My top 3 tools for quick collaborative writing in the classroom

Ok, so Microsoft Word is still an excellent and comprehensive tool for individual writing tasks. However, even with features like “track changes” in Word, creating and editing as team still involves some back and forth with email. Google Docs, wikis and blogs are excellent for collaborative writing but set up (i.e. student accounts) is needed. With that in mind, here are three web-based writing tools for creating a quick document in class with multiple authors. No sign up needed and our students authors can simply visit the shared web link to co-write and create.
1. Wallwisher
Create a webpage with one click. Recently updated to allow access from every possible device and includes new options like backgrounds and icons. Visually stunning but can be distracting as we know students love to customize while we’re saying “Get to the text please!”) However, the finished project does look amazing when shared as a link or image.

2. Lino It

Similar to Wallwisher but students can contribute text, picture, link or video as a sticky note. The “corkboard” background extends too. You need to create a teacher account here to share your “web canvas” to students but this one is my favourite because it is simple yet effective. In class, I can post on my Smartboard and then each student adds their a “sticky note” to our digital canvas either at the ‘board or at their computer. With my Grade Four students, I used Lino It to create a stickyboard to support our inquiry and research on Canada. As students progressed in our simulation game called “Cross Country Canada 2” where students, they were invited to add feedback, questions and discoveries to our collaborative document. This stickyboard served as a place to pose and answer questions and wonderings about our topic.
Here is a sample.

3. Primary Pad

A simple web-based word processing tool where students create a doc and invite co-authors (up to 50!). Works best when one student starts a page and then shares the address with a small group. Each group member is automatically assigned a different colour. One great feature is the time slider so you can see how the writing evolves over time. Awesome for assessing the process as well as the final product.

What I like most about these tools is that each individual, assuming they have a device in front of them, is actively writing and contributing. i.e. a group of 4 is not “crowding around” one computer. All the students have the space to share their thoughts and ideas individually but the software collects them all together. Kind of like our “chart paper” collaborations but each student gets the “marker” at the same time and has access to all the tools and resources of the computer. (i.e. spelling check, neater writing, the web etc…)

Advertisements

Two min. tech. tip #8 – Welcome to the Class Dojo!

We are all familiar with the practice of rewarding students and classes with points for specific behaviours and good practices.

Class Dojo is a free website to aid teachers to record and manage specific learning goals and behaviours to extend this practice further. Students can create their own avatars, check their points at home and their progress is easily displayed on a laptop or SMARTboard or tablet with the app.

Below is a video of a teacher using Class Dojo to start his class. At my school, I am using the same model to start my class in the computer lab and it works really well. (I created my own “tribute” video that I shared internally to help staff see this app in action.)Here is a screen capture of the video.
cd transition pic
I chose Independence (1 of 6 my skills) for the class as an area of development. When each student enters the class they immediately login to the computer and open their project. Then, they reward themselves by going up to the SMARTboard without asking and giving themselves +1 for independence and then returning to their project.

Overall, Class Dojo is an excellent tool to manage transitions especially when students are arriving at different times. It is student-friendly and a measurable record of progress and success in the classroom. I welcome your feedback and let me know if I can help get you started.

More visuals – http://www.digitalplay.info/blog/2011/11/04/reward-or-punishment-gamification-with-class-dojo/

Introduction to class dojo video for students