Reading, Writing … and Technology

When pondering how to make the school year easier for students, consider these technological options.

Students in the Glendale Unified School District return to class on Aug. 22.


Though it’s the middle of summer, for many it means time to go back to school. With Glendale Unified School District schools heading back to class on Aug. 22, back-to-school shopping is in full swing. And with each new school year comes a bevy of new technology for students that help with note taking, homework and miscellaneous projects. We at CV Weekly have endeavored to track down some of the best, most unique options to meet back-to-school needs. What follows is a list of products and apps that CV Weekly has not received for review or been paid to promote, but just a list of genuinely useful tools compiled by the writers of the paper.

Tablets. The iPad still reigns supreme as the most popular tablet. And with the new line of iPad Pro tablets ranging in size from 10.5 inches to 12.9 inches, the workspace is larger than ever. But with price tags between $379 for a basic iPad and $1,279 for a fully loaded iPad Pro, they are not cheap options. Other tablets can be less expensive, but consider that consumers get what they pay for. A nice middle-of-the-road option is the Amazon Fire HD tablet. It offers the classic Kindle reading experience, along with document creation for typing homework, the internet for research, video apps like Netflix for when homework is done, and a full app store to get anything else needed. And the price point is much easier to handle – $79 for the Fire HD 8 and $149 for the HD 10, at eight and 10 inches respectively. While not quite as powerful or user-friendly as the iPad, it will get the job done.

Headphones. There is something to be said about “wiring in” to do assignments. Plug in some good headphones, blast some Mozart and get in the zone. “The best” headphones are different for each person. Two of our reporters prefer the over-the-ear headphones like the Beats 3 Solo wireless headphones ($200), and one prefers the in-ear wireless earbuds like the Apple AirPods ($160). The AirPods are only a good idea if they are paired to Apple devices like iPhones and Mac computers; otherwise the difficulty in connecting isn’t worth it. But the Beats and other third-party Bluetooth headphones are easier to work with. Overall, a solid option is a set of headphones that won’t break the bank and won’t break at all – like the Astro A10 gaming headphones ($60). Virtually indestructible, they have a detachable cord so it won’t get pulled out and can survive being thrown across the room in a rage-quit tantrum on Battlefront, and still provide clear music with the delicate chords of Mozart afterwards.

‘Old School’ School. While new tech is great, the classic pencil-and-paper option is what many students reach for. But paper can be better than it used to be. Rite in the Rain notebooks are the best notebooks a student could hope for. Used by scientists in the field for note taking in the harshest conditions, these notebooks are error-proof. The paper is waterproof, tear-resistant and can be written on by just about any utensil. And although the cost is a bit higher ($18 for spiral bound, $14.25 for a pack of two staple bound), it is worth it to make sure that once the homework is done, it stays safe. While relaxing in the pool at the end of summer or under the spilling cup of grandma’s eggnog over the holidays, the danger of soggy homework is present all year. Couple this notebook with a Fisher Space Pen ($11), which can write in any condition – even in space – and you have a fool-proof system of homework management.

Apps. Of course today’s world is all about apps. Gone are the days of buying one thing that does one thing; now there are apps to do things for us. Difficult tasks are made easy through the intuitive use of apps, which make complex tasks accessible.

For reports and homework, it is always nice to have a polished look to a final product when putting several pictures and fonts together. Over is an app that allows even first-time users to create beautiful works of art by layering different assets with a drag-and-drop interface and importable fonts to make the perfect image or page. One of our paper designers uses this as his preferred method of graphic design for any project that fits on one page. It is only available on Apple devices currently, but an Android version is in the works.

Slack or WhatsApp are both good teamwork chat apps that allow for quick communication among group members for group projects. Slack is more business-oriented while WhatsApp is just a chat app; either one will allow for conversation to get the juices flowing.

Mindfulness is important in today’s world as well. Taking time to meditate with apps like Calm or Headspace can reduce stress. These guided meditations and breathing exercises will help manage the stress of homework, projects, friends, parents, cafeteria food, more homework, tests, running days, getting up early and more homework. Yoga Studio: Mind & Body is an app that allows users to create custom yoga classes led by a digital instructor that finish off with a guided meditation on any number of topics.