Monday, May 26, 2014

The writing process and a Year 9 Student - My reflection

Last Friday I had the opportunity to work with a student from the local college who was on work day and I employed her to play with some of the apps I had found and to give me feedback from a students points of view. I was thinking as part of the writing process she could use digital technologies to enable her to express her creativity.Megan is a Year 9 who does not particularly enjoy writing however she is a very creative person.

Megan started by using Popplet to create a brainstorm of what she wanted to write about. After a few moments it was apparent that she needed more guidance around the topic and what to write about. Using Write About app gave her some ideas to create her story. Once Megan had chosen a topic she asked if she could brainstorm her ideas using pen and paper.

Once Megan completed the brainstorm I asked to her to create a copy using Popplet so she had an experience of using Popplet as a brainstorming tool.
Reflection of Popplet
On reflection some students would not choose Popplet as their first choice as a brainstorming tool and neither would I. To brainstorm I like to get my ideas on paper as it gives me more freedom to quickly build a mental image of my thinking.
In hindsight I tend to use an electronic brainstorm when I need to publish the output and would generally still choose paper over digital for my own personal use. In a class situation with a group brainstorm I can see the power of collaborative brainstorms that are digital and would lean towards Popplet or similar.

Drafting was done using Dictanote as was this reflection. Dictanote was not an easy tool to use on the Megan’s Acer Laptop as the microphone did not pick up the words well. We tried to calibrate the microphone and used the train the computer to Megan’s voice with little success. We also tried my Macbook however I think it was tuned into my voice and this did not work well either.
Reflection of Dictanote
  • Works best on an individuals own device
  • need to set spoken i to capitalise to I
  • Takes awhile to learn the tool but worth the effort (device also takes awhile to learn your voice)
  • Speak naturally and pause to allow dictanote to catch up
  • realise there will be mistakes that need to be fixed later (try not to fix as you go)
  • Really need a good brainstorm with good sequence to help prompt speaker what to say next
  • Stop mic recording to enable think time
  • Text will need cut and pasted into a word doc or equivalent to edit

Using google docs Megan drafted her writing using her handwritten brainstorm as a guide.  On completion of drafting we cut and pasted her text into Wordle keeping the common words boxed ticked to enable repeated words to be shown larger on the wordle.
We used Wordle to see which words were most commonly used, in the case above we focussed on cutting back the use of and. From the Wordle Megan focussed on what words can be changed in her writing to make it more interesting.
Reflection of Wordle
  • Needs flash plugin on a Mac
  • Fantastic to focus students into words they have used too much. The above Wordle shows how Megan used and to join sentences together.
  • Visual easy to see or screenshot

Finally we turned track changes on in Google Docs and Megan went about the process of editing her writing.
I emailed the text of the document to myself and opened the email on my iPad. This enabled me to use speak selection on the iPad and get Megan's text read aloud so she could hear her mistakes. The less punctuation the faster the iPad speaks the text, so easier to hear where punctuation needs to go.
Reflection of Speak Selection
  • Easy to use
  • Makes mistakes very obvious
  • Student can hear and fix the mistakes as they go
  • The less punctuation the faster the iPad reads, inserting punctuation correctly, slows down the speaker.

Finally we used Book Creator to publish Megan’s writing by cutting and pasting the text from the google doc into Book Creator. Some images were added to the book and then it was published to iBooks and as a PDF.

On reflection the day was a great success for me as I gained a lot of in sights in how to use the apps in a class situation. I also feel it was successful for Megan as she produced a good piece of writing and hopefully will use some of the tools she used with me in her own work. Even though it looks like a long process it was very quick to flick between apps and digital tools to complete the writing.
Dictanote or an equivalent app really would allow a reluctant writer much greater opportunities to get text onto a page as long as you are willing to give some time to learn the skill of dictating text.

Thank you very much Megan for allowing me the opportunity to work with you.

1 comment:

  1. What a great reflective journey for you and Megan! Thank you for sharing so that others can learn, too.


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