5 Must Have Pieces of Educational Software

Few people may know that my first venture into teaching started in a school in Killinarden, Tallaght.  There was a huge shortage of teachers at the time and although I was unqualified, I was given my first teaching job.  Of all the schools in the country to have gone to, it happened to contain a teacher called Robbie O’Leary.  A year after starting in the school, we published “Who Took the Book?” with Diskovery Software, the first cross-curricular education game to support the Irish curriculum.  Sadly, there aren’t many other examples of Irish-designed educational software out there and we rely almost completely on UK, USA and Australian software to support our curriculum.  Even so, there aren’t many good ones out there.  Below are my top 5 pieces of software that I would recommend a school should buy.
1. Wordshark (Whitespace)
This is the definitive phonics and spelling software on the market.  Its simple but powerful design is touched by nothing else on the market.  Its real power is the ability to design complete literacy programmes for individual children that are trackable.  The activities are hugely motivating despite having a basic interface.  No school should be without this package.
2. Numbershark (Whitespace)
Wordshark’s sister product for numeracy is equally impressive.  With this package and Wordshark, schools are well positioned to offer excellent individualised literacy and numeracy programmes.
3. Literacy Activity Builder (Black Cat Software)
Literacy Activity Builder allows users to design a range of literacy games such as wordsearches, sorting games, punctuation exercises and cloze tests.  Using a very simple design, teachers can design great activities for their pupils with incredible ease.
4. Numeracy Activity Builder (Black Cat Software)
Like the above package, Numeracy Activity Builder allows users to design activities to support lots of different numeracy skills.  Again, it’s very simple to use and covers a huge range of the maths curriculum
5. Know Your Ireland (EdWare Ireland)
This is the best geography game on the market anywhere in the world.  Part of the “Know Your…” series, this game helps children to learn every geographical aspect of their country.  Edware have been around for several years and continue to perfect this game over time.  The most recent edition has added Interactive Whiteboard tools.
There are other decent pieces of software out there – oldies such as Thinkin’ Things, Granny’s Garden and Maths Circus are still super problem solving games.  The rise of eduGames or “Serious” gaming is seeing learning and gaming merging gradually.  If you have found any decent pieces of software, why not add them to the comments below?

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