!
Numbers is an essential part of my curriculum mapping and assessment workflow. It allows me to create easy-to-use digital gradebooks which help me keep track of my students’ progress in physical education.
Because it is a spreadsheet app, I can use a variety of formulas within the cells to automatically calculate grades. Although working with formulas might take a bit of practice, once you get the hang of it, Numbers allows for a huge amount of possibilities within your gradebooks.
Penultimate (Available for iPad)
Penultimate is a drawing app that is part of the Evernote family. I use it all of the time to sketch out quick diagrams to help my students understand certain concepts or to check for their level of understanding.
Make My Groups+ (Available for iOS)
Make My Groups+ is a handy app that has saved me a HUGE amount of time in physical education. Basically, the app imports your class lists and then allows you to create groups (by number of groups, group size, or just number or players) with a simple shake of the iPad.
The app also includes features such as saving games to be retrieved later, a score keeping function (which I use for a variety of things aside from keeping score), separating students based on skill level and/or behaviour issues, and email team lists.
I’ve used this app for two years now and have built it in as part of our classroom routines. The students respond well to the randomness of the groups, especially since they know that the groups will all be different in the following class.
Scan has always been my QR Code reader of choice. I use Scan.me to create all of the codes in my physical education classes, and Scan’s app has always been a fast way to scan those codes.
One of my favourite features about Scan is the History feature. Because of how I manage the iPads in my gym, I don’t always want students to have to run across the gym to scan a code. That being said, if the code has previously been scanned with the iPad, the students can jump directly to the URL through the app’s History feature (so they don’t even have to scan the code).
I was disappointed to see that Scan increased in price recently (it went from being free to being $4.99… although it is currently on sale for $1.99). That being said Scan.me still has a free, slightly slower version of the app called QR Code Reader.
I have been using ClassDojo in physical education to help with my behaviour management in class. My elementary students love their tiny avatars and enjoy receiving occasional points in class for good effort.
My system has students earn points for being responsible, respectful, and in self-control and lost points for being irresponsible, disrespectful, or out-of-control. Once a student reaches a certain amount of points in class, they get access to their student code where they may modify their avatar and keep track of their points at home.
It is a very simple system and my students truly enjoy it.
Coach’s Eye is an awesome video analysis app that helps me provide visual feedback to my students in physical education. The app is packed full of annotation tools that can allow you to fully highlight the different aspects of the video you are analyzing to help your students better understand what they need to do to improve.
Coach’s Eye also has a great community that shares videos of skills being performed so that you can share them with your students.
What I love most about the app is how stable it is. I can’t remember the last time the app crashed on me, which is a great feeling when you’re trying to get your students back to practicing as soon as possible.
Coach’s Eye was also voted “Best #PhysEd Mobile App” at the 2013 #PhysEd Awards.
Reeder 2 (Available for iOS)
Reeder is my all-time favourite RSS reader app. I love reading blog posts from all kinds of people, and Reeder allows me to save a bunch of time by having all of the most recent posts from my favourite blogs pushed to my mobile devices.
When Google shut down Google Reader earlier this year, I was really scared that Reeder was going to disappear as well. However, the developer came out with a brand new version of Reeder that integrating perfectly with my Feedly account (which allowed me to transfer all of the RSS feeds).
If you read a lot of blogs, be sure to check out Reeder!
Lift is an awesome social platform to help you build new habits. I blogged about Lift in the past, and it is still one of my favourite apps to use.
The Lift team recently added a new “Training Plan” feature which allows you to follow programs designed by experts to help you reach your goals, one step at a time.
Personally, I love Lift because it helps me keep track of the things I’ve set out to do to maintain balance in my life and because of the app’s amazingly supportive community.
Google Drive is an incredible, free services from Google that allows you to upload, create, and share files/documents with anyone and from anywhere.
I use Drive to create assessment forms to help my students stay focused on their learning objectives and to help me gain a better understanding of where they are in their progress.
If you’re looking for an amazing, free office suite/storage solution that can allow you to create incredible resources for your students, look no further than Google Drive!
Evernote is yet another app that is always open on my computer.
Evernote is an awesome, cloud-based note-taking app that allows you to quickly store all kinds of information. Anything and everything from typed notes, screenshots, pictures, urls, scans, and voice notes… if you want to remember it, Evernote is there to help.
Evernote also has a family of app that I love, including Penultimate and Skitch. The fact that anything I create in those apps automatically syncs to my Evernote account is awesome.
That being said, because I use Evernote so much, I upgraded to Premium (which is $5/month). I need to have access to my notebooks even when offline and I save everything to Evernote (I use it much more than the average casual user).
If you haven’t tried Evernote out yet, follow this link and you’ll get a month of Premium to see if you like it.
I can’t remember what my life was like before Dropbox, that’s how much I use this app.
Dropbox allows you to store files in the Cloud so that you can access them later from any internet-connected device. Also, anything you save to you Dropbox accounts gets a custom URL which you can then send to anyone for easy sharing (rather than having to email a large file).
I use dropbox in my teaching to organize my documents. Also, I use it to host content online so that I can link to it via QR Codes. During our “So You Think You Can Dance” unit, students had to backup their final choreographies to Dropbox by using the mobile app.
Dropbox is a truly amazing tool and one definitively worth checking out!
The last app on my list is Pocket: a great tool for saving web articles for later reading.
With so many great articles being shared via social media, it can be difficult to remember all of the ones you want to read. Pocket allows you to save those articles to your pocket account in an easy to read format (text and article images only).
I use Pocket all of the time to read through articles for upcoming #pechat readings and for our new This Week in #PhysEd blog post series. Being able to store and read so many great articles helps me continue to think outside of the box and be innovative in my teaching.
So that’s it for this first of many “Apps We Use” posts. Would you like to share some of your favourite apps with the #physed community? Fill out our “Apps We Use” Google Form and we will feature your post in an upcoming week!
Thanks for reading and happy teaching!
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