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.

Alex Quigley

I am an Assistant Headteacher and English Subject Leader at Huntington Secondary School, York. I like to read, write and talk about teaching and learning. I blog regularly about my main interests: successful teaching strategies, coaching, teacher improvement, with some political arguments and miscellany along the way. I am currently writing a book for new English teachers, to be published next year.

3 Comments

  • Reply November 20, 2013

    Amy Thomas

    Hi, Alex! I like the layout of your blog. It looks very clean and professional. I wish I could organize my blog in the same way as yours. What theme did you use? I’m also very interested in language apps. Thanks for posting this list! I’ve bookmarked it.

    • Reply November 23, 2013

      Alex Quigley

      The theme was a bought one – all sorted by an ex-student of mine. I couldn’t really tell you the ‘how’ or what theme sorry – have forgotten!

  • Reply March 24, 2014

    Meghan Whitlock

    This is such a great list and will be very useful for me in the near future! My high school is now in the process of receiving approval to become a one to one I-pad school.(Every student and every teacher will have an I-pad.) I will definitely be using some (or all) of the apps listed above to enhance student learning and engagement. I am so excited to be teaching with I-pads, there is so much you can do! I know my students are excited as well, they are already talking about the different apps they want to use! Thanks again!

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