Apps, Programs and Websites
Apps, Programs and Websites for Parents, Teachers and Kids
General Education
3D Game Lab

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Moderate to High

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Evaluating, Analyzing, Applying

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Experimentation, Diagnosis, Planning, Judgment, Teamwork

Website: http://3dgamelab.com/

This program has the potential to be an incredible boost to individual learning or it could be a complete bust. Everything is dependent upon the quality of the materials placed into each Quest—that’s what they are called—by teachers or parents. The gist of 3D Game Lab is that teachers or parents differentiate their instruction by creating quests—which end in the successful completion of the standard or target goal. These quests can take lots of time to create so don’t be fooled into thinking these quests will be simple and easy to make. That said, Quests can work very well for students. The logic behind 3D Game Lab is that students will have choices as far as which Quest to undertake and kids will finish them as quickly or slowly as they like. Along the way they receive badges and level-up when their have achieved certain predestined milestones. Teachers can approve the completion of Quests and provide feedback to students. The designers of this program intended for it to be used mostly in a 1:1 digital environment and not as a whole class, lock-step activity. Quests can be shared with other teachers and if a teacher in a different part of the world has created something that fits into your classroom, there is a method to get your hands on it. Homeschooling parents may grow to love this program.

Overall: Slowly work to build your Quests and eventually you will have something very special and unique. Depending on the quality of the materials entered into each Quest, the final product could be a boring, awful experience for students or one that is unique and really makes them think. Five Stars ★★★★★

Animoto

Grades: 8-9

Level of Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Creating

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Experimentation, Planning

Website: https://animoto.com/

You need to first understand that students must be at least 13 years old to sign up to use Animoto. This will automatically remove many teachers, parents and students from being interested in using this presentation software. However, if your kids are at the minimum age threshold, this is something you should take a serious look at. Animoto allows users to take pictures, videos, music, and text, and to string them together into a video slideshow. It’s relatively easy to accomplish this, but there are limits on the number of characters or text which can be on the basic version of this software. The sharing of videos is very easy, so entire groups of kids can swap and trade their videos so everyone can watch the finished products. Teachers who are tired of Powerpoint may want to use this software, simply as a change of pace. As with most things, the quality of the final product will rest on the quality of what was inputed.

Overall: If your goal is to create a highly visual presentation with little text, this might be a better route than Powerpoint or Google Slide. Five Stars ★★★★★

Collaborize Classroom

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Moderate to High

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Evaluating, Analyzing, Applying

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Influence, Teamwork, Describing

Website: http://www.collaborizeclassroom.com/

This is a site which allows students and teachers to talk with one another and to collaborate together on projects, assignments, and discussion topics. It is similar to other products on the market so as to which one you prefer, it will somewhat be a matter of taste. In Collaborize Classroom, the teacher can perform a variety of tasks, all of which center around pushing materials to the students and of setting up groups so they can perform various tasks, such as talking about discussion questions, finishing a poll, finish multiple choice questions, or post simple comments. The quality of what comes out of this site will be directly related to the quality of set-up the teacher or parent puts into the site. This could be a site where students perform perfunctory types of jobs and assignments or it could be a site that is rich in project work and the sharing of ideas and concepts. Teachers have the option of grading either individually or by group.

Overall: This is a decent collaborative program, but it’s nothing special. Three Stars ★★★

Discovery Education

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Analyzing, Applying, Understanding

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Prediction, Diagnosis, Judgment

Website: http://www.discoveryeducation.com/

Discovery Education began as a science website, with instructional materials related to science teachers and students. Over time, as the company has “discovered” there was money to be made in other curriculum areas, the organization has expanded into many other curricular areas. Consequently, there are lots of materials available on this website, including the areas of math, science, English, social studies, health, and technology. The site has a plethora of detailed lesson plans, complete with links to additional resources. The quality of some of the lesson plans is hit or miss and I’m not a big fan of some of the rubrics used in the lesson plans—they are rather simplistic—but there are other things available on the site to make up for these detractors. For example, there usually are vocabulary words listed, complete with the audio pronunciation. Teachers and parents can also use “puzzlemaker” with specific vocabulary words and make lots of different types of puzzles for kids. There are math resources which explain some basic math concepts and the Young Scientist Challenge for budding scientists.

