I’ve been trying out my latest toy with my students these past couple of weeks — the iPad2. I was split between that or an android-based tablet. My smartphone is an android and I like all the options (micro SD slots, no need for itunes, refundable apps, and most useful for me — integration with everything-google). But in the end, I went with Apple because of the app market.

So in class, students use the iPad2 in pairs. They have tried out apps related to math and English, and some games. For math and English, the students aren’t doing anything they wouldn’t already be doing on paper, but they seem really interested in it. During one math session, one of the students even pulled out some scrap paper to calculate her answer, just like she would have done with a paper-based activity. (Nice to see that she still treated it seriously even though there were sound effects!)

I haven’t tried as many English apps because my students are in a bit of a grey-area. Their reading levels are several grades behind, but some of the apps at those elementary levels look too childish. The students don’t mind playing spelling games, but it’s been tricky finding something that looks teen-appropriate, and is at the right level. I think I might need to focus more on apps that have text for reading…maybe a role-playing app, or some of the reference guides/magazines out there.

I’ve also had a few students try out some games, mostly ones that focus on visual-spatial skills. I was worried some would be too difficult, but so far, no student has smashed the tablet in frustration.

I’m curious to see if it’s just the novelty of a new gadget (and maybe the skills being presented as games) that’s keeping the students really interested, or if there’s more to it.
Here are some of the apps I’ve used so far with students:
(I’m keeping track of them on google docs, so I’ll share that soon.)

Math Apps
McGraw-Hill Everyday Mathematics: Baseball, Top-It, Name that Number, Tric-Trac
RazeWare Math Ninja
Montessori Hundred Board

English Apps
Dreamkind Inc:  Sproutster (spelling game, not too childish)
Dolch Sight Words (iphone app, audio flash cards)
Grasshopper Apps:  Little Speller Sight Words (scrambled letter tiles)
Ensena Soft:  Hangman
Chicktionary 300 (make words using the supplied letters — lots of clucking sounds)
WordRacer: (make words using the supplied letters — lots of car sounds)
McGraw-Hill: Bluster (prefixes, suffixes, rhyming words)
Grabarchuk Family: LetsTans  (tangrams)
Chillingo:  Cut the Rope (cut ropes at different points to get candy to a frog
Cloudgears:  Pictorial  (manipulate a tangled wire-frame to twist it into an image; wire-frame is presented like a constellation of stars)

SimpleMind+ (I tried this out with a student who made a flow chart of the teams the Canucks have played so far and it was pretty easy to pick-up)

Up Next to Try Out on Students
Brain Tuner (as a math warm-up)
SymShuffle (visual spatial puzzle pictures)
Number Line Wizard
Stickery (spelling ‘sticker’ book, mermaids)
Peterson Feeder Birds of North America (for reading together, audio, pictures, maps, facts)
Surviving High School (for reading…an illustrated story)

Timbuktu (magazine for kids)