By Teachers, For Teachers
Here’s another helpful roundup of some iPad apps for teachers and students to enhance your classroom.
Although its name could easily be confused with a carbonated beverage (at least in the Midwest), it actually is an acronym for Prototyping on Paper.
This particular methodology isn’t exactly new – designers and engineers have been using paper prototyping for decades to refine and test software user interfaces. Doing this on paper prior to any legitimate coding has provided companies a way to save development costs as well as a method of obtaining useful feedback. Nowadays, the technique used by professionals for ages is now available for children and adults alike on your iPhone with some uber slick capabilities to match.
The process starts identical to approaches of old – you break out your favorite pen and paper and get to drawing, but after this, technology starts working its magic. Using your iPhone, take a picture of your sketches to import them. POP will automatically adjust your image to make sure your sketches are legible. Once your sketches have all been compiled and put in order, you can simulate the interactivity of your new app in real time and share it with others. Pretty remarkable.
We think it’s an incredible tool to use – especially in the classroom to get your students thinking and creating on a whole new level even if widespread platform support is lacking. Nevertheless, with the job market becoming increasingly tech savvy, incorporating an app like this into your instruction (regardless of subject matter) will help prepare your students for their future while allowing them to experiment with devices they know, love and use on a regular basis.
Foldify - Pixle ($3.99)
Although 3D printers have been all the rage lately, Foldify will make you fall in love with your trusty laser jet all over again. Without getting as complex as origami, this app allows you to draw, create and print the framework for 3D figures out of a single piece of paper.
To make this process easier for children and adults alike, Foldify provides several templates that you can build upon including a car, bus, tree, house and ball. As you manipulate the design on the 2D template, you will be able see to a real-time preview of the 3D form as it comes together right in the app, which helps illustrate how your creation will look and help sharpen your students’ spatial visualization skills by pivoting, rotating and zooming in on your work.
Once you’ve selected your model, your personalization can truly begin. Foldify gives you the option to use not only traditional items like colored pencil and brushes, but also a default set of stamps and patterns to complement your design. If your students grow tired of the tools included, you import photos from your device’s camera or purchase more tools within the app to apply onto your 3D figure. Once complete, you can print your model and bring it to life with easy to follow instructions, a bit of glue and a pair of scissors.
With art programs being continuously stripped from curriculum, this app helps to not only fill a much needed void, but also allows students to meld technology and visual learning with a bit of classroom fun.
BrainPOP - BrainPOP ($1.99 or $6.99)
BrainPOP is a veteran to the educational game and their experience shines through not only with this app offering but also their 165,000+ subscribing teacher community members who continuously build upon a library of free lesson plans, video tutorials, professional development tools and more.
As far as the app is concerned, BrainPOP brings learning to your fingertips by virtue of animated movies on a wide array of topics. Luckily for teachers of this generation, all of the content within the app is created with Common Core State Standards in mind and pairs readily accessible quizzes with each subject area. Sensitive to both young and diverse classrooms, BrainPOP also offers different variants to help your students along including BrainPOP Jr. (for the K-3 audience), BrainPOP Español and BrainPOP ESL. Even more, all of BrainPOP’s product offerings are fully compatible with interactive whiteboards, learner response systems, projectors, Macs and PCs.
For a system as robust and thorough as this, there is an understandable price to pay and school-wide access to BrainPOP resources is $1,495 per year which includes “hundreds of standards-aligned animated movies, quizzes, games, high-interest readings and activities that span Science, Social Studies, English, Math, Engineering & Technology, Health and Arts & Music” as well as mobile access. Classroom specific access to the identical tier is a much more friendly $205 per year, however.
Although this may seem like a tough bullet to bite on initial impressions, the benefits that it presents to your students makes it more than justifiable. Happily, if your school needs a bit of convincing, there are both free trials and multi-year discounts to be had right on the BrainPOP website. Despite the price, this is yet another 5-star resource that we would highly recommend bringing into your classroom.
Although our students might not be as aware of Wallace and Gromit as we are, they will love the work that the UK-based cartoon’s creators have put into this iPad- and iPhone-compatible app.
True to its name, Animate It brings that very fun and interactive functionality we call “stop motion” to both a mobile and broad audience. At the core, stop motion is a photo compilation of incremental movement that will ultimately stitch together into a short movie. Appropriately, once you fire up the app, your device’s camera is automatically loaded and, assuming you have a subject ready to animate, you’re ready to start snapping away. This basic function of this app (taking sequential photos and putting them into motion) is amazingly easy to use and can, perhaps surprisingly, even be operated by younger crowds.
For students on the higher end of the K-12 scale, Animate It can really start to push the limits of your students’ creativity by using ornate scenery, complex storytelling or several built-in editing techniques while getting a grasp as to how professional stop motion works are created. There’s even a timelapse mode for kids who want to shoot behind the scenes footage or a compilation of how a project had come together during group work.
Ultimately, don’t let its basic functionality fool you – there is great potential for your students to create fun and imaginative works with this app throughout the K-12 age range across a multitude of subject areas, including language and reading, math and art. The app itself has a few bugs to work out, but if you want to bring something new into your classroom routine, this is still a great option nonetheless.
If this app was around when I was a kid, I would be amazing at The Incredible Machine. Of the five apps featured today, this is the only one that is subject specific, but on this basis alone, Xperica deserves a closer look.
The app allows you and your students to understand both conceptual science and common classroom experiments on a deeper level from the safety of your iPad. Users can interact with the different elements within each experiment and make parameter alterations to see how the end result will be affected. I loved how quick and easy it was to see how changing one variable would affect the trial and it would’ve undoubtedly helped me grasp scientific method more organically and how different apparatus come together to make things work.
Since this is a relatively new (and free) app, there are only 4 experiments to choose from unless you elect to purchase the add-on pack for $3.99. Still, this first pack is essentially an expansion of the current physics-heavy rotation, and we would love to see the app delve into more diverse science labs like the app description suggests. Regardless, consider it a jumping board for younger students who are interested in getting ahead, an entry point for low-budget classrooms to try otherwise unavailable experiments or simply a fun tool that can differentiate instruction.