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Top Apps for the English Class

iPods and Droids in the Classroom: Strategies and Teaching Ideas

There are all sorts of apps and they all have a specific function in the classroom with iPhones/iPods/iPads/Droids.  The apps listed below are compatible with iPhones/iPods and most of them have apps for Droids. Please share other apps and projects associated with them with us to expand our library!


Creative Apps:

Fun ways to assess and complete assignments- using activities like these inspire originality and spark a creative passion, long missing in education.

ComicTouch Lite: An app that allows students to use a picture from the Camera Roll or import a picture and then add a dialogue bubble to the picture.  This app can be used for assessment purposes: “show your understanding of the quote or reading by creating a dialogue between the main characters.”  While ComicTouch Lite only allows one frame at one time, students can create more than one frame, save it to the Camera Roll and then use another app like PicStitch to combine the frames into one image.

SCVNGR:  Teachers or students can create a quest for other students to go on.  The author will create a list of tasks that can include pictures at a certain spot, create a math problem, solve a task, etc.  As an English teacher, it could be fun for the students to take a pilgrimage like those of the Canterbury pilgrims.

Story Maker:  What a fun tool.  This free app allowed the students to create characters, import them to the camera roll and create an iMovie out of them.  If you don’t have iMovie, you can use PicStitch (see below under “Art Apps”) to put the characters into a comic strip set-up and still create a story.

iMovie:  Students who have never used iMovie before were able to create a movie, edit it, and upload it to Dropbox in less than two days.  This is helpful for all types of instruction.  I used it for the introductory material to Macbeth- students were asked to recreate the Pendle Witch Event and the Gunpowder Plot.  The products were very amusing to watch as we shared popcorn for a viewing day.

VoiceThread:  I’m finding more and more uses for this app.  I originally began using it in my flipped classroom for at-home lectures that I embedded into my class website.  My students are now using it for a audio-photo-essay of their Digital Saturation Papers (they are using photos and recording audio directly from the essay).  It is web-based and is also a free app- your account syncs seemlessly between the two.

Sharing Apps:

How do you get the project once students have created it?  What is the best way for students to organize their notes in the digital age?

Evernote:  This is my favorite app for the English classroom. are online folder sharing services.  It’s like saving a document to a folder on your computer but have access to it anywhere- even on a mobile device.  Evernote allows a user to create public notebooks or folders that can be shared with others.  Teachers can use these folders to put articles, photos, assignments, etc in for students to peruse and print.   In addition, students can drop pictures and video projects into a public notebook or folder and the teacher can access them to grade or retrieve them for presentations.  It is easy to access the projects from iMovie or iPhoto to combine all of the projects together.  I use it quite a bit for saving articles, photos, videos, or resources from websites.  Students can get their own Evernote accounts and use them to store unfinished projects and work on them from home.  Evernote does have some pros and cons.

  • Evernote:  You can save any type of media to Evernote by dragging it in or emailing it to your unique Evernote email account.  By putting @foldername and #tag in the subject line of the email, the item being emailed will be moved into the appropriate notebook immediately.  Evernote will allow you to make your notebooks public and gives you the option for invitees to have an existing Evernote account or not.  A con to the shared Evernote notebooks is that invitees only have viewing rights under the free account, if you pay for premium you get the option for invitees to create, edit, delete in the notebook.  If you do pay for the premium and allow students to submit assignments and projects into the shared folder, Evernote allows you  to scroll through the projects fairly quickly whereas Dropbox is set up to open each project individually.  Another nice thing about Evernote is that it allows you to create content such as audio files, movie files, picture files, and text in Evernote and then ascribe a unique URL to each file to be shared with anyone (you can also ascribe a URL to content you’ve imported from another source to share with others).  Evernote also allows you to connect your Twitter/Facebook pages to it so you can send your tweets and info to your Evernote account.  Finally, one of the coolest things about Evernote is that it has a bookmarket that you can drag into your bookmark browser bar.  The bookmarklet allows you to highlight anything on a website and save it into your Evernote account (similar to Diigolet but easier to use in my opinion).  Here is a link to the informational section of Evernote’s website.  If you are wondering about how much storage you can get with Evernote, click here.
  • Caution: If you allow students editing rights to a Dropbox/Evernote notebooks/folders- they will have access and editing rights to other students’ projects.
  • Caution: If students use their own accounts on classroom iPods/iPads, they need to log off of their account or the next user will have access to the folders.

Resource Apps:

Getting quick information

Shakespeare: Plays and Concordance in the free version.  Pictures, glossary, quotes, facts in the paid version.  Rather than lugging thick textbooks, small books, or making copies, students can take their mobile device and reenact parts of plays easily.  My Macbeth unit exam asked students to put 14 quotes in order in 20 minutes using anything (but not anyone).  The purpose of the exam was to test accessing info quickly- something that is sometimes difficult.  The students who learned how to use apps like this did very well.

SAS flashcards: There are a number of flashcard apps out there.  Students spend a very small amount of time creating them and the flashcards are with them whenever needed.

Classic Books: A free app that has 80 classic books!  It has a search function within each book that allows the user to search for a word or quote.

I-nigma: A free QR code reader.  You can post the code and the students can go straight to the site/document/project without any navigation- it saves precious minutes.

RSS Feeders like Pulse: I’ve turned SSR time into RRS time with feeders.  I’ve allowed students to add any feed they are interested in and read for 10 minutes every 2-3 days.  You can hear a pin-drop.  This idea come from The Digital Writing Workshop by Troy Hicks.

Art Apps:

Useful apps for practically everything.

PicStitch: Import multiple pictures from the Camera Roll and combine them into a tidy collage.  PicStitch has options for 1-5 pictures per collage.

Doodle Buddy:  This app allows the user to create images with his/her fingers or stylus.  Additional options within the app are: stamps, backgrounds, text, and colors.  The user can save to the Camera Roll or email the project to an account.

In-Class Discussion Apps:

New ways to get students to pay attention during class.

TweetDeck using Twitter:  Make tweet accounts for Romeo and Juliet.  As you read in class, have students tweet possible thoughts Romeo or Juliet is thinking.  Tweetdeck allows the viewer to see multiple tweets easier.  I’ve found it’s better to use it with groups rather than individuals if you have classes with more than 30 students.  See mypost about my first experience with Twitter in the classroom.

Dictation:  Have students record themselves discussing during group presentations.  Dictation will “listen” to what they say and write down the text version of it.

Socratic: Create quizzes and in-class polls and get immediate feedback on your device and in an excel spreadsheet.

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