The last session I am attending is “Redefining the Writing Process” with Beth Holland and Samantha Morra. Beth highlights the idea we all have about writing – that it’s about paper and keyboarding. Beth wrote a great article about this at Edudemic, “5 Myths About Writing with Mobile Devices.”
Now that we’re in a 2.0 world, writing has become a Digital Process. We can use tools like Google Drive to provide simultaneous feedback or even use audio comments instead of written ones. I wrote about leaving Voice Comments in Google Docs.
Beth highlights the fact that we now live in a world in which writing is becoming mobile. Not just in the sense that we can pick up and go with our material, but that we can use multiple tools to scaffold and create our pre-writing projects. Not just the output, but the input! For those that need to hand-write for thought and comprehension, you can use apps like Penultimate that allow you to incorporate it into other applications (like Evernote). In addition to written notes, you can also use voice tools like Siri to help you think about and reflect on your content. Using multiple modalities allows you to explore the writing process in multiple ways.
Sam is now speaking about the tool “Speak Selection” that can be helpful for students with learning differences. Students that are speaking back and forth with the iPad, including punctuation, involve greater interactivity with the writing process. Students have to slow down and think about various elements of writing that are normally silent. Ultimately, writing is about communication!
Another great way to use the iPad in the writing process is to MindMap. The iPad construction facilitates mind-mapping in a kinesthetic way. Students can map out their writing visually, using gestures, incorporating various media, etc.
Effective writing is also collaborative. There are many tools that you can use to make writing more collaborative, the most popular is Google Drive but there are many others (I also love Evernote for this purpose). It allows users to peer edit, see revisions, make comments, and more. There are many more ways you can provide feedback. For example, you can provide feedback via screencasting (using tools like ScreenChomp or Explain Everything).
Apple has begun to ship all new iOS devices (including iPads) with Pages. Using the technique of App Smashing (thanks Greg Kulowiecek and the great write-up by Beth on “Unleashing Creativity: App Smashing“). Beth highlights that we need to get beyond the 8.5 x 11 mindset (as stated by Shawn McCusker). Yes, the five paragraph essay has its place but writing has become so much more than that. Sam highlights that these tools can also help us to assess our students’ work – turning on speech to text, for example, can help us to explore a student’s piece in a different way.
In addition to a traditional writing project, we can use lesson plans such as digital storytelling to demonstrate mastery. I did this recently with my students, having them make documentaries about US History. Incorporating imagery and sound makes the process more involved and allows students to demonstrate multiple intelligences.
Writing does not need to be a solitary experience. It can be collaborative (just like presenting, right ladies?). With tools like Book Builder and the internet, students can collaborate with people outside of their classroom and even in another country! By creating visual elements, there is a digital literacy component. This includes exploring copyright and faire use. So, Beth asks, these are videos and little to no text – is this a “writing assignment”? Beth then asks, what about this as a poetry unit?
Not only does it explore the traditional elements of poetry (structure, meter, etc), but incorporates multiple dimensions to further explore the topic. Beth says that the iPad with its multiple modalities and mobile elements allows for students and teachers to greater explore their work and the products of others.