Educational apps worth downloading
This week, lots of teachers and students are traveling over spring break. Learning on the go for many students includes the use of mobile apps.
Like software for computers, apps are designed to allow students to both consume and create content on devices such as the iPad. Learning can take the form of an electronic workbook with animated cartoon characters cheering on the child.
Many apps have a video game format that motivates students to return to learn from them again and again. Other apps allow students to create their own presentations, digital books or movies. Tech savvy students want learning that’s more individualized and interactive.
One popular comprehensive educational app is “iTooch” which has thousands of exercises in reading, writing and grammar. Math concepts such as algebra, geometry and graphing are also covered in an interactive fashion.
Students tap on the orange mascot when they need a hint to help answer questions. They can use the built-in blackboard as a fun workspace for calculating problems rather than grabbing paper and pencil. This app is free to download, so kids can try out subjects at their grade level before purchasing the more deluxe version.
“Operation Math” won the parent’s choice award with its animated comic book feel. In this app, student agents are expected to make the world a safer place for math by stopping Dr. Odd from eliminating even numbers. To successfully complete this mission, they must discover the codes by solving equations in order to destroy his secret bases.
“Numerosity: Play with Math” is an app that allows students to discover math principles and become risk takers. The term “gameful learning” can be applied to this app, because it has a way of engaging kids so they want to come back for more play time.
“Geography Drive USA” is an app that turns textbook geography into an exciting cross-country adventure. This game is packed with facts that fuel students’ gas tanks so they can hit the highway and drive their car from coast to coast.
“State Bingo and Road Trip U.S.” features Pep the car, who cheers your child on to discover clues from an illustrated map and travel to various destination. Kids will solve state riddles and read maps, but have to watch out for flat tires and dead-ends.
“Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride” is a more elaborate app with content that according to kids “makes boring U.S. history fun.” These two animated characters have additional adventures in apps about Africa and dinosaurs.
These apps allow students to be consumers of knowledge while other apps are used to create knowledge and produce products.
“Edmodo” is an app with a Facebook type feel that allows teachers to post messages and students to type comments, thus carrying on silent classroom discussions projected on the whiteboard.
“Notability” is an app used to take notes on an iPad. It allows the user to write, type, record and organize notes. Annotating over PDF files can even be done. Notes can be enhanced by inserting media such as pictures from a photo library making them more like a PowerPoint presentation.
“ShowMe” is an app used to create and share whiteboard-style tutorials. Concepts can be explained and mini-lectures given by recording while writing on the whiteboard. Teachers can record rather than write comments, so students can hear how they did on assignments.
These apps are only a few of the very powerful tools that teachers and students are using to move into this new tech, interactive world of learning. Download a few and start playing.
Though the learning curve can be steep, especially for teachers who didn’t grow up consuming knowledge with technology like their students have, the benefits reaped from enhanced engagement are well worth the effort.
Principals in several of the schools in town have purchased iPads for their teachers and are encouraging this new avenue of engagement.
Kristi McCracken, author of two children’s books and a long time teacher in the South Valley, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.