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Learning Apps

Discover software tools, games and technology to engage students and accelerate learning

The vast array of free and low-cost learning apps can be overwhelming. In these strategies, blended master teachers highlight technology and tools that are proven to work in their classrooms. Classroom video, tutorials and supporting artifacts empower you to bring these proven strategies to your classroom.
 
22 strategies
Learning Apps
ThingLink for PBL in Science
Earth science students create an annotated interactive map

ThingLink is an online software used to make images interactive. This year, I've used it during a project/problem-based learning (PBL) activity, in which students did a series of tasks to collect data on a soil site of their choice (please see my "Model Overview" to learn about how I use Levels in my classroom). They collected this data and saved it for the final activity, the Soil Report, which asked the students to compile all the information they learned about their soil site and to post it on a ThingLink. This ThingLink was then used to make a target on the larger map of Paracini Ponds (the field site we visited), which was also its own ThingLink. The insight I was looking to gain from the completion of this activity was whether students could take scientific data from a field exercise, analyze it, and make a decision about how the land should be used. 

 
Learning Apps
QR Code Breakers Game
QR Codes power a classroom game to inspire collaborative problem solving

This collaborative strategy is simple but effective. Students roam the room finding new questions to answer together, and scan the code with an iPad to check their work. Then, they put all the answers together to unlock a secret code. The use of QR codes in class has greatly improved the effectiveness of student work because of their ability to stop and check their answers. Their enthusiasm for this activity is clear, and making it into a competition of sorts makes it all the more fun.  I utilize the QR codes in everything from directions to links to activities. Still, my favorite use is monitoring groups during QR code breakers. 

 
Learning Apps
Voxer Enables Virtual Collaboration
A low bandwidth solution connects remote students for inter-classroom discussion

Voxer is an application I use in my classroom to incorporate verbal collaboration. Voxer is a walkie-talkie type app where teachers can assign students to groups, pose questions, and have students verbally discuss the questions with a virtual audience. When Voxer is being used by students, they are switching between verbal and written communication. Most groups will verbally respond to questions and other students' will type their answers. Voxer is a great application for connecting students virtually with students their own age with limited bandwidth use.

 
Learning Apps
Storybird in the Math Classroom
Students transform equations into real-life word problems with Storybird.

Storybird is an amazing, free, online software that allows students to create their own stories using real artist's works and collaborate and share among their class. In math, it is always essential to get students to appreciate the real world contexts in which their work is derived. Storybird allows students to incorporate literacy and their own interests into the math that we are working on. It also allows for feedback from the teacher to make sure that the math value that students are getting out of their stories is pure and real. Students must work within a rubric to develop a starting number sentence or operation into a real context. The deep discussions around verbs and operations that occurs is invaluable for a synthesis of the math concepts. Oh, and it is reallly fun to read each others!


 
Learning Apps
QR Codes for Labs

QR codes are simple and easy to make codes that allow classroom resources, like videos, websites, and assignments to be accessed with little effort. These codes can be made easily using the Chrome extension goo.gl URL shortener or a website like qrstuff.com. They can be displayed on an interactive whiteboard, printed on an assignment, or printed and taped to a wall at a station or on a lab desk. QR codes take away the barrier of typing in long URLs or shortened website links, and get students to resources quickly.  

 
Learning Apps
Self-Paced Lab Documentation

Organizing labs that span over a number of classes requires a substantial amount of pre-planning. The benefits of proper Lab Documentation are potentially enormous for students. Lab Documentation ensures that I can follow students through every step of the lab process even when groups are completing different segments within varying timeframes. Students develop lab procedures on Google Docs, create charts/tables/graphs on Google Sheets, and compile lab portfolios on wikispaces. By hosting their work on Google Apps for Education, my students can easily collaborate with group mates and me on a lab activity over the course of a week or more. During this time, I can ask probing questions, offer insight on effective lab methods and tactics, work directly on their documents, and help students record their labs with media-capture tools. Being able to analyze video of the lab procedure next to the results it produced provides my students a great means to produce high-quality lab reports, which they can publish to the web and their group wikispace pages.

 
Learning Apps
Learning Authentication

I use a variety of tools to help my students authenticate their learning. From blogging to social media and connecting with other classes across the country via Google Hangouts, my students use digital technology to reach learners just like them. To enhance our Genius Hour projects this year, we connnected with classrooms in Toronto. My students shared every aspect of their projects via Edublogs, as well as learned about and critiqued their virtual partners' projects. We also have a class Twitter page where we share our Instagram and Vine posts, as well as Tweets about what is happening in our classroom. To give the world a first-person view of our classroom, we also have a Google Glass blog that students document learning on via video and pictures from Glass.  

