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We have all been there! We teach what we thought was an amazing writing lesson, and then… crickets! Our students are completely disengaged and unwilling to pick up the pencil and get their ideas on paper. The truth is… writing can be really overwhelming! Especially for those students who have experienced the “fury of the mighty red pen” before. As a fourth-grade teacher, I was on a mission to find ways to get my students excited about writing. And then it dawned on me, what do students love more than technology? Probably nothing! The use of technology in class changed the game for my students! And it can do the same for you.
But before we dive into this week’s blog post, have you seen my FREE bundle of 36 writing prompts in Spanish? These highly engaging writing prompts are great for morning work, writing centers, and even sub plans. They come in digital and printable formats and are perfect for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. You can click here to get your FREE copy! You can thank me later!
Why should we use technology in class to support writing?
Technology is the way of the future! In fact, it is the way of the present. More and more, we are expected to complete tasks digitally. As teachers, we should be preparing students for the world. So, it is only logical we teach students to use technology in productive ways.
Now, don’t get me wrong! I am still a lover of the old “paper and pencil duo.” In my class, my students do all of their drafts, revising, and editing on paper. I noticed early on that the quality of their writing was far superior when they did all of the planning steps on paper. However, they can easily publish their work digitally once they are done revising and editing.
How can the use of technology improve writing outcomes?
As I said earlier, my students writing is far superior when they go through the planning stages on paper. Some of the reasons for that are:
- Students can write faster on paper
- They can see “how much” they wrote
- It is easier to add/remove words and sentences during the revising and editing steps
- They are less distracted
However, the excitement my students get from publishing their work digitally makes even the most hesitant writers put pencil to paper… and fingertips to the keyboard. And that is the end goal… to get them to write. I can help any student become a better writer if they try. But when they won’t even try, it is much harder to help them.
The use of technology in class to build excitement toward writing is an invaluable tool that has helped me reach students who before were almost unreachable.
The use of technology in class: Five awesome ideas for writing class
As a blogger, I love knowing that I can share my ideas with people around the world. Our students are no different. In my experience, when students know that they will get a chance to share their writing with others, they put a lot more effort into it.
Using blogging to incorporate the use of technology in class can help you get students excited about writing in ways you never thought possible.
The idea of blogging with students may feel a bit intimidating at first, but it is actually a lot easier than you think. I have written an entire blog post about blogging with students, including how to set up a blog and which platform I use. You can check that out by clicking here.
One of my most successful writing lessons was when I incorporated the use of screencasting into my research writing unit. My students were researching a topic of their choice in Spanish. When they were done, they created a PowerPoint presentation to share their findings. I also had them write a script to help them share what they had learned.
Once their PowerPoint presentations and scripts were done, students used Screencastomatic to record a screencast of their presentations while reading their scripts. After they were done with their recordings, they uploaded them to Seesaw. I love using Seesaw because my students can easily share their work with their peers. However, you could use a different platform if you prefer.
Virtual publishing parties
I love publishing parties. In fact, I have written an entire blog post with ideas for publishing parties. There are so many fun and easy-to-do ideas in there. You can check it out by clicking here. However, publishing parties can often take a long time. Virtual publishing parties are a great way to solve that problem. As a bonus, students love it because… you guessed! They are using technology in an innovative way.
To have a virtual publishing party, just make sure that your students are uploading their writing into a platform that can be used to easily and safely share their work with others. As you can probably imagine, my favorite tool is Seesaw. You can then decide the format in which students will be sharing their work. Ask yourself:
👉 Will they share it in writing?
👉 Will they record audio to accompany their writing?
👉 Will they record a video (we will talk more about videos in a second!)
👉 Will they create a screencast?
Once you have made these decisions, students will add their work to the platform of your choice. Then, you will assign time in class for students to check out each other’s work on their own devices. Make it extra special by allowing students to leave positive comments on each other’s work.
I like to do this during stations, so I can still be working with my small groups while hosting our publishing party. This saves you so much time in the classroom, and students love it!!! Stop motion videos
Share students’ writings with the world through QR codes
Extend the use of technology in class beyond the walls of your classroom with QR codes. Again, I like to use Seesaw for this because I can easily get a QR code for my students’ work. Once they have published their writing on Seesaw, I print out their QR codes and display them on the bulletin board outside of my classroom. Visitors can walk by, scan the QR codes, and view my students’ work. So much more impactful than just hanging your students’ writing outside of your classroom!
Stop Motion videos
I have definitely saved the best for last when it comes to the use of technology in class. Stop motion videos are such a great way for students to share their writing with the world. One of my favorite writing units is when my students work on writing a puppet show.
My students write the script for their puppet shows, design paper puppets, and create a background. Then, they use the app Stop Motion Studio to record a stop motion video of their puppet show on their iPads. Although there is a free version of this app, I opted to purchase the app. The free version has recording time limits, and I wanted my students to be thorough. The app is super easy to use and so much fun! I found this great video that explains exactly how to use this application, if you are interested in learning more about it.
I have recently learned about a way to create stop motion videos on Google Slides as well. I have not tried this in the classroom myself, but I already have so many ideas on how to use this with my students. This would be perfect for reports and research projects. I found this very informative video that explains, step by step, how to create a stop motion video on Google slides.
The use of technology in class is essential to help keep students engaged in the 21st century. Using technology to support writing has made a huge difference in my classroom, and I know it can do the same for you. I am curious to know if this blog post has helped you feel more confident and willing to try some of these ideas. Let me know in the comments!