Tips 2012 Professional Learning #20:Which app is right for you?

When selecting apps my rule is “less is more”…In my experience it is better to have a few carefully selected apps that you can use in multiple ways than an app for every topic.

For many teachers at the start of a semester or the beginning of  a new school year you will be deciding which apps you will be using in your teaching. Selecting the right apps can be a challenge when there are so many applications on the app store. Always keep your educational objective clearly in focus, it is easy to be seduced by bright colours and cute animations. Think carefully about what the student will do… will this app allow the students to create, engage in higher order thinking and connect in new ways? There is some value in apps that allow students to consolidate their skills in an engaging manner. Apps that support the teaching  and can be used across the curriculum are good value per use as opposed to apps that will be used once or twice in a specific area.

A colleague Jan Clarke from AISWA has shared an extensive list of apps that she has complied. Classroom apps  Thanks for sharing all your hard work Jan. I look forward to hearing from you about the apps you find most useful in your teaching.

Tips2012: Teachers’ Voices #5:A learning challenge exploring tastes and flavours

Peachy flavoursA learning challenge “Taste my world”

The yr 1 students at Rossmoyne Primary are very busy working on their learning challenge “Taste my world.” This class has students from thirteen different cultural backgrounds and they are exploring tastes and flavours from around the world. I am looking forward to working with them and their teachers next week. Watch this space for exciting updates.Gelato -a taste of Italy

Tips2013: Teachers’ Voices #4:Miss D & the Superstars

Add your own images to create personalised puppets

Add your own images to create personalised puppets

Miss D and her class the Superstars have been taking a journey back in time this term to celebrate the 75th anniversary of their school.


“The students worked in small groups using the Puppet Pals app on the iPads kindly lent to us by Dr Jenny Lane from Edith Cowan University. Our class has been lucky enough to take part in the TPACK Project, which is researching the integration of iPads into classrooms to help teachers successfully integrate this technology in the future.

Our class has loved using the iPads,  movies made with the Puppet Pals app show how our class has been reflecting on their learning in History this term and having lots of fun at the same time.”

Tamara Doig




Create your own animated puppet show

Create your own animated puppet show

Puppet Pals can be used for digital storytelling. Students develop a storyboard, create scripts with dialogue, design their puppets and select backdrops for the story.

This is a great tool for learning a second language because students have to narrate their story. The stories shared recorded and shared

Tips 2012 iPad App Guide #61: Solar Walk

Solar Walk is a stunning 3D Solar System model for iPhone / iPad (and now Mac), from the makers of Star Walk. It enables users to explore (fly though) a scale model of the solar system, exploring the planets, moons, satellites, etc.

The app also includes in-depth information and short educational videos about each planet, and can be viewed with 3D glasses – on the iPad or 3DTV. For more details, we highly recommend reading the official User Guide, available here.

Highly recommended by educators worldwide.

For: Teachers, Students (Primary and Secondary)

Cost: $2.99 AUD (Download)

Requires WiFi?: Not for general use

Educational Applications

  • Any studies relating to Astronomy / Science / Space

Further Reading

Tips 2012 iPad App Guide #47: Drawing Pad

The highly-awarded Drawing Pad app is a fun early-childhood art app for the iPad, where you can create drawings using realistic crayons, paint brushes, pencils, pens, and more. You can purchase colouring-in books via in-app purchase, and save drawings to the Photo Roll, or send via email, etc.

For more information, please visit the official site:

For: Early Childhood to Middle Primary Students

Cost: $1.99 AUD (Download Link)

Requires Wifi?: No.

Tips2012:iPad App Guide #38: iSwifter & Rover

View flash files on an iPad!!

iSwifter is a browser app that allows you to view flash files on your iPad. You open the app and enter the URL of the site you want to view. This allows you to view flash video content and play some flash based games.

It is not perfect and initially tages take a while to load but mostly it does the job. The company also makes a (Free) browser app for education called Rover.

For: Teachers, Students (Primary to Secondary)

Cost: Free for 7 days (link) but then upgrade to paid version. Alternatively, download the Rover education browser for free.

Requires WiFi?: Yes

Management Tip
Streaming can flow more smoothly than browsing.

Educational Applications

  • View flash videos
  • Play interactive flash based games
  • View web pages with flash animations

Recommended Reading

Please help us to build these resources for teachers by supporting the research. Click here to complete a short survey and enter the draw to win an iTunes voucher.

Tips2012:iPad App Guide #34: Doodlecast for Kids

DoodleCast for Kids is an iPhone/iPad drawing app specifically designed for preschool children aged 3-6. The app provides visual (pictures and word bubbles), and audio prompts to support their drawings, and also allows them to create drawings from scratch.

