Looking for some apps to refresh your iPads? Here are three free apps - two new and a refreshed oldie but goodie - that can help you jump start your school year!
First the oldie but goodie... ClassDojo! Many teachers have been using this app for classroom management and positive behavior reinforcement. This easy-to-use app allows your students to create fun creature avatars which appear in a class dashboard. The teacher can then award points for positive behaviors and deduct points for... not-so-positive behaviors. Moreover, teachers can customize their list of positive and negative descriptors. So many teachers have moved from simple student behaviors to positive and negative academic descriptors. For example, awarding points for positive discussion moves such as asking follow up questions or sharing a contrary view with evidence. Another great idea from Erica Chavarria, a math teacher from Chicago Academy High School, is to align target positive behaviors to the eight Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice. In this way, you’re not just tracking if a student got out of their seat without permission - but rather if they are “analyzing the thinking of others”.
Besides re-thinking your use of this great tool, the app itself has a new update. Now teachers can message parents directly. They can either send whole-class broadcasts or send individual messages. This feature comes with read receipts, and the ability to attach documents or pictures. An incredible way to enhance family communication and keep parents looped in on your classroom and their child!
This is one of my favorite new finds for SY2014. Classkick, developed by Andrew Rowland and Peter Do, is an incredibly powerful yet intuitive app that makes student work more transparent and feedback more immediate. It allows teachers to use images taken from the web or built-in camera to create questions -- and even includes audio and video tools for teachers to scaffold for ELL or struggling students. Then, each student has their own whiteboard with the question to draw out or write their answers. The teacher has a dashboard where they can see each students’ work in real-time and provide immediate feedback.
But wait, there’s more! Students can raise their hand and ask for help from the teacher or each other -- allowing them the agency to support one another. This helps fill a void for many of us who were previously using the now defunct Ask 3 from TechSmith to create a student peer support system.
This free app actually requires the iZiggiHD $94.00 doc cam (which, for my money, is the best doc cam on the market... both in terms of cost and functionality). The iZiggiHD doc cam is a wireless HD doc cam that literally requires no wires -- neither to your computer nor to a wall/plug/anything else. It allows you to beam the real-time doc cam image onto your PC or Mac... but also to your iPad using the Whiteboard App. Why is that so exciting, you might ask? Well because when used on the iPad with this app, you can also screencast over the live image! Imagine having a group of your kindergarteners manipulating some base-ten blocks or a science experiment under the iZiggi’s document camera. Then, you are standing next to them, recording their work live and annotating comments or ideas (think NFL sportcaster annotating and commenting over a play). This has incredible opportunities for bridging the gap between the physical and digital worlds of student work and thinking!
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