Summer EduTech Jumpstart! Best Apps of 2013 for Educators, Writers, Parents & Kids of All Ages | W.O.R.D. Ink
Vanessa Ziff Lasdon possesses the dynamic combination of an incisive intellect and boundless passion when it comes to teaching her craft and sharing skills with her students.MaryLynn Richmond
Whether it’s teaching a student to become a more vivid creative writer, a more effective analytical writer, or a more selective business writer, Vanessa can do it all.Meli and Stephen Rose
Vanessa is high-energy smarts and charm, the kind of writer and teacher who captures and captivates readers of all ages.New York Times bestselling author, Cynthia Leitich Smith
Ms. Ziff is always organized, resourceful, and ready for anything. She believes in a process, [...] the best of all being the Ms. Ziff approach, which makes her spectacular.Kenneth 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
Vanessa has a gift for inspiring even the most reluctant writer and her passion for writing is infectious. She is a favorite workshop leader at our Young Writers’ Conferences.Julie Moore & Rena Svetic, Young Writers’ Conference Founders
Ms. Ziff’s friendly demeanor and enthusiasm made communicating easy and learning exciting. She taught us to understand and appreciate the material, and have fun in the process.Alivia 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
Ms. Ziff set the foundation for my analytical, constructive, and creative skills. Whether writing a sonnet or writing an essay, I still have her lessons in my mind.Kenneth 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
Vanessa transformed our son Josh from a decent writer into an excellent writer.  We wholeheartedly recommend Vanessa and her ability to draw out the best in your child’s writing ability.Jill and Larry Krutchik
Ms. Ziff is definitely not just my teacher and tutor; she is my mentor.Lexi 7th Grade, Harvard Westlake
What our daughter values most about her time in Vanessa's class is being inspired to become an organized writer who could convey her thoughts in a meaningful manner.Laurie and Chris Harbert
Ms. Ziff maintains a good balance of knowing when to give more help and when to insist that you rise to the challenge of the learning situation. She instills confidence, honors excellence, and respects effort.Kenneth 8th Grade, Harvard Westlake
Vanessa’s vast skills, complete dedication, and clear purpose construct a solid core for every student she teaches. Her passionate nature produces both a fun and rewarding learning experience.Michele Noble, Director, Writer, Filmmaker
The writing skills my daughter, now excelling in ninth grade English Honors, left Vanessa’s class with continue to be an invaluable set of resources.Betsy Leva
I honestly don’t know what kind of a writer and reader I would be without the tools I learned with Ms. Ziff. She was always a very understanding, rigorous, and involved teacher, and an incredible mentor.Maddie 9th Grade, Marlborough School
Vanessa captured the essence of what I wanted to relay on my site without sounding trite, unlike my experience with previous writers.Martin Pugh, Musician
Ms. Ziff always pushed me to do my best, and never let me slack off.  She introduced me to my love of writing and gave me the confidence I needed both academically and in myself.Georgia 9th Grade, The Buckley School
My son learned more about writing and literary appreciation from Ms. Ziff in fifth grade than in any other year of school. I wish all teachers had Vanessa’s passion for teaching and inspiring!Kim Ford
All of us remember teachers who inspired us to greater heights and who influenced our lives. Vanessa Ziff Lasdon has played this role in my daughters' lives.Jack Tauber, M.D.
While we continue to be impressed by Vanessa’s many attributes, it is her high energy level, extraordinary patience, and passion for what she does that make her truly unique.Melissa and Rob Weiler
I learned as much from teaching with Vanessa as any of her students under her guidance. Where so many others fall back on old tricks, Vanessa taps into her extensive experience to invent new methodologies for each and every one of her clients.Patrick Kieffer, Fifth Grade – English & History, The Packer Collegiate Institute
Vanessa got my 8-year old son excited and intrigued to dig deeper into his experiences and bring his thoughts to life. Now Evan’s words dance and sing, which makes me want to dance and sing!Sally Micelotta
Vanessa’s greatest ability is to help each student realize his or her own untapped potential. It’s the stuff that changes lives!Jacqueline Frohlich
Vanessa is truly a one-of-a-kind teacher. She’s extremely organized, communicates ideas effectively, helps motivate, and has a lively, engaging teaching style that brings out the best efforts in all of her students.Howard Tager
Vanessa is a true master of her craft. She is a blast to work with, completely trustworthy and utterly authentic. To work with Vanessa is a privilege; you just want to soak up all her talent, and bottle it up for yourself! She is an inspiration.Sarina Fierro, Head of Lower Elementary, Curtis School
I know that the many fun and challenging lessons I’ve learned from Ms. Ziff will help me achieve my goal of one day being a professional writer and filmmaker.Jaren S. 7th Grade, The Buckley School
It's obvious that Vanessa is a wordsmith: "Write. Observe. Revise. Discover...W.O.R.D."  These are the four essential ingredients for becoming a writer; two of them about the work (writing and revising) and two of them about the joy (observing and discovering.) Vanessa accomplishes it all.  Julie Larios, award-winning poet and children’s author
Vanessa’s methods are creative, thorough and innovative. She makes writing fun and has turned our daughter’s “like” of writing into a true “LOVE”.The Altmans
Having an eight-year old highly gifted boy was not enough to make him put all those brilliant ideas on paper. Daniel feels constantly challenged by Vanessa and that ignites him.Liliana Benitez

