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Selecting apps for your course and activities

From: iPad Classroom Fundamentals

Video: Selecting apps for your course and activities

Selecting and evaluating apps is primarily about teaching style and course objectives. And as there are infinite varieties of students and learning styles, so there are teachers and teaching styles. That said, be warned that is is far too easy to be seduced by the app store in iTunes. Yes, I know, there is an app for that. But after browsing minutes, hours even, most likely you will not be any closer to designing or planning a lesson or project. My best advice, be selective and always, always start with the learning objectives and artifacts that will produced by students.

Selecting apps for your course and activities

Selecting and evaluating apps is primarily about teaching style and course objectives. And as there are infinite varieties of students and learning styles, so there are teachers and teaching styles. That said, be warned that is is far too easy to be seduced by the app store in iTunes. Yes, I know, there is an app for that. But after browsing minutes, hours even, most likely you will not be any closer to designing or planning a lesson or project. My best advice, be selective and always, always start with the learning objectives and artifacts that will produced by students.

In selecting apps there are a number of websites out there that will give you a lot of head start here. APPitic is an app list for education. It's put together by Apple distinguished educatiors. It has all kinds of information here for all different ages. It's a great site that aggregates a lot of ideas, and it was put together by the Apple distinguished educators. But it's open to the community. As you can see at the bottom of the website, you can submit an app and give a review yourself. Langwitches Blog has a great section on iPad apps and Bloom's Taxonomy. A lot of you will be teaching the core curriculum or you have pedagogy at your school that adopts the Bloom's Taxonomy and the rubrics that are attached to that.

This site provides the six different verbs, and then gives you an idea of how to use different apps with that. As you go through the website you'll see there's a verb, and then they give synonyms for that verb. And then they give suggested applications that you can get in the iTunes store. One of my favorite sites for learning about the iPad in the classroom is Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything and it really is a guide to everything. She's put together a very comprehensible webpage, that has links to all kinds of things that relate to the iPad. I recommend scrolling down to about the midway point. And as you can see, she's aggregated a tutorials, lists of apps, and related materials.

And as I said, if you're in a school where the Bloom's Taxonomy, or different kinds of pedagogy are important. You can also get links to those that support what you're doing. In addition, she has made a list of all the guides that are out there for learning how to use the iPad and use iPad apps. Finally, one of my favorite sites is edtechteacher. When I want to start developing a project, I often start here. It gives me the kind of inspiration I need and lets me think about how I can relate the objectives of my assignment to, what the iPad can do.

It's a great way to think about what we want our students to learn and how we want our students to go out into the 21st century. As I start with each of these verbs, he's created a rubric for each one of the verbs that actually gives you an application. Describes the cost, and gives you a short, short description, rates is usefulness and it's ease of use. This is a quick way to evaluate a number of apps quickly, and to see if it fits in with the program and the lessons you're designing. And finally, when I sit down to do my own personal lesson planning, or to come up with an idea for a project based assignment.

The first thing that I do is map the learning objectives to the apps and tools. I always write down what I want the students to do, and then as I go through the project, I see which of these verbs match what I want to do. There is an important thing also to consider as well as your subject matter expertise in developing curriculum. There are skills that will make every teacher and student, more of a master. So I recommend this site for looking at the essential skills. I feel this is a very comprehensive list of the kinds of activities that most teachers are expecting their students to accomplish.

And the kinds of things that we would want from a 21st century learner. After you've designed an assignment and selected applications, take the time to evaluate was the project successful? Did the apps do what you thought they would do to achieve those learning objectives? I think this is a good spot to start for evaluating your project success and if you've chosen the right iPads for your class. Returning to Kathy Schrock, she has created an interactive PDF that you can download from the internet. That actually allows you to go quickly through, in less than five minutes, and evaluate point by point if the app is working for the project that you're doing.

Using this PDF, you can create a report of how the projects are going in your class, and how the apps are working. And you can share this across your team of teachers And across your school. This last site is an aggregator, it really looks at all of the kinds of the things a teacher might be wanting to focus on in the classroom. Whether it's Blogs or Facebook or Wiki's, whether it's personal learning networks and education, digital citizenship, social learning, creativity. It's a very comprehensive list that aggregates different sites on different topics and different subject matters.

And I would be amiss not to be talking about copyright and fair use. When we're creating with media, and that's what the iPad allows us to do, all kinds of media; it's like putting on a broadway show. We really need to teach each other and our students how to use Copyright and how to do Fair Use. This site goes through a list of resources that are available to you, and that you can go to time and time again. Now, it's a little bit overwhelming I know to see all of these different things. And you probably feel as a teacher, you don't have the time each day to do this.

But there's a really great PDF available to you through Technology and Learning. It's a one-sheet PDF on copyright and Fair Use guidelines for teachers, and they update it frequently. I highly recommend going to the site, downloading the PDF, sharing it with your faculty members, sharing it with your school. And most importantly, sharing it with your students at an age where they're starting to do pieces and projects. Where they need to annotate and attribute the work that they're creating. This is a simple go to, one page chart that you can use in the classroom with your students and with your school.

Selecting and evaluating apps for your classroom most importantly should be based on the project and the course's learning objectives. And the measurable outcomes that the students will see. By measurable outcomes, I mean artifacts that students create through research, content creation with media. And dissemination on the web and through presentations. And finally, consider your subject matter expertise, along with your teaching style. You're a teacher at the front lines, use your experience and insights as you plan, and learn from your trials, tribulations, and successes.

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iPad Classroom Fundamentals

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Laurie Burruss
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