Our philosophy is to talk about apps and tools that change the game for us as educators and our students. We do not agree with the “100 great apps” approach because you will never make it to #17 let alone #100. Here is a list of 5 FREE tools we recommend to use this upcoming school year to increase student engagement, deeper level thinking, teacher productivity, and make parent communication flawless! 5 FREE Tech Tools For This School Year:
Three Ring is an app that completely changed the way I create student portfolios and communicate with parents. Three Ring allows you to capture and share each learning moment in a photo, video, audio recording, or written note in a secure fashion. Each parent can only view the material of their child in the blog style format. It gives the parents a feeling of being in the classroom without actually being there or “feel like a fly on the wall in my child’s classroom.”
Remind 101 is a tool that allows you to text your students or stay in touch with parents in a secure and safe way. Teachers never see student or parent phone numbers, and they will never see the teacher’s phone number. Educators can send messages using the mobile app on Android and iOS devices, as well as www.remind101.com. This tool is great for friendly reminders about field trips, homework, plays, events, or a kind motivational message. Remind 101 has recently redesigned their iOS app with great new features and a teacher resource page to help with any questions.
Kidblog.org is a wonderful tool for students to create and write their own personal blog in a safe and simple way. You will no longer have to worry about notebooks getting lost as Kidblog allows students to write from anywhere. They can write from home, on an iPad, smartphone, or the computer lab. It allows students to create their own positive digital footprint. Kidblog allows students to embed video, slideshows, artwork, etc. As the teacher, you have control of all the privacy settings for your class. It also creates an excellent digital portfolio of each student’s writing. Kidblog is a power tech tool I am very excited to use this year with my students!
Cargo-bot is a great iPad app to get students introduced to basic coding skills. It sponsored by code.org, which is a non-profit foundation dedication to growing computer programming education. It is the first app ever created solely on an iPad using the app Codea.
It features 36 fiendishly clever puzzles, haunting music, and stunning retina graphics. You can even record your solutions and share them on YouTube to show your friends. (http://twolivesleft.com/CargoBot/)
We have seen students from all learning levels be successful with this powerful app. It has also been equally enjoyed by male and female students. I had a parent approach me last year and say, “I am very upset with you.” I asked why and she replied, “I am now addicted to Cargo-Bot.” This shows it is a game for all levels that requires persistence, problem-solving, and deeper level learning. To refrain our students from using the guess and check method, they use the laminated sheet to work out the code before trying it in the app. These sheets also allow students to work on their coding skills when the iPads are unavailable.
Augmented reality was a game-changing tool we implemented in the second half of last year but will be taking it to another level this school year. Many amazing educators have contributed our Meaningful Integration of AR page and Augmented Reality Pinterest page. These pages are filled with great ideas for using augmented reality in your classroom, school, district, and community. Augmented reality is gaining popularity in the educational setting and more apps are being created because of it. We believe augmented reality in the future of edtech because we have seen how powerful it can be in the classroom. Some of the apps we recommend are (click the name to download or visit site):
Hopefully these tech tools with will help you change the game for you and your students!
About the Authors:
Drew Minock and Brad Wait are a couple of teachers from Eastover Elementary in Bloomfield Hills, MI who are on a mission to change the way we learn, teach, and lead by using technology. They have a small iPad pilot in their school and are using them to create meaningful and engaging lessons. They hope their ideas, resources, and vision shared on TachersWithApps.com helps you want to “change the game.” Check out their AR-Augmented Reality section and Game Changing Apps section for more awesome information at Two Guys and Some iPads