iPhoneLast month’s Toolbox focused on the use of iPads in the classroom. This month, we will explore applications (apps) available for handheld devices that runboth Mac OS and Android operating systems.

Before you begin collecting apps for your iPad or Android device, take a look at Kathy Schrock’s checklist, Critical Evaluation of An Ipad/Ipod App. The form is free to download for classroom use.

To get you started, Google Apps in Classrooms and Schools: 32 Ways to Use Google Apps in 50 Minutes is a teacher-created slideshow (or you can download it as a PDF) that shows how to use apps to increase efficiency, collaboration, and engagement in your classroom.

Content area apps: Android

Celeste, 3-D Graphics of the Skies, and Algebra Tutor are among theTop 8 Android Apps for Education from Mashable. Other top applications mentioned here are CueBrain for learning language skills, MapMaster, Sight Read Music Quiz 4 Piano, and Flash Card Maker Pro.

Fifty-three Free Android Apps for Education, created by “a math teacher in search of better teaching and success,” is an updated list that includes only free and highly rated apps. Categories include: brain and mental exercises, flashcard and reference programs, math and calculators, and productivity and resource programs.

Best and Free Education Android Apps lists apps by cost, top-rated, best, and latest. Both content area and productivity tools are available.

Ten Great Android Apps for the Social Studies Classroom links you to PDF descriptions of apps for teaching about Congress, the Constitution, Google Earth and Maps, today in history, famous speeches, and Layar, an augmented reality app that can enhance class field trips.

While 101 Best Android Apps in Education is not designed specifically for schools, it includes vocabulary math and art games, trivia, a keyboard and chalkboard simulator, a music dictionary, an animal sounds quiz, and more.

The Android Community lists apps by topic including education apps. Ten of the best apps for education takes you through a list including Word Lens (for language classes), Molecules, Today in History, Math Ref, P183 Graphing Calculator, Star Walk, Cram, Essay Grader, and eClicker.

Content area apps: iPhone, iPad

Five Apps Being Used in the Classroom Right Now are byki (Before You Know It), a foreign language learner tool, World Wiki (uses data from the CIA World Factbook), Motion Math (a video game for learning about number lines and fractions), Blackboard Mobile Learn (for schools that use Blackboard), and Dictionary.com (listed as the number one app for students by U.S. News & World Report).

iPad Curriculum links to some interesting classroom apps. Stick Pick lets teachers randomly select students to answer questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy and tied to their ability level. The app records student progress and reports can be sent to teacher or parents via email. Other apps include virtual rat and frog dissection, Ancient Egypt from Brittanica, Grammaropolis, and several math apps.

Project Based Learning in Hand by educator Tony Vincent (highlighted in last month’s Toolbox column) describes how he created a lesson plan featuring a video created entirely on his handheld device. Vincent takes you through the steps of planning, researching, and presenting the lesson using readily available apps. His list of apps can be found at Tony Vincent's applist and ipad Bookmarks.

Get mostly free apps for teachers is provided by Horace Mann, “founded by educators for educators.” It includes Android and iPhone apps.

Apptivities is a collection of Apple classroom apps that you can sort by grade level or subject area. A changing blogroll suggests other interesting app sites. A teacher-created slideshow, 20 Apps in 20 Minutes is that walks you through classroom-tested apps used in fifth grade. For more classroom tested apps, see 62 Interesting Ways to use an iPad in the Classroom as highlighted in the October Toolbox, and check out the Apple in Education website.

The “Six Sides of Steve,” by teacher Steve Williams, includes an article on 50+ iPad Apps by a Geography Teacher. The list includes not only content related apps, but William’s choices for productivity apps.

The article Best and Free Education Android Apps includes everything from the world map and NASA to algebra and anatomy apps.

And finally, one of the big drawbacks on Apple devices is their inability to play Flash-based movies and apps. iPad Tip: Playing Flash Content on Your iPad – These Apps May Help links to three different browsers – Skyfire, Photon Flash, and iSwifter – that purportedly convert flash sites for your iPhone/iPad device.

Special needs

Features on the Autism Classroom app for Android, developed by an autism educational specialist, allow you to:

  • Get fun and interactive activity ideas for joint attention, fine motor, social skills, communication skills, and more
  • Access over 100 strategies for addressing over 15 different common challenging behaviors
  • View an Autism Classroom Checklist to help evaluate an autism classroom.

Ten Revolutionary iPad Apps to Help Autistic Children includes Proloque2Go, Grace, iCommunicate for iPad, MyTalkMobile, and TaptoTalk (all augmented communication software), First Then Visual Schedule for positive behavior supports, iConverse (similar to PECS), Autism Express (facial expressions), and stories2learn (social story creation). See a video about some of these apps at iPad Apps That Help Autistic Children's Development .

