Apt Apps – 2

Today I’ll look at some non-graphing apps for the iPad; apps that may help teachers in other ways. As I mentioned before, I have not used or evaluated all of the many, many apps of each types discussed here. Nor am I familiar with apps for other tablets. These are just the ones I have and like.

iAnnotate PDF by Branchfire www.branchfire.com is a great app for storing and annotating documents. You can save any PDF file (downloaded by e-mail or from a browser) and it will convert other files to PDF for you. The documents may then be annotated by writing, typing, highlighting etc. I have almost all the AP calculus exams saved here so I can quickly look up questions and scoring standards. While working with 40-some schools recently I kept all the teacher’s schedules and addresses here. The filing system works well. It connects seamlessly with Dropbox and similar cloud systems. Files can be e-mailed and printed as well.

There are a variety of apps for note taking. My favorite is Notability www.gingerlabs.com. You can take notes by hand and include drawings and annotations. You may also type the notes using the iPad’s keyboard; some formatting is possible when typing. There are a variety of pen colors and background designs including graph paper. Sections may be cut out and easily moved within the document. Audio voice-over or recording of a speaker while taking notes is possible. Documents can be imported and exported to cloud services.

There are many other note taking programs such as Penultimate, Educreatons, Doceri, ShowMe, Whiteboard, and even iAnnotate PDF. They all have similar features. I prefer Notability for note taking because the screen scrolls vertically allowing you to do a long problem without starting new pages. The other programs are made for a single screen only or have pages that turn like a book; continuing a long computation this way is clumsy. Whiteboard allows collaboration with two or more iPads using the same screen.

Socrative www.socrative.com is a student response (clicker) system. The teacher has one app which allows him or her to set up a free account. Students use a different free app (on their smartphone, iPad or computer) to sign into the teacher’s “classroom” with a single number that remains the same for each teacher. The same student app can be used with a different “Room Number” for a different teacher’s class. The teacher pushes a previously made worksheet, test or quiz in various formats (multiple-choice, True-false, short answer, “Exit ticket”), or just a blank template for any of these. (With the blank template the teacher presents the questions orally in class.) The students enter their answers, the results go to the teacher immediately, and are returned as a graph. As with other clickers, the graph can be projected so students and teachers can see the result immediately: the ultimate in formative assessment. Grade reports can be sent to to the teacher by e-mail at the end of the activity.

Splashtop www.splashtop.com is not so much just for education. Installed on the iPad and any number of computers with both devices connected to the internet, Splashtop allows the user to run one computer from their iPad or a different computer. I have seen teachers use Splashtop on their iPad as a digitizing tablet (think: Bamboo, or Airliner). They write on the iPad or run programs that reside on the computer with their iPad. Since there are no wires on the iPad the teacher is free to move around the room as they talk.

Of course, there are many other apps, and more being produced every day. These are just a few that I am familiar with. Please comment or describe your favorites using the “Leave a Comment” link below.


2 thoughts on “Apt Apps – 2

  1. My previous post Apt Apps – 1 (August 7, 2013) listed some math specific apps. These, along with my graphing calculator (required for AP Calculus) are the ones I use most often. TI-Nspire can do the heavy duty CAS work along with WolframAlpha and Mathink. The others can do most of the arithmetic and computations similar to a non-CAS graphing calculator but of course cannot be used on the AP exams.

    The entry of expressions on the TI-Nspire is done in the usual math notation using built-in templates, not the single line keyboard entry. Mathink entry is done by finger or stylus and is the same as you would write on paper with a pencil.


  2. Hi Lin,
    thanks for sharing these recommendations. I’m running two websites with online calculators, and I’m thinking about whether it’d be worthwile turning them into an app (for both iOS and Android). Do you use any math-specific apps? Do you know if your students do? I personally always find it hard to enter formulas using an on-screen keyboard.


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