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20 Writing and Reading Apps for the Classroom

20 Writing and Reading Apps for the Classroom

By Troy Lambert

reading too much? Whooos ReadingIn a recent article, Writing is Power, Sydney Lines, a Masters of English Literature student, made a simple statement: “Most speakers of any language must maintain a sort of dual-fluency: in the spoken language and in the written language. You become a better speaker by listening to the language, and you become a better writer by reading the language.”

In fact, two of the three pillars of traditional education are reading and writing.

Educators and authors alike understand how those two disciplines work together. Stephen King says in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, “If I had a nickel for every person who ever told me he/she wanted to become a writer, but ‘didn’t have time to read,’ I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Modern media outlets will tell you that reading is declining, that there will soon be an intellectual deficit in our country. However, when I visit schools and watch the children learn, I find just the opposite. With social media and the Internet, people are reading more than ever, they’re just reading differently.

At the same time, opportunities for writers have never been greater, and the ability to write has never been more important in the workplace.

So, how do we continue inspiring students to read and write even more? One way is to use technology and software applications in the classroom. While this list of 20 tech tools is by no means exhaustive, it gives you a great starting point for choosing great options for inspiring both reading and writing.

Whether you are using Microsoft, Chromebooks, or Apple products, there are options available.

sydney lines_blog.learn2earn.org

Reading

Blio

Since most people read eBooks on devices like tablets and computers, an ereading app should leverage that power, especially when the ereader is being used by kids. Blio will read many books aloud using a text-to-speech voice (purchase required) or using an audiobook track, with words highlighted as they are spoken. Not to mention, you can search Google, Wikipedia, and more without ever leaving the book.

Blio has its own library, with a large selection of children’s books. A single copy of the app can be synched to up to five devices, making it perfect for classroom activity groups. This is great for kids who struggle with reading and may need some assistance with words, but can mostly read on their own.

App Writer

It’s amazing the number of writers who have dyslexia—10 to 15 percent of people in the U.S., according to the Dyslexia Research Institute. AppWriter provides amazing assistive features for these students, including context based word suggestions, text-to-speech, an integrated PDF-reader, OCR, a custom keyboard and the special Dyslexie-font.

While not free, App Writer is available for purchase through Apple’s volume purchasing programs, and the Wizkids Website offers several purchasing options.

Audio Books

This audiobook app offers both free and “Plus” audiobooks. While the free ebooks, which use volunteer readers for the audio, are ad-supported, there’s an extensive library. The Plus books are well produced and relatively inexpensive as well.

Struggling readers can read along with the author’s recording to improve their fluency.

Amazon’s Audible

Audible offers some free books, and has been used, much like the Audio Books app, to help students to learn using audio content. Several publishers offer programs for schools, and the Audible app is free on almost any device you can think of.

iStory Time

Described as the “Netflix of kids books” by Techcrunch, this app comes with four full-length books. An extensive library is available through a subscription model or in-app purchases, both of which are protected by an adults-only access option.

The app also offers video “episodes,” featuring characters from the books. Inquiries about bulk discounts and classroom use can be directed to the app creators here.

Reading Trainer

This app helps users improve reading speed and retention through 12 awesome exercises. While this app may help advanced students become better readers, it can also help those struggling with basic reading skills, thanks to their wide variety of exercises and features.

While not free, one teacher said that once she used the app in her classroom, many students purchased it for their own devices to maintain and increase reading speed and ability.

Note: this app may be more appropriate for middle school to high school students.

Storiese2Learn

This app comes pre-loaded with several social narratives that educators can use to create stories that teach social cues and other concepts. These features allow teachers to better engage students with autism and other developmental disabilities. The app has been listed on several parent blogs as one of the “Top 10 Apps for Autism,” making it worth checking out.

You will likely find that this app is well worth the money it costs to use. Also great are the number of applications for both teachers and parents.

stephen king_blog.learn2earn.org

Writing

iWriteWords

Listed as one of the best apps for special needs students, this game-based app teaches children to write their letters and numbers using colorful visuals and a game-like interface.

This affordable app is geared toward younger children and is a valuable addition to any classroom. It may be helpful for parents as well.

I Write

This app helps kids begin to structure sentences, progressing at the first level, with a simple alphabet keyboard and capital letters, to the final level with a full QWERTY keyboard. Words can also be saved and sorted to show progress. In my opinion, it’s an inexpensive tool for both teachers and parents.

Sentence Builder

With a simple, intuitive interface designed to help elementary-aged children learn how to build grammatically correct sentences, Sentence Builder emphasizes connector words, and offers fun exercises to help improve the grammar of elementary-aged or ESL students.

The app is ideal for classroom use, has three levels of play, and includes pictures to build sentences around. There are also animated and audio encouragement prompts to help make the learning more fun.

Story Builder

Once a student has learned to craft sentences, they can move on to creating their own stories with this app, which allows them to record narratives in their own voice and stitch them together to form a story.

Story Builder is designed to help children improve paragraph formation, integration of ideas, and higher-level abstractions by inference. The use of audio promotes processing by special needs children with autism or other developmental disabilities.

Writing Prompts

Are you fresh out of creative writing ideas for your students? This app provides a database of more than 600 ideas available both online and off. It also uses current events, scene elements, words, sketches, colors, genres and writing types to help generate ideas.

Ideament (Formerly Idea Sketch)

This program lets students draw a diagram, mind map or flowchart and then convert it to a text outline. Text from other apps can also be imported to create instant idea drawings.

The outline created can be shared as text or photo with several apps including DropBox, Google Drive or Onedrive, making it ideal for student collaboration or sharing between faculty.

Story Robe

Story Robe can be used to create stories using several forms of media, including photos and narration. The app allows you to export stories YouTube and other sharing platforms.

Alpha Writer

Designed for kids in the 6-8 year-old range, this app uses Montessori methods to teach writing while, or even before, reading. Using illustrations (the app has several available), children go through self-directed activities with movable letters to create stories of their own.

Other Helpful Tools

Speak It

Speak is a useful app that converts text-to-speech. It’s especially helpful for struggling readers who often comprehend words better when they’re read aloud to them. This app also helps with pronunciation. Like some of those listed previously, it works well for students with autism or other developmental disabilities where audio-enhanced learning is beneficial.

Talk to Me

This is another text-to-speech app that speaks words as they’re typed. The app offers speed controls, volume controls, can run in the background while other apps are running, and will read text copy and pasted into the app.

Dragon Dictation

This app converts speech to text. Voice recognition for all of the Dragon products is good, and they offer programs for PC or Mac that are more full featured. This simple version can help students who struggle with writing tell stories verbally, then review and revise them. It can help with spelling too, with an extensive dictionary of suggested words that “learns” about a user the more they use the program.

Prizmo

This app allows users to scan or take photos of documents, and it then recognizes the text and makes it searchable and editable. Voice controls make the app easy to use and navigate.

Soundnote

Probably one of the most useful classroom apps, this app allows a student to draw and take notes while recording audio. Files created are easily shareable via e-mail, or can be transferred to other programs.

The program also compresses the audio, so an hour high quality file is only 20MB.

Use these apps to enhance your students’ experience in your classroom, making reading and writing more engaging and accessible to all students, especially those with learning disabilities.

While more of these apps can be found only in the Apple store, Google Play and the Windows Store offer apps for education as well. With a quick, search you’ll likely find a similar equivalent.

What other reading and writing apps have you found that work well in your classroom? We would love to hear from you.

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20 Reading and Writing Apps for the Classroom

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  1. Pingback: 10 Editing Apps and Tools to Nurture Great Writers – Learn2Earn Blog

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