The Learning Hub

Creating Math Stories

By Lynn Trompeter

I teach 3rd and 4th grade special education and am constantly making accommodations and modifications to the general education curriculum in order to teach them the same concepts, but in a way that is not so abstract.  Many of my students have learning styles that do not include worksheet work or paper/pencil activities, which is usually most of the traditional materials at this age level.  In order to match the curriculum, I create or find other resources that will help me accomplish this goal.  Most students love technology and the use of iPads so finding Write About This really added to the possibilities for me to help my students access the required curriculum.

Math Story1

In math, they needed to complete a worksheet with arrays by looking at pictures of arrays (rows of dots) and writing a multiplication sentence for it.  I wanted to take this assignment and make it more meaningful and understandable without losing the core concept.  Students had several manipulative options to work with, (play dough, tootsie rolls, toy animals, marbles, game pieces, cheerios or other cereal, beads, pebbles, macaroni noodles, etc.).

Math Story 3

After giving them an example of my own I asked them to think of a math story that included friends or family and to use the manipulative they have chosen to model it.  They created the arrays, took a picture of it, and then wrote their story with math sentence with the easy-to-use Create A Prompt feature.

Math Story 2

I really appreciate Write About This because of the versatility along with its simplicity.  It is user-friendly and easy to teach students to use.  I absolutely love the choice of creating my own prompts to fit the needs of my students!

Lynn Trompeter has taught for the last 30 years in K-8 Special Education and Preschool. She received her BA and MA in education from Morningside College, and her National Board Certification in 2010. Teaching is her passion. At school, she enjoys creating a warm, homey, creative learning environment for her students. In Lynn’s spare time she reads, writes, walks her dog, does a little gardening, swims, and even does a little roller skating. She also enjoys traveling, exploring museums and learning about other cultures.

We hope you are finding ways for your students to write across the curriculum and encourage you to share student examples with the Write About This community! -Brad

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5 Tips for Teaching Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing is one of the more complex composition pieces students have to tackle. Along with the standard features of introduction and conclusion, persuasive essays are based on presenting arguments and evidence to debate any potential counterpoints. It can often become a difficult task for students to present evidence using effective and exquisite writing. The Write About This app can help students hone in on their arguments and flesh out evidence effectively. Here are 5 tips we think can help!

1.  Prewrite using an image and/or text prompt (this can even be a custom prompt) so students can initially gauge their position on the issue.   There is a wide variety of image prompts in the gallery with accompanying tiered question prompts to choose from.  If students can’t find something they are interested in writing about, they can create their own custom prompt. photo 1

2.  Have students make lists of their arguments and all known/possible counterpoints. They should ensure each counterpoint has a valid rebuttal. This list can be completed as they gather research on the topic. Students can input their research directly into the Write About This app. photo 2

3.  Students can utilize their research and argument/counterpoint lists to participate in an informal group debate in class. This can be done orally in class or through the Write About a This app. Students can list all of their arguments and a partner can type their counterpoints after each argument. A group debate can expose students to alternative viewpoints and to practice delivering rebuttals based on evidence. To add another level of learning, partners can record their counterpoints in the Write About This app. This can provide a hybrid style of group debate that involves both written and oral formats.

4.  Review the components of a persuasive essay and allow students to work on a single component each day. This can help the student maintain writing focus and stay organized. When working on each component in isolation, they’ll have plenty of opportunity to ensure they are including substantial appropriate evidence and providing effective arguments to present their case. photo 3

5.  Compile all components into one essay. Have partners read each other’s essays and record an audio response. Did the essay change their opinion or position? Why? Listening to a response in audio format can help students work on listening and oral communication skills.

Let us know what other strategies have helped your class and as always, we look forward to seeing what your students are writing about!

Lani deGuia is a teacher, instructional technologist, and social media manager.  She has over 13 years of educational experience in traditional and online classroom settings for both K-12 and adult learners. She currently works in digital content and strategy for businesses and personally blogs at Rose Tinted Traveler.

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Capturing Children’s Imagination

By Jena Ball

Critter Kin students in action

Students in Daisy Marino’s class prepare responses to a CritterKin book.

I am an author and illustrator of children’s books that I consciously design to be more than books. I want kids to fall in love with my stories about eight goofy mixed breed mutts and come away thinking, “I can do that!” In other words, I want to both entertain and encourage kids to use what they’ve learned in the stories. For example, after reading the tale of Ricky Bobby, a special needs dog rescued from a puppy mill, kids are encouraged to use their creativity to make posters about kindness and help dogs at their local animal shelter get adopted.

These kinds of practical, hands on activities are a wonderful way to engage the whole child – heart, mind and body – and help insure that learning sticks. They are also the reason I am very picky about the kind and number of technologies I ask kids to use. Any digital tool, whether it’s a physical device or a piece of software, needs to support and enhance learning in some way. It also needs to encourage and empower children to use their imaginations and interact with the world with more than their minds. That’s why I was delighted to discover “Write About This” just as we began planning CritterKin’s first summer reading program.

The CritterKin Summer Reading Program will begin June 23rd and continue through the week of August 4th. Kids will have the chance to not only read the books, but draw, write and explore topics based on the stories as well. We are suggesting that kids who have access to iPads use the “Write About This” app to capture images and record their thoughts as they work through the activities. The example below is based on the book Poco a Poco in which an abandoned mother dog and her puppy are rescued and find their forever homes. As you might expect, the story revolves around a difficult situation that is resolved thanks to the kindness, dedication and hard work of the people involved.

