January 31, 2013

5 Favorite iPad Apps

In my last Friday 5, I provided extensive insight into how I pick apps for my classroom. I was mega-thorough because selecting the programs that will fuel a multitude of K-8 subjects is an important responsibility. Some readers felt my steps were too complicated (a sentiment I don’t disagree with as I slog through them on a regular basis). How could any teacher have time for all those steps when hundreds of apps are required?

Here’s the abbreviated list:

  • Does the app support classroom discussion
  • Is the app intuitive to the age it’s intended to serve
  • Are there minimal/no ads

If you are satisfied with the answers to these three questions, test it on students. If they come back to use it a second and third time, if they tell their friends about it, if they ask their parents to download it at home, you have a good app. Here are five that passed this abbreviated review process with top scores:

  • Speech and language apps from Mobile Education Store–This is designed for elementary-age special needs students who need assistance building language skills. Created by a father who was continually dissatisfied with educational software available for his special needs daughter, the suite includes Conversation Builder, StoryBuilder, Tense Builder, Rainbow Sentences.
  • SplashMath--There are so many math apps, but this one (and the next on this list) stand out. With separate apps for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th, and priced between FREE and $4.99, Splash Math makes it fun to study math
  • AAIR Math--Besides its straightforward approach to teaching math, what I like particularly about this 1st grade math app is that it is aligned with NCTM Content Standards. The full version includes numbers and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis, and problem solving. Note: The iTunes app is FREE, but includes only a list of what’s available in the rest of the apps. Add-ons are priced between $1.99 and $5.99.
  • Spanish Smash–This app teaches Spanish in a fun and engaging manner. I like that there are no translations–just 240 Spanish words taught the way you learned language. I haven’t found many second language apps that are as appealing and effective as this one from Native Tongue.
  • Murky Reef–the series covers English Language, science, reading, and Math for grades 1 and 2. Apps are priced between $1.99 and $4.99 currently. The link her is to the science and reading comprehension app for grades 1 and 2 which encourages critical thinking via conceptual game play

That’s it for this list. I’d love to hear what your favorites are.

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger, a columnist for Examiner.com, featured blogger for Technology in Education, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

Follow me.