Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Top 3 Ways to Find an App

Mario's Thoughts

The Top 3 Ways to Find an App

What is a good math app?

I constantly get this question or a similar question for another subject area. The question should not be What is a good.... but what is the goal of my lesson. Once you know your goal, now you can bring the tablet into the equation. Always keeping in Mind that the tablet is just a manipulative like building blocks (but more expensive and a lot cooler) than most manipulatives.  The tablet is not the teacher, but a tool to help consolidate, practice or check the learning of a concept.

Establish the goal:
Let's say your goal is to improve the understanding of one to one correspondence.

Before you start your search, create a basic criterion of what you would like the app to have. Some examples: tracks progress, creates charts, has a login, has no login, print feature, email option, fun,colourful, nice graphics etc.
Once you have a goal and some basic features you need in the app you can start your search.

1. Start off with a Google search. Type in what you are looking for and add "Top ten one to one correspondence app for …"

Once your list appears take a look at each app and then compare the features to the list of options you created. Start off with the free ones, download a couple of the free apps and try them. If they are still not what you are looking for try the paid apps. Be careful because once you purchase them, they are yours. You can also Google the paid app and see what people are saying about it before you purchase it.

2. Take a look at the app store for your tablet.

Type in your search and read the ratings and features. The ratings can be deceiving make sure you have at least 25+ individuals that rated the app. As above, start with the free ones download a few try them, make sure they meet your requirements if not look at the paid apps. Do further research on the paid apps before you purchase them.

3. Join an online forum (Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, etc.) for your grade or subject area. You can also contact other teachers in your district for suggestions.

This is a great way to network with other professionals that do what you do. When you contact your school resource people, many of them service a wide range of grades or subject areas so they can only give general recommendations. When you contact colleagues who are in a similar situation as you are in, you will get specific recommendations that have been tested. Remember word of mouth is a great way of collecting relevant information, especially from colleagues. 

I know this sounds like a daunting task and you don't have time to go through this process, just remember your school is full of tech experts that would love to do this for you. Who are they, you ask? Students in the older grades. This is a great example of real world problem solving and students love doing things like this. Once you tell them what you are looking for they can search and test for you.

Once you have gone through this process, consider creating a blog or use another tool to share the resources you found. I hope this may help reduce some of the anxiety around finding apps.

Mario Addesa

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