One of the most often asked questions these days seems to be “what are some good apps?” This is such a difficult question to answer, because the answer depends on the question “what do you want an app to do?”
Don’t get me wrong. I have asked that question as well. Sometimes you get an unexpected answer and you are able to see an application for your classroom that wasn’t immediately obvious to the person you questioned. It’s a fair question. I just don’t think it’s the best question. I think that better questions might be “what is an app you might use to help a child struggling with letter reversals?” or “can you think of an app that will help students to demonstrate their learning?” or “is there an app that you have used to help students understand groupings to make ten?”
The question I’m hoping to answer with this post is “what do you use for word work” or “what are some apps that could help students to learn to spell frequently used words?”
Here are my answers. These are apps I am currently using in my classroom for just that purpose.
DrawFree – (free) This is technically a drawing app not a spelling app, but in my classroom it does double duty. Writing words can be so much more engaging when you get to choose to write with a paint brush, a pencil crayon or a crayon and can also choose from a wide variety of colours. Children can also change the background colour or the thickness of their lines.
Magic Ink – (.99) The more quickly you move your finger, the thicker the lines this app makes. Your letters become gorgeous, with extra swirls thrown in at the end. The magic part is that after a few seconds, your letters disappear, leaving you room to write more words. The length of time the letters stay before disappearing, the colour of the letters and the line thickness are all adjustable in the settings.
Skywrite - (free) As you write the words in the sky, a tiny airplane follows your finger and turns your letters into cloud letters. You can also type the letters into a textbox and the airplane will again make cloud letters for you. (I first learned about Magic Ink and Skywrite from Angie Harrison.)
Word Wizard – (2.99) This app makes the sounds of each letter as you drag them onto the board. As you put the letters beside each other, the app tells you the combined sound. When all of the letters of a word are in place, the child knows it is spelled correctly because it is read aloud to him. There are also lists (CVC words, number words, Dolch words etc.) in the app that are spoken aloud for children to spell. My favourite part of this app is that if you spell a word that is inappropriate in school, the app will say “oops” and return your letters to the bottom of the screen.
This list is by no means definitive, just the apps I have been using so far for this. I do have other spelling apps on our iPads, and since apps that are not yet suitable for my students may be useful to someone else…here is a screenshot of my current Word Work folder.