As we continue to incorporate the latest technological advances into every aspect of our daily lives, educators are looking to see how technology can be integrated into the classroom to enhance and expand student learning.
The iPad is one of the most popular technological innovations of recent years, in part because of its enormous selection of apps that people can use in virtually every area --- from personal finance and health to social networking and gaming.
In response to the importance of technology to education, numerous educational apps are being developed (often by teachers) to add another dimension to the classroom experience. One of the best ways to engage with students is through stimulating and educational games, and there are now a variety of such games available for the iPad. The following is a list of five widely used and highly reviewed educational games. They have each won significant awards or distinctions because of their popularity and the impact they have on learning, and should therefore be considered by any teacher looking to incorporate technology into his or her classroom.
Rocket Math is a challenging and interactive game that has students build a rocket with credits earned by solving a variety of mathematical problems. Once the rocket is built and launched into space, students embark on different missions that test their knowledge of math skills. With 90 rocket pieces to be collected, and 56 missions, this game provides hours upon hours of engaging fun that not only entertains students, but challenges them to think critically and apply their math education to different scenarios.
Developed by National Geographic, the GeoBee Challenge app is geared towards students in fourth grade or higher. Enhanced by stunningly detailed maps from National Geographic, the GeoBee Challenge tests students’ knowledge of geography based on accuracy as well as speed. The faster students answer a question correctly, the higher they score. Over 1,000 multiple-choice questions interact with the National Geographic maps to test students on specific locations.
Stack the Countries is a fun and exciting geography app that’s great for students of all ages. With this app, your students will learn about country names, landmarks, capitals, cities, flags and languages through three interactive games. In “Stack the Countries,” students have to try collecting all 193 countries by answering trivia questions. In “Pile Up!”, they have to get rid of a collection of countries by successfully identifying each one, and in “Map It!”, they must fill in a map of the world by identifying countries and cities. There are even informative flash cards that they can use to prepare for the game (or study for a test). Stack the States is a companion to this app.
ABC Shakedown Plus is a teacher-developed app that aims to increase literacy and fluency in young students through three games that help with pronunciation, spelling and reading. The “Classic” game introduces students to the alphabet, while “See It, Say It” reinforces their letter recognition and pronunciation. “Hear It, Hit It” also tests students’ listening abilities.
Star Walk is great for students of all ages, but especially for students beginning to learn about astronomy in middle or high school. This “augmented reality” app is designed for students to interact with the world around them while learning more about it --- and particularly the night sky. As they point the iPad at the night sky, Star Walk labels the stars, constellations and satellites in that direction. Multiple features allow for a more in-depth interaction, such as the Time Machine, which allows students to see what the sky looked like at a particular moment in the past, or the Search, which helps them find planets. Calendars and notifications of celestial events keep astronomy lessons relevant and exciting, and can allow you to plan your lessons accordingly. This app is a Parents Choice 2012 Gold Award winner.