One of the most powerful things about using an iPad in the classroom is the ability of that iPad to record real time thinking and observations by students. I have written extensively in the past about the importance of using the iPad’s camera and other recording mechanisms. For some key ideas, check out my blog posts – 10 Ways to Use Your iPad’s Camera in the Classroom and Making Movies on the iPad: 4 Apps to Try. Most of the time when I advocate using your iPad as a recording mechanism, it is to create well planned out movies that require brainstorming, drafting a script, creating, revising, and editing before publishing – like those planned using my Student Tutorial Video Planning Sheet. However, there are times when you just want to do a quick check of where students are on a topic without actually sitting with each individual student. Or you want to record a snapshot of where they are to share with parents or administrators, or to document learning or lack thereof for an RTI meeting. The following iPad apps allow you to do just that.
1.) Evernote – This amazing app allows students to have their own individualized notebook (within a teacher’s log in) – great for one or two iPads per classroom. Within the notebook, students have notes where they can write up what they have worked on, add a picture of what they have worked on, or they can record themselves speaking. This works great for taking a picture of a creation students have made, documenting a writing center, or recording running records. The best part about Evernote – for me – is that there is also an application for your computer and the computer and iPad app sync, giving me access on my computer to everything students do in Evernote on the iPad. I can then share those notes with parents, resource teachers, administrators, etc. through a simple e-mail with no need to download information off of an iPad.
2.) ScreenChomp – This program is meant to be used to create movies for other students. In fact, it is one of the options I include in my Tutorial Video Planning Sheet. However, unless you have a 1 to 1 iPad program, this is NOT great option for creating the type of videos where you have to plan, do a little, save, and come back to it the next day, because Screen Chomp only offers one screen and erases everything you do unless you go ahead and create a video with it. While this rules it out for use in one context, it makes it perfect for use on projects where you don’t want to see a lot of planning. For example, if you want to do a spot check on where students are with a specific topic, you might ask them to do a quick 1 minute “fly through” video, where they don’t plan, but just write and talk to explain what they know about the topic. This is a great check for understanding tool with math concepts and new vocabulary.
3.) Educreations - This program is also meant to be used to create movies for other students. It is a step better for this process than Screen Chomp because it offers you the opportunity to use multiple pages where you plan out a presentation. However, you are only allowed to have one presentation going at a time (at least with the free version), so again this is hard to use for long term creation projects if you have 20 kids sharing 1 or 2 iPads. It’s also impossible to edit your recordings after you have started them. While this makes it challenging to create full on Tutorial Videos or larger projects, it is a great way to work on idea mapping or vocabulary words. You can easily start out a draft with one concept word or vocabulary word on each slide, have students rotate through the iPad as a center, having each group add to one slide, recording their thinking as they go. In the end you have a full length collaborative video. You could also let individual students create their own quick “fly through” videos on any variety of topics or concepts, including working through an assigned math problem, discussing a book they read or describing a creation they made (You CAN import pictures into Educreations very easily.)
4.) Kids Doodle – If you’re not looking for sound, but want to check on penmanship, letter formations, spelling, etc., try out Kids Doodle. Ask students to practice writing sight words or spelling words, to copy a sentence from the board or to simply draw a picture of a certain topic. While the students are working, this app automatically creates a video of what is going on on the screen. These videos can be exported to your video roll and shared via e-mail. This is a also a great way to watch the thinking that is going on during a math problem, to see who is erasing 20 times and to get a bit of a sneak peek into individual thought patterns.
5.) Puppet Pals – You know those creative play moments that you wish you had on video tape to show parents? Puppet Pals brings those moments out and lets you record them. This app gives you a variety of backgrounds and characters to choose from (a few in the free version, many more in the paid version). Once they choose their background, students create their own puppet show, while recording the movements of their puppets, as well as what they are saying. I love using this app for planned out shows – retelling of stories, publishing of fiction writing, etc. etc. However, it is also great for spur of the moment shows. Ask students to create their own show with no planning. The resulting videos will show you what kind of imaginative thinkers and writers you have in your class. These videos can be saved to your video roll and then shared via e-mail or YouTube.