 
Learning Apps
Digital Distribution (Doctopus)

Doctopus is a widget you can use in Google to distribute documents. I use Doctopus because it's the only tool that I know of that will allow me to distribute a copy of a document to each student in view only mode (Google Classroom at this point only allows for edit only mode). I use Doctopus to distribute the Quest Contracts to students so that each student has access to the document (please see my "Model Overview" to learn about Quest Contracts). I have viewing and editing privileges, whereas each student only has viewing privileges. This widget allows me to update my students' Quest Contracts on my iPad after they have mastered an activity. The student can then go into the same document and view what they have completed and what they still need to complete. Doctopus also works with Google Classroom to allow me to important Google Classroom rosters. 

 
Learning Apps
Class Website

The Class Website is one of the most essential tools in providing my students 24/7 access to class content and information. The Class Website hosts all of my videos, lesson packages, answer keys, and correctional assignments, as well as any other relevant information I want to disseminate. The Class Website decentralizes the teacher as the holder of knowledge and empowers my students to access content whenever and wherever they need it.

 
Learning Apps
Correctional Assignments

Correctional Assignments provide another layer of practice for my students who fail a quiz before re-attempting to master the topic. The process is simple - my students complete the Correctional Assignment and then re-take the mastery quiz. My students can follow this process as many times as needed until they pass the quiz and achieve mastery. For this reason, I use IXL.com and Kuta Software for Correctional Assignments, which both generate infinite sets of practice problems. 

 
Learning Apps
Tech-Enabled Graphic Organizer

In my blended and personalized classroom, I rely heavily on software and digital platforms to guide and supplement my instruction. At the same time, I believe that my students still need to practice traditional paper and pencil skills. Graphic organizers have long been used to help students organize content. In my classroom they are primarily used as a pre-writing tool. The mix of using the digital platforms and paper-pencil gives my students the opportunity to practice both skills simultaneously.

 
Learning Apps
Virtual Wonderings

I use this strategy to activate my students' interest and prior knowledge on a topic. This gives me a good starting point on the curated video and reading list for the independent station. It also gives my students a visual representation of the range of interests in the class. In my opinion, using the interests of my students to guide instruction is the core of a student-centered classroom.   

 
Learning Apps
Gooru Collection

A Gooru Collection is a strategy I utilize frequently in my blended classroom to personalize learning for my students. Students log into our class on the Gooru site to access a curated "digital playlist" of engaging resources that I have found online or created myself. These different "texts" can be videos, images, articles, websites--basically anything that can be accessed online. Students interact with the resources in the Collection at their own pace, and I make time in each class period to check in with each student while they are engaged in the Collection (this is facilitated by my students' use of headphones). Students can review an uploaded resource multiple times if necessary to gain understanding. I include questions after every resource to prompt my students' thinking and/or to assess what they are learning from the resource. Given the media-driven world in which we live, it is important for my students to have this opportunity to synthesize their understanding of concepts and literary elements through multiple text formats. 

 
Learning Apps
Daniel's Digital Content and Tech Tools

There are an infinite number of digital content providers and tech tools and education programs a blended teacher can choose to use in his classroom. Check out how and why Daniel uses specific digital content and ed tech tools!

 
Learning Apps
Freddy's Digital Content and Tech Tools

There are an infinite number of digital content providers and tech tools and education programs a blended teacher can choose to use in his classroom. Check out how and why Freddy uses specific digital content and ed tech tools!



 
Learning Apps
Aaron's Digital Content and Tech Tools

There are an infinite number of digital content providers and tech tools and education programs a blended teacher can choose to use in his classroom. Check out how and why Aaron uses specific digital content and ed tech tools!


 
Learning Apps
Johanna's Digital Content and Tech Tools

There are an infinite number of digital content providers and tech tools and education programs a blended teacher can choose to use in her classroom. Check out how and why Johanna uses specific digital content and ed tech tools!


 
Learning Apps
Stephen's Digital Content and Tech Tools

There are an infinite number of digital content providers and tech tools and education programs a blended teacher can choose to use in his classroom. Check out how and why Stephen uses specific digital content and ed tech tools!


 
Learning Apps
Ben's Digital Content and Tech Tools

There are an infinite number of digital content providers and tech tools and education programs a blended teacher can choose to use in his classroom. Check out how and why Ben uses specific digital content and ed tech tools!

 
Learning Apps
Jessi's Digital Content and Tech Tools

There are an infinite number of digital content providers and tech tools and education programs a blended teacher can choose to use in her classroom. Check out how and why Jessi uses specific digital content and ed tech tools!

 
Learning Apps
Tanesha's Digital Content and Tech Tools

There are an infinite number of digital content providers and tech tools and education programs a blended teacher can choose to use in her classroom. Check out how and why Tanesha uses specific digital content and ed tech tools!

 
Learning Apps
Jeff's Digital Content and Tech Tools

There are an infinite number of digital content providers and tech tools and education programs a blended teacher can choose to use in his classroom. Check out how and why Jeff uses specific digital content and ed tech tools!

 
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