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7 sweet iPod Touch / iPad apps and a special bonus

Later this week, I’ll spend part of my time at the NCSS conference sharing about ePUBs and mobile devices. So, of course, rather than spend time messing with ePUBs over the weekend,  I got sidetracked browsing for sweet mobile apps. So today . . . sharing my discoveries.

And after you make it through all seven apps, you’ll find an extra bonus prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box.

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5 New History iPad / iPod Apps

Keeping up with education-friendly iPad and iPod apps is getting more and more difficult, good ones end up slipping past me. But I have run across a few pretty cool things that you might enjoy.

The first two are news apps that provide a different way of giving you access to lots of information.

1. News360 gives you lots of options on how you want your news displayed. News360 starts with a list of categories such as US Politics, World News or Entertainment and provides a list of specific stories. Clicking a story allows you to read it with the option to click on other news outlets writing about the same story. You also have the option of starting with the news outlets themselves, CNN or the Washington Post for example, and then reading the various stories written by just that outlet.

I like this. It gives me a chance to get a variety of perspectives on the same event quickly and easily. I also like that each story has embedded hyperlinks based on keywords within the story. If I’m reading a story about the Bin Laden raid, I may want to know more about Abbottabad. Clicking that link opens a Wikipedia article on that topic. News360 also a semi-cool photo montage option that you can scroll through with each image a link to a story based on that image. It’s a bit hit and miss but a nice way to get a quick visual sense of the day’s events.

The app also has some extensive social media tools built in.

2. Zite is a personalized magazine for your iPad that automatically learns what you like and gets smarter as you use it. Zite gives you personalized news, articles, blogs, videos and other content from a variety of both mainstream and niche publications and sites. Zite can personalize by syncing with your Twitter or Google Reader account or on its own.

Every story you read gives you the chance to “like” certain topics, keywords or web sites. Over time, the software begins to understand your “likes” and provides more and more news that fits your personality. Zite is easy to use and easy to look at – so much so that I’m moving away from Flipboard.

I like the idea of a piece of software learning what I enjoy reading but at the same time, I get a bit concerned that I’m shutting out differing opinions and ideas. So I’ve gotten into the habit of “liking” stuff that I disagree with – ensuring that Zite keeps giving me a variety of opinions and ideas.

The next couple of apps are connected to my ongoing obsession with the Civil War.

3. The people have put together an awesome iPad app called The Civil War Today. “Experience the war as it unfolded, one day at a time, with daily updates that let you live the events in “real-time” over the course of four years. The Civil War Today leverages the iPad multi-touch interface to enable app users to feel and explore thousands of original documents, photos, maps, diary entries, quotes, and newspaper broadsheets like never before.”

4. Civil War: Gettysburg is an app designed to be used while you are actually on the battlefield. Equipped with GPS, you can use the app to literally guide you through the events of 1863. But even in your classroom, the app is powerful stuff. Maps, info, photos and video clips by park rangers provide a nice, interactive overview of the battle. Clicking on any of the embedded “virtual signs” will provide you with a wealth of historical information, expert videos, and the voices of the participants who fought. The app also comes with a wealth of onboard information for your “visit” – orders of battle, facts about the battle, historical photos, chronologies, and our famous battle maps are all at your fingertips.

5. The last app is created by the people at Colonial Williamsburg. It’s a bit clunky but it has some pretty amazing info. Also designed to be used as an actual guide while on-site, it has video clips, photos, maps and textual info about Williamsburg. If you can’t make the trip to Virginia, this app would a great way to take a virtual tour of the site.

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Tip of the Week – Sweet Geography iPod & iPad Apps

I’m still in love with my iPad. Even though I’ve had it for just over seven months, it’s hard to imagine free time and work without it. I know it’s weird but there it is. I use it all the time.

And so during a recent conversation about the educational impact of mobile devices like the iPad and iPod, the discussion shifted to useful geography apps. I’ve been using several that I like but heard about some new ones. Figured I’d share out what I’ve learned.

