Web tools to assist your teaching of writing!

(This is part of my article published in the summer e-bulletin of TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece. You can read the rest there, if you are a TESOL MTh member)

...However, even if you follow all these tips, students may not always share your enthusiasm for writing. This is the time when you have to employ some other means to get them interested! I call these “My contemporary Muses”, because they inspire my students to write! Here are some web tools I am using for my writing activities:

·         Storybird.com: This must be the most popular web tool for story writing at the moment.  Students can choose a set of pictures and write their stories based on these. I can personally guarantee that even the most reluctant to participate get excited with this! The art is so wonderful and there is not one student who will not be interested in turning picture prompts into a story. Recently, I have discovered that there is also the option of a class account and students can be registered with one email, but with a different username and password each. There is also the Educator’s Blog, where teachers can find many ideas, tips and lesson plans  on how to use Storybird in class. In addition, there is a class password for parents who wish to check out the class’s stories.

·         http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/: Another exciting tool, easy to use that gives students the option to create a two-, three- or four- pannel comic. You can save or print the final product. There are ideas for stories, if you don’t have a topic. There are hundreds of printable templates to print, write and colour! And something I find extremely useful is that there is a section for students with special needs! The only drawback is that you cannot go back to your work and edit it after you save it.

·         https://penzu.com/: This is a free online diary and journal,with the option of PenzuClassroom as well, where you can grade or leave a comment on an entry. You can also create and send assignments to students.

·         http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/story-starters/: This is a fun engine with 4 story starters themes adventure, fantasy, sci-fi and scrambler, where you can pick your grade (K-6th) and spin four wheels to get a story starter! For example: “Write a news article about an android who lives in a crater.” Then you can choose a format for your story a notebook, a letter, a newspaper or a postcard, you can even include a drawing and…you can start writing. After you finish you can print or download your story.

·         http://www.piclits.com/compose_dragdrop.aspx: This is a tool that uses words and photos to inspire students to write. You just use a picture you like and drag and drop words from a list or freestyle to accompany it with a small text.

·         https://www.tricider.com/: It is a really useful and simple tool for brainstorming or voting that is very popular for debates. You can ask a question, collect answers and votes of the best ideas or answers. There is a special section for education.

·         https://www.futureme.org/: This is a tool that students can use to write a letter to their future self, choose the date to be delivered, choose if they want it to be private or public (but anonymous),even choose to add a picture. It is a good idea to use it as part of setting learning goals and finding out if you have achieved them at a given time.

·         https://www.google.com/intl/el_gr/forms/about/: Students can use this to create forms, questionnaires, quizzes, evaluation forms or surveys. The interesting part is that they can collect the answers in the form of percentages or pie charts.

Of course the web tools that can be used for writing are many and more of them are created every day. However, these are the ones I keep in my web-tool kit, which I try to update as often as I can.