Children can use the different coloured markers to draw, and their voice is automatically recorded once they touch the screen. Their narrated drawings are recorded as videos (up to 3 minutes long) within the app, and these can be easily exported to the iPad camera roll by tapping “Save”.

For: Preschool, and Early Childhood

Cost: $1.99 AUD (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?: No.

Educational Applications

  • Drawing / art
  • Storytelling
  • Encourage imagination and creativity

 Further Reading

Please contribute to our iPad research by completing a short survey, and entering our draw to win an ITunes voucher!

Tips2012:iPad App Guide #33: ShowMe

Screen-casting is capturing what is on the screen of your iPad and adding a narration or music sound track. You can capture a drawing showing how the picture develops. This works well in teaching mathematics where the teacher can demonstrate the calculation as if they are working on an interactive whiteboard. The whole process gets recorded and can then be shared and replayed.

Show Me is a simple screen-casting app suitable for early childhood through to early secondary students. It provides a whiteboard, pens, eraser, and support for importing images.This app is extremely user-friendly; simply “Tap to record, and start talking”.

Completed screencasts are uploaded to the ShowMe website, where they can be shared (for free) with a unique weblink, and embedded into class blogs or webpages. The ShowMe website features a community collection of screencasts for all learning areas, which teachers can use in their classes for free.

More advanced screen-casting apps include Educreations, Screen Chomp, and Explain Everything.

For: Students (Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary)

Cost: Free (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?: Yes, to upload finished products. It is not possible to save completed work to the iPad.

Management Tip

To use this app in class, teachers recommend creating a shared class / teacher ShowMe account, and establishing a standard naming convention (using students’ names) to identify student work. (Tip via EdTechTeacher Tip & @nate_kremer)

Educational Applications

  • Create a repository of video lessons for your class / school wiki / website
  • Explain mathematical thinking, written work
  • Present an argument, or explanation of a topic (literacy)
  • Enable students to demonstrate their learning, comprehension skills, and understanding of topics across a wide range of learning areas.
  • Click here for more ideas

Further Reading

Have you taken part in our survey? Click here and enter the draw to win a $ 50 iTunes voucher!

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #24: iBooks

The iBooks iPad app is so much more than a glossy bookcase. It is a place where you can share ePub e-books, PDF files, and student (and teacher) created resources; enabling users to curate & create a library of digital reading material on their iPad.

For: Teachers, Students, Administrators

Cost: Free

Requires WiFi?: No for reading. Yes for uploading and sharing content

Educational Applications

  • Share student work (in PDF or ePub format) with parents and classmates as digital portfolios or yearbooks
  • Use the Book Creator app, or iBooks Author (Mac), to create collaborative class books and teaching resources
  • Store levelled readers (e.g. for use in reading centres
  • Use the built-in highlighter and sticknotes to practice reading comprehension skills
  • Share digital textbooks (requires iTunes 10.5.3 or later)

Teacher Tips: How do I add material to iBooks?

To add PDF and ePub materials to iBooks on your iPad, you can import files via iTunes, import from Dropbox or GoodReader, or save files directly from Safari. It is possible to save and share students’ work in ePub format from other applications, such as Pages for Mac.

You can purchase quality eBooks from the Apple iBooks Store, or find free eBooks on Google, which may be a better option for educators.

Teachers may also like the dotePUB browser bookmarklet (available for Safari), which enables users to save ANY website as an ePub file, which can be added to iBooks via iTunes. (Tip via iPads@Burley).

Recommended Reading

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #22: “Toddler Sandbox”

Toddler Sandbox, formerly  known as “Wipe and Learn”, is an early-learning iPad app for K-2 children, which is also highly recommended for children with special needs.

“Sandbox” involves children swiping their finger across the screen to reveal a hidden picture. The word for the background picture is then spoken aloud. It requires close attention, accuracy and fine motor skills to complete successfully, making it a useful app for developing fine motor skills and word recognition.

For: Early Childhood Students, Students with Special Needs

Cost: $0.99 (Download)

Requires WiFi?: No.

Further Reading

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #21: Puppet Pals HD

Puppet Pals HD is a highly regarded animation / storytelling app for iPad, which is suitable for K-10 students, and has a variety of educational applications.

To use Puppet Pals, students select characters, settings, and a title; and then narrate a story while animating the characters and props using their fingers. You can create your own backdrops and characters using pictures from your Camera Roll, and export the finished video files to iMovie, YouTube, etc.

