Making Over Third Grade!: Some Apps I Use
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Monday, July 14, 2014

Some Apps I Use

  Last year when I started our 1:1 experience in third grade it was both exciting and a bit scary! I quickly found myself using Google Drive and Docs, GClassFolders, and Doctopus (check out a video tutorial here).  These tools were a life saver and helped the kids and I work collaboratively. I was able to view their work in real time, and they were able to comment on the work of others which helped them grow as writers and collaborators.  I have been told that the GClassFolders will not be necessary with the new Doctopus script but I have not worked with it yet so can't say for sure. I will be working on lesson plans next week and am hoping that I will receive an invite to beta test Google Classroom (I mean, really, is that ever going to come?!). In any case, the use of Google Drive is a must in my opinion when working in a 1:1 classroom with third graders! 

Notability is a fab app for student work and assignments can be added to their Google Drive folders for grading. I really loved using that for annotation of articles. Newsela is a great site that was free, but now is a freemium site that has current news articles that you can adjust the lexile levels from 3rd to 12th grade.  It is wonderful for talking about events that effect kids, and that they are driven to learn about, as well as using the articles for close readings.

The majority of my kids are Hispanic and many of their families are immigrants from Mexico and Central America. We read articles about children coming to America alone, families who have been here illegally being sent back though their kids have only known life in America, and things about child labor in cocoa farms in Africa.  They became advocates and were vocal about their opinions and thoughts. They even wrote letters to the chocolate companies about why they should not use cocoa from farms that use child labor! It was amazing to watch!

Tellagami was one of my favorite apps to use in class as it created mini (30 second) videos with an avatar the kids chose but in light of how popular the app is in class they have just updated the app to lock almost everything that had been in the free version and offer them now as in-app purchases. They have also created an EDU version that is $4.99 but it makes me mad that instead of making the app look better or work better for a price, they took things that were free and have now required users to pay for them. I am just very glad that I have an MDM (mobile device manager) for what goes on the kids' iPads. I have not updated their apps yet and will NOT be updating this one so that they have the features they had last year without being asked to pay for them. As for my iPad, I debated about buying the app and finally gave in and did so. I shelled out the $4.99 for the edu app only to have it 1. have just the things that I used to have for free, 2. An additional four or five backgrounds that I likely won't use as I normally take my own photos or use the lake background, 3. It is still only 30 seconds of recording time. Had I kept the "free version" and bought the in-app purchase of 90 seconds for $1.99 I would have had triple the recording time for half the price I paid. I am very disappointed in this company at the moment. Having said that though I will still be using it for my class as I think it has strong educational value in spite of their changes.

The Friendzy apps (there are a TON) are some of my favorite for kids to access at home, or for early finishers some days.  There is a grade level app for many grade levels (they have a 3rd grade one), Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Geography, and Spelling. The cool thing about these apps is that kids play against the clock and against someone else from around the world. The kids loved them and all of the games are educational which is why I loved them. (It doesn't hurt that they are addictive.)

There were several free math apps that I found that the kids loved as well. Front Row is a GREAT app that provides CCSS math practice in an interactive way, provides the teacher with a TON of data, and helps level kids for teaching/re-teaching of core skills. We loved Math Zombies but this too became a premium app after they realized that teachers and kids were using it.  Sushi Monster is still free and a great way to practice math facts. Finally there is Maths Challenge (yes they have an s on math, don't know why), I love this app because up to four people can play at once and there is a clock they have to beat. It is a great way to practice math facts! Finally, CandyFactory by Virginia Tech (the green one with the girl in the image, they have an older version too) is a wonderful fraction practice game and 5 Dice is great for solving multi step, multi operation math problems. Both of these apps are free as well.

These are some of my favorite apps to use as I teach with iPads, of course it not the complete list, but I think it is a good place to start, I hope you agree.