Words are the building blocks of poetry. Their careful selection and placement along with spaces and lines work together to communicate the writer’s meaning and message.
While most K-12 students study the works of well-known poets in English language arts programs, they also need to try their hand at writing poetry. A good way to start is to use words and phrases from existing poems or other written materials and arranging them into new works — a process called “found poetry.”
For teachers in tablet-enabled classrooms, a free educational app called “Word Mover” lets teachers and students experiment with found poetry. The app, developed by ReadWriteThink in partnership with the National Council of Teachers of English, works with most digital tablets.
At the heart of the app, which targets students in upper elementary grades and middle school, are hundreds of preloaded word tiles that can be arranged onscreen to create sentences, phrases and poems.
The app provides a fun and interactive platform to help students practice critical writing skills, including:
- Sentence construction
- Subject-verb agreement
- Word structure and form
The “Word Mover” app makes a great supplement to classroom reading and writing lesson plans. The tactile, hands-on aspects of using the app may also help keep kinesthetic learners engaged.
How it works
When the “Word Mover” app is launched, students are prompted to create a user profile by typing their name into a textbox. Multiple users can create profiles on a single tablet and their work will be saved into individual folders.
Next, students use a finger to tap their name and launch the start page. From there, they tap the “Create New Found Poetry” box to launch the project page. At the top of the page, tapping the “Word Bank” box will automatically generate a collection of word tiles including nouns, verbs, adjectives and more along the bottom of the screen. Students use a finger to drag individual word tiles onto the board background above. The tiles can be placed in any order or pattern to create sentences, poetry, song lyrics or speeches.
Tapping the “Add a Word” box lets students create and insert their own custom word tiles into any sentence. Word tiles can be mixed into a random order by tapping the onscreen “Shuffle” button or by shaking the tablet.
Finally, four boxes at the bottom of the screen have preloaded word tiles from famous songs, speeches and poems from authors including Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and William Shakespeare. Students can study word-by-word how these famous works are written, or mix them up to create custom versions.
Dozens of interactive features and settings enhance the experience and look and feel of using the app. Among the most helpful:
- Custom word addition
- Customizable word fonts and colors
- Poem storage for multiple users
- Six poem categories
- Twelve background pattern choices
App tools also let students share their work via email with teachers, family or other students. And, for iPad users, the app is compatible with the tablet’s text-to-speech function, which can be very helpful to auditory learners.
Content in the “Word Mover” app is all-inclusive. Once it’s been downloaded into a device, all content, including word bank tiles, famous poems and speeches, background templates, saved user names and poems, can be used without an internet connection.
However, an internet connection is needed to share poems with others via email or to print them using a wireless printer connected to a device. There are no advertisements or in-app purchases, and registration is free.
The “Word Mover” app is free. It can be downloaded from iTunes and is compatible with iPad tablets running iOS version 4.3 or later. It’s also available on Google Play and is compatible with digital tablets running the Android operating system 3.1 or later.