One of the great things about having an iPad in the classroom is the quick and immediate access it gives you to relevant and authentic content. It’s the perfect tool for a materials light, one to one teacher like me because something interesting can crop up in conversation and I can almost instantaneously bring up a great resource to share with the student.
Recently, a student told me that she was tired of all the lies in the media and I jumped on YouTube and showed her a clip of Bill Hicks talking about “the truth” (she’s the kind of student who’s not offended by Bill Hicks!) Another time she told me that her favourite place in London was Waterloo Bridge, and one minute later she’s listening to Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks.
The app from Life Magazine has collections from their extensive photography vaults. It begins with a handy map of the world, so you can check for pictures for the area your students are interested in. You can also search by theme. I used the collection of London during the war photographs to contrast with the riot photo from the Guardian app.
For more images, you could also try the Heritage app for pictures from UNESCO world heritage sites.
For news, there are plenty of interesting apps that give you quick and easy access to what is going on the world. BBC News is clear and easy to use, as is the Channel 4 news app. I also like the News360 app because you scroll through news stories by picture alone, and could get the students to choose a story based on nothing other than the image. Newsy is also a good source for up to date content.
ShowYou aggregates a variety of different and unusual videos from a range of sources (which you can preset, if you wish). It has an almost unlimited potential to give you something interesting to use with your students. Square Eyes is a similar app.
Videojug specialises in ‘how-to’ videos, so if you’re looking to use an instructional videos, they have a huge selection to choose from.
And of course there is TED, which has two apps, the normal TED app and, especially for learners, a fantastic app with subtitles. The script scrolls at the bottom of the screen, and can be used to control the video. So if the learner wants to go back because they didn’t understand a particular phrase, they just touch that line in the script and the video will jump there. I think it’s pretty obvious how useful that could be.
If you’re lucky enough to use literature with your students, there are thousands of free books available. However most of them are out of copyright, and being over 80 years, they may present a challenge even for advanced learners. My favourite books app, apart from the native iBooks app, is the aptly named Free Books, which is browsable by topic area, such as epic epics, banned books, ghost stories, pulp and young readers.
From a more obvious educational standpoint, there are some lovely whiteboards apps such as Screenchomp, where you can record what you write or draw and send it to the students, and ShowMe, which is very similar. I’m also very curious about SpeedGrader, which seems to allow you manage your classes homework, amongst several other things, but since I’m teaching one to ones at the moment, I haven’t really explored.