Best Apps for Teaching & Learning 2014

The apps recognized as Best Apps for Teaching & Learning are of exceptional value to inquiry-based teaching and learning as embodied in the AASL's Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. The apps foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration and are user friendly to encourage a community of learners to explore and discover.  

Books

A Day in the Market by Adarna House, Inc.

Level: Early elementary (K-2)
Platform: iOS & Android

Website 

Adarna House’s interactive, multi-cultural story, A Day in the Market, is a delightful story of a girl who goes to the market with her mother. Readers help the young girl get dressed, ride the bus with her Nanay, help shop, sort food, and experience daily life in a Filipino market. The app provides the story in both English and Filipino with text-only options or voice-overs.  

Tip: Introduce this multi-cultural picture book app to foreign language students learning the Filipino language. A Day in the Market is free on Android devices and has a minimal cost on iOS devices. 

Audubon Guides: Butterflies by Green Mountain Digital

Level: Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS & Android

Website 

Audubon Butterflies is a field guide that is easy to use and explore butterflies at an in-depth level. The photo quality is outstanding and the NatureShare provides the opportunity for nature lovers to post their sightings of butterflies for everyone to learn where and when they might see local butterflies.

Tip: This app will interest a wide range of users, from 3rd graders exploring local butterflies and the butterfly life cycle, to high school students tracking rare and common species and learning about species classification.

Brian Cox's Wonder of Life by Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.

Level: Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS

Website 

Brian Cox's Wonders of Life takes you around the world on a journey about life.  It has 3D effects that you can move throughout the world and select information on a variety of topics from the monarch butterfly to the vision in the eye and so much more.  Move over David Attenborough there is a new naturalist in town and his name is Brian Cox.  He will appeal to young students and he presents the information in a way that makes you just sit and watch.  You become mesmerized.

Tip: Crisp outstanding narration combined with video and text that will attract and hold the attention of students. The book contains science, math, and social studies making it great for gaining knowledge in a broad scope of topics.

Disney Animated by Touch Press

Level: Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS

Website 

This richly layered multimedia book app takes readers behind the scenes to see all the different aspects that go into creating animated feature films. It's fascinating peeling back the layers of classically animated and computer generated (CG) films and watching how a scene develops from the initial story sketch, to rough drawings or computer models, to final colored animation.

Tip: This detailed nonfiction book can be read at many levels by students who are interested in the animation and screenwriting process.

War Horse Interactive Edition by Touch Press

Level: Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS

Website 

War Horse is a unique book app. The story is read by the author Micahel Morpurgo in a live theater presentation to a group of children. Morpurgo is a natural storyteller and it works in this setting. As he reads the story you can follow the text as it is highlighted. The ancillary materials include 34 interviews by experts. It also includes over 20 objects in 3D as well as music, images, and timeline.

Tip: Classroom history and English teachers (grades 6-12) will be fascinated by the way this app integrates many disciplines, helping students develop a deeper understanding of the historical context of this novel.

STEM

DragonBox Algebra 5+ by WeWantToKnow AS

Level: Early elementary (K-2), Upper elementary (3-5)
Platform: iOS

Website 

Players learn how to solve equations in a playful and colorful game environment where they are encouraged to experiment and be creative. By manipulating cards and trying to isolate the DragonBox on one side of the game board, the player gradually learns the operations required to isolate X on one side of an equation. Little by little, the cards are replaced with numbers and variables, revealing the addition, division and multiplication operators the player has been learning throughout the game.

Tip: Use to help students understand one and two step linear equations.

Kodable Pro by SurfScore

Level: Early elementary (K-2)
Platform: iOS

Website 

The fuzzFamily crashed their spaceship on Smeeborg and need your help to explore the planet's Technomazes. Use your finger to drag and drop instructions for your fuzzes to follow. Then hit Play to watch them roll through the maze with curiosity. BEWARE: Fuzzes are very LOGICAL and will follow every command exactly as you tell them! Get rewarded with stars, coins, and even EXTRA members of the fuzzFamily as you successfully complete mazes.

Tip: Use step by step sequencing to help young students master programming logic.

Monster Physics by Freecloud Design, Inc.

Level: Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS

Website 

Monster Physics™ is a unique building app that lets you play with physics. Build intricate, working contraptions with over 68 different parts including wheels, rockets, propellers, cannons, magnets, claws, wings and more. Players learn physics "hands on" through solving missions and building and refining their own inventions. In addition, a separate learn section introduces players to basic physics concepts such as friction, force, mass, acceleration and more.

Tip: Use Monster Physics to explain basic physics concepts such as mass, force, friction, acceleration, etc.

NOVA Elements by PBS

Level: Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS

Website 

Users explore an interactive periodic table, build the elements, play a game, and/or watch the NOVA program, "Hunting the Elements." Find out why the periodic table is shaped the way it is and what gives each element its own unique set of properties.

Tip: Students can use the touch screen features to build their own models of atoms and molecules. An auto-build mode is available, but if students are up for a challenge they can construct atoms themselves. Watch out, though – if you make a mistake the atom will explode!

Water Cycle HD by Sprout Labs

Level: Early elementary (K-2), Upper elementary (3-5)
Platform: iOS

Website 

This visual game is a fun way to test students' knowledge about the water cycle. Photos and videos describe the various stages of the water cycle and its impact to life on Earth. The Did You Know section has "WOW" facts related to each stage. The Read To Me button turns on text narration and the content correlates to Common Core Science Standards.

Tip: The read aloud feature and graphics allow all elementary students to grasp the concept of the water cycle at an early age.

Organization & Management

Easy Portfolio by The PE Geek Apps

Level: Early elementary (K-2), Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS & Android

Website 

Capture learning in a e-portfolio using Easy Portfolio. A variety of artifacts including videos, pictures, audio files, links to external sites, and documents can be saved to a student's portfolio.

