From the producers of the Jumbled Sentences series of free iPad apps comes the I Can Write series. I Can Write is a series of free iPad apps in which students are shown a picture that they have to complete by dragging objects into place. After dragging an object into place students write a sentence about the object in the scene. If the sentence is written correctly, the student will hear it read aloud. If the sentence is written incorrectly then the student will not hear it read aloud and will have to try again.
One of my favorite ways to help students start a story is by having them use visuals around which they create a story. Here are five iPad apps that students can use to do that.
Tell About This is a fantastic iPad app (free and paid versions available) through which students can quickly create short digital stories. The concept behind the app is simple and well-executed. When students open Tell About This they can pick from an assortment of pictures that contain a story starter. Students listen and or read the story prompt and reply by tapping the record button to record a short story about the picture that they see. The stories that students record can be saved to their iPads or emailed to their teachers. In addition to using the existing story prompts, Tell About This allows teachers and students to create and share their own story prompts. To create a story prompt just take a picture or import a picture from your camera roll, add some text, and record the prompt.
Storehouse is a free iPad app for visual storytelling with your pictures and video clips. The basic idea behind Storehouse is to create stories by combining images, text, and video clips on a blank canvas. To create your stories you can import pictures and video from your iPad’s camera roll, from Instagram, from Dropbox, and fromFlickr. You can arrange the sequence of the media by dragging and dropping it into place. You can add text above and below each picture or video clip in your story. Completed Storehouse stories can be shared via email, Facebook, and Twitter. Stories published through Storehouse are given their own URLs for online viewing. You can see my sample story here. Stories can also be embedded into a blog post.
Strip Designer is a slick comic strip creation tools that allows students to create comics from scratch by drawing pictures, taking pictures, or importing pictures. Students can import pictures from a variety of places including Facebook, Dropbox, and the camera roll on their iPads. Each frame in your students’ comic strips is created individually and is not tied to an overall theme. This means that one frame in their comic strips could be based on a photo and the next frame could be based on a drawing. The borders and shading effects for each frame can be individually adjusted too. To help students really tell stories through comics, Strip Designer offers a slew of text editing tools, digital stickers, and drawing tools.
Toonia Storymaker is a cute iPad app that children can use to create short illustrated stories. To create stories on Toonia Storymaker children choose pre-drawn characters and settings for their stories. The characters can be dropped into multiple settings within the same story. The appearance of the characters in Toonia Storymaker can be edited. Once a character and setting is chosen children can type their stories in the speech bubbles. When the story is complete it can be emailed to parents and teachers or simply saved in the app. Toonia Storymaker does not require children to start every story from scratch. The app offers a couple of pre-made stories that children can read and edit. Any story that a child saves on the app can be revisited and edited at anytime. In that way you could have students craft a story, email it to you, and then you can give them suggested edits for their stories. Doing that could make using Toonia Storymaker a fun way for students to develop their creative writing skills.
Little Story Maker is a great little app that adults and children can use to create their own custom books on their iPads. The app provides book templates that you complete with your own images, text, and voice narration. All of the books that you create are stored in your Little Story Maker bookshelf. To create a book in Little Story Maker start by adding a title, add a cover image by selecting from your iPad’s camera roll, then choose a template for your book. On each page you can add an image from your camera roll and type the text for your page. If you want to add narration to your book simply click the “record audio” button after typing your text. Then you can add narration that will play on the page.
Creating comics can be a good way to get students interested in a creative writing lesson. Earlier this year on Free Technology for Teachers I published a list of five ways to use comics in the classroom. That list is copied below. If you’re looking for some iPad apps that your students can use to complete a comics project, take a look at the three I have reviewed below the list of ideas for using comics in the classroom.
1. Character Analysis: Have your students choose a favorite character from a favorite story and re-write that character into a comic strip story. In their stories students should attempt to demonstrate how their chosen characters would act in a different situation than is described in the original story.
2. Re-telling of historical events: Have your students create short comic strip stories about significant historical events. For example, students could create comic strips about Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone. The comic strip could have scenes of Bell working in his laboratory or talking to friends about his invention.
