There are literally thousands of iPad apps for teachers who want to enhance their daily lessons or classroom management with new and innovative teaching strategies. If you are a teacher and are curious what works and what doesn’t work well in the classroom, Spirited Teaching, is the place to learn. I have probably tried just about everything and it is my goal to tell you about all of them. Because I am a first-year teacher, I could probably afford to be a little bit more experimental with Technology in the classroom than most established veterans who would prefer not to gamble with their proven methods. However, even the most excellent, veteran teachers are always looking for ways to spice up the classroom and their profession. The lengthy list of iPad apps for teachers includes more than just classroom management and educational programs. There are also a few things teachers can use to help with their job such as grading papers, organizing seating charts and creating lesson plans. It is my intention to eventually provide an in-depth review on each of the products that I found the most useful, but that will take some time. Meanwhile, I thought it would be helpful to offer a categorical overview of some of the ways that I put my iPad to use in the classroom my first year as a teacher. I’ve grouped these iPad applications into three categories: Teacher Tools, Classroom Management and Learning Tools. One other important thing I need to mention: Throughout this article, I will often mention that I am displaying these iPad apps on a projector screen. In order to display the iPad screen on a projector, you can either use a document camera or an Apple TV. With the Apple TV, you can wirelessly display your iPad to your projector screen from anywhere in the classroom. I will talk about this extensively in my upcoming review on the Apple TV for teachers. Meanwhile, if you prefer not to use technology in the classroom, but like using your iPad, you might find some other ways where it can make things easier for you. Here are just a few of the iPad Apps that I’ve used, both inside and outside, of the classroom.
One Note by Microsoft
Nobody struggles more with organization than me. At my previous job in computer sales, I learned how to use One Note. One Note makes it extremely easy to stay organized by keeping all of your things in place. If you’re like me and like to keep digital copies of things, this is a program you should have. One Note is a part of the Microsoft Office suites, but can also be downloaded for your iPad or iPhone. You will use the same log-in information on all of your devices, so One Note is always synched. In the beginning, I used One Note to organize my Classroom seating charts, lesson plans and teaching strategies. I also put the entire Catholic education curriculum of our archdiocese on One Note. There were many times throughout the year, that I was thumbing through paperwork that I needed, only to later remember, that it was already on my iPad, ready to bring up with the press of a finger. If you know how to use it properly, One Note is one of the most useful of all the Teacher Tools for iPad.
Of all the iPad apps for teachers, perhaps the most useful are the ones that only the teachers use. There is nothing fancy, complicated, or technical about Groovy Grader: It helps you put a percentage score on your tests and quizzes without having to use a calculator. You simply input the number of problems and match up the correct percentage score to the number of incorrect problems. You can also configure this to use the number of correct problems instead of incorrect problems. Since I often had my iPad opened up on my desk, I would keep Groovy Grader running as I graded several papers. You may have seen the EZ Grader, Slide-out cards. Groovy Grader is simply a digital version of these. There are other applications for grading papers, so feel free to shop around for the one you like best.
ZipGrade takes digital grading to a whole new level. ZipGrade is an App that lets you grade all of your multiple choice tests and quizzes by scanning them in with your iPhone or iPad camera. You could also use this as a way to create opinion and voting polls and tally them by scanning them in with your iPad or iPhone camera. ZipGrade LLC provides you with free answer sheets that you can download from their website, but the paid version of the app will cost you $6.99 per year. I will be honest: I have yet to try ZipGrade. I just didn’t have the time to upload all of my students data. I figured by the time I did this and learned to use the product, I could have had all my papers graded manually. The other, obvious draw-back, of course, is that you can only grade multiple choice tests. Also, some of my quizzes and tests are a mixture of True/False, Multiple Choice and other formats. I was not sure how it would all work together. There are nothing but positive reviews on ZipGrade from the teachers who have tried it, so it might be worth your while if you give lots of multiple choice tests.
