Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Today's folder: Learning Tools

Today's app folder is my Learning Tools folder. In this folder, I put apps that I think will work with any subject area.

The first app is called Compare-a-Twist. This app allows students to categorize different topics. There are some lessons already on the app, like Fruits or Vegetables. Or you (or your students) can create your own lessons. The screen shot below is a sample of a lesson that I made after I taught students about Isabel Beck's theory on the Tiers of Vocabulary. You can choose the pinwheel shape or a tornado. The student will drag and drop the words to the correct pinwheel.

At the end of the lesson, the teacher can see the student's score. This app makes a great "checking for understanding" app. I would like to see the ability to have students log-in and save their scores. Another nice feature of the app is that you can import lessons from google docs and upload lessons you create on the app to your google docs account.

The next app in the Learning Tools folder is Flashcards+. This would be a great app for a student to have on their own iPad. It allows for the creation of multiple decks of flashcards. It does crash on me every so often. and it has a feature called flashcloud that allows the user to sync decks of flashcards across all devices, as well as on a website called Course Hero. This feature is only available with purchase, and I have not purchased it, so I cannot comment on how well it works. This is an app that hasn't gotten much use from me, but I can definitely see the value for students or on school-owned devices.

I keep my Dictionary app in the Learning Tools folder. This is The Free Dictionary from Farlex. It allows the used to look up words in many languages. Dictionaries can be downloaded for use in offline mode, but there are other features that can be used when the device is connected to wifi. The main page when connected shows a word of the day, article of the day, quote of the day, this day in history, weather, in the news, and several games such as hangman and spelling bee (one that I can waste a significant amount of time playing!)

The next app, SAT Vocab Master, is one that I downloaded for my high school aged daughter. I don't know if she's used it yet, but I have fun playing with it from time to time. The app has 7 decks of SAT vocab flashcards. For each word, you guess the definition, then flip the card to check your definition against the actual one. At the bottom, is a 1-4 scale to rate how well you know the word. You can check your stats, reset them, and connect with the app makers on twitter and facebook.

Constructed Meaning is the next app in my folder. I love this app, but it is one that is meant for students to use. As my iPad is my own personal one, I have not had students try the app. It is an ELA based app that allows students to work with the concepts and vocabulary of English language arts. The screen shot above is of the home screen after student log-in.You can add all of the students in your class. They log-in to use the app and you can track their progress through the app.

This is the Word Bank page. It shows which concepts the logged-in student has mastered, which they are exploring, and which concepts the student has yet to discover.
This screen shot shows the Word Quest page. It is a series of multiple choice questions about the concepts.Students have the option of having the app read to them as well.
Other screens in this app are Dictionary, where the student can learn the concepts; and Checkpoint, which quizzes the student over concepts they've encountered in the other areas of the app. I would love to see how this app works when a whole class of students has been entered and uses the app regularly.

Writer List is a great app for writers or aspiring writers. It contains a multitude of lists for authors to consult. From character names (male and female, first names and last names) to occupations (circus performer, ditchdigger, insurance salesman) to body type (doughy, strapping, voluptuous, willowy), you can create any character. Want to explore their personality? You can find lists for phobias, obsessions, hobbies, and emotions. There are lists for plot dimensions (conflicts, issues, dramatic situations.) Can't decide where your story should take place? How about lists for U.S cities, world cities, landforms and weather. Then there are miscellaneous lists such as animals (general and domesticated), colors, foods, and vehicles. And you can put your story all together with help from the Words lists: action verbs, dialog verbs, nouns, adjectives, rhyming words, etc. When you find something in a list that you don't want to forget, you can favorite it and save it to your own list. I love this app!

The last app in this folder is called Qwiki. It has photo-videos on so many topics! You can find general topics like democracy or weather. You can search your own topics and find things close to home (I found videos on the counties in my state) or far away like Machu Picchu. Each time you view a Qwiki, it gives you options to view other similar Qwikis. I've "wasted" plenty of time on this app and I think that kids would have fun exploring new things as well.
This is the Qwiki on weather.

The menu at the top has the option to view Qwikis on News, Location, Popular Qwikis, Actors, Cities, Natural Wonders, and Monuments. This is the page on monuments.

A Qwiki on Democracy.
So, that's it...that's my Learning Tools folder. What tools are your favorites?

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