Poetry has long been heralded as an outlet for self-expression and creativity, but it is often neglected in the classroom aside from standardized curricula. Word Mover is an iPad poetry app for budding writers of all ages, and through its clever construction allows hands on creative poetic expression. This app is perfect for older grades, especially middle school students, who are learning about expressive language and how the poetic process works.
The app itself is essentially a blank canvas (with customizable backgrounds) with a variety of word tiles to choose from. Looking a lot like an electronic poetry set, the app offers randomized word banks to inspire creativity or the words of several famous works such as William Shakespeare or Martin Luther King. When users want a word that is not present in their word bank, they can easily add it themselves. Incredibly simple to use, a user only needs to set up a username and then start dragging and dropping word tiles into any configuration or design. The app is easy to navigate and intuitive, with a simple design and aesthetic that keeps the focus on the creativity of the user rather than the technological prowess of the app designer.
The app designers were careful to remove most of the restrictions that could possibly hinder creative thought. When dragging and dropping word tiles, a player is not required to remain in straight lines or to create standard sentences. The poet in question could just as easily create a round shape of words as s/he could create a standard line-by-line structured poem, something that is certainly not as easily available in word processing programs. The word banks do not include punctuation, which can be both a good and a bad element. In the sense of creativity, it’s definitely beneficial—punctuation can often feel like a fence to expansive thought, and abandoning all structure allows minds to consider all of the possibilities rather than just one or two.
The poems created by users in the app can be shared in a variety of ways, including as a picture and via email. When trying to teach the creative process to students, an essential component is the “publication” of that piece. Work needs to be read, evaluated, and revised again after that evaluation. This app allows the idea of publication to merge with technological advancement. The choice to label that step as “sharing” also eliminates some of the fear for writers, simply because of the word choice. Sharing is caring, as the old adage says, and the step seems more like a gift to friends and family than an exposure of one’s innermost thoughts. That strategic move is brilliant.
Our only qualms with WordMover is that we wish that there were more than four famous works to choose from for the word banks and, though we understand the creative rationale, we would like there to be punctuation options. Sometimes poems need punctuation to create effective and clear meanings abandoning it all together seems unnecessary.
Overall, Word Mover would make a fantastic supplement to any literary lesson, especially one that seeks to put students in the poetic frame of mind. Expressing themselves as creatively as they can, without restriction, is sure to be attractive to them and the combinations they create are likely to be funny and engaging as well. Word Mover is available free on iTunes.