From Markers to Emojis in Digital Writing: It’s All About the Purpose and Voice

It seems I am in a constant search of different approaches to motivate and engage Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 10.53.18 PMlearners.  I read blogs, Twitter, and keep my eyes and ears wide open!  So, last week when a colleague, @SmalleyTech asked me if I had heard about #booksnaps.  My ears perked up, and I started asking questions.  

What’s a booksnap?

Where did you hear about them?

Have you done them with students?

Do you have any examples?

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 10.22.44 PMJim explained a #booksnap as taking a picture from a book, then marking it up using a doodle pen, stickers, and avatars to express thoughts and feelings about a book.  I wanted to learn more about #Booksnaps, so I turned to @TaraMartinEDU and her blog, REAL.  Tara shares how to make #booksnaps, reasons to create #booksnaps, and a few examples along with how this idea was inspired by her fifteen-year-old son’s Snaphat use!

As Jim shared, my mind went right to the way kids adore using emojis in digital writing, and I  knew creating a booksnap as a way of sharing thinking about reading would be highly motivating.  I was excited about this purposeful opportunity to bless the students’ love of emojis!  Booksnaps gave me an excellent opportunity to teach students how and why to use emojis and markups to express their voice.

My head was spinning and the next thing I knew I was wondering how the allure of emojis and marking up could lift student voice and motivation in writing.  Digital writers are begging to use emojis in blog comments, blog posts, and digital writing and now here I am looking at a purposeful way to TEACH young writers HOW to write with emojis.

While Tara Martin began her journey with Snapchat, I turned to Pic Collage, Kid Blog, and Pixie for our booksnaps and digital writing.  These tools allow students to take photos, doodle, and type.  Just enough to get us sharing our thinking in new and expressive ways without getting overwhelmed by the tool. Our goal is to make the tool work for us, not us working for the tool.

Learning to write in digital ways is just the beginning of becoming a digital reader.  As we teach our students about the purpose behind the choices digital authors make, they can begin to recognize and understand these craft techniques as they read digitally.

A Few Reasons To Use Emojis, Mark UPs, and Avatars in Digital Writing:

  • Learn the techniques of digital writing
  • Understand the meaning and purpose of digital tools
  • Entice readers
  • Express feeling
  • Draw attention to important details
  • Show transitions
  • Add mood
  • Highlight evidence
  • Support the reader
  • Emphasize points
  • Call attention to supporting evidence
  • Create effects
  • Increase interest
  • Mimic authors we read
  • Highlight words, language, foreshadowing events
  • Motivate the writer and the reader and MANY MORE!

So, after a week or two of booksnapping, we’re moving on to writing with emojis, mark Ups, and Avatars in our Digital Writing. These tools offer motivation, choice, and voice in our digital writing.  I hope you’ll join us on this journey and share with us!  If you do, please share your student’s writing on Twitter using #TWTBlog, and #BookSnaps so we can all learn together!

To learn more about booksnaps, follow #booksnaps on Twitter and visit check out this how to post on her blog, REAL. I am looking forward to seeing classrooms of excited and purposeful digital writers!  Welcoming emojis and the doodle pen to the writing workshop offers new opportunities to motivate and engage writers.