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Started by anital 09 Apr 2014 11:38pm () Replies (13)

Talofa. What are e-learning tools (ICT) that can help a child that is struggling to become a motivated writer in Junior school?


  • A.Vermeulen (View all users posts) 09 Apr 2014 11:51pm ()

    Talofa....one of the greatest tools is actually discussing with the child what is it that puts them off writing and how could we make it better. I had two boys last year that kept telling me they hated writing. When I sat with the boys and we dug a little deeper it was because 1. They were told by a previous teacher that they were no good at writing and 2. That they felt ashamed that they could not come up with ideas alone. So we brainstormed ideas and from then on the two boys wrote collaboratively on either Google docs or ether pad. They drew ideas out if each other. They ended up on stage reading their writing to the school and so were so proud of their writing for the first time!! Another way is to give the students the voice and choice in what they write about. I am the teacher in charge of writing this year and have just completed some walk throughs with a large group of students. They all said a way that teachers could engage us in writing is to have guided writing Groups instead of whole class writing sessions, collaborative writing with the use of IT and choice....simple but powerful!!! Hope this helps.

    Remember that we are guide on the side and our most powerful teaching tool is children!!!

  • Roxy Hickman (View all users posts) 11 Apr 2014 11:40am ()

    Great question, and a great example from A.Vermeulen about listening to our students, sometimes they have the answers you are looking for. 

    To extend on this example, I wonder what supports and structures are in place to motivate writing?

    Writing is a pretty complex process, have you considered:

    1. What part of the writing is creating a barrier for the student? (ask them!) 

    Example: Is it the thinking of ideas, forming the sentences, spelling, holding the pencil or letter formation, understanding the instructions, interest in the subject, or as stated above they have had negative experiences with writing... etc 

    2. What is the purpose of the writing exercise? Are there other tools that the student could use to access the writing process? 

    Example: If forming ideas is important, then having neat and tidy writing is not as relevant or they may find typing easier, or even recording their voice first to get out their ideas, before putting them into writing.

    3. How are the students supported to practice their skills? 

    Example: If forming ideas is a barrier, pictures and/or videos could be used to stimulate thinking, or modelling could be used with those who need to see how to turn a brainstorm into a piece of writing or as stated above a collaborative activity.

    4. What are they writing about? Is it relevant to them and their prior knowledge and experiences? How can we tap into their interests or develop their interest in a given topic?

    There is a similar thread about Raising achievemnt for Maori boys that may also provide some inspiration for you and your students. 

    Also have a look in the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Group for further ideas, in particular: 

  • anital (View all users posts) 13 Apr 2014 9:39am ()

    Thanks to Roxy Hickman and A.Vermeulen for your great responses.

    But what I really wanted is what are e-learning tools that help a child that a struggling to become a motivated writer? (New Entrants/Year 1)

    Happy to hear from you two again with any suggestions.. Thanks again.

  • Jill Hammonds (View all users posts) 13 Apr 2014 11:32am ()

    Hi there,

    As Roxy and A.Vermeulen have stated, the tools alone are unlikely to have any lasting motivation for struggling students, unless their ability to write is also scaffolded and supported.  One way that I have used is to use Phyllis Johnston's recipe for writing where providing some "ingredients" plus modelling their use helps the students to develop and organise their ideas, and even to "borrow" a little bit of writing from the model to get them started. You can check out more about this in the "Engaging students in writing" page in the writing tab - you will see Etherpad and the Recipe for writing near the bottom of that section. I wouldn't use Etherpad with NE/yr1 but the recipe aides will work - check out the junior recipe ideas then make up more of your own.

    This section also has some tool suggestions and add to these the following to make eBooks:

    • Photostory (PCs)
    • Book Creator (iPad)
    • Write about this (iPad)
    • Storyjumper (Macs)
    • Storybird
    • PowerPoint or Keynote

    If you go to http://juniorclasses.wikispaces.com/Resources and download the News Template you can use this for your students to write in daily and you can also model writing during news time.  On PCs you can double click the blue square for the kids to draw their own picture in Paint to go with the writing.  Once completed they simply close the Paint window and the blue square is updated with their picture. With Macs you need to replace the blue square with a photo or student illustration created in an art programme such as Tux Paint.

    Remember that whatever tools you choose scaffolding, modelling and celebrating through sharing with others is really important. Nothing succeeds like success especially when it is celebrated with others. Your students need genuine audience and constructive feedback to keep them inspired and willing to try again. 

    I hope this helps.

    Cheers, Jill

  • Allanah King (View all users posts) 13 Apr 2014 11:45am ()

    I am starting to question if an eLearning Tool is the right tool for these struggling writers.

    As a motivator for wanting to write then then things like Tellagami and all manner of eLearning apps are fabulous.

    But I am not sure that in the begnning process a device is not the right tool....

    The keyboard is difficult to navigate and you have to be able to recognise letters, know what letters and words are before it makes any sense to you.

    A mobile device like a tablet is problematic as well as touching the screen with anything apart from the end of your finger or a stylus leads you in all sorts of directions.

    I have tried voice to text but struggling writers often have speech difficulties as well.

    If I was teaching little kids I would use eLearning tools to publish their writing if that's what you wanted to do- and I would do that for a start.

    And of course letter formation type applications would be fabulous as well.

    Our article below outlines how we did that very successfully.


