Are you looking for apps to help engage students and bring about better student learning outcomes? Where do you find them? What sites do you use?
Here are some app finding sites suggested by the creators of 21 Things 4 iPads:
- Graphite – created by Common Sense Media – provides lists of top apps and lesson plans with an app flow for K-12.
- Appitic – a directory of apps for education created by Apple Distinguished Educators. The apps have been tested in different grade levels, instructional strategies, and classroom settings.
- Teachers With Apps – a site created to help wade through the educational apps released every day.
- TCEA – list of iPad apps by level and purpose
I used these sites to find several apps. I am going to provide a brief suummary of three of the apps I found using these links.
Quandary is listed is #8 on the list of Best Common Core ELA Tools for elementary. It is a free app suggested for grades 2-8. It is a comic book app that has students read or listen to a particular scenario, hear a problem, investigate the issue, and determine a solution.
I like that the app places the student in a situation where they are making decisions for the good of the greater community. I think some people might worry about the fact it gives a right or wrong, which may not always match the values of the parents. I can see using this app with 2-8 students, but I wonder if there is too much dialogue for the younger students. I understand it can be read to them, but I believe the app may be too intense for some students.
Blobble Write HD
I found this app on TCEA’s list of Free Must-Have iPad Apps for Primary. This app shows the student how to write the letter then has them trace the letter. If the student is doing it right, the letter is the chosen color. However, if student is not writing the letter correctly, the writing turns red.
While it is a free app, features such as Upper-case letters, different color strokes, and audio feedback are a premium upgrade. I found this to be a good app for working with students on identifying the letters and being able to write the letters and numbers. However, I have trouble with the fact that if the student goes in the wrong direction or continues past the stopping point on letters, then it is wrong. I have been told for years that I write my ‘s’ upside down, but it is the way I write. I think if the student is able to create the letter, it should not be wrong. I purposely chose to go the wrong way on this letter ‘o’ because I wanted an example of the issue I have with this app. I do not think this app is worth the upgrade.
Write About This
The third app I chose to review is Write About This. It is a free app designed to spark student writing with 50 text and voice prompts with pictures. Accompanying every picture is a question or writing prompt. Students can save their writing in the app. Students can create their own prompts with the camera and some text. A premium version is available for $3.99, which has over 375 prompts.
This screenshot is an example of a writing prompt in Write Aboout This. I began writing about the topic, but the app also allows voice recording, so the student can speak their response. As a former English teacher, I understand the value this app and other apps that work to encourage student writing provide to students who struggle with writing about some topics. This app can help get rid of the excuse, “I can’t think of anything to write.” For better choices I suggest the purchase of this app rather than utilizing the free version.
Below is a screenshot of my evaluation of Write About This using Troy Vincents Educational App Evaluation Rubric.
Apple Volume Purchase Program
Purchasing several copies of an app like Write About This can get expensive. One hundred copies at $3.99 wouldcost $400. This could be the cost for a class of 4th grade students. Add in the rest of the 2-8 grade and you could easiily spend over $2800. With Apple’s Volume Purchase Program, the purchase of of 20 copies or more reduces the price to $1.99. This makes the app half price. A purchase for 100 students would cost $200 with the colume puchase program. Purchasing for grades 2-8 using the VPP would cost about $1400 and save the district about $1400.
Experiences and Feedback
If you have experience with any of the apps or the Apple VPP please share your experiences and feedback in the comments or email me – firstname.lastname@example.org.