I’m piloting the use of the iPod Touch for English Language Learners (ELLs), so most of the following apps apply to improving reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. There are lots of great apps that pertain to other subject areas, and there are a lot of great apps that are not free or contain ads (annoying). Each of the links will take you to the iTunes Preview page for that app. Enjoy!
Best Free Reference Apps for Students:
WordWeb (Dictionary) – Free, no ads, allows you to save words to “favorites” This dictionary doesn’t have some of the features that you get with some of the free apps with ads or apps you pay for (i.e. audio, images or translation).
Wikipedia – the largest online encyclopedia
Translate (Google) – I love the voice translation feature!
College Search (ACT) – No matter what age your students are, it’s important to begin learning about college. This app has lots of information about every major college in the United States.
EBSCOhost is an enormous database of articles for research. This app is probably most useful for grades 10 and up.
Best Free Apps for Student Creation:
Toontastic is a fun animation app that teaches students various parts of a story’s plot. SparkleFish can be described as audio MadLibs where you record your voice saying the parts of speech. When you finish, you can listen to the hilarious story. The feature where you touch the part of speech for a list of more suggestions is great for building vocabulary. This is a fun, educational app!
VidRhythm is a fun way to create music videos in a few simple steps. This was that 2011 App of the Year Runner-Up in the app store. You’ve gotta check it out!
Animoto Videolicious These are two nice video creation apps that require accounts to be created. Animoto has an option that gives educators free access. This might be not be optimal for you if your students don’t have email addresses.
Best Free Content Apps:
With Tour Wrist, you can travel the globe by viewing amazing 360 degree panoramic photos. This app could be used with classes to explore different climates, or cultures. It might also be a great way for students to generate creative writing ideas.
Pulse (News) is a customizable news app. Instead of having apps for all the different news organizations, you can have them all in the same place and get the genres that are pertinent to you.
BrainPOP – awesome flash videos for kids with a variety of educational topics and a quiz at the end (a new movie every day). This app is also available in Spanish and British English! (See my BrainPOP blog post for more info)
iTunes U – access a large number of free high school or college level courses. The TED courses are some of my favorites (The Ted Talk app is also listed below).
Grammar Jammers (Primary Edition) has fun grammar songs and activities. You can purchase the elementary or middle school editions.
Big City, Small World– English language learning app created by the British Council with audio stories and comics with the purpose of teaching the English language. (Some of the phrases used may not be relevant to your students if you are teaching American English.)
Duolingo is an awesome language learning app (Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese)
Best LMS / Social Learning Platforms
Collaborize Classroom is another platform where student can collaborate and respond to teachers’ questions (free for iPod/iPhone, $0.99 for iPad)
Best Free Quiz Apps
Socrative Student Clicker – This is a must-have learner response system app. Teachers can set up quizzes, exit tickets, and discussions. Student responses and results can be viewed in real time and that data can be saved. Go to Socrative.com to setup a free account. Note: Socrative works with computers, laptops, and other mobile devices (get the teacher app below).
Mental Case (classroom edition) – this is a note taking, flashcard making app. It is better than most flashcard apps because photos and audio can be added to notes. Most of the free apps are text only. Mental Case is compatible with FlashcardExchange.com and Quizlet.com, so you can download flashcards from their databases for free. These sites charge subscription fees use image and audio files, but with Mental Case you to add pictures using your iTunes photos and record with your device.
Interactive books for beginning readers:
MeeGenius! is a bookshelf that offers some free books.
I also like this version of Jack and the Beanstalk.
Bookshelf apps for all ages:
Stanza – this app gives you access to lots of free books through several sources, such as the Gutenberg Project and Feedbooks without needing an account (Kindle, Nook, Google books, and others require you to log into an account to access books).
Subtext allows students to share notes and thoughts as they read. Quizzes and assignments can be added to books and documents. This is a great app for sharing insight, book studies, group research projects, and more. It is also available as an Edmodo app.
ClassDojo is a realtime behavior management tracking tool. This app makes it easy to track positive and negative student behaviors, random select students, and more! (See my blog post here to learn more about ClassDojo, you can also see me demo the iPad app here)
Socrative Teacher Clicker – This free app, although not necessary in order to use the student clicker app, might be useful if you want to view student results on your mobile device. I use my computer and projection unit to project student responses on the screen at the front of my classroom. See my post on Socrative here.
The Common Core Standards app makes it easy to search math and language arts standards for each grade level.
Evernote is one of the best note taking apps available. Teachers can set up shared notebooks to enable students to share assignments with you, given that students have accounts. Using Evernote with your students may not be a good option for you if your students don’t have email addresses.
Remind101 allows teachers to send text message reminders and notifications to parents and students without having to share phone numbers. It is also a Schoology app.
Google Search – Access your Google docs, calendar, translate, YouTube or any other Goolge account by tapping the “Apps” button at the bottom of the Google home page.
Dropbox – If you use Dropbox to store your files in the cloud, you’ll probably want the app.
eduTecher Backpack will give you plenty of great links and tutorials on educational tech tools to try out in the classroom.
Seth Godin’s blog – Seth Godin is the author of over a dozen books including: Poke the Box, Linchpin, Purple Cow and Tribes. (You can see his TED Talks on that app). He is an insightful and inspirational writer, who is continually challenging the staus quo.
Which ones are your favorites? Do you use any other excellent free educational apps without ads? Are there any “must have” apps that are worth paying for?