Inspiring Writing


Value of [[#|Application]]

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Mini Adventures Let's Go

Mini Adventures ABC Animals

Mini Adventures Music
What: This app supports letter awareness, but is mostly about vocabulary development for three areas, with 3 separate apps:
Mini-Adventures-Let’s-Go-Learn (124 Transportation Modes)
Mini-Adventures-Animals from A-Z (262 Animals)
Mini-Adventures-Music (125 Musical Instruments)
Each app presents a letter, with examples of words in the category that start with that letter. Each word (e.g., bagpipes) comes with multiple picture examples and multiple videos.

Why: This app offers engaging pictures and videos. The three topics (separate apps) permit teachers or families to choose activities that are of interest to their students. The photos and videos are especially great for inspiring writing.

Who: The photos and videos are well-selected and are age-respectful, so these videos are great for both children and adults. I have used them in small groups and with individuals, in schools and homes.

How: Click a letter to get:
• Multiple options for that letter (ex: B = 18 music instruments, including bagpipes, banjo, and bassoon)
• Clicking on an item (ex: bagpipe) = image + letters for that name (ex: bagpipes b a g p I p e s)
• Tap the screen to get the next image about the same item
• Click the video, then the play button to see a 30 second to 2-minute YouTube video about the item (Note: you must be online to view the videos!) Tip: Be sure to click the small ‘expand’ symbol to make videos full screen!
• Swipe to go randomly to the next item (not necessarily the same alphabet letter)
• Click the button in the upper right corner to get to the full alphabet and explore new items

Using Videos to Support Writing:

The three mini-adventures are excellent apps to use for inspiring students to write, especially if the overall topic (i.e., animals, music, or transportation) are of personal interest to the topic. Since there are so many separate photos and videos, this offers a truly wide range of topic selection. For example, the Mini-Adventures Animals includes 262 animals, with multiple photos for each!

• Open-ended generative writing with the alphabet is perfect with this app, especially for emergent writers.

• There might be occasions that you use this app to support early conventional writers in working on specific skills. In that case, let the student pick the topic, then tell the student in advance what you want them to write about, such as:

a) Use 5 sparkle words to describe this video

b) Use 5 strong verbs to describe this video

c) Summarize this video in one sentence

• Click on the video (note – you must be online to view videos)

• Show the video (note, you may want to show it several times)

• Support writing using appropriate scaffolds

Submitted by: Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Additional Ideas:
Value: I think this app has great value for learning vocabulary about animals, music, or transportation, and excellent value for writing prompts, but less value as an alphabet-learning task.
Free to 99¢
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Pic Coll

PicCollage is an off-the-shelf app designed for quickly creating and sharing photo collages. It is very easy to get pictures from:

- Camera - Photo album - Web

It's also very easy to add and manipulate text. It has one of the easiest interfaces for manipulating:

- Fonts (multiple intriguing and varied fonts)

- Colors - Styles (bold, etc)

- Size (pinch & drag) A wide and growing list of sticker sets adds to the fun.

While this app is intended for creating collages, it's wonderful for supporting short writing projects, such as:
Scribbling: Pic Collage is great for supporting emergent writers who are scribbling or using communication devices to write. The ability to quickly change fonts, enlarge text, etc. makes this very motivating!

For more information, see the blog post: AAC Girls - Emergent Writing

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Scribbling: Pic Collage can also be used for easy writing tasks such as Before / After. The picture below shows student comparison of a coke can before and after The Great Implosion experiment.
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Where: I have used this in schools and homes.

Who: Pic Collage is great across age and ability ranges.

Submitted by: Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
Incredible value!

One of my all time favorite apps.
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Kid in Story

What: The goal of this story is to create social stories that include the target student. It is easy to isolate a child in a photo, then suprimpose that student as a character in a story! The app also includes:
• Photo background
• Recorded Audio
• Text

Include Student in a Social Story: This is the basic purpose for this app. The process greatly increases student attention to a social story!

Add Engagement to Writing / Reading: Include a favorite character in a book that the student is helping to write or learning to read. For example:
- Maggie is smitten with Harry from the band 1Direction. Her Mom added his cutout to a range of photos from the zoo to the Girl Guide meeting, to engage Maggie in reading and to interest her peers as well.
- Evelyn was working on co-constructing a book of photos from her recent trip to Disneyland. When we added Elmo as a character, her engagement and participation was maximized. We added captions that she could read, using her AAC device such as ‘He (Elmo) is silly. She (princess) looks pretty).

Include the Student in Content Learning: There are a zillion ways this could be done, such as:
- Including the student’s photo as it goes through the digestive tract for a science lesson
- Including the student’s photo in internet photos of the state / province / country the class is studying for geography (e.g., Maggie atop Machu Picchu, while Jordan is in the Peruvian jungles, and Maizie is suspended above the Nazca lines
- Superimposing students into history, such as placing them with various explorers, inventors, etc., ‘narrating’ the events in their own words.

