Thing 29: App-palooza!

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photo credit: César Poyatos via photopin cc
photo credit: César Poyatos via photopin cc


It’s App-palooza time! If you have an iOS device like an iPad of iPhone, you’re very familiar with the iTunes app store. And for the multitude of Android devices, the Google Play store is your app source. Are you a Chromebooks school? Then you probably know the Chrome app store quite well.

Finding and choosing apps for your own use and for student use can be overwhelming since there are thousands of apps to choose from. This is why we decided to give you a lesson on apps and time to explore.

Apps can serve so many different purposes: easy access to digital content, tools for organizing research, assessments of student work, classroom management tools, tons of tools for creating content and so much more. This lesson includes articles about using mobile devices and apps in school, sources for reviews of apps and some lists of apps to whet your appetite.

Don’t feel left out if you don’t have your own mobile device. Can you borrow one? Or find a friend who is willing to explore this topic with you? If not, you can still explore the readings and check out the reviews.


Remember, you don’t have to explore everything here. And don’t let the vast number of apps overwhelm you. Focus on what will help you in your work.

Articles, Background, Ideas

  • Should I Download That App? A Ten-Question Checklist for Choosing Tools Worth Your—and Your Students’—Time – Point #1 is “Put Pedagogy First” –  Yes!
  • SAMR Made Easy with Google Apps –  The SAMR model is a way to view how technology fits into education. The acronym stands for: Substitution –> Augmentation –> Modification  –> Redefinition.  There’s a great infographic in this article that explains this model so nicely and simply with an example using Google Apps.
  • 9 Ways to tell if a New App is Ready for Classroom Use – Most important tip: keep the learning goals in mind. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you need to accomplish.
  • iPads4Teaching : Kathy Schrock’s guide to all things iPad. TONS of info here.
  • iPads in Kindergarten: Creating, Innovating and Learning  – Great tips and ideas for using iPads with Kindergarten students. This is an episode of the amazing 10 Minute Teacher podcast by Vicki Davis.
  • App smashing for teachers: The power of app cross-pollination – Sometimes one app won’t get the whole job done. App-smashing is simply the idea of using multiple apps to accomplish your goals.
  • iPad as Teacher’s Pet – Put your iPad to work as your personal assistant! Covers ideas for how educators can use their iPad in class, whether or not students have iPads. Great tips from Tony Vincent.
  • A Library in Every Pocket: Virtualizing Your Library for Mobile Learning : Slides from terrific AASL Preconference, loads of great ideas.
  • EdShelf – A great source for all sorts of edtech tools. Tools are added, rated and reviewed by educators. You can also create and share your own collections of tools. Search filters let you focus in on just what you need by platform, cost, subject area and more. For example, Free iPad apps for learning the alphabet, or Chrome apps for Math and so on.
  • The Padagogy Wheel – It’s Not About The Apps, It’s About The Pedagogy – “The Padagogy Wheel is designed to help educators think … about how they use mobile apps in their teaching.”
  • Mobile Learning Futures – Interesting reading – “while schools do not always suffer from a lack of technology, they consistently suffer from a lack of vision in how the technology will be used.”
  • App Task Challenge – Fun and useful guides to popular apps. Challenge yourself to a few of these!

Sources for Apps and Reviews:

  • Your PLN! – Your colleagues might be your best first resource. Ask on Twitter, in you Facebook groups, a teacher down the hall or across the world. Just ask! And share!
  • Common Sense Media App Reviews – Filter by age, device, price, topic and more. Also includes blog posts about apps, top picks and lesson plans.
  • Classroom Apps – Recommendations for Teachers – Start your search by device type (iPad, Chrome, Android, etc) or by type of learning activity (Collaborate, Blog, Create Video, etc)
  • Kathy Schrocks Bloomin’ Apps : Scroll down to the charts with links to great iPad and Android apps to support different aspects of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
  • The ‘Padagogy’ Wheel – More apps arranged in relation to Bloom’s Taxonomy.
  • AASL Best Apps for Teaching & Learning : The American Association of School Librarians creates an annual list of best apps is a terrific place to start. Includes Books, STEM, Content Creation and other apps. Includes reviews and ideas for use.
  • Smart Apps for Kids : Reviews of iOS apps. Lists of apps for different ages and subject areas. Advertising supported site, but reviews are independent.
  • Twitter search for “apps #edchat”

More Lists, Tips and Resources


This is a hard topic to assign a particular activity since each of you will have different access to mobile devices, or perhaps no access. With that in mind, here are some ideas for you to explore. As always, if you want to explore some other aspect of this topic, go for it!

Some activity ideas if you don’t have access to an iPad, Android or Chrome device:

  • Explore some of the lists of apps noted above and consider how you might be able to use them personally and/or in school.
  • Explore some of the articles about apps in school and reflect on what you might be able to do in your school.

Some activity ideas if you do have access to a mobile device:

  • Compare the app versions of your favorite tools with the web or desktop versions. eg: Evernote is very different on the web, iPad and Android.
  • Test out some new apps that you might consider using in school.
  • Brainstorm a school project where you could put these apps to use.
  • Do some of the App Task Challenges or create some of your own to share with your colleagues.


  • Share what resources you explored.
  • Did you find some apps you can use with your students?
  • Or apps that will make your life simpler?
  • Be sure to include education related ideas in your discussion.


  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL (webpage address) for your post.
  • Return to your Google Classroom, find the assignment page for the lesson you just completed and follow the directions for turning in and sharing your work.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Google Classroom.

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