Aside from technology, my favorite part of teaching is Writer’s Workshop! First of all, writing is one of my favorite pass times. But watching my students grow as writers in both content and confidence, is by far one of the most rewarding experiences as a teacher. Not only does the ability to write support a child’s speaking skills, but it supports their reading comprehension as well. Writing is one of those vital life long skills every person should have and it should be supported in a nurturing and inspiring environment.
I teach writing in a writer’s workshop style and I use the 6 +1 Traits of Writing to support my lessons. Since integrating iPod/iPad technology into my classroom, I began experimenting with how to effectively utilize iPods/iPads in the classroom during my Writer’s Workshop. Now my students not only have literature, paper, pencils, and crayons to inspire their writing, they now have their iPods on their desk, as well.
Here are the apps I use in my classroom during Writer’s Workshop:
Developing good ideas is by far the most critical part of the writing process. According to Donald M. Murray, “Prewriting usually takes about 85% of the writer’s time.” So where do ideas come from? From EVERYWHERE!
Snapseed App: For editing images of ideas they have gathered from their surroundings.
Voice and Sentence Fluency
Voice Memo App: This app is built into your iPod. You will need to download an iPad voice recording app. Students can record themselves telling a friend their story orally before they write. This way they have a documentation of how they actually talk and a place to refer to specific words or phrases they use. Read more about the Voice Memo app here.
Puppet Pals: Students can create Puppet Shows before they write to record their ideas. You can use this app for the same purposes as mentioned above, however, children tend to feel more creative when they are creating a puppet show of their story idea. This brings out even more language for them to refer back to when they revise their writing. iPad Link or iPod Link. You can read more about Puppet Pals in my blog post here.
Dictionary.com App: I specifically use the free version of this app for the amazing thesaurus.
Merriam-Webster App: I use this app to check for spelling because it has a phenomenal voice to text option that utilizes the Dragon Dictation software.
Grammar Jammers App: This is a great app to review grammar skills. It has a series of lessons and songs to help review grammar. There is a free and paid version. The paid versions have an elementary version and a middle edition.
Notes: This is the built in app and can be used to publish student writing. I have used this and had students email me their draft. In addition, I have had students copy and paste their writing onto Edmodo as a post or an assignment.
21st Century Presentation
Students now have the opportunity to publish their writing in a variety of ways that enhance their ability to share their writing with others. After all, isn’t that the point of writing? Here are some apps that will allow your students to publish.
Sonic Pics: Students can illustrate or take pictures and record themselves reading their writing. This creates an audio slideshow of their writing.
iBooks: Your students can publish their writing using Keynote or Power Point and turn these presentations into iBooks that can be shared on all of their iPods or iPads. Read my blog post about this here.
Edmodo: Students can post their writing onto Edmodo for others to read and comment.
Kidblog.org: This is not an app but rather can be accessed through the web. You will need to set up an account for your class. This site is a safe blogging site created for kids. They use a simplified version of Word Press. Students can create posts and comment on each other’s writing.
Hope this helps you get started using iPods/iPads during your writer’s workshop. Be ready to be amazed about how much more engaged your students are during writing!