“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” By E. L. Doctorow
Digital technologies are a great way to enable communication, collaboration and help teachers design authentic tasks for their students. Here are a few of my favorite apps that you can incorporate digital writing into the classroom.
iOs Apps: (Free)
Day One Journal
Paid: MyScript Nebo
“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” By Isaac Asimov
Quick writes are an instructional strategy that are brief, timed writing opportunities that require only 5-10 minutes to integrate writing into any content area. Quick writes are great way to start or end a class as it will become part of the students routine and daily practice.
Here are five ways you can have your students quick write:
- Reflection: Have the students reflect upon ___________ (fill in the blank with lesson, concept or the students goals)
- Assessing student knowledge: If you want to see if students grasped a concept, have them write about what they know. Then you can use that data to see who needs a reteach, more practice or have mastered the concept.
- Critical Thinking: Have students take an alternate point of view on a topic or character.
- Creative: Have students write about an image and tell a story
- Personal Connection: Students write about a connection they have to a topic that is personal to them.
*Tip: Have the students do there quick writes in a Google Doc so you can provide them feedback virtually. You don’t need to give feedback everyday, I used to do once a week. I would have a schedule and do a few a day so that it became a habit for me.
Quick Write Writing Resources:
Emoji Prompts: Start with an emoji image and continue to click ‘and then’ to reveal a new emoji. Use these images to write a story.
Story Starters: This site generates story starters that can be used to start writing but if you do not like the story starter sentence generated for you, you can click on the button to get another one!
365 Creative Writing Prompt Ideas: Pick on a day for a year!
“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.” By Ayn Rand
I first heard about the 100 Word Challenge on Twitter and thought it was an awesome idea. The 100 Word Challenge is a free weekly creative writing challenge for children under 16 created by Julia Skinner. Each week a prompt is given, which can be a picture or a series of individual words and students can use up to 100 words to write a creative piece. You can learn more about the 100 Word Challenge here.
I have helped teachers implement this concept in their classrooms different way; so I thought I would share a few ways as one of the ideas might fit your classroom.
- Have a picture up on the board for morning work each day or during transitions if you are in secondary. If you don’t want to do it everyday, some teachers have “Moment Mondays” where they participate in this concept. It is a great way to also bring in global relevance and/or current events.
- Use an image to open a new unit (such as the one below, I have used to open up the water cycle unit) and or close out a unit.
- When you finish a lesson early, have a few pictures ready to use. Or have a folder of pictures for students to chose from when students finish their work early so they can be working on it.
- Use as a fun homework assignment. I am not a fan of homework (read previous blog post: Why I don’t give homework anymore) but some schools have policies that teachers have to give homework and this is a meaningful and purposeful homework that allows for students to be creative and critically think.
- I have used this as a way to start off Professional Development. I tweak it by saying 100 characters vs words. I have them create a Tweet or caption of the photo as they are walking in. This gets the participants to start thinking about the topic through their lens.
*For younger grade such as K-1, you can have them do a 10 word challenge.
It doesn’t have to be a paragraph story but you can change it up and have the students write a 100 word song, poem or letter etc or even better let them chose! The main focus is to integrate creating writing through critical thinking (hence the 100 word rule).
Here are some picture examples and/or ones you can use to help get you stated.
* Make sure to always use an image that has a creative commons license, which means you are free to copy it/share along one that is appropriate for the age level you teacher.
“Powerpoint could be the most powerful tool on your computer. But it’s not. Countless innovations fail because their champions use PowerPoint the way Microsoft wants them to, instead of the right way.” Seth Godin
Some people hear the word PowerPoint and cringe but just like all technology, PowerPoint is only a tool. If the tool is used correctly, it can be effective, powerful and transform learning. PowerPoint has gotten a bad rap because it has been used ineffectively so many times for presentations. Incorporating PowerPoints into your classroom as a tool can help promote all 4 c’s (create, communicate, collaboration and critical think) of the 21st century. Here are 3 ways I have used PowerPoint in my classroom to take PowerPoint to the next level.
