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Ten Good Apps for a Teacher’s New iPad

Did you receive the gift of a new iPad this year? If so, you may be spending this holiday vacation trying out all kinds of new apps. Here are ten that I recommend to try first.

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Free apps are great because they don’t cost you anything except time to try them out. Apps Gone Free is a great app on which you can find apps that would normally require a purchase. The Apps Gone Free app lists new apps every day. Some of the apps are only free to download that day while others may remain free for a week or longer. I check Apps Gone Free every morning.

Doodlecast Pro is an excellent iPad app for creating instructional videos. At its most basic level Doodlecast Pro allows you to draw on a whiteboard and explain what you’re doing at the same time. You can adjust the size and color of the drawing tools. Doodlecast Pro records everything that you draw and say. You can pause and resume recordings at any time. If you have images on your iPad’s camera roll that you would like to include in your Doodlecast Pro video, you can import them into your project. Your Doodlecast Pro creations can have up to 100 pages in them. You can flip between pages during your recording. Doodlecast Pro also allows you to save a work in progress and come back to finish it later. When you are finished with your project you can export your video to YouTube or save it to your iPad’s camera roll.

Penultimate provides a place for you to hand-write notes on your iPad. The app allows you to create multiple notebooks with multiple pages in each. You can change the color and size of the pen strokes that are created when you write in your notebooks. Each page in your notebook can include pictures that you have stored on your iPad or pictures that you take through the Penultimate app. The app provides the option to change the look of the virtual paper on which you write. You can copy and paste content from one page to another and from one notebook to another. Because I think that I can handwrite faster than I can type on an iPad, Penultimate is the app that I use when I take notes during a presentation. If you use Evernote, your Penultimate notes are automatically saved to your Evernote account.

Evernote is the Swiss Army knife of iPad apps. Students can use Evernote for a little bit of everything from bookmarking websites to dictating notes to themselves. The app will automatically sync with students online Evernote accounts so that they can access my notes, bookmarks, and saved files from any computer or device that is connected to the web.

Haiku Deck is an iPad app that all students and teachers should have installed on their iPads. Haiku Deck enables anyone to create beautiful slide presentations. There are two features of Haiku Deck that stand out. First, Haiku Deck intentionally limits how much text that you can put on each of your slides. Second, Haiku Deck helps you findCreative Commons licensed images for your presentations. When you type a word or words on your slides you can have Haiku Deck search for images for you. The images that Haiku Deck serves up are large enough to completely fill your slide. You can also upload your own images from your iPad or import images from Instagram and Facebook.

On my iPad, Flipboard is the app that I go to for reading items from my RSS subscriptions. Flipboard is an application that allows you to read your RSS subscriptions in a magazine-style format. This year Flipboard introduced the option to collaboratively create iPad magazines by sharing items from your feeds to your magazines.

Three Ring is a fantastic, free service for digitizing and organizing your students’ physical work. With the free app installed on your iPad or iPhone you can take a picture of a student’s assignment and upload it to your Three Ring account. In your Three Ring account you can add note about the assignment for yourself, the student, and the student’s parents to see. You can create folders for each student in each of your classes. Three Ring provides a great way for teachers whose students produce a lot of handwritten, drawn, and hand-built work. Three Ring could be used by art teachers to create a digital record of each student’s work. Three Ring is also useful for mathematics teachers whose students do a lot of work on paper rather than typing as they solve problems.

When I am giving presentations and leading workshops I like to use AirServer to mirror my iPad to my laptop. That allows me to project my iPad’s screen without being tethered to VGA cable. At $14.99 AirServer is a heck of a lot cheaper than Apple TV too. AirServer works on Macs and on Windows computers. Schools that purchase twenty or more licenses can buy them for $3.99 a piece. The latest update to AirServer introduced the option to record your screen.

A few years ago a friend of mine set a New Year’s resolution to watch one TED Talk a day. The purpose of his goal was to try to expose himself to new ways of looking at the world. That year I used TED Talks once a week in my homeroom for the same purpose. The TED Talk iPad app allows you to search for new talks, organize playlists and watch your favorite talks on you iPad.

If you want to see a beautiful example of an iPad app as an interactive, digital story take a look at WWF Together. The World Wildlife Fund’s free iPad app called WWF Together is one of the most beautifully designed apps that I’ve tried over the last year. WWF Together features interactive stories about endangered animals around the world. Each of the interactive stories includes beautiful images and videos, facts about the animals and their habitats, and the threats to each of the animals. You can learn about pandas, marine turtles, elephants, tigers, polar bears, bison, whales, and snow leopards. Stories about rhinos, gorillas, sharks, and jaguars have recently been added to the app too.

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