I cannot believe it has taken me this long to cover Showbie. We just discovered this app during a PD meeting a few weeks ago. I immediately instituted it in my classroom, trained the students how to use it, and have not looked back since. It allows for incredibly easy document distribution to students and paperless assignment collecting/grading for teachers. It is intuitive, easy, useful, and pretty much free to use.
This app is absolutely essential for any 1:1 iPad classroom at any and all grade levels. I feel like a total iPad amateur for having gone a whole year without utilizing this app before now.
Splash Math is a series of apps that helps elementary school students practice pretty much every math skill imaginable. It is basically a collection of quizzes/worksheets that are dressed up with fancy graphics and animations, but the kids love it! Not only that, but the apps have some excellent stat tracking and other educational features that make it perfect for use in a classroom as a reward for early finishers or as a station in a small-group classroom setting.
Let me walk you through the features, and then I will give you links to all possible versions of the app at the end of the post (they even have demo versions available).
Just a quick note about automatic updates in iOS 7. Students can turn automatic updates on by going to Settings –> iTunes & App Store and then scrolling down to Automatic Downloads on the right. Turn it on for Apps and they will download automatically from then on.
This works even if you have turned off the App Store using restrictions! This way, apps will update without the teacher having to turn off the restrictions every time!
It also saves you from having to reenter passwords so often.
Due to the recent iOS 7 update, now would be a good time to take another look at the native restriction settings available on every iPad. These restrictions can be used in conjunction with Meraki, but Meraki's settings take precedence. At our school, we try to inform parents about the options they have in restricting their children's iPads. We encourage them to utilize these native settings to increase the control over the iPads beyond the school's default settings.
Last Friday at school, one of the middle school students came by my room in a panic. She had left her iPad at home, but needed a Keynote presentation on the iPad for a group project that was due that day. She was afraid of letting down her groupmates and hurting their grades.
Thankfully, we were able to remotely access the file and transfer it to a friend's iPad using iCloud's web interface.
Let's talk about games. Educational games. Students love the idea that they get to “play games” on their iPads, and teachers love to subversively teach students important concepts in a fun way. The app store is filled with a great collection of educational games (many aimed at younger students), and our school is totally okay with students installing and utilizing them during free time, between classes, or after school.
Currently, two of the most popular are Stack the States ($0.99) and Stack the Countries ($1.99). The students love these games. A lot. Even kids as young as seven (2nd grade) are really, really into them.
My school has a 3TB “General Share” server that houses all our teachers' “My Documents”. The files can be accessed from any computer connected to the network, but not from the iPads. This has been one of our major roadblocks with iPad implementation in our school. Teachers don't want to use the iPad if they can't painlessly access their computer's documents!
We have tried many different solutions. We tried convincing our teachers to install personal Dropbox accounts, but many of our less tech-savvy had trouble keeping the account synced up. We added Google Apps integration into our website and management systems (giving all the teachers 15GB of Google Drive space), but we've hit the same roadblocks as with Dropbox.
Just last week, however, we stumbled on a promising new option: the WD MyCloud server (3TB = $179) with its free corresponding iPad app.