Monday 24 June 2013

Write to Read (iPad App) by WriteReader AP

Write to Read is Easy, intuitive and can help your child to learn to read through writing!
Here's an interesting educational app from WriteReader AP, a Danish developer who has flipped traditional learning methods on their head to show that children can actually learn to read by writing.

It sounds completely crazy, trying to run before you can walk, but we took a look at the app after we were given the opportunity to review it - and it's actually a really interesting idea.

Basically, any app that allows a child to 'own' it by putting their own stamp on it is a very good idea as far as we're concerned (I feel like I've been banging on for years about user-generated content in apps and games being a real 'hook' to keep children and adults interested). Here in Write to Read, the basic steps of using this intuitive app are:

  • Children create their own 'book', choosing a name for the book and a cover picture (which they can use the iPad camera to take, or use an existing image from the iPad photo library)
  • Children can then add pages, again with a photo (or even a snapshot of a child's own drawings) and some accompanying text that the child types themselves. 
  • Adults can then make a comment underneath the child's typed text to correct any mistakes in the sentence - so the child can refer back to them and learn what they got right and what they got wrong. 
So basically it's a 'framework' for a whole new way of learning, that has the added bonus of getting children used to keyboard skills - which is a real boon in today's computer-dominated world. 

Charlotte needed some help navigating around the app, and help to get things set up initially. But like most 5 year olds, she's extremely sharp and tech-savvy when it comes to most apps so she could get on and start using the app as intended. 

It's quite nice to let children loose on the app and see what they come up with on their own (Charlotte's school does actually use a fairly similar method of letting children write a sentence in their own way rather than the right way, and then showing them where they went wrong if necessary - as a means to back up the way a child hears and interprets words and sounds so the app was a great fit for us!)

The only extra feature I'd suggest would be to allow children to draw directly in the 'photo' window rather than the reliance on the iPad camera. Children seem quite happy using their snaps or taking pics of their own artwork with the app, so it's probably not really necessary.

Once books are completed, they can be saved and retrieved within the app so adults can drop in and take a look at what children have been doing under their own steam. 

It'll be interesting to regularly use the app and see what effect this has on Charlotte's literacy (and writing, typing) skills - so we'll definitely have to do a follow-up article at some point. As it stands though, it's a really unique and novel idea and it's good to hear that several nurseries and schools who have access to the app have found it useful and engaging. 

There's a trailer for the app below: