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Tagged With: apps

Read Across America Day

stone-figure-10542_640Many people in the United States, particularly students, parents and teachers, join forces on Read Across America Day, annually held on March 2. This nationwide observance coincides with the birthday of Dr Seuss.

Here are some great reading websites for students K-5:

  1. Aesop Fables—no ads
  2. Aesop’s Fables
  3. Audio stories
  4. Childhood Stories
  5. Classic Fairy Tales
  6. Edutainment games and stories
  7. Fables—Aesop—nicely done
  8. Fairy Tales and Fables
  9. Interactive storybook collection
  10. Listen/read–Free non-fic audio books
  11. Magic Keys–stories for youngers
  12. Mighty Book
  13. Open Library
  14. PBS Stories–Between the Lions
  15. RAZ Kids–wide variety of reading levels, age groups, with teacher dashboards
  16. Signed stories
  17. Starfall
  18. Stories read by actors
  19. Stories to read
  20. Stories to read for youngsters
  21. Stories to read from PBS kids
  22. Stories to read–II
  23. Stories to read—International Library
  24. Stories—MeeGenius—read/to me
  25. Stories—non-text
  26. Story Scramble
  27. Story time–visual
  28. Storytime for me
  29. Teach your monster to read (free)
  30. Tumblebooks (fee)
  31. Ziggity Zoom Stories


Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, Holidays, Reading, Websites | Tags: , | Leave a comment

3 Classroom Management Apps You’ll Love

colorful silhouette hands background designYou became a teacher to inspire the next generation, to guide students toward their future with patience and wisdom, to be able to go home at the end of the day having accomplished something important. You figured a typical day would include predominantly teaching with the addition of planning lessons, remediating those who were struggling, and differentiating for those who needed a different approach. You’d happily miss lunch to help a child or a colleague.

What you didn’t realize was how much of your time would be spent managing the classroom. That includes tasks like arranging seats, quieting the noisy and energizing the shy, fairly and objectively choosing teams and partners, insuring resources are equally available, filing papers, making time to catch up students who missed a quiz or got sick during it or just couldn’t get to school that day.  It didn’t take long to realize these tasks are just as important as how you teach, your depth of knowledge on a subject, your ability to unveil information in multiple ways, and how you scaffold and spiral. At the end of the day, these as a group are a barometer of your ‘teacher effectiveness’. In fact, how well you manage your class decides whether students trust you enough to listen to what you teach.


Categories: Classroom management | Tags: , | 7 Comments

50 Special Needs Tools

rainbow-84829_640So much available to differentiate for every student’s special need. Here are 50 apps and websites:


  1. Chrome apps--download to the Chrome browser to assist with special needs students
  3. Disabilities—Google
  4. Disabilities—Google
  5. Disabilities—Macs
  6. Disabilities—Microsoft


  1. Autism browser—Zac Browser



Categories: Websites | Tags: , | 2 Comments

252 Favorite IPad Apps for your Classroom

ipad-3-schoolApp use is taking over classrooms, but what as teachers really want are authentic, educational apps that promote higher order skills like critical thinking and problem solving.

Here’s my list, culled from my students and my PLN. Bookmark this page  because this is where I update throughout the year. Then, you’ll always be current (for example, it used to have just 107 apps).

If you have an app you use in your classroom, please add it to comments at the bottom. I’ll update as soon as possible.

If you’re the developer of a great educational app, please contact me. I’ll review it. If it meets Ask a Tech Teacher standards (high quality, ease of use, no/low advertising, quality educational value), I’ll list it. More details here.


  • Puppet Pals HD (free)–Create your own unique shows with animation and audio in real time
  • Toontastic–empowers kids to draw, animate, and share their cartoons through imaginative play.



Bloom’s Taxonomy    


  • Lino–share notes and photos

Classroom Management

Classroom Resources


Categories: Classroom management | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

5 Apps to Help You Reach Your Zen

Teachers work hard. We start before students arrive at school, spend hours after school tutoring, in faculty meetings, and chatting with parents, and evenings are spent grading papers after kids are put to bed. We juggle computers, calculators, laptops, Chromebooks, Smartscreens, erreaders, and IPads to entice students to learn whatever standards and curriculum requires.