Tip: Students can save examples of their work in order to participate in student-led conferences.

GoodReader by Good.iWare Ltd.

Level: Early elementary (K-2), Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS

Website 

GoodReader is an iPad app that handles content from a variety of sources and enables users to download, read, manage, organize, access, and annotate just about any file they have stored — locally or on the web.

Tip: Students can produce documents in a variety of formats such as: Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, PDF files, iWork documents, movies… and so on – the Good reader app can help you open them all and provide you the tools to annotate, such as highlighting text, adding bookmarks, and adding notes/drawings on the page or as stickies.

instaGrok by instaGrok, Inc.

Level: Early elementary (K-2), Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS & Android

Website 

instaGrok is an education search engine. Results are displayed on an interactive content map which includes images, videos, and text resources. Students have a journal they can use to take notes and they can pin resources to their own Grok.

Tip: instaGrok narrows searching down to a more manageable process for students as they are learning the process. It also provides a place for them to store relevant information and ideas.

Pocket by Read It Later, Inc.

Level: Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS & Android

Website 

Pocket allows users to save items they wish to read later. It is integrated into apps like Twitter, Zite, and Flipboard so items can be saved from the user's favorite apps to read later.

Tip: Students can collect articles on a topic as they research in order to easily document them in a bibliography later.

Subtext by Renaissance Learning

Level: Early elementary (K-2), Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS & Web-based

Website 

Subtext  is a web-based eReading program for K12 schools. Subtext supports teachers in their Common Core instruction and helps students move closer to college and career readiness by encouraging them to analyze what they read, articulate what they think, and make connections between texts and the outside world. 

Tip: Teachers can assign an article to students and include the critical thinking questions directly in the passage so students will be able to connect the ideas as they read.

Social Sciences

Civil War by KIDS DISCOVER by KIDS DISCOVER

Level: Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8)
Platform: iOS

Website 

Kids Discover offers this app for upper elementary through high school students to explore and interact with the different facets of the Civil War.  

Tip: The visuals of this app allow students to meet key figures, visit battlefields, and read nonfiction passages explaining the background information about the war. 

Duolingo by Duolingo

Level: Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS

Website 

This free app allows upper elementary through high school students a different, more interactive, and engaging way to learn another language. It starts with the basics and tests hearing, memory and speaking skills. 

Tip: Use with geography lessons to get students interested in learning different languages in ever expanding world.

Historypin by We Are What We Do

Level: Early elementary (K-2), Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS & Android

Website 

Historypin is a free app that allows users to take a snapshot on a smartphone and quickly pin it on the map to capture a modern event. Users can capture modern moments in history, compare and contrast these images to the past, and learn about the geographic area they are in. Historypin provides contextual clues and background information accessible through a world map and time lines. 

Tip: Have students take a photo of an location that interests them and use the app to start a research project into the history of the area.

Umano by SoThree, Inc.

Level: Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS

Website 

With this app, middle and high school students have the opportunity to access the latest news sources on their mobile device from around the Web. Actors in a variety of languages narrate the contemporary news stories and users have the ability to change the speed of narration. The full text is also available for listeners to read along.  

Tip: Umano is a great tool to use to motivate readers and expose students to contemporary articles from leading news sources. There are also social media tools built in allowing readers to share stories they have listened to, comment, and read reviews and opinions.  

US Geography by Discovery Education by Phunware, Inc.

Level: Early elementary (K-2), Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS

Website 

Students K-12 can use this app to explore and learn US Geography. The multimedia content covers the seven US regions and different categories such as culture, major cities and news stories connected to the regions. 

Tip: All grade levels can use this app to explore US Geography.

Content Creation

Notability by Ginger Labs

Level: Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS

Website 

Notability is a robust app that allows users to take write, draw, annotate PDFs and record their voices.

Tip: Students can use this app to take notes and to add annotate documents in social studies, science and language arts classes. Teachers can record students reading passages to document fluency and expression. Students might also create portfolios of their work throughout the year.

Photo Editor by Aviary by Aviary

Level: Early elementary (K-2), Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS & Android

Website 

Aviary is a fun and simple way to make beautiful photos in seconds. Use professionally designed filters, creative stickers and frames, touch-up tools and more to create and share amazing photos!

Tip: Students can quickly and easily edit and enhance photos, add text and captions, and get creative with stickers and frames. A simple and easy introduction to photo editing.

RWT Timeline by International Reading Association

Level: Early elementary (K-2), Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS & Android

Website 

RWT Timeline allows users to create "graphical representations" by adding photos and text. Users may organize the timeline by date, time or event. The app is easy to navigate and does not require and account or login making this an app that spans the K-12 grade range.

Tip: This app has a lot of potential in social studies and science classes. Students may create their own timelines from history or use the app to share results from a science experiment or step-by-step instructions.

Shadow Puppet by Shadow Puppet, Inc.

Level: Early elementary (K-2), Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS

Website 

Shadow Puppet allows users to create presentations by uploading photos and recording their voices. Presentations may be saved to the photo stream or shared via email. Users do not need accounts to use this app making it appealing to elementary classes.

Tip: Students can use this app to share knowledge from research project or for storytelling. Teachers can create presentations as a way of teaching or reviewing a concept.

Tellagami by Tellagami Labs, Inc.

Level: Early elementary (K-2), Upper elementary (3-5), Middle school (6-8), High school (9-12)
Platform: iOS & Android

Website 

Tellagami is a mobile app that lets you create and share a quick animated video called a Gami. To create a Gami, customize your character and background, then record or type a message for your character to say.

Tip: Students can customize their own avatar, upload images for backgrounds, and record their own voice to create their Gami. No account or login information required.

2013