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Help students show their learning with these 4 apps

By Julie Randles
July 2, 2018
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It’s a familiar hunt for educators – finding that one app that’s the magic bullet for teaching a skill or providing practice. It’s a search that’s futile, and one that should be replaced with a new way of thinking. 

Imagine searching instead for tools that allow learners to get creative in demonstrating their learning, rather than regurgitating information, suggests Patricia Brown, technology integration specialist at Ladue School District in St. Louis, Missouri. With this approach, learners are empowered to choose innovative ways to show what they know, and devices become powerful creation tools, instead of replacements for pencils and paper.

If that concept sounds familiar to you, it might be because it’s embedded in the ISTE Standards for Students. Indicator 1.c. of the Empowered Learner standard says, “Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.”

As Brown’s district moves toward 1:1 iPads for students, she’s seen its app storage portal become flush with of apps that let students practice math facts or some other rote memory skill. What’s missing are creation tools that let students share their learning.

“There’s no such thing as an app that can do it all,” Brown says. “Instead we should be asking, ‘What can I use to let students be creators of their learning?’”

This mindshift will help educators stop looking at tablets for low-level substitutions and instead unlock their potential.

“When kids create their own project based on what they’ve learned, you see more retention of that knowledge,” Brown says. “It brings them a sense of power as far as what they can accomplish.”

Here are some of Brown’s favorite creation tools:

Seesaw – This powerful student portfolio app also allows students to demonstrate their learning. Working on reading fluency? Reading lab teachers can put passages in their class list and have students read the words out loud and record their reading. They can then listen to themselves or have classmates listen and provide feedback.

Educators can also use Seesaw in combination with PicCollage for more creation options. As an added bonus, Seesaw also offers a library of lessons educators can tweak to make their own.

Aurasma. This augmented reality app lets students create their own videos to demonstrate learning. Brown’s district has used Aurasma as part of its annual student art show. Students recorded their own voices as they discussed the art pieces they created and then they linked the audio files to a QR code, which was posted next to their art work. When parents attended the art show, they scanned the codes to hear students talk about their work.

Students have also used Aurasma to make augmented reality videos that demonstrate their work on a project. The videos can then be shared with teachers, parents, classmates and other authentic audiences. 

Stop Motion Studio. This tool lets students create stop-motion movies that include a host of features like music and filter effects. Brown says it’s a good tool for students to demonstrate their understanding of science concepts, like states of matter or land forms.  

Book Creator. This low-cost app lets students combine text images, audio and video to create e-books. Brown recalls that one class used this tool to publish books about biomes and then got feedback on their books from peers. The students also blogged about their books and shared them with students at other schools.

Brown will share more ways students can use iPads to move from consumption to creation in her recorded ISTE Expert Webinar, “Unleashing Creativity: Inspire Learning With iPads,” which covers:  

  • Tips for using iPads as creation tools.
  • Examples of students’ learning artifacts created with iPads.
  • How to help students create soft skills that tap into their creativity.
  • How to find more tools and resources students can use demonstrate their learning.

Julie Phillips Randles is a freelance writer and editor with 30 years of experience writing about education policy, leadership, curriculum and edtech.

This is an updated version of a blog post that published on Feb. 16, 2018.

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