Writing with iPads 2: Putting Words on “Paper”

Apps 4 Writing


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 DictationDRAGON 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.

PaperDesk LTPAPERDESK LT:  The app is probably the most intuitive of the ones described here.  It looks like a notebook with a menu (that can be switched from one side to the other).

 

  • 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 LiteNOTEMASTER 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.

NotabilityNOTABILITY:  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


GDrive
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 HDOFFICE2 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?

#Eduwow From Today’s EdTech Conference

BEING TECH SAVVY IS A STATE OF MIND, NOT JUST A COLLECTION OF SKILLS.

After two full days of talking, listening, and digesting, the biggest ah-ha moment for me was when this hit me like the proverbial dumptruck of bricks.  

ImageThe best part was that Sean Nash, our presenter, didn’t come out and say this.  After actively participating in his exercise and really thinking about what everyone in the session said, this phrase just popped into my head.  I’m not even really sure that others came to the same conclusion.  

I am sure, however, that this will change the way I manage and plan Professional Development in my district.  It will change how I view teachers and their skill sets, and it will affect how I view my own progress this year.

Attitude really is everything – even when it comes to being labeled as ‘Tech Savvy’.

Thanks to presenter Sean Nash (@nashworld) and his thoughtful presentation and effective use of the Fish Bowl technique!

Why Kids Need Tech Class in School

Crosspost of my January column for my school’s PTO Newsletter:

Over break, I cleaned out our burgeoning bookshelves, and decided to get rid of our single-volume encyclopedia and our unabridged dictionary.  I can’t remember the last time I used them, even with two students in the house.  New technology is everywhere.  Careers and life and more and more tech-based (even 5 years ago, I never thought ‘technology integration’ would be part of my resume!).  Past columns have discussed 21st century learners, and how preparing our kids for jobs which are cutting edge, or even for those that we can predict is doing them a disservice.  We need to be using new teaching standards, such as the Common Core, to teach them how to work well with others, be curious and how to find, manage, and manipulate information – all with this omnipresent technology.

dictionary picMany of the “Top 10 Issues” lists for education in 2013 mention technology.  The trick -the real issue – is actually twofold: teaching teachers how to integrate technology, so that it becomes part of the curriculum, not the curriculum itself, and second, how to teach kids to use technology responsibly.  Just because they are ‘digital natives’ and have grown up surrounded by technology does not mean they know how to efficiently find information, evaluate its relevance, and then how to use it constructively to create something new.  This is one of the school’s new responsibilities.

Hopefully, all of you have been receiving my weekly emails letting you know about what’s going on in computer class.   It has been my goal this year to start integrating my class’s curriculum into that of their regular classroom teacher.  Basically, my goal is to use technology to reinforce topics covered in their other subjects.  We often work on word processing skills by writing with their spelling words or reinforce math by playing money counting or time telling games.  Perhaps you read or heard about plotting the Iditarod’s trail on Google Earth before reading their story in 5th grade?  The kids probably don’t know it, but by teaching them technology skills when they NEED to know them makes them much more memorable than teaching them out of context or ‘just because that’s what was on the syllabus to teach you today.’

But I can’t get it all done in a year.  It is vital that this technology education continues throughout their schooling, partly because I can’t cover everything in 40 minutes per week, and partly because the relevant skills I’m teaching today will probably be obsolete in a couple of years.  It is my wish for all our kids that they receive every opportunity to become successful individuals – in grade school, high school, college, and into their careers.

Maybe next year when I go to clean the bookshelves, I’ll get rid of all of them, because who really uses physical books anymore?