Subtext is an eReader made for the classroom. Books are purchased (or received free, if public domain) through Google Books and distributed to the class via iPad. Through the app, teachers have the opportunity not just to track student progress, but to embed discussion questions, quizzes, and even pictures and videos related to the text. As students read, they can also highlight sections and add their notes.
While teachers are able to view other teachers' notes, all student activity is restricted within the class set up on Subtext.
Are there downsides? Of course. No app is perfect. Personally, all my books are in my Kindle app. To the best of my knowledge, they would have to be repurchased to use in Subtext. Likewise, using Subtext on a regular basis would involve purchasing digital versions, which may be a hindrance if you have a beautiful stack of physical books on your shelf. The good news is that they do offer volume purchasing through Google Books. Another downside in our elementary school is that iPads cannot go home, so all reading and discussing would have to happen at school. However, I think the interactivity of the app and the ability to track student understanding makes this a great tool
The most obvious use of this app is in the Language Arts class. Since I'm now teaching technology courses, I sat in on the demo yesterday with an eye for how this can work for our Language Arts Department. I left with two ideas.
Documents and web sites can be added to your class shelf as well. That means that if I find a good article relating to what we're learning about in my middle school technology course, I can use Subtext to distribute that and discuss it.
One of my jobs as Tech Lead is to find a storehouse for great articles and blog posts that can help us mentor our peers. I've started meeting with a small group of teachers, and I would love for us all to contribute to and read from this storehouse. Subtext is the perfect place to do this!
So, I suggest you download Subtext today, explore the website and app to figure some things out, watch Natalie's recorded webinar, and ask her for a live demo if possible. I think it will help revolutionize the way you teach reading regardless of genre.