Where: I have used this app in homes, schools, and in the community.

Who: This app can be used for students with a huge range of abilities across a great age range! It works for both individuals and small groups.

How – Tips & Tricks:
1) This is one app where the built-in tutorial actually helps. Take a couple of minutes to look at it!

2) Duplicate your story – that way, you can customize it for EACH student. Save time and energy!

3) You can download the Kid in Story Reader for free. That way, you can easily share stores from home to school!
a) I work with some schools that can download only free apps. For these classes, often the teacher buys the full app, then puts the Reader on classroom iPads. Thus, students can work with a teacher to create a story, but then can read and re-read the story without help.
b) Families often download the free reader, so teachers can send home stories.

Submitted by: Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Additional Ideas:

Value for Money: I realize that – by app standards – this is relatively expensive. However, the engagement of this app for social and academic purposes makes it well worth $6.99. The addition of a free Kid in Story Reader adds to the value!
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Story Buddy 2
What: This app supports students in illustrating and creating text for a simple story. It includes most of the features of good story-making:
• Drawing
• Text
• Audio
• Photos

Standalone Story Without Automatic Reading: This app is great for creating a standalone story that does NOT read automatically. In playback mode, the student must click the ‘play audio’ button to hear the oral narration. This is great for students who are trying to decode the text, then listen to check for accuracy.
Storyboarding: This app is also fantastic for creating a ‘storyboard’ to support writing a longer piece. The audio can be used for oral narration, and the text feature can be used to make brief notes that will be used in the full story.

Who: Ideal for students who have trouble drawing, and have poor handwriting skills, as they can import pictures and use the keyboard for entering text. Also great for students who choose to draw, or want to narrate a simple story to support writing a more complex story.

How – Tips & Tricks:
1) Use other apps to create photos to use as writing prompts. Two examples are:
a) Clicky Sticky: a ‘sticker’ program with multiple sticker sets (planes, dress-ups, animals, ocean). Save to photo album.
b) Faces I Make Lite: Create funky faces to write about. Save to gallery, then to photo album.
c) FeltMaker: an app that creates representational ‘drawings with multiple backgrounds, people, animals, clothing, etc.

2) Audio: Double-tap on the thumbnail of you page on the left. This will show a popup with two choices: audio / delete. Select audio, and record your narration.
3) Text Modification: Create text, then hold text box . . .

4) Sample sharing of StoryBuddy 2
a) E-mail it to yourself or another person
b) Export it to another program. For example, I exported it to Stanza and to iBooks, where it was easy to read it as a multi-page story.
Value for Money: This is an excellent value for the money, as it allows students to create pictures and text in multiple ways.
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Felt Board
What: This app allows students to create pictures to talk about and write about. Students pick: background, person (color, gender), clothing (dresses, skirts, shirts, pants), accessories (hats, glasses, footwear), pets, outdoor things (flowers, sun, trees), shapes (including word captions), and letters.

Why: Use this app to support students who are learning language, either oral or using AAC. It’s also a great app for creating a drawing to write about, for students who struggle to make their drawings representational.

Who: This app is great for individuals who are not able to access their world fully, as it supports a rich vocabulary development and representational drawings.

Where: I’ve used this app in small group activities, and individual sessions, at school and at home.

Inspiring Writing: We know that typically developing kindergarteners and first graders use drawings to scaffold their emerging writing skills. Many students with disabilities can’t produce a representational drawing using typical tools (crayons, markers, paints), but CAN produce a drawing to inspire writing using an app such as Felt Board.

Submitted by: Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
Additional Ideas:

Good Value

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Book Creator

What: This flexible app includes text, pictures, and audio. Special features include:

• Very easy changes (e.g., fonts, sizes, colors, styles)
• Ability to add multiple audio buttons on a page
• Invisible buttons when exported to iBooks

Why: This app includes multiple features that make for a good bookwriting experience. It has an older students feel. It's extremely easy to create and edit books. Use it to support:

a) Book-Making (ex: making books to tell about family vacations)

The book below was made after students visited a food bank. They took photos and wrote a book. Note the 2 sound files:

1) Adult reading the text
2) Student using device to comment on the picture

b) Giving instructions for a cooking project (drawings, photos, text, digitized speech)
c) Captioning photos
d) Adding speech buttons to existing texts

In the book below, we took a screenshot of pages of one of the student's favorite books (note - you MUST own the book to do this! And do NOT give away the e-book afterwards, unless others also own the book!)

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The three audio buttons represent:
• Adult fluently reading the text
• Student using device to comment on the picture
• Student using device to add a sound effect (BURP!)

