What makes a “good” educational app?
According to 148apps.biz, there are currently 560,990 apps available for download, with the top five being Games, Books, Entertainment, Education and Lifestyle. The Education category ranks fourth with over 53,00 apps. Where does an educator begin looking -- and what are you looking for? It would be great if app reviews included some basic criteria to make the search a bit easier for those of us who are searching.
We need to be able to validate to our schools why they should buy an app. Data tracking can be done in a variety of formats, but in an ideal world the data should show the student’s name, his or her progress, accuracy and-- the icing on the cake-- an email that goes home to the parent. Special Education teachers who use Work Samples as their method for collecting data or recorded observations need to be fastidious about keeping this information together. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to show a student’s work on his or her own iPad?
Elementary School Apps/ELA
ABC Pocket Phonics (opens in new tab) $2.99 Lite Version- Free (first six letter sounds) Ages 3-6
Geared to teach letter sounds, handwriting and first words. The app follows Synthetic Phonics, which uses the concept of synthesising. Simply put, the sounds prompted by the letters are synthesised to pronounce the word. PocketPhonics keeps track of a player’s score and will not let a player advance without mastery.
iWriteWords (opens in new tab) $2.99 Lite version available
Customize the app with voice, encouragement, letter, number and word navigation, and the ability to save progress.
Prepositionbuilder (opens in new tab) $9.99 Ages 5-10
Includes 9 preposition modules including the 28 most common prepositions. During play, the student is presented an image and must drag a preposition to complete a sentence about the image. If the student chooses the wrong answer, the image and sentence change to show the student the proper use of the preposition they chose and how it changes the image. Once a student completes a module, they unlock a short animation that is part of a larger story. They must complete all the modules to see the entire story. Includes a record feature and the ability to track student progress.
Preposition Remix (opens in new tab) $9.99.
For tracking student progress, add $5.99. This app helps students with positions in space from above, behind, below, to on, in, next to, under and more.
Teach Me (opens in new tab) $.99
Designed for the iPhone and iPad. Included are sight words, addition, subtraction and spelling. Parents can select which subjects they want, set different difficulty levels, and even choose specific questions. Sight Words: Dolch (Pre-K), Dolch (K), Addition: up to a total of 10, Subtraction: from 10 down, Spelling: complete words by choosing the first letter. Parents can review performance history for each subject.
Pattern Recognition (opens in new tab) $.99
Each app that is part of this pattern recognition series comes with unique pattern sequences that are suitable for appropriate age groups and grade level. This game is appropriate for ages 3 and 4. This is a fun app to help children build logical thinking and accelerate their brain development. Track student progress by setting difficulty and number of questions from 10-50.
iLiveSpelling-Mammals (opens in new tab) $4.99 Grades K-2
Includes 100 sight words from Fry's first 100 and Dolch's Primary words combined, which is suitable for K-2. Tracks student progress.
Sentence Builder (opens in new tab) $5.99 Ages- 6-10
This app helps students learn how to build grammatically correct sentences. Three levels of play, encouragement animations statistics to track student progress.
Question Builder (opens in new tab) $5.99 Ages 6-10
Abstract questions working on Wh questions. Three levels of abstraction. 1200 audio clips of questions and answers. Statistics to track student progress.
Teach Me 1st Grade (opens in new tab) $.99
Designed for the iPhone and iPad. Includes four subjects appropriate to first grade children: sight words, addition, subtraction and spelling. Students can hand write their answers, allowing them to increase their writing skills. Sight Words: Dolch First Grade Addition: up to a total of 20 with additional advanced questions, Subtraction: from 20 down with additional advanced questions, Spelling: 170+ 1st grade level words. Keeps track of child’s progress.
Basic Sequencing (opens in new tab) $.99 Ages 6-8
Put pictures, alphabets, numbers, in a sequence ? This app with its multiple levels is like a workbook to exercise little minds. New levels are revealed only after completing prior levels. This app consists of 5 categories from ascending and descending orders.
Analogies (opens in new tab) $.99 Ages 6-9
Choice of pictures or words, level of difficulty and number of questions.
Reading Pal (opens in new tab) $.99
Customize your own spelling tests- good for grades 1-6. Incorporates spelling words and reading words to help reinforce spelling words. Type and record your spelling words. Test grades are recorded.
iLiveGrammar-Winter (opens in new tab)- $4.99 Ages 6-10
Can also purchase Botany or Autumn depending what theme your child likes. Four lessons: Nouns and Verbs, Adjectives and Adverbs, Prepositions, Conjunctions and Nouns and a review. Videos of each theme are used as a reinforcer. Tracks student progress.
Vicki Windman is a special education teacher at Clarkstown High School South.