A few weeks ago I wrote this blog post on 5 iPad apps for classroom productivity and the need for tech tools to add value in my classroom. This week I am focusing on apps that I use in my classroom to foster creativity. Without further ado, here are my five favorites:
- Book Creator: allows for students to create digital books in multi-modal formats. This app has a very simple and intuitive interface for students to include text, audio, video, and images. Each page is a blank slate that allows for personal customization in terms of the layout, sizing, text types, colors, etc. I use BookCreator as a way to document student thinking throughout our Units of Inquiry, and the beauty of it is that the students can go back into their book to “refine” and “edit” as their understanding changes. When a book is ready for “publishing” it can be seamlessly uploaded to iBooks (includes all data) or exported as a YouTube video (which includes audio clips only), or turned into a pdf (text and images only). Get creative, use it as a scrapbook for collecting research, writing a story, and more!
- PicKids: the child friendly version of PicCollage (meaning there are no inappropriate adds) is THE app for creating digital posters. The user interface is very simple, start with choosing the layout (from a big open canvas, to variations of grids), then choose the background, and add media in a variety of forms all using the simple + button. Very intuitive even for very young ones. Pinching features work well for positioning and re-sizing images. The final product can be uploaded to any of the more popular storage platforms, or saved as an image file for printing. Use it as a fun new way for students to document their understanding. In Math for example, ask students to make a two column poster and go on a picture walk to take pictures of things that are or are not parallel. In reading, students can take pictures of portions in their book that provide evidence of “XYZ teaching point” or use it for a book review.
- ScratchJr: “coding is the new literacy” is all the buzz at the moment. However, aside from the hour of code many classrooms are not sure how to integrate coding into their classroom. With ScratchJr students can discover what coding is all about independently. Have a need to justify where it fits into your curriculum? Try the reading and writing bend to it and have students create a story (the app allows for up to 5 linked scenes) that includes characters having dialog.
- Toontastic: a “make-your-own-cartoon” app that is structured to replicate the writing “story-mountain” process so students can pick their characters, setting, problem, resolution, etc. all the while moving around cartoon characters on screen and including their own audio clips. The app is very smooth, with a nifty title and credits scene that gives the completed project a Hollywood movie vibe. Exports easily to Youtube for easy sharing or any of the other cloud storage providers.
- Google Doc: is one of my favorite classroom apps for writing because it facilitates the editing of student work. My feelings are that students love to write, but if writing on paper then adding to, or editing, work becomes (for most) a tedious process in the exercise of the physicality of writing versus the creativity of expressing their ideas. The end result is usually a chorus of “I am done” and then me asking them to go over the chart that lists what they can do when they think they are done. Google Docs, like any word processing software, allows the students to easily add to or edit their work and consequently the students are a lot more apt to keep working on making their writing stronger. Each student shares their work folder with me so that when they are really “done” I can print from my computer. The students are always very proud of the “published” printed work and eager to get back to writing more. Also, because of the sharing feature some students choose to write collaboratively and keep writing over the weekend from home. Yes, there is a time and place for everything, including pen/pencil and paper – but Google Docs does allow for a creative twist that students enjoy.
I believe these 5 apps all add value to my classroom by enabling students to express their creativity using digital tools in a multi-modal format. Used creatively in the classroom, these apps can easily be integrated into many academic areas from math, to reading, writing, and beyond. Next week iPad apps for classroom research!