At IRA I stopped at the Subtext booth and was completely surprised to find out that it was a FREE app for iPads. I just started exploring it today to see how it might be used in a classroom, and I thought I’d pass along what I’ve found.
First, you have to download it. Search the app store for Subtext. Download it. Ta-da! Step one complete :)
Once you get signed in, you’ll find an invitation to a couple “getting started” groups, and your sign in screen should look something like this:
Using the icons in the upper right corner, you can create a “group” for each of your class periods. For the purpose of this demonstration, I created an English 9 group, which you can add using the following information. (This is also what your students will see if you send a group email. Or, you could just give them the code.)
You can then search for books to add to your bookshelves. While you will have to pay for some books, you can access all out-of-copyright texts for free. For a list, check out Gleeditions which offers free e-texts of all common core materials. I used the texts listed on this site when I was searching for books because I knew I’d be able to come up with a free copy to download.
Here’s what adding books looks like:
And here’s what your students will see when they look at the bookshelf you have created for them:
Once you are reading a text, you can add your own notes, which I can see being useful in a variety of ways: encouraging deep reading by calling out specific questions/words/passages as the students read, differentiating for varying levels of comprehension (you could set up the readings by instructional level instead of by class period), eliciting conversation from students as they read. If I were using this app, I would encourage students to try reading the entire text first and then go back to view the questions–I have always been annoyed by footnotes and sidenotes because they break my reading concentration, so I imagine these questions in the margins would become distracting to students.
To add a poll/quiz, quest, discussion, or link, you tap and hold on a word or phrase:
In this preface to the piece, I wanted students to get an understanding of what $8.00 would be like today, so I linked them to a site:
When more questions (etc) are added, they show up as an icon with your picture (which happens to come from your Facebook account if linked). Students can tap the picture and respond to the question.
What a cool free app. I’ve been hearing about a lot of schools purchasing iPads in Ohio recently, and I hope the plan is to use them in ways that are innovative, engaging, and enhancing instruction. After all, the technology itself isn’t the innovation, but how you USE the technology is.
Hope this helps!