Mobile Apps

Ten Superstar Apps for the K-8 Classroom

 

 

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Photo Credit: Wayan Vota via Flickr(CC 2.0)

Amid the thousands of apps in the Google Play Store, I have found some champions in the field of  learning. Tried and tested by teachers, these apps deliver skills practice in an effective and enjoyable way.

 

  • Animoto– Kick your slideshows up a notch with Animoto.  Create high quality videos complete with music and effects.  Videos can easily be shared via email, link, or embed code.  Appropriate for all grade levels, Animoto is an ideal tool for classroom presentation.
  • Explain Everything– Explain Everything is a powerful screen casting tool for the classroom. As its name suggests, it can literally be used to explain everything. This highly rated app serves as an interactive whiteboard tool and allows the user to annotate, animate, and narrate photos, documents, and videos.
  • Ted– Impressive to say the least, and one of my all-time favorites, Ted for Android delivers compelling videos presented by amazing people.
  • Edmodo– With the multitude of technology tools being used in the classroom; teachers are using organizational platforms such as Edmodo to manage their e-learning environment.  Teachers can create secure groups, post assignments and polls, house resources and links, and facilitate discussions both in and outside of the classroom. Edmodo continues to serve as an effective professional development tool as teachers can connect with educators in groups covering all aspects of teaching and learning.
  • Britannica Kids-Ancient Rome– Supplement your study of Ancient Rome with this easy to use, interactive app. From images to games, this app makes learning fun and engaging for kids ages 8-14.
  • Minecraft: Pocket Edition- For all of your serious Minecraft enthusiasts(and there are many), Minecraft Pocket Edition is an ideal addition to your Android tablets. Perks include multiplayer options over a WI-FI network, and a universal app status which allows you to pay once and play on any of your Android devices.  For ideas on how to integrate Minecraft into your classroom, visit Minecraft: Open World Gaming for your Classroom.
  • Geometry Quest-Common core aligned, Geometry Quest invites students to travel the world while solving challenging geometry problems. The topics covered in this geometry app include: Pythagorean’s theorem, angles, shapes, area, volume, perimeter, circumference, coordinates, isosceles triangles, congruent triangles, lines of symmetry, parallel lines crossed by a transversal,slope.
  • Word a Day Visuals and Audio– If you are searching for an excellent vocabulary app, Word a Day Visuals and Audio provides Vocabulary practice accompanied by audio and illustration. The audio component includes pronunciation along with an engaging short story which explains the word. Quizzes, flashcards, and progress monitoring capabilities are also included.
  • Stick Picks-Stick Picks is simplicity at its best. This virtual version of the soup can with popsicle sticks takes random student selection to the next level by choosing and differentiating questions for learners. Teachers can modify difficulty while developing questions based on a variety of topics.
  • NASA-A virtual treasure trove of information, NASA for Android offers a vast database of images, live streaming of NASA television, satellite trackers, and videos.
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Choosing Apps for the Classroom

 

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 Photo Credit: Daniel Go via Flickr(CC 2.0)

Aimed at improving and enhancing the learning process, mobile devices are being deployed in classrooms nationwide. The result? An onslaught of educational apps that promise to make learning easier, differentiated, and most importantly enjoyable to the student.

Over the course of  two years, I have been immersed in a newly initiated, district wide, one to one computing program consisting of Android tablets.  While working with multiple grade level teachers, the most popular question remains to be about apps that correlate with the existing curriculum.

The app market can certainly be  daunting when searching for quality apps. Gathering apps requires certain criteria for an educator to keep in mind along with the mindset that the app, as well as with any other tech tool, loses effectiveness without proper teacher guidance. Author Jeff Dunn provides a  checklist of criteria ideal for choosing apps or reviewing the current apps that you use. In his article, 10 Criteria Teachers Should Use to Find The Best Apps, Dunn suggests a simple ranking process to ensure apps are best fit to support your curriculum and learning environment.

Choosing apps can simplified by referring to some experts in the field–your students.  Giving students a say in selecting apps for the classroom will foster ownership in the learning process while developing content specific skills.  Harry G. Tuttle’s article, Giving Students a Voice in App Selection, outlines the effectiveness of including students in the selection process.

Whether you are choosing new apps or doing some spring cleaning with old apps, consider implementing a selection criteria and allowing your students to contribute to the process.