Whenever you speak to teachers about integrating technology into learning experiences, the first question is usually, “Which apps should we be using”. I’m always on the look out for new tools to assess students understanding, support collaboration and provide meaningful feedback, I can usually rely on my toolkit of my top 10 apps for a primary school iPad.
I am a firm believer in using open-ended process apps which can be used across the curriculum. This makes them versatile and allows students to use them to explore material and enquire.
Although most of the apps I use are free, I think an investment in the few paid apps I have in the list are worthwhile, as they can be used for many different things.
Skitch – FREE by Evernote
This annotation app allows students to add text, drawings, arrows and more on photos, maps and websites directly in-app. This can be really useful to make more traditional learning activities paper free. Their projects can then be saved to Photo or shared through a number of other Apps. Here is an example where I’ve used it in the past.
Annotating PDFs requires a premium account, so consider file formats when sharing work with students.
PicCollage – FREE by Cardinal Blue
Create collages including photos, screen shots, stickers and animated gifs quickly and easily using PicCollage. I’ve already blogged about using PicCollage here. Students absolutely love using PicCollage and after a few projects they will be adept at creating visually appealing images quickly. These can be saved to Photos or shared through a variety of apps.
Some in-app purchases can be a little frustrating and social sharing through Facebook and Twitter may turn off a few teachers. PicCollage Kids is also available which is similar but without FB and Twitter!
Book Creator – £3.99 by Red Jumper Limited
A fantastic, simple to use ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’ type of app. Students can quickly create professional looking ebooks which can be exported as .PDFs or .epub files. Students can also collaborate on books by sharing pages they have been working on. There are some more sophisticated options within the app so tech savvy students can include audio notes or hyperlinks between pages.
The recently added comic book templates & stickers have made this app even more of a must-have.
Although this app is relatively expensive, it is well worth the investment. If your school has VPP the cost can be reduced to 50%, with the developers hinting that new tools will soon be added:
— Book Creator Team (@BookCreatorApp) March 15, 2016
Explain Everything – £2.99 by Explain Everything sp. z o.o.
The use of screencasting apps has huge potential. Watching a student laying out their maths work, verbalising their thoughts in a 30 second video gives you so much insight. You can instantly see where any misconceptions are and how they can be addressed. Explain Everything is brilliant for this, and more. The first thing I look for in a screencasting app is the ability to save to the camera roll. That instantly rules out the vast majority of the apps available for use in the classroom, Explain Everything probably has the best compatibility with other apps I’ve seen including easy sharing of videos.
Explain everything have (relatively) recently allowed numerous recordings which can be layered. This opens it up to the realms of digital storytelling, creating animations and more.
It took me a while to get used to the interface and it does take students a couple of attempts in order to use it well.
Showbie – FREE by Showbie Inc
There are a few excellent workflow solutions platforms out there. In my opinion, Showbie is the best. At the heart of showbie is a robust platform for assigning, collecting and giving feedback. The builtin tools for feedback are the best I’ve seen and avoid the need to export work to the camera roll, open in another app then redistribute (which I’ve seen in other apps).
It takes seconds to set up an account at showbie.com and your students join your class by entering a short PIN code. We are still using a free account at our school which is workable but are considering upgrading to PRO as the ability to share videos with students (and teachers) over 60 seconds and files larger than 25MB would be great.
QRafter – FREE by Kerem Erkan
I use QR codes a lot in class. Whether it be to share a website quickly and easily with students, link directly to a file in my OneDrive or include a tutorial video link on a piece of work. QRafter is the best tool I’ve found for use in the classroom for this. By default, QRafter uses Safari (unlike most other QR Reader apps which use their own Browsers which are often prone to crashing and are full of adverts). In addition, students can use QRafter to create their own QR codes. Students of mine recently authored their own website. In order to show it off, they created their own QR codes, printed them and distributed them around school. How about that for initiative!
Popplet – £3.99 by Notion
Popplet is the easiest to use and most versatile mind map tool I’ve found on the iPad. Create webs of ‘Popples’ with a tap and add drawings and photos. These can be linked and complete popples can be shared with students, teachers or peers by PDF or jpeg.
While I use this app a lot, I think it could be so much better.
£3.99 makes this the joint most expensive app I ever use and it has such stripped back functionality compared to their website (which is also very expensive). I would love to see the ability to collaborate on popplets, share work in progress to be added to later and even voice/video compatibility. Notion haven’t added to this app for a long time, so I don’t think it will be long until Popplet is replaced on many educators iPads with a more affordable and useful tool.
iMotion – FREE by Finger Lab
This simple to use, stripped back app is excellent for creating both time-lapse videos and creating stop motion animations. It has a few options but the beauty of this app is that what it does, it does well. And of course, to get onto this list, you can share videos directly to the camera roll.
iMovie – FREE by Apple
I love iMovie. So many of the other apps included in this list can be used alongside iMovie in order to blend together audio, voice overs and screenshots in order to produce a fantastic professional looking finish to your projects. Creating trailers can be an extremely engaging activity with the right stimulus, but the best use of this app is when students have to create a summary of their learning. I’ve seen some brilliant uses of the split screen, picture in picture as well as titles. Now, if they were to add green screening to the iOS version…
Adobe Voice – FREE by Adobe
Adobe Voice is a fantastic tool to create simple presentations including: pictures, icons (from the wonderful noun project) background music, text and your voice. In a few minutes, you can create engaging slideshows which are nicely edited together and are visually appealing.
There are two things which make Adobe Voice stand out for me though. All images, music and icons are properly accredited. I think this is really important, as too often, students copy and paste from google images with reckless abandon, not considering whose work they are using. In addition, Adobe built in wonderful templates in order to scaffold the story telling process. This includes a traditional story mountain, as well as templates tailored towards persuasion, instructions and explanations. From my time teaching the national curriculum, I LOVE to see things like this which make it easier for learners to see how different texts should be structured.
In order to use the app, you have to create an account with Adobe. The age restriction on Adobe accounts is 13. It is important that in the classroom you set up an educator account, and have your students login to that, instead of trying to setup their own, which blocks their email address.
If you have any iPad essentials you think should be included, let me know in the comments!
Toolbox by Nicole Katherine Griffing downloaded from The Noun Project remixed by @theteachgeek