My love for all things Apple stems from the fact that the operating systems and hardware are beautifully designed, intuitive and functional. When the original Apple TV was released, I immediately began envisioning how it would impact an iPad classroom. Giving students and teachers the ability to share their screens via AirPlay would create a collaborative learning environment where sharing and cooperation could be fostered. Fast forward to today where I work in a 1:1 K-12 school where every classroom is equipped with an Apple TV and projector, it is hard to imagine our classrooms without this magical device. In addition to having access to an Apple TV in every classroom, I have enjoyed having one in the home, as it is an important component of our Apple ecosystem.
On October 26, I woke up bright and early to purchase the newest Apple TV (4th gen). I also purchased four for my school that are being piloted in three elementary classrooms and one high school classroom. I’ll keep this initial post brief, but I have to say that I’m incredibly impressed with this device. Video streaming quality has drastically improved and I haven’t experienced any drops, as I did with the older model. There is so much that I could write about the newest Apple TV, but my focus today is on the APPS and how they can be used in the classroom and the home. There are an estimated 2,600 apps currently in the app store, but that is predicted to increase to nearly 10,000 in early 2016. Before it gets too overwhelming, here are a few apps that have potential in the classroom and some of my family’s favorites.
Like the iOS and Mac App Stores, the Apple TV App Store allows you to search by category. You can simply head on over to the Education category to see what new apps are available. There are some great premium apps available for purchase, but I’ll try to focus on the free ones.
Brain Pop, Jr. – There is a free movie of the week, plus related quizzes and activities. If your school subscribes to BrainPop, Jr., you can login with your credentials to access all movies and bonus features.
History Channel – Our high school history teacher spends time teaching about the Civil War and the American Revolution. The History Channel offers some excellent, free video clips that she can add to her Apple TV watchlist and refer to throughout her lessons on these topics. There is no need to provide a cable subscription login to view these videos. Additionally, there is a search feature within this app if you are looking for specific topics.
Elevate Showdown – This is a great one for high school language arts teachers! In this fun game, students can use their own devices as controllers to match words to descriptions. Students build their vocabulary by reviewing words that they missed when the game is over. We play this one at home and it is challenging!
TED – Stimulate thoughtful class discussions with easy access to TED Talks. I love how this app allows teachers to add items to their watchlist, for easy access to Talks during class time.
News – There are a ton of news apps, such as NBC News, that teachers can use when referring to current events.
TV Board – There are many apps like this one out there, but this one allows you to turn your Apple TV into a collaborative whiteboard. Your students can use any phone or browser as their drawing tool. Collaborators join the space by visiting the link displayed in the top left corner. I could see this being used a space to brainstorm ideas, such as a book character’s traits, types of mammals, etc.
Netflix – It seems that everyone these days has a Netflix account. You can find some excellent documentaries to help make your curriculum come alive and engage your students with the audio visuals so many of our learners need. I do recommend creating a watchlist within this app because browsing through the options can be extremely distracting and much of the content could be deemed inappropriate for the classroom.
Gravity TV – This one is currently free for a limited time! I can see it being used in the classroom to create a relaxing and calming environment. Powered by gravity, you use your glass touchpad on the remote to guide the star flow. This app combines music, art and science. It’s really beautiful.
I love how the newest Apple TV has added a new gaming console in the family room. Here are some of my family’s favorite Apple TV apps.
Just Dance Now – This is a great way to get family members up and moving! There are a few free songs to dance to, but we love this app so much we purchased a VIP membership. I think it’s worth it because it encourages family health and fitness. You can also buy songs by purchasing coins in the Just Dance Now Shop for unlimited access to your purchased songs. One of my favorite things about this app is that you can join a dance room with any iOS device. Simply download the Just Dance Now app on your iPod, iPhone or iPad and you can easily join the family dance room. Your device is now a controller to record your dance moves!
Apple Music – Yes, I pay for Apple Music, but in conjunction with the Apple TV, it is extremely worth the monthly fee! I can actually AirPlay songs to the Apple TV and control the volume and tracklist from my Apple Watch. If you prefer to play the songs directly from the Apple TV, you can access your iCloud music library from there as well.
SketchParty TV Free – The modern Pictionary! We just discovered this one last night and we had a blast playing it! You only need one device, such as an iPad or iPhone.
Open the game on your Apple TV and then download SketchParty TV Free onto your iOS device. Tap Join Game – select Apple TV. Set up your teams and then hit Play! You will pass the device around and take turns drawing and guessing. This is a super fun and free game!
If you use Apple devices in your classroom and/or at home, the new Apple TV is an excellent investment. It is more reliable and more powerful than its predecessor and, with the addition of the new app store, is a huge improvement! New apps are being added every day, so I’ll continue sharing my favorites.