Favorite Apps: Educreations

Ms. Knaus and her fourth-grade class have been using Educreations to create brief multimedia presentations that will teach first-grade students about goods and services.  It’s a very simple app that has lots of possibilities, and students found it very intuitive to use.

Why we like it:

– voice-recording screencasting function makes it easy to explain a process while showing with visuals

– inserting visuals from photoroll, camera, or the web is smooth and easy

– limited number of  options makes it uncomplicated for young learners

– it’s free!


– can’t export to any kind of media file; can only store and watch them on Educreations web server

– need a login to be able to save and access presentations

– if you make a mistake recording, can’t go back without starting over

Tch: The Teaching Channel

The Teaching Channel is a growing storehouse of videos of master teachers’ classrooms and lessons.  It spans grades and disciplines and is incredibly helpful.  Its offerings so far skew a little suburban, but we’re confident (and they’ve expressed as much) that as their video library grows (they are adding new videos almost daily), so will their diversity. Also, they are adding more and more videos highlighting instructional technology all the time.

Favorite Apps: Learning A-Z

We love this app and so do our students!!

Why we like it: students can easily read hundreds of books in the Reading A-Z leveled reading library!

 – simple one-click student login takes the student to their own reading level to select a book, or to the text   assigned by their teacher

– all books have an audio read-aloud option, as well as a comprehension quiz

– students can access their profile and books from any internet-connected computer

– easy for teacher to monitor who is reading and how much, award points, and send assignments

subscription service; costs $89.95 per classroom for the year.


Favorite Apps: Google Drive

We have a classroom set of iPads that are shared between 2 teachers and various groups of students, so we’ve installed one student gmail address, and a corresponding GDrive, onto all ipads for sending and submitting work.  It’s a beginning solution, and gets work to the students, but managing submitted student work is still a mess.

Why we like it:
– send presentations, files, images, to all ipads
– students can submit work
– syncs nicely with most creation apps

– can’t create presentations, only view them
– managing student work that is submitted via Google Drive gets messy

Good Read: Beyond the $1000 Pencil

Alan November at November Learning explains why ‘one-to-one’–a device for every student–isn’t good enough.  We have to think in terms of  ‘one-to-world’–that is, not just connecting students to technology, but using technology to connect students to the world– if we want to transform student learning.

The whole article is brief, very worth a read, and full of links to connected, collaborative projects (like Mathtrain.tv)!

Favorite Apps: Notability

We’ve been testing out Notability as a way of distributing and submitting student work, and, while not perfect, it has a lot to like.  Here’s a CNET review, and a great  review with upsides and downsides from Berkeley’s Instructional Technology Blog.

Why we like it: it has great features that support literacy and language learning, like the capability to:
– create and share voice recordings
– create and share text (in response to a pre-recorded voice prompt, for example)
– write on lined “paper” and share
– import images from camera, web, or library
– draw, write, create text, record voice all in the same file and share any of it easily
– save files as PDF
– send and receive easily through Google Drive, email, Dropbox, WebDAV

– no clear way to export voice recordings to a recognizable audio file format
– “paper” scrolls down as 8.5 by 11 in word-processing doc; slideshow format not possible; makes it unworkable for digital storytelling project.

Favorite Fixes: Guided Access

Thanks to Baltimore-based tech educator Kevin Tame for showing us how Guided Access can keep our youngest and most tempted students focused (and stuck!) on the app we select for them.

Why we like it:

1) Once we put a given app into Guided Access, students are prevented from exiting the app;
2) teachers can select other restrictions on certain functions, or even disable selected areas of the screen.


1) The teacher has to individually put each iPad on Guided Access in order to use it–can be time-consuming if you want multiple students to work this way;
2) A nice upgrade would be the ability to let students four-finger swipe between perhaps 2 designated apps; as it stands, students are locked into the one app, no exceptions, until the teacher lets them out.

For more info, here’s a handy guide from NYC schools, and Apple’s Guided Access Support Page.