There have been tons of blog posts over the year about great apps that enhance learning, yet I have seen very little blog posts that review apps for teaching. For me introducing iPads into the classroom, be it for teachers or for students, is all about letting the technology solve the challenges that we face everyday. So with these following apps I aim to make my lessons richer in media and my students administration more efficient.
In no particular order here are some tips for apps that you can use both in iPad classes and non-iPad classes.
Onestopenglish.com is one of the most popular sites for English teachers. Last week it has come out with a great app for English teachers. So besides being chock-full with tips and materials for English teachers it has also got some generic tools like an activity timer, voice recorder and sound effects. My kids are especially enjoying the timer with police siren combination.
Dutch publisher OMJS, published an app for learning structures. A simple menu helps you to find the right learning structure for your particular lesson from a bank of 40 different structures and 10 icebreaker activities. The app is both available in Dutchs and in English.
A similar app to this is the Dutch app TipTools that is loaded with different ideas for classroom activities in primary education.
There are quite a few decibel measuring apps available in the app store at the moment. After having tried them all Decibel 10 is my favorite. It’s got a clean interface, gives accurate readings and it includes explanations of what noise level each decibel reading means in context.
Whenever I feel like my class is talking too loudly I attach my iPad to the beamer and give them a maximum decibel noise level that they are allowed to make or I set different targets for different tasks. For example, between 40-50 for for individual work, 50-70 for pair work and 70-80 for group work. Students like the immediacy of seeing the loudness of their behavior converted into numbers on the screen. Once you get over the testing phase, where suddenly everybody has to sneeze to see if it cause a spike in the graph, it works great to control volume in the classroom.
Different camera apps.
The app that I use almost every lesson in my non-iPad classes is the simple camera app. When we go over assignments, homework or any other piece of work that students have drawn/written on paper, I take a picture of it and project it onto the screen. This activates students because they work better knowing that their work might be projected onto the screen for the whole class to see. Moreover, it makes it easier for me to point out things that were good about the assignment or things that I would improve so that the rest of the class can see it as well.
If you do this frequently, you might want to start a record of all of your students work. To take everything in and save in your file cabinet is an enormous hassle, but the app Three Ring solves this problem. It allows you to take photos and tag them to a certain class, grade and student. So you end up with a portfolio of all of the work that students have done.
If you’ve got your iPad connected to the beamer it’s great to use it while explaining or showing things. Instead of using the simple camera app you can try the more advanced Board Camera app. With this app you can turn your iPad into a combination of a document camera and a whiteboard. This is especially handy for subjects such as biology. Instead of letting students come round to see your pig’s heart in groups you can now present it onto the screen with annotations.
See an example below.
Aurasma helps you make your pictures come to life as if you are in a Harry Potter movie. Teachers could use this to animate the posters they have got hanging on the wall or to set up different workstations around the school or in the classroom. You can also overlay a video recording of you explaining your answers over a workbook or textbook or make images of 3d models come to life. The recording and processing of the video can all be done from the iPhone or iPad and
There are tonnes of whiteboard applications out there but my favourite is skitch. It gives me the ability to draw on a whiteboard, photo, screenshot, website or map. A nice added feature is that all of the images can automatically be saved to Evernote. I’m not a teacher who records my whiteboard explanations which is why I didn’t chose to feature the more popular “ShowMe” app. I mostly let my students use ShowMe to explain subjects to each other.
A vey simple app that gives you a customizable cheat sheet to check student’s scores when marking assignments. I usually have this app open on my iphone while I enter the grades into the Maestro app on my iPad or vice versa.
As a teacher you want to be mobile. You don’t want to be stuck in front of your SMARTboard or your laptop because that’s where your information is. You need to be able to walk up to students and yet still talk to the whole class. Hipporemote is like a mouse for your you laptop. It allows you to easily control your laptop so that you can easily visit a website, go to the next slide of your presentation or let students type the answer on the board from their own seat.
To do this you will need to have the hipporemote app installed on your phone or iPad and you need to install the hipporemote program on your laptop (windows or mac) and they both need to be connected to the same wifi network.
With this app you will only see a mouse trackpad or keyboard on your iPad screen. If you want to see the entire contents of your laptop on your iPad you can also try out Splashtop. It’s a little more difficult to start up but also works really well.
Just because it is funny to let Obama say sit down and listen and explain the task to the students.
What are your favorite apps for teaching? Share them in the comment box.