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These Quality Rubric-Reviewed Apps are Great for Helping Young Students Develop Their Literacy Skills

The impact technology is having on the printed word is huge. As we continue shifting to digital texts, we can use apps to support children’s early literacy development. At App Ed Review, we’ve included an abundance of apps for these purposes and have shared four of our favorites below!

And remember, all reviews posted to the App Ed Review website are guided by our comprehensive rubric and offer teachers both instructional ideas for using the app along with an original app description. We hope you enjoy this month’s selection of apps!

  1. Biography Comics is a great app for teaching our young students about significant people in our culture. The app presents these individuals’ biographies in comic book form, with vivid pictures and clear language. However, what makes Biography Comics so appealing is the variety of activities that can be used with them, which include summarizing, visualizing, and vocabulary activities. Then, once students understand the technique and structure used by this app, teachers can have students produce these types of biographies for people from their own lives, such as parents, friends, family, and role models. With high scores for its design, this app is sure to engage young readers. For more instructional ideas and information, click here.
  2. Sometimes students need to learn or review grammar rules, and the English Grammar in Use app is here for them! With this app, students can study a range of grammatical topics with the app’s 20 tutorials, and it includes a glossary of terms with high-quality examples of the grammatical rule in action. These examples support students in learning and recognizing the grammar usage in their own writing. Plus, the bookmark “Ribbon” tool lets students easily save pages that interest them. Although grammar may not be the most engaging topic, this app certainly helps with it! To see our full review, click here.
  3. Use Your Handwriting is a fantastic app for students learning to write and an engaging tool to add a 21st Century spin to note taking. Students open the app and click the “Plus” icon to create a new note. Then, students can use a finger to practice writing letters or begin scrawling notes. One feature that makes this app so enticing for developing students’ early literacy skills is that they can practice writing letters, numbers, and words in this app. Teachers can show students an letter, number, or word and have students write it on their screen using this app. With its interactive user interface, this app is sure to be an engaging tool in your classroom. (After all, it did score a 9.0 for engagement and a 9.3 for its design.) To read more, click here.
  4. Writing poetry can be difficult for some students, and that’s where the Word Mover app comes in. Students channel their budding poetic minds through the scaffolding of a bank of moveable words that includes random words, words from famous works, or they can insert their own words. With the words in the bank, students can then touch and drag desired words to create poetic stanzas or sentences. Teachers can use this app to support students experimenting with language. This highly engaging app scored a 7.4 overall. Lesson plans and more can be found here.

That’s all for this month’s Roundup. If you would like more information about any of the apps mentioned here or that are on the App Ed Review website, please contact us at

And remember, apps for elementary English language arts can be incorporated in so many ways, so use your imagination and enjoy!  

Todd Cherner and Alex Fegely will be presenting sessions at the 2015 Teaching and Learning with the iPad Conference this November. Come join Todd, Alex, and hundreds of other passionate educators at the original iPad educational conference November 12th – 14th in Raleigh, NC!



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Create Quick, Easy Avatar-Animated Videos With This Free SmartPhone App

Nick Combs will be presenting pre-conference workshop, “Teaching with the iPad Grades K-6” and the breakout session “Creation Formation” at the 2015 Teaching and Learning with the iPad Conference this November. Come join Nick and hundreds of other passionate educators at the original iPad educational conference November 12th – 14th in Raleigh, NC!

Teachers frequently require students to create and develop “products” – things they write, draw, paint, etc. – based on classroom curriculum. Educators also must determine how this work should be presented and assessed.

In the digital age, content can easily be shared from the classroom to almost anywhere on earth by posting it on the World Wide Web. Pictures and projects are no longer limited to only being put up on the refrigerator door at home or being displayed around on classroom walls!

Of course, if an educator wishes to share student work on the web, they need to avoid sharing images of students and infringing on privacy. Luckily, thanks to fun apps like Tellagami, students can present items or content easily while using an avatar look-alike to share content without infringing on privacy policies.

One excellent app that provides a safe platform for providing student presentations online is Tellagami. This is a beneficial app for elementary, middle, and high school students to share quick content in a safe virtual environment.