The app itself is free, but we highly recommend purchasing the Director’s Pass (about $3 via in-app purchase), which allows you to download and use a wider choice of characters and backdrops, including any future content. 

For: Students (Early Childhood – Secondary), English Language Learners

Cost: Free, but (recommended) Director’s Pass costs $2.99.

Dec 2012 Release – Puppet Pals 2 – $5.49 (Introductory Price)

Requires WiFi?: No.

Educational Applications

  • Create short instructional videos (in different learning areas)
  • Storytelling, News Reports, Historic Retells
  • Help reluctant public speakers present to the class
  • Help ESL students practice their fluency & language skills
  • Check out this website for some great literacy ideas!

Classroom Examples

Further Reading

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #20: Comic Life

Comics and cartoons have a HUGE range of educational applications across the primary and secondary curriculum, and can be easily integrated into a range of subject or topic areas.

Comic Life for iPad is an easy-to-use comic / cartoon creation app for students from Grades 1-12. It provides a range of templates, and enables users to import pictures (from their Camera Roll, or Creative Commons sources on the Internet), captions, and special effects (thought balloons, onomatopoeia).

This app mirrors the Windows / Mac version of Comic LIfe, and allows users to print, email, or share their comics on Facebook. Comic Life for iPad also features an “in-tray” option, which allows users to share comics with other iPad users nearby).

For: Teachers, Students (Grades 1-12)

Cost: $5.49 (Download Link)

Requires WiFi: No (only for sharing comics)

Comic Life Tutorial for iPad from Jessica Pack on Vimeo.

Educational Applications

  • Social Studies – Timelines, history retells
  • Literacy – instructions, grammar practices, story retells, information brochures
  • Science- instructions, reports on learning, explanations of concepts
  • Cartoon Tutorials for students and teachers (e.g. The Daring Librarian)
  • Food Technology – illustrated cookbooks
  • Inspiring Examples from Porchester Junior School (UK)
  • Click here for more ideas, or check out the links below!

Tutorials and Lesson Ideas

Recommended Reading

Jenny’s iPad Tip-The secret to successful iPad implementation ….plan, plan, plan!

We had a mind-spinning planning session with the school leadership team and the grade one teachers at Rossmoyne Primary School in Perth.

We brainstormed and conceptualised an exciting learning challenge using iPads. This initial thorough planning is an essential part of the ICT integration process.

We had great fun playing with new apps as we discussed how we can use the power of the touch screen to promote deep learning and stimulate higher order thinking and creativity.

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #16: Popplet

Popplet is a hugely popular mind-mapping tool which enables teachers and students to visually represent and organise information using text, hyperlinks, images, and sticky notes (popples). Available as a web application (beta, via subscription) and iPad app, Popplet is remarkably simple to use, and is suitable for all ages.

Popplet requires a free account (we’d suggest creating class / group accounts for students), and completed ‘popplets’ can be saved as JPG or PDF files, embedded into web pages, or shared via Twitter, Facebook, and Email. Printed popplets make great classroom displays.

If using as a web app, teachers may be interested in the Popplet Education Licensing scheme.

For: Teachers, Students (Early Childhood through to Secondary)

Cost:  Popplet Lite is free, but we highly recommend the full featured Popplet app, which is available for $5.49AUD (Download Link). The full app allows users to sync Popplets across devices and the web. 

Requires WiFi: No, but required to obtain images from online sources.

Educational Applications

  • Create curriculum plans, mind maps, shared bulletin boards, scrapbooks, photo galleries,
  • Remember, organise and comprehend new information
  • Map concepts and create timelines
  • Use to assist note-taking and planning for writing
  • Enable real-time student collaboration via shared ‘popples’ – on iPads / iPad and web.
  • Use Popplet as a presentation tool (Click here for details)
  • Click here for more creative ideas 

Recommended Reading

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #8: Toontastic

Toontastic is a play-based storytelling / animation / cartoon creation iPad app for young children (K-3). It enables children to create stories using their own voice and drawings; and provides them with a safe online environment to share their cartoons with authentic global audiences on ToonTube.

To find out more about Toontastic’s learning goals, please visit their website.

For: Students, particularly (but not restricted to) Early Childhood

Cost: FREE! (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?: No

Educational Applications

  • Reader’s Theatre
  • Cartooning
  • Story Writing (teaches storytelling elements)
  • Develop oral language skills & vocabulary (helpful for ESL)
  • Tell number stories in Maths
  • See the “Toontastic for Teachers” website for more ideas!

Video Tutorial: Toontastic

Further Reading

How do you use Toontastic in your classroom? 

We’d love to hear your thoughts!