By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Taking notes has changed from the days of scribbling in your spiral notebook, and even from the days of typing on your laptop.  Now, it’s all about the app.

“Math teachers pose questions with mistakes. They have kids do corrections on the ‘Show Me’ app,” said Ben Standerson, a technology trainer and coordinator for Minnetonka Schools.

Show Me is a digital whiteboard app; they call it screen casting. A teacher created the app for commonly confused words.

And note taking is also totally different these days.

“When I hit record, it records my voice, drawings,” he said.

Notability is Ben’s number one app for high school kids. It lets you import pictures.. and take notes right on top.

We wondered if kids learning better or just differently.

“I think it’s a little bit of both. The apps are not making learning happen, it’s what the teacher does in the classroom,” said Standerson.

But the apps are changing how kids work with information.

“I think it’s the fact they can share the info easily with others. They’re not just an island, they are a resource for others,” he said.

There are tons of math apps to test subtraction and science apps which take you inside the planets. But at Minnetonka Schools, Kelli Whiteside is more focused on productivity apps like Popplet.

“We look for production tools, ways that kids can show what they know. We’re looking for higher-level learning,” said Whiteside, a media specialist in the school district.

Popplet lets younger kids organize ideas using pictures and text bubbles and sound. It’s a way to organize thoughts like an outline, or do a book report 2.0.

In Minnetonka Schools, the district is fortunate that many elementary students — in the neighborhood of 95 percent — are already familiar with using tablet computers.

“Ninty-five percent. Most of them come in knowing. We’re quite lucky,” said Whiteside.

Another app is called Sock Puppet, where kids can create little puppet shows. The kids record their voices and assign them to different puppets, and the app plays back a sock puppet play, using different funny voices.

“It’s so engaging,” Whiteside said. “It’s a different way to check on learning. Reading fluency can be checked doing it. The kids truly don’t know what’s being checked,” said Whiteside.

Jason DeRusha