Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First Impressions

As Carolyn and Tina mentioned before, the iPad training last week was incredibly useful and exciting. There were frequent eruptions of “Ooh!” – “Wow!” – “Cool!” from the squad of iPad grant recipients as we navigated our way through a host of new software and tools. I can’t wait to see the reaction from our first and second grade students when they get their hands on one!

I’ve already come across an abundance of programs for the iPad that should be useful in the classroom, and everything that I mention in this post is completely free!

First off, I had never used iTunesU prior to the training, and I am still in awe of the amount of professional quality material available. There appears to be an excellent mix of resources for students from early elementary all the way to post-graduate adult learners. There are audio recordings of children’s fairy tales, there are videos of high school students working on service learning projects, and there are video recordings of entire college courses given by professors from universities such as MIT, Duke or Yale. Of course, it’s all free. Just download the latest version of iTunes, open it up, go into the iTunes Store, and there will be a tab at the top labeled “iTunesU”. This is something that you can do on any working computer - - Mac, PC, or as we were shown, iPad.

On to programs specific to the iPad, downloadable through the AppStore on the iPad:

Toy Story Digital Book

This is a great piece of introductory software for younger children available on the iPad. It is an interactive book of the first Toy Story movie. The book can simply be read to you, each word being highlighted as it is spoken, or you can record yourself reading the text on each page and play it back for later listening.

BrainPop Movie of the Day
This app features a different BrainPop movie each day for free, no account required.

iWriteWords Lite

The free version of a letter-writing game on the iPad. It gives stroke by stroke instruction for each letter, reads the word you’ve just written, and gives you a “Good job!” when you’ve finished.

Puppet Pals
The free version of this program gives you access to eight old western characters or “puppets” to create a story with. You select the actors, the backdrop, animate the puppets across the backdrop, then play it back and watch your story unfold.

A Story Before Bed
This app comes with one free book, “The Frog Princess” by Adrian Klein, with the ability to buy more books through their store for use in the app. The functionality of it is a bit limited with only an iPad, as you need a desktop/laptop to create your own recordings. But the presentation of the included story is top-notch and if you have the resources this could be a very useful program.

History Maps
Being a map-lover myself, I’ve used this multiple times already just out of personal curiosity. It features a host of maps from throughout history of various geographical locations. The maps look great and are incredibly easy to navigate on the iPad. You can browse through a long list of available maps sorted by a variety of possible areas. Sort by geographical location, time in history, or topic.

World Book: This Day in History
Another program I’ve been clicking on every day I’ve sat down with the iPad. Each day you can view a variety of historical events, births, and deaths. You can click on any piece of information to read more about it.

This application should be incredibly useful for any teacher of science or student with an interest in hands-on experimentation. Science teacher Dan Menelly provides text and video of him performing a multitude of experiments appropriate for the classroom.

I feel like that should be enough for a first impression, but my list is long and I’ll continue to post with references to anything I find that could be useful in the classroom.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for including Videoscience in your discussion, Todd. I will be interested to read more about the integration of the ipad into elementary level teaching and learning. As a teacher, I am "choosy" about which technology I use in my teaching because of he time and expense of professional development and purchasing the equipment for my classroom. Yet I really do think the iPad is intuitively engineered to suit young learners. It's very exciting to see teachers like you and your colleagues experimenting with this technology. Your students are in for an adventure,
    Dan Menelly
    Washington DC