Using Technology To Excite Students To Use A Process To Write
Longfellow Elementary School, 6th Grade
Theren Hayes, Teacher
September 2005 to May 2006
Using my theory of how writing is never finished it is due or neglected, I attempted exciting or sparking student interest in using a writing process to improve their writing. In all seven years of my career, my students have viewed my writing process in a very different format. They are taught and know the steps of the writing process we use (ideas/organize, draft, revise, edit, publish). Yet, the students do not follow the steps of the writing process. They feel their writing must not need revision. I see they have written lists, organized their writing, written a first draft, and then typed and that is where they were stopping in years past.
I have used pieces of technology to spark the students' interest in taking their writing through the stated process. We used technology in each phase of our writing process to help motivate the students through it.
I wished to see three things happen with using the combination of technology and our writing process. First, I hoped to see a greater comfort in using the technology pieces (hardware, software, and tools). Second, I wanted to see the students improve in their writing skills and efforts. And last, I desired to see more motivation to write, no matter the topic.
- We reviewed the steps to our writing process (ideas/organize, draft, revise, edit, repeat if necessary, and then publish).
- We worked on using the iBook G4 computers which are connected to our mobile, wireless labs. We reviewed the steps to access their server folder.
- I instructed the basics of the following software programs: Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Safari, Firefox, iPhoto, iTunes, iMovie, Garageband, Text Edit, and Inspirations.
- The students were assigned one or two formatted writings (i.e.- descriptive writing, presentations/speeches, fictional stories, poetry, research report, etc.) and another one to three writings of their choice each quarter to have published. They used technology to organize, revise, edit, and finally publish their writing.
- The technology was a tool to excite the students. This is not new to many other teachers. I found several of my students balked at writing in August through October. These same students were more willing to write when we used the iBooks or some other end result of publishing they were interested in (PowerPoint presentation, recording their poetry with background music in Garageband, creating an iMovie of a student created science film, etc.)
- The technology helped to find and correct errors. The students learned what the red and green squiggly lines meant in Microsoft Word or that when they used Text Edit to "speak back" their writing they HEARD what was wrong.
- The students and their parents found their revised writing easier to read when they had typed, double-spaced, and then added even more notes on the printed pages.
- I saw improvement in their writing. There were fewer run-on sentences. More exact words were chosen for their pieces. And the writing had more hints of fluency and fewer grammatical errors as a result to viewing, working, and changing the constructed text.
Things to not repeat:
- I must save different revised documents of the students. The students felt their writing had improved and become more mature, but they could not SEE this because of us not saving the revised writing as a separate document.
- I will be more proactive in reading their non-published pieces. Not everything is worth sharing with the "public". One of the ways to get those worthy pieces of writing out there is to have vast amounts of attempts. I need to check on the students more often.
- I must not slip on checking with the students while they are using the computers. I did occasionally have a couple of students do NOTHING that I asked of them. They used the computers as free time to get online (some even played Runescape ), to use other programs, or just ACT like they were writing.
The Next Step...
- I have witnessed students starting to aid each other in the revising and editing process. I wish to further this through the use of technology. I hope that there is a way to do either an online forum, like some of my NeWP project colleagues have completed, or to use a CONTROLLED email program to send the documents back and forth. I would use technology to enhance and enthuse the students to work on their writing and add revising each other's work.