This semester students in READ 6306 each wrote a course-related post for this blog.
By I. Martinez
In this blog piece, I chose to write about iPad apps that can be used by secondary school teachers and their students. Many of the apps are free, some are free with the option to purchase an enhanced version, and some are for a nominal fee. I have also included apps that can be used in social studies and science because of the integration of writing in those subject areas. All in all, I think you will be impressed with how powerful the iPad is in the educational arena.
99 Words-The 99 Words app uses a carefree method of introducing book writing. This application allows students to join another author to write a book until 10 chapters are completed. Two students can pair up to write a story with this app, or students can write stories with an unknown author who already has an existing story in the making. Oh, and by the way, that’s not my coffee mark, that’s actually how the settings page looks!
Notability-This is a fantastic app that helps students in the preparation of writing. This app allows you to create your own notes or import a PDF and annotate it. You have the option of using handwriting, typing, importing pictures, and recording.
As a teacher, I can receive my students’ papers by email in PDF format, import them into Notability, and write directly on their PDF papers all of my corrections, comments, and suggestions. I can also record a reminder, or encouragement within it, then email it back to the student. I will no longer have to wait until I am face-to-face with a student to explain my notes. Likewise, students don’t have to wait in class until I have time to speak with them about their papers. And I don’t feel like I’m doing twice the work-first by reviewing and grading and second, by conferencing, which can now be done with audio recording on the paper. When I email it back to the student, I have an option of emailing back the annotated PDF as paper only or paper and audio.
Lists for Writers/Storyteller: These are simplistic apps that help the student to brainstorm all the constituent parts of a story. These apps supply ideas on character attributes, the setting, and the plot to help students decide on the focus of their literary piece. If the students do not have access to an iPad, the teacher can simply project the screens with the Eiki and a $40.00 connector. The students can then view the different ideas for character, setting, and plot creation, then brainstorm amongst themselves.
TitleHelper, Character Prompts & A+Writing Prompts: These apps can be utilized by both teacher and student. These apps will help students who need additional help in coming up with ideas, or just knowing how to start. TitleHelper helps to generate possible titles give a list of “patterns”, and Character Prompts leads students through the different attributes of a potential character. And from both a teacher and a student perspective, these prompts are not boring, for example, a writing prompt can be something like this: A love triangle between an elf, a wizard and a human change the world.
Dragon Dictation & Speak it! : These apps are wonderful for students with special needs, or teachers with tired eyes. Speak it! is also a good app in that whatever you paste onto its desktop will be read back to you. This of course paired with a set of headphones could help students with visual impairments. Teachers could also download free copies of ebooks, Gutenberg selections, or any text that is copyright free into Speak it! and students with visual impairments can listen to the automated voice read back. Unfortunately, the text itself cannot be enlarged within this program. My search for both reading text and enlarging text thus far has been unsuccessful. Dragon Dictation allows students to dictate onto it as it creates a written text that can then be emailed to the teacher; however the student must have good enunciation or the teacher will receive students’ work that is unintelligible. Otherwise, this is a great app to use with students who have dexterity problems.
SimpleMinds, iThoughts HD & Idea Sketch: These apps can be used as both a study aid or a writing aid. They allow students to create graphic organizers for a variety of purposes. SimpleMinds and Idea Sketch are the simplest giving the students quick maneuverability of the process, but iThoughts, though more complicated, allows for the importing of images into the graphic organizer, the pasting of text, and also allows for two separate unrelated concepts within a single web. This could help in teaching compare and contrast of two or more story plots, or compare and contrast of two or more characters and their attributes, etc.
myMemoir: This app uses multiple journals to allow the budding writer to add text, photos, and video to personalized journals and publish them with ePub, and it is also an open eBook standard, meaning it can be opened by any eBook reader.
MoodWorks Creative Writing: I am really excited about this app. This application was developed by a teacher from Humboldt State University who is also an international poet and workshop leader. The app takes students through interesting practice exercises daily. For example, for teaching dialogue, this app will list several practice dialogue options such as: a teenage girl telling her mom that she is pregnant, or someone trying to talk their way out of a speeding ticket, or two thieves planning out how to rob a house, etc. The students are instructed to practice writing a dialogue and then share it with a partner to discover if their dialogues sound natural, if they make sense, and if they are interesting. I really believe this app to be a must-have for any writing teacher.
ScriptsPro and Elite Prompter: These apps work in tandem. The Scripts Pro app allows students to write their play in screen play format with each character’s lines while the Elite Prompter is a teleprompter that will display the character’s lines in enlarged text. Teachers can also use this in conjunction with an Eiki to enlarge text further.
Blog docs: This app allows the entire class or an individual student to post text as a blog HTML along with added images, handwriting, and multiple partner signatures. This app allows you to draw on top of images and also incorporates splashes of text colors.
Writer’s Studio: This app allows for writing, drawing, painting, importing of images that you can scale and rotate, and audio for narration or character dialogue. After completing a literary piece, it can be viewed on Apple TV via airplay, it can be published instantly on YouTube or emailed as a .mov file. This would be a great app to motivate an entire class to write a class mini book and then have it published on YouTube, and it can also be sent to parents via airplay or email.
Khan Academy: This app allows viewers quick access over 1000 instructional videos. Most of the videos are involving mathematics, but some are on art history.
Educreations: This app works as a recordable whiteboard for your very own lesson creations. If you wish to share your lesson(s) with the rest of the world, you can do so on the app, or upload it to Facebook, embed it into your blog, your website, or email it.
Before beginning a series of tutorial lessons, you may want to open a teacher account and log your students onto that account. This action makes your lessons private and it also allows for any published student work to be available for review online. Also, the lessons that are public have been neatly organized by subject area.
SparkNotes: Yes, it’s wonderful. It has literature, Shakespeare, poetry, philosophy, drama and short stories.
NatGeoToday: This app is from the National Geographic Today. It features beautiful pictures, information and videos which can all be used to assist students in finding interesting research topics for social studies.