Sound effects are engaging tools that teachers can use to spice up the classroom and keep their students active and awake. I actually used my iPhone for this along with an inexpensive, blue-tooth, wireless speaker that I purchased for $39.00 at Target. My favorite iPad app is aptly named for what it is: Sound Effects!, by TMSoft. Sound Effects! has just about every sound you can imagine. You can create your own sound board from your favorite sounds. If you are familiar with 4th graders, you’ll want to keep the bodily-function noises as far away from them as possible. Some of the noises that I used were Drum Roll, Audience, Golf Clapping, Booo, Baby Cry and Laughter. Be careful with the laughing track. I would never use that for sensitive kids, but there are other times when it is appropriate and won’t hurt anybody’s feelings. I often used the Sound Effects! App for Math Facts and other quizzes where I would go around the room and call on kids. They really loved it. The sound projected really well through my little $39.00 speaker. However, the best case scenario would be to have a really good set of wireless, stereo, blue-tooth speakers to fill the room with quality sound.
Random Name Selector
I know a lot of teachers use pop-sickle sticks to randomly draw and call-on kids during class. I believe there is even an iPad app that mimicks the idea. My favorite way of calling on kids, however, was with the Random Name Selector by, Academy Apps.net. A catchy, game-show type theme plays in the background as your students wait for their name to be called. When you press the ‘?’, a name shows up on a big star as pictured, left. You can program the name select to limit the number of times one student is called, so everyone gets a chance to participate. The lite version of the Random Name Selector is free but only comes with 6 Themes: Star, Jungle, Metal, Space, Dino and See.
Timers make Great Teachers Tools
Timers are great tools for teachers, but they also fall under the category of, Behavior Management. I will go over my favorite timer in the Classroom Management section of iPad Apps for Teachers, below.
iPad Apps for Teachers
Of all the timers I tried, Timer+ is my favorite due to its versatility. You can create several time clocks and name them according to your needs. For example, I could set our daily Math Facts to 4 minutes, Daily Geography to 10 minutes, Bathroom Break to 3 minutes, etc..The beauty is that more than one timer can be running at the same time. The Timer+ app is free, but it will cost you $1.99 if you want to remove the Ads. I felt this was well worth it, so I went ahead and purchased the full version. An alarm sounds when the time is up. For another $.99, you can purchase several more alarm sounds. When the room is silent and kids are testing, timers are great to display on the projection screen. Most of the time, I would simply set my iPad on the podium, facing the class. Even those in the back row had no trouble seeing how much time was left for a test or activity. .
Silent Light Noise Monitor
Silent Light, by Glen Storey, is one of the best Classroom Management tools that I used the entire year. Silent Light is a very colorful stop light, which changes from from green to orange to red, based on the noise level in the classroom. The classroom can earn points by being on-task and quiet while Silent Light is running. The noise sensitivity is fully programmable. If you are giving a test, you might want it set to the most quiet level possible. For quiet discussion work, you can turn the sensitivity down a little, etc., etc. Point settings can be adjusted so points are earned every 1 minute, 2, 3, etc., etc. Since I taught two different classes, I turned this into a little friendly competition among them by making it a contest over which class can earn the most points for quiet behavior. I also used it to award free-time or activity minutes for each day. I will give a full review on Silent Light in an upcoming article. Silent Light is $2.99.
Class Dojo is a computer-driven, online behavior management system with available iPhone and iPad applications. Class Dojo provides a complete report on every student in the class, as well as the entire class as a whole. I used this product extensively this year to gain better control and behavior managment of my two classes. Class Dojo can be used on the computer, iPad and iPhone as well as other mobile devices and tablets. This product requires cooperation with parents to enjoy its full benefits and features. It is extremely easy to setup and only requires parents to log-in online one time with an activation code which is provided by the teacher. For more information and a complete review on the program, see my review: Class Dojo Review
There are literally thousands of iPad Apps for teachers for educational purposes and they cover students of all ages. While there are so many excellent free ones to try, I was actually a bit overwhelmed when I first began searching for useful apps to help with Math, Social Studies and Religion. There are so many of them that it is difficult to know where to begin. A busy teacher hardly has time to try them all. I simply looked at a few of the reviews and tried to find a few learning tools each week that fit the subjects I was teaching. I will give a brief overview of four of the most successful learning tools that I used with my two classes this year.
