ELA Literacy in the 21st Century Classroom Using iPads

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Contact Information: Doreen Pietrantoni doreen_pietrantoni@boces.monroe.edu
Doreen's Blog - http://www.monroe.edu/bits


Literacy in the 21t Century Classroom using iPads

Reading, story creation, and communication about fiction and non-fiction is made easy with mobile devices such as the iPad. Using Apps in and out of the classroom not only addresses Common Core Learning Standards and 21st Learning, students are using critical thinking skills and collaborative resources outside the classroom walls.

We are all familiar with the phenomenon of mobile devices as a personal device, but what about its use in the classroom?
Here is an example of a project based iPad learning experience or view Literacy in the Elementary Classroom for reading fluency. For middle and high school students, here is a creative take on using Garage Band App along with reading Garage Band App and Reading

Using Mobile devices such as the Android Tablets, iPad, iPhone, and iPod in the classroom can allow for:

  • Differentiation
  • Mobile Learning
  • Learners choose learning content
  • Expands learning outside the classroom walls


    Common Core Learning Standards:
    (from Exactly What Common Core Standards Say About Technology)

    W= Writing RI= Reading: Informational SL= Speaking and Listening

    W.4.6. With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.

    RI.8.7. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.

    SL.11-12.2. Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.

    SL.11-12.5. Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.

    Thinking Verbs

    • Publishing requires deep consideration of audience, purpose, structure, text features, and format. Whether text blogging via WordPress, photo blogging via tumblr or Instagram, or video blogging through vimeo or YouTube, the demand for students to actually publish their writing is a significant leap.
    • Collaboration forces students to plan, adopt, adapt, rethink, and revise, all higher-level practices. Whether through apps, social media platforms, or in person, collaboration is not new for most K-12 learners in modern settings. But collaborating in pursuit of publishing and sharing thinking online is.
    • Evaluation is near the top of Bloom’s taxonomy for a reason, necessitating that students make critical judgment calls about how information is presented and shared. In many ways, this standard represents the most important—and perhaps least-understood—of the new Common Core ELA standards, asking learners not just to prefer facebook to twitter, but to deeply evaluate the pros and cons of each for different purposes. Powerful!
    • Integration is a matter of design, and produces considerable cognitive load on a learner. And in light of APIs, social media, and an array of smart mobile devices, is a kind of digital strategy. When the standard says “digital media,” it might as well say social media as it continues “to add interest,” a side-effect of making something non-social, social.

    Nets for Students (click here for a detailed PDF)

    • Creativity and Innovation
    • Communication and Collaboration
    • Research and Information Fluency
    • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

    There are essential conditions to regard when using technology in the classroom. Click here to learn more.
    Ideas such as Student-Centered learning, empowered leaders, and Curriculum Framework are essential to effectively leverage technology for learning.


    Schoology a safe, blogging environment for students and teachers to communicate, share documentation, take polls, and participate in assessments. Schoology is also web and app based. In addition, users can access Schoology through the Safari App on the iPad.

    Schoology Can:

    • Conversations about curriculum and student learning
    • Share handouts, links, and other documents
    • Students can participate in polls
    • Students can be assessed with the new Common Core Aligned test creator
    • Learn 21st Century skills involving writing online and to an authentic audience


    OverDrive is an eBook and Audiobook database supported by Monroe #1 BOCES and public libraries. Students and educators can download books according to interest/subject, Lexile level, reading level, and grade level.

    OverDrive Can:

    • Engage readers in books of their choosing
    • Allows for ease of access of audio and eBooks
    • Students can annotate eBooks

    Non Fiction Articles Databases

    NewsELA is a current event, non-fiction news article website. Classrooms can use NewsELA for close reading, current events, and building reading comprehension. NewsELA articles allow for students or teachers to adjust the Lexile level for a differentiated reading experience.

    NewsELA can:

    • Change Lexile Level appropriate for student comprehension
    • Lists aligned Anchor Standards on most articles
    • Quizzes are available for most articles

    Smithsonian TweenTribune - is a current event, non-fiction news article website. Classrooms can use TweenTribune APP or website for close reading, current events, and building reading comprehension. Tween Tribune articles allow for students or teachers to adjust the Lexile level for a differentiated reading experience.

