DocScan HD Pro

doc scan hd pro

DocScan HD Pro

Age Scale:  10+

Device:  iPhone, iPod, and iPad

Quick Line: No Scanner?  No Problem!

What Educators Need to Know:

How many times do you wish you had a copy machine in your classroom?  I mean, the printer is nice, but sometimes, you just need…one.more.copy.  So, you trek down to the copy machine, wait in line, waste your precious time.

Well, wait no more.  Snap a picture with your iPhone camera while in DocScan HD Pro.  Drag and set a perimeter, choose color or black and white, and save that sucker!  It even removes shadows and corrects curled or wrinkled pages!  Continue scanning and adding pages to your document, or export your new pdf to email, Dropbox, or Evernote.  Create folders for subjects, topics, or skills.  Preserve your best resources digitally or print them when you are in a bind for that single copy!

I have found so many uses for this app.  I’ve certainly scanned my share of lost/misplaced documents for students.  And I’ve copied collaborative student notes, so individuals can add on  at home.  But most importantly, I’ve used it to post resources to Edmodo, the social platform we use for our classroom.  Students who are absent don’t have to wait for work to come home.  They simply log on and print.

DocScan has made reproducing documents so easy and convenient.  I absolutely love it!

Price:  $1.99

Pic Collage


Age Scale:  9+

Device:  iPhone, iPod, and iPad

Quick Line:  Easy Artistic Summaries

What Educators Need to Know:

As you may have noticed by my current social media promotion, I absolutely loved using iMovie to produce trailers as a culminating project after reading novels.  If you didn’t catch it, see it here:

But we recently finished reading The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss.  This sensitive autobiography is set during WWII as young Annie, a Jewish girl in German-occupied Holland, is forced to live in hiding.  Naturally, I wanted to be sure that our project matched the seriousness of the topic.

I asked the students to create “visual summaries” using the app Pic Collage.  They began by brainstorming words and phrases on paper for each of the main characters, setting, and events.  They selected the 30 most powerful ideas to represent with words and pictures.  [We learned quickly that users are limited to 30 items.]  Quick Safari searches yielded a Camera Roll full of terrific examples.  Pic Collage allowed them to “cut” them as if they were creating true collages from mixed media.

The results were stunning.  Now, I’m no art teacher, but I shared several examples of collage art and encouraged them to use the space wisely and create a focal point of some sort.  We also talked about smart text, color, and font selection.  Without too much guidance in this department, I thought they did an amazing job.  If we hadn’t run out of time, they would have written paragraphs explaining some of their choices.  Their final products were evaluated on content, appearance, and mechanics.

Check out one of my favorites:


Pic Collage is a free app available for all devices.  Many of my students downloaded it at home as it can be used for all sorts of projects.  There are a number of backgrounds, layouts, editing options, and text effects to meet the needs of just about any project.  In fact, the students are now using it on independent research projects regarding our current novel, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.  Pic Collage also offers “School Settings”.  You can disable a user’s ability to grab photos from the web from within the app as well as disable the social media and profile tabs.  Good thinking!  This app is easy and fun to use!

Price:  FREE




iMovie for iPad


Age Scale: 10+

Device: iPad

Quick Line:  Hollywood Here We Come!

What Educators Need to Know:

I’m not bragging or anything, but this year, my students are sharp.  And now that I can focus almost completely on teaching Reading, I am finding that I have TIME to do the FUN things that I have wistfully pinned on Pinterest!  We finished 2013 with a bang!  While my heart and mind dreamed of sliding into the holiday break, I wanted to conclude our PALS unit with some sort of book review project that integrated technology.  Now, iMovie scared me.  It looks so, well, fancy.  I’m far from an artsy, creative type (that’s my hubby), and I desperately seek organization in my lessons.  But I held my breath, crossed my fingers, and dove in.  And I am so glad that I did!  I will warn you:  I did not have the courage (or patience!) to have the students create iMovies from scratch.  I, instead, started with iMovie trailers which are a series of pre-made templates complete with a storyboard, editable text boxes, pre-selected transitions, and pre-programmed music.  It was perfect for a first time user like me (and most of my students), and the results were outstanding.  Students dragged and dropped their photos and videos and created text to convey the emotion behind the book and chosen template.  Some of them were almost shaking because they were so excited to share their projects.  I was so proud of them!  Here are a few samples of my favorites.   Next time, as there will certainly be a next time, I will allow students to create their own iMovie trailers from scratch by choosing their own audio clips and working with a picture editing app.  If you have any suggestions on how to take this project to the next level, please leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.

PS Longer Letter from The iPod Teacher on Vimeo.

The Christmas Genie from The iPod Teacher on Vimeo.


Price:  $4.99

[Also, if you are looking for more information on PALS, click here.  It may be single most effective technique I use in my Reading classroom.]

