Homeschooling and Apps

How are you melding the world of apps and the world of exuberant learning?

The ones that we use regularly include Math Bingo, Stacking Countries, TED, Pages, and Numbers.

The one I’ve just discovered that I’m totally bowled over by: Flashcards Deluxe (for both Apple and Android). Yes, it’s a flash card app. But here are a few of the feature that make me excited:

-You can have up to 5 ‘sides’ per card (allowing you to ask multiple questions on one topic, for example)

-You can integrate both audio and pictures.

-You can set a card to have a spelling format (where typing in the answer correctly is required).

-You can set a card to have a drawing format (where the touch screen becomes a sketch pad and you sketch, say, cell division, and then compare your sketch to the diagram in the picture.

-You can mark yourself wrong, kind of right, and really right, which in the more sophisticated study modes changes the frequency of review.

-You can set the background colours of decks and the colour and style of fonts to be different so as to aid in visual distinction.

-You can set a ‘browse mode’ in which you are not testing yourself, making it a way to set up a learning mode as well as a testing mode.

-And…you can go online to 2 different sites and download from an astonishing array of decks that others have shared. I downloaded Algebra vocabulary, Canadian geography, and mitosis.

Making a deck is pretty easy, and you can use your iPad, iPhone, or even a PC. On the iPad, there were really handy shortcuts for my bluetooth keyboard that made switching between card sides or adding a new card very quick and easy.

I made a deck for our Vocabulary Vine work. We’re learning Latin and Greek root words with this program. I made a card for each root, with the first side the root, the second side the English meanings, and the third an example word.

I also made decks for our spelling lists. I had spent money on a spelling app that ended up mixing up the audio I made and the words the kids were supposed to spell, marking them wrong each time.

There are so many facets to this that I feel like I’m only scratching the surface of how to use it. If you’re using it, I’d love to know what you’re doing and how.

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One thought on “Homeschooling and Apps

  1. skywind8 says:

    I use a spaced-repetition-systems flashcard app on my phone for learning foreign language vocabulary. In my first one year of nightly study (it’s my calm-down thing when I go to bed at night), I’ve learned over 700 words of Japanese with accurate pronunciation and spelling, entirely through self-study. As I start my second year with it, I’m now leaning into reading simple sentences WITHOUT A DICTIONARY which is enthralling and absolutely fun because it means I can enjoy the reading for its meaning instead of trudging through it. I’m also picking up grammar very naturally because once I’ve got the vocab memorized, the grammar points are easier to recognize and remember. Compared to my nearly failing high school Spanish, this self-study approach that puts vocabulary before grammar is going really really well for me. As a bonus, since I am learning through audio media from native speakers, my spoken-word comprehension in one year is light years ahead of where my Spanish ever was after 3 years of immersion study in school.

    The key seems to be making proper use of the SRS practice routine. Learning without semester breaks means there’s no artificial end to the course material. When we were tots, there was no “end” to learning our native language on some arbitrary date, to then start again the next semester; the mere idea is ridiculous. And when I’ve had a few weeks break from reviewing my vocab, the less learned words dribble out of my brain. But the stuff I overlearned – to where I was really fast coming up with the appropriate foreign word for a concept presented in my native language — those stuck. And I just kept drilling the words, in reasonably sized sets, until that point of fluency/overlearning set in. Then I could move on to a new set of 10-20 words and do it all again.

    A good flashcard program was the foundation; personal study skills and meta-cognition were the difference between shallow learning and deep, consistent learning. And constantly re-testing myself made sure I wasn’t fooling myself about how much I knew, which has improved my other study skills.

    I’m 35, and I think this is the first time I’ve truly understood what power memorization can have. And it’s been playful and fun, not forced at all, just a relaxing thing I do to settle for bed at night.

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