Applying to Learn

Mobile applications: Accessible from many devices

  1. No cell phones.
  2. Respect yourself and your fellow classmates.

Did your classroom rules look like this when you were in school? I thinks it's odd that disallowing devices is considered more pertinent than ensuring students understand--and practice--axiological notions such as respect. Students' devices should not be "raised above" their behaviours and actions. Perhaps we could re-order this list . . .

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Hannah (2007, May 23)
. . . or, we could eliminate the first rule from the list entirely.

We could ensure that cell phones and other mobile devices are used so they enhance learning.

Here are a few mobile applications targeted at students from junior to senior high who would be learning English language arts or science--inside or outside the classroom. Most apps listed are accessible from both Android and Mac devices; in the event an app is exclusive to one (Android or Mac), I have offered an alternative for the other.

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(Cohen 2013, Mar. 13)

Vocabulary Spelling City Mobile App

Vocabulary Spelling City can be accessed on its website: or on its mobile app via a tablet or smart phone. Vocabulary Spelling city contains a myriad of activities targeted at students; in these activities, students are asked to spell and recognize meanings, form sentences, and receive writing practice. Although vocabulary and spelling city has a premium feature, many activities this program offers are free. One more compelling feature characteristic of Vocabulary Spelling City, is that many of its activities are narrated; this feature relates to UDL (Cast, 2014)--auditory learners are accommodated in this way.

I could suggest Vocabulary Spelling City to junior high learners of English as an additional (second, third, etc.) language. Because this application narrates words while students complete activities, ESL students are exposed to how sentences are used in context and how they sound when articulated.

For learners who wish to grasp more complex writing concepts, I could suggest that they complete certain activities which address figurative language and style.


SwipeSpeare is an application which allows students to read Shakespeare--and swipe to reveal a modern translation of any phrases or passages that perplex them. I like the idea of providing students with this application rather than offering students with a No Fear copy for two reasons: first, SwipeSpeare may be accessed on a student's phone or computer--items they are more likely to carry around than a book. Secondly, revealing translated text only as the students' require it, encourages students to first try to interpret the original text--which challenges their reading comprehension.

This application may be used in high school English; students may read Shakespeare as a group aloud in class or individually at their convenience.
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(Bryson, 2010, July 1)

iCell App

The iCell app is accessible via i-products, android, and the web. This application provide students with "an interactive, 3D view inside a cell" (AAAS [American Association for the Advancement of Science], 2014).

At present, students learn about the parts of the cell in junior high (eighth grade science) and in high school (tenth grade and in Biology 20). For me, learning parts of the cell meant memorizing a bunch of definitions--not understanding how any of these definitions interacted with each other. I could match endoplasmic reticulum to its blank label . . . I could not make sense of the cell and its system. This interactive app can help students, at various grade levels, understand cell structure and the mechanics within it, in both a detailed and holistic manner. Using this app, students may surpass the "remembering" level on Anderson and Krathwhol's (2001) revised model of Bloom's taxonomy; this app will help students "understand" cell structure, and "apply" their understanding to other models (Anderson & Krathwhol, 2001).

Chemistry Modile Free and iElements

Both Chemistry Mobile Free and iElements enable students to practice the following areas of chemistry:
  • Balancing chemical equations
  • Practicing stoichiometry
  • Understanding electronegativity
  • Knowing and applying solubility rules

Chemistry Mobile Free is accessible via android devices; iElements is accessible via Mac devices.

This application may be offered to high school learners of chemistry as a study tool, or as a practice assignment/reading to complete--in or out of class. I might ask students to use this application on their own time to practice balancing chemical equations; as a result this practice, we may use class time to explore higher level problems which require students to have this skill (balancing chemical equations) as a prerequisite--such as a reactions lab session. This would be an example of how mobile apps can help create a "flipped classroom" appropriately (Fricker 2014, Nov. 4).

Lastly: One App that assist teaching and learning for any subject . . .


Mobl21 allows educators to create lessons, quizzes, study guides and flashcards--all of which may be accessed using widgets on wired and/or wireless devices (mobl21, 2014). Mobl21 is especially diverse; using this app, educators may create activities and resources which address a variety of subject areas. In an educational context, such content may be included on a school/class website or a learning management system.

In a junior high English Language Arts class, I may use mobl21 to create a study guide with definitions and examples of literary terms; I may also create, or share, reading comprehension practice for students to complete.

In a junior high science class (ninth grade in this case), I may create a practice quiz in which students are asked to name ionic and molecular compounds.

Thank you for reading. I hope to "app"-ly such tools in my effort to encourage life-long learning in the future--for both my students and me.


AAAS. (2014). Science net links. iCell app. Retrieved November 10, 2014, from:

Anderson, L. W. and David R. Krathwohl, D. R., et al. (Eds.) (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives. Boston: Pearson Education Group.

CAST. (2013). CAST: About UDL. Retrieved November 10, 2014, from:

Educational App Store (2014). Chemistry mobile free. Retrieved November 10, 2014, from:

Educational App Store (2014). iElements- The periodic table of chemical elements. Retrieved November 10, 2014, from:

Education App Store. (2014). SwipeSpeare- Modern Shakespeare. Retrieved November 10, 2014, from:

Fricker, S. (2014, November 4). mLearning. Class lecture. Lecture conducted from University of Alberta, Edmonton.

Mobl21. (2014). What is mobl21?. Retrieved November 10, 1014, from:

VocabularySpellingCity. (2014). The vocabulary spelling city story. Retrieved November 10, 2014, from:

Image References

Bryson, R. (2010, July 1). The chemistry of inversion. [Electronic Image]. (Modified using Paint). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from:

Cohen, J. (2013, March 13). and read all over. [Electronic Image]. (Modified using Paint). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from:

Hannah. (2007, May 23). My bulb. [Electronic Image]. Retrieved November 10, 2014, from: