Monday, September 23, 2013

iPrep for iPads: Apps To Invite Back

iPad Rollout Day!  4x is super geeked for the introduction of iPads today.  It is the beginning of a journey with this class to collaborate more, create more, and learn more.  There were so many highlights of piloting 1:1 iPads in 4th grade last year.  Some of them were hard earned successes seeded by careful plans, but most of them were unexpected surprises.  What will inspire, excite, and obsess this year's class?  We don't know yet, and so we will try to leave room for everyone to discover something new.

What we do know is that not all apps are equal.  There were some that sparked our students' imaginations and others that fell flat.  Some that provided valuable skill practice and others that weren't worth the free download.  So which apps are being invited back?  Here's our short list:

Creativity Apps: open ended, good for any subject

Book Creator
Drawing Box
Explain Everything
Pic Collage
Strip Design

Productivity Apps: for getting the work done

Google Drive
I-nigma QR code ereader
Inspiration Lite

Exploration Apps: for seeing new things

Google Earth
Star Walk
Solar Walk

Tools and Resources: 


Games and Puzzles

Big Seed
Move the Turtle: Programming for Kids
Math Doodles
Slice It!

There are a few fan favorites that our class doesn't plan to use with students this year: Evernote, Skitch, Notability etc.  Some of these we tried, and for various reasons, they didn't work out.  Some we don't need because we can do something similar with another program that we like better.   On the other hand, a comeback might be just an update or project need away.  Instead of spending a lot of time investigating new apps this year, we want to find more innovative ways to use the apps we have, especially if they are open ended and multifaceted.  (We will take recommendations so if you think there is an app we should consider, let us know.)

There was one app designer that really caught our attention last year. Esa Helttula of idevbooks makes a mean math program.  The clean design and flexible settings allowed our students to practice important arithmetic skills at their own pace in a way that emphasized how and why various algorithms work. We'll be adding several of those (multiplication, long division, partial quotients) as we teach the concepts.

Additionally, backchanneling at conferences has encouraged me to try websites like TodaysMeet or Poll Everywhere or Padlet with students.  We are also looking forward to developing a better relationship with our AppleTV, which was not playing nice last year.

What else do we know for sure? There is no shortage of well thought out tools for the classroom. By choosing carefully and limiting the scope, we can focus on helping our 4th graders develop and express their ideas.

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