Ed Tech Tips with E. Mosier

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Resources to Improve Students' Writing Skills

Overview

An activity that doesn't require much prep at all, that allows students to be creative, is writing. Assigning students a prompt and having them respond, with limitations or not, is powerful. Not only will it hone their writing skills, but also allows them ownership and freedom over the content they are producing. No matter which career they choose, being able to be a fluent writer will pay dividends. Below are some resources that you can use as openers, or as part of your curriculum, to increase your students' writing abilities.

Newsela

Newsela, pronounced noo-zella, is a wonderful resource that combines reading and writing. There are countless articles that relate to an unbelievable amount of subject areas for students to read. What makes Newsela even more powerful is that each article can be set to a different lexile level, making the content the exact same, but much easier to understand for students of all ability levels. Along with each article are several activities, one of which is a writing prompt. Students are to respond to the prompt, and cite text to support their writing. Of course, Newsela connects seamlessly with Google Classroom, making the article sharing and response writing really efficient.

Quill

Another resource that digs into the students' writing abilities a little more is Quill. This website is packed with different activities and screening tools you can use. To get started, there is a diagnostic tool that explores your students' writing abilities, so you have a clearer image of their skill level. Additionally, there are Activity Packs that cover a wide variety of grammatical skills, which can be filtered by grade level and ease of use. A final applicable piece of this site is the ability to proofread existing passages for errors, which would provide students a way to learn how to peer edit during the writing process!

Write About

An enjoyable, creative writing tool is Write About. This is a site dedicated to writing and allowing students to open up a world of creativity that only writing can do, all with a collaborative audience. A distinct feature of Write About is that it is not only a writing platform, but one with several thousand writing prompts! Students can then use one of those ideas that are already provided, or they can use one that is teacher-created. These responses can either be typed directly at the site with a Class setup, or used as daily writing prompts for your students.

100 Word Stories

An additional way to practice writing is to stretch a student's creativity by placing unfamiliar limits on their writing. An example of this is the 100 Word Story. This is a collection of stories written using exactly 100 words. A terrific part of this website is the "Photo Prompt." This is where a realistic photo has been submitted and it asks students to come up with an explanation of the photo in precisely 100 words. Other prompts for these stories include fictional stories, essays, and even book reviews.

6 Word Stories

If you would like to limit your students even further, have them try a 6 Word Story. This is a site dedicated to enhancing creativity by placing a strong limit on the number of words a story can have. Ernest Hemingway's famous 6 word story, "Baby shoes. For sale. Never worn." rips at the heart of the reader, but encompasses its intended meaning in such a short phrase. There are categories available for students to choose from, and can be written on any subject the student decides.

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