14 Popular Classroom Apps for Teachers
Check out your colleagues’ new favorite interactive apps that’ll take your classroom tools to the next level.
Mobile apps make our lives so convenient that it’s hard to imagine getting through a day without them. New apps are released each day, but there are so many that it can be difficult to find the really useful ones. According to Statistica, there were more than 2.2 million apps available for Android users and 2 million for Apple (iOS) device users! That’s a lot of apps!
We sifted through some of the noise and found 14 apps that educators are currently using in their classrooms.
NEW APPS TO TRY
1. Showbie is a productivity app that helps educators and students manage paperless assignment workflow. It “helps my students stay organized so they can be more engaged in the lessons and have a better understanding of whatever I’m teaching them,” says Kelly Turcotte, a 5th grade teacher at Inman Elementary School in Inman, Kansas. Her 5th grade teaching partner, Cameron Traxson, applauds the app’s versatility. You can create a document—in Word, PDF or even in another app—and easily upload it to Showbie, says Traxson. You can draw or write on it and even add photos.
Showbie’s flexibility lets students move through standards at their own pace. Gifted students can move ahead and students who need help can get immediate intervention. “We find that we have a lot of kids that are making more progress” with Showbie, Turcotte says.
Cost: The Basic Edition is FREE (Pro Teacher version $10 per month/$120 per year. You can request a free 30-day trial for Pro School, which is designed for use by 5 or more teachers)
Available for: iPad
2. Book Creator is an open-ended, creative, cross-curriculum app for creating interactive stories, journals, instruction manuals, comics and more. Teachers and students can use it to develop and upload books, such as math or geometry journals, in PDF or Book Creator format, and then work on them in Book Creator or Showbie, explains Traxson. Students taking notes with Book Creator can record videos of their teacher so they can go back and reference the lesson at any time, adds Turcotte.
3. Notability lets you create, organize and use handwritten notes, sketches, plans and idea balloons, then scale, rotate, recolor and save them for later use. “It’s another way of annotating,” says Traxson. “We get most of our PDF assignments out of Showbie,” annotate them in Notability, then “turn those back in as an assignment. That’s how we’re able to be 95 to 100 percent paperless in our classroom.” He liked having hard copies to work on, but after trying just one spelling test with Showbie, he was sold. “Kids took the spelling test in Showbie,” Traxson explains. “I was able to just take my iPad home and grade [the test] there. It took me half the time and it was just awesome.” In the 3 years they’ve used Showbie and Notability, Traxson says they have had no lost assignments. And, Turcotte adds, if a student is out sick, s/he can get the assignment on his iPad at home and complete the work before returning to school.
4. vCalc helps educators use calculators, equations, constants and datasets. Topics range from everyday problems to complex scientific equations on nearly any subject, from aerospace to agriculture to travel. Some topics are just for fun, like the Jelly Bean Guess that helps students use math to determine how many candies are in a bowl. The site has more than 10,000 items so far and has been described as “Wikipedia for the math challenged,” says company president Kurt Heckman. It even has its own social network!
5. PickAGuy lets Linda G. Hernandez, a 7th grade world history teacher at Ensign Intermediate School at Newport-Costa Mesa, California, “randomly choose students to check for understanding,” choose teams and assign tasks. This app keeps track of who has and has not been picked and when. Students are identified by numbers. Additions and status changes are easy to make.
Available for: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
6. Educreations Interactive Whiteboard works as a screencasting tool to help you explain concepts to students or have students show you what they’ve learned. Animate, annotate and narrate nearly any type of content by adding your voice recordings, handwritten notes, drawings, photos or images or other extras. You can save drafts and store finished lessons securely in your Educreations online account, where you control access to your content.
Cost: Basic version is FREE (Pro Classroom Edit $11.99 for month-to-month billing or $99.99 per year)
Available for: iPad
7. Too Noisy can help dim the din when your classroom gets too noisy. “I thought it wouldn’t work but suddenly I had a super loud class of 5th graders shushing each other in my library because they didn’t want the Too Noisy alarm to go off,” says Terry Thomas, a certified English teacher and library media specialist at Dual Immersion Academy in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Cost: $3.99, although you can use an online version for FREE
8. My Incredible Body helps students explore the workings of the human body through sharp and clear medically accurate 3-D anatomy models. Appropriate for both children and adults. Fly through the body while learning what our insides look like and how various parts work together.
Cost: $4.99 for iPhone, iPad, $3.99 for Android, $3.99 for Windows 10 or 8.1 devices; $9.99 for PC and Mac
9. The Human Body is a simpler app that lets children explore seven interactive basic anatomy systems. Students can learn what the body is made of and see and hear how the heart beats, lungs breathe, eyes see and more. A handbook of facts, interaction hints and discussion questions to support learning can be downloaded in English and other languages for FREE with the app or from the maker’s website.
Available for: iPhone and iPad
TRIED AND TRUE FAVORITES
10. Khan Academy is a free, personalized learning resource for every age level. It lets students practice their skills based on your assignments, working at their own pace and seeing how they’re doing along the way. Reward badges and points boost motivation. Instant feedback lets educators monitor student progress and quickly identify gaps in learning at any time during the school year so lesson plans can be adjusted or extra practice can be added. The app has more than 100,000 exercises, including full coverage of Common Core.
11. National Geographic World Atlas, newly redesigned, this app gives you access to National Geographic’s award winning maps, stats and facts about every country on earth. Download maps to use offline, get real-time weather data, on-this-day information, trivia and daily quizzes. Create pin lists of places you’ve visited, want to visit or plan to cover in your classroom. Be sure to check the other great National Geographic Apps while you’re there.
Available for: iPhone and iPad
12. The NASA app includes more than 14,000 images, current NASA mission information, live streaming of NASA TV, ISS and Earth orbiting satellite trackers, maps, information and links to all of NASA’s visitor centers and much more. You’ll also find educator and classroom resources at NASA for Educators.
13. TeacherKit can help with routine classroom management tasks such as creating seating charts, recording attendance, tracking grades, adding behavior notes and generating reports. It’s suitable for all grades or and is useful for corporate training, too.
Cost: FREE (Extra features are available with TeacherKit’s School B home version for $39.99 per year)
14. Google Apps for Education isn’t new, but this versatile suite of apps is still a must-have resource for educators. It includes Google Classroom, Gmail, Drive, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Hangouts and Vault and can be used on phones, tablets or computers from any location. One catch: Google Apps for Education is for your whole school or district, not for individual teachers or classes. To use it, you’ll need to register your school, verify the school’s web domain, and wait for confirmation, which may take up to two weeks.
Available for: All phones, tablets and computers
WAYS TO FIND GOOD CLASSROOM APPS
It’s easy to find apps. The hard part is finding the good ones!
To begin your search, check the websites of your favorite well-known education organizations, teacher blogs, technology blogs and your favorite education or teacher groups on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
If you find an interesting app while browsing online, read the reviews and comments section if there is one, or do an extensive search using keywords such as ‘complaint’ or ‘review’ to see if any problems have been reported.
Lastly, only download apps from websites or companies you trust or that you can verify as being legitimate to avoid downloading viruses and other nasty Internet surprises!
Here are few sources to get you started. You may find a gem for your classroom!
- Scholastic’s 50 Fab Apps for Teachers
- Edutopia’s App Blog
- We Are Teachers: App Reviews
- NEA.org: Apps for Educators
- NEA.org: Get Smart! Using Mobile Apps To Improve Your Teaching
NOTE: Information in this article is accurate as of October 2016
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