App-Learning Curve

16 iPads - Part 1
Photo by Kominyetska on flickr

Having iPads at my school and having to manage them and their apps has proven to be an interesting task.  If you know me at all, you would know that when I am involved in a project I usually jump in with both feet.  That’s what I’ve done with the iPads.

Knowing that we wanted the iPads to be used by everyone,without exception, I downloaded over 300 apps to each of the iPads – ensuring that there was something for everyone to use.  Yah, well, that didn’t work out too well.  Students started to create – movies, photos, slide shows, etc…  Great idea, right?  Not so much.  The iPads started running out of room! On the second day of use.  Yah. Way to go, Tia!

It’s all a learning curve.

So, I took the iPads home again for the weekend, I examined each app on the iPads and determined what should remain and what needed to get removed. I ended up deleting over 100 apps off each of the iPads.

Favourite iPad Apps
Photo by flickr member: {Flixelpix} David

You may be wondering which apps remain on the iPads and why I chose to keep the ones I did.  There are still a lot of easy to use apps for early primary students – alphabet, number, basic skills-type apps. There are some Science/Social Studies topic apps for intermediate students that remain.  Most of the apps that are currently on each iPad, though, are “creation-type” apps – those apps which students can create projects with.

Some of my favourites creation-type apps include:


Book Creator – This is a great, easy way to make books and projects by students. Very easy to add photos, video, type, etc…

My Story – Students can draw or paint pictures to make a story. They can add their own voice to tell the story and their can type in words as well.  This can be used for many different subject areas – not just for writing stories.

StoryLines – a game of ‘telephone’ with pictures.  This looks like it could be a great app to use in a variety of ways. You can play this with a number of different users – online or by simply passing the device to other people.

Story Line – This is also similar to ‘telephone’.

Toontastic – Students can create their own cartoon or story with different scenes: setup, conflict, challenge, climax, and resolution. Students choose backgrounds, characters, and add their own voice to tell their story. They can also add “mood” music to set the tone of the story.

Sock Puppets – Students choose their puppets, scene, and props.  They can record their voice(s) to make their story.  Again, this can be used in many different curricular areas.

PuppetPals HD – Again, this is a good story telling app that can be used in many curricular areas.  For $2.99, you can purchase the “Director’s Pass” to unlock various themes.

Story Wheel – great for oral language, build up story, for primary students – group activity. This would be fun for students to make stories in small groups.

ScribblePress – very cool book creator with different topics. Sentences are scaffolded so that students would just add words in the sentences that are already written. For Instance, you could write a book called, My Book of Favourites. Once the student fills in the missing word, they can click on Create Book. Each of the sentences is placed at the bottom of the page. The students are then able to draw (with many colours), take photos, add pictures from a gallery, add type, change background colours, and erase. It looks very cool!


Presentation Apps

DoodleCast – This is a cool app where students can draw something and record their voice talking about their drawing as they draw. Lots of useful applications for this app!

Explain Everything – Similar to DoodleCast, but you can do more – typing, addition photos, writing, etc… and you can make many slides

ScreenChomp is also similar, I think.

iMovie – Just what you think it is. Very easy to use as well.

I do still believe that we need to try to ensure all teachers feel comfortable using the iPads. As a result, we need to be sure there are a variety of different apps on the iPads.  We cannot, however, include everything we want or everything each teacher wants. There just isn’t room. As a result, there should be a criteria that is followed for deciding which apps are put on the iPads (criteria that should be created in collaboration with students and teachers). We will be working on this criteria soon.

The majority of the apps on the iPads, in my opinion, should be apps which students can use to create projects.  When students create, according to Bloom’s Taxonomy, they are using higher order thinking skills. Here is a great chart that includes different apps, according to the varying levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. If you haven’t already seen this, it would be worth a few minutes of your time. I still need to go through some of these apps to get a real understanding of each.

To review, when choosing apps for your school iPads, you may want to consider the following:

1. Create a criteria to follow so that everyone has a good understanding what kind of apps are appropriate to be added to the iPads.

2. Try to ensure that there are some apps that can be used by everyone – even those who are techno-challenged or scared of technology.  We want to include everyone and help everyone take risks with technology.  But, these apps should not take over the devices. They should only be a small portion of the apps on the iPads.

3. Try to have apps that can be used in a variety of curricular areas.

4.  Most apps should be able to be used by students and teachers for creating.

5. Try to ensure there is still plenty of room on the iPads for storage – for photos and movies that may be taken by students for their projects.

6. You may want to consider purchasing an external hard drive to which teachers can transfer their photos, videos, and projects.

In my ongoing reflection about the integration of iPads at my school, questions continue to bombard my thinking.

In the end, we need to think about what we want the iPads (or any technology, for that matter) to be used for. What do we want students to do with these devices? How do we want them to express their learning? Which apps will best help students and teachers achieve their goals?

What are your favourite Creation-Type apps?

What have been some of the lessons you have learned by integrating iPads into your school?

What questions are you asking yourself and your team?

Published by Tia M. Dawson

There are many things that define who I am as a person. First of all, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children! I can not express how fortunate we are to have our children in our life! Secondly, I am an elementary educator who recently returned to the classroom after 12+ years as an elementary school administrator. Lastly, I am passionate about helping others, learning about abuse, helping others in abusive relationships, and helping others understand their worth.

2 thoughts on “App-Learning Curve

  1. Thanks for the Ipad tips Tia. I am excited about trying many of the apps you have suggested. OKay, my big question, did you actually take the time to download each of the 300 apps on each of the ipads? There has to be an easier way.

    1. Hi Andy,
      Thanks for reading and commenting! Yes, I downloaded the apps onto each of the iPads one at a time. It was actually less time consuming this way, I think (from what I’ve heard from others). By doing it this way, you can guarantee that each iPad will be exactly alike because you are basically making a backup copy and then restoring each iPad from the back up so that they are all identical. If you use the cart to sync then you will have to move each app into the folders one at a time, on each iPad (at least that’s what our tech told me). It really wasn’t too bad. 🙂 We’ll see if I am saying the same thing when the other 24 that we just ordered arrive!

      If you need any help, let me know. I am a newbie, but I can try to help.

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