Ava’s Educational App Toolkit

I’ve made a career out of educational technology.

Twenty years ago, there was not even job descriptions like mine. Now, with the ever cascading deluge of platforms, apps and innovation that changes as fast as the color of a banana peel, schools and organizations hire people like me that can explain technology adoption in simple terms and offer training along the way. Helping other educators increase their skill set has been one of the most rewarding parts of my job and makes me wonder what new tech jobs are in store for us in the near future. Drone repair man? Already there.

This interest started in 2007 with me creating a blog to share my musings with like minded educators. After a few years, it grew into one of the top 500 educational technology blogs in the world and helped me rise up the ranks in Edtech circles to eventually become a Google trainer, regional presenter and keynote speaker. Despite these vain accolades and bravado, I still find it next to impossible to keep up with it all. It’s like shoveling your driveway while it’s still snowing.

However, for our big trip, I knew these skills would come in handy. As we couldn’t take textbooks with us, I’d have to leverage mobile learning platforms to help Ava learn as a 4th grader and make content that she could share to demonstrate her learning. Here are some of my favorites:


Explain Everything-This allows users to animate pictures and drawings as a movie file. This is handy for students that want to show multi step math problems.

Seesaw- Seesaw is a student portfolio system where teachers can distribute assignments digitally. Students can upload pictures, recordings and the teacher can share work with parents.

Ten Marks- This is a robust math program that gives practice on a variety of math problems.

Touchcast Studio– This is a fun program which turns a movie into a documentary/news segment with green screen interface options.

iMovie- One of Apple core suite products, this can add easy video clip transitions, titles and sound effects for digital stories.

Notability- With our new apple pencil, this is great for note-taking and highlighting pdfs or jpegs to practice annotating texts.

Paper 53- Similar to ‘notability’, paper 53 has a larger palate of draw tools. I particularly like the watercolor brush.

Khan Academy-A robust math program organized by topics and grade level. Videos and independent practice that are scaffolded into mastery tasks.

Minecraft- Running around in virtual battles may not have much applications to education until I learned that students can recreate historic places to reenact moments in history.

QR code Reader- Handy if you are in a museum and need access to additional information.

Class Dojo- A fantastic classroom management system that recognizes good behavior and serves as a nice parent communication system. New portfolio features make this and ‘seesaw’ almost evenly matched.

Show Me- Similar to ‘explain everything’ this also allows animation of drawings through video production.

Pic Collage- Great way of making, well, a ‘pic collage’ with drawings, text and scribble tools.

Epic- Epic has a massive reading library which is more elementary friendly than NewsELA and their user interface is more conducive to young readers with recommended ages for readers.

Expeditions- Virtual reality becomes a reality for the classroom teacher. Chose online expeditions and let students follow in headsets or just handhelds to prevent getting dizzy.

NewsELA- Curates non-fictional articles from major newspapers and other periodicals and translates them into different lexile/reading levels. Aligned to common core non-fictional reading standards. Good for upper elementary to high school aged students.

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