Apps Field Day & Coding Dinosaurs
In my series at Connect Learning Today, I explore a few things that I have seen, or heard that are pushing my thinking, getting me to see something in a different way, or just something I want to share. This week I’m sharing 3 things about apps that have me thinking.
I have been doing a lot of work lately investigating and helping teachers learn what authentic-based learning means. In a sense, it’s presenting real-world problems that have meaning to students, and are aligned to standards. One way I’ve been doing that in classrooms, for a while now, is Problem-Based Learning (PBL). Now, with the proliferation of mobile devices into classrooms, there could be a true renaissance in learning. There is no doubt that the mobile devices can help with PBL but often students are using many apps to organize and create content.
Have a Field Day!
This app is specifically designed with PBL in mind. It provides a space for kids to organize their ideas, enter data through a variety of sources (web, photos, etc.), as well as a summary for making presentations quick and easy. My favorite part is the Strategies section that helps students begin their thinking. It’s aligned to Blooms Taxonomy, too. Even better, the app is free so it makes it easy to get started in your classroom.
Coding: It seems like many of the conferences I got to lately have specific sessions or strands dedicated to teaching kids how to code. And that’s a good thing. Coding teaches so many crucial skills like critical thinking, math reasoning, artistic design and more. There is even a whole movement dedicated to kids coding. And again, with mobile devices becoming more and more prevalent in the classroom, coding is becoming easier to integrate into any curriculum.
CodeAcademy is one of my favorite apps. The app is simple, and teaches coding and HTML in a few basic steps. At the end, students will have a webpage that they built and coded from scratch.
Daisy The Dinosaur is for our littlest coders. Daisy is designed to show kids how different coding actions do different things. Creating strings of commands, kids can make Daisy the Dinosaur do all sorts of things.
Cargo-Bot is another app I can’t put down. It’s a game, but through the game you learn the effects programming has on potential outcomes. The goal is to follow the commands to do something with a crane. By putting together strings of commands you make the crane do things like pick up, move, toss, etc. Each level gets progressively more difficult, but you really get an understanding for the power of programming.
Where To Find Apps: There are some really great apps out there to learn all sorts of things, organize all sorts of things, or to just have fun. While the cream usually rises to the top, what about the hidden gems in the App Store? How do you find the good stuff, or weed out the bad?
Teachers With Apps: This site is one of my first stops when looking for apps. Organized by category it’s really easy to find reviews, information, and more on the apps teachers are using in their classrooms. The blog posts are great too, helping find collections to recommend to teachers.
TCEA iPad Apps: This doc is organized by content area and constantly updated with iPad apps. There are sections for administrators, special needs, and some things that are just plain fun, too.
Android4Schools: iPads aren’t the only devices out there. Many districts have Android devices. Richard Byrne of Free Technology For Teachers fame, created a site to highlight good Android apps to use in the classroom. There are great things there, too.
Balefire Labs: Makes it quick and easy to find the best apps for kids. They review them, using specific education and learning criteria. It may save you time seeking out the best, and weeding out the worst.
Steven Anderson is @Web20Classroom on Twitter. Steven is a teacher, an instructional technology integrator, speaker/presenter, and education leader. He will be a regular at Connect Learning Today.