Use These Writing Applications in Your Classroom
Utilizing writing applications in the language arts classroom to help pupils begin and develop their writing.
By Dawn Dodson
No matter the age, experience, or skill level of the writer, getting started can sometimes be a giant obstacle to overcome. Struggling to create the beginning of a story can cause many young writers to become reluctant, or even form a grudge toward writing. Likewise, trying to find a way to encourage the gifted writers to challenge themselves to try something new can result in a less-than-enthusiastic attitude. In my own classroom, this is the very monster I battle each year. Trying to help each writer grab an original beginning that can later be developed into a larger piece of work is quite a task. Making a game or activity that can assist my pupils in that process is a successful strategy that I have relied on for years. Taking this idea a step further, using online applications is not only a way for writers to easily access tools they need to begin writing, but to keep writing. The following are some writing applications and classroom activities that are sure to help writers of all ages to start writing.
Applications to Prompt Writing
- Be Creative Thinking: This application is a fun, interactive way to begin and maintain writing. The app is a series of pictures arranged in a variety of ways to allow writers to begin a story. Using the idea of writing from a picture, pupils can be arranged in groups to view and write from the application, or individual writers can use this application to begin a story during independent writing time.
- Story Dice: Here is another writing application that uses pictures and doesn’t have an age limit or language requirement. The dice display pictures of various short story elements from which pupils can write. Whether using one or all the pictures, the overall design of this application allows for both higher level thought processes and writing skills as well as for those just beginning to grab an idea to begin writing.
Both applications are wonderful ways for pupils to connect to writing, and can be used in the same lesson with writers at all levels. A beneficial activity is to divide the class into mixed writing ability groups, and then instruct pupils to access the chosen application on the classroom device. Within each group, take one picture at a time to develop a short story. Using the pictures to brainstorm and develop a story can help each group member get started. Groups can either continue writing the story together, or finish the story on their own. If stories are finished independent from the group, at a later time groups reconvene to share endings.
Applications to Maintain Writing
- A+ Writing Prompts: This is an application that not only has prompts to begin writing, but a variety of writing activities to keep writers writing. This is a wonderful tool for writers to use during writing workshop time either independently, or with a peer. The material available on this application seems endless and has an option to save favorites.
- My Writing Spot: Once pupils are writing, an application such as this one can allow writers to sync devices through the use of a web application in order to work on writing pieces from multiple devices, in multiple locations. This application has the ability to literally expand the classroom! Components such as dictionary and thesaurus tools help writers continue to develop their stories.
Although the days of pulling writing ideas out of a paper bag have not ended in my classroom, I do embrace this writer’s technology and use it as another strategy to connect to pupils’ lives and assist their learning. Jumpstarting and/or maintaining writing through online applications is only one way to begin. There are numerous online resources and activity ideas to provide writers with support at any level, or stage, of writing.
Common Core ELA Writing Standards
More Writing Lessons and Activities:
Pupils write a short story within a small group. They produce a three paragraph story including an introduction, body, and conclusion.
Here is a writing lesson that utilizes the SMART Board for the lesson presentation and providing pupils with writing instruction. Writers learn to overcome writer’s block and create an original piece of writing.
Using a favorite story as inspiration, pupils learn to create their own short stories. This resource also allows pupils to create PowerPoint presentations to complement their finished stories.