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Literacy Apps

Monthly reviews from Alan Peat of his current favourite literacy apps.

Follow Alan on Twitter
@alanpeat

Educational Potential 9.2/10
Design 9/10
Ease of use 8.5/10


Educational Potential 10/10
Design 10/10
Ease of use 10/10


Maths Apps MFL Apps
Literacy Apps

WORD FLEX
TOUCH DICTIONARY

£8.99

  Word Flex is much more than a simple dictionary; it's more of a tool for visually exploring language and developing vocabulary. It's also simple to use without being simplistic.

Type a word into the search box and a tree (like a 'mind map') of connected words is displayed. The word tree provides the user with a definition of the word (you can also hear the word spoken in either a British or American accent) and also parts of speech (noun, verb etc). Additionally it displays meanings and (very usefully!) related phrases.

An orange definition badge displays a dictionary definition of the original entry and, when selected, an origin badge details the words origin.

What I particularly like are the Example sentences which show how the word functions in context - a great feature!

When possible synonyms and antonyms are also displayed. Favourite words can be bookmarked and you can also post favourite word trees to Facebook or Twitter.

It's a lovely way of exploring the English language and I'd recommend using it with pupils aged 9+

It's comprehensive and the price reflects this. Worth every penny!

SEAMUS HEANEY:
FIVE FABLES

£8.99

   OK, £8.99 is quite a price (both apps I'm recommending this month are £8.99!) but it really is money well spent on this superb app. I really wish there were more like it!

The app consists of modern translations of five fables by the 15th century Scottish writer Robert Henryson. The translations/modern renditions of the fables were written by Seamus Heaney (winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature) and they are both lively and engaging.

The app is divided into two key sections: Poem AND Animation. You can hear the poem read in either English or Scots. Billy Connolly does a brilliant job of the English rendition and Dr. Ian Johnson provides a lively Scots rendition. Usefully, the text of the poem is displayed at the same time and each line is highlighted as it is spoken.

The animations are gorgeous - they were originally produced for the BBC and you can tell!

If this was the entirety of the app it would be well worth £8.99 but there is much more to explore. The 'insights' section includes interviews with leading academics and (shortly before his death) Seamus Heaney.

Many would perceive this as an app for older pupils but if I was teaching fables with pupils aged 9 and above I wouldn't hesitate to use it. There are handy synopses of each fable and the animations really bring the fables to life.

It's one of my favourite apps (produced by the team who made  groundbreaking 'The Elements' app in 2010) and I recommend it without reserve. The best £8.99 I've spent in a long time!

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