Tuesday, March 15, 2011

10 Resources for Teaching Writing with Technology

It never ceases to amaze me the available resources on the Internet for teachers.  The next few "10 Resources" post will focus on the English curriculum, so I want to start with writing.  Many English teachers will tell you that technology has damaged writing because students are so reliant on spelling and grammar check that the idea of proof-reading your writing has gone to the wayside.  these resources won't necessarily fix that, but provide other options for writing and proofreading.

1.) Piclits is a website where students can type or choose words to create poems or pieces of writing over an image.  Now, Piclits does not have to be used, but the idea behind using an image to inspire writing or to correlate with writing might be a valuable and different way to engage your students and encourage various forms of writing.

2.) Writing is Fun is a website that provides writing organizers.  Sometimes, the most difficult part about writing is learning how to write, what to write, and when to write it.  These organizers provide examples of each part of the organizers and then allow you to print out blank copies.  So you can easily teach the organizer and then provide a blank copy to your students. 

3.) Sometimes, free writing can be a great way to teach various forms of writing and encourage students to write.  The problem is that students often struggle with what to write; I know I did in high school.  Thankfully, there are a couple websites that can help.  Random Logline Generator will create a random sentence or topic and then students can use that to start their free writing.  There is also Creative Writing Prompts which provides over 300 possible prompts to get students creative juices flowing. 

4.) A great activity for the first day/week of school is to have students write a letter to themselves, or you about their expectations, fears, and joys as it relates to writing or being in your class.  Future Me is a website that provides an easy way for students to do that.  Students log in and type a letter to themselves, provide their email, and a date they want it sent to them.  They will then see their letter on that date. 

5.) A form of writing gaining steam is group writing where students can start a story and then other students work on it and then finish it.  Folding Story is a website that provides that opportunity.  As a teacher you can create a group and allow students to join that group and then start a story.  Allow for students to be creative and require a daily writing by certain students in order to provide a grade.  Another option is a site called Story Join which follows the same concept.

6.) In high school I would tend to write the same words more often than necessary.  Vocab Grabber is a website that allows users to copy and paste some text and then get data about the most useful vocabulary words and showing you how those words are used in context.

7.) Poetry was never my strongest form of writing, and I know that I am not alone.  I always struggled with finding words that rhymed.  I know rhyming is not the most important part of a poem, but for many students, to feel successful writing poetry, they want words to rhyme that make sense.  Luckily there are several resources available.  The Rhyming Dictionary provides synonyms, definitions, homophones, and same consonants. Write Rhymes is another option, but does not provide as much information.  As you type in the words, it will provide a list of words that rhyme.

8.)  Kelly Tenkely is an educator that I follow on Twitter and she has put together 10 Technology Alternatives to the Standard Book Report.  This is a great alternative for students and teachers looking to utilize technology for book report projects.  You could easily provide the list to students since it provides links to the resources and let them choose the one that they want to do.  Takes the guess work out of it.  Also, as part of the project, require students to create a rubric for the assignment so that you have one in the future.

9.) There is a big push for bell to bell instruction and often times, as teachers, we find ourselves looking for something to fill some time when a lesson went quicker then we expected.  Write for Ten is a website dedicated to providing students an area to Write for Ten Minutes.  The idea is simple....just write...about anything...for ten minutes.   You can create an account and like a journal it will log what you wrote each day, and students feel like it, they can share it with visitors to the website.

10.) Poetry and Letter writing are important parts of writing, and through a couple interactives, students can learn about these forms of writing.  Acrostic Poems and Diamante Poems provide an interactive with the steps to the process of learning to write these types of poetry.  At the same time, the Letter Generator is an interactive that provides instructions for the proper way to write a letter.   You could easily incorporate these into your units and have students complete these interactives.
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