The volume of apps for learning and productivity continue to expand at an exponential pace. Trying to keep up is overwhelming. So, here are a few resources to help you stay current and save you time as well as some favorite apps.
- Teachers With Apps – I frequently visit this website as these two teachers do an excellent job reviewing apps. They always focus on the learning objectives, have a good sense of usability, and involve student-testing. Plus, they review a variety of apps for students of all ages. One of their favorites (and mine too) is Motion Math (developed out of the Stanford School of Education) that helps students “feel” a number line. Students must move the phone or iPad just so that the star falling from space hits the number line to represent a specific fraction. The app connects physical movement with abstract concepts, building students understanding of fractions. Be sure to also check out the other apps in the Motion Math family – Motion Math Zoom (counting, place value) and Motion Math: Hungry Fish (mental addition and subtraction). Slice It is another great app to help students understand parts to whole. With over 200 levels, students must slice shapes into pieces of equal size.
- Moms With Apps is an app that offers a catalog of educational apps, making it easier to sift through the volume of “educational” apps on the market.
- eSchool News article “10 of the best apps for education” highlights some interesting apps.
- Stick Pick is the “high tech” version of your “random selection” tools (sticks in the can). By simply shaking or taping the device, a student’s name is selected and, if desired, a question (organized by Bloom’s Taxonomy) is suggested to the student. A great tool to support differentiated instruction, the teacher can configure the app so that it links question stems to the cognitive or linguistic needs of a learner. Plus, while the student is answering the teacher can “assess” the response within the app, capturing formative assessment data.
- Apps organized by Blooms Taxonomy – there are quite a few resources that use Blooms Taxonomy as an organizing framework. These are great places to visit to start understanding how apps can be used to support various levels of thinking. So, instead of just reviewing individual apps for their appeal, usability, and educational objectives, thinking about 1) the level of thinking required to achieve success in the app and 2) how a suite of apps can be used to support students as they move through Bloom’s levels of thinking. Here are two good resources: Bloomsapps and Teach with your iPad.
- Groups or networks or your PLC are also great ways to learn about high-quality apps. Josh Reppun started the Facebook group iPad Education Dreams which now has 148 members and a wealth of knowledge. If you’re interested in joining, look Josh up on Facebook and send him a request.
An exciting project recently released findings, highlighting that the use of smart phones led to increased student math comprehension. The project called Project K-Nect began two years ago in public high schools in North Carolina. At-risk ninth grade students in several schools received smart phones to access supplemental Algebra I content aligned with their teachers’ lesson plans and course objectives. The results? Project Tomorrow evaluated the program and found that those students who used the smart phones were more successful on their North Carolina End of Course assessments.
What struck me when reading the article was that it seemed that the use of the smart phones served as a catalyst for pedagogical shifts – more student collaboration, teacher facilitation, less direct instruction, peer teaching, etc. So, the gains can not simply be credited to smart phones but to the “whole package”. If it takes a smart phone or [insert technology of choice] to change pedagogy, it’s worth the investment.