Most teachers are familiar with the typical pen or pencil paper writing assignments that we give our students on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. The purposes vary from biography to memoir, to fantasy, or informative. We measure their successes with benchmarking data and mark them up with our fancy red, purple, or green pens and stamps to show our approval. As we conference with them, we guide them to make improvements and learn ‘proper’ writing techniques. I usually sit at my conference table, my students sign up for conferencing on the board and go down my list with the precision of an Indy Race Car driver. The low hum of the students sharing their pieces or conferencing with buddies tells me that work is going on, but as I call names to come sit with me...I get the rolling eyes, slumping shoulders, and gurgle of despair as they approach me for the “conference”.
I promised myself this year I would change this pattern because I want all my students to have purpose and passion with their writing. I know this can’t happen every time, I’m a realist, but why can’t it happen most of the time? Well, I think it can if we use the modalities that our students crave. Yup, you guessed it…technology, the Ipads, Ipods, netbooks, and computers that adorn their lives. Our little digital natives need the intention and mode of choice to create and write with intention!
You may need to start with a pencil and paper, but if you choose to get out of your comfort zone, you may be able to encourage those reluctant writers with a few new sites and apps out there today. So, starting from the beginning, let’s look at some ideas and graphic organizers to get them started. First, you could use bubbl.us graphic organizer to help your students organize their thoughts. In this site, students use the map generator to create a bubble map where they can
change text, change the bubble color, and then print out their map if they choose.
Or, how about Popplet, where students can create a visual map of their writing. This free site also allows students to share and collaborate.
Text2Mindmap is another great brainstorming tool. It allows you to take your text and create a map. So, students could have a list, subject, or topic they are writing about and input their data to create a visual of their writing.
Other sites out there that might interest you include:
There are so many ways to get your students excited about writing, and this is just for brainstorming and organizing their thoughts. Check out my next blog about prompts.