Quiz-Up is an extremely entertaining online quiz game that I frequently played by myself in the evenings to help me wind-down and relax. It also helps keep a teacher’s brain sharp. As you compete with other players around the world, Quiz-Up keeps track of your wins-losses and game statistics. Every player has a cumulative rating based on their overall performance. You can choose to compete among dozens of topics, including education categories which includes Math, Grammar, Spelling, Geography, History, Literature, and more. One day, when we had a few spare minutes, I decided to demonstrate Quiz-Up to the entire class on the big projector screen. The cheering and applause in the room was almost deafening as I competed with another player from California. The competitiveness and fierce loyalty of 4th graders made a lasting impression on me that in some ways has shaped my teaching philosophy.
Using Quiz-Up in Class
This year, I think I will create a new account on Quiz-Up for the 4th Grade. We will vote on a clever nick-name to represent the entire class. One idea is to use a spelling-bee format where each student gets called on to answer a question. Students who answer a question wrong are eliminated while the others continue playing. This would make a great 15-minute weekly activity to brush up on the topics we’ve covered in class. There is US Geography game which would be an excellent idea for Social Studies. Quiz-Up is a very engaging learning tool; it is simply a matter of how to make the best use of it in the classroom.
Learning the rosary is such a beautiful part of our Catholic faith and iRosary, by Opicury Software, makes it so easy to learn. Last Fall, our school began a 40-Days for Life mission where we said a decade of the rosary in class everyday. iRosary is a beautiful, colorful iPad app that takes you through all of the prayers, decades and mysteries of the rosary. During our rosary, I would turn down the lights and display the iRosary app on the big screen. Then, I chose volunteers to lead in the rosary prayers and one student to control the beautiful rosary beads on the iPad. The kids were very quiet, attentive and kneeling as we said the rosary each day. They couldn’t wait to volunteer each day. iRosary also includes the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Loreto Litanies, and Prayer to Saint Michael. iRosary is an app that I often used long before I became a teacher.
Since fractions were the topic of my Colorado Work Sample, I spent a considerable amount of time researching iPad Apps pertaining to this subject. Of all the iPad Apps for Teachers, “Fractions”, by Brainingcamp, LLC, is one that seemed as though it was specifically designed for me. “Fractions”, includes several narrated, illustrated lessons. The lessons begin with a visually appealing, illustrated introduction on fractions. Each lesson includes detailed, visual manipulatives which can be controlled with your iPad. There are whiteboard marker and eraser tools at the bottom of your screen for adding emphasis to the screen contents. This product is appropriate for fourth and fifth grade. After an in-depth introduction and definition, the lessons cover addition, multiplication and division of fractions. The narrations also provide an excellent explanation and visual understanding of common denominators. “Fractions” is narrated by a female which I referred to the class as, little Miss Perfect. My students seemed to enjoy having a guest teacher take my place every once in a while. “Fractions” is literally like having your own guest teacher teach class for you.
Capitals and States
As we were learning our states and capitals, my kids used to bug me to play this game every day. Capitals and States, by Matthew Leonard, is a simple iPad App consisting of a capitals study guide, a quiz and a map. Using Capitals and States as a quiz, I went around the classroom and called on students to name the capital of each of the random states as they popped-up on the iPad screen. The quiz keeps time and tabulates a final score based on number of correct answers. This was a great game for setting up competitive contests between the two, 4th grade classes.
Most, if not all of these learning tools, are worthwhile apps for students who have an iPad at home. Quite a few students and parents took an interest in the apps I used at school and frequently asked me what I was using so they could download or buy them for home. I highly recommend them for students and parents who want to help their kids stay ahead in the classroom. These iPad apps for teachers, particularly the learning tools, are made for everyone.