Who: This app is ageless. I have used it with preschoolers through adults. I have also used it with individuals, small groups, and large groups (with a projector).

How: This is a very user-friendly app! Here are a few 'tricks':
1) To edit a picture, text, or audio button, simply select it then press the i button
2) To add a page, simply click on the + button after the final page
3) To create an iBook on the existing iPad, first open the desired book, then simply click the ‘export’ button on the far right of the upper toolbar
4) To send the book to another person, go back to My Books, then follow this procedure:
- Do NOT click on the desired book, but have it centered
- Click on the cloud on the lower toolbar. Then select E-mail
- Now choose whether to Email it as an iBook or as a PDF

Wishes: I wish that this app included drawing options. It’s fun to be able to draw an arrow to one item, draw a heart around a photo, etc.

Submitted by: Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
Additional Ideas:
Definitely worth the money!!

Image Spinner

What: This is a fantastic spinner app for several reasons.

• Choose among 2 - 10 items
• Add a voice recording for each item

Why: While this app is great for choosing names for turn-taking, it is also wonderful for spinning a topic for writing. The sample below shows four possible pictorial prompts.

Who: This app is ageless. It works with preschoolers through adults. I have also used it with individuals, small groups, and large groups (using a projector).
How: This is a very user-friendly app! Here are the steps:
1) Select the number of items you want
2) Select pictures
3) If desired, record a message for each item

• Noun / Verb / Preposition / Adjective stories: Print the words using a drawing program, then record information about how to write the story. Ex: Adjective = "Write a story using describing words such as 'pretty' or 'funny' or 'sparkly'"

Descriptive Paragraph: Ex: photos of funny cats (seen below). Cat with crazy fur = "I'm having a bad hair day!"; Cat driving a car = "Beep beep! Outta my way!"

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Wishes: I wish this spinner would select randomly without repeats.

Submitted by: Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
Additional Ideas:
High value for the money.
$ .99
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Story Creator
What: This story making app is very robust, offering:
• Easy photo / video insertion (can take a photo or video from within the app)
• Easy text addition, including 2 fonts and a moveable bar for enlarging text
• Voice recording that allows manipulation so that you get word-by-word highlighting and read-back
• Drawing

Why: This app includes multiple features that make for a good bookwriting experience. It's extremely easy to create and edit books. Use it to support:
• Writing (ex: making books to tell about field trips)
• Print tracking or reading word by word (that is, read a word in your head, then press to hear it spoken).
• Note - this would NOT be a good app for having students read silently, as words are 'greyed' until highlighted.

Who: This app is ageless. I have used it with preschoolers through adults. I have also used it with individuals, small groups, and large groups (with a projector).
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How: This is a very user-friendly app! Here are a few 'tricks':
1) When recording, it is helpful to speak words individually, such as "The. Cat. Was. Angry." Separating out words (instead of co-) makes the spoken words easier to 'match up' to the written words.
2) To edit a page you've already created, just swipe up and the tool panel appears.
3) Editing sounds: go to edit mode and move the triangle on bar between words (shown below) so that each spoken word matches the written (highlighted) text.

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Sample Ideas: Students at different writing levels might be asked to:
1) Use photos from a field trip and write descriptions
2) Look at photos from a cooking / science activity and write a how-to (informational text)
3) Make an audio 'yearbook' for a student or teacher who is leaving

Wishes: I wish these stores could be shared in ways other than Facebook, since that is not private enough for many schools.

Submitted by: Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
Additional Ideas:
This is an incredibly high value app!
A class I was working with had a monthly theme of "winter." All of the students struggled with being motivated to write. This app is so incredibly motivating! All of the students were eager to write using this app. The app first shows a black screen with snow falling. You choose the option to write by selecting the pencil in lower left corner (touch the bottom of screen to have this options bar show). At this point, write using your finger or a stylus. Select the "snow" option, and the snow will start falling, eventually resting on the letters to develop into the written message the student wrote. By touching the screen again, the message "falls" down. Since I have been working with a class with this app, I projected onto a white board. Please see second picture below to see this set-up. During the activity shown below, the students were having fun writing their names. I have used it for a wide variety of writing activities, including describing words, action words, short sentences, etc. relating to other activities we had completed within the "winter" theme.

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Submitted By: Patty Ashby MNS,CCC-SLP
Ideas from others:
This app is still free, so no question about the value!
Media Player
What: This media converter allows SIMPLE downloading of video and audio formats.

Why: Many schools have blocked favorite sites such as youtube, or do not have wifi enabled. With this app, you can videos or audio files quickly and seamlessly, then play them at another time . . . such as in a classroom or even on a long bus ride!

Who: This app is ageless. I’ve downloaded videos for toddlers through adults.

How: Just go to the site and download your file. Azul takes care of formatting issues. It also provides a screenshot of each video, so you can flip through to easily find the desired selection.

