Remember back when you were a student, when lessons were taught using chalkboards and overhead projectors?
It’s amazing that we learned as much as we did using such Stone Age technology in the classroom. I remember scrambling to write down all the notes on the overhead before the teacher moved on to the next slide.
And the benefits go way beyond stress-free note-taking. Using an iPad in your English classroom can make lessons more interactive, engaging and memorable. They can also make your life easier, with lesson planning tools and fresh ideas for lectures and activities.
But an iPad will be little more than a glorified paperweight if you don’t know how to properly teach with it. Let’s look at six ways to enhance your students’ learning experience with the best iPad apps for English classrooms.
Teachers of Tomorrow, Listen Up! 6 iPad Apps That’ll Transform Your English Classroom
FluentU: Immerse the Classroom in Authentic English
One of the most exciting things about teaching with iPads is that they can put students face-to-face with authentic English content. However, since this content is created for native speakers, it’s often quite difficult for students.
Luckily, there’s an answer for that: FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, cartoons, documentaries and more—and turns them into personalized language-learning lessons for you and your students.
It’s got a huge collection of authentic English videos that people in the English-speaking world actually watch regularly. There are tons of great choices there when you’re looking for songs for in-class activities.
You’ll find music videos, musical numbers from cinema and theater, kids’ singalongs, commercial jingles and much, much more.
On FluentU, all the videos are sorted by skill level and are carefully annotated for students.
Words come with example sentences and definitions. Students will be able to add them to their own vocabulary lists, and even see how the words are used in other videos.
For example, if a student taps on the word “brought,” they’ll see this:
Plus, these great videos are all accompanied by interactive features and active learning tools for students, like multimedia flashcards and fun games like “fill in the blank.”
It’s perfect for in-class activities, group projects and solo homework assignments. Not to mention, it’s guaranteed to get your students excited about learning English!
Sign up for a free trial and bring FluentU to your classroom today.
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Comic Life: Create Digital Comics Together
Teaching English with comics is a fun, creative way to get your students practicing their writing skills and learning how to come up with natural English dialogues.
While using comics as learning activities is nothing new, the iPad app Comic Life makes it an easier and more convenient by dramatically reducing out-of-class prep time and eliminating the need for extra materials. In other words, you won’t need to print comic templates or cut out word balloons for the students to fill.
Instead, you and your students get to instantly choose from a wide range of templates, fonts and types of letter art. And since the comics are done digitally on the iPad, you and your students can make changes or correct errors without having to create a new comic.
This makes it easy to come up with actionable lessons where students can work in groups to create comics related to the theme of your lesson.
SimpleMind Pro+: Make Vocabulary More Memorable
In classes where students have access to iPads, you can use the SimpleMind Pro+ mind mapping app to help your students increase their vocabulary knowledge and piece together English sentences. This app allows students to create beautiful “mind maps,” or charts where information is organized by branches and related groups.
All you have to do is give your students a topic to brainstorm vocabulary for, and then have them use the app to create mind maps with their topic.
Mind maps aren’t just lists. They’re supposed to be colorful and include imagery, which makes this a great activity for visual learners. Take a look at this example to see how a mind map can be used as an English exercise.
Here are some sample topics for mind map activities:
- Things I like to do during summer vacation
- African animals
- Types of fruit
If it’s a new vocabulary topic, give students a thesaurus to use as they build their mind maps. If you’re reviewing previously introduced vocabulary, see how much they can fill out from memory. You can tell them what branches to give their mind map, but they’ll likely get more out of the activity if you let them decide how they want to organize the words.
Keynote: Create Engaging Lecture Notes
The iPad’s Keynote app is a great tool to create attention-grabbing lecture notes and share them easily with your students. Keynote is a presentation app that makes it easy to incorporate charts, photos, text and even your own notes or sketches.
So whether you’re introducing a new vocabulary set or teaching about culture in an English-speaking country, you’ll be able to quickly create a multi-dimensional lesson with lots of engaging material.
If your classroom has a projector that supports Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, you can connect your iPad and project the presentation on your Keynote app onto the board.
But where the iPad and Keynote really become useful is in classroom settings where both you and your students are using iPads. In these high-tech classrooms, you can share your Keynote presentation with your students so that they can follow along on their own iPads while you go through the lecture. You can even change the sharing options of the file so that students can make changes to the presentation as well, which is perfect for times when you want to work together with the class.
Another great iOS app that works similar to Keynote is Pages, Apple’s word-processing app. If you don’t care for flashy presentations, you can create a straightforward document using Pages and share it with the class instead. And just like Keynote, you can change the sharing settings to give students permission to edit the document or not.
The great thing about the collaborative setting is that you can also put your students in pairs or groups and have them work together on presentations or writing assignments. You can even assign this type of work as homework because students can collaborate on projects without having to physically meet up.
Firefly: Simplify Classroom Management
Along with creating classroom activities and interactive lessons, you can use your iPad to organize classroom material and monitor your students’ progress. Firefly is an educational app that, at its core, is designed to make teachers’ lives easier.
With this iPad app, you can assign and grade homework, keep track of your students’ progress in multiple areas, access lesson-planning tools and more from one easy-to-use platform.
And best of all, Firefly doesn’t just help you, the teacher. It also enhances the learning experience of your students by:
- Allowing them to learn independently by accessing notes and material you’ve shared through Firefly
- Letting them collaborate with other students over Firefly, or even work with you if they need help with a particular assignment
- Creating an online platform where students can chat with one another when they need advice or want to practice their English
Quizlet: Keep Extra Activities in Your Back Pocket
It’s always a good idea to have some extra English activities for those times when your students sail through your lesson plan or just need a little energy boost. Quizlet is a study program that lets you build customized, interactive English exercises that are perfect to keep in your back pocket.
Quizlet is probably best known as a flashcard tool, but it can do a lot more than just flip digital index cards. You can have students listen to English words and try to spell them, play matching games with words and pictures, click through interactive diagrams and more.
Since you’re in control of the flashcards you want to review on Quizlet, the study possibilities are endless. You can use the app to help your students brush up on their critical reading skills, review grammar or learn new words.
Bringing technology into the classroom is a fun way to help students become more involved in the learning experience. Devices like iPads are great for creating interactive lessons that keep your students engaged and wanting to learn more. Teachers who have the option to teach with iPads and other smart devices should take full advantage of the opportunity in order to create a learning environment that helps students succeed.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach English with real-world videos.