Writing Across the Curriculum
One of the fundamental skills that we all work to develop in students of all ages and in classes across the curriculum is the ability to write well. There are hundreds of websites and online tools devoted to developing this skill from every possible angle. The ICATS have collected many of these tools in posts like the ones below:
A Few Favorites
Today, I am going to share a few favorites that might be unfamiliar to you. I’ve tried to select tools for all ages, so hopefully, you will find one that fits your classroom perfectly:
Haiku Magnetic Poetry– It’s an online version of the refrigerator magnet game, but it teaches younger students about syllables by having them create Haiku poems with the magnets. This tool is from the folks at PBSKids. If you are looking for an online poetry magnet tool for older kids, check out the Magnetic Poetry Site.
Daily Writing Prompts– These prompts are written for students of all ages. Find a prompt for every day! You can access this month’s prompts by clicking this link. Some other places to find writing prompts are Dragon Writing Prompts, and Sunday Scribblings.
Scholastic Story Starters– This is an engaging tool for randomly generating story starters in a variety of genres for learners from K-6. It’s from the folks at Scholastic, so it has its roots in the classroom. You can learn more about this tool by exploring the Scholastic: Story Starters Teaching Guide. While this is aimed at younger grades, older writers could make use of this as well. You might also want to check out The Story Starter, Jr.
I Write Like– Check which famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers. While this is amusing in itself, older students might use this to start developing their own voice. Helping them to see the similarities between the books they read and the works they write will help them to think of themselves as writers.
OhLife– This is a really cool journalling tool with a super-simple interface. Basically, learners sign up and OhLife sends them emails asking them about their day. Users can decide how often they get prompted. At any point users can export a text copy of their journal for download, which could then be printed and turned in or shared digitally. Until then all writing is private only to the user. If you like OhLife, you might also look at Penzu. Another online journal, Penzu has a few more bells and whistles, but still has the functionality of OhLife including the ability to write to the journal from email reminders. Penzu also has an Classroom Account for $50 per year that allows teachers to manage student journals.
Off the Charts Web Karaoke– This is a really engaging tool from PBS. Basically, the user writes a set of lyrics and the web tool creates the music. Then you can record your voice singing along. This would be a great collaborative project for any subject.
EssayMap– This tool is an essay organizing tool for the standard 5-paragraph essay. Students enter their name and topic and then are invited to enter information in the digital graphic-organizer. This tool could be useful for students who are still learning to organize their thoughts and provide evidence for their claims.
PaperRater– This is a great tool for getting feedback on writing prior to turning it in. PaperRater checks grammar and spelling, checks for plagiarism, and offers suggestions for improving style and vocabulary. The analysis students see includes a letter grade for the paper. Students can run a printable report as well. Teachers might ask them to turn the report in with the essay as a starting point for conversations. Another great site for checking grammar is Grammerly, which has many of the same features.
Look over the various writing tools listed here and share your thoughts in the comments below about how you might use one of these tools to help students develop writing skills in your class. Also, if you have a favorite writing tool that we haven’t included here, we would love it if you would share that tool and explain why you use it.