Digital tools to foster students’ writing skills

I just collected a few ideas about how digital tools could be useful during different stages of the writing process. Any part of the process can be trained individually or in a sequence. 

Of course each part could also easily be done with paper and pen, but using digital tools effectively helps fostering student’s writing skills (among other competences ;-)) and making the whole process of teaching writing somehow more “real life like” and sustainable. The suggested apps  are just ideas and could be replaced with the ones you prefer, also some of the apps could easily be used for different steps than the ones suggested.

Being motivated: Articles, pictures, websites, videos or books often deliver a motivating reason to write. Writing an application for all kinds of things, taking part in a competition, creating a different ending to a story, putting together a script for a film … . The real use of language tends to motivate students best.

Planning / Getting ideas together: Digital tools help students to attack any writing task more effectively. It could be done collaboratively (Padlet, BaiBoard or Docs …  are helpful here) or individually. Mindmaps (SimpleMind!, popplet, CmapTools …) or grids (containing wh-questions) are also worth a try.

Writing a first draft: Apps like Pages, Word are no surprise here. Depending on the task and the wanted outcome using Apps like Strip Design could also useful. Then students would not only have to focus on the writing but also on the composition of a comic, finding pictures etc..

Getting feedback, replanning, redrafting: Crucial to have good pieces of writing at the very end of the process. Often students stop with a first draft, hand it in and that’s it. So many times teachers give feedback and students read it, then do not take action but store the piece of writing away. Wasted time. Make your feedback count.

Digital tools help to make your feedback more accessible to your students. A learning environment like iTunesU is useful but Apps like AudioMemos also do quite well. QR-Code-based tools, which offer an audio comment  via a personalized QR-Code, help to bridge the gap between paper and screen. The screencast-feature of iOS11 could also be worth a try. Notability offers a recording function that also gives you as a teacher the chance to make your feedback heard.

Revising, editing: A bit fine-tuning here. Putting the final texts together. Depending on the original task. Making them ready to be published. Adobe Spark Page helps to create visually impressive products, BookCreator could also be used to collect the work of more students and put it into a multi-touch book with enriched content or any app to create comic strips  (Comics Head …) could be used to make a collection of comics.

Publishing: Somehow crucial to make it worthwhile. One writing for the teacher (using an exercise book) is often not very rewarding. Try a reading wall in class, create a website for a bigger writing project or start a blog (WordPress) with your students …