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April 17, 2012 Free iPad Apps That Will Transform Your Teaching By Addie Albano
Grades 6–8

    I am always looking for ways to put technology into my students' hands. However, one look in the app store is enough to make me dizzy with all of the possibilities. Since all of our spare moments are precious, who has the time to download every app that looks interesting and try it out with the class? In my experience, other teachers make the best resources, so I would like to share with you my favorite, tried-and-true iPad apps. Whether you are tech-savvy or a novice, these free downloads will eliminate the need to search and make an immediate impact on your students.



    Fotobabble: Fotobabble provides a quick and easy way to share “talking photos” with the class. Simply speak into the iPad microphone, record your narrative, and bring the picture to life with the special effects option. This app is universally appealing because it can be used for sharing personal narratives as well as for academic pursuits. It's a great way to break the ice at the beginning of the year, to close a unit, or to capture a favorite moment. The possibilities are truly endless!

    Poetry Creator Verses: A new spin on the classic refrigerator magnets, Verses is sure to draw in any student leery of poetry. The app comes with four standard dictionaries: "Old School Words," "New School Words," "'The' Dictionary," and an "Ifs, Ands, or Buts Dictionary." It also features a “build your own dictionary” for future use. It gives students the flexibility to create poetry that is meaningful to them without having to adhere to conventional-looking text. If you like this app, you would also enjoy the Poetry Magnets and Word Magnets apps.

    Popplet: As a teacher, this is by far my favorite! Popplet lets students create graphic organizers in a multitude of ways. Since it appeals to all ability levels, this app is perfect for any classroom. The best feature is that students are only limited by their own imagination. They can insert pictures with ease and handwrite or type in corresponding captions. Popplet gives a whole new dimension to learning, especially for those who need a visual reinforcement. I’ve found that this is a particularly meaningful assessment tool that can be used for end-of-unit summaries or for test review, and since the graphic organizers can be printed out, they make perfect tickets-out-the-door!

    Puppet Pals: Create animation and audio in real time with Puppet Pals. A student favorite, this app allows you to hand-select actors and a backdrop for your story, whether it’s taking place in a medieval castle or in outer space. Puppet Pals puts a new twist on readers theater pieces, and is the perfect showcase for any literary element-themed lesson.

    Story Starters: If you are looking for a fresh take on creative writing, look no further than Story Starters. A virtual hub of thought-provoking and inspiring pictures from around the globe, Story Starters provides instant inspiration for writers at any ability level. Simply click on an image in the gallery and ask students to provide a matching story. This is the perfect way to differentiate a literacy lesson.


    Cross-Curricular Apps

    Building Titanic: Created by the National Geographic Society, this app allows the user to travel back in time to witness the construction of the majestic Titanic. It also includes 50 in-depth points of interest, archived film, and never-before-seen photos.

    Common Core: Mastery Connect presents educators with an at-your-fingertips way to read and understand the math and ELA Common Core standards for grades K–12. It also includes a free Web-based template for tracking your implementation of the Common Core.

    The National Archives: DocsTeach: Turn your students into master historians by allowing them to search historical eras and access primary source documents. DocsTeach activities help students focus on details, make connections, find a sequence, map history, weigh the evidence, and see the big picture.

    Science360: Developed by the National Science Foundation, Science360 provides instant access to engaging science and engineering videos as well as breaking stories within the field. Perfect for current events assignments.

    Smithsonian Channel: This Best Free iPad App of the Week allows you to create a Story Space where you can build a playlist or “channel” based on your interests. A must for any social studies class!

    Xperica HD: In a previous post I shared my frustration with trying to come up with engaging science lab experiments. Xperica HD allows teachers to go beyond the often hard-to-read textbooks and offers several preloaded experiments for students to enjoy. It creates an interactive virtual laboratory that challenges the user every time.

    I am always looking for new apps to add to my best practice list. I would love to hear what works for you!


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