Free Apps to Capture, Create and Connect to the Common Core

In the Digital Classroom, teachers have many opportunities to design flexible and engaging student-driven learning experiences that allow them to create. Adopting this style of teaching and learning can be overwhelming, especially when being expected to embrace new technology and also implement the Common Core Standards at the same time. After all, there are many individual CCSS standards to address and there are also a ton of apps to try. Here is some helpful advice and a few suggested apps to help teachers embrace the changing classroom climate.

Use Script Writing

The Common Core is filled with writing, speaking and listening standards that can be incorporated into learning experiences that provide students with opportunities to create. Use of a script writing as an essential instructional planning piece will provide opportunities to incorporate the CCSS into the learning experiences. Students can use Popplet  to freely generate ideas, then organize them before creating. Use the Common Core app, by Mastery Connect, for easy access to the standards when needed.
Creativity Apps

ThingLink Mobile

ThingLink Mobile is an app that allows users to create and share multimedia rich interactive images in a flash.  Just open the app,  take a photo, tag the image with video or text, and share. You can embed YouTube video into the image with a simple copy and paste, import existing video from your camera roll, or take video on the go within the app. The ThingLink App provides iPad users with the ability to quickly capture snippets of learning as they happen, and it is quite appealing for adding richness to the teachable moments in our classrooms.


Pixntell is free app that allows users to quickly create and share a narrated slideshow of photos. Just select images from the camera roll , record narration and share newly created videos via DropBox, FaceBook, YouTube or email. You can even apply special effects to images if desired. The app couldn’t be simpler to use.


Educreations is an app that turns an iPad into a recordable, whiteboard, useful for creating tutorials or presentations that can include multiple slides. Users can import images from the camera roll, Dropbox or the web. There is also a built in camera to take photos right within the app. Information can be added to a slide through typed text or users can use the pen option to draw. Anice feature that sets Educreations apart from similiar whiteboard apps is the option to duplicate pages, making it easy to create an organized, narrated screencast of slides. There is also the option to change the white canvas to graph paper or lined paper.


ShowMe is another creativity app that allows users to record voices while drawing on a whiteboard.  Users can import images from their camera roll, or through a built in web search. There is also a handy camera button which allows uses to capture real world examples of learning. Since there is no option to type text, users have to use the pen tool  to add words and highlight ideas.. This app uses a single page as the canvas. The app is simple enough for young students to create a one page ShowMe, but to achieve more complex results users have to learn to make good use of the pause button to move objects to and from the single page canvas.

Publishing and Sharing

Most of the apps highlighted provide a website to publish and share created digital content and they also offer the ability to embed the content elsewhere. In order to maximize instructional time and get the most out of digital content, teachers should consider publishing them in one central location on the web for quick access.  Teachers can publish tutorials they create to provide opportunities for students to view digital lessons prior to class to front load the learning,. These tutorials are also useful for providing opportunities for review and enrichment. In addition, a central repository of digital materials can provide efficient and engaging ways for students to explore and evaluate content created by their peers, especially when combined with a guided learning experience that requires students to interact with the content.  An added bonus of student generated digital content is the ability to create digital portfolios of student work to measure growth and progress.

Final Thoughts

Although the Common Core aligned digital classroom may seem like an incredible amount of work, it’s important to remember that there are plenty of digital pioneers out there who have been paving the way by creating digital materials and designing technology fueled learning experiences for students.  A good place to start is to take advantage of shared resources that are available on the websites associated with each of these apps, then try creating something simple to test the ease of use of the tools before jumping in and designing something more complex.

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