Now that beginning of the year assessments are almost done, some teachers are beginning to approach me about using technology in their reading and writing workshops. I am thrilled to begin working with kids and teachers to show them the power of digital literacies.
About 3 weeks ago, I chatted with Brad Wilson about an app he and Bob Armbrister designed called Write About This. Brad, a former fourth grade teacher, is an educational technology consultant with Jackson ISD in Michigan. I had a chance to explore the app today and know that I will share it with teachers in my building.
Write About This, "a visual writing prompt and creation platform" was easily navigated and one that students as young as first grade could use. The app, which costs $3.99, houses photographs, each with 3 different prompts that students can respond to. (There is also a free version). If they so wish, students can use the device's camera to take their own photos and use their own in their writing. In addition, students can add their recorded voices to their written draft. Once finished, students can save their work to My Write Abouts. My Write Abouts can be saved to the camera roll as a jpeg or video file. From that point, students can share their work with their parents and teachers via email or upload their work to Google Drive or DropBox.
Here's a quick example of the Write About I created this afternoon. I used the image provided in the app, but chose not to use the prompt. I think it's important to always give kids the choice to use the prompt or not.
I saved my final piece to my iPad's camera roll and then uploaded it to Google Drive to share here on my blog.
|There are 19 categories with many photos in each one.|
After downloading the app from the Apple Store, I spent a few minutes reading the teacher information section. From the settings page, a teacher or parent can select (or deselect) text prompts, voice prompts, spell checker, create custom prompts (I especially like this feature), share by email, delete, and choose the prompt level (there are 3 different levels). A teacher can also add student profiles.
There are 19 categories from which to choose. Each category has several different photographs that are credited to the source. In addition, each photo has 3 different writing suggestions (prompts) or students can do a free write.
|Students can choose from 3 different prompts for each photograph or do a free write about the photo.|
Students are also able to go back and edit their work if they so wish.
In addition, the authors have created Tell About This for younger children who are too young to type. They can add their voice recordings to their images.
From what I can tell, this app is for short pieces of text. I can see students and teachers using this app in different ways:
- The images can help students come up with ideas when they are stuck.
- The app could be used to help build writing fluency if used as a tool for free writes.
- The app can serve as a digital writer's notebook where young authors can save seed ideas.
- Students can share their learning in the content areas by taking a photo and recording their voices.
- Students can take a photo of pictures they've made and add text and voice. (I may try this with my kindergarten friends this week). This piece could be a response to a book they've read, a short story they've written, etc.
- Work is easily embedded into blogs, which would be great for students keeping digital portfolios.
- Students could upload their own images of a favorite place, family member etc. to write about.
- A teacher could project an image and model her thinking as she writes about the image.
- The piece of writing could also be embedded into Glogster as part of a digital multi-genre piece.
- Narrative, opinion and informational texts all lend themselves to this app.
I'll be interested to see how teachers begin to use this app in their classrooms. If you've used Write About This, please share your experiences in the comments section below.