I'm feeling Christmassy these days, hence the title of this blog post. Now I can't get the tune out of my head. :) These 9 apps make up the first screen of the folder on my iPad titled Ed Tech. They are my "go-to" apps, the ones I use in almost any classroom, regardless of the age of the students or the subject.
1. Explain Everything
I wrote about this app a couple of months ago (click here), and I have often said that if I could have only one app this is the one it would be. This screencasting app is essentially a whiteboard on which you can add and record images, text, audio, video (the list is seemingly endless) to produce a video or picture. It is great for student projects, and many teachers use it for flipping their classroom, as well as for both summative and formative assessments. I have used it with students as young as Kindergarten age, and certainly high schoolers would find it beneficial for their projects as well. It is definitely a "must-have" for any classroom with iPads. $2.99.
2. Haiku Deck
Haiku Deck is a presentation and slideshow maker, and is a wonderful alternative to PowerPoint presentations. What is so great about it, besides the beautiful images that can be uploaded, is that the text is limited (think Haiku poetry). This forces students (and adults) to choose only key words and phrases that each slide should have, and prevents students (and adults! LOL) from just reading what is on their slides (so boring!!). Free.
3. Book Creator
Another app with endless creativity options! Easy enough for our youngest students to use, but with enough options that certainly middle schoolers would enjoy using it too. With this app, students add photos, images, text and audio to create storybooks. You have an unlimited umber of pages to use to create your story, and the finished product can be shared easily, and even opened in iBooks. Great for personal or class collaborative stories! $4.99, but worth it!
I-nigma is a QR Code Barcode Reader app. I wrote about using this app in Guided Math classes a while ago (click here), but QR Codes can be used in so many valuable ways in education. A QR Code contains a link to text, image, URL, and more. Display a QR Code to have students all go to the same website, reducing valuable time having them type in the address, especially if it's a long one. Have students create a movie of their book review and then paste a QR Code inside the book so that when other people check out the book from the library, they get a link to that student's review. Endless possibilities. Hmm, I should blog about this one of these days... There are many free QR Code making websites out there but I like goqr.me the best. Free.
I am sure you've heard of iMovie before, so I won't go into too much detail on this one. Turn your photos, audio clips, music and video into movies or trailers. They can be as long or short as you like, and you can start from a blank slate or use one of the many templates Apple has made available. I particularly like them for book trailers. $4.99.
6. Telegraph Pictures
I wrote about this app a while ago also (click here), and about how it can be used in an ELA classroom to boost reading comprehension by deciphering photos. This app uploads about 10 pictures daily, and they are photographs of top news stories (human interest too) from around the world, as seen in the London Telegraph. I love the current events connection. Free.
Skitch, by Evernote, is an app I learned about from Matt Gomez's blog. Basically you upload a photo to the app, and then add arrows, text, drawing, etc. It's great for younger students for labelling. I have used it in a Grade 3/4 class where the students uploaded photos of the earth, and then labelled the northern and southern hemispheres, equator and poles. Another great feature of this app is the blurring tool. If you have some students in your classroom whose parents/guardians have not given permission for their child's image to be posted online or in a public forum, the blur tool can be used to obscure that child's face so class pictures can still be used publicly. After the picture has been created, it can easily be shared. Free.
With PixnTell, photos can be uploaded and arranged in a particular order. Then, use the recording feature to talk about the pictures. When you click create, the pictures and your recording are stitched together to create a video. Great for projects and so easy to use! And it's free!
9. Strip Designer
This app creates comic strips. Choose from the wide array of templates and upload the pictures you want to use to tell your story. Then add speech bubbles and text, and any other stickers that would add to the personality of your story. Great for ELA, of course, but also for any presentations in other subject areas as well. $2.99.
It is not always easy to bring current events into the Early Years classroom, but at last I've found a way to do not only that, but to connect it with reading comprehension strategies. The Telegraph Pictures for iPad app features 12 pictures from news events around the world, taken the day prior to accessing them. The pictures are not only beautiful, but informative, interesting and even inspirational at times. Here's how I would use this in an Early Years or Middle Years classroom:
1. Choose one of the 12 new pictures and project the image in the classroom. Before the students see the image, tap on the picture so that the caption is hidden.
2. When the children come into the room, have them take paper (could be a worksheet, or could be just scrap) and have them record the following: 4 details, 3 questions, 2 connections and 1 inference.
3. After a few minutes (no more than 10), have the students turn and talk to their elbow partner.
4. Then, invite pairs of students to share their ideas with the rest of the class. Discuss how looking for important details, questioning, making connections and inferring are all reading comprehension strategies that will help them to be a better reader.
5. At the end of the class, tap the image again and the caption will be seen. Now it's time for a discussion about an event from the previous day.
The next wonderful find I want to share with you is the Newsela website. This website publishes news articles related to current events, science, kids' interest, war and peace, and more. The most exciting thing about this website is the toggle at the right hand side of the screen, which allows the reader to adjust the text in the article to a higher or lower reading level. Most texts range from Gr. 4 to Gr. 12 levels, and the adjustment does not change the content of the text, nor the photo, just the readability. So students sitting right beside each other would have no idea at which level their neighbour is reading, as the page looks the same. The two screen shots above are at a Gr. 4 and a Gr. 12 level, respectively. This is a free account that teachers create. A student code is then generated for students, and teachers can assign specific articles for their class to read. New items are added regularly. There is an option for a quiz following the article, should teachers so choose. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all websites were created with this awesome feature?!!!
Travelling Curriculum Support Teacher