There are so many apps that can be used to address language arts goals, which is probably why this list was harder than the Top Ten for Math. As a speech-language pathologist, I am responsible for helping students with speech and language impairments meet the Common Core State Standards, normally by providing therapy to address any areas of weakness that might impact ability to meet the standards. I've used the CCSS for a full year now, to write goals and be sure that my therapy helps students meet curriculum expectations.
Read on for some of my favorite apps to address the Language Arts Common Core State Standards in education, including a few amazing new-to-me apps! Get back to school with some creative teaching ideas ready to go.
** Please note: Some of these apps have in-app purchases, but they can easily be disabled in the settings of your device. There also may be ads and social network links in some of these apps.
Only the app's developer can control when an app is free or not. All prices and free apps are verified at the time of this post. We make no guarantees otherwise.**
Don’t forget to download the Common Core Standards app at the top of our recent feature on CCSS for math, so that you'll have easy mobile access to the standards!
The Common Core Language Arts standards emphasize critical thinking (as do the math). Standards in each grade level also focus on narrative abilities. There are many great opportunities for the iPad to be used in these areas, and I worked hard to choose apps that allow educators to move away from worksheets and use technology in creative ways.
Story Wheel by EverAge ($2.99 with IAP, lite version available): This great app fits into the Speaking and Listening standards for Language Arts. Use it with an overall unit (with storytelling options like Space, Knights and Princesses, or Pirates), or simply use the basic storytelling set of images. Up to four players can work together on one story — each spins the wheel and then narrates 30 seconds about that image. The next person spins and continues the story, connecting their image to the story as a whole. As few as two and as many as 13 pages can be recorded. Stories are saved in the app, if selected. There is also a very useful “How to Tell a Story” section on the main page.
Lite Version: Full Version:
Rory’s Story Cubes by The Creativity Hub ($1.99 with IAP): This app is a great take on the best-selling Rory’s Story Cubes game. It’s similar to the Story Wheel, but without the record function. There are nine cubes in the classic set, with nine action cubes available for free. The sets can be combined randomly, too! Students can work on a cooperative storytelling assignment, or can work individually. Have students write the story as they play and focus on the Writing standards of the Common Core, or share with each other to address both Language and Speaking and Listening standards.
Simplex Spelling Apps by Pyxwise Software, Inc. (free lite versions, $4.99 full apps): There are a lot of apps to address the Foundational Skills Reading standards, and I like to use a variety. However, one of my favorite series of apps is Simplex Spelling. They are great for older learners who haven't quite mastered necessary phonics to decode complex words, because they aren't loaded with cartoons or younger images and rewards. Plus, the content is geared for beginning readers up through 4th/5th grade. Each app addresses a different set of skills — from Dolch Sight Words to Advanced Phonograms, and everything in between. There are word lists for each app on the Pyxwise website, to help teachers in selecting the right level, and Simplex Spelling Lite helps users truly understand the software and approach before buying (and it contains 50 words for FREE). But what makes me really love Simplex is the solid approach to teaching phonics. Students aren't taught to guess, but to apply systematic rules to decode and spell even advanced words like anonymous, diphthong, and neighbor.
See all Simplex Spelling Apps:
Peekaboo Studios reading comprehension apps ($2.99 each, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, iPad ONLY): Each app in this series features reading passages at the appropriate grade level. After reading the passage, the reader answers 12 related comprehension questions. The questions and passages are aligned with the Common Core and address both Reading of Informational Text and Literature. I also like the feedback given with any answer — the key area of the passage is highlighted. Unlike other similar apps I’ve tried, these questions move beyond the basic who, what, where, when-type of questions, which is definitely a feature of the Common Core.
3rd Grade: 4th Grade: 5th Grade:
Talk About It: Objects by Hamaguchi Apps ($5.99 home version/$9.99 pro version, iPad ONLY): This is one of my favorite apps in therapy, to help students with vocabulary and defining common words. After a spinner randomly selects an object to describe, the app walks the user through creating a complete, informative definition for common words. The user can then record a complete description about each object. Both Language and Speaking and Listening standards are easily addressed with this app.
Home Version: Pro Version:
Reading Comprehension Camp by Smarty Ears ($19.99, iPad ONLY): I know this is more than many people can spend on a classroom app, but it really is amazing for SLPs and classroom teachers who target reading comprehension. There are 50 stories, covering 2nd through 7th grade reading levels, and 11 different types of questions (from basic to complex). The text can be read aloud, to be able to focus on comprehension at an appropriate level for those not yet reading at grade level, and it keeps fantastic data. Perfect to use for progress reports and RTI data.
Tools 4 Students and Tools 4 Students 2 by Mobile Learning Services (99 cents each with IAP, iPad ONLY): Within these two apps (or buy Tools 4 Students with the in-app purchase for the content in Tools 4 Students 2) there are 50 different graphic organizers to use to support comprehension skills, writing, prepapring for presentations and more. They are designed for students in grades 4-12, but can be used with support by younger students, too. After completing a graphic organizer (including character maps, cause/effect, main idea, sequencing, chapter notes and Venn diagrams) it can be emailed, sent to Dropbox, or printed with AirPrint. If I get nothing else out of compiling these lists, I am a happy SLP. I can't wait to use these apps!
Tools 4 Students: Tools 4 Students 2:
The SAT Word Slam by Slammin Productions ($3.99 with IAP, lite version for iPhone): There are a lot of vocabulary apps, but most that I've seen are just digitized flash cards. This app makes it interesting for those who don't love reading dictionaries (guilty!) to learn new words. Each word includes a definition and a humorous rhyming poem, and uses mnemonic clues to help the user retain the word. It can be customized to target specific words, which is great for classroom teachers, and there is a learn section and a quiz section. To top it off, the text is read by voice actors, adding inflection and humor just by tone of voice. The SAT Word Slam targets the Language CCSS in high school, and is useful even beyond for those taking advanced exams like the GRE, or just looking to build vocabulary.
Free Lite Version (iPhone): Full version (iPhone/iPad):
Interactive Whiteboard by Educreations, Inc. (FREE, iPad ONLY): Educreations is an amazing app to create video tutorials — you can add images, draw on the screen in ten colors, and add text, all while recording audio to accompany what is on the screen. Use it to address the Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas standards in Speaking and Listening. Students address reporting on a topic integrating multimedia elements, and Educreations gives a very interactive way to create presentations.
Book Creator by Red Jumper Stdio ($4.99, iPad ONLY): Take multimedia presentations to the next level with Book Creator. It can be used to create simple books on a topic or idea and share them with family, friends and teachers, as well as to create a book for publication in iBooks. Add photos, edit text, use the 50 different fonts, record speech, and even import videos and music. Books can be viewed in iBooks, emailed or shared over DropBox, or even printed with AirPrint, all from the iPad. This is an app I've just found, thanks to a tip from a Twitter follower, and I can't wait to try it out!
Of course there are many, many more apps that can be used to smartly target the Common Core State Standards. I hope this list of some of the best available will help all educators and parents get a start on figuring out how the iPad can be used successfully to help kids learn.