I was asked by a friend what apps I would suggest to a busy teacher who just received iPads in the classroom. Much of the teacher’s learning would be on their own. As I’ve been at conferences and other learning opportunities lately, I’ve developed a short list for March of 2014. Note, none of these are content specific apps. All allow for creativity for use in multiple disciplines. Rather than starting with an overwhelming number of apps, starting with some quality options can help make classroom devices most effective.
Screencasting or whiteboard tools have power in both teacher and student hands. Teachers can create mini-videos for review, to explain a topic, or to entirely flip their teaching. For students, it is a powerful way to record the metacognition involved with answering a question. Listening to a student explain their way through a math problem means so much more than pencil marks on paper.
Flashcards and much more
Flashcards were a staple in my learning growing up. But, flashcards have taken on a new life with Quizlet. This is a web and app based learning tool. Students and teachers can create and share flashcard sets. There are different game-like activities for practicing. For a busy teacher, check out the community of shared sets of cards. (Just be sure to preview the flashcards for accuracy and appropriateness!) Another similar option is Study Blue.
Teachers have countless options for keeping a pulse on their students’ learning. With assessment apps such as Socrative, Kahoot, and Google Forms can provide immediate data on student understanding. Teachers can give tests and quizzes, ask simple exit card questions, or host a game show style session. With Nearpod, teachers can create entire presentations with embedded assessments. While there are a ton of options out there, these are my favorites.
- 5. Socrative
- 6. Kahoot
- 7. Google Forms - Check out 80 Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom!
- 8. Nearpod
Google documents have so much potential for collaborative writing. Students can work together on a document or share it with their teacher for review. Bonus: open the Google Doc in Safari, go to bottom of the page. Choose Desktop View to reach the full toolbar for editing the document. If you are not able to use Google Docs, PiratePad is an option with similar features.
Using the Camera
The camera on the iPad 2 and beyond was a major game changer in the power of a digital device. Send students on a scavenger hunt: finding right angles, creating an ABC book, or finding samples of irony. Whatever the task, the camera can help students capture the idea. PicCollage and PicStitch allow for combining multiple images. Apps such as Skitch allow for annotating on top of the images for explanations.
Verbal fluency is a skill that is hard to practice in a classroom full of students. Audioboo (the iPhone version), Recordium, and other recording apps allow students to capture their speaking. They can listen to themselves and hear their own struggles and successes. Teachers can record pieces of text for students to listen to as review or support.
One of the strategies teachers often use in the classroom is having each student write their answer on paper or a whiteboard and holding it up for the teacher to view. It is a quick way to assess understanding throughout the room. DoodleBuddy is one simple app that creates a digital version of a whiteboard. Students can bring in pictures and words to make it much more powerful than a simple Expo whiteboard.
- 16. DoodleBuddy
iBrainstorm is one of my favorite mindmapping apps. Students can post notes, color code the themes, move items around the screen, and make connections. But, there are few other distractions. Padlet is a web-based, collaborative option for mind-mapping. Students simply touch and hold to add their ideas to the wall.
Annotating on PDFs
My favorite PDF writer is Notability. It comes with many more features than just writing on PDFs. Students can create notebooks for each class, insert text and images, back up to the cloud, and so, so much more. It is a paid app, though. The first paid app on this list. My favorite free PDF writer is PaperPort Notes. It allows for import of documents and images, annotation and typed text and so much more.
Now that I finished my short list of 20 apps, I can think of more categories to cover! I’ll do a second post with some more Get Started apps.
What would be on your “must have” list for a classroom set of iPads?