Using technology to help struggling students

SMART Technologies engage students.
SMART Technologies engage students.

Students are back in school, but their learning doesn’t have to stop when the last bell of the day rings.

Kids are exposed to technology all the time — on the home computer and via smart TVs in the home, and on the go with tablets and cellphones (even if they belong to Mom and Dad). Parents can take advantage of their kids’ curiosity and aptitude for all things screen-related and use them for opportunities to continue lessons outside of the classroom.

We asked local education experts, “How can students use technology at home to make the most of study time?” Here were their recommendations for apps, software and websites to try.

“I mostly use Web-based learning platforms with my students. The one I use for English language arts is Istation ( I like it because it does a monthly assessment that measures the child’s progress in both reading and writing. It identifies the areas that the child is struggling and he/she can then focus on those areas first. As for apps, I really like those like Lumosity, Can You Escape and Sudoku because those build critical thinking skills.”

— Sara Waller, sixth-grade English language arts teacher, Trinity Meadows Intermediate School, Fort Worth (Keller ISD)

“I like to use Wolfram Alpha ( to help determine the steps involved in complicated algebra problems.”

— Regan Hardeman, Mathnasium instructor

“There are many good apps and they really depend on the age of the child. For high school students, I recommend the SAT app. It is good at English, reading and math. For elementary students, find an app that focuses on the specific concerns — math, reading, etc. — and holds their attention.”

— Jack Reiser, director, LearningRx,

Students who are taking private music lessons would greatly benefit from an online subscription to Music Learning Community

Crissy Barton, music teacher

“Students who want to explore and engage in musical experiences should visit the New York Philharmonic Kidzone website ( It is a very user-friendly option for young students with a wide range of musical activities and games. Students who are taking private music lessons would greatly benefit from an online subscription to Music Learning Community ( The subscription is an invaluable resource to reinforce musical concepts and skills that students are learning in their lessons. It has numerous engaging games, along with custom levels to challenge students as they become more musically advanced through the years.”

— Crissy Barton, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten music teacher, Covenant Christian Academy, Colleyville

“My favorite technology tool is the SMART board and Notebook software. SMART devices are centered around student engagement. While the simplicity of the Notebook software allows for amazing content creation, it is the teacher who designs the interaction ... the ‘magic’ ... that students experience with the content.”

— Jeff Samuelson, digital learning specialist, Birdville ISD

“Using Google Apps, especially Google Drive, on the iPad allows the student to use any of the iPad productivity apps to create and then save it to their Google Drive ( Students then can use either a Chromebook or laptop to access their Google Drive to upload their product at any time and anywhere. It also allows for more ‘app smashing,’ the combining of apps and/or websites, to create a completely new product.”

— Diana Colby, library media technology specialist, Bluebonnet Elementary, Fort Worth (Keller ISD)


LearningRx, 423 Keller Parkway, Suite A, Keller, 817-562-5558,

Mathnasium, 790 S. Main St., Keller, 817-741-2202 (and other area locations),