Thursday, July 31, 2014

4 Pretty Good iPad Apps For Classroom Assessment

I've tried my fair share of iPad education assessment tools: Three Ring, TeakerKit, Easy Portfolio, Schoology, and maybe some other junk. At some point I should do a review on them. But the short of it is they aren't the four most important apps on my iPad for classroom assessment. These are:


Last year I wrote up a review of some possible note taking apps for teachers- apps that didn't require typing, but instead focused on note taking through handwriting. My favorite at the time was Noteshelf, because it's design was the cleanest and it improved my handwriting the most.  

So of course since then I've been using Notability for all of my in class notes, especially during book discussions. This is because:

1) My handwriting still looks a little better than my actual handwriting with this app.

2) You can zoom really small on a page. Really small. That means I can fit a lot on the screen.

3) Instead of a finite page like on Noteshelf, Notability allows you to continuously scroll down on a page to add notes. This is a big deal when I'm writing fast. 

I use Notability more than any other app in the classroom because I can use my finger to write with, and I'm much more comfortable writing than typing on an iPad.

Confer is an interesting note taking app designed for teachers. It has a lot of room for improvement, but I did use it to consolidate points after summative assessments. 

Each student has three sections: "Strengths", "Teaching Points", and "Next Steps". 

It's nice because after you type something for one student, the same phrase becomes available for the whole class. So for example if I write that one student's strength is "Represent decimals using Base 10 Blocks," then that phrase automatically becomes an option as a strength for all the other students in the class.

Here's how I wish it worked:
1) If I type something as a student's strength, it automatically becomes an option as a "strength", "teaching point", or "next step." Currently Confer does not do this.

2) The organization is built around having multiple classes, with different students in each class. It's a good setup for middle or high school teachers. It's lousy for elementary teachers. I'd like to be able to create one class, then have folders of different subjects for each student. 

3) The export options are lousy. I can export an entire class as a spreadsheet, or individual students as an rtf file. I'd like to at least be able to export an entire class as an rtf file. This is because I'd like to be able to use it to help with narrative report cards, without having to retype everything, or having to export 20 seperate rtf files. 

On a side note, here's the Confer promotional video. How can someone be smart enough to make an app but then film their promotional video with a vertical iPhone? Turn it on it's side when you shoot video!

But the title of this post is "Pretty Good iPad Apps for Classroom Assessment", and indeed with these limitations Confer is pretty good. It could be awesome, but oh well. 

Explain Everything is good because the kids make their own math tutorials, and then upload them all on a Youtube or Vimeo channel. With those tutorials I can see who is understanding a concept and who isn't. 
When the Google Docs app came out for the iPad earlier this year, I wasn't sure it was necessary. At first it seemed redundant since we already had a Google Drive app. But it works much better. You can write comments and view tables- two things that might have been possible on the Google Drive app and I just never figured it out. But I did figure it out on the Google Docs app, and it's a great tool to use to pull up student's work really quickly in the classroom. 

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