    TweenTribune can:

    • Change Lexile Level appropriate for student comprehension
    • Quizzes are available for most articles (need login)
    • Teacher can create class and accounts for students in order to differentiate articles for students

    Articles on iPads and Literacy

    The following articles highlight mobile device usage with literacy, student engagement and assessment.

    Unlocking Literacy with iPad - This article discusses iPads in the classroom, focusing on literacy and MAP test results.

    Exploring the Use of the iPad for Literacy Learning - This article features a specific class with literacy goals and a list of apps used for specific literacy instruction.

    Reading Apps

    Want to encourage reluctant readers? Want to have a resource in which students have access to fiction and non-fiction ebooks and audio books? Get students reading!

    Overdrive App (Free) - allow for students and teachers to access the Monroe #1 BOCES eBook and Audiobook library as well as the Monroe Public Library eBook and Audiobook library. Downside? You need to have an Adobe Digital Editions ID which manages licensing rights and authorize the device to the account IF you wish to download the book and not read in browser. Has a Read In Browser option with wireless access. Once books are downloaded, you will not need to access wireless.

    Kindle App (Free) - Allows for Kindle format ebooks, magazines, textbooks and PDFs to be downloaded from Amazon and Overdrive. Downside? You need to have an Amazon account and authorize the device to the account. Once books are downloaded, you will not need to access wireless.

    Nook App (Free) - Allows for Nook format ebooks, magazines, textbooks and PDFs to be downloaded from Barnes & Noble. Downside? You will need to have a Barnes and Noble account to log into the app. Once books are downloaded, you will not need to access wireless.

    iBooks App (Free) - Allows for ebooks, magazines, PDFs and classic ebooks from sources such as Guttenberg

    News-O-Matic App (Free for limited time - then subscription fee) - Current event app with images, videos, and read-to-me articles.

    Writing Apps

    Do you wish your students could create a book as an authentic assessment? Students will be able to create a book from the Apps listed below.

    Book Creator App ($4.99) - Students can create picture books, video books, text, draw, narrate. Share books in iBooks App, emailed, printed, sent to iTunes, exported as PDF, opened in Nook App, Free Books App, Stanza App, Subtext App, Book Writer App, OverDrive App, Evernote App, or Dropbox App.

    Story Kit App (Free) - K - 12. Allows students to import images from camera roll, take pictures, draw pictures, add text, and narrate.

    Scribble My Story App (Free) - Elementary level, allows students to use templates in order to type or narrate their story. There are also blank templates in which students can customize background, add stamps, draw, write and/or narrate. There are educator management areas using the website to create group accounts.

    Book Writer ($3.99) - Students can create stories, how tos, PDFs, video books, picture books using images, videos, text, drawing, and narration. Can be opened in iBooks, Nook App, Free Books App, Stanza App, Subtext App, Overdrive App, Evernote App, or Dropbox App. Can be shared via email, iTunes, iBooks, PDF, or wireless printer.

    Video Creation Apps

    Students can create videos to share information about books such as Book Trailers or Book Talks.

    iMovie App - Allows for capturing video and editing. There are stock templates or students can create their own.

    Voice Thread App (Free) - Requires account. Students can use the camera feature on the iPad, gather images from the internet, add diagrams, videos in which they narrate the project. Allows for diagramming as well. Share via email.

    Videoshop App ($2.99) - Students can add special effects to captured video, add music from iTunes, and use this quick app.

    TouchCast App (Free) - Students can create a presentation that includes video, websites (that are clickable within the video). Needs student account.

    Skill Building Apps

    There are numerous skill building apps depending on the need of the students. Some apps allow for settings customization. For example: sitewords allows the app to be set for different grade level and number of words on each screen.

    Here are some resources to access for specific skill building apps:

    Additional Resources

    App Websites

    There are numerous resources for those looking for Apps and iPad resource just a google search away. Below are some sites that have been vetted and offer a great variety of educational apps.


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