|Main Roster Page (note cute dough figures)|
First off, the app is free. Which is good. Once you have it downloaded, you'll want to set up your first class. You have the ability to make multiple classes and name them whatever you'd like. Class members are added manually, which could be a turnoff for you secondary teachers out there. But it only takes a few seconds to enter a student, and you don't have to enter anything more than a first name if you don't want to. That will save you some time. You can also assign pictures to each student. Or you can leave them as adorable little dough figures if you'd like. Another option you have at your disposal is the ability to classify each student by gender, race, or some other category of your choosing.
When you have your students inserted, they make up your first roster. You'll see all their smiling faces (or the little dough figures) looking at you on your home screen. From there, you can use the app's Attendance Mode to mark kids absent. No, it won't interface with eSchool or any other SIS. But it takes that in consideration if you are making groups. There's also an option for a random picker to choose a student/group at random. Kind of like the random picker in SMART Notebook.
GroupMaker lets you create multiple groups. You name the group and then have several settings you can choose from to set up the groups. If you assigned information about student gender or ethnicity, you can account for that when making groups. There's also an option for sorting randomly. Here's where I think the app can improve. When I created my groups, all it did was break up the roster by number. The students were still in order alphabetically. It would make sense if there was a truly random generator to break up the roster into groups. I didn't see that in the app. Once you choose to account for gender, for instance, the students move around. You can easily drag and drop students into the groups you want. But I'd still like to start with a truly random grouping. Once in groups, you can also use the random picker to choose a group.
The app has some other features. There's a timer embedded in the app. That's for timing. There's also a sound meter, which serves no purpose as far as I can see.
I think GroupMaker would be a handy app, especially in the elementary classrooms.