3. Create alternative book reports: Rather than writing a book report have your students create three to five frame comic strips covering the key parts of books they’ve recently read.
4. Create digital citizenship lessons. Have your students create comic strips in which they demonstrate the proper responses to unsafe digital citizenship behaviors.
5. Express feelings: Creating comic strips can be a good way for students to re-tell a situation that made them feel happy, sad, or mad. The use of facial expressions on comic characters is a nice way for students to express their feelings even if they don’t write much within the scene itself.
Make Beliefs Comix is a free multilingual comic strip creation tool that I’ve featured many times over the years on Free Technology for Teachers. Last month, Make Beliefs Comix released an updated iPad app for creating comic strips. The best feature of the app is that it supports the creation of comics in seven languages; English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Latin. The free Make Beliefs Comix iPad app allows students to create two, three, and four panel comic strips. To create comics in the Make Beliefs Comix iPad app you simply select the number of frames you want to use then choose the characters that you want to feature in your story. After choosing your frames and characters you can type text into speech bubbles to tell your story.
Strip Designer is a great comic strip creation tool to add to your students’ iPads. Priced at $2.99 USD it is $2 less than Comic Life and is just as good. Strip Designer provides dozens of comic strip layouts from simple one frame comics to one page layouts in a variety of configurations to multiple page layouts there is probably a layout that works for all students. And if not, your students can create their own custom comic strip layouts in Strip Designer. Strip Designer allows students to create comics from scratch by drawing pictures, taking pictures, or importing pictures. Students can import pictures from a variety of places including Facebook, Dropbox, and the camera roll on their iPads. Each frame in your students’ comic strips is created individually and is not tied to an overall theme. This means that one frame in their comic strips could be based on a photo and the next frame could be based on a drawing. The borders and shading effects for each frame can be individually adjusted too. To help students really tell stories through comics, Strip Designer offers a slew of text editing tools, digital stickers, and drawing tools.
XnSketch is an iPad app that allows you to take pictures on your iPad and turn them into cartoons or add sketch effects to your pictures. You can also use the app to affect the color saturation and clarity of your pictures. All of the images that you alter in XnSketch can be saved to your camera roll or shared to other applications on your iPad. XnSketch is a good option if you’re looking for a simple tool that students can use to enhance their pictures to use in comic strips. If they want to use their XnSketch images in a Google Presentation they could share them to Google Drive through their iPads.
Phraseology is an iPad app that doesn’t look like much more than a simple word processing app until you explore all of its handy little features. Phraseology provides a clean interface for creating documents. Once you’ve started creating a document you can take advantage of helpful editing and analysis tools built into the Phraseology app. Those tools include highlighting of the parts of speech in your document, a reading level indicator, and text arrangement tools.
When you have a document open in the Phraseology app you can tap a “target” icon to have nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, determiners, prepositions, and conjunctions highlighted throughout your document. You can choose to have one or all of those parts of speech highlighted in your document. Tap the “i” icon while viewing your document and you will see an analysis of the reading level of your document, a word count, and a break down of the frequency with which you used the various parts of speech in your document. Rearranging the text in your document is a simple matter of choosing a line and dragging it up or down (cut and paste is not required).
Documents completed in Phraseology can be sent to your Google Drive or Evernote account where you can then share them as you would share anything else in those accounts. You can also share Phraseology documents via email or Airdrop.
Phraseology currently costs $2.99
T-Charts Pros and Cons is a free iPad app designed to help you organize your thoughts about a question or dilemma. This simple app provides a clean layout in which you can write your pros and cons lists. Each thing that you write on your lists can be given a different weight. For example, if you’re trying to decide if you should study or go to a party you can give extra weight to “will probably do better on the test if I study” in your chart. Within T-Charts Pros and Cons you can create and manage multiple lists. All of your lists can be emailed to friends for their input and feedback.
Beyond weighing personal decisions T-Charts Pros and Cons could be used by students to keep track of points made in a classroom debate or to help them decide upon a position to take in writing an opinion paper.