Arts integration is a great way to engage students in academic content. Arts integration can also bring content to life through the infusion of instructional technologies. Here are five great apps that will engage students in digital literacy, creation, and problem-solving activities.

Skitch -- Skitch is an awesome app that has multi-platform capabilities. It's an Evernote product available for download on iOS, Android, and desktop computers. Use Skitch when discussing fractional parts of the whole and relating benchmark fractions to food, building and construction, and rhythmic notation. Other uses: Have students take pictures of a piece of art, then have them label elements present in the work like use of line, texture, color, etc. Ask students to “mark up” paragraphs in their reading, use it for close reading work, or as a replacement for worksheets! Save trees and time, and engage students in digital manipulation of content!

CCSS Connection: Solve word problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions referring to the same whole, including cases of unlike denominators -- e.g., by using visual fraction models or equations to represent the problem.

Screen Chomp -- Screen Chomp is a versatile iOS app that offers students a chance to engage in content on the metacognitive level. I have students play a game called "problem maker, problem solver." Students create a problem, and their partner must “solve” the problem (think debugging). This app is great for the youngest learners (I use it with PreK classes) to the more advanced and can be used in any problem-solving situation.

CCSS Connection: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. Model with mathematics. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

GarageBand -- GarageBand is an app available on iOS devices. It's a great tool for music production, recording songs, creating beats and rhythms, reader’s musical theater, and so much more. Classroom teachers can use Garage Band to record students reading and have students listen to themselves to increase correction rates and work on fluency, vocal tone, and inflection. Garage Band's recording capabilities are amplified by the ease of moving the student recording to YouTube, cloud storage, CDs, etc. Using GarageBand to create student podcasts is also a class favorite.

CCSS Connection: Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

Little Bird Tales -- Little Bird Tales is a great tool that helps students retell tales, stories, and informational texts. As an integration lesson, ask students to listen to a piece of music or look at a piece of art from a time period or theme they're studying in class and create a story to accompany it. Take the learning one step further and explain the story behind the piece of music or art, explain the connections to the classroom content, and then ask students to explain how their viewpoints have changed from their original thoughts and ideas about the piece or topic. Students have the ability to illustrate and include text, and can add their voice with the recording options. Little Bird Tales is a Web-based program that includes classroom enrollment options.

CCSS Connection: Retell familiar stories, including key details.

Animoto -- Animoto is a great kid-friendly video creation tool; it's a Web-based program that makes it super easy for students to create short videos. Students can use this app to create book trailers for texts and stories read in class. Animoto is super useful in the music room as an authentic assessment of student understanding. I ask students to create trailers for musical pieces, encouraging students to extract parts and pieces that speak to them emotionally or connect to musical concepts we're focusing on. You can do the same with works of art, literature, history, and more.

CCSS Connection: Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations. Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.


Team Shake -- Student centered and led activities are a hallmark of the Common Core Standards, and Team Shake offers an opportunity for students to create team lists with a simple shake. Team Shake is available on iOS and Android devices and can be screencast in your classroom using an Apple TV or Chromecast. Use Team Shake for just about everything -- sports teams, reading teams, you name it!

Photo: "71/365 - Practice" by Alejandro C. Used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Sunshine M.

I am a Music Teacher in upstate New York. I am a certified Google Educator, a Microsoft Innovative Educator Trainer, and co-created a Virtual AP Music Theory Course for the New York State Department of Education. I have presented Tech workshops locally, regionally, on the state level and on an international scale. I love including technologically rich lessons in my Arts Curriculum. I am a big believer in STEAM, Arts-Integration, and infusing Arts lessons with the Common Core Learning Standards.