Annie’s Picking Apples 2

annies picking app

Age Scale: 2-6

Device: iPad

Quick Line:  Perfect Preschool Pick

What Educators Need to Know:

Traveling for the holiday?  Looking to maintain skills over a break?  Annie’s Picking Apples 2 will help you with this.  And the best part?  It will PROVE that your child is learning!

annies picking mapWorking with Annie will help your child develop number awareness and counting skills to 20.  There are 27 “worlds” or activities in this educational game.  There are four primary categories:  counting games (blue icons), making pies (yellow icons), puzzles (puzzle piece icons), and trophies (trophy icons).  The content is heaviest in the blue areas.  Children will encounter five games including classifying, sorting, memory, catching, and throwing.  Making apple pie seems to be designed to provide fun as children will slice butter, pour milk, crack and egg, etc. to make a pie.  Although there are few pieces, the puzzles can be a challenge as children must drag and turn pieces to complete.  Trophies are awarded for the completion of each category.  Not every icon will be focused on math, but I believe the design will eliminate burnout for younger learners.

All of this might seem ordinary, but what sets this app apart are its performance trackers.  Entering the parent area via a double-digit math problem will provide a series of five choices.  The first is a parent report.   As you know, my classroom instruction is data-driven, and I can do the same at home with this app.  I can see my child’s performance on each of the five games in the following areas:  number awareness, visual pairing, and concentration.  Not sure what all this means?  Click info, and a description is provided.  I can also see when my child has played each activity in the activity log.  If you are a preschool or kindergarten teacher, this would be a great alternative to black and white assessments!

annies picking reportAnother fabulous feature are its controls.  The parent portal provides recommendations on how to change the iPad’s configurations to meet the needs of individual children.  You can increase time limits, stop puzzle pieces from locking, set a time control for multiple users, and set time limits for overall app use.  You can also clear reports when transitioning from one child to another.  All of these options will provide safe and healthy usage for younger students and students with special needs.

On the whole, Annie’s Picking Apples is really terrific.  Kids will be pleased with the games.  Parents will be pleased with the controls.  And teachers will be pleased with the reports.  I would highly recommend this app for preschool, kindergarten, and special needs children.

Price:  $2.99




Mystery Math Museum

Age Scale: 6-12

Device: iPad

Quick Line: Don’t Mess with Success

What Educators Need to Know:

Do you have Halloween on the brain?  I know I do!  Check out Artgig Apps’ newest creation – just in time for Halloween!

Say you are a ghost. You’ve already haunted every house in Mystery Math Town. You’ve collected your buddies, the fireflies, and your art collection is pretty extensive, if a bit peculiar.

But you are ready to move on. What’s a ghost to do?  Ghosts are immortal but powerless without a home to torment.

You hear about a new hot spot. It sounds pretty promising. It’s called Mystery Math Museum, and the premise is the same: move from room to room collecting and releasing dragonflies while solving math problems. You hear that you’ll need to brush up on your division skill set. Now that’s something you didn’t need to do in Math Town!

You decide to give it a try. The first museum has a sports theme. Sweet! As you pass through, the portraits, once again, begin to talk to you. You think they might make an nice addition to your gallery, so you press on, hoping to score some gold coins for your excellent computational skills. As expected, you are soon rewarded, and you decide to make Mystery Math Museum your permanent residence.  Lucky you! You didn’t have to travel far to find yourself right at home.

Once again, Artgig Apps creates a product that appeals to adults and children alike.  Gaming in education is a hot topic right now, and these creative developers have their pulse on how to maximize learning. The ability to add multiple users with varying abilities is essential to the modern classroom.  I love that a simple tap can change the game from simple addition to division using dice to represent numbers. Enrich or re-mediate? Mystery Math Museum can do both!

This app is just quirky enough to get your attention and just delightful enough to keep it!   Like any other institution with engaging exhibits, I will have to drag my kids out of Mystery Math Museum!  It is well worth the price of admission!

See my review of Mystery Math Town here!

Price: $2.99



My Little Pony: Party of One


Age Scale:3-6

Device: iPad

Quick Line: A Sweet Reading Treat

What Educators Need to Know:

Those of you that know me are probably wondering why I would possibly writing about a My Little Pony app. I don’t have a daughter, and I teach sixth grade. Doesn’t seem like a good fit for me, personally? You are right. But when Hasbro and Playdate Digital bring an app to the table, I’m going to take a look. Check out my reviews of  Magic Stickers and Play Doh ABCs

My Little Pony: Party of One is a digital storybook based on an episode of this popular series. It can be read aloud or independently with a click of the button. Navigation is simple. Tapping left or right turns the page. Illustrations outlined in white are animated with a touch. Highlighted words can be repeated, and users can learn new words in the Word Round Up. The story is easy to follow and of a nice length. Fans of the show will be happy to know that Pinkie Pie’s voice is the one heard in the app. I don’t know much about that, but I suppose E would be happy if the true Donatello was represented in a TMNT app.

In this case, simple is better than complex. I’ve seen many apps try to outdo themselves with extraneous dialogue or directions, and children rarely have the patience for this (neither do I)! However, if you are looking to truly build a sight word reading vocabulary, you’ll want to pass. The Word Round Up contained a somewhat random list of words, some of which were not used in the story. Weird! Also, the Party of One story carried a valuable lesson : Always expect the best from your friends and never assume the worst. Of course, E offered his own: Always don’t be mad. Hmmm… Maybe he missed the point.

All in all, I understand the power branded characters have on reluctant readers. If you have a My Little Pony fan at home or in the classroom, you will not be wasting your money on this app. Do I think there could be some educational improvements? Sure. But if your intent is to hook them, it just might do the job! 

Price: $2.99