AASL Best Apps Feature Top Choices in STEM, AR/VR, Content Creation

The much anticipated best apps, chosen by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) each year, were announced on Saturday, alongside the best websites. But it was for the last time—the lists will be merged into a single best learning tools annual list beginning in 2020.

The much anticipated best apps, chosen by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) each year, were announced on Saturday, alongside the best websites. But it was for the last time—the lists will be merged into a single best learning tools annual list beginning in 2020.

Here are the Best Apps for Teaching and Learning 2019, announced at the American Library Association Annual conference:

ChatterPix Kids (Duck Duck Moose)

Add audio to any image with this tool. Draw a line on an image to create a mouth, and make it talk. Use is not limited to photographs, or human speech, for that matter. 

Earthviewer (HHMI BioInteractive)

Students can dive into Earth’s deep history, exploring biodiversity, solar luminosity, and more, over geologic time. Files can be downloaded for offline viewing. For Web: Firefox or Chrome browsers. App is iOS only.

Equity Maps (David Nelson)

A tool for tracking class discussion and individual participation.

Figment AR (Viro Media)

A free app for enhancing your real-life scene with playful emoji, animals, and portals.

Greenscreen by DoInk

Popular among librarians, Greenscreen by DoInk enables users to create greenscreen video and images. Looking for inspiration around using the technilogy? Todd Burleson, an SLJ School Librarian of the Year, wrote a guide, The Greenscreen Makerspace Project Book (SLJ's review).

iCell (Hudson Alpha)

Provides a 3-D representation of the user’s choice of animal, bacteria, or plant cells. Students, grades 5-12, can zoom and rotate the perspective, and explanatory text ranges from basic, intermediate, and advanced.  

iCivics 

The app suite gamifying civic education for grades 6–12 includes “Win the White House,” “Immigration Nation,” and “Executive Command.”

Khan Academy Kids 

Geared for young children, ages 3–5, Khan Academy Kids is aligned with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework.

Mixerpiece (Giuseppe Ragazzini)

An-easy to-use interface, according to SLJ’s review, enables users to choose from 300 images from famous artworks to create their own. Mixerpiece is recommended for “anyone who considers art projects and creation a favorite form of play,” wrote our reviewer, Kathleen Wilson.

Nearpod

An interactive platform for learning, Nearpod facilitates lesson creation and student response; choose from a range of lessons, including VR integration, and import your own content.

Novel Effect

Novel Effect uses voice recognition to compliment read alouds with sound effects and music. “Parents, teachers, and librarians can use it to spice up their read alouds or revisit old favorites by adding a new soundscape. Students can practice their reading fluency as the app responds to their voice,” according to AASL.

Object Viewer (MERGE)

Upload or share 3-D objects with this app, designed for use with the MERGE Cube.

PBS KIds ScratchJr

This collaboration involving Tufts University and the MIT Media Lab helps children ages 5-8 create their own stories and games using PBS characters and learn coding concepts at the same time.

Quizlet

Create flashcards, interactive games based on your content.  

Sites in VR (Ercan Gigi)

Virtual tours of landmarks around the world and beyond, from the Eiffel Tower to Mars.

Sora (OverDrive)

Ebook and audiobook reading increased more than 240% when students connected their Sora classroom reading app to their local public library versus students solely accessing their school collection, OverDrive announced today. 

Stop Motion Studio (Cateater)

Try your hand at stop-motion animation—à la Wallace and Gromit—with this full-featured app. Enables frame-by-frame editing; sound effects; titling; painting, with layers, and more.

Tynker

Tynker empowers students to learn to code through play, according to the AASL presentation. Solve engaging puzzles, modify Minecraft worlds, program robots and drones, create custom games, make drawings, and build and animate characters.

Wakelet

With productivity tool Wakelet, students can curate, organize, and share content. Academic users include Harvard School of Education and California State University, according to the company.

Wolfram Alpha

AASL cited Wolfram Alpha as "a credible source for instant expert knowledge and computation," recommended for ages 5–12.

The Best Apps in Symbaloo.

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Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka (kishizuka@mediasourceinc.com, @kishizuka on Twitter) is the Executive Editor of School Library Journal.

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