Vanessa is an outstanding writer and a joy to work with.

Aimee Trudeau, Web Developer,
Ms. Vanessa has challenged me to stretch my writing and I am excited for what I will do next.Evan, 3rd Grade
The skills Vanessa taught my son--particularly the value of revising many times […] attention to detail, and high standards—are still with Nico several years later.Liz McNicoll, Attorney, Paramount Pictures

Summer EduTech Jumpstart! Best Apps of 2013 for Educators, Writers, Professionals, Parents & Kids of All Ages

Times are changing fast and furiously. Smart phones, iPads, iPods, and tablet devices are seemingly glued to everyone’s hands. If you haven’t already, it’s time to make the most of the latest technology this summer – or at least understand what your kids are doing with it!

This week’s DISCOVER post uncovers the best of Apple’s mobile apps for kids of all ages, as well as for educators, professionals, parents, and writers. While an app like Angry Birds is just plain addictive, consider these engaging mobile applications that offer hours upon hours of educational value. They are worth checking out!

Jump To: 

Educators    Parents    Writers    Professionals    Kids of All Ages   

Jacquelyn WoodGuest post written by W.O.R.D. Ink team member, Jacquelyn Wood 


Our Favorite Picks:

For Educators

nearpod Nearpod Nearpod – for K-12 educators – is great for both teachers and students. This app allows teachers to construct interactive displays, with features such as quizzes, videos, polls, drawing tools, and more. It allows students to receive curricular content, participate in activities, and submit responses. Nearpod also allows teachers to share, engage, and assess a student’s performance in real-time. Teachers can also access featured presentations from certified publishers and fellow educators.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Price: Free
Socrative Socrative is essentially a smart student clicker. This response system empowers teachers by engaging their classrooms with a series of educational exercises and games. This web-based, student-response system enables teachers to assess students’ progress, performance, and comprehension in real-time, via multiple-choice, short-answer, and true-false questions. Students enter answers on their own devices, allowing them the privacy to answer candidly, and results are tabulated immediately.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Price: Free
teacher kit TeacherKit TeacherKit is a tool that helps teachers organize their classes and manage students’ attendance, seating charts, grades, and behaviors. This app also allows teachers to send e-mails to students, parents, or everyone, enhancing communication. And, to better manage their data, teachers can import/export files and back-up data on DropBox through TeacherKit.

  • Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod Touch (3rd, 4th & 5th generation), and iPad.
  • Price: Free




For Parents

Kindle Kindle Kindle lets you easily bring along most any book or magazine for you and your kids to enjoy on the go. Regardless of what errands or activities you have planned, there will never be a boring moment when you have any number of books or magazines at your fingertips.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Price: Free
GoodreadsGoodreads lets you discover and share books you love. This app allows you to keep track of what you want to read, review the books you have read, and organize your reading history by adding books to your shelves. You can also find new and interesting books that others are reading by looking at others’ comments and ratings. This app offers a great way to connect with other readers.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Price: Free
Good reads
task rabbit TaskRabbit The TaskRabbit app helps busy iPhone and iPod Touch users post tasks wherever and whenever they need a TaskRabbit’s help. Once a task is posted, any number of background-checked TaskRabbits can reply to any task such as delivering any item, conquering any errand, and even helping out with administrative and office tasks. This app offers a helping hand for your to-do list. TaskRabbit is available for in-person tasks in San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Orange County, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Austin, and San Antonio.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Price: Free



For Writers

Evernote Evernote allows the user to take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, and even record voice reminders. This app provides a place where writers can keep notes and gather sources for their projects, all of which can be shared with others for feedback or inspiration! Evernote can be used across many devices. This app is a terrific way to stay organized, to store ideas, and to improve productivity.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Price: Free
voice recorder The Voice Recorder The Voice Recorder app allows you to quickly create a memo of a thought or remind yourself of a task before you forget. This app is easy to use and has a simple and intuitive interface. Additionally, there are many advanced features you can utilize such as volume boost, volume normalizing, editing of recordings and more. Your recordings can also be shared through email and they are stored on your device, but can also be backed up to your computer using a simple web browser.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Price: Free



For Professionals

Hootsuite HootSuite is an amazing app that combines several social media sites. It is great for handling social media on-the-go. Just like the web version, the app allows you to publish to all of your social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, from one interface. This app also allows you to schedule messages for optimum times, attach files and photos, and shrink links. For more advanced users, Hootsuite also lets you monitor customer feedback on social networks, track clients and keywords across different platforms, and more.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Price: Free
mail chimp MailChimp MailChimp helps you design newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with services you already use, and track your results. With the MailChimp mobile app, you can add new subscribers, manage your lists and view reports when ever and where-ever you are!

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Price: Free
Dropbox Dropbox is basically an online folder that allows you to upload files, documents, photos and videos. The Dropbox app lets you access all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. You can access any file you save to your Dropbox from your computers, iPhone, iPad and even the Dropbox website. This app offers a way to easily access, share, and save files, documents and videos.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Price: Free
Drop Box



For Kids Ages 2-7

Scribble Scribble My Story Scribble My Story allows kids to remotely imagine, create, and share their handiwork with their parents. With this innovative app, kids are able to illustrate their own audio stories or they can even entirely generate a new book. Scribble My Story provides an outlet that fosters creativity, as well as early literacy skills. And it’s free!

  • Compatible with iPad.
  • Price: Free
Martha Speaks Dog Party
 This app is based off of a popular PBS KIDS TV series, Martha Speaks. Martha Speaks Dog Party is designed to expand children’s vocabularies in a fun, interactive way. This educational app includes four games, all of which introduce new words and tests the user’s knowledge of his or her vocabulary.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. 
  • Price: $2.99


Martha Speaks
peek a zoo Peek-a-ZooPeek-a-Zoo app is a game that helps kids identify emotions and social cues, while it expands reading and vocabulary skills. Users are prompted to look at different groups of cartoon animal characters and distinguish the specific trait or behavior that each one exhibits. Additionally, the Peek-a-Zoo text and audio support functions assist in developing early reading and word choice skills. 

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
  • Price: $0.99

Teddy Bear Colors 

This exciting application includes eight different creative teddy bear games, such as: puzzles, mazes, memory, matching games, and coloring. These fun-filled games engage a child’s imagination and apply critical and spatial thinking skills. Teddy Bear Colors includes multiple stages and challenging levels that keep kids stimulated, entertained, and challenged, as they grow.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. 
  • Price: Free
Teddy Bear Colors


For Kids Ages 8-13

scramble Scramble With Friends Scramble With Friends is a word puzzle game a lot like the board game called Boggle. Players must find words from a collection of 16 onscreen letters. To find the words, you slide your finger over adjacent letters in any direction – forward, backward, sideways – any way you can! This app allows you to play against random opponents, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or people in your contacts list. Scramble With Friends is a great way to improve verbal abilities and to get your gears turning in a fun and engaging way.

  • Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod Touch (3rd, 4th & 5th generation), and iPad. 
  • Price: Free
Dittles Dittles allows students to connect and reach out to tutors in an enjoyable, simple, and efficient way! Students begin the process by uploading a picture of a problem or a question. After the problem or question is downloaded, tutors – or anyone, for that matter – can upload a short 2-minute video lesson for the student that discusses how to approach, but not solve, the problem. After a response lesson is uploaded and posted, students are notified. This app primarily benefits students who need help with their homework, studying, or practice exams.

  • Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod Touch (3rd, 4th & 5th generation), and iPad.
  • Price: Free
 puzzlejuice Puzzlejuice Puzzlejuice takes many elements from our favorite puzzle games and combines them into one game that is designed to challenge both spatial and verbal abilities. Similar to Tetris, a player arranges multicolored blocks that constantly fall from the top of the screen. Then, once the player completes a row with these blocks, the blocks turn into letters. These letters must be made into words, in order to clear out the blocks and to allow the blocks above fall! Matching colors turn colored blocks into letters, too.

  • Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod Touch (3rd, 4th & 5th generation), and iPad.
  • Price: $ 1.99



For Teens Ages 14 and Up

Evernote Evernote allows the user to take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, and even record voice reminders. This app provides a place where students can keep notes and gather sources for their projects, all of which can be shared with their teachers and classmates. Evernote can be used across many devices. This app is a terrific way to stay organized, store ideas, and improve productivity.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Price: Free
Lumonsity Lumosity Brain Trainer Lumosity Brain Trainer is a simple online tool that includes 10 brain games designed to improve concentration and enhance the brain’s potential. Users report improved memory, enhanced mood, better problem solving skills, and the ability to think more quickly. This app also allows a user to track personal progress and measure performance in a given cognitive function!

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Price: Free
Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock Sleep – or lack thereof – can be a problem when it’s time for that early-morning class or those late-night study sessions. This is the reason Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock monitors your sleep cycle and wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase – so you avoid feeling groggy in the morning and you wake up feeling more rested and relaxed.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
  • Price: $0.99


Sleep Cycle




Apps to be Aware of

We all know that on-line social media apps either can be used appropriately or can easily be abused, depending on the user’s intentions. Here are some popular apps that you may want to check out and talk to your kids and teens about using responsibly:

Snapchat Snapchat allows you to capture an image or a video and send it to either one friend or to a group of friends, who will then be able to view it for 1 to 10 seconds. After the allotted time is up, the picture or video disappears forever. However, if he or she is quick, the person receiving a Snapchat does have the ability to preserve the image by taking a screen shot of it before it vanishes. Snapchat is a great way to communicate with friends quickly and easily; however, although the content of a Snapchat image cannot be saved, there is still a chance that third parties will see it if a screen shot is taken. The moral of this story: always be conscious of the content you or your kids are sending to someone, because no matter what your intentions, electronic images are never truly private! Snapchat
Vine Vine Vine is essentially an Instagram for videos. This app allows you to capture up to 6 seconds of video clips that a receiver can play back on a continuous loop. The upside: this app introduces a new and creative form of social media and allows users to share “life-in-motion,” rather than one-moment-at-a-time experiences. The downside: there are reports of both cyber bullying and the sharing of illicit and inappropriate material through Vine. These issues prompted Vine founders to recommend that the app’s users be 17 years of age or older.
Lulu Lulu is an app available for older teens and adults that allows women to anonymously write, share, and/or read reviews about men that they date. After a woman answers a standard set of questions about her date, her answers are electronically converted to a score ranging from 1-10, which is then posted. While Lulu offers an interesting approach to dating by giving women the ability to rank men and share their insights, this app can also provide false or erroneous information about the men that are rated. Lulu

Because each of these apps easily can be misused, it is critical for your kids and teens to be aware of the potential issues that can arise when using social media, as well as the consequences of abusing it. Make sure your kids are acting safely and appropriately, and that they are protecting themselves responsibly! We hope you found these apps as useful and educational as we did!

(All images used in this post are from iTunes)

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