Best educational apps special education


ExitTicket is an interactive, real-time, “exit ticket” style classroom question and feedback system designed to accelerate student and teacher performance. No more paper exit slips to sort and categorize. Instead, Exit Ticket runs on all smartphones and tablets, enabling students and teachers to get real time feedback on their thinking at any time during the class. Teachers efficiently pull from a library of questions or create their own on-the-fly “Quickets!” to enhance learning and differentiation in their lessons. Students engage with and track their own learning in cutting-edge fashion, taking ownership of and buying into their education like never before. Whether checking for understanding, quizzing or polling, ExitTicket enables both student and teacher to target their efforts to maximize the classroom learning experience.

ExitTicket designed in the classroom by teachers
Students using ExitTicket for the first time.
Since the beginning of August 2011, ExitTicket has gone from barely a concept prototype to a fully functioning application, supporting 5 teachers, 16 classes of 30 students each, and generating over 15,000 assessment artifacts every week. How? By embedding the designers and developers directly in the classroom.

Mr. Garland’s Algebra 1 Class using the first version of the Projector
Leadership Public Schools (LPS) has always had a strong research and development focus towards EdTech innovation. With ExitTicket, we wanted to create a next generation application that’s been designed by teachers for students, with students giving their immediate feedback of whether it improved their performance. “Many EdTech products are designed by non-teachers under perfect conditions within corporate labs,” says Dr. Waters, Superintendent and CEO of Leadership Public Schools. “This usually leads to products and applications which aren’t as effective as they need to be, or are difficult for teachers to use. That’s why we embedded our design team right inside the classroom for 3 months, every day, all day until they fully understood what it takes to manage a classroom full of teenagers.”

Donated iPods and equipment for the first ExitTicket classroom deployment
Over the course of 3 months, several teachers and the LPS Innovation team met and designed ExitTicket from the ground up. Then in late August ExitTicket was embedded in Mr Garland’s Algebra 1 Class. It was an immediate hit with the students. “I’ve never seen this level of intensity and engagement before,” says Mr. Garland. “When the iPods roll out, there’s an immediate focus and attention to getting that question right.”

Once the basic student module and question engine were stabilized, the rest of the components to the system were brought online, including the teacher desktop module, the iPad version that tracks the students’ performance in detail, and the projector module, which shows an overall class average score, a bar chart to show right/wrong ratios for questions, a heatmap of each student’s answers, and a “Superstar board” showing the top performing students. In addition, a “Biggest Movers” board was also implemented to show the biggest growth gainers from last week.

“That’s extremely compelling for students,” says Mr. Garland, “as the lower performing students who never got a chance to be on the superstar board are suddenly able to get on the board based just by performing better than last week. This levels the playing field and makes it much more intense. Everyone now has a chance to have their name up there.”

Ms Thomas using ExitTicket in a PC lab
The next rollout was in Ms. Thomas’s Academic Numeracy class in Richmond. The classroom was already outfitted with a PC for each student, so it was a perfect testing environment to see how ExitTicket would perform on other platforms besides just mobile. We found that it was much more stable and robust than we anticipated, and because each of the PC’s were wired instead of using WIFI, we had much less issues than with the mobile and WIFI environments with iPods.

A week later, ExitTicket was launched in the LPS-Hayward campus in three classes, Algebra 1, Academic Numeracy and Geometry 1. One classroom received a set of 30 iPod Touches and the second classroom used the installed base of a PC lab. After some basic network troubleshooting, ExitTicket performed well under the increased load of additional teachers and students.

iPod Touch rollout in Ms. Zapata’s Algebra 1 classroom
From a technical standpoint, ExitTicket was developed and hosted on a basic shared hosting commercial service provided. Once the number of teachers and students increased dramatically, ExitTicket was moved to a cloud based computing environment with dedicated CPU/GPU time for the database. Now ExitTicket is able to expand and grow with the additional LPS schools that will be adopting ExitTicket in the coming months.

It is anticipated that all LPS schools (Richmond, Hayward, College Park/Oakland, and San Jose) will all be using ExitTicket by the end of 2011. ExitTicket is also being designed to enable other schools and districts to use the system for free beginning in the first quarter of 2012. If you’d like to be a part of our early access program, please be sure to enter your details on the home page so we can contact you when the system is available.

Tappie Colorit
Categorized as a game in iTunes, Tappie Colorit offers more than just entertainment for toddlers and preschoolers. This iPad app offers a delightful learning environment for working on a number of objectives in a completely kid-safe environment.
Tappie Colorit is a puzzle app that was designed with kids ages 1 to 3 in mind, but could be used with older children, too. This app could be used for learning objectives such as the use of fine motor skills, cognitive development skills and identifying colors and shapes.
Children may need some assistance getting started as the only instructions provided are a simple hand symbol indicating what is expected. An option to hear the color or shape name of the object the child has chosen would be beneficial for the child to associate the color (or shape) name with the visual of what the color (or shape) looks like.
In addition to the main screen, which has been designed to be used as a puzzle, the app includes eight puzzles. Puzzles do become slightly more difficult as children advance through the app. The first puzzle might show a picture of a pine tree, for example, then the object is next shown as a you might see in a wood puzzle; requiring the user to use the four pieces to put the tree back together again. Later in the set, more pieces are available than what are needed to complete the puzzle. Another puzzle set may require the child to match the vehicle to a garage of the same color or match the butterflies to the flowers of the same color and so on.
Amusing sounds are used for feedback; such as when the incorrect puzzle piece is used or when a puzzle has been completed. The neutral background and basic colors used throughout the app not only offer a warm environment for the kids to play, but the colors are the basic colors that the kids should be learning at this young age; neither the background, colors or sounds are distracting.
Extremely kid-safe, in-app purchases, ads, social media buttons or external links are not contained in Tappie Colorit. We especially love apps that our children can play in safely.
A separate iPhone version is available in iTunes.

How to make an effective exit ticket

I spent a lot of time this year refining my procedure for exit tickets with student remotes (“clickers”), and I ended up with a pretty simple formula. There is an emphasis on classroom management, here, as clickers cannot really be effective if you are not maintaining strict expectations during this time, so I would be sure that your students understand those first. Be clear that there should be silence, students need to do their own work only, and set up some expectations for once they have finished their exit ticket (likely to happen at vastly different paces). Also, set up some consequences for attempted cheating, messaging that this is a check for understanding, not a test..It’s nice if you can already have clickers at the students’ desks in a pouch of some kind, since the passing out of these devices can take tons of valuable time and reduce the impact. Students should also be given time to get to know the device, their login/ID# if they need one, and be trained in using the technology well – and without vandalizing it. Set up clear consequences surrounding graffiti as well. Students will be excited to be able to demonstrate their own knowledge and their is a lot of intrinsic motivation surrounding that, but it is important to structure the environment clearly. You will find that the daily high-pressure moment is actually very valuable to the students’ learning, whereas a loosey-goosey moment might not be.

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