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APPlications: One Jr. High School’s Tools

On Wednesday, we heard from Elisabeth LeBris, the Director of Technology Services in District 38 in Kenilworth, Illinois, about the apps employed by her K-6th grade students. Today Lindsay Cesari, a librarian at the Durgee Junior High Library & Learning Commons in upstate New York, shares information about her school and the free and low-cost production tools utilized by her 7th and 8th graders.

Lindsay reports:

“Located outside of Syracuse, NY, our suburban junior high is home to 900 eighth and ninth grade students. The library manages a classroom set of iPads and iPods, and in collaboration with classroom teachers, integrates technology into instructional practices.

When selecting apps, our money is best spent on products that can be used in a variety of curricular areas at different grade levels. Typically, the tools that best fit this category are those that allow students to create—movies, animations, pictures, etc. Lately, we’ve used ExplainEverything ($2.99) for the iPad. With this app students can produce narrated slideshows, recording both their voices and their actions, such as drawing or moving objects on the screen. Ninth grade global studies classes used it to create illustrated definitions of Islamic terms for a sixth grade social studies class.

Another favorite creation app is PuppetPals (free), available on both the iPad and iPod. The app allows viewers to select from a collection of characters and backdrops, or add elements from their own photos. Once the characters are assembled onstage, students can hit record, and by adding voices and manipulating the actors (puppets), tell a layered story that includes scene and character changes. Eighth grade American History students used this tool to interview famous Muckrakers.

Doodle Buddy (free) is a versatile app, available for both the iPad and iPod. It’s a drawing program loaded with options. Teachers use it for summative assessments during class, asking students to respond to a prompt with pictures or words, and then hold their iPads up to share their responses. Teachers can also load images from the camera roll into the program, allowing students to annotate a diagram or identify key elements of a photo with markers, stickers, and crayons.

We’ve also started transitioning formal research projects onto the iPad. With Index Card ($4.99) students can type notes and organize their information into logical piles. As an alternative to traditional papers, they have created eBooks using the iPad app Book Creator ($4.99). Student-produced eBooks on teen issues are now available for the whole school on the library iPads.”