The Write Stuff:
Tech Tools to Promote Writing

created by Jim Holland, Arlington ISD

Session Description: “If your students are sharing their work with the world, they want it to be good. If they’re just sharing it with you, they want it to be good enough.” (Rushton Hurley). This session will showcase and demonstrate various tools and pedagogical practices to get students writing in formats that are relevant to today’s world including micro-blogging, backchannels, animated writing, and more!


Definition: use of technology to maintain a real-time online conversation alongside the primary group activity or live spoken remarks

Uses in the Classroom:

  • Get student feedback
  • Allows students to ask/answer questions
  • Distribute links easily
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Reflect on learning (students summarize concepts)

Activity: Movie Trailer Summarization

  1. Watch the movie trailer linked above.
  2. Write a brief summary and post it into today's meet.
  3. The room for today is:


Definition: contributing to a website containing a writer's or group of writers' own experiences,observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.

Uses in the Classroom:

  • Publish original writing to get feedback
  • Display multimedia projects created by students
  • Guided, asynchronous classroom discussion
  • ePortfolios
  • Article: Why Students Should Blog

Activity: Figurative Language Practice

  1. Log in to our Kidblog class at
  2. Write an original simile or metaphor (be sure to title the post appropriately).
  3. Use a Google image search (filtered by license) to find an appropriate image to accompany your simile or metaphor.
  4. Insert the image into the blog post and publish.
  5. Provide feedback for another student.

"Anonymous" Class Discussions

Verso Web App- students posts and comments are anonymous to everyone but the teacher, eliminating the social pressures of responding to the person rather than the content.

Uses in the Classroom:

  • Write about issues without fear of peer retaliation
  • Get feedback on writing without the influence of social status
  • Protect student shortcomings in the writing process

Activity: Greatest Movie Ever

  1. Log in to the Verso app at (use the same login usernames and passwords used in the Kidblog activity). If asked, the class code is XARQAV.
  2. Answer this question: What do you consider to be the best movie ever? Give 3 reasons to support your stance.
  3. Once posted, provide feedback to at least one other student.

Collaborative Writing

Google Docs- the de facto standard in document collaboration

TitanPad- formerly"Etherpad," this site allows for collaborative real-time writing with text-only features, no accounts required, can be password protected

Padlet- a collaborative "bulletin board" or wall where participants can place "sticky notes,"

  • Can be password protected
  • No logins required by students
  • List view or freeform view

Animated Writing

Google Docs Story Builder- animated Google Docs simulation Sample Story

Other ideas:

  • Adding sensory details to writing
  • Translating to another language
  • Revising and editing

Image Generators

Fake Text Message Generator- re-tell a significant event in history (or in literature) using text messages between two characters (real or fictional), one of whom is an eyewitness to the event. Ex: assassination of Lincoln, sinking of the Titanic, the killing of Piggy in Lord of the Flies, etc.

Fake Twitter Message Generator- Anachronism activity: What would <some character> have tweeted about in response to <some significant event>? Pearl Harbor Example

Character Trading Cards- students analyze characters and succinctly describe them and their major contributions.

Many more useful image generators can be found at sites like Redkid and many others.

Alternate Forms of Writing

InkleWriter- choose your own adventure writing Sample Story

PlotBot- write screenplays without worrying about the format
Sample Screenplay
Screenwriting Terms

Storyboard That- create comic-book like storyboards Sample Storyboards


Follow Jim on Twitter: @talljim