BY: Daisy Marino
Last April my school embarked upon the new adventure of 1:1 iPads in the classroom. Of course, we all went on a mad app buying spree. We bought all the cute educational games, a few apps for class management and productivity, and we deemed ourselves ready to roll. It didn’t take me long to realize that this was not what was intended for a “1:1” classroom. The whole point of this new technology was to seamlessly integrate the iPad into the class while making it seem as normal as possible. In most cases, the iPad would now be the pencil and paper. The iPad was to be used as a tool to enhance productivity and learning among students, not as a baby-sitter or a place for games to be played.
Once I had my epiphany, I started looking and searching…searching and looking…for any and every writing app that could possibly help in my 4th grade writing class. And I did not find ANYTHING! When conducting my search I found grammar games and actual writing apps (the ones where toddlers trace letters) that were much too young for my nine and ten year olds. I was bummed. Then I went to iPadpalooza and was introduced to “Write About This” by @iPadSammy and @TechChef4U. And it was for ME! It was for every writing teacher in the room. This was our app. I seriously wanted to do cartwheels down the aisle.
This is the perfect app for any writing teacher and lesson. It integrates the iPad smoothly into the class. It is not a game. It is not a baby-sitter. This is a true blue app for writing that can be used daily to work on any skills or standards that we need to attack that particular day. The wheels started turning in my head that day in July, and right then and there I started making lesson plans. This was one of the first apps that I introduced to my students this year. It is so incredibly user friendly that I only needed to teach how to use the app once. After that, the app has transferred into our pencil and paper. We use it for poetry, grammar skills, and of course our narratives and expository papers.
I think sometimes teachers are so concerned with having to teach the “tech” that they do not branch out and bring new things into their classroom. I urge any teacher to take just one day and teach a quick how-to on Write About This. You will be amazed at the possibilities. Not only can my students write their papers and poetry in app, they can then e-mail it directly to me. Easily! I love this app because it is easy for my students to use, and it targets the key components of writing. My students love this app because it is bright, colorful, it’s on the iPad, and they can e-mail their work to their parents. It makes them feel very grown-up, and that’s a good thing. They want to send their parents a great paper, so they work extremely hard.
Not only does this app have built in prompts and pictures, it also has the option to import your own picture. As a 4th grade teacher in Texas this feature has been indispensable. Some days we build our own prompts to mimic the STAAR test, but most days we use the vibrant, detailed pictures that Write About This already has included. So much creativity. So much imagination. And so much love for Write About This.