Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Power of Writing in a 1:1 Classroom

The quote below by F. Scott Fitzgerald is so true when it comes to our students and writing.  They need to be given opportunities to write about what is important and meaningful to them. With state writing tests and curriculum expectations this becomes difficult at times.  There are things we can do as educators to help instill a passion for writing in our students. Students need to be intrinsically motivated and engaged. They need to have the opportunity to interact with each other. Being a 1:1 classroom has helped tremendously. 

F. Scott Fitzgerald

We know as educators it is important that our students write on a daily basis.  We know writing improves communication skills and helps teachers assess what students are learning.  When our students write it helps them retain information they have learned.  Writing also encourages student creativity and problem solving. Becoming a 1:1 has made writing even more relevant to my students because now instead of writing for just a teacher, they have a global audience. Digital citizenship in writing is important in our classroom.  As we say in our room, "Make it Worthy of the Web".  When our students write they have a voice to share their thoughts and feelings. They have the opportunity to be creative and write about their passions. Students are writing for an authentic audience and purpose. Writing is happening at its best on a daily basis!

Students not only practice their writing skills, but they can reflect on their learning, connect with other classrooms from all around the world, and create a portfolio of their writing.  Students peer edit prior to posting each blog.  They use Kidblog to publish what they wrote for our writing genre of the week as well as all curricular areas.  Our classroom Kidblog site is Mrs. Evon's Fourth Grade Team.  Another way to help your students get more comments from others around the globe is to tweet it out on Twitter and remember to use #comments4kids.

I love this video my fourth graders created 
on why they LOVE to blog!

My fourth graders are using Google Docs to create documents and presentations. Peer editing and collaborative writing projects happen at its best.  Whenever we Mystery Skype it is a great way for students to share questions, insights, and predictions.  They are also making global connections. Their documents can be shared with anyone which makes workflow easy and paperless. 

Book Creator

My students love Book Creator and we use it a lot in our classroom in all subject areas.  Students have the opportunity to write books and then share them with others to enjoy. The possibilities of what they can write are endless. They love to add videos and app smash to the books they are writing.  Students have the ability to add links to their books.  Another feature they love it that they can narrate their book as well as add images and music. It is a powerful digital writing tool for my fourth graders. Seeing how proud each of my students are when they publish their book is priceless. 

Writing Mysteries
Writing Nonfiction Books - The South Region

My fourth graders love to use Pages to write and publish their work.  Each week, students have a new writing genre.  My fourth graders write their first draft.  After they edit and proofread they put their final draft into Pages and are able to select a template of their choice.  Each student then publishes his/her writing into Kidblog.

Tia's Writing
Angelique's Writing 
Sean's Narrative Poem

Write About This

Even though we have the free version, of Write About This, my students love this app. With the free version, we are limited with the picture-based writing prompts.  This version has 50 leveled texts and voice prompts.  Students have the ability to create and write their own prompts. They can only save one writing piece into their "My Write Abouts".  My fourth graders solved this problem by adding each writing piece to their camera roll. They are then able to put their writing into Kidblog.  

Example of a Post on Kidblog from Angelique

Quick Write

Great Sites that Promote Writing Ideas and Creativity

Malala Yousafzai

Wonderopolis is a great a great site to get students to think outside the box.  Students are able to go to Wonderopolis on their iPad and read the Wonder of the Day and reflect upon their thinking. 

Smithsonian has a wonderful free reading resource for teachers.  It provides students engaging news articles written on their specific reading level. Each weekday new articles are posted.  After reading the article assigned by the teacher, students can post comments on the article they read.  All comments have to be teacher approved, and students can respond to their classmates' comments. If you want student's comments to go public for others to view and comment, all you have to do is send TweenTribune an email.  I love the aspect that students have the opportunity to connect with other students globally.  If their comments are shared publicly, teachers still need to approve comments shared on each child's post.

Picture of the Day
Another awesome feature my students love is the picture of the day.  There is a caption below each picture, but students are unable to see it until they comment on the photo.  After they submit their comment they are able to view the caption.  This is great to foster student imagination and "thinking outside the box".  If teacher's allow, students have the opportunity to change and modify their comment after viewing the actual caption.  Below is the picture of the day for January 5th.

Writing is meaningful and important to our students when they have a purpose for writing as well as a global audience. They thrive to become better writers and their passion continues to grow. Having a 1:1 allows writing to become collaborative and more relevant than ever before!

Ray Bradbury
I would love to hear from other educators on how you are instilling a passion for writing with your students.

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