[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on May 31st of this year, was our #6 most popular story of the year. The countdown continues Monday with #5, so be sure to check back!]
Mobile devices are becoming increasingly common in schools because they cost so much less than computers—especially since so many students are willing to bring their own devices to school.
While mobile devices, tablets in particular, have been commonly used to reinforce math and reading skills through the use of games, they can also be used to promote the development of higher level skills and knowledge included in the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S): creativity and innovation; communication and collaboration; research and information fluency; and critical thinking and problem solving. Here are a handful of high-quality apps that reinforce these skills and promote others.
Students who resist typical writing instruction with pencil and paper may blossom as authors when given the opportunity to compose electronically on computers and tablets. Some that struggle with the fine motor skills necessary for producing legible print are liberated by the ability to type. Although pressing letters on a flat screen without being able to feel them may be awkward for an adult accustomed to typing on a keyboard, students that learn to type on these devices when they’re young are likely to be as skilled on them as they are on a traditional keyboard.
Another advantage of having students compose their written work on mobile devices is the ability to save and organize work. The Noteshelf app allows users to type on the virtual keyboard or write with a stylus in a wide variety of colors, and includes the ability to highlight in several colors. PDFs can be imported or new documents can be created from scratch.
Collins Big Cat Books apps appear to be simple read-aloud picture books with beautiful animated pictures and sound effects. However, each one has a ‘Read by Myself’ option enabling the reader to read aloud and record their voice. Reading buddy activities could involve older students recording themselves so their younger partners can listen to them reading the book at any time. They have a ‘Story Creator’ feature that has several backgrounds similar to the original story, objects, characters, and speech bubbles that enable students to create their own picture book. This feature makes the C. Collins Big Cat Books apps appropriate for a wide range of grade levels.