Every once in a while, we need a mental health break. That’s when we pull out a few apps that put the Zen back into life. Here are five of my favorites. They’re great to shake up the day, add a little pizzazz to the routine for an hour or so:



Categories: Health, Teacher resources | Tags: , | 3 Comments

3 Apps that Boost Creativity

There are so many apps out there, I can’t keep up–and I’m supposed to. I’m the tech teacher. I used to download every app that looked fun, exciting, useful, try it out, be amazed by it, and then like a squirrel, dart to the next shiny object. I rarely got back to that one that so magnificently filled my attention for all of ten minutes. People in my PLN–teachers I respect and admire–have favorites that they swear by, which means I must try them. And I do, often love them and am sure I’ll use them the next time I have need of… a virtual Swiss Army Knife or an e-dressing room to try on clothes. But I don’t. Usually, it’s because there are ten that are Just Perfect for whatever I want to do, or I can’t find  the one I loved just a week ago. If I could remember the name, I could search for it, but at times my brain is as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Truth, there are so many apps on my IPad, I’m throwing out those I haven’t used in a year, have forgotten about, and/or can’t figure out. What’s left, I’ll use before I download more, no matter how exciting the new widget sounds.

And I found some amazing apps–about twenty that have me gobsmacked. I’ll start with three I can’t believe I never used:


This is my current favorite note-taking app. Consider this scenario. You’re at a meeting, taking notes. Typing away. The speaker draws something on the whiteboard–you fumble to record it on your IPad. Or s/he’s referring to a picture that’s in your camera roll, but how do you bring it up and add his thoughts? You know there’s a way, but what app was it and how do you integrate it with the note-taking app? Then–horror–he’s talking too fast to keep up. If only you could just tape him and listen without struggling to write every word.

You need Notability. See the image to the right? That’s how you use this powerful, inexpensive app:

  • take notes by tapping the screen. Wherever you tap is where you type. No waiting for a cursor or working from top down. In this case, I type right next to the image.
  • quickly change from typing to drawing by accessing the short, ever-present toolbar at the top of the screen (hard to see in the drawing, but it starts with a ‘t’). Drawing defaults to what would normally be a pencil, just like you’d want if you were handwriting notes and needed to copy a picture from a screen. Width and color is easily changed with another tap.
  • open an image or PDF from your Google Drive, DropBox or another location and write directly on it–or just take a picture of the speaker’s work and insert it into your notes.
  • give up note-taking and tape the presentation with the microphone tool at the top of the screen. One click and you’re recording. Another click and you’re back to typing.

From its dashboard, you can easily find and access notes, edit, revise and share with anyone. I have used Evernote faithfully and will still use it for collecting websites, data, images, and more. But for quick notes–what you might take on a yellow lined tablet (that has access to image downloads and audio taping)–I now use Notability and then share with Evernote.

(BTW: If you’re looking for a simple image annotation tool, Notability is great. Open the picture and write all over it, wherever you want.)


The idea of being able to annotate pictures is powerful. Many images speak for themselves, but others require enhancement–something to make the idea clearer or communicate a unique perspective. If you couldn’t see the puppy’s thought bubble in the picture to the right, you’d never know how happy he was (though the flopping chaotic ears give it away).

Thinglink is quickly taking over the market for annotating images. Besides thought bubbles, you can add hotlinks that when hovered over, become words, emoticons, weblinks, document links, tags, and more. You can even include music, videos, and other pictures. This is perfect in the classroom. One seminal picture can be linked to relevant information that covers an entire topic with just a few clicks.

Once a Thinglink is completed, it can be shared, commented on, even embedded into personal blogs and websites.

And education accounts are free.


Categories: Computer skills, Reviews | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Apps and IPads as Education Tools

ipad appsI was having a discussion with my PLN about IPads in the classroom–how teachers are using the apps–and I got this comment from David Kinane over at Dakinane . He has some great ideas for moving iPads from babysitters and static practice to interactive tools for formative assessment, sharing, and publishing.

