Thursday, June 16, 2011

11 Apps to Get Students Really Writing:

How do you go beyond the superficial response and get your students to embrace writing that actually deals with the underlying issues of a concept or question. 
I would suggest that mind maps are one way of getting a student to explore the many and often complex issues that one concept can encompass. 
Once you have them understanding the concept how do you get them to embrace the constructive process that is writing. How do you get them to see the task as an activity in making sequential arguments and then providing concrete evidence (from the poem, novel, artwork or event) that support their statements. It is their chance to present an idea and then build a case to sway another person of their beliefs and ideas. 
So are there any apps that help students do this? Here is a list of apps that might. They are not going to write the papers for the students but some of them provide scaffolds, ideas or processes that make them think more clearly about the writing process.

iA Writer:
“A Beautiful and simple design lets you concentrate on writing”. Every elements of the interface has been designed and polished to be easy and clear - no settings, no complicated interactions, no long explanation necessary - you’ll be writing your articles, poems and novels in no time.
Exclusively designed for the iPad it lets you create, edit and view documents wherever you are. Pages Templates are available to instantly create beautiful letters, reports, flyers, cards or posters. Wide range of files types accessible as well as file sharing. Most popular writing app for the iPad.
Plain Text:
A simple text editor with an uncomplicated, paper-like user interface. Biggest feature is the ability to create and organise documents in folders and then sync everything with Dropbox from within the app. A great example of how an iPad app should be written.
Articles for iPad:
This is really an app that helps you to do some of the research involved in writing papers. It is a one-of-a-kind presentation of Wikipedia articles with chapter control for skimming, table of contents, integrated maps and email article facilities as well as bookmark folders and all fully optimized for iPad.
The one and only notebook necessary - allows you to write, capture and organise your notes. Divide your projects into sub project for better handling, and cross reference to your filing system. Can also view PDF Pages, numbers, Word, Powerpoint and Excel documents. A very handy app.
Another research app that allows you to browse hundreds of articles in your library, find article by author or journal and even rate articles. Re-built for the iPad it also has a PDF viewer and the ability to annotate article on the spot. 8 built-in search engines for locating millions of articles at any time.
Clean Writer:
A clean and clutter free interface carefully designed for minimal impact on the writing process. Dropox integration, email sending and automatic saving. Only drawback is it is a plain text file(.txt) so conversion is required to open existing documents from other file types. 
Heart Writer:
A simple yet powerful text editor that supports 40 desktop-level keyboard shortcuts. Not designed for beautiful documents but rather for users to write and edit simple documents very quickly. Send via email, Dropbox or Google Docs. Concentrate on just the writing.

My Writing Spot:
Simply the best app for working on your writing project on the iPad. Provides a distraction free environment to create a manuscript that also includes word and character count, an extra row of keys, dictionary and thesaurus, password protection and support for printing and syncing to web service.
Lets you create and manage multiple notebooks, each one fully searchable and with its own settings. Ability to enable fast search, word count and extra keyboard features as well extensive formatting, photo importing, PDF version of documents, timestamps and export via email.

Paper Helper - Easiest Essay: $1.19
PaperHelper uniquely splits your iPad screen in half providing you with a Internet Browser and a Document writer. Seamlessly surf the web for information and transfer it to your document while you keep track of all your sources while providing print facilities as well.


  1. Have you looked at Rory's Storycubes?

  2. Thanks Ken that was an excellent tip. Not only have I now looked at it we have since bought it for our school.

  3. Peter van LoevezijnJuly 4, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    What about Nebulous notes? Much better dan iA for example.

  4. Jot! is the whiteboard app for students. It's the best whiteboard app in the app store. It can facilitate student collaboration in real time through its feature called Live Sharing.!-whiteboard/id376133340?mt=8

  5. Hello Greg Swanson,
    Thanks for letting us know about this list, help me a lot. Can you please recommend some science Mathe apps for me( high school level students)