The Tellagami app can be used for a variety of content areas and grade levels. Students could share a brief summary of a book, report on a historical place or event, discuss scientific diagrams, or even explain how they created their artwork.

Here is one of my student’s Tellagami videos:

How do you create a Tellagami video?

Creating a Tellagami video is really easy! Just download the free app and follow these steps.

Step 1:
Students decide the look of their character. They can customize their avatars by changing the face, skin tone, hair color, facial expressions, and clothing.

Step 2:
Background images can be added from the camera roll or doodled directly onto the app. ­­Students can even add text or record their voice to provide a more personal touch.

Step 3:
Preview the “Gami” video, save it, and send the URL link to share with others to view.

The Tellagami app is one of the many content development apps available to support your classroom. To find out about more apps for creating content, please come check out my sessions at the upcoming T& L iPad Conference in Raleigh on November 12th -14th. Check out the full conference schedule here: and feel free to follow me on Twitter @nickcombsedu!

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Be Aware: Apps Students are Using to Hide Inappropriate Content

October 6, 2015

Tech Always has its Pros and Cons. Teachers Should be Aware of Both. I have to admit, I felt pretty unaware and uninformed when I stumbled across this. Like, “Where have I been?” How did I not realize this? I don’t have any interest in going down a sensationalist road here on the site. I […]

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Do Your Students Know That Published Authors Share Some of the Same Struggles They Do?

October 5, 2015

Successful Children’s Author Kate Messner to do Google Hangout for Grades 3 – 5 on Oct 20th. Did you know that published authors go through the same process as student writers when they are writing? We all do! We all have to brainstorm, research, plan, draft, and edit. Whether you are in 4th grade and […]

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Teaching and Tech Tweet Wrap for Week Ending 10-03-15

October 4, 2015

Inspiring, informative, useful, or just plain fun tweets posted on Twitter over this past week … collected here to share with our blog readers. This week … creating interactive timelines (great for student assignments and projects), gaining a better understanding of gamification and badging in the classroom, telling stories through maps, learning about cool new […]

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3 Tech Platforms for Students to Practice Speaking Foreign Languages

September 30, 2015

Image source These Tech Tools can Help Fill the Void in Foreign Language Learning – Practicing Speaking the Language! Are you a student who is struggling to learn a foreign language? Or maybe you’re a teacher who teaches foreign languages? Every teacher knows that students who want to get up to speed on a new […]

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Good Tools for Teaching Students How to Evaluate Web Content Credibility

September 29, 2015

Source: Butler University Library, adapted from Meriam Library at CSU, Chico What are Your Favorite Tools and Techniques for Helping Students Learn how to Assess Web Content? One of my favorite lessons to teach is about evaluating the credibility of web sites and other digital content. I often start by showing the classic “Can’t Lie […]

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Constructive Use of the iPad in the Humanities Classroom – One Teacher’s Experience

September 28, 2015

Josh Herring will be presenting the session “The iPad in the Humanities Classroom: One Teacher’s Journey from Skepticism to Appreciation” at the 2015 Teaching and Learning with the iPad Conference this November. Come join Josh and hundreds of other passionate educators at the original iPad educational conference November 12th – 14th in Raleigh, NC! Technological Skepticism […]

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Digital Learning Tweet Wrap for the Week Ending 09-26-15

September 27, 2015

Inspiring, informative, useful, or just plain fun tweets posted on Twitter over this past week … collected here to share with our blog readers. This week in the Wrap … understanding the difference between Projects and Project Based Learning, sort TED-Ed lessons by grade level, win a 3D printer for your school, getting reluctant writers […]

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A New “3 Minute Teaching With Tech Tutorial” Introducing Microsoft’s Compelling New SNIP Tool

September 24, 2015

Create Video Lessons in Minutes by Annotating Screen Snips with this Free Windows App Microsoft appears to have taken a page from Google’s playbook, encouraging employees to “turn their wild ideas into real projects” and calling the effort Microsoft Garage. Makes sense to me – all organizations should make room and opportunity for innovation. One […]

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