Poco a Poco Happy Endings Framed

Since Poco a Poco is based on actual events, visual prompts can be created in “Write About This” that encourage kids to research the location, organizations and people involved. This not only helps bring the story alive, but expands the learning to include subjects such as geography, science and history. Being able to capture and include images and record audio in their documents personalizes and enhances the learning as well.

In short, “Write About This” is a tool that is practical, easy to use and expands a kid’s creative options. We will be using it, along with good old fashioned paper and pencil, to record and reflect our adventures reading the CritterKin books.

 

CritterKin Writing Sample

Student CritterKin response shared by Angela Moses’ 2nd Grade Class

To learn more about the CritterKin Summer Reading Program, please visit http://critterkin.com/about/critterkin-summer-reading/ and check back often for suggestions on how to use “Write About This” and other creative tools to capture your children’s imaginations and help them fall in love with reading.

Summer Reading

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How To Create A Custom Writing Prompt

The Write About This app has a huge variety of idea-sparking prompts that can inspire even the most reluctant writers.  However, there will likely be instances in your classroom where you want students to respond to a unique topic or image.  These may tie writing assignments more closely to your curriculum, allow reflection of learning from a variety of subjects or facilitate student-created inquiry.   Well, good news…because the app provides incredible versatility by allowing users to create their own image, text and audio prompts!

Here are the easy steps for students and teachers to create customized prompts:

At the app home page, click on the “Create a Prompt” button.

photo 1b

This will take you to a customization screen where you have up to three media options to input.  In Step 1, students can add a picture two ways.  They can take a picture using the iPad or pull a picture they already have on the iPad’s Camera Roll.  In Step 2, students can type a text prompt to accompany the image they added.  In Step 3, students can use the Record Audio function to record an audio prompt to match the text or provide further comment/instruction.

photo 2

In this example, a picture was taken and pulled in from the Camera Roll of the iPad.  A text prompt was typed into the Add Text area of Step 2. and then we recorded our voice reading the prompt.  Finally, make sure you select “Save to Category” to keep the prompt stored in the Custom category folder.

photo 1c

Once saved, the Custom category will open and you can select the prompt you created.

photo 3c

To respond to the prompt, students simply need to select “Write” on the bottom right-hand corner!

photo 4c

From this point, students can write, publish, and share as they can for any built-in prompt in the Write About This app!  Note that the prompts are stored on the specific iPad it was created on.  Navigate back to all custom prompts in the “Categories” page of the Write About This app by choosing the Custom icon.

photo 3b

 

We know you and your students will enjoy creating prompts across the curriculum, and have even more fun writing about them!!

 

Lani deGuia is a teacher, instructional technologist, and social media manager.  She has over 13 years of educational experience in traditional and online classroom settings for both K-12 and adult learners. She currently works in digital content and strategy for businesses and personally blogs at Rose Tinted Traveler.

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5 ways To Practice Oral Communication in World Languages

Oral communication skills have always been an important component in instruction of World Languages.  With the increase of standardized assessments in language courses across the nation, spoken communication is even more critical.  Students need to feel comfortable in speaking a second language as part of their mastery of it.  They need to be able to draw original ideas and articulate their thoughts naturally.  Integrating mobile technology with the Write About This app can help students with application of these skills.

Here are five ways you get help students to practice oral communication in World Language instruction:

Describe the Image

Students can choose an image from the Write About This app and describe anything and everything they see happening in the picture. This can be done orally to a partner, directly to the teacher, or recorded in the app using the audio feature.

Answer the Prompt

Students can find an image that they like and choose a text prompt to respond to orally.  Again, this can be recited to a partner, the teacher, or recorded in the app.  To add more complexity to the activity, the teacher can ask the student additional questions regarding the prompt or the response in order to practice dialogue.

Introduce Myself Activity

Especially at the beginning of a course, it’s a great idea to have students introduce themselves to the class.  It’s also a great way to assess what language skills the student possesses.  Students can take a picture of themselves and share their background, likes, dislikes, and other basic information orally.

Recitation

Pronunciation and articulation are also important events to spoken language.  Students can choose an image prompt and respond in writing.  They can then record their oral recitation of their written response for the teacher to assess composition and speaking skills.

 

image

Journalist Reporting

Students can take a photo of an event, location, or issue in the school using the iPad.  They can then write out a news report of what is happening.  After writing, revising, and finalizing.  Students can present this report to the class to share the latest “news” of the school.

NEW Quick Write Interface: Perfect for “iPad Reporting”!

Quick Write InterfaceWith Quick Write now available, students do not need to be filtered through a “prompt” to get started! Just snap a photo and start writing!

 

These are only five of many other ways you can integrate mobile writing while practicing oral communication.  The more chances students are provided to practice, the more comfortable they will become…and we believe that when the experience is customized and digitized that students will be more engaged!

Lani deGuia is a teacher, instructional technologist, and social media manager.  She has over 13 years of educational experience in traditional and online classroom settings for both K-12 and adult learners. She currently works in digital content and strategy for businesses and personally blogs at Rose Tinted Traveler.

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