I have owned my iPad for about three months now and have amassed quite a few apps. I thought I’d share with you the ones that I think could be useful in a language arts classroom. Instead of spending $100 per textbook, buy a $199 iPod Touch (or $100 for older models) for each student that you can use for all of your classes across any discipline. In my classroom I have journalism textbooks from 1993, back when the Internet was a nifty idea. Needless to say the books don’t address the news media literacy needs of a 21st century student.
Popplet Lite — free, iPad only — Mind-mapping tool for the iPad. You can upgrade to a better version for $8.99. There is also WhiteBoard HD and MindNode, both on the iPad for $5.99, but I haven’t tested those.
iBrainstorm — free, iPad only — Uses stickies and a drawing feature that allows you to create notes and/or mind maps, but you have to draw your arrows, links, etc. You can also send e-mails of your creations or save them to your Photos on your iPad.
Free Books — iPad version is free, iPod version is $1.99 — Copyright-free books are available here with many classics available with the flip of a finger. I also have Apple’s iBook, but you have to pay some bucks if you want books. The iBook version does have a built-in dictionary/thesaurus available, where you touch a word and you can look it up.
Stanza — free, iPad/iPod — A book eReader that offers customization of fonts and book collections. Provides dictionary, highlighting, and sharing. Many free books here and some that are not. Considered by Time Magazine, NYT, Wired, and Forbes to be a must-have app.
Wattpad — free, iPad/iPod — They boast 100,000 free titles, including many classics. I would be wary of many of their other titles, however, as they look like random authors, You Tube style.
Shakespeare — free, iPad/iPod — They have 40 plays by the great playwright. They have a pro edition that includes more features for $9.99. Listed on iPad are about a dozen apps for old Will, but you have to pay for them.
iTunes U — free, iPad/iPod — not an app, but you can access free material from your iTunes app. Find lessons and videos on every subject.
WGBH Poetry — free, iPod — Listen to and watch accomplished authors discuss poetry and read their work.
Poetry Jam — free, iPad — I’m listing this here to warn you to avoid this one until a more appropriate, classroom version can be created; it’s a social poetry writing app, where anyone can write lines with others and vote for them. Unfortunately, there are folks with a limited IQ and the vocabulary of a sailor/infant typing trash. In a classroom environment, however, and with a well-focused activity, this app could be wonderful.
StoryKit — free, iPod only — Create your own electronic storybooks. I’m waiting for an iPad version to test this out.
Dream Filmmaker — $7.99, iPod — Says it’s compatible with the iPad, but I’m waiting for an official iPad version before testing this one. However, it looks amazing, with the ability to design posters and create complex storyboards complete with scene setters and stage directions.
GoodReader — 99 cents, iPad/iPod — Why not go for broke and call it GreatReader or AwesomeReader? Whatever you want to call it, this program allows users to read PDF files and allows for file transfers and use of a VGA adapter.
Voice Memos — free, iPad — The iPad does not come with a free voice recorder like the iPod Touch does, so you need to download one. The recorder is great for students who want to practice their reading fluency or record their critique of a novel.
iTalk Recorder — free, iPod only — Students can record their musings and broadcast them in a podcast.
Now Hear This — free, iPad/iPod — Another free podcast creator. The $1.99 version boasts a 30-minute recording duration, no ads, and more built-in sound effects.
Apps that are great for journalism
I’m super pleased with the apps that are geared toward news and information gathering, with more and more papers developing apps for their publications. If your school can’t afford iPads, an iPod Touch cart would be well worth the investment for journalism classes, especially since most newspapers are no longer offering print versions of their publications to schools for free.
AP News — free, iPad, AP Mobile, free, iPod — Dozens of stories are available every day, and they also have beautiful pictures and news clips on the iPad version with the ability to send stories to your e-mail, FaceBook, and Twitter.
USA Today — free, iPad/iPod — The national newspaper has a free version available.
The Daily — subscription, iPad only — One of the first of hopefully many newspapers with an interactive format that includes a 3D carousel of pages as well as video/audio segments and information graphics.
Thompson-Reuters News Pro — free, iPad/iPod — A news wire service filled with excellent articles.
Guardian Eyewitness — free, iPad — Beautiful photography here and little hints as to how the photographer got the great shot.
Editor’s Choice — free, iPad only — The New York Times delivers its top picks of the day in a sleek, old-school newspaper style.
NPR for iPad — free, NPR News, free, iPod — Listen to news stories, art and music features, and programs.
Fluent News, Newsy — free, iPad/iPod — These are apps that pull news from other Web sites such as the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, ABC News, CBS News, Washington Post, CNN, BBC, and MSNBC. The app lists the stories and pulls them into sections, and users can also perform a search for news.
ABC News for iPad — free — Another app with a 3D interface and compelling video news coverage.
Wired — $3.99 per issue, iPad only — Some magazines are jumping into the iPad app market, and Wired seems to be the most logical choice to be an early front-runner. Because of the cost, magazine apps might be more suitable for a set of iPads in the school library that are available for checkout. I’m hoping they incorporate more interactive features into their app.
Flipboard — free, iPad only — This is a social magazine that pulls your Twitter and Facebook feeds and transforms them into a digital magazine. Users also have the option of pulling news and feature feeds from other sources, which makes this app cool and customizable.