I wanted to share some positive experiences I’ve had with the Subtext app for iOS devices – I’ve used it with a 5th grade social studies and have co-led Subtext workshops with Caroline Haebig from Stevenson High School. In short, Subtext is a “social reading” app that allows you to import PDFs, websites and articles into eBook format (PDFs don’t convert into the pretty eBooks, but otherwise they maintain collaborative commenting functionality). As the teacher you can push out these digital texts to groups of students and learners can highlight, make comments and answer questions all within the same text. Collaboratively, it can’t be beat.
Subtext allows learners to engage with texts in new ways. Because Subtext is based on collaborative discussion and thought sharing, students are able to build deeper comprehension. Furthermore, learners have mechanisms to extend thoughtful conversations about a text beyond the walls of the classroom. Within a shared reading on Subtext learners provide their peers with meaningful feedback and are able to incorporate a variety of before, during and after reading strategies.
From our experience, Subtext provides an authentic and ubiquitous medium for learners to collaborate on a digital reading. Learners were eager to communicate with their peers using the app, and they responded thoughtfully and thoroughly to other learners’ thoughts, opinions and analyses within the readings. From a technical standpoint, the Subtext app performed smoothly and the learners found the different features quite intuitive and easy to use. It’s a fantastic app for building comprehension and allowing further opportunities for meaningful literary discussions at school and at home.
Bottom line: I’ve yet to find an easier way to pull content from the web and deliver it to students to collaboratively read and annotate. If you’d like to access our Subtext iBook for the iPad (or in iBooks on the Max if you’re using Mavericks) – which includes more information and tutorials – you can do so by clicking here.