Friday, August 28, 2015

Teaching Writing with the Tools

I have had an interesting experience recently working with teachers helping them make the transition from paper-based writing sessions to digital writing. All the teachers seem to struggle with the transition, seeing the use of a Chromebook as a completely new way of writing and unsure how to engage with it.

My way of thinking is that the process still remains the same as I have blog previously, and it is just that the tool is different. There are some setup and systems required before the lesson to ensure a smooth lesson, these include creating a document and template to write in and ensuring the learners have guidance around protocols and expectations of writing in a shared document.

Once the learners and teacher get the hang of this then the writing can really start to fly. Engagement increases and ideas being shared generate a lot of quality writing.

The writing can be read back, using headphones, by text to speech tools allowing learners to hear their mistakes and lack of punctuation as the computer will only stop at a full stop or comma etc.

I have created the template as seen below which helps guide teachers that are new to digital writing. I find for myself that having a document that is used with a group for a term helps manage workflow and provides a modelling book for future reference.

I was very proud of the work one teacher did with her class, working with me on the first day and then making the connection with the writing process and using an innovative approach to have the students self-reflect on their learning by highlighting the language features in their own writing on the second day.

The learners can peer-assess their classmates by commenting on the right-hand side of the table as can the teacher by the commenting feature in a google doc.

I would see the next step being the students posting to their blog as below - 


  • understand the purpose for writing
  • Use our senses
  • use a range of  written features to engage the audience;  e.g. metaphors, similes, onomatopoeia
  • Use basic punctuation that is mostly correct;

Gurgle, slip, slop. There was some thing lurking in the misty, shadows of the dark alley way. It had five rorange tentacles that were making the slipping noises. And purple, wet flippers were making the sloping noises. When he went over to it, I nearly fainted.A skunk lurked in the room. Then I saw it's face. It had 2 sets of jagged  teeth that were pointy as iron tips, It also had 3 triangle eyes, 4 square eyes and 1 giant, fat circle eye. It had a nightmare nose that wanted revenge. In its hands was something with eyeballs in it.!!! The thing was an alien.DA DA DAAAAAAAAA!

Success Indicators -
  • My writing will paint a picture in the reader head
  • Write each sense (taste, smell, hear, sight, fell) into its own paragraph.
  • Has at least three language features, eg personification, simile, onomatopoeia, metaphor, alliteration
  • Can re-read my writing to check my punctuation

This then means the learners get an authentic audience that will hopefully comment on their work and learning.

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