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10 Wonderful Organizational iPad Apps for Elementary Music Teachers

10As the new school year is set to begin, I always try to find better ways to organize my schedule, my lessons, my seating charts, my grade book, my students’ works, etc. Through the years, I have found that when I can organize digitally, I not only save paper, I can usually access many of those digital items from the cloud and share that information quickly and easily. Due to these reasons, I am able to stay more organized, which frees up time that used to be spent finding where everything was filed or kept.

1. iDoceo      2. Planbook     3. Class Dojo     4. CS Music Teacher     5. Stop Dancing     6. Seesaw: The Learning Journal    7. Siri     8. Photon EDU     9. Upload Cam     10. Hudl Technique

1.iScreen Shot 2015-08-01 at 3.11.33 PMDoceo – This app has become a music educator’s best friend because this app can keep track of all of your classes’ seating charts, behavior charts, attendance charts, grades, audio Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 7.21.01 AMassessments, video assessments, and more. My favorite items of this app are the following (and these are just a few of the many things that it can do):

  • Setting up the classes: I ask the administrator’s assistant for the excel file of the class lists. She emails them to me. Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 4.06.31 PMI open the mail app on my iPad and find her email with the excel file attached to the email. I click and hold the attachment. A new menu appears giving you options to what app you would like to open it in, I click iDoceo4, the app launches, I click on “Create new class”, and then the class is set up and ready to go.
  • Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 12.40.59 PMCreating a Seating Plan: When you tap on your class’s name, iDoceo will take you to the screen where on the top, it reads, “Summary Gradebook Diary Notes Seating plan Pin board.” When you tap on “Seating plan”, your students’ names will appear. Tap and hold a student’s name and you will see another menu appear. Tap on “Take picture”and iDoceo will ask you to access your iPad’s camera. When you allow this, you can now take a picture of the student. Once finished, you have pictures of your students that you can now click and drag into their seating order. You can create five seating plans per each class. I also use this tool to create riser charts for the concerts.Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 4.09.45 PM
    • Tip #1: I changed the background of the seating plan to show the carpet that I use in my classroom. To do this, I tapped on “…” on the top right-hand corner of the screen, placed a picture of my music carpet in my Dropbox (you can take a picture or download it from a website),tapped on “Background image”, tapped “+”, and imported it from Dropbox.
    • Tip #2:Tap the share button on the top right-hand corner of the screen, tap “Export current view“, tap the Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 12.48.23 PMshare button again, and then tap the mail icon. The seating plan will now be placed in an email that you can email to yourself. Once you open the email, you can print out the seating plan and give it to your substitute for the days that you are away from the classroom. This way, your substitute has the seating plan, names, and pictures of all of your students. Priceless!
    • Tip #3:When you need to pick students randomly, tap on Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 12.50.33 PM“Random picker”. iDoceo will randomly pick students and place a dice next to the names that have been picked. iDoceo will stay this way until you clear the dice history by tapping on the tools (the wrench) and scrolling down to “Clear dice history”.
    • Tip #4:If you tap “…” in the upper right-hand corner of Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 12.41.17 PMthe screen, and you tap the middle choice in the “Student thumbnail” row, you will now have the students’ pictures appear on every page of your tabs.
  • Customizing Your Gradebook: 
    • Tabs: One of the most valuable assets of iDoceo is the Gradebook. The Gradebook can host several tabs listed on the Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 12.57.46 PMright side of the screen. Each tab can be its own chart.
      For example, I have tabs for assessments, Orff seating charts, Skin and Bones singing assessment (Sab),Recorder Stars earned, Five Pumpkins singing assessment, and Attendance. Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 12.58.56 PMWhen I take attendance, I tap on the + sign in the circle and tap “Attendance”. I now have an attendance column with the current date. When I double-tap on a cell, I have the choice to tap the green check (present),red X (absent),or the sand timer (late). I tap “Finish attendance” when I am done taking attendance.
    • Tip: When there is a fire drill or such, take the iPad with you so that you have an accurate attendance record with you at all times.
    • Icons: When I create a chart for assessment, or a chart for keeping track of what Orff instrument the student has played, or a chart for behavior, I can use customized icons to quickly make a note in each child’s record for that day. For example, on this day, the student “baptized” the carpet Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 1.11.33 PM(the umbrella tells me to send the student to the bathroom sooner next time),sang well (green smiley face),and was sent to the nurse (shot needle). To customize the icons, go to the main screen, Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 10.55.36 PMtap on the settings button in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, scroll down to “Icons”, and check and label the ones you want and uncheck the ones you do not want. Tap “Done” when you are finished.
    • Tip: When you see this rectangle and tap on it, it Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.18.23 PMgives you
      options on how iDoceo can automatically proceed to the next cell, the previous cell, the cell below it, or the cell above it, if you would like. When there is no arrow coming out of the rectangle, then iDoceo will not go anywhere until you tap the next cell that you would like.
  • Audio and Video Assessments: One of my favorite features of iDoceo is that you can record audio and/or video for each student. When I click on a particular student’s cell, a variety of options show up from adding icons, to writing a comment, Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 10.57.17 PMattaching a file, taking a video/picture, and recording audio. If you tap the microphone, you can record audio, like a student singing a solo, that will be included in the student’s file. If you tap the camera, you can take a video of the student singing or performing on an instrument. Once finished, the cell will have a tiny black triangle in the top right-hand corner of the cell to remind you that there is something added to this cell (whether it be audio, video, a comment, etc).
  • Adding a Comment: As stated above, one of cell options is to add a comment. This is very useful when you are assessing a student with a behavioral concern. If you add a comment, the student cannot see it because it only shows you the tiny black triangle in the right-hand corner of the cell when you complete typing the comment. If you tap on the cell, you can see the entire comment. If you tap on the mail icon, it will give you the option to mail the comment (which in this example, includes the audio file as well) to the student, the parents, or both. If you have not entered any email addresses, that is fine. You can tap on “To Parent” and your email will open asking for you to add an email address in the “to:” box. I enter the classroom teacher’s email address and the comment is now sent to him/her. This is a wonderful way to quickly send an email about behavior per class and to easily keep track of those emails.
  • Copying text from one cell to another: If you are adding an assessment that earned a grade of 100 points and you would like to copy those points to other cells, you can click and hold the cell with the number 100 in it, tap “Copy”, tap “Copy Text”, and iDoceo will read “Copy mode is active.” Now you can double tap any cell and the number 100 will be placed in the cells. To turn it off, hold the cell again and tap, “Cancel Copy”, which will deactivate the copy function.Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.14.55 PM
  • Averaging Points: iDoceo can average points per column to give you a class average, or per row to give you a student’s average. For a class average, tap the cell below the final student’s cell. A new menu appears. Tap “Average” and iDoceo will list the classes’ average Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.42.26 PMscores. For the student’s average, tap in the empty column header, tap “Add calculation”, tap “Average”, then tap the columns you want to average, and click “Save”. You will now see the student’s average.
  • Export: You can export a student’s file in several different ways. First, tap the export button at the top right-hand corner of the screen. iDoceo gives you many options from exporting a student report, to sharing it, to exporting the report as a pdf or XLs file. Second, you can Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.46.44 PMchoose options on what to include in the file, how to share it or export it, and where to open or save it in. If you want to export the student’s file in a certain way, I am sure that iDoceo can accommodate you.
  • http://www.idoceo.net is their website with so much information, you should be able to find answers to any of your questions.
  •  Price: $9.99

2. Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 3.11.15 PMPlanbook.com – Very recently, I wrote a post about how much this app has organized my lesson plans and my schedule. Planbook.com is an annual subscription and a free app. I set up my lessons online or in the app. A couple of things that I can do are I can attach all of my manipulatives to my lessons and I can add standards covered in my lessons from music standards, to common core, to PE, to state, etc. Since I teach in multiple rooms, I can access planbook.com through its free app on my iPad so that I always have my planner with me. Planbook.com can accommodate rotating schedules very well. To read a more in depth post, click herePrice: $12/year

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 3.10.50 PM3. Class Dojo – I have used this free app and website to monitor, track, and motivate my young students to perform with appropriate behavior expectations in music class. Class Dojo assigns each student an avatar where you can give them positive or negative points during music class, for such items as behavior, staying on task, etc. To use this during class, I log onto my account found at classdojo.com on my laptop and have it up on screen, but hidden so the students cannot see it. Then, on my iPad, I have the app launched and I add and subtract points using the app. The students will hear the points being added, but not see them. Once they hear the sound of the points, they immediately stop and reassess their behavior because they are not sure who is receiving or losing the points. If your classroom teachers use it in their classrooms, you can ask them to give you a code to their class for access. Then, you can chart the students’ behavior patterns from their classroom to your music classroom. Class Dojo also has a built-in randomizer to choose students during activities. I do not use it everyday; however, I have used it when needed to help a class work together better. Price: Free