I do have a range of techniques that enable the least promising of apps to release their information. I do this by using the best features of one app and then ‘layerng’ the output. By this I mean taking the content from one app and then putting that information into another app so that the students can then share their learning. I have presented on this often with the schools that I work for, but you can see a blog post I have written about it—elearnings-panacea-00201.html

To answer your question I would use the following example: An app like WordsPyramid, which has good” word level” literacy work in it for students, but produces absolutely no usable information for teachers. When the students close the app, their work is gone! I teach the students to screen capture each of their efforts and then load these images into Skitch to annotate what they had done, or Fotobabble to notate and record what they have done or Educreations to annotate, collate and record what the group had done. By passing information in this way from one app to another, the students have been enabled to publish their WordsPyramid work to the Internet using apps like Fotobabble or Educreations. I have several videos on these apps on my blog just look for ‘App of the Week’ if you are interested.


Categories: Classroom management, Education reform | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Dear Otto: Are there any Good Keyboarding Apps?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Kathy in South Africa:

I have been searching for an app that will help students learn basic keyboarding or even practice learning where the keys are located on the keyboard. So far, I have had no luck in finding such an app.

In the past, I haven’t been a fan of practicing keyboarding on an iPad. How can we develop speed without the bumps on f and j, the feel of separate keys. Recently, I read research (which I wish I had bookmarked–it was one teacher’s classroom experiment) showing that students type as fast on the iPad as a traditional keyboard. That has me rethinking what I thought I knew.

This is my long way of apologizing for not having firsthand experience with iPad keyboarding apps. Here’s a list from efriends in my PLN:


Categories: Dear Otto, Keyboarding | Tags: , | 3 Comments

App Building–for Teachers!

tangrem chessApp building is hot right now. Not only are entrepreneurs picking it as their business-of-choice, but schools are using it to entice students into IT classes. Build an app! Easy!

Well, I’ve never done that, so when Justin Holladay over at Teacher Created Apps reached out to me and suggested he could write this article, I was interested. I looked at an app he created called Tangram Chess It’s a game that combines two of the most ancient games in the world – Chess & Tangram. By combining both, “Tangram Chess” becomes one of the most interesting and challenging games that you can enjoy for hours at a time. Every game of Tangram Chess has its own story. Some are long-drawn out strategic affairs; others, quick but complicated tactical battles. The winner is the player who can out-think his or her opponent, and make the best plans for attack and defense. The aim of the game is to move pieces across the gameboard and reassemble your tangram in the opposing teams square “home base” on the other side using translations (slides), rotations (turns) and reflections (flips).

This is just the kind of app I like–original, makes students think, and the chess connection is always a plus. I asked Justin to share his experiences on how he builds apps while carrying on a teaching career. Here’s his story:


Categories: Teacher resources | Tags: | Leave a comment

Ramp up Your iPad Use

Too often, iPads end up like a babysitter–students love them, can get lost in their fun, but forget inquiry. My efriend, David over at, and I got in a long conversation about that. Turns out, he’s put a lot of thought to that very question and has some innovative solutions. He wrote a wonderful article addressing those concerns and how to fix them, with a video that shows more details. Here’s the gyst of it, as well as a link back to the original:

Layering Apps on an iPad

I have just written an article for Interface Magazine about how to best use an iPad in the classroom. I wrote the article in response to my own observations about how iPads are being used and also in response to a blog post written by Tom Whitby, who did the Emporer’s New Clothes task of stating that a worksheet is still a worksheet, even when it is on an iPad. This echoes my own observations with teachers who use an iPad in their classroom. They tend to use this high tech device to deliver low level learning. The trouble is to the casual observer, it looks great to see engaged students working enthusiastically on their shiny new iPads in a classroom, but what learning is happening? I have also been part of a conversation with Jacqui Murray who was sharing her thoughts on the best apps for a classroom. I shared my thoughts on formative assessment and publishing, points which she agreed on.

When I work with teachers who are using iPads in their classroom, I get them to audit their apps and to ask so what? questions of the apps. I need for them to know the learning and formative assessment potential of each of their apps. If the apps is unjustified busy work, it is scrapped. I then introduce this concept I have developed called layering, where the best features of one app are used to create content that can be enhanced in another app. I get the teachers to base the learning intention outputs around the workflow of several apps.

You can see what I mean in the video below. If you are struggling to get the best out of your iPad or are having trouble creating a sustainable blended elearning environment in your school, please contact me for a free initial consultation meeting.

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, presentation reviewer for CSTA, Cisco guest blogger, a monthly contributor to TeachHUB, columnist for, featured blogger for Technology in Education, and IMS tech expert. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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Categories: Teacher resources | Tags: , | Leave a comment