Five Fabulous Free Apps Every Teacher Should Have

18 11 2012

The following list is definitely not a be all, end all for apps, but these 5 apps are powerful sharing, creation, and assessment tools for teachers. Plus, they’re free!

1. Dropbox:

Dropbox is one of the best cloud-based file storage and sharing systems out there. WIth the ability to install Dropbox on any computer or mobile device, Dropbox uses the cloud to store files and pictures. Set up a free account and have 2GB of free storage- which is quite a bit for files. Also, Dropbox is great to share files to others via e-mail that may be too large to send as attachments. It’s versatile, multi-platform, easy to set up and use.

Teachers could use dropbox by having students send their work to the teacher’s dropbox. Or they could set up their own Dropbox account and share the assignment (file) to their teacher via e-mail. Teachers could then download the work, mark it, and share back to the student.

I use Dropbox all the time for files that I want to use between devices or need access to on multiple devices. It has been a lifesaver in keeping me organized for school and work.

2. Evernote

Evernote is another cloud-based app that can be installed on any computer or mobile device. It offers the same syncing features as Dropbox, but for notes that are taken within the app. However, Evernote is more than just a note taking app. Users can add photos and record audio to create a multi-media note that can be shared and/or viewed on any computer or device that it’s synced to.

There are a multitude of practical applications for Evernote in the classroom. Create a notebook for each student and upload students work to their notebook for a digital portfolio. Use the audio recording feature to record reading fluency. Take a picture of the student reading the book, and have the student answer questions by typing or recording their answers  right in the app.  Lastly, teachers can also use Evernote to observe the learning environment by taking pictures of students in group work, record observations by typing into the app, and record audio of students engaged in dialogue. There is not limit to the uses of Evernote in the classroom.

I use Evernote for evaluations, as well as for taking notes in meetings and observations. It’s great to be able to go to another device and have the note right there where I can access it when I need to.

3. Haiku Deck for iPad

Haiku Deck for iPad is an app to create visual presentations. Select a theme, insert photos and text- viola! A presentation that can be shared via e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter. The interface is simple to use, and there is enough variety within the app to make a spectacular presentation.

Teachers could use Haiku Deck with their students for projects, for book reports, to show mathematical processes and thinking, science experiments, all about me activities, and more. It’s up to the user’s imagination, really on how to incorporate Haiku Deck into the learning environment.

I used Haiku Deck to make a presentation of my learnings from a recent conference, then shared it with others. It was a visually powerful way to demonstrate understanding- which could be done with students as well.

4. Videolicious

Videolicious is a super easy way to narrate photographs. In the free version, there is a 10 photograph limit, but  I don’t see that as a negative. Record as you swipe the picture, and it all syncs together so seamlessly! There’s no timing to worry about, no cues other than your swiping the picture into the narration frame.

Once the narration is complete, it’s a slick video slide show with crisp narration and music. Teachers could use Videolicious for lessons, but for student use in an infinite number of ways. Students could narrate about themselves, or about their cumulative artwork for a “Virtual Art Gallery” walk that can be shared with parents.

5. Tiny Tap, Moments Into Games – Create Free Educational Books and Games for Kids

Tiny Tap allows teachers to make interactive games for students. First, select the pictures you want to use. Then,  record your questions by tapping on each picture and then tapping the record button. Then select the portion of the picture that’s your answer. It’s that simple! Not sure what to make? Check out their store for free and paid games that are available for download.

The potential for this app is intriguing, particularly for Early Childhood, Dual Language Learners, and for students Autism. For any student that is working on vocabulary identification, this is a great app to use! What a fun and engaging way to teach concepts from the natural environment (i.e. familiar objects). While I haven’t tried this one yet, I’m eager to share this app with others.

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