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app smackdown

App smackdown: 20 apps from ISTE 2018

What's better than a great app? 20 great apps recommended by educators!

Mobile devices are a key component in many classrooms, and apps go hand-in-hand with those mobile devices. When those apps are free and device-agnostic, it’s even easier to integrate them into the classroom.

Some districts implement programs where students use tablets, and others allow students to bring and use their own devices. Some districts do both, letting students use their own devices while offering classroom devices for those students who need to borrow one.

During an ISTE 2018 session, five educators each presented their four favorite apps in a “smackdown” format that gave each educator two minutes to highlight the coolest features of each app.

Here, we’ve gathered each app under the educator who recommended it. Read on to learn about 20 new apps that might be new to you–and we’ll also reveal the winner of the app smackdown. [Editor’s note: These apps are available on multiple platforms/devices. We’ve linked to one version of each app below, but a comprehensive chart with all platforms is available at the end of this story.]

Richard Colosi, Instructional Technology Specialist, Monroe #2 BOCES
1. Padlet (Catscan) lets users scan Post-It Notes and project them directly on screen or turn them into digital cards. Users can organize cards, change the order, and sort in different ways.
2. Gimkit was created by two high school students and offers quizzes that let students earn money and super skills. The more questions they answer correctly, the money money they earn and the more superpowers they can purchase to advance in the game.
3. We Video is a cloud-based app helping multiple users work on a video project across multiple devices. Users can record and sync, and changes go directly to the We Video cloud. Features include adding titles, animated backgrounds, and voiceover.
4. Metaverse gives users the ability to create a website featuring augmented reality experiences. Users create their own content and games on a web-based platform.

Monica Burns, Educator/Speaker and Creator of
1. Adobe Spark Video lets users create compelling video in just a few minutes. Once completed, they can share the file as a link or download it.
2. Storyline Online offers actors and actresses reading stories aloud to students. Animations are brought to life and an activity guide lets teachers open up extra resources for students. The site also features standards alignment and classroom activities.
3. New York Times VR: The Daily 360 connects videos and content to current events or big ideas and topics. It could be used as a classroom resource to help students relate better to ideas within lessons.
4. Adobe Spark Post replaces index cards with social sharing graphics. It gives students the ability to turn designs into animations or add photos and text to create collages.

Julie Garcia, Program Manager, San Diego Unified School District
1. Flipgrid gives teachers a look into students’ thought processes. Students record themselves in Flipgrid and teachers can “see” their step-by-step thinking and pinpoint where students might get confused or stuck on challenging concepts.
2. Tweet Generator lets students create “fake” Twitter handles and tweets that can be used for almost any class. Students can build Twitter handles for historical figures, famous authors, mathematicians, or philosophers, and from there, they can build a body of tweets to display their knowledge of the historical figure, who that person might be friends with, or what their reactions might be to events.
3. Classroom Screen is a tool to help teachers change languages or backgrounds, draw, add symbols or text, generate QR codes, and randomize students’ names.
4. Recap organizes recorded material into the flow of learning and lets users ask and answer questions with video responses.

Ann Kozma, Tech TOSA, Fullerton School District
1. Book Creator lets users create one book for free, but book creation is unlimited with the paid version. Students are more engaged when they can tell stories and personalize their own content. The tool features easy navigation with images, photos, audio, and drawing/notation.
2. Seesaw is a student-driven app that lets students create portfolios that are accessible in different ways.
3. Nearpod is a web-based tool with interactive lessons that educators can filter by subject, price, or state standards. Educators also can create their own lessons. Presentations are able to be shared via a code the educator sends.
4. Scratch Junior, an introductory programming language for younger students, includes preset activities offering step-by-step guides for teachers who aren’t sure how to teach coding.

Chris Penny, Professor, West Chester University
1. Tynker lets educators create a free teacher account that gives them access to the coding app, courses, PD, and more than 30 different activities.
2. Tayasui Sketches gives students a way to unlock creativity as they use realistic drawing tools for sketches, paintings, and illustrations.
3. Tinkercad, a free web-based tool, offers access to online 3D design and 3D printing. Students can learn how to design in 3D with small projects that offer step-by-step video tutorials. Teachers can give students challenges and then 3D print the results of students’ projects.
4. Galactic Explorer/Merge Cube literally lets students hold the galaxy in their hands. The app uses a Merge Cube–a small cube with QR codes, which educators can locate online–to project images and details of planets in the solar system. Students can turn and manipulate the cube as they analyze the images.

And the winner is…

Congratulations to Ann Kozma, voted winner of the App Smackdown by session attendees!

A list of every app and where to locate it is available here.

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