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 3.10.36 PM4. CS Music Teacher App by Music Educator, Tim Purdum – This app has amazing potential! I have always had high respect for Tim. He wrote some amazing and thought-provoking blog posts when the new music standards were published. This past week, he came out with an app titled, Creative Sequence Music Teacher. From Tim, “It lets you quickly create personalized lesson plans using drop down menus for state/national standards, elements, media, and grades (K-8 for now, but if HS teachers are interested, I can add it). You can then search via keywords, share with other CSMT users, or export a PDF for printing or sharing. The app is $9.99 and works with all iOS devices. It includes a web access for reading/editing lessons from any web browser. Future features will include daily and monthly/yearly planners and possibly a grade book. All that would be free with updates.” Since the app’s launch, Tim has personally answered all questions and has been trying to keep up with all of the requests to add more standards. I am not sure if Tim sleeps. He is a dedicated music educator that has created an app that will eventually assist all music educators. See the YouTube video herePrice: $9.99 (One time price. No subscription.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 3.09.17 PM5. Stop Dancing App – A while back, I found the .99 Freeze Dance app, which took the music stored on your mobile device and automatically set the music up to play and stop for Freeze Dance. This app has left the US iTunes store, but the Stop Dancing app does the same thing. The Stop Dancing app works on both iPhones, iPods, and iPads, but looks better on the smaller screens. No more being tied to your device during this movement activity.  Price: .99

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 3.14.28 PM6. Seesaw: The Learning Journal – This app is new to me. The PreK/K classroom teachers at my school tested it at the end of last year and loved it. This is a student digital portfolio for a class of students that have access to computers and mobile devices. I can set up a class in Seesaw and by using the computers and the iPads in the my classroom, the students can write, draw, take pictures, record audio, record video, and more, in the app. The app saves their work in their individual files. Through the app, I can invite the parents to access their child’s work. For example, if the teacher sent me an email to join the class on Seesaw, I would click on the link to join. The teacher would receive my email and approve me as Mikayla’s mom. Once that is complete, anytime Mikayla produced work in Seesaw, I would receive an email notification that there is new work for me to see. I click on the email and see her new work. This could really reduce paper and it achieves one of my goals: to have the music curriculum on my parents’ mobile devices. This app is free, but to make Seesaw effective in the classroom, the school should purchase a subscription so that there are no limitations to setting up classrooms and having parents join. It would all be in a safe classroom environment. Price: Free

7. Sirisiri – When I need a question answered quickly from information about a composer to fingering charts, sometimes Siri can be the best at this.  Price: Free (found on iPad 3 or later)

photon8. Photon EDU – When I want to use the websites, incredibox.com,musictechteacher.com, and/or quavermusic.com, these flash-based websites will not work on the Chrome or Safari browser apps found on the iPad. Therefore, I launch the Photon EDU app and click the lightning button. These flash-based websites will now work. Price: $4.99

uploadcam9. Upload Cam – Recently, I filled up my iPad and it would no longer take pictures or videos of my students. This happens to me often. I downloaded the free Upload Cam app and used it to take pictures. I set it up so that it is connected to my google drive (it can also connect to your DropBox). The pictures are then automatically uploaded to my google drive right after I take them. Therefore, they are no longer taking up space being stored on my iPad, waiting for me to move them to iPhoto, etc. Price: Free (for video, that is a $4.99 upgrade)

hudl10. Hudl Technique – Formally named Ubersense, I found out about this app from reading a review on the Music Teachers Facebook page. This app is used for sports; however, can be very useful for music educators. With this app, you can video students’ performances. During the playback of the video, you can slow the video down, draw on the screen to point out areas of improvements and positive items, and record your voice telling the students what to work on. Think of it as a play-by-play when watching a sports game on TV. It is a creative way for students to see how they are performing and how they can improve. Price: Free

These are ten apps that can assist with organization at the beginning of the school year in the elementary music classroom. Have an amazing school year. I hope that it is filled with great joy and student success stories!

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Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award and the 2016 NJMEA Master Music Teacher Award. TI:ME . You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com
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  • Cherie Herring

    Great post, Amy! I just downloaded iDoceo and I’m going to give it a try… You should work on commission! Planbook is also one of my favorite teaching apps for many reasons, especially the ability to view and edit multiple weeks of just one class. We are also using Seesaw for the fist time this fall. These are great examples of using technology. I just wish there was an app for getting my room ready sooner!

  • Becky McLaughlin

    I was just wondering if the CS Music Teacher has lesson plans already on there to help build a program. I am a second year teacher, but in a new school this year. My last school was mainly breaking up fights and not teaching music, and my new school does not have a curriculum, so I need all the lesson plan help that I can get.

  • D Swan

    Can you elaborate on the differences between using Planbook vs. iDoceo for lesson plans? I used iDoceo last year for everything, but am wondering whether Planbook would be more useful for daily lesson planning?

  • Hi Cherie! I need to get my coding up to par and make that app! Hope your school year is beginning well! – Amy

  • Hi Becky,

    It does not at this time. Stay tuned because Tim is amazing and will improve upon this app.

    Amy

  • I use iDoceo to organize seating charts, attendance charts, assessments, and more. However, for planning, I use planbook.com because it allows me to input a rotating schedule, input my lessons, add any standards to them, and add files that I am using (like notebook or word files) to the lesson. I hope that helps!