I’ve been a school teacher for 20 years. My universal observation is that the smartest kids don’t always get the best grades. Well organized students do better in homework and get better test scores.
If you have a child in school, whether kindergarten, high school, or even college, one of the best things you can teach them is to manage their homework assignments. The end result is almost always a smarter student with better grades. Does it help to have a Mac?
PC or Mac? Good, or Bad?
My experience through the years tells me that a computer, whether Mac or PC, is not a requirement for a student to learn more or get better grades.
What helps is consistency. Study. Homework. Attendance. If those three are handled well, even less gifted students can do well in school, whatever the grade or circumstance.
What really improves a student’s ability to learn is active participation. Like it or not, we live in a computerized society, so computer skills are important to academic performance (but not a requirement).
For a couple of years I’ve introduced the Mac software package Schoolhouse to some of my students (not part of my curriculum, and only for Mac users).
In variably, those students who use Schoolhouse to manage their classes do better than students who do not. My Mac360 friend, Alexis Kayhill, reviewed Schoolhouse even before her children were ready for school.
The Organized Advantage
Schoolhouse is not complicated to use. Even the less computer savvy students in middle school can handle the basics.
There’s automatic grade calculation which helps a student track daily grades so there are no surprises as a semester or quarter ends. Smart Notebooks help students to organize criteria and tasks in an interface which looks just like iTunes.
Tasks can be assigned to any class. Documents, photos, movies, audio files can be attached to individual tasks. Just like Mail in OS X, there’s a Dock Badge which highlights instantly how many tasks remain.
Each student creates a library of projects, tasks, documents, files. Each library can even be synchronized with MobileMe.
Easy To Use Interface
Students tend to shy away from any sort of compelled organization, so my approach with Schoolhouse is simple. Try it.
The interface is straightforward. Click to add a task, whether a project, simple task, homework assignment, schedule, or whatever.
Courses can be added with a click (the same click works for Notebooks, Smart Notebooks, Websites, and Folders). One click brings up a calendar view of what is due and when. Even priorities can be set from Low to High.
Tasks can have a start date, priority, assignment to a specific course or class, as well as a due date. Even grades can be recorded for each task. Just like iTunes, Schoolhouse is not cumbersome or confusing. It’s helpful.
The real problem with such excellent aides as Schoolhouse has more to do with motivating the student to use it, rather than the features. But once in use, Schoolhouse helps the student keep track of the ever increasing complexity of school life (not the social aspects).
Schoolhouse is modestly priced, straightforward to use, and for those students—smart or otherwise—that use it, a sure way to improve grades, enhance participation, and set the stage for an organized adult life.