How to stock your iPad with apps that are purposeful and easy to use before you even enter the classroom.
With over 600,000 apps in the App Store, you have a ton of options when it comes to using your iPad. It can sometimes be hard to sift through what you don’t need in order to find the apps that are inexpensive and useful. You want to fill your iPad with apps that are entertaining, educational, and inspiring, but too many apps are inconvenient and can generate clutter.
So what are the best, most useful apps for teachers? After thousands of downloads and deletions, these are the apps on my iPad that are staying for good.
Apps To Stay Organized
The iPad, by nature, is a tool for productivity, and Apple has already built in several apps that will help you stay organized!
If you are into to-do lists, the iPad’s native Reminders app is easy to use and can quickly add items to your calendar. Click the edit button to add as many lists as you’d like, and back up your lists automatically to iCloud by adjusting your iPad’s settings.
If you are looking for something that’s more colorful and collaborative, try Wunderlist HD, a slightly snazzier, free task manager that allows you to share lists with your friends and colleagues.
Teachers are typically overloaded with passwords! If you are managing a set of iPads, it can be nearly impossible to keep track of security codes, e-mail passwords, and PINs.
I use Keeper Password & Data Vault, a free app that manages the many passwords that protect your classroom. When you are in the middle of class and at a loss for how to unlock an app or iPad, you will be thankful that Keeper has your password for quick and easy access.
Using apps during class time can be tricky. Apps can be distracting, and we all know that our students require our attention. With that in mind, teachers need apps that assist in classroom instruction and are easy to use.
Timer+ is likely the classroom app I frequent most. It is free and easy to use. It also allows you to save timers that you will use more than once. Having a timer that students can see and hear is a powerful classroom management tool. When students know that there is a clock running, they are quick to get started and more motivated to stay on task. Download Timer+ and start by setting a few basic timers. My most frequently used timers are the ones I use for our daily warm-ups, think-pair-share exercises, and classroom stations.
If you use an interactive whiteboard or projector during class, try Doceri Remote. This app allows you to control your computer or interactive whiteboard from anywhere in the room. Getting started requires two steps: downloading the free app and then installing the Doceri software on your computer. Once you have synced the two, enjoy controlling your computer from anywhere in the room. The once free desktop software now goes for $30 a pop, but you can enjoy a free 30-day trial and see if it’s worth the investment.
If you have access to a classroom projector, then an iPad VGA cord is a must.
Apple’s version goes for $29.99 but is well worth the cost. Modeling use of the iPad and its apps is incredibly important for students. The VGA cord makes your iPad screen visible via your projector, making it easy to demonstrate an app and other classroom tasks involving the iPad. Our students need to see and hear our directions. The VGA cord will simplify use of technology in the classroom and save you time when students better understand directions and are able to get started right away!
Doc Sharing and Collaboration
Collaborating is an everyday practice for most teachers. These apps will help you and your colleagues access information and share ideas and documents.
Scan To PDF ($4.99): This app will use your iPad’s camera function to make PDF files that you can then print, send in an e-mail, or save to Dropbox.
Voice Thread (free): Voice Thread is a free app that facilitates collaboration through multiple pathways. This app allows you to add photos and images, annotate on the screen by typing or touching, and record audio. You can add page upon page of conversation or information and then share it via e-mail. In addition to using Voice Thread as a collaboration tool, you can also use it to create beautiful and informative online lessons for your students.
GoDocs for Google Docs ($4.99): Everyone is using Google Docs these days, and if you aren’t you should be! There are several apps that make your Google Docs available for viewing and editing, and their costs vary. I like GoDocs because it allows you to manage several Google accounts at once.
Microsoft OneNote (free): OneNote is a word processing tool that allows for creativity but is inherently organized. It comes as computer software but is also available in a more limited version as an app. The best part about OneNote is its automatic sync to Windows Live, which makes doc sharing hassle free.
Dropbox (free): It can sometimes be challenging to share documents between your iPad and computer, particularly if the file is large. Put a file in your Dropbox and you can access it from other computers, iPads, or smartphones (of course, with the correct password). Create a shared folder and allow other users to save files that all folder members can access. Once you get started with Dropbox, you won’t be able to imagine life without it!
Dropbox has a great guide to getting started on their website.
So what’s next? Believe it or not, this is only a piece of the app essentials that teachers should have in the classroom. We’ll also be digging into the best apps to use with your students. Stay tuned!
In case you missed it, you can also check out my previous article on how to set up iPads for success in the classroom.
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