By Sabrina (Bong) Bartels — If you have an iPad like me, it probably travels with you everywhere: classrooms, your office, the lunch room. In order to help make your iPad as helpful to you as possible, here are five (free!) apps that have definitely made my counseling life easier:
- My Game Plan. One of my fellow counselors actually recommended this app to me, and it has come in handy. We all know the worry that consumes us when we have a student who admits that they are thinking of suicide. My Game Plan was primarily designed for the iPhone, but the app will work on iPads as well. There is a section for a Safety Plan, where students can write down their warning signs, coping strategies, people they can contact if they are feeling sad, and an automatic link to Lifeline, which is a suicide prevention hotline. Students can also track appointments under this app. Finally, the resources tab has a crisis center locator, as well as links to Facebook and Twitter accounts devoted to Lifeline and suicide prevention. It is a free app, but you can only find it in the app store by choosing “iPhone only.” Like I said, it will work on iPads.
- Evernote. This app has made my note-taking process much smoother and easier to read! I created a new “notebook” for each student, and then took notes in it. It automatically dates and times your entries, which makes it nice for when you have to jot something down really fast! I also “stack” my notebooks, so that all my students who have last names from A to D are all together, E through H are together, etc. The downside is that you are only able to create 250 notebooks using the free app, so that is a challenge if you have more than 250 students. I would recommend using Evernote for those students you see frequently, so you can ensure that the students who need the “notebook” have it (that was my mistake.)
- ClassDojo. In addition to being a counselor to over 360 kids, I teach a class on careers to 7th graders. In order to help keep my class efficient, I use ClassDojo. It is an app that specifically focuses on behavior. I am able to give my students “points” for good behavior, which you can customize (for my class, my six “good” behaviors are helping others, being on task, participating, working hard, teamwork, and using electronics appropriately.) You can also take away points for negative behavior, like being off task or bullying. I also use it for specific students who are on a behavior plan, since it tracks all of the data. One thing I would say: this app is designed for more elementary school age children; though some of my 7th graders find it cute, others think they have outgrown the cartoonish avatars.
- iJournal or Notability. In my school, we have a 1 to 1 ratio with iPads, meaning that every single one of my students has one. For my students who are “frequent flyers,” I also have them download iJournal to their iPads. It helps them track down their thoughts. While iJournal is a little more structured, Notability allows students to write using their fingers, doodle pictures, and upload photos. It really depends on what your student needs!
- I-Qi. Mindfulness is becoming a HUGE topic right now in the school counseling field. This past summer, I took a class on it, and it was a phenomenal experience. Whether you are doing mindfulness or not, i-Qi is a great timer to have for your classroom. You can choose a time limit, and the timer will show not only a numeric countdown, but a picture of a circle slowly fading away. When the timer ends, you hear a beautiful chime instead of a buzzing sound. My students find it super relaxing, and I’m sure yours will too! You can also just play chimes to focus your students if you are doing a lesson on mindfulness.