Integrating technology into the writing process helps every student. Strategies can be implemented meaningfully into every step.
Pre-writing improves outcomes for students. One way in which to integrate technology to improve performance here is for students to create short slide presentations about their proposed topics. Teachers might assign the following slides:
1.) Research question
2.) Source Slides: Two online sources, one print, and one periodical. Each source is accompanied by the student's review of the source, thus requiring students to read each piece.
3.) Initial findings
This idea for a seven to ten minute presentation comes from teacher Allen Perry, as documented in "Educational Leadership" in 2004 (Yancey). His difficulty came from students waiting too long to begin a paper. By extending the pre-writing period and including kinesthetic learning through technology, he reported a greater turn-in rate as well as better papers overall.
Organizing ideas is central to good writing. There are numerous technological applications that will aid students in creating dynamic outlines that they can share with their peers and parents. Sharing plans is important because it helps students to achieve learning objectives. One online organizational tool is MindMeister. Using this software, students create online organizational maps. One teacher has his students answer KWHL questions to organize their ideas. These stand for: What do you
What do you
will you find out? What do you
(Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, 2012). The organizational template they are given is simple. There is a central box containing the Research Question. Around this box and connected to it are four bubbles, each one answering a KWHL question. Again, by putting this online, students can share their work with their families, which improves parental participation and, therefore, student achievement.
Building rubrics for students can be time-consuming and, ultimately, confusing. The formatting time alone is enough to make a teacher use the same thing over and over, or not differentiate for a new class. Online rubric-makers enable teachers to build assessment tools that they can store online, share with others, and adjust easily. RubiStar and Tech4Learning are two such websites. Both sites contain many pre-made rubrics that are customizable. Still, they also allow for creation of your own rubrics or just adjustments to theirs.
Collaborative mediums, such as blogs, allow for sharing and building of ideas, for exploration and discussion of new learning. A blog is like an informal online journal. The formality of the form changes, but a blog is frequently updated, with the latest post appearing first. Teachers use blogs in many ways. One way a blog could be used to teach a research paper would be simple. The teacher will create a blog for his or her classes. The teacher will post readings around the major topics being studied. Students will be assigned to write comments on these readings and to respond to comments by other students. Teachers, too, can comment on student contributions, creating a more authentic dialogue about a topic. Also, students and teachers can help each other with questions by linking information to their comment posts. For example, if a student is confused by the current federal law surrounding gay marriage, another student or teacher can find answers online and post the link right on the blog. This is only one way in which a blog can be used for collaboration and ideas-generation.
For students with special needs or struggling learners, word processing programs offer many useful tools. Spellchecker, word-predictors, and grammar correction tools aid students in creating polished written works.