So here ya go . . . 13 very cool and useful mobile apps for teaching and learning geography. (Where the app has both iPod and iPad versions, I’ve linked to the iPod version)

1. Stack the States – As you learn state capitals, shapes, geographic locations and more, you can actually touch, move and drop the animated states anywhere on the screen. Carefully build a stack of states that reaches the checkered line to win each level. As you earn more states, you unlock the three free bonus games: Pile Up, Puzzler and Capital Drop.  Both iPod and iPad versions.
99 cents but also a free Lite version
(grades K-8)

2. Stack the Countries – Same idea as Stack the States but with countries and continents.
(grades K-8)

3. History Maps of the World – Huge collection of high resolution historical maps from around the world. Both iPod and iPad versions.
(grades K-12)

4. History Maps of the US – Same as History Maps of the World but for the US. The same publisher has maps of all the continents. Both iPod and iPad versions.
(grades K-12)

5. Learn with Maps US – This full version has over 150 historical maps with the ability to create favorite lists, create slideshows and searchable by theme or year. The free version has 24 maps.
99 cents for either iPod or iPad version
(grades 5-12)

6. Learn with Maps World – Same as above
99 cents for either iPod or iPad version
(grades 5-12)

7. Discovery US Geography – A very cool app with tons of goodies. Become an expert in U.S. Geography while being entertained for hours on end. With dozens of breathtaking videos, interactive gameplay, global competition and sharing.
$4.99 for iPod version
$6.99 for iPad version
(grades 3-12)

8. National Geographic World Atlas – Uses the high resolution images and maps and contains seven different levels of National Geographic cartography, plus seven bonus levels of sat images that zooms down to house level. Also has up-to-date, expertly researched, flags and facts database which contains concise geographic and socio-economic data.
$1.99 for either iPod or iPad version
(grades 3-12)

9. The World HD – Touch a country and its factbook slides onto the screen, each topic neatly organized as tiles along the edge of the map. Touch a tile and it zooms out to reveal detailed information about that topic. Not sure where a country is located? Select it on the drop-down list and The World zooms in on it and opens the factbook.
$3.99 iPad only
(grades 3-12)

10. Rome / Virtual History – Though not technically a specific geography tool, Virtual Rome is just too cool not include in this list. It does contain maps of but a truly fantastic voyage to Ancient Rome,  reconstructed in virtual form and which you can explore in a “full-immersion” panoramic experience. 3D models and maps make this a must for World History teachers. Incredibly awesome!
$9.99 iPad only
(grades 3-12)

11. MapProjector with Google Maps – Present live maps and satellite imagery from your iPad to a TV or projector. Map projector lets you save multiple maps with landmarks, and present them on the big screen. Live updates let you zoom and scroll your maps and add colored pins to mark points of interest with a title and caption, all while presenting your maps to a larger audience. Perfect for teacher and student presentations.
$1.99 iPad only
(grades 3-12)

12. US History Atlas – These carefully created maps provide detailed coverage for many major United States historical periods. Maps are easy to read and zoomable, as well as categorized by index for ease of use.
$1.99 iPad only
(grades 3-12)

13. US Census Atlas – Contains almost 800 maps and data from decennial censuses  support nearly 150 maps and figures, providing context and an historical perspective for many of the topics presented. A variety of topics are covered in the Census Atlas, ranging from language and ancestry characteristics to housing patterns and the geographic distribution of the population. A majority of the maps in the Census Atlas present data at the county level, but data also are sometimes mapped by state, large cities and metropolitan areas and selected American Indian reservations.
$1.99 for either iPod and iPad version
(grades 3-12)

Have fun!

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NCSS 2010 presentation – iPads & iPods in the Social Studies Classroom

Two hours wasn’t enough time.

The eight to ten a.m. presentation spot on Sunday morning at any conference is never a good time if you’re hoping for big attendance numbers. But it’s a great time if you’re hoping for really engaging conversation.

That’s cause only those really interested and ready to participate get up that early.

So I was looking forward to last Sunday’s session at the National Council for the Social Studies conference to facilitate a discussion on how to incorporate iPods and iPads into Social Studies classrooms. I wanted to hear what other teachers were doing, to share apps and to exchange tips and tricks.

And it went great. About 50 teachers showed up and we had some powerful conversations about why and how mobile devices should be integrated into Social Studies instruction. Teachers exchanged instructional strategies and different apps. We discussed potential problems and places to purchase third-party peripherals. And then we ran out of time.

A quick review?

  • It’s not about the technology – it’s about preparing kids to be creative, open-minded problem solvers
  • Our kids have to “power down” when they cross into the school zone
  • Mobile devices like iPods, iPads and cell phones can help engage kids in thinking
  • Shmoop apps are great for review
  • GoodReader makes document transfer easy
  • eClickr Host is awesome
  • There are lots of cool primary document apps
  • Take advantage of current Apple app policy
  • Create a practical usage policy
  • Buy non-Apple accessories
  • Create your iTunes account without a credit card
  • Use the settings feature to control access
  • Use lanyards attached to covers with iPods
  • The smaller hard drive iPod & iPad is probably big enough

There was more but you get the idea. What do you have to share? I would love to hear what apps you use and what tips / tricks work for you!

