Tag Archive | Apps

iPad Apps for English teaching and learning

In our prospective iPad project in our English and Media faculty we are currently trailing the best apps to use in the teaching of English and Media Studies. Here is a useful top ten list (with a few extras with honourable mentions!):

Pages: The basic word processing package that is really essential for any and all types of writing. Easily transportable by email to Dropbox etc. with the capacity to convert to Microsoft Word if required.

Safari: The essential internet browser for the iPad for all required research essential to presentations etc.

Dropbox: The best Cloud app to save work and create an accessible area to share work, ideas etc. Lots of free storage and a secure password system make Dropbox an ideal support for any department to share with students and fellow teachers.

iBooks: The essential e-reader and book library for the iPad. Save a range of classics for free and store other purchased class texts. With added annotation/ highlighting capacity, Apple is constantly updating the app to allow students and teachers to actively engage with texts. With iBooksAuthor you can even create real texts and upload them into iBooks – the ultimate ‘real writing’ experience.

ExplainEverything: A brilliant app for individual or group presentations. Students can upload images, video and text to the app template, whilst recording a voice-over to create fantastic presentations that harness a complex range of skills in an active way – allowing students to explain everything!

iFPoems: A fantastic anthology of poems is available on the app. The best features are great poetry readings, from the likes of Bill Nighy and Helena Bonham Carter. It also allows for the saving of favourites and the capacity for students to record their own readings of the poems.

iMovie: A smooth and easy  app that allows students to create films instantly, with an array of editing facilities. Reliable and effective, it is very simple but it can produce films of a very good standard.

Penultimate: One of the many handwriting apps on the iPad. This app is easy to use and excellent for writing notes, mapping ideas etc. Any notes can be easily emailed and saved to a Dropbox account.

iTunes U: This app provides an exhaustive library of free resources: from audiobooks to top quality lectures and instruction on a vast range of topics. Resources such as famous speeches to summaries of Shakespeare plays are free to use.

This fun app allows students to create comics with ease. It can effectively enhance the teaching of genre and provide lots of scope for exploring writing.

Some other great apps for English teaching deserving a mention:

YouTube: No explanation necessary, but very useful. With the vast range of resources being uploaded by educators (particularly with the growth of the ‘Flipped classroom’ model of teaching and learning) the options are endless.

GoodReader: A powerful app for annotating PDFs, this app has many uses for engaging with texts actively. I find the legion of options rather cumbersome so I am on the looking for a similar, but simpler, app for text annotation.

Instapaper: A great app for simply saving articles and documents offline in case any wireless network problems ensue.

Snapseed: Currently free, this is a great app to edit photos in a variety of ways.

Socrative: A great app for creating a variety of quizzes for instant formative or summative assessment.

Keynote: Effectively Apple’s PowerPoint, it is a nice smooth app that facilitates some lovely presentations. Similar to PowerPoint, it does take some time to get  to grips with.

CloudOn: A free app that provides the opportunity to create Microsoft documents for those who wish to use the familiar tools of the likes of Word or PowerPoint.

Frankenstein (by Inkle): A modern re-working of the classic. This app presents a modern, interactive version which really explores some of the moral choices inherent in the text. It also has the original text and some fantastic contemporary anatomical drawings and maps. Surely the future of e-reading is hinted at in this great app.

We intend to use Apple TV in our classrooms to ensure that students can instantly show any of their work from the apps selected. There are a range of apps that also provide this crucial sharing and control of multiple wireless devices, such as IdeasFlight – http://www.ideaflight.com/how-it-works/

I hope these ideas are useful. Do reply with any other good options for apps to use in English lessons.

Using the iPad in the English and Media Faculty

Beginning in our next school year, we are very excited to implement iPads (iPad2 devices) as a tool for collaborative learning in our English and Media faculty. We believe that the technology can enhance our pedagogy, whilst engaging our students in the basics of reading, writing and speaking & listening. We believe that the devices can harness excitement and confidence in our students, unleashing greater creativity and raising literacy standards. By using Apple TV, we will use the devices as a tool for formative assessment, immediately streaming student responses, writing, annotation or presentations and films etc. We are not going for the 1-to-1 model, instead the device will be used as a collaborative tool in groups. A class set will effectively be 7 to 8 iPads.

‘The main thing is the main thing’

Undoubtedly, any such new innovation requires time and training (both for students and staff), but we do not want to be put off by the relative newness of the technology for us all as a teaching and learning tool – we want to grasp the innovation and utilise the devices to enhance our pedagogy. Every teacher is a creature of habit – often we teach very similarly throughout our career – with a few ‘tweaks’ along the way. It is therefore important that we create new habits and really focus on where the devices can make those marginal gains in teaching on a day to day basis. We have therefore highlighted our key teaching and learning strategies:

  1. Using the device for photographing and streaming student work to the projector for immediate formative feedback
  2. Using the device as a tool for shared writing and guided writing
  3. Using the device for multi-modal group presentations
  4. Using the device for group reading and annotation
  5. Using the iMovie app for creating films/presentations
  6. Using apps like Goodreader for annotating documents (Interactive Whiteboard style)
  7. Using the device to research the web
  8. Using the device to store student work: ongoing and completed e.g. notes on a novel
  9. Using the audio recording facilities for speaking and learning activities e.g. podcasts
  10. Using the device to access and collaborate with research homework e.g. Pinterest
By focusing in upon these key uses we think that we can harness the capabilities of the technology, not as some ‘bolt on’ added extra, but as something habit changing that can transform how we teach and students learn.