I have been remiss in not reviewing this App earlier as it is a must for parents of school-aged children. It has been on my iPad for some time now, and it has been in my “going to get to ” list, however I’ve dipped into it a lot lately, so I really need to share it with you. School A to Z is a free App from the NSW Department of Education and Communities. Their School A to Z website aims to:
” create an online community with comprehensive homework and ‘school life’ support for parents that is easy to use, relevant and engaging.”
The school A to Z App gives parents access to some of the content on the site and will be a welcome resource for any family of school-aged children.
On the main screen you will see buttons for 6 main learning areas and one feedback section. Four of the learning areas are reference tools that need internet access, and two are games that can be played off-line. Here is a brief run-down of each section:
- English – up-to-date reference to all Terminology used in English. It not only provides definitions of the various terms, but also provides examples, fact sheets and links to further information. Apart from browsing the extensive list of terms, you can also search for specific words or browse by topic, such as poetry. In the Reading section, I was able to download a sheet of sight words, while in the poetry section I was able to see examples of many different types of poem and to download some resources, including a fact sheet on how to write a poem. Teachers and Older students will find this a useful academic reference while parents will find it a great refresher.
- Mathematics – This is very similar to the English reference section, with the very useful addition of audio-visual aids. You’ll find illustrations, links to reference materials and fact sheets, and short videos that explain things simply.
- Technology – Like the English and Mathematics sections, the Technology section features an alphabetical list of technology terms. You can also browse by topic but I have to warn you that there is only one topic listed: Technology! What I really appreciate is that each term is explained in terms of definition, why it might be useful, and what parents need to keep in mind.
- Assignments – This section provides links to information that will help students in completing assignments and projects in all curriculum areas. You can browse all the topics, browse by subject area, or search for specific terms. Information is child-safe and opens within the App instead of opening in the Safari browser. Still, I am sure the authors of this App would still recommend you to supervise all internet activities. The School A to Z website has more information on how to talk to your child about plagiarism and other similar topics.
In addition to those features listed, each of the four areas mentioned above allows students to mark topics as favourites and to view their daily and weekly history, which can be really handy when it comes to “re-finding” things.
Two handy games can be played without internet access and are age-appropriate for children across primary level.
Spelling Bee – This great spelling game with several levels and allows you to create your own custom list of words. This will be perfect for practising the weekly homework spelling list.
Maths Monkey – practice multiplication tables by selecting a table to practice and then trying to answer as many facts as possible before the timer runs out. Points are given for each correct answer, and taken away for incorrect answers. Correct answers show as green, and mistakes will show as red, however the child gets a chance to answer again until they arrive at the correct answer. A points table is kept. This is a fun game that puts the emphasis on the Mathematics skills and not on gaming skills. (In other words, I can play this one!) It is great for a quick practice here and there and would be useful as a time-filler on the go (or, rather, while waiting for Mum!) and for a bit of practice after homework.
Over time subjects are revised, terminology changes, and it is easy to become confused if things don’t seem to be the same as they were when you were at school. Sometimes parents can feel inadequate when trying to help their children with their school work, but this App will help parents to feel more confident. As a former teacher myself, I appreciate having the reference material in such a convenient tool. Older students might also find the App handy as a reference tool. It is a must have for every parent, teacher or student iPad.
Publisher: NSW Department of Education and Communities
Universal – will work with both iPad and iPhone. Android users please visit the Schools A to Z mobile applications page for the download link.
- educational Why iPads? Reasons for use (historytech.wordpress.com)
- Schools A to Z (http://www.schoolatoz.nsw.edu.au/)