Lessons for Reluctant Writers
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Daily Warmup in Edmodo
The process is simple. Post a meaningful quote (can be related to themes being studied or current events), have the students copy the quote, put it in their own words (say), interpret it (mean), and evaluate it (matter). They end up writing a paragraph or so and get to practice some really valuable language arts skills.
Using QOD with my reluctant writers this past year I posted the quotes in Edmodo. This added a new benefit in that all students could see and learn from other students' paraphrases, interpretations, and evaluations. Soon students started posting their own QODs and asking their peers to go through the process with those quotes.
It's a great daily warm up, and here's an article at Education World that discusses this strategy. They even have a list of 180 quotes!
VoiceThread for Personal Narratives
Students enjoyed creating narrated slide-shows at VoiceThread to help the teacher and classmates understand who they are. Because VoiceThread allows for effortless creation of a slide show, the students spent hours combing through images in an effort to find just the right picture to represent some aspect of their identity. It took several days for the students to complete the visual elements of their presentation, and as I expected, they were not as enthusiastic about recording their voices for the narration. When I questioned them during observation, they revealed they were uncomfortable with the way their voices sounded in a recording, and they would get frustrated when they lost their place while recording. Several students took my suggestion to type up their narration so that they could read it into the microphone. Others opted to actually type their narration into the comment option so that they wouldn't have to speak.
Pre-Writing with Glogster
The students really enjoy making Glogsters, and it's a great way to get them thinking and brainstorming for more in-depth writing activities. It gives our visual learners an opportunity to generate and organize material before they set about the more formal task of writing a narrative or essay.
Xtranormal for Creative Writing
Even the most reluctant writers seem to enjoy using this tool, and indeed it is a lot of fun. Furthermore, standards call for students to write imagined or real narratives "using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences," and Xtranormal is the perfect tool for helping students discover the challenge and impact of well-crafted dialogue.
Google Docs for Peer and Teacher Feedback
Throughout the study participating students were encouraged to share essays for their English classes with me and their writing support class peers in order to get feedback for editing and revision. To guide this feedback activity, I required that the reviewing peer make two comments that began with the words “I like,” and two comments that began with the words “I wonder.” While it is interesting that in the example to the left the student changed her beginning in response to my “I like” comment, the end result is a marked improvement over her original opening statement. It is entirely possible that she really had nothing to say about learning to swim, but my comment about connecting to her own life experience, helped her make a connection to another more substantial experience in her life.