STARTSOLE App: Why I never used an educational app (until I did)

 It’s not the most flattering thing about myself, but I’ll admit it--I’m lazy. Or, as I prefer to say it, I’m picky about where I focus my energy. I’ll work incredibly hard on something that warrants it, but I’ll also avoid doing anything to make that job any harder at all cost. Which is probably why, despite being a digital native, I never used an education app in my classroom.

I know I’m the prime demographic for them--I’m a millennial, I’m completely addicted to technology, and I’m used to using it every single day (including at work)-- but every time I tried one it either felt too “kiddish” for my high schoolers, or was way more work than I was willing to do. Teaching is already more than a full-time job, and I wasn’t going to take away the energy that I was devoting to my students in order to focus on getting an app to function for my classroom. A lot of my friends and colleagues used them--I heard endless recommendations for different trendy apps through the years-- but with our only-sometimes-working wifi and my (painfully) limited data, no app ever provided enough that I felt it was truly essential to my process.

And then I heard that STARTSOLE was making an app.

I was already using SOLE regularly in my classroom when Jeff McClellan asked me to start testing it out as it was being developed. When I present the app to teachers, I like to say that I’m pretty sure he asked because I was the laziest teacher he knew. I hope that wasn’t actually the reason, but my impatience worked to the teacher’s advantage-- my most common critique was “it’s too much work.” My instinct is to drop something the minute it becomes more of a distraction than a support, so I was skeptical that the app would ever be something I’d use regularly. But thanks to a killer app team and a lot of time, we now have an app that’s completely worth the space it takes up on my iPad.

It writes you a lesson plan. It’s easy to navigate and facilitate your session. It allows you to take pictures, to project, to reflect on your practice, to find pre-prepared questions (or write your own), to grade presentations, and a million other little helpful programs. It automatically provides data so that you can earn CEUs for your SOLEs, and does it all without taking up too much of your time or effort so you can devote those where they’re needed--with your students. It’s helpful without being additional work, and it makes running and tracking your SOLEs easier than ever.

There are other great educational apps out there. There are even probably some that would have helped my classroom. But there was never one before SOLE that I actively wanted to use because it made my job so much easier. If you’re using SOLE already, or if you want to start, I highly recommend downloading STARTSOLE. It’ll make your whole experience even simpler and maximize your success--while minimizing your stress.


Erika Howard 

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