Taking Apps out of the Useless Folder

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Greetings everyone and Happy Hump Day. If you are look at the top image and seeing Teacher Andy up there you are probably saying: “Wait what?!” or “Why are you displaying android, IOS and GAFE up there?” Well, its pretty simple, I was working with a few students of mine the other day and we were going over Evernote. For those who don’t know, Evernote is a great productivity App that can be used for note taking, journaling, presenting and voice notes and synchs across all platforms from mobile to desktop. Two of my teachers decided to have students start using Evernote along with their sister Apps such as: Skitch, Penultimate and Everpeak with some students. However, the main question came up: “Why did you think that App was useless?” The answer: “We have never used it for anything and I didn’t know what it did.” Unfortunately, this is not a one time deal, not only have I seen it happen with my students but also with other schools in different eco systems. In fact, I was talking with my niece who has chromebooks for their school and Google Forms is way off in the corner of their control center because its rarely used or done for any type of an assignment. So, the question is: “How do we get Apps out of the Useless Folder?” Of course the simplest answer is: “Just start using the App or Resource.” but of course it is never that easy. Just because you start using the App doesn’t mean it won’t find itself inside the Useless Folder again. The trick is to not only use it but use it well with other Apps and Resources and various subjects. Here are a few ways of getting those Apps back out in the open.

1. With Evernote, the reason why it wasn’t used much was because most students did their Bell ringers on Pages or the Notes App on their iPads. Now, with IOS 8 both of those Apps have expanded and left Evernote out in the cold. However, as I worked with my teachers, while Notes and Pages can be synched with iCloud, they can’t be accessed on every device, especially if you use an IOS in school and then a PC at home. With Evernote, the trick was showing the main features of taking notes, adding annotations and synchs with its sister Apps. My students love Skitch and so do my teachers but many didn’t know they could save their Skitches righto Evernote. They always found having to delete the various pictures on their photo galleries to make room for more. With Evernote and its wonderful 5G space and more if you go premium. Those Skitches can be synced and saved in Evernote and organized like folders on the iPad. Even better, students were able to print when they went to their home computers due to not having AirPrint at home. Instead of emailing or uploading the notes to Google Drive, they were able to easily login with the desktop App or online and print their notes out and then organized them in their way. What was even more amazing was thanks to IOS 8, students were able to convert their Notes from the Notes App right into Evernote without any problems and then add in pictures, voice recordings and even attach their Keynote files to it.

Make it a lot easier for them to back up and move files around without having to go through 3rd party apps or work arounds. This saved them a lot of time and as a result. Other students are starting to use Evernote for their note taking in class and with their various subjects. What as once considered “useless” is now “useful”.

2. App Dice: Yes, of course I’m working my App Dice into this because the original basis for App Dice was to try out Apps with other Apps you don’t normal use or rarely use. The best way is to take those Apps that are in the Useless File and put them on one die and then put your regular Apps on another. Now, roll the one App Dice that has your favorite or One Screen Apps and then roll the “Useless” App Dice twice. Yes, twice and then do your App Smash. I had teachers who saw no use for Chirp until they did this. All of a sudden, sending links to Padlet Boards, websites when QR Codes weren’t working or sharing pictures with younger students who don’t have email or Google Drive became a snap. Same goes with Instashare, older students love using this for collaboration or sharing assignments between each other but younger students scratched their heads but when they saw they could share their videos and Pages files between each other when Instashare came up, it opened up a whole new way of thinking. Amazing what happens when you try an unfamiliar App with one you always use.

3. Its not the App, its the applying: I’ll tell you a nice story, a few weeks ago I was talking to a teacher who has Kindles for their students and they love using the PBS Apps and Game Apps and while they didn’t have a problems with gamefication with Angry Birds, Temple Run or yes Wild Kratts. It became more of using these Apps for just free time more than learning. I asked them, “what is Angry Birds?” They said: “Slinging birds and popping pigs but its basic geome…” that’s when they stopped and realized they could use Angry Birds to teach angles and geometry and they were off and running. Reason why I did a Stick Around Puzzle about Wild Kratts and “What is your creature power?” There is an Android App that allows you to put your face on the various armor powers the Kratt Brothers use. So, it became a research subject, look at what the animals use and then put yourself in that spot with your favorite animal or one you find so interesting. I did a Painted Bat, been interested in that mammal for years due to its uniqueness. Well, I did a little research and this bat’s colors are used for camouflage and it flies low in circles to avoid prey. Hey, I don’t know about you but I love to have those abilities plus radar as a power for a day, think of the possibilities? Of course, right there, what would be considered a pass time App or in the Useless File just became Useful.

4. Google Forms: I get this all the time, and if you are a GAFE educator you know students and teachers wonder how to use this on a regular basis. I love Google Forms because you can use it to create quizzes, polls and questionnaires. Have students do the same, have them complete a poll on what they liked the most about last night’s readings? How about they create a student mini quiz to help their peers study for tests and an assignments. Want to set up Group roles? Use Google Forms to create them. There are plenty of uses with Forms, in fact, I’m making one for an upcoming giveaway.

These are just a few examples of how you can get those Apps out of the Useless File and get them back in the hands of students and teachers. Just remember, there is not such thing as a useless App, its how its applied and used. Trust me, even a simple contact list can be used to create an amazing project or lesson. You just have to say to yourself: “How would this work with what I’m teaching?” That’s all, that’s the big answer, just try.

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