INTRODUCTION: In Writing with iPads 1: Brainstorming & Organizing, I covered how to get kids to start thinking about writing – topics and ideas to start those wheels turning, and then how to organize some of those ideas, whether with a traditional mindmap, or with little post-it notes that could be rearranged. This section will describe some apps which can be used to actually get words onto paper (such as it is…), and allow editing. Aside from Dragon Dictation, they all provide basically the same functions: writing and editing with the ability to save into Google Drive. You need to play around with each one and determine which one suits you best.
DRAGON DICTATION: This app allows the writer to speak into the iPad and have his/her ideas converted to text. I can see this as being especially beneficial for students who struggle with keyboarding or handwriting. You tap the ‘+’ sign in the upper bar, the red button to start recording, tap the screen when you’re finished talking, and everything you’ve said appears on the screen in text format. You cannot save to GDrive, but you can copy (don’t worry about highlighting – it just copies everything) and then open another app, such as one of the ones below, and paste. You can then edit and save to GDrive.
- the audio adds an audio file – it does not change the audio to text.
- you can import pictures from your iPad or a picture you take.
- You can make different paper, including graph paper and a musical staff
- You can type words, or write them with your stylus (or finger)
- Tracks the number of words.
NOTEMASTER LITE: NoteMaster is a pretty straightforward notetaking app. It’s designed to have writing done with a keypad (as opposed to handwriting). One can insert pictures and drawings, although the drawings are turned into pictures, and not actually on the note itself.
- No audio
- Can import pictures from your iPad, the camera, or a drawing (opens up a new page where you make your drawing, save it, and it’s inserted into the previous page of notes).
- different colored papers available, but no graph paper or musical staffs.
- Has easily selected themes with different fonts and a slider bar for font size.
- Menu on the left shows all your folders of notes.
- If you toggle on the hyperlinks mode, any phone numbers, emails, or URLs will become ‘hot’ or clickable.
NOTABILITY: Probably the most inclusive of the writing apps highlighted here. This app will also be featured in my papers on Reading with iPads as a great way to get students to actively read. Depending on your taste, this will either provide you with tools you will love, or with too much ‘extra’ stuff you would rather do without.
- Audio notes can be inserted, but not changed to text.
- Importing media includes photos from your iPad, the camera, figures (shapes and lines of varying thicknesses and fill), web clips (sends you to either Google or Wikipedia; when you click ‘done’ it takes a screen shot and inserts it into your notes as a picture), and stickies (four available varieties of post-its you can drag onto your notes and draw on, &/or add captions to).
- Bookmarking feature
- Search function
- Various paper colors (15) and line thicknesses (4) and graph paper sizes (4).
- Includes an optional left-handed mode
GOOGLE DRIVE: While we usually think of Google Drive (GDrive) as strictly for storage, you can also create documents and spreadsheets within the app. There are no fancy frills such as handwriting or different colors of paper. You can do basics. The main advantage to using GDrive for word processing is that others can collaborate at the same time from any other computer (desktop, tablet, laptop, etc.).
OFFICE2 HD: This handy app is actually quite powerful. It will take any of your existing Microsoft Office files (Excel, PowerPoint, Word) and allow you to edit them on your iPad. You can then save them to GDrive. While I’m not sure I would START a document on this app, and I would not recommend it to students, it sure is nice to be able to work with all my old files!
What other apps do you recommend for teaching writing to students with iPads? Do you have specific lesson plans or processes you follow?