It's one of my favourite days of the year - National Poetry Day! To celebrate on the Write Path international collaborative writing project we will be working on collaborative poems on Poetry Day theme of Remember. We have fantastic starter stanzas from Tommy Donbavand, Eleanor Updale, Graham Marks, Jane Prowse, Lucy Coats & Dave Cryer, looking forward to seeing how our brilliant young writers continue them. I love poetry but probably didn't make enough time for it in the past but I have read & listened to much more this year thanks to some fantastic poetry apps:
1. My favourite poetry app has to The Love Book , a wonderful collection of romantic poetry with recordings of the poems from fab actors e.g. Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Watson. You can record your own readings of the poems too but honestly I spend most time on the recordings made by Tom Hiddleston, sigh!
2. I have to say I've never been a particular fan of Shakespeare (closes ears to shocked intakes of breath all over the place!) but the Sonnets app is beautifully produced and has helped me to feel warmer towards the bard. The app certainly isn't cheap but it can now be purchased as an app bundle with two other excellent apps, The Waste Land & Seamus Heaney:Five Fables and you do get a lot of bang for your buck. Within the app you have a reproduction of the first published edition of the Sonnets, Arden Shakepeare's complete notes , perspectives & performances of all 154 sonnets by well know names such as Patrick Stewart & David Tennant (yes, Dr Who reading Shakespeare, what's not to like?!).
3. To This Day from Moving Tales is a thing of beauty, which is no surprise because all of their apps are fab. It is a collaborative animation of this poem written and performed by Shane Koyczan. A very moving poem about bullying & depression, the animations add to the power of the reading and make this a fully immersive experience. The audio narration is in English but you can change the language of the text to French or Spanish if you prefer.
4. Poetry Station is the app version of a fantastic website packed with videos of authors reading their own poems. The app is similarly full with amazing poetry and you can browse by poems, poets or topics. You will need a network connection for this one, I particularly love the Michael Rosen videos. Only slight irritation I have with the app is the constant change from portrait to landscape but this doesn't mar the content.
5. I am a lover of war poetry and Wilfred Owen is one of my favourite poets so Owen had a headstart with me. There are thirty five poems on this app with audio narration, illustrations and video academic critiques along with an introduction from Owen's nephew, Peter.
6. Last but by no means least Penguin's Poems by Heart does what it says on the tin - allows you to memorise poetry. It includes poems from poets such as Edgar Allan Poe & Emily Dickinson & uses brain training methods to help make memorising easier and fun. You gain achievements & high scores along the way and each poem features original art and 2 readings.
Happy Poetry Day everyone, enjoy the rhyme time!
My latest iPad app book finds - enjoy!:
Mirror World - Cornelia Funke's fantastical world explored in stories, video and with interactive elements. Beautiful app but be aware it does take up a fair bit of space. The app was developed in full collaboration with the author and that shows in the quality of the content.
Captain Underpants - the ever popular Dav Pilkey character now has his own app produced by Scholastic. The app retains the effervescent sense of fun that is apparent in the books, the actual story progresses in an organic way with no page turns just a smooth continuation and the added games (you can create your own music using various sounds including passing wind!) help to make this a must have for boys.
The Guardian of Imagination - Stories, pictures and games that can only be unlocked one by one by finding the key to the next box in a stack by reading tales. Can be read in English, Spanish, Catalan & Italian. First story tells of a world where no colours exist because people have stopped imagining and is very lyrically told.
Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus - This story uses the character of the beloved detective and has a contemporary steampunk edge, with audio and animations and quite exquisite illustrations. You can either read it yourself or explore along with quality audio narration.
Wild About Books - A pop up picture book app, Wild About Books tells the story of a mobile librarian who finds herself in a zoo and encourages all the animals to read by lending them wonderful books. I love the references to other children's books within the text and the jolly rhyming text.
Mr Tickle - I just love the Mr Men! the fact that the story is narrated by none other than David Walliams is the icing on the cake for this app, it's full of colour and is very joyful, as it should be!
(I will be showing all of these apps and more at the course on encouraging reluctant readers I am running with author Andy Robb at Peters Booksellers on the 3/7 ....hope to see you there!)
