Freshman Boost Camp: Technology Tools and Apps

hand with pink nails selection app on a phone

The first year of high school is a year of incredible change. Students (often) are in a new building with new teachers, new staff and new expectations. It’s our goal here at NexTech to support all of our new students, especially our new 9th grade class. The blended learning model is an additional new item that our new students need to get acclimated to. This series of posts is targeted at new high school students for NexTech and tips for their success in their first year. 

Tech Tools and Apps to Help

At NexTech, we like finding new ways that technology can help us. There are a growing number of apps and websites that can help you be more productive, communicate with others, and even give yourself a break. Here are a few apps, both paid and free, that could be useful as you start balancing high school, school work, and life!

  • Google Keep
    • Google Keep is one of my favorite Google tools. It is a sticky note-like platform that works as a to-do list, a note taking tool, and more. It integrates within my gmail, so I can be reading emails and writing a to-do list off to the side. 
    • Google Keep also can notify you to do something when you get to a certain place (like home or school) or at a certain date and time. 
    • You can share Keep notes with others as well, helping with shared tasks on a project or communication with people at home.
    • Try adding the Chrome extension for more ability to save websites. 
    • You can add voice notes in Keep (cool for when you remember something while driving) and picture notes as well (take a picture of that important slide in class!).
  • Google Calendar
    • This is a simple, easy, and awesome tool. Abandon all phone-specific calendars and move over to the Google side! 
    • In your Google calendar, you can easily share calendars with others, turn on and off calendars, and set things so they are visible only to yourself. 
    • Set your “work at home” hours in your calendar and then share it with your parents. Then they know when it’s OK for you to be on your Playstation and not working. When that reminder goes off to start to get to work, you’ll know you have 15 minutes left of playtime. 
    • If your teacher is using Google Classroom, you can download the class due dates into your calendar so you see them pop up on your phone. So helpful! 
  • Google Drive
    • Everything from Docs to Sheets, Google is the King. 
    • Your school Google Drive is yours to use while you are at school. When you graduate, we can export your Google Drive to your personal account. 
  • Evernote
    • This is the champion of note-taking software. You can organize it by course and keep your digital notes and documents but also take pictures of anything you take by hand.
    • This is helpful to stay organized if you are like me and the way you take notes depends on how you are feeling that day. Sometimes I feel like typing up a storm and sometimes I feel like playing with gel pens. Evernote has you covered. Plus - no worries about losing things because it’s all saved in the cloud!
  • Pocket
    • Pocket is your one-stop way to save websites and resources that come up throughout your day. 
    • That cool website that helps create a bibliography? Save it in Pocket. Neat video website for that sticky math problem? Save it in Pocket. Because you can add this to your Chrome browser, you’ll never lose a cool web resource again!
  • myHomework Student Planner
    • This digital planner is a simple and easy way to keep yourself organized without carrying around the spiral bound planner of the “past.”
    • You can access on phones and on the web as well.
    • The account is free and a paid version is available if you would like it to be ad-free.
  • Screen time
    • This native iOS setting is super cool for stopping yourself from checking your phone constantly. 
    • You can set the hours and the apps that screen time does not block. 
    • You are able to give yourself a 15 minute window to go into things, or even ignore screen time for the day (not recommended). 
  • Forest ($) and Flora (free)
    • Forest and Flora are kind of cool apps that motivate you to not look at your phone. 
    • You “plant a seed” whenever you want to put down your phone. The seed will gradually grow into a tree. If you look at your phone, well, you happen to kill the tree.
    • In Flora - Want to make it real? Place a bet on the tree. If you look at your phone, you’ll pay the price, legitimately, to plant a real tree. Stay away from your phone and you’ll win a prize.
    • The Forest app comes at a cost but they use your success to plant trees around the world.
  • Noisli ($1.99) 
    • Noisli is a background noise app that is a great way for you to listen to something but not have the distractions that can come with popular music.
    • You can combine noises and sounds together and set a timer to help you manage your work. 
    • Not many apps like this are completely free, but there are some like Sleep Sounds & Meditation App, Wildfulness 2, and more that are free with in-app purchases.
    • You can use the web-version of Noisli for free!
  • Power Nap Tracker 
    • This app helps you get some rest if you did not get your needed 6 hour sleep the night before. 
    • Set the time that you need to nap, from 26 to 28 minutes. It will not set the alarm until it knows you are asleep. It monitors your movements and helps wake you up on time in a gentle manner. 
  • Mindfulness Apps
    • There are many apps that help you center and create small moments of meditation based on your mood and what you need.
    • Many have a cost but will let you have limited access to meditation tracks and some have a free trial.
    • Try some of these out for a try: 
      • Aura
      • Breethe (yes, spelled that way)
      • Buddhify
      • Calm
      • Mindfulness Daily

Whatever way you use to organize yourself, make sure that you are honest with what you need to stay on top of things and stay connected to your work. Staying organized can help you develop strategies to be proactive for school, home, and life!