Top 5 Apps for English

When home computers were rising in popularity, author Douglas Adams said, “A computer terminal is not some clunky old television with a typewriter in front of it. It is an interface where the mind and body can connect with the universe and move bits of it around.”

Enter the iPad. While the iPad is excellent as an e-reader, it has much more to offer to English Language Arts teachers. As an excellent tool for grammar review, word references, and writing, the iPad makes reading and writing more engaging to students.

Hailed by Time Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Back-To-School” apps, Dictionary.comreplaces the cumbersome classroom tome with this free and accessible app that works offline. Its dictionary and thesaurus contain over two million words, including antonyms and synonyms, with audio pronunciations and sample sentences. There is a “word of the day” and if you shake the iPad, you are given a surprise word. Now, when you ask your students to go look up a word, they will be eager to do so.

Grammar Up by Eknath Kadam

Grammar Up lets students put their grammar knowledge to the test. It is also free and lets you review grammar rules by topic, such as “Causative Verbs” and “Prepositions.” Students test their knowledge of specific rules by taking multiple-choice quizzes; the number of questions and amount of time given to answer questions can be customized. A “progress meter” keeps track of how well you are doing and to skip a question, simply shake the iPad. You can also take randomized quizzes to test multiple grammar rules.

Stanza by Lexcycle

Another gem of a freebie, Stanza has been hailed by The New York Times, Time Magazine, Forbes, and Wired, as one of the best e-reader interfaces. It has access to over four million downloads and offers over 50,000 free classic works of literature. You can also purchase contemporary books through the app. It is easy to use and allows you to organize your collection. Why spend all of that money on classic books when you can read them for free?

Writing Prompts by 21×20 Media Inc.

Do you ever run out of fresh writing prompts when planning daily “sponge” activities? Do your students ever complain that they suffer from “writer’s block?” For only $1.99, your problems are solved with Writing Prompts, a clever little app that hosts 600 creative prompts. It offers five generators, depending on the nature of the assignment: “News, Scenes, Sketches, Texts, and Words.” You can also store your “favorite prompts” and shake it to get something random.

Shakespeare by Readdle

This would not be English Language Arts without some mention of Shakespeare! Shakespeare offers the complete works of the bard himself, with customizable fonts, scene breakdowns, a glossary, images, a quote generator, and facts on Shakespeare. When you consider the cost of a store bought Shakespeare anthology, this is well worth it. Your students may just dazzle you with their newfound passion for theater.


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