Selecting Apps; as a teacher for your students

Another presentation I’ve enjoyed sharing with my colleagues is about how you can select the best apps for your classroom.  Many schools are going 1:1…and so many already have devices in their schools – one of the most powerful and popular ones being the iPad.

How do you teach with the iPad, you ask?  Good question but not hard to answer – you simply use it as a tool.  This session I’ve presented is called “Selecting Apps”.  Can’t get much more straightforward than that, can you?  Why do I do sessions like this?  Because it’s overwhelming – with hundreds of thousands of MILLIONS of apps out there…how can anyone be expected to pick the right one for their students, themselves or…accomplish getting one at all?

And then – we have to connect it to Bloom’s AND Common Core AND our own school standards, not to mention our actual curriculum?  *sigh*.  It’s overwhelming – I’ve never once said technology isn’t and well, there are times even the best tech heads throw their hands up and need a break.  So let me break it down for you; selecting apps doesn’t have to be the equivalent of  crazy, I promise. Of course, if I were one on one with you, this might be more effective but bare with me; try these tips out.

With these tips you should  be able to do some, if not, the following:
…be able to find apps in the Apple Store
…be aware of the search tools in the Apple Store
…be able to find apps by genres
…be able to find apps at a discount (or free)
…know apps already associated with Bloom’s
…be able to make connections between any app and Bloom’s
…feel comfortable integrating apps

The Apple App Store
AppStoreThe are there main areas to look at when in the Apple store; the “Featured”, “Top Charts” and “Genius”.  These can be found at the bottom of your screen when you are in the App Store on an iPad, etc.  Those three are your key to simple searching.  The Featured tab allows you to look at apps that have been sponsored by companies or chosen  by Apple as apps worth considering.  The Top Charts tab lets you find apps that are the most downloaded, and you may even look at charts organized by category.

Genius is simply smart technology.  Apple’s created this tab so that you, as the user, can find apps that interest your needs.  When you download an app you like, genius takes note and starts to find apps very similar.  The more apps you download or use, the better genius gets at finding apps you’ll like.  You can also make genius find apps you like based on categories, such as “education.

Categories and More

2-28-2013 10-25-04 AMA great thing to check out is the bottom of your main screen, there are options to look at: “Apps for Teachers” and “Education Collection”. Apple is still working on this but they have gotten better at highlighting apps that will be useful for teachers in their classroom, for organization, or for their students.

Get Apps for Free
2-28-2013 10-39-20 AMOne app you have to get before you start spending unnecessary amounts of money?  AppsGoneFree.  I will be compiling a list of apps that does the same thing but basically; it does daily notifications to let you know when apps that typically cost money are completely free.  And I’ll tell you right now – the sky is the limit.  Apps that are normally $50 will go free and they will let you know.  I have saved a lot of money with this app and hello, what better way to save your district money.

So what about Bloom’s Taxonomy?
Pretty much any application you use will be easily applied to Bloom’s Taxonomy.  How can you find apps that are already tied into specific tiers (Creating, Evaluating, Analyzing, Applying, Understanding, and Remembering)?

2-28-2013 10-42-07 AMEasy – I’ve found great resources for you.  First, Kathy Schrock’s guide to Bloomin’ Apps is a great way to see the apps tiered by category and linked over for you.  She does the work for you (thank you, Kathy) in an easy to use format that is explain well.

Another great website to look at is Lang Witch’s Bloomin’ Apps.  Unfortunately these are not linked but finding them in your apps store is not hard.  Third, another similar format, Teaching with Your iPad Bloom’s Apps has linked apps and a great list with some explanations of how the apps could be used.  A very similar format can be seen on this virtual magazine, KTenkely’s Apps for Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Simply take a look and you’ll start to connect the dots – the important thing to remember is that an app does pretty much every step of Bloom’s at one point or another.

You can create a ton of great things on an iPad (movies, pages, etc), you can evaluate and analyze anything on an app.  Applying the tools to the classroom is simple and in order to effectively use the device you must understand and remember a lot of information.   Basically – an iPad can only help you put Bloom’s into action.

Basic rules to remember?
Applications should:
– only be used as a tool, not a replacement of your classroom.
– be engaging for anyone using it.
– enhance student learning.
– facilitate, not replace, the learning environment.
– easily apply to things like Bloom’s.

Applications should not:
– replace your curriculum.
– replace you.
– be relied on in the classroom (always have a Plan B).
– apply to every level of every standard every day – some apps are tools, simply just tools.

A few great words I’ve heard in regards to Integrating Technology…

“Technology will not replace teachers; but teachers who use technology will replace those that don’t.”

“Technology is an extension of your classroom, not a replacement of you or your curriculum.”

“The best method of learning is by making a mistake and moving forward with it.”

“A great policy for your staff? Allow, no encourage them to fail. They will learn from it and it will be rewarding.”

“Better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.”

I’m not sure who said what they are important to understand and apply to your own choice when integrating technology into the classroom.  If you’re still worried about if you’re choosing the right app? Have no fear, I’m not done (and you probably wish I was, ha!).  I’ve made some simple snippets/jpgs that help you make the right decision. There is a simply step by step you can follow when trying to find apps for your students:

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So that’s it – that’s my 411 on getting the best out of your applications; I hope it can be of some use for you, if anything to get you at least thinking about the possibility of what can be done with an iPad in your classroom.

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