A Handful of Apps to Add to Your New iPad (even if you don’t take it to school)

Every year at this time I publish a short list of the apps that I recommend installing if you received a new iPad during this holiday season. Even if you don’t take your new iPad to school, these apps are helpful.


I have terrible typing technique and I like to sketch ideas before writing about them. Therefore, Penultimate is a perfect app for me. 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. 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.

I subscribe to the RSS feeds of a few hundred blogs and websites. The way that I keep up with all of those updates is by spending thirty to sixty minutes a day flipping through Feedly. Feedly takes my RSS subscriptions and lays them out in a nice magazine style format that makes it easy for me to quickly scan the headlines and images attached to the articles. If I want to read the full article I can simply click through to read it. If I want to save the article to read later, I can mark it for reading later. If I want to share an article to my favorite social networks I can do that too.

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.

Quick Key is an app that turns your iPhone (it also works on iPad)  into a bubble sheet scanner. Quick Key has two parts to it that when combined make it very easy for you to quickly grade multiple choice and true/false quizzes. Here’s the basics of how it works; create your quiz on the Quick Key website then print and distribute a bubble sheet. After your students have completed the bubble sheet you simply scan the sheets with your iPhone (it works on iPads too, but the resolution is grainy) and the grading is done for you. From the app you can send grades to the classes that you have created on the Quick Key website. If you enter students’ email addresses in your class rosters on Quick Key, you can have grades emailed to students.

It took me a while to come around to Pinterest, but now that I have I really like it. I like it for the same reason that I like Feedly, it’s visual interface makes it easy to browse through my favorite boards and find things that are of interest to me. And of course, I can Pin things myself through the Pinterest for iPad app. Here’s the board that I started for this blog.

Skitch for iPad is an app that I use when I want to quickly edit, create, and or draw on an image. I can use Skitch to draw on and label a screenshot to aid my explanation of how an application works. I can also use Skitch to blur or enhance a part of a picture that I’ve taken with my iPad. And if I just want to sketch out diagram and share it, Skitch for iPad lets me do that too.

Haiku Deck is an iPad app that 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 find Creative 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.

Chrome is the browser that I use 90% of the time that I’m on the web. Chrome for iPad is my browser of choice because I can sync all of my tabs from my laptop and desktop to my iPad browsing experience.

The Knowmia Teach iPad app is an excellent app for creating your own whiteboard videos. Some of the highlights of Knowmia Teach app include the option to use your iPad’s camera to record yourself while drawing on the whiteboard. You will appear in the corner of the screen so that your students can see you while you’re talking them through the lesson. The app includes the option to import images and graphics from your iPad to your lessons. You can draw free-hand on the whiteboard screen, type on the whiteboard screen, and insert pre-made shapes and figures. All Knowia Teach lessons can be uploaded to the Knowmia website with just one tap of your iPad’s screen. Students can watch your lessons on the Knowmia website.


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