Sunday, March 8, 2015

Classroom-tested apps (Part 1): Working with Words

Word work is an area that I find is often overlooked in classrooms. I think that it should be an integral part of daily programming,  in my humble opinion, so that students can build vocabulary and help them to develop the important 21st century skills of the 4 C's : "Communication".

Disclaimer: I am a self-proclaimed word nerd so maybe my opinion doesn't really count ;-)

I have many classroom games and activities that I use with words that are collaborative (think team competitions), active (word race or word snowball war, anyone?) and just plain fun (whole class, giant scrabble game on The Learning Carpet).

Technology and apps can bring another level of fun to classroom word play, and help to mix up the learning activities and further challenge students.

I have worked in Junior and Intermediate (grades 4 to 8) since our school got iPads, and most of my experience is with apps for grades 4 and up. However, my own children are in grades 1 and 3 so I do have some first-hand knowledge of what the interests and capabilities are of primary students with technology.

Here is a small list to get you started using word games and technology together in your classroom. Please be sure to add your favourite classroom-tested apps in the comments (or ones that you, yourself find to be really, really awesome).

1. Chicktionary - Free          Ipad/iPhone

Grades 3+

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 9.44.13 PM

This is my favourite word app, hands-down.  Challenging enough for adults with English degrees, yet accessible to even primary students who are developing their vocabulary, this game is also just fun.  The egg-laying chicken graphics are cute, and with 3 modes of play, you will never get bored. This was one of the first apps we ever used when we first got our school iPads four years ago, and it is still a favourite with the students.

2. Words with Friends - Free iPhone/iPad

Grades 4+

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 9.52.04 PM

This is a Scrabble-like game that has become popular through Facebook. I have just begun to use this app in my classroom. It can be used for solo word play, or you can connect with others.  Due to the interactive nature of the game, I am limiting the interactive part, for the time being, to having a whole-class competition against other classes in the school and from other schools. There is a chat feature that you will need to monitor if you open it up to students and allow them to play against unknown opponents.

Want to challenge us? Leave me a comment and I will get in touch with my username so my class can battle with words.

3. PopWords - Free - Iphone/iPad

Grades 3+

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 10.09.15 PM

Similar to Boggle, easy to play and lots of fun. Sometimes I put it up on the SmartBoard and have students use the same grid, write their words on paper and challenge other teams within the classroom.

4. Spell Collapse - $2.29  iPad/iPhone

Grades 4+

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 9.47.50 PMI am trying to stick to as many free apps as possible. However, this is a more-challenging word app. It is great for students who need to have opportunities to really test their mettle. You can rearrange letters to spell longer words. This is the one I find myself playing late at night when I just can't sleep.

A few other word apps of note:

5. Skywords-Free  (Grades 4+): Just like Upwords (a word tile game where you can build on-top of other letters)

6. Word Up Dog-Free (Primary/Junior grades): A puppy digs for new words. Cute.

7. New York Times Crossword - Free (Intermediate/Senior grades)

8. Word to Word - Free (Grades 5+) - Word association game

There are so many other word apps out there. Start with a few and then invite students to add their own suggestions for classroom apps. Remember to leave a comment if you have some others that your students love.

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