Monday, June 17, 2013

Must Have Apps For Any Classroom

I was asked to go to a meeting tomorrow to consult on an iPad image for our board. These iPads will be going to K-8 schools in our district. I am honored to have been asked to give my input and I have been thinking about how I will answer this complicated question.

I have been blessed with 20 iPads in my room this year.  I decided what apps to put on them.  I have a very supportive administrator, so if I go to him with a request for an app, he trusts that it is a worthwhile app and lets me purchase it.  There has been no red tape, no request forms for some IT guy to have to put the app on my iPads.  There is no waiting, I ask my administrator, he says yes and I download the apps.

I was at Edcamp Detroit last month and heard horror stories from other teachers about having to put in a request to get an app on their class iPads that could take weeks to complete.  Many times, with an inquiry based classroom, something will come up and I will need an app right away.  For example, we have been learning about frogs, I found a couple free apps about frog life cycles and a fantastic book on frogs that was $3.99.  The inquiry could last a day, a week or a month.  If I had to wait for an approval for an app or even worse, someone from IT to put the app on the device, it wouldn't be worth putting the request in because the inquiry might be over before the app was ever installed.  I'm not sure how my district is going to go about this.  Right now it is up to the principal on which apps go on the school iPads and who has the password to load the apps onto the iPads.  I will be addressing my concerns about this tomorrow.

Another topic that I want to bring up is that different grade levels need different apps.  I feel that we need to develop 3 images. An  early years image (junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten), a primary image (grades 1-3) and a junior/intermediate image (grades 4-8).  There will definitely be common apps on all 3 images, however I feel that it is easier to manage 3 different accounts in the school.  I know that the early years classroom teachers have downloaded many phonics related apps that my grade 2's do not need, and I like to download math apps related to what math strand we are currently learning that would not necessarily pertain to the junior and intermediate classes.

I do have a list of must have apps for my classroom iPads.  If we didn't have any "games" on our iPads I would be fine with that.  However, I would be really disappointed if I didn't see the following apps on the iPads we use in my classroom everyday.

Must Have Apps for a Board Wide iPad Image (In My Opinion)

1.  Explain Everything

2.  iMovie

3.  Book Creator

4.  Kidblogs

5.  Draw & Tell

6.  Twitter

7.  Skype

8.  Dropbox

9.  Popplet

10.  Qrafter (or a similar QR reader)

11.  Audioboo

From my list you can see that I value and use apps that are for creation, evaluation, applying understanding and analyzing.   Apps that are needed for practice or recalling information would be up to the discretion of the teacher to download.  I do use other apps that are not on this list. My class frequently uses the math apps Hundreds Chart and a free app called Number Pieces.  However, I wouldn't be crushed if these apps were not on my iPad because I could create similar exercises using Explain Everything and some class manipulatives.

At the end of the day, it's not about the technology, it's about the learning, thinking, curiosity and fueling my students' passion to wonder. 

What are your "must have" apps that you and your students couldn't live without?


  1. Great input on your must-have apps! Do you know of any developmental or educational games available as an iPad app that you would recommend for middle school students? I often see blogs about games for elementary students, but it's difficult to find a blog on apps for older kids.

    American College of Education Blog Editor

  2. Sarah,

    Here is a link to my school's App Database. It's a K-8 school, but you can limit your search to grades 6-8.


  3. I have all of these on my student iPads except for Draw and Tell. I look forward to try out Draw and Tell with my students. Thanks!

  4. Sarah,

    Great list of apps! We have a couple more that you might want to consider. Haiku Deck is an amazing app that a huge database of creative commons images and really forces students to be concise with their language. We've also had student create excellent stop motion projects with istop motion. Fantastic app!

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Educreation and Haiku Deck complement your goals. Have all the ones you mention except Crafter and Draw & Tell. How do you use those two?