Monday, April 29, 2013

Literature Circles with Subtext

As a part of a recent iPad planning day, I was fortunate to participate in a Google Hangout with some colleagues about the free iPad app Subtext and some tips and tricks for using it in the classroom.

Subtext is a free iPad app that allows teachers and students to share, annotate and discuss the same e-reading materials. Teachers can also add notes, discussion questions and quizzes to the reading, which students can see and respond to within Subtext.

I came away from this Google Hangout with some great ideas and resources for getting started with Subtext.

Getting started with Subtext:

Here's a helpful 5-minute introductory webinar from the Subtext website:

Welcome to Subtext: 5 Minutes from Subtext Video on Vimeo.

There is also a more in-depth intro and training webinar on the Subtext website.

My vision for using Subtext with students:

I am really excited to try out Subtext with two of my English learner classes - one of which is a small group of 6th graders, and the other is a 3rd grade class.  Both groups are focused around social studies content, so I'll be using Subtext to share e-reading materials about WWII (Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr) and the three branches of the government.

In both classes, I am hoping to use Subtext to help facilitate a variation of literature circles.  I haven't used literature circles with either of these classes yet this year, and I am still working to develop the specifics on how they might work best with Subtext.  I'm thinking we'll all start out with the same literature circle roles to get the hang of how they work, and all of the cool ways we can use Subtext to make literature circle roles easier and more intuitive.

My favorite features of Subtext so far...

  • The app will read a text aloud to you (great for English learners!)
  • You can save and share websites to read together with students (free nonfiction!)
  • You can connect Subtext with your class Edmodo account for easy access
  • You can add a 'Save to Subtext' button to your browser's bookmarks toolbar to save material from the web to your shelf
  • The Subtext support team is very helpful and responds quickly to questions
  • Subtext will give you one free book from Google Books!

A few challenges with Subtext...

  • Subtext is only able to read epub files at this point - they are hoping to come out with PDF compatibility by this summer or next fall
  • Books have to be purchased from Google Books - paid per student 

Here are a few other resources and blogs that could help you get started with Subtext:

How are you using Subtext in your classroom?  Do you use other e-reading apps with students?