A friend asked me about Aurasma today and it reminded me that I keep meaning to play with it more ;-) . The Aurasma app I have on my iPad allows me to add hidden triggers to any images that I take so that when the device is held over the image (could be a place, a book or any object) the extra content I have added will play. There are many animations provided with the app or you can add your own videos and I think this is where it gets clever. These augmented reality triggers are included in the Morris Lessmore picture book and they trigger the content on the Imag-N-Tron
app. I've been experimenting with the Aurasma app today and it is fairly straightforward to use and I think it could be used in lots of exciting ways. Apparently my friend had heard talk of using it to have book trailers play when a certain book cover is hovered over and this sounds very cool indeed. Some ideas I had:
Book cover triggers to student book review videos - nothing better than the recommendation of peers!
If possible links to authors reading aloud from the particular book - for example the video of the wonderful Michael Rosen reading We're Going on a Bear Hunt
Posters in the library linking to videos of student librarians explaining the rules of the library
Display of teacher/librarians favourite books with videos of each of them talking about their reasons attached to 'their' book cover
Trigger objects around the school used as a treasure hunt
Holding app on device over bunsen burner to get video experiments
On a personal note I'd love to buy my nephews & nieces books and then let their parents hover with their phones & discover a video of me reading the book to them - or talking about why I like the book. I'd like to create Auras for all the special Christmas decorations on our family tree too .....but that's just because I love Christmas! Could be a good way to document family history though. Just a few quick ideas but I'm enjoying using Aurasma and think it has real potential.
I've had the Pedlar Lady app on my iPads for ages and have long admired the beautiful line drawings and animations. Recently I bought another app from Moving Tales, The Unwanted Guest. The same line drawings are there and the angle you see the pictures from changes each time you open up the app in a very filmic way.Moving Tales apps are based on folk tales and this particular one is a story about a man who manages to overcome his 'elephant in the room' who is a character called Hunger. The narration is perfectly clear and at a good pace which makes it an enjoyable experience to have the story read to you. I can see this app being used in schools for PSHE, English, Art and in the library. I haven't yet purchased Moving Tales other apps, This Too Shall Pass & Twas the Night Before Christmas but I don't think I'll be holding out for long!
After my recent post about IOS apps for Dyslexic students I was asked if there was an Android version of them and found that sadly no there isn't. After some digging I've found some android apps that are good however, although I do find it difficult finding non IOS apps - such an Apple fangirl, guilty as charged!
Meet Heckerty is a delightful story app that's great for students with learning difficulties. I love the way that in the 'Read to me' option the words are highlighted as they are read aloud, the ability to tap a word at any time and have it read out to you and the very easy navigation. (There is an IOS app of this one too)
Neon Tiki Tribe book apps are great fun, probably best for students up to the age of 11, older kids would find them too young I think. They focus on issues such as bullying and use a dyslexia friendly font , the accompanying song soon loses its charm but maybe not for younger readers! (+ IOS)
Moon+ Reader is good for reading ebooks, the scrolling line under text (you can change the speed of this) is very useful and there are a number of other adjustment you can make in the app such as changing the background theme, brightness etc.
Just a few but I will add more if I find them.
I've been looking at apps specifically for Dyslexic students today and have found loads - some good, some not so good. Magnispies is fun - you have to use your magnifying glass and get rid of all the spies on the page by matching the secret code (which is the word's vowel and is on your secret spy folder). It helps with vowel recognition , thus improving reading fluency with practice.
This is Dyslexia has been very well designed and is targeted at children with bags of information, a brilliant video that describes what life is like for dyslexics in comic form and suggestions for parents and teachers. Huge bonus is the fact that it is UK made so the voices have English accents (loved the Geordie character in particular!).
iOverlayPlus is a very simple app but effective , it utilises the device's camera and puts a coloured overlay over the words in your book, in exactly the same way that plastic overlay sheets do but I think using an iphone would look much cooler! The £1.99 price tag is a little steep but it is very easy to use.
ClaroSpeak UK isn't cheap at £3.99 either but it is worth the money in my opinion. You can type directly into the app, paste in text from elsewhere or open a file from your Dropbox and the app will then read it back to you. There is a choice of 4 voices , 2 English, 1 French and 1 Spanish and you can change many things in the settings including the speaking rate and text colour etc. The ability to save the texts as audio files and email them to yourself is very useful. Yes the text to speech is a little disjointed but it's pretty good.
Of course many of the built in idevice facilities are very useful too, in particular VoiceOver (Settings/General/Accessibility/Vision) but it's a shame this will work in iBooks but not the kindle app, worth experimenting with even so.
My blog is a collection of thoughts and I hope you will learn something about me from the ramblings as well as finding some useful links. I'm Bev Humphrey and I'm a Literacy, School Libraries and Technology Consultant. I am self employed so views expressed are solely my own.