Digital Writing Apps

Often many of us forget that iOS devices can be used as powerful digital writing tools. Whether your students are publishing as part of Writing Workshop or constructing a content-area project each of the resources below can help them demonstrate their thinking through text, images, video, audio, and weblinks. Some of the apps are free, while others have a fee. For each of the apps with a fee, the first number is their retail cost, the second is the Volume Purchase price if you’re buying 20 or more copies.

1. Creative Book Builder ($3.99/$1.99)

There are a few different ebook creation apps out there, but Creative Book Builder might be the strongest.  For just a few bucks you or your students could be constructing digital texts that make use of text, images, audio, video, and weblinks.  Once completed, these books are then read in iBooks and can be easily shared between devices.  Creative Book Builder is a fantastic tool for Writing Workshop or any content-area writing.  For example in science, this app could easily be used to construct digital lab reports or as multimedia summaries of concepts.

2. Skitch (Free)

With Skitch, users can easily snap a picture and annotate it with text, shapes, or drawings.  In class students could use this tool to demonstrate their understanding of a particular concept, such as magnetism, Newton’s Laws, or Bernoulli’s principle. Its a great alternative assessment tool.

3. iMovie ($4.99/$2.49)

Every iPad or iPod Touch (second generation) has a camera (actually two of them) and iMovie is a terrific resource for creating some simple videos. Some might complain about the iPad version’s lack of features, but many teachers have found students can’t get lost in all of the options and tools…and teachers can get back to instruction.

4. iWork ($9.99/$4.99 for each app)

iPads and iPod Touches are not laptops.  However, you might find it handy to have a word processor, presentation tool, or spreadsheet creator.  There are many options in this arena, but the iWork suite might be the easiest to use.  This suite actually consists of three apps – Keynote, Pages, and Numbers.  If your site can’t afford all three you might consider just purchasing Pages and Keynote since students do not often create spreadsheet.s

5.  ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard (Free)

Similar to Sktich, ShowMe is also a great alternative assessment tool.  ShowMe allows users to record themselves annotating pictures or writing on a blank whiteboard.  The app records not only what you are doing on your iPad, but your voice as well.  In some classrooms students use this app to demonstrate their knowledge of a particular math or science concept.  ScreenChomp and Educreations are similar apps that work equally well.

6. Sonic Pics ($2.99/$1.49)

For those of you who are Windows users, chances are you’ve played with Photostory.  Sonic Pics is basically Photostory for the iPad, but its even easier to use.  Previously, there was a free version of this app, but it has since been discontinued.

7. Comic Life for iPad ($4.99/$2.49)

At many of our school sites who use Macbooks, Comic Life is a very popular tool.  Student might use it to explain the parts of an atom, create a summary of a story, or demonstrate Algebraic solutions all using Comic Life.  A few Writing Workshop sites have begun using Comic Life with their students to publish feature articles.  Comic Life for the iPad is just that…Comic Life on your iPad.  Its easy to use…and who doesn’t love the fun noises it makes?  :-

Mentor Texts

Well, if  you and your students are going to be digital writers, you should consider being digital readers as well.

8. Flipboard (Free)

There are a couple of different online news readers, but Flipboard is one worth investigating.  Through this app readers can subscribe to a variety of online feeds organized by topic, as well as feeds from specific blogs or websites.

9. iBooks (Free-ish)

The iBooks app is free, but the books in it often have a price.  However, if your students are reading books published before 1923 (books that are in the Public Domain), chances are you can find a free copy through iBooks.  Additionally, now you can also purchase textbooks through iBooks.

10. iTunes U (Free)

iTunes U used to be part of the iTunes app, but now it has its own app.  Through this resource users can find educational videos from K-12, university, and non-profit institutions on a variety of topics. While you’re looking for educational videos, you should also check out the TED app.

Photo: Student iPad 165 by Flickeringerbrad on Flickr