Apps to encourage quality Speaking and Listening in your Classroom

What I have found since using iPads in schools are the fantastic and engaging Speaking and Listening opportunies it provides. Having taught right from Nursery to Year 6 I have come to really appreciate how important quality Speaking and Listening is in the classroom. You cannot expect children to be able to write a story unless they are confident enough to verbalise it.

I have recently discovered Pie Corbett's 'Talk4Writing,' a concept that: enables children to imitate the key language they need for a particular topic orally before they try reading and analysing it. The approach has been raising standards in all the classrooms that have implemented this method and shows how vital Speaking and Listening is and the emphasis that we need to put on it to inspire and develop the children's understanding to benefit their writing.  

There are plenty of apps that really help encourage speaking and listening and some I have used to great effect in the classroom. I want to share some of these apps and examples of how I have used them (just follow the links):

Explain Everything - This is THE presentation app for the iPad in my opinion. Other apps such as Educreations and ShowMe Interactive are also useful apps but do not have as many features as Explain Everything. Not only can you add text, pictures, websites and arrows you can record yourself basically explaining whatever you are presenting. This app can be applied across the curriculum and I have used it for numerous aspects with children from Year 1 up to Year 6. It is fairly straightforward to use and children are always engaged and focused on the task in hand. I have used the app so far with:

The next app is Fotobooth 10in1. This app combines all the different types of fotobooth to really spark discussion within class. Children can take pictures of each other and turn themselves into old people, aliens and bald as well as other options. I have used this app with a Year One class for a fantastic PHSCE speaking and listening lesson where they turned themselves old and discussed about what they hope to achieve in their life.
You can read about that lesson and see some of the children discussing their hopes for the future by clicking this link. I have also used this app to turn children into aliens to inspire some descriptive writing in Literacy. Other ideas could be linked with history, asking the children to turn themselves old to talk about their experience of living in the past or being a soldier in the war. Turn themselves old and bald to become the character of the BFG.

Along with the previous lesson once the children had turned themselve s old, they used the app "iFun Face," to make animations to accompany their discussions.
This is a fantastic app, just by following the instructions you can import any picture and then animate the mouth and record yourself. This opens so many possibilities for speaking and listening. You can use photos of real people to do hot seating for autobiographies. Use pictures of story characters for hot seating/discussion. Use it for topic evaluations of the children. I have also used this app for drama activities such as Year 6 doing X factor judges reviews which were used at our school talent show click the link to see.
There are some other very similar apps such as Morfo and Funny Movie Maker. Again these are great for initial speaking and listening starters for a variety of subjects from Early Years right through to Year 6. The problem with these two apps compared to iFunFace is that you are restricted to 30 seconds of recording. I have used Funny Movie Maker to make post match interviews in our football project. But there are so many possibilities with these types of apps. Bring to life inanimate objects to inspire writing, or explain concepts in science in a more fun and interactive way. Bring historical figures back to life, interview Henry VIII or Julius Caesar or interview an author about his book.

The next apps that help encourage quality speaking and listening are all animation apps, such as PuppetPals, Toontastic and Sock Puppets. All these apps provide the perfect opportunity for children to retell or plan a story and bring it to life before beginning the writing process. Using these apps always has the children completely focused and engaged. Bringing their story to life fascinates them and the child friendly layout means children from reception are able to access these great apps. For being able to import your own pictures I think PuppetPals is the best out of the three and although all are free, PuppetPals is the only one I believe that allows you to export to your photo library. The other two allow you to export your efforts to an external website. Here are some examples of Reception and Year 1 classes retelling their class story. Example 1, Example 2 and Example 3. Year 3 have also used Puppetpals to explain their understanding of the first Lunar Landing.

Audioboo is the final app I am going to share. I have found that this is the best app for podcasting. The app is free and allows you to record a 'boo' which is then uploaded to you account on the website which can then be shared or embedded in your blog/website. Very easy to use and has been great for children sharing work, evaluating topics, recording the development of children's oral reading, creating newspaper podcasts the possibilities are endless. Again something we have used and you can see the examples here: a report on global warminga oral 100 Word Challengea cricket reportreviewing a school performance.

Here is the TeachTweet presentation I made for @UKedchat on 20th June 2013:


  1. Great ideas Mr P! I was just doing some research for an upcoming inset on enhancing oracy using ipads and this was just perfect! Thank you.


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