Subtext: Read Socially

Subtext-LogoI love reading and I love being social. An app I’ve been exploring, Subtext, combines these two loves of mine in a digital way. Whenever I look at apps I use personally, I always think about how they can be used in the classroom. In addition to the social aspect, Subtext has major potential with close reading, a strategy for helping students master the Common Core State Standards in reading.

What is Subtext?

Subtext is an app that allows for digital social reading. It has all the features of a typical e-reader, such as iBooks or Kindle, in that students can take notes (or make notes) directly in the text and they can look up unknown words.

  • One major difference, however, is that when teachers make classroom groups, all of the students within that group can access the notes of their classmates.
  • Another difference is that students are able to have discussions about sections of the book with one another and with the teacher. Teachers can ask text-dependent questions right next to the text itself.
  • Teachers are also able to search the Web from within the app in order to find articles that are relevant to the classroom if they can’t purchase ebooks.
  • All of the features of Subtext are highlighted here. (

There have been a number of blog posts written previously about Subtext. Greg Kuloweic from EdTechTeacher talks about how to use Subtext, but also how to create custom ePub files for student use. That seems to be a relatively advanced feature, but he makes it sound so easy! Another teacher, Katrina Kennett, gives some great suggestions for how she might use Subtext in a high school classroom. These could easily be adapted for the elementary classroom.

Tutorial videos can also be found on Subtext’s Vimeo page, located here.

Subtext offers two levels of service. The free version allows the teacher to create groups of students— small groups or whole class— that can read and discuss a book. If the teacher upgrades the students to the Premium level ($2.99 per student, available as an in-app purchase), he or she can create assignments for students. A teacher can view all of the lessons without being a Premium subscriber, but they can’t be assigned to students.

Common Core Connection

According to Subtext, “The Common Core is at our core.” If you have had any experience with close reading or annotation, it is easy to see how Subtext will support these Common Core skills. Using Subtext for social reading also helps students develop a number of the 7 Cs, specifically Communication and Media Literacy, Computing and Digital Proficiency, and Critical thinking and Problem Solving.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Subtext in the classroom?

Leave a Reply