I have been asked time and time again by students, teachers and technology specialists just what I am installing on my class set of iPads. Well, here’s the post you’ve all been waiting for. Below is the list of all applications that I am installing to start off my iPad project. At current prices the total cost of the apps came to just under $200 per ‘set’ of iPads. (with Apple’s new licensing rules)
– This is one of the best mind mapping apps I have found. It certainly offers a great feature set for the price, and recent updates have made export and use of the mind maps very effective. With a fast, user-friendly interface and the ability to show your mind-map using the VGA-out connector on the iPad, this one is a winner for sure. A very responsive design team as well, this is an app that has evolved over the years.
Agendas – You have to see this app to believe it. Imagine creating a lesson complete with images, text and surveys, and then being able to deploy it to an entire class of students to follow along. From their end, students can respond to the survey, make notes on the presentation and even ask questions via a chat function during the lesson. A totally engaging learning experience, and this is just the first version of the app! I’m excited about this one.
Mindwave – While technically an iPhone app, this one has been a staple in my classroom for the past two years. Mindwave is a binaural tones player that includes ‘songs’ for calming ADHD students, energizing tired ones and refocusing students who have been working for a while. It’s not for everyone, but the students who like it swear by it and that’s enough for me when I see their results.
iA Writer – I reviewed this one not too long ago, it is a word processing app that really restructures the writing process, slowing down for students to produce effective writing. Some of the features that are impressive is the ‘focus’ mode that directs the writer in to just a few lines of text, and the fixed-width font that is just different enough from the ‘Times’ wold to make you read more carefully I love this app and use it for all of my blog writing now. Yes, it’s that good!
‘Lit Charts’ Study Guides – I found the free PDF versions of these on the Internet initially, but really love the layout and simplicity of the apps they have developed. Many of the key High School literary titles have apps, and are broken down by summaries, themes, characters and more. Well worth the price of admission, as these apps can really help struggling students keep up with the pack. I’ve even used them as ‘class notes’ for a work so that we can focus on the significance of the text.
Pearson Grammar Apps – Look, I firmly believe that students should have a great handle on grammar by High School, but often they don’t. I wanted to buy this suite of apps to give the students a place to turn to to learn and practice their grammar. It has simple examples, quizzes and can be accessed without the student having to be embarrassed to read a style manual in front of the rest of the class.
Pages – The Apple standard for word documents is my solution for students when they need more formatting options than google docs and iA Writer can offer. Just to be clear, the writing will happen in iA Writer, and formatting for submission will happen in Pages. There really is no comparison to an app that Apple develops, there are beautiful templates and a highly polished and intuitive interface for students. I have read reviews complaining about exporting and importing files, but honestly I haven’t found it very difficult to get files where I need them, so I am sold on Pages for my students.
Strip Designer – Just a phenomenal comic creation app (think comic life for the iPad.) Another app I initially bought for my iPods that has just gotten better over time. Students gather images and annotate on them to create great high-res printables or PDFs. There are languages teachers at my school that do this with terminology, I like to use it with film clips to have students assess the effectiveness of visual techniques. Whatever the use, it is an engaging, easy-to-use app.
Dictionary – This is a free simple dictionary and thesaurus linked to dictionary.com I have used it with my iPods, and the iPad version is just as effective. Just a great app for looking up those quick words in class and enabling every student in the class to have their own dictionary for reading times.
Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms
– With the simplicity of the Dictionary app, I also wanted a comprehensive dictionary for literary terminology. There is no way the school would be paying the $50 plus for these textbooks to be brought into the school, but Oxford’s apps are inexpensive enough to work for the classroom. They seem to be moving more and more of their specific dictionaries to the digital realm, so you can find specific scientific dictionaries in the app store, among others!
Wikipedia Offline – Okay, I’m not a fan of wikipedia as a comprehensive resource. Students need to be looking past Wikipedia and verifying sources. However, Wikipedia does offer a starting place for research. What impressed me about this app is that it caches most of what Wikipedia has to offer (text only) and offers offline functionality. So if the network goes down, the class can keep working. That’s a nice fallback to have in a ‘digital classroom.’
Photogene – While I’m not an art teacher, there are times when my students need to do some basic photo editing. Photogene offers some great options for students to edit and adjust images in a simple and effective way. I love the intuitive nature of this app, and that it works well in conjunction with Strip Designer to create polished, effective work.