Overall: Discovery Education is trying to become the only place teachers and parents look for curricular materials and they are closer than most other companies playing the same game. Four Stars ★★★★

Evernote

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Applying

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Experimentation, Planning

Website: https://evernote.com/

Evernote is a program that I would seriously consider if I were teaching a classroom in which kids did not all have the same electronic device—as in all iPads of Chromebooks. Evernote is essentially a note-taking and note-organizing platform which also happens to organize your videos, pictures, audio, and materials which have been shared with you. Because this program is platform neutral, the kids can have any type of device, as long as they have internet connection. The program is cloud-based so it can be quickly used in all sorts of situations. Kids can even collaborate with one another in real time and make presentations. Parents and those who homeschool will also find great use for this program to help their kid become organized.

Overall: Evernote is trying to be your one-stop-organization solution and it’s getting closer and closer to achieving that. Four Stars ★★★★

Explain Everything

Grades: 6-9

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Creating

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Experimentation, Planning

Website: http://explaineverything.com/

The list of presentation apps and software programs is growing by leaps and bounds with each passing year. This presentation app and program is better than most. It does take a higher level of proficiency to make presentations in Explain Everything but the final product might make up for the higher initial hurdle to use the app. With the app, which is not free, students and teachers will be able to bring in pictures, graphics, movies, pdf’s, animations, and lesson plans into the final presentation. It works with all of the major players in the game—Apple, Microsoft, and Google—so the functionality shouldn’t be a problem. The students will be the largest benefactors of this app, but only if the teachers or parents allow them to create their own presentations. This app does cost money.

Overall: Explain Everything is very good presentation software. It’s every bit as good as or better than Powerpoint or Google Slides. Five Stars ★★★★★

Formative

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Applying, Understanding, Remembering

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Diagnosis, Planning, Judgment

Website: https://goformative.com/

This is mostly a form sharing program that lets the teacher or parent create tests, quizzes, discussion questions, and assignments and push them out to students. What is slightly different in Formative than some other similar programs is that students can add images, photos and pictures and send them to other students or to the teacher. Kids don’t need an account to use this site and they can access what the teacher has created from a variety of devices. There are some pre-made assignments teachers can use to make the creation of content a little bit easier. It is possible to use Formative as an all-in-one-grading program so parents who are home-schooling and small private or public schools could use it in that capacity.

Overall: Some teachers may like using Formative better than Google Forms. Four Stars ★★★★

Kahoot

Grades: 5-8

Level of Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Understanding, Remembering

Costa: Level 1

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Diagnosis, Judgment

Website: https://getkahoot.com/

Kahoot mania has swept the nation with fervor and vigor. Many classroom teachers who are new to the technology world will use Kahoot as one of their first attempts to integrate cell phones, laptops, or tablets with what the students are doing. The gist of Kahoot is that teachers create quizzes—either true false or multiple choice questions—and then students will take the quizzes in class or at home. (Note: There also is a way students can create the questions.) There are features on the site which enable the creation of discussions and surveys, although these are not used as often. Essentially, teachers use Kahoot for the creation of quick and simple questions, which don’t need lots of intellectualism on the part of students to answer. Most kids are either going to know the answer or they are not going to know the answer. Speed is also a factor in this game and the faster kids can recall answers, the better they will do. Kids can take quizzes and answer questions from people all around the world. A weakness of this program is that it does not allow teachers to create or students to answer, short answer questions.

Overall: Kahoot is very fun to play and kids love to be competitive in the classroom. However, very little advanced or rigorous thinking is going on in classrooms dominated by Kahoot. Consequently, Kahoot is best used as an occasional program for kids to use. Three Stars ★★★

Minecraftedu

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Applying, Understanding

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Diagnosis, Judgment

Website: http://minecraftedu.com/

At first glance it may be hard to see how the popular video game Minecraft can be used in the classroom. But once you think about it, and watch several examples of what has already been created by students and teachers, it will begin to make a lot more sense. The idea behind Minecraftedu is that teachers (or parents) will create worlds that function as instructional classrooms. Since many kids already know how to play Minecraft, they will quickly be able to jump into the world the adult has created for them. For example, a history teacher could create a world filled with characters and buildings from the Mayan empire and create opportunities and tasks which require the kids to learn about the Mayan civilization. Or a language arts teacher may create a world inhabited by vocabulary words which require the students to move from station to station, teleporting from one to another. The hype of this site may exceed its benefit because it will take time to create these assignments. And time is something many teachers don’t have in excessive supply. Think about middle school kids making these worlds—with teacher and parent parameters—to increase the level of intellectualism required.