    But as the others say I would enjoy and celebrate the writing the child is doing and I would introduce devices after basic concepts are solid.

    I would be interested to hear of other NE/Y1 teachers' experiences with very beginning writers.

     Hope I'm not stirring up a wasps' nest.

  • Jill Hammonds (View all users posts) 13 Apr 2014 1:31pm ()

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz :-)

    I can hardly believe what I'm reading - Allanah saying no to eTools LOL - that must be a first :->>

    While I'd be the first to say that the strategy is more important than the tool, I do believe that NE/Yr 1s are very able to use both keyboards and mobile devices quite confidently once they are introduced to them and allowed to get in plenty of practice. Where we sometimes confuse our judgement is when we expect perfection on a keyboard more than with the pencil. Use the same process and expectation. Have the alphabet cards out, listen to the sounds and then they have a go at choosing a letter (or letters) that they think makes that sound.  They type it in. Move onto the next sound. 

    Once the child has completed the 'writing' phase, then it's time for reshaping and editing - going back and having another try where thar red line appears (some not all) either on their own, with a buddy or with the teacher. I often printed their work at this stage and used the same conferencing process as with pencil written text. 

    After the editing/ conferencing phase I wrote the correct model underneath their attempt and published both. With eTools that publishing can be online or in an eBook used for shared and personal reading. When sharing the writing at shared reading time, invite comment and feedback from others. 

    In addition to writing with the tools you can also use the sound tools to have students recording themselves reading their stories back, thus making their text meaningful without teacher translation. 

    Experimentation and a gradual movement towards accuracy is just as possible with the technology as without, and for most kids is more engaging and rewarding because it looks good on completion where their handwritten text may not, and it is shareable with peers, family and the world. 

    Use of the camera or paint programmes also adds to the richness of the finished product. 

    Cheers, Jill

  • Allanah King (View all users posts) 13 Apr 2014 1:56pm ()

    I wasn't saying no to eTools entirely- more of the right tool for the job. I knew I would shake the tree a little by saying that.

    I think at this very early stage the pen and paper is a fabulous tool and should be used.

    I have seen quite capable pre-schoolers do great things with eTools and confidently too. 

    The eTools are a great compliment to conventional writing but not a replacement for it.

  • Brendon Stone (View all users posts) 13 Apr 2014 12:28pm ()

    Having an authentic audience is an often overlooked fundamental for developing any writer.  I feel this is where 'e-tools' such as blogs, wiki's etc have the potencial to motivate and encourage kids to 'want' to write.  In my experience, the more  opportunities kids get to share their writing, the more motivated they become to 'write'.

    Of course, one doesn't even need a 'e-tool' to do this, visiting the teacher next door with their writing book can be a great motivator, but publishing work online opens a writer up to feedback on a global scale.  At times when the kids in my class have been struggling for motivation, I've put out an invitation on my social networks for people all over the world to go onto my class blog and comment on writing.  The kids love it when they see comments from, Alice Springs, New York, London etc and it really gives them a boost.

    Giving your kids a 'purpose' for writing might be  another angle to try along with all the great advice given previously.


  • Tash Jacobs (View all users posts) 13 Apr 2014 3:34pm ()

      Wow... this has been such a fantastic post to follow over the past few days.  Thank you Anital for the original post!  I have attached a couple of readings that address the main thread of the posts above... namely engaging writers, and indeed readers, by providing authentic learning experiences.  Finding out what interests the child/children and then taking the time to formulate an authentic context is well worth it in regard to the quality of the writing at the other end.  An authentic audience and topic which engages the child, coupled with DAT are a forumla for success.

    authentic literacy activities comp & writing.pdf Purpose-based Writing.pdf

  • Roxy Hickman (View all users posts) 14 Apr 2014 1:20pm ()

    I think Anital to consolidate what everyone is saying in this post is that there is no "e-learning one stop shop". When it comes to motivating engagement, every student, classroom, teacher, school context is very different so the tools and methods can be hugely variable. It is very much about knowing your students and what makes them tick. This would be a fantastic Teaching as Inquiry question as it takes some investigation and trial and error to find the right motivator for your target students. 

    HOWEVER... I'm sure you are looking for a place to start!

    Some examples to have a look at:

    Tash shared a link to Aligning digital resources with the literacy learning progressions which may have some tools in there that your students find motivating. 

    Catriona Pene also shares a powerpoint on Engaging Reluctant Writers using e-learning tools.

    Breaking down the writing process into a goal orientated search by asking the questions I stated above will help you to narrow down what you are looking for. Make sure to critique tools and resources for what learning they support, rather than looking for those that "look like fun" or "keep them busy" but have minimal scaffolds and links to the learning intentions. 

    Again use these tools in consultation with your students. Talk with them to find out which tools they find motivating and why? That way exploration of resources will be easier with more specific and focussed search.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 14 Apr 2014 1:34pm ()

    Hi Roxy, this link isn't working for me? Aligning digital resouses with the literacy learning progressions is there something I need to do?

  • Roxy Hickman (View all users posts) 14 Apr 2014 1:54pm ()

    Hi Tessa, sorry it was within a closed group post. Here is the external link to the e-learning BOP Literacy Progressions wiki

    I like how they give examples of how the e-learning tools have been used within the classroom for each level. It does appear to have been created before iPads were introduced to schools. 

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