The Special Needs iPad and App Series includes a nine-part program on the use of quality iPad applications for special needs:

  1. The Special Needs iPad and App Series: Welcome
  2. Seven Assistive Communication (AAC) apps for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch
  3. Seven Scheduling and Behavioral Apps to Help with Transitions and more
  4. Eleven Social Skills and Life Skills Apps in iPad App Store
  5. Ten Websites to Find Special Needs Apps for the iPad and iPhone
  6. Seven Special Needs Apps in the Google Android Market
  7. On a tight budget? Seven ways to get an ipad for your child with special needs
  8. Six steps to get the iPad into your child’s special education classroom
  9. Four Special Needs iPad/iPhone Apps for the Future.

Seven Special Needs Apps in the Google Android Market includes Voice4u and Tap to Talk and JABTalk (both for augmented and alternative communication), Model Me Going Places, which models children navigating appropriate behavior in different locations, Behavior Tracker Pro, which enables teachers (and parents) to track and graph behavior, AAC Speech Buddy, which allows teachers to create Speech Sets using their own photos or images, and iAugComm, another augmented communication software.

Assistive Technology: Special Education Now in App Store describes several uses of apps for special needs and links to the Apple Assistive Devices Store.

Productivity

Ten Excellent iPad Applications for Teachers describes the following productivity tools: QuickVoice Recorder, Dropbox (the most recommended site for virtual “cloud” file storage), Things for iPad (a task manager), Discover (Wikipedia in a magazine), Evernote and Pages (for note taking or typing), Numbers (spreadsheet), Goodreader (retrieve files over networks, read PDFs), Mobile Air Mouse (can control interactive white boards), and WritePad (converts handwriting to text).

A digital whiteboard application is described at ScreenChomp iPad App Brings Digital Whiteboards to the Classroom. This productivity tool is exclusive to the iPad and acts just like an interactive whiteboard, allowing users to draw (in color) with their finger and record and edit in Camtasia (see 16 Free Screen Capturing Software--Alternative to Camtasia). The application creates MP4 files that you can upload to any video sharing site.

Using CourseNotes , a notetaking app, you can draw or write, organize your notes as multiple sessions, track assignments, sync with the iPad calendar, collaborate with colleagues, or export your files to DropBox. You can also email your notes as PDF files.

In a similar vein, Penultimate is described as the “best-selling handwriting app for iPad.” The latest version allows you to create paper from images and to use storyboard templates. Jonathan Norman, author of iPad Apps for the Classroom (Part 3) recommends using Pogo Sketch, a stylus you can write with instead of using your finger.

Ten Best Apps 4 Teachers describes Keynote, Educate, Teacher Tool, iAnnotate, Gradepad, Dropbox, Attendance, Teacher Pal, Flipboard, Power Presenter and Evernote. (See also 12 iPad Apps for Storytelling in the Classroom from the same blog). Another list, 5 Innovative iPad Apps That Will Evolve Your Classroom, describes why you should use Garage Band, VNC Viewer, Word Lens, Sekai Camera, and ASSIST.

Suggestions for using Google Docs include: shared lesson plans, grading online student journals, translating parent letters, tracking student homework, and creating flash cards.

Google Forms give you the ability to create formative and summative assessments, create student interest surveys, conduct student observations, allow students to complete online reading records, track discipline referrals, create spelling tests, or collect scientific data. You can find advanced tips at Google Apps for Education Training Center, Chapter 6: Forms. (Other assessment tools can be found at Assessment Apps by Vicki Windman.)

Use Google Calendar to create shared calendars, create a check-out sheet (for classroom books, laptops, projectors, etc.), or map your curriculum to standards.

You can find tips on using Google Talk to hold office hours, invite presenters to your classroom, create a classroom website, coordinate student portfolios, projects and reports, and on how to run a classroom blog, with examples and additional links.

Free email and collaboration tools for schools from Google Apps for Education demonstrates the various features and applications of Google Mail, Docs, Calendar, Groups and more for schools.

Patricia Bruder, president of Linchpin Solutions LLC, consults for the Educational Information and Resource Center (EIRC) located at the South Jersey Tech Park at Rowan University, Mullica Hill. EIRC is a public agency specializing in education-related programs and services for teachers, parents, schools, communities, and non-profit organizations throughout New Jersey. Learn more about EIRC at www.eirc.org or call 856-582-7000. Contact Patricia Bruder at linchpinsolutions@gmail.com.