Overall: If done poorly, this will be a colossal waste of learning time. If done well, it could be a high value learning activity. Four Stars ★★★★

Nearpod

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Analyzing, Understanding, Remembering

Costa: Level 1

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Diagnosis, Judgment

Website: https://www.nearpod.com/

Nearpod is similar to many other presentation software packages in that teachers can transfer their Powerpoints or Google Slides into Nearpod and make their presentations more interactive and friendly to the students. In this program, teachers create slides filled with videos, text, audio, pictures, images, quizzes, polls, and open-ended questions. The presentation is then pushed out to students so they no longer have to be concerned with taking copious notes or being absent from class because everything is now available to them to see, no matter where they are. Teachers can also keep track of students’ progress, as there is a feature which allows the teacher to see the answers kids had typed into their electronic device. Currently students can’t make their own Nearpods, which negates any chance of this program being more intellectually rigorous, because most teachers use this program for the dissemination of basic information. As a bonus, teachers can go to the website and purchase Nearpods made by other teachers, thus saving gobs of time, provided they can find a good one to match the curricular goals they have for the students.

Overall: This is a decent piece of presentation software. Once again, as with any presentation software, the tendency for teachers will be to push reams of information out to kids, thus relegating this to a very low level of intellectual endeavor. Three Stars ★★★

Pear Deck

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Applying, Understanding, Remembering

Costa: Level 1

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Diagnosis, Judgment

Website: https://www.peardeck.com/

If you think of Pear Deck as a form of Powerpoint, you won’t be too far off the mark. The primary difference between the two is that Pear Deck has more functionality for users and the level of interaction between the teacher and students can be significantly higher. In this program, how it is normally used, is that teachers make a slide show presentation filled with images, lists, graphics, pictures, multiple choice questions, and general questions for kids to answer. Pear Deck can be used on any platform, so it can be used on cellphones if laptops or tablets aren’t available. An advantage to this program is that students (and teachers and parents) can draw on their screen and add additional notes. Many teachers use Pear Deck instead of Powerpoint because it is easier for the students to save their Pear Decks, thus making it unnecessary for the kids to take copious notes.

Overall: Pear Deck has its place in the classroom today but some teachers are going to find that the traditional Powerpoint will work better in certain cases. The interactivity in Pear Deck is a plus. Three Stars ★★★

Power My Learning

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Understanding, Remembering

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Experimentation, Diagnosis, Judgment

Website: http://powermylearning.org/

This is a website and app aggregator for educational learning activities. The variety and quality of materials on this site is staggering. Some of the apps and websites will be very good and others will be mediocre. The primary purpose to use this site is to have a “one-stop” shopping mall experience for selecting educational apps and programs. The topics covered are familiar to anyone who has spent time in a traditional education setting—math, language, science, social studies, art and music, technology, and world languages. Teacher (and parents) can create playlists—which is a really cool feature—and also generate their own checkpoints, add their questions and set learning goals. Teachers and parents can sort by grade and subject to find the app or program they are looking for.

Overall: The enormity of the possibilities almost makes this site unuseable—because, for example, when given 60 choices for learning activities in social studie—who has time to evaluate all 60? But that’s what you get with one-stop platforms that try to do everything. Three Stars ★★★

Socrative

Grades: 5-9

Level of Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy: Understanding, Remembering

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Processes: Diagnosis, Judgment

Website: http://www.socrative.com/

This is a game-based website which allows teachers and students to create true/false questions or multiple choice questions or questions which need a short answer. The ability for students to submit their answers in a short answer format, makes this program more attractive than many of its competitors, who do not allow for any type of written responses from kids. Socrative is fun for most middle school kids and there are a variety of ways teachers can use it in the classroom. As a bonus, the quizzes created in Socrative can be taken on almost any type of digital device. This program allows teachers to individually track students and how well they are doing answering questions. The presumption is that if teachers know certain students are not doing well on the Socrative quizzes, they can intervene and help those students.

Overall: This is a solid quiz-show program which allows teachers to create the questions and possible answers. The addition of short answers is a bonus. Four Stars ★★★★

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