Monday, January 2, 2012

Student Tools-Great iPad App for Teachers and Students

Back to school from winter break and it's also time to get back to my blog. Over the break I had a week to play with one of the new iPads our school purchased. During the month of December I had it in my classroom and my 5th grade students enjoyed trying out the Math Tappers apps and Sight Words apps I put on the iPad but I didn't have much time to play myself. Check my previous posts and you can see reviews of both of those apps. Another app that got a real workout was the Accelerated Reader app. Once downloaded onto the iPad students were able to login and take AR tests on the books they had read.

Since I had the iPad to myself over break I was able to try out a few more tools that I and my students can use. There are a couple that I found but the one I would like to share with you in this post is one titled simply Student Tools.

This app is a collection of 24 graphic organizers that can be used for Reading or Writing instruction. Included are the following graphic organizers:
2 Cause/Effect
2 Character
Drawing Conclusions
Main Idea/Detail
Making Predictions
2 Problem/Solution
Reality/Make Believe
2 Sequence
Story Elements
Time Line
2 Word Meaning

Some of these are shown in the screen shot. They are all very typical graphic organizers and most likely familiar to most students which, in my opinion, is an advantage. If your students are accustomed to using graphic organizers they will be familiar with these and you won't need to provide instruction on how to complete them. This will allow the student more independence in using this app.

The graphic organizers are easy to complete although if a student isn't used to using the keyboard on an iPad it may take them some time to complete them. I purchased a bluetooth keyboard and am really glad I did. In reality however, students are probably going to be more used to using the onscreen keyboard than I am. 

After selecting the appropriate graphic organizer the student can put their name and a title on the graphic organizer by clicking on the "Settings" icon in the bottom left corner of the screen. After filing it in the graphic organizer is automatically saved. Finished organizers can be accessed by using the "My Documents" button in the top left corner when you open the app. All graphic organizers that are created on the device are saved and can be edited or deleted by anyone. I can see this causing some potential issues as students could purposely or inadvertently make changes on another student's graphic organizer. If, however, you want students to collaborate on the project this might be a nice feature. You can toggle between My Documents and the blank organizers using the icon in the bottom left corner of the screen.

After the graphic organizer is completed there is an option to email it. The graphic organizer is sent as an attached image. My suggestion, if you are using a shared iPad in the classroom, is to have the student email it to the teacher or themselves to be printed. I couldn't see an option to print the graphic organizer from within the app but a screen shot could be taken and that image printed if needed. (Take a screen shot on the device by simultaneously pressing the Power and Home buttons on the iPad. The image is saved under Photos on the device.)

Although it has a few limitations, I really like this app and can see that it would be useful for both teachers and students. The app is easy to use and is appropriate for students at a wide range of grade levels. Graphic organizers are a great way to assess a students reading comprehension or to help them organize their thoughts during pre-writing.