Writing with Technology


The Common Core requires that students produce and publish writing, while interacting and collaborating. Each of the tools that I present to you today, allows for these 4 key actions.

iPads in early elementary

Since many schools have iPads in early elementary, I am including iPad apps. These apps have pre-selected images and prompts. Ideally, teachers would work with the whole class or small groups to collaborate on story creation.

Toontastic - This app allows students to make cartoons with easy to follow directions and different images. It includes a graphic organizer that suggests story arcs, such as setting, conflict and even suggests mood music that can be included. Children narrate the cartoons. Cartoons can be posted on a website called ToonTube and viewed by parents.

Story Patch- This app is another story making app. Students are asked a series of questions and the app generates a story based on the responses. The story can be edited and the student makes illustration choices such as setting, characters and items. Characters can be moved, flipped and resized. These stories can be shared and printed as PDFs.

Record a story

Little Bird Tales - Little Bird Tales walks users through each step of creating a multimedia story. Users can upload images, draw images, or record from their webcams. Stories can be written with text or narrated by students using microphones connected to their computers. Here is the tale of my dog, Henry.

With these web tools, students can use their own drawings or photos to make stories.

ScreenR- Students can write a book review with or without a computer and then record themselves reading the book review using a screencasting site like ScreenR. Teachers can then turn the recorded book reviews into QR codes (using sites such as Kaywa) and paste the QR codes onto the back of the books. In early elementary, students gain independence by listening to the book reviews and selecting the books by themselves.

Vocaroo - Vocaroo is a site that allows students to create voice recordings, which can be emailed or downloaded as an MP3, Ogg, FLAC or WAV file. It can even be immediately created as a QR code.

Narrable- Narrables allow students to create a slideshow and record over the slideshow. This tool can be used for telling a story or sharing researched information. It creates powerful projects that more rapidly engage the student viewers. The downside of this tool is that there is no commenting feature, which prevents robust collaboration.

Story Creation

These tools are for students who are able to read & write independently. They start with images or even a story beginning as a way to motivate the imagination.

Kerpoof - This site is multi-faceted and really seems like a site that should not be free, but it is. With Kerpoof, students can create their own books, greeting cards, movies, drawings and play spelling games. They can choose their own genre and the site populates characters and settings appropriate for that genre. Once the book is written, students can publish their work and other students can comment on it. Here is a LINK to a finished story. Teachers can create teacher accounts, which have to be verified by Kerproof and can take up to 48 hours. Teacher accounts have access to a number of tools to help manage and engage students.

StoryBird- Beautiful site where students use pre-made art to write a story. The art is very beautiful and would really inspire students. Students could easily work together to create a book and then publish it through the site. Teachers can create classes, so there is no required log-in for students. For a reasonable fee, parents/teachers can have the story made into a professionally made book.

Story Jumper - This site is pretty cool. It gives students the start of a story with pictures (like a real book) and then asks them questions to help them write the rest of the story. There is also the StoryStarter™ workbook, which is a tool for teaching students the creative writing process. Teachers can create a classroom account and give students activation codes, so no email is required for sign up.

Book Reviews

Book reviews are a great way to have students write about something in which they are interested.

Scholastic.com - Very simple and easy to use site with which I am sure many of you are familiar! Students can use this site to write their own book reviews and can read reviews from students around the country. Students can either write their review directly into the site, or cut and paste text from another source. Students love to see their own words online. I have used this site with high school students, and even they got a kick out of publishing their reviews. Plus it was one of the few sites I found without ads!

Cartoon Creation

Students love cartoons and these tools allow them to tell a story through a cartoon interface. These sites would work especially well connected to a graphic novel.

Pixton- Pixton site allows students to make their own comic strips. The students can use this site to tell their own stories or to create an alternative ending to a book they just finished reading. They could even use it for retelling informational text, such as the ending of battle. Teachers can sign up for a paid subscription that gives them an activation code for their students. There is a free trial version, too, but be mindful that this site is not strictly for education, so there are some ads with somewhat questionable content.

Domo.Animate- This site allows students to create animated comic strips. It is pretty easy to use with lots of great preset cartoon characters and settings. The students could use this to tell their own story or to create an alternative ending to a book they just read. Students have the option to make their comics public or private. The log-in does require an email and is not strictly for schools, so be mindful when using it with your students.

Online Discussions

Online discussions are a great way to get all students to have a voice, so quiet students and students who process more slowly can have a vibrant presence online.

Collaborize Classroom - Great site for online discussion. No emails needed to create student accounts. Simple and easy to use with very strong support and how-to documents. This is one of the few "blog" sites that allows for comments on posting and then comments on the comments. Click HERE to go to their resources page.

Edmodo - Edmodo is an easy and engaging way to manage assignments, provide a way for students to communicate and create an online classroom. Students can upload papers and allow comments from other students and, of course, the teacher. Edmodo has a robust help center. Here are links to two how-to videos: How-To Video 1 and How-To Video 2. This tool does not require an email log-in. Teachers give students codes to their classroom account.

Collaborative Writing

Sometimes collaborative writing is a great way to kick start reluctant writers, showing how each student has his/her own strength. These tools enable collaborative writing, either with classmates or with people they don't even know!

Wikispaces -An oldie, but a goody! A wiki is a space on the Web where you can share work and ideas, pictures and links, videos and media — and anything else you can think of. It is a great space for students to collaborate on writing and research projects. You can create a wiki account without emails. Click HERE to learn how. Here is an example of a group research project Wiki.

Inklewriter- This site allows students to create and share in the creation of interactive stories. Students can read and make interactive stories. Students act as both readers and writers because they can can jump in and change a story based on a series of prompts. There is a fairly steep learning curve, but worth the effort. This tool requires an email log-in.

Protagonize - This focus of this site is collaborative writing, by any of its members. In other words, your students start a story, poem, writing exercises, song - really any type of writing at all, and then they choose whether or not other members can collaborate with them. So a student could be writing a story with students from around the country. They can choose to write a solo piece, but the default is to collaborate. What I like about this site is that kids can choose to write something solo but allow others to critique them. It is LOADED with ads, but they are on-topic ads (all about writing). It does require an email to log-in. This site is not specifically educational, so be mindful of that when using it with your students.

Novlet - This site is very similar to Protagonize because its goal is collaborative writing. Students can select a story genre, read the incomplete story, and then click "Continue Writing" and can write a passage to continue the story. It is remarkably easy to use. This site does require email log-in and it is not an educational only site, so I would be mindful of that when using it with students.

Tackk- Tackk is the tool that I am using to create this presentation. It is super easy to use, and as I hope you see, it creates wonderful visual presentations. Students can images and videos (as you have seen me do) and audio, too.