Monday, August 19, 2013

Android Apps And Grade Two

I will have access to Samsung tablets this school year. In anticipation, I have played around with some Android apps on my Nexus 10. These will not be full reviews yet, as they have not been tested out in a classroom setting. 

The blog post 50 Ideas For iPads in the Classroom has some iPad specific items mentioned, however, it includes great ideas for procedures and is well worth a read for people starting to use any tablet in the classroom.

Common Sense Media has some reviews on Android Apps as well. They provide the age the app is intended for, they give it a learning rating and a quality rating. When you read a full review, they also provide information about: ease of use, violence, sex, language, consumerism, drinking, drugs and smoking, and privacy and safety. Their audience for these reviews are parents, however, not teachers in a classroom setting.

I've started by trying the free versions of all the apps if a "lite" version was available. The majority of free apps are supported by ads. I would not recommend using the "lite" versions in class. If you do, it is recommended that lessons around consumerism and advertising are a part of your preparation for teaching students how to use the tablets. Common Sense Media has a lesson called "Things For Sale"

Android Apps Previewed

BrainPop Jr. (free)
This is app gives the user access to the current movie of the week plus an easy and a hard quiz about the movie's topic. As well, it gives the (free) user access to six additional free movies. For those who have a subscription, you can also access other educational videos, games, quizzes, and activitiesThe free movies are about:

  • classifying animals
  • bullying
  • nouns
  • US symbols
  • tally charts and bar graphs
  • Internet safety

Will I Use It? Yes. Five of the six free movies are things that fit with the grade two curriculum. I would use this app as a centre activity when we are exploring those topics in class. 

Google Earth (free) 
This app does not have the full capabilities of Google Earth. In theory it would be a great resource for students to have quick access to satellite views of the Earth but I found it glitchy and slow when I used it. 
Will I Use It? Maybe. I'll try it again on the tablets at school and see if it functions better for me on them.  

Guardian Eyewitness (free) 
This app has great pictures but I think it is better suited to division II and up. 
Will I Use It? Not with grade twos

SpellingCity (free*) 
Unlike the website, the (free part of the) app gives you basic spelling practice from ten sample lists that go from kindergarten to grade twelve. If you want students to be able to access the spelling lists you have created on (with your free or paid account), then you will have to pay $1.99* for each mobile device for what they call a Mobile PassThe downside is the user is  logging with the teacher account, unless you purchase the classroom premium subscription of $49.99.
Will I Use It? Yes. I think it is worth the $1.99 to try!

RAZ-Kids (app is free but it is based on a subscription)
I have used RAZ-Kids with my grade two classes for the past four years. It is a great addition to reading centres. It costs $89.95 for a subscription. The app connects to this subscription, so students can access their account using this app. 
Will I Use It? Yes 

iStoryBooks (free) 
Common Sense Media summaries this app well: kids' reading skills may not get much of a boost as reading level is typically too high for the targeted ages and writing style is not exceptionally engaging. iStoryBooks offers kids free access to colorful books but would benefit from higher quality literature and a better user interface.
Will I Use It? Maybe. I plan to use RAZ-kids on the tablets. While it is a free app it prompts the user to buy more books. 

Math Pack Flash Cards (free) 
This app has a variety of "flash cards"/questions for math operations for  kindergarten to eighth grade kids.
Will I Use It? No. The layout and organization of the site is not ideal for grade twos in a centre situation. 

NASA (free) 
The NASA app provides information, videos and photos about space. This would be a great app for any grade six classroom! 
Will I Use It? NoWhile anything about NASA is very cool,  I do not see a direct link to grade two curriculum. 

TangramHD (free) 
There are many tangram apps. For classroom use, I did not want one that was based on levels or scores.  This one has categories of puzzles that the user can select from: people, animals, boats, numbers and alphabet, stuff and buildings, and geometry. It does have advertising for its other game but it is minimal. 
Will I Use It? Yes

Apps On Deck For Preview

The following apps are ones I have seen suggested during my research:
Bad Piggies (free) - puzzle games
Cash Cow ($4.03) - a math puzzle game that uses money
Doodle Fit Free (free) - spatial puzzles
Dragon Dictation Lite (free) -    voice recognition dictation ap
i-Prompt (free)- Tele-prompting software
MathBoard ($4.92) - math drills
Math Workout (free) - 
Minecraft Pocket Edition (free) - open-ended activity that is about exploration and creation
Mobile Mouse Lite (free)- makes your tablet a wireless remote for your computer/whiteboard 
My DPS (Digital Problem Solver) $0.99 - it teaches emotions and coping strategies
Story Dice ($2) - dice with symbols for telling stories
Where's My Perry? Free (free) - a puzzle game
Where's My Water? Free (free) - a puzzle game