You mean we have to write another book report when we finish reading?
A term paper? On Manifest Destiny? But why? What’s that got to do with me?
Yeah, but what if I never write a letter to the editor?
These are the kinds of questions a writing instructor never wants to hear, but probably does on a regular basis. Every child needs to achieve a certain level of competency in writing skills in order to be successful in the world. But this subject is often drudgery to the average student. The good news? Learning to write doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful, even for kids who don’t like writing at all. Blended learning opportunities available through educational technology can make an in-depth writing assignment on even the chronicles of the Punic Wars come alive.
Set Your Students Up for Success by Integrating Technology in the Writing Process
If teaching writing sometimes feels like pulling teeth, keep reading. Digital writing tools help make the labor-intensive writing process easier and more fun for students—and a lot less stressful for teachers. Online tools can do everything from helping students begin their initial brainstorming to giving them more timely, relevant feedback.
Want to see how that works? Let’s take those Punic Wars and assign them to a handful of students and see what they can do with them, equipped with the right tools.
Make it easy for them to do research—together.
Using educational technology, students can divvy up the specific events or aspects of the Punic Wars that they want to focus on. They then research separately outside of class, during class time on personal devices, or as a unified group working on the Clear Touch Interactive® panel. The panel can be divided into quadrants where multiple students can research simultaneously and share results in real time. Student A scans for articles outlining the causes of the Wars in one quadrant, while Student B watches videos about Hannibal hauling his drunk elephants over the Alps and cartoons depicting the whole ordeal in fewer than 5 minutes. Still another student finds and saves relevant maps and other geographical details.
This mode of work is familiar and comfortable to today’s learner: together, yet independent—and able to collaborate as they find valuable information for their assignment. Working this way feels more active and engaging, challenging each student to find and share relevant information with peers. Researching with friends is a lot more fun than sitting alone and bleary-eyed in front of a computer at 2 am, trying to finish your essay the night before it’s due.
For the actual writing process, think outside the notebook.
Plenty of learners like to jot down ideas the old-fashioned way: with pen and paper. However, they also know their way around a keyboard and often find typing easier than handwriting their essays and other assignments. Capitalize on this skill by offering your Punic Wars team a virtual writing room where they can brainstorm, write, edit, and offer feedback collaboratively, and in real time. Tools like Omniwriter can help students limit distractions while they write independently, while Google Docs, Google Slides, and our own software, Snowflake Lessons Online, can act as collaborative writing spaces.
With Snowflake Lessons Online, you’ll be able to jump into the process too, offering editorial feedback and soliciting comments from them about their writing process. You can even use the online lessons community to complete formative assessments without dragging home hundreds of research notebooks or notecards.
Everybody loves an audience.
It’s hard to get inspired to write about how expert scientists think Hannibal’s elephants really made it across the Alps if you know the only person who is going to read your masterpiece is your writing teacher. And he already knows more about the Punic Wars than you do. Considering your audience is one of the first steps to writing well, but it’s difficult to do in the abstract.
So why not have our Punic War Research Team produce an engaging podcast based off their writing assignment?
Today’s learner thrives when given a real-world audience. Most of them are used to that already, through self-expression on social-media. Sites like Soundcloud provide students with a forum to produce, upload, and share their very own podcasts based off their original writing projects, whether academic or creative in nature. Privacy settings allow students to share with the whole world, or only the peers in his own class, flipped classroom style. Podcasts are also a great tool for shared learning and connection with a “pen pal” class from a different country and culture, where kids swap projects.
Producing podcasts encourages students to hone their writing skills as well as their fluency in reading and presenting. While making a podcast, a student can read (or speak) her presentation as many times as necessary until it sounds solid and polished.
Incorporate multimedia to bring the writing alive!
Now that these kids are experts on ancient battles between the Romans and the Carthaginians, they are ready to bring all their findings together in one place. It’s time to bring that podcast to life with the addition of some visual and interactive materials. Remember those maps, graphics, and video clips they gathered on the Clear Touch Interactive® panel during the research process? With their podcast as the background narration (or they can speak their essay live to their class), these students can pull together their various components using to produce an exciting multimedia presentation. Our Canvas educational software gives students an infinite whiteboard to build presentations that they can share with the entire class.
An interactive multimedia presentation transforms a unidirectional written paper into an engaging lesson intended for a reactive audience. The students who create the project are able to maximize their own learning strengths while delivering relevant content that appeals to a variety of learning styles among the members of their audience. Flipping the classroom and asking students to present their findings in an interactive way can strengthen understanding of written text for both the author and audience.
While the core elements of good writing do not change, our methodology for teaching is ever-evolving. Today’s students are preparing for a world and workplace that expect collaboration among peers and colleagues, integration of multimedia with writing, and use of knowledge and skills to address real-world problems. As educators, we bear a responsibility to provide opportunities for students to explore, manipulate, and create a variety of media to give them the best edge in a competitive world. It is our goal at Clear Touch™ to equip teachers with the best innovative tools to help their students succeed beyond the classroom.
Interested in seeing more ways that you can use the Clear Touch Interactive® panel to bring your classroom to life? Schedule a Live Online Demo today.