In my post, Teaching Digital Tools in Writing Workshop: Plan, Purpose, Model I wrote about being intentional and purposeful using digital tools in our teaching. Today, I want to take this a step further; I want to place the purpose and intention in the hands of the writers.
As writers, we gravitate to tools that allow us to write our stories freely and without worry of how to use the tool. A few days ago while working with a first-grade class, I noticed a student had abandoned his iPad and retreated to writing in his journal. When I asked him why he had changed tools, the boy shyly replied, “I just don’t know how to type in Pixie. I think I will do better in my journal.” This young writer was telling me he knew he wasn’t ready to use the digital app. He identified himself as a writer and stayed true to his needs. Isn’t this what we want for all our writers?
Digital tools add opportunities to our writing, opportunities that can motivate and inspire writers. The reach of digital tools allows writers to receive and give feedback, share beyond their classroom, publish to an authentic audience, and build a writing community. So how do we make sure our writers are ready?
Exploring these digital tools and how they support us as writers is the first step. Acquiring knowledge of the app and its features can help writers work freely and lift the level of their work. Set aside time in your classroom when your students can use digital tools with the purpose of thinking like a writer. Guide students to ask themselves, “How can this tool help me share my story?”
Set the stage for app exploration time, ask kids to think about the paper in writing workshop. Now, imagine your paper CAN DO MORE! What would you want your paper to do? Chart the features across the top of the chart and apps that create down the left, and let the students explore.
Don’t forget to close your exploration time by sharing out what students have learned about the apps. You’ll likely discover one student’s sharing inspires another student. Soon you’ll have a classroom of experts eager and willing to support others!