In case you’re curious, I’ve pasted the preso below:

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10 awesome iPad / iPod apps

I am becoming a big fan of the iPad. While there are some apps that are specific to the iPad, it really comes down to the bigger screen. Easier to read, easier to manipulate.

I’m still not convinced that in its present form that it is a good replacement for a netbook or laptop. No multitasking, lack of true productivity tools, crude interface with cloud apps like Google Docs and clunky keyboard.

But great for consuming, reading, browsing, viewing and playing games / apps. So together with “traditional” laptops, the iPad (and iPods) seems like a perfect addition to the classroom.

I’ve shared iPod favorites before so today . . . a few iPad apps. Many of these also work on the iPod and most focus on helping you collect and view information.


Flipboard (Free)
This is a new app that displays blogs, Facebook info and Twitter feeds in a very cool magazine style. Great for keeping up with politics, news and updates on a variety of topics.

Pressreader (Free)
PressReader brings over 1,500 full-content newspapers from 90 countries. Nice way to browse a wide variety of perspectives on current events . . . a bit like the online Newseum.

AppBox Pro ($0.99)
Multiple apps in one. Flashlight, battery life, system info, alarms, translator, calculator, tons of Google apps. Just a handy utility.

StoryKit (free)
Creates an electronic story using images and text from students. Quick, easy way for kids to summarize information or generate mini-projects.

US Historical Documents ($0.99)
There are lots of document apps out there but this one I like. Over 200 documents, ability to create lots, save favorites, highlight text and email docs with embedded notes.

Google Earth (free)
The mobile version. Not as powerful but still very handy for making connections between content and geographic place.

2010 World Fact Book ($0.99)
The CIA stuff in mobile format. Handy and easy to use with tons of country data. Perfect for World Geography teachers.


GoodReader ($0.99)
There is a lite version but spring for the full app and get extra goodness. GoodReader is a file reading app designed to make viewing such files easier.

MyCongress (free)
Government teachers will love this handy app. MyCongress is a portal to detailed information about your elected U.S. Congressional officials. Track their news, video and Twitter feeds.

Dragon Dictation (free)
An easy-to-use voice recognition app that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your words in text format. Perfect for interviews, field trips or classroom notes.

Need more? Start at the Apple Store education page. And then head over to my iPad / iPod links.

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iPod Touch for administrators & teachers

I’m spending the day with about 250 K-12 teachers at the TEEN Mashup conference. For several years, five school districts have banded together to share internet and tech costs. And just recently Brandi Hendrix, the director of that tech coalition, has organized a tech integration conference in January.

Brandi, her staff and assorted tech folks from around the area have done a great job of finding a way for the teachers of the five districts to share tricks and tips with each other. (Brandi just breezed into the room and is buzzing with energy!)

She calls it a mashup because technology, teachers and great ideas all come together in one place today. I love this idea!

I’m facilitating two separate conversations today – the first is with administrators on professional and instructional uses of the iPod Touch. The second session is with classroom teachers on using the iPod Touch as an instructional tool.We’ll be giving away a couple of iPods and some other goodies today. It’ll be fun!

Looking forward to hearing how principals and teachers are already using the Touch. Will post their ideas and suggestions later this afternoon.


(If you need something right now, head over to the “Just a Touch of Leadership” presentation by Andy Crozier & Mike Amante at the K-12 Online Conference.)

Back at the end of the day and have came away with a few impressions. The first one is that very few educators have used iPod Touches. The second is that those who are using the Touch are doing great things with it.

Nadine Smith, principal from tiny Centre High School, demo-ed a great use of the iPod for classroom observations. As a high school administrator, she wants to help teachers implement McREL’s nine strategies. So she created a simple survey using the Forms creator with Google Docs. While doing her classroom observations, she opens up her Google iPod app and simply checks off boxes on the online form. When she gets back into her office, she can organize the data quickly and easily.

I’ve used Google Docs on the iPod before but hadn’t played with the Forms piece. Nice! I’ll need to work on this one a bit.

Another idea I really liked was the one shared by a teacher using the Flashlight app. Instead of having kids give a thumbs up or thumbs down during a classroom discussion, her kids held up their iPod with either the green screen or the red to show agreement or disagreement. And while it seems pretty simple, the teacher shared that this little change in behavior made a big difference in the amount of participation during discussion.

And with over 100,000 iPod apps out there, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

What are your favorite apps or iPod ideas?

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