What’s In and Out: Best Apps for English Classrooms

BYOD, or “Bring Your Own Device,” became the big buzz word in education toward the end of 2011. Yet, 2012 will be the year to actually begin implementing your students using their cell phones to improve their education.  But, even if your school hasn’t completely embraced the BYOD trend, you can still encourage students to use their cell phone for more than just texting by downloading the best apps in education.  Incorporating BYOD can help bring in some trends for 2012 into your teaching practice.

Over the last few weeks there have been numerous lists of the best apps for students and teachers to download, which becomes overwhelming because of the sheer quantity.  So, being your trusty guide, I’ve narrowed down the list to the top 3 apps for English/Language Arts for both Android and Apple with suggestions on how they could be used in the classroom.  You’ll see that I’ll first discuss what is “out” for the classroom and how it could be revolutionized by the BYOD movement.  Any application that has a cost associated with it will have a $ next to it.

Out:  Students taking notes on paper in class  In:  Students taking notes on their phone through EverNote    

This app is available on both iPhone and Android devices.  It allows students to take notes that can then be synchronized and labeled as favorites for easier access.  This app also serves as an agenda planner and allows students to record homework assignments.  For schools that aren’t 1:1 this is an easy alternative for students to type their notes in class.


Out:  Students making flashcards on notecards  In:  Using a flashcard app to manage and learn vocabulary

In 2011 we posted on vocabulary and how teachers could use Quizlet to create flashcard templates to share with students. However, bring Quizlet into the classroom and have students use an application on their phone to easily access the teacher-created flash cards and share them with others.  For Android, try Flashcards Buddy ($).  For iPhone, try FlipCards.  Both of these allow students to upload flashcards from Quizlet, add text/images, and share with one another.  While Android offers a variety of flashcard apps (both free and for cost) that can download cards from Quizlet, I think Flashcards Buddy is worth the $1.99.


Out:  Whole group discussions with only 5 participants In: Audio recording small group discussions that elicit more participation from all

Again, in 2011 we suggested having your students create podcasts of small group discussions, however, you don’t have to have formal podcasts.  You could just have them record their discussions to make sure they are focused and effective.  Have one student in each group record the group discussion using Voice Recorder (Android) or Voice Notes (iPhone) and email them directly to you at the end of class.

Okay, and one last plug for an extremely handy application for English teachers.  In the era of Common Core standards, the Mastery Common Core app is an excellent resource for teachers looking to hone their knowledge of and have a quick tool to reference when accessing the standards.

All in all, BYOD doesn’t have to complete immersion.  Start implementing it in increments through the above applications.

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