Sample Ideas: I downloaded 'Monster Mash', a 3 minute video of dogs dressed up in Halloween costumes, with background music. Students at different writing levels were asked to:
1) Use three words to tell what they thought of the video
2) Use five 'sparkle' words (adjectives) to describe their favorite dog - others had to guess which dog they described
3) Write a short story about their favorite dog, and how he ended up with that costume.

Submitted by: Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
Additional Ideas:
Value: This is an incredible value for $ .99!
$ .99
ABC WIldlife
What: This app supports letter awareness, but is mostly about information regarding animals.

Why: This app offers fascinating short animal videos that can serve as excellent writing prompts.

Who: While the videos would be of interest for a wide age range, the intro is quite babyish, and might offend older students. SO, if you're using this with students over the age of 7, be sure to keep sound OFF while the intro is being shown!

How to Support Writing:
• Tell students in advance what you want them to write about, such as:
a) Use 5 sparkle words to describe this video
b) Use 5 strong verbs to describe this video
c) Summarize this video in one sentence
• Click on the video (note – you must be online to view videos)
• Show the video (note, you may want to show it several times)
• Support writing using appropriate scaffolds

Submitted by: Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
Additional Ideas:
Value: For this purpose (writing prompts, this is a fantastic value!
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pictures with words---
This app is great for motivating writing about pictures. The picture below is a photo that the gal thought was funny since she never sees herself drink. It was a great writing opportunity! She uses an ECOPoint, so she formulated the "caption" on her device for me to write into the text box on the picture. The picture can then be saved or shared via email, facebook, etc. It is very easy to email the picture to teachers/parents.

Specifics I really like about this app (vs. others I have tried) are:
-It allows a text box to be created that can be any color (motivating for the writer)
-the text box can be moved anywhere on the picture
-the text can be any color / with tons of fonts available
-the size of the font in the text box can be easily enlarged or made smaller by a +/- button
-emoticons can be added
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Submitted By: Patty Ashby MNS, CCC-SLP
Ideas from others:
For the low price, this app is definitely worth it!
Glow Coloring
This is an app that I just keep coming back to since students love to write with it so much. The app has a black background and offers writing/drawing options using colors that glow on this background. The app also offers the option of downloading a picture to use as the background image. The size of the line can be adjusted. The students love picking a color(s) to write with. It is also very easy/quick to use, so works well with a classload of students! This is the app I use when I am doing an activity and need a quick and easy way for the students to write about what they are doing. The activity below is based on a "Spring" theme. The students and I played with worms throughout the month (yes they will stay alive that long if you keep them in the fridge!) - During one activity, we decided the worms were too dirty, so the students gave them baths. They also let the worms wiggle in their hands, crawl on their arms, etc... This activity led to great writing opps. Below are examples:
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The pictures can be saved to the photo library, emailed, and shared via facebook.
We also let the worms crawl on the iPad screen using this app, so they made their own art that the students wrote about.
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Submitted By: Patty Ashby MNS,CCC-SLP
Ideas from others:
My students are telling me that this app is the best!
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ABC Magnetic Alphabet
A great alternative to carrying around a metal cookie sheet with magnetic letters (although that version works very well if you don't have an iPad!) This app has been very helpful for me to use when I am working with a group of students with varying literacy skills. Some use paper/pencil, some their augmentative communication device, others may use this app to write with. I have one boy who writes the same "letter" over and over again when he writes. I let him use this app and he started using different letters and exploring with them. He was able to participate in the group activity at a more involved level and felt very good about himself when he finished!
Submitted By: Patty Ashby MNS,CCC-SLP

Ideas from others:
WHY: Another positive feature of this app (compared to a cookie sheet and magnetic letters) is that this app shows that the letters exist within the context of a full alphabet. That is a HUGELY important concept for students to learn!! Also, with this version of an alphabet, you can use as many versions of a letter as you need. For example, if you're writing the word 'see' you can pull up two E's!

Notes: This program also includes a number of free magnets (symbols, critters, etc.) plus a number of magnetic theme sets for $ .99 each such as: pirates, space, construction, fairy tales, transportation, jobs, farm, etc.
Submitted By: Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
I recommend the 1.99 version, since it offers both upper and lower case letters.
Definitely worth 2 bucks!
This is an app that makes a 3D "talking" face out of a photo of a person's face. The results are hilarious! I have used this app with large groups sessions in a school setting to encourage students to write about a topic and then read / record what they wrote using this app. As a result, the students are very excited to write, so they can then read using this app. I projected the iPad onto a white board, so the very large image kept everyone engaged while students took turns reading/recording. We then played back what the student read out loud (with the 3D face doing the talking), which was extremely entertaining to everyone!
A great addition to your "bag of tricks" to encourage students to write.