Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2015
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iPoe2 - The Raven, The Black Cat and Other Edgar Allan Poe Interactive Stories

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Classic short-story horror presented with minimal enhancement

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • World Languages
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
11-12
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Pros: Full text of three Poe stories accessible with music to underscore the mood.

Cons: This is a mostly read-only experience; the app needs more features to assess kids’ understanding and boost their skills for analysis and exposition.

Bottom Line: Haunting tool to read these stories, but this app serves only as a minimally interactive ebook.

iPoe 2 could be a fun substitute for reading these stories in a textbook or more traditional format. To increase reading support, you could have kids read along with an audio recording of the stories. Or you could read aloud to the class. By introducing students to Poe in this way, students may become more receptive to his work when they discover it outside the app. As students explore the stories and illustrations, you could encourage them to create their own sketches to accompany the scenes, particularly the parts of the stories that don't have any illustrations in the app.

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When you pick up a story by Edgar Allen Poe, you can expect a bit of gruesomeness, as well as a lot of mystery and suspense. iPoe - The Interactive and Illustrated Edgar Allen Poe Collection is an electronic version of three Poe stories that heightens the elements of these suspenseful stories with its yellowed pages, eerie background music, and haunting sketches. The collection includes "The Raven," "Hop Frog," and "The Black Cat." Text is available in English, French, or Spanish and is enhanced by the sketches and illustrations that appear three-dimensional.

In addition to the texts, users can read a biography of Edgar Allen Poe, view some of the sketches from the story in the sketchbook, or browse Poe-related items in the Poe Shop. Poe lovers will appreciate this fun collection, and those new to his work will get an engaging introduction to a master of horror. It's worth noting that the privacy policy is in Spanish, though most browsers can translate it.

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Count on Edgar Allen Poe to deliver classic horror and offer an excellent material for teaching tone and mood. iPoe 2's design makes that lesson even more obvious with the eerie music, sound effects, and sketches. There's not much more here besides the music than you'd find in a traditional text version of the stories, but that's actually great for learning and engagement. Teachers and students get the convenience of electronic text without the copying and storage, but students won't be distracted by irrelevant or jazzy features that could detract from the stories.

Teachers may miss teaching supports, such as vocabulary, commentary, and discussion questions, but those can be found or teacher-created. Perhaps ePoe would have been a better name; this app is more electronic than interactive, but it's still worth a look.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The stories are the focus, with fascinating (if macabre) illustrations and an eerie accompanying soundtrack that enhances the stories without overwhelming.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

iPoe 2 features the three tales with no commentary beyond the illustrations and music. Students are left to interpret plot and devices, explore language, and create meaning on their own.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Illustrated text offers no supports to help students build understanding or reflect on the stories, and there are no teacher supports, either.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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