1. Who remembers ‘Choose Your Own Adventure Books’? They are fun to read but even more fun when the students are creating their own and reading each others. You can easily create choose your own adventure books by using PowerPoint and hyperlink the different slides. Having the students start with a story board to draft their ideas and thoughts before beginning helps the students be more productive when they start the PowerPoint. Creating ‘Choose Your Own Adventure Books’ helps students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop an innovative product. You also can connect multiple Common Core Standards such as W3, W4, W5, W6. Check out this site for more information and examples of Choose Your Own Adventure.
2. You can use PowerPoint software so students can create multimedia projects on any subject matter. You can have the students take their PowerPoint and share them with the world by embedding them into blogs or wikis. Students can create ebooks by using a site called flipsnack. Having students create a non-fictional book using PowerPoint, demonstrates mastery of a concept and is a great way to informally or formally accesses a student without paper and pencil. Have the students create an ebook on the rock cycle and turn it into an ebook for the other students. Here is an example on Rhinoceros: http://snack.to/fv13qh1v
3. Another way you as an educator can use PowerPoint is by making an interactive quiz using PowerPoint. Create a quiz and have students use it to guide their learning and goals. Take it to the next step and have the students make the quizzes for each other, this way the students are using their 21st century skills while mastering the concept. Check out this video for a how to guide of making interactive quizzes using PP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ht746LL7ans
I would love to hear other ways teachers are having students use PowerPoints in the classroom. Please share in the comment section.
“Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking in order to make your thinking better.” by Richard Paul
My new favorite FREE tool for the classroom, for grades 3-12, is Trading Cards; which is an iOS App and also web based by ReadWriteThink. This tool is user-friendly and allows students to practice 21st century skills with integration of Common Core Curriculum. The Trading Card tool gives students a choice to demonstrate their literacy knowledge by creating a trading card about a real or fictional character.
When you use this tool in the classroom, the learners apply all their 21st century skills. The students have to….
– critically think about the information they need to write in each section. The sections have guiding questions to help the students if they need it.
– communicate the information in 120 characters or less per section.
– create the card adding a picture of the character they are describing.
– collaborate if you have the students work together.
The tool is user friendly and the creator can chose different backgrounds/designs and can also organize the cards by putting them in different collections. My favorite feature is that you can also share the cards multiple ways. One way is you can download them to your camera roll and then upload them to Edmodo or Gaggle accounts and have class discussions about the cards. Having students create cards based on characters in their books help them think about perspective in a creative way. This is also a great way for students to reflect on a biography they have read to synthesize the information. There are a lot of lesson plans already created for grades 3-12, check them out here.
Here is the one I created on Steve Jobs on my iPad, then saved it to my camera roll.
If you have used ReadWriteThink- Trading Cards in the classroom I would love to know how; please share in the comment section.
“A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list.” Unknown
Blogging is a powerful tool that meets many Common Core Standards for grades K-12. It also provides students with higher order thinking skills across all subjects. You can blog in math by having the students reflect on their topic such as fractions and how it connects to the real world. In Social Studies, you could have students give their opinion on a topic such as a new law or you can have students synthesize a science experiment. Here are my top ten reasons why students should blog no matter what age or subject area.
It teaches the students to…
1. be authentic writers
2. how to communicate with digital tool
3. be effective digital citizens
4. that they have a voice
5. how to comment through comprehending as well as critiquing
6. to understand other perspectives and cultures
7. to build strong content knowledge
8. to reflect on their work and ideas
9. to draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support their ideas
10. to produce and publish writing
Creating expectations and a rubric of how you want your students to blog is helpful when you are first starting. It’s important to set a purpose for each blog post and emphasize the content! Remember you can add mutlimedia such as hyper links, videos etc. to blog posts as well. Having kids that are in Kindergarten blog through using pictures is a great way to start teaching them about digital footprints.
Here is a great link that has some tips in helping you get started with blogging in your classroom. j.mp/tips4blogging
Please share the ways you have used blogging in your classroom.