Writing with a purpose

Danielle Bayes

Danielle Bayes is an IMS expert and writes regular articles about supporting learning with technology.

Danielle is an experienced teacher, having worked with pupils of all ages both in schools and as the eLearning teacher at one of the country’s City Learning Centres. Her expertise with using technology to support learning led her to work for Crick Software, where she is now the Curriculum Support Consultant, leading school INSET training with their software and creating print and video online support materials.

Crick Software’s aim is to help every pupil to achieve success by providing inclusive educational software for all ages and abilities, including struggling readers and writers, and those with special needs. Their flagship product Clicker is the innovative reading and writing tool which has enjoyed tremendous success in helping pupils to achieve rapid and permanent gains in their levels of literacy. For older students WriteOnline offers more support than any other word processor and has already made a huge impact on the education industry. They are also the creators of a range of acclaimed Powered by Clicker learning resources.

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Letters, newspaper reports, arguments, recounts, sets of instructions, stories and much, much more. Children are writing every day, but who gets to read their finished pieces?

Today’s learners have at their fingertips the opportunity to not only write for a genuinely global audience, but also to be the audience for somebody else’s work. Take a look at some of the exciting ways that your children can find a real audience for their work every day.

Write To Them

www.writetothem.com will tell you the names of your district councillor, county councillor, MP and MEP once you’ve provided your postcode. Simply click on the name of the person you wish to write to and you can send them an email directly from the site. A great way to send persuasive arguments to people who can actually make a difference.

Blogging

Blogging in schools has seen a sharp increase over the last couple of years. In 2006 I started a blog with my Year 4 class and saw first-hand the difference it made to my pupils straight away, as they realised that the whole word could potentially see what they were writing. It quickly became an easy way for my class to submit their homework and to show off what they were learning, and we found that parents visited the blog often. We added a widget to the blog that let us see where in the world our visitors were coming from, and placed a pin in our classroom map for each one. My class couldn’t wait to learn about the different place their readers were from. Even now, with the children in Year 9 at different schools, they still visit the blog to interact with each other (and me!). If you’re looking for great examples of class blogs take a look at what Leamore Primary and Bearwood School are doing.

Recently, thanks to the enterprising nature of David Mitchell, Deputy Headteacher at Heathfield Primary School, the concept of Quadblogging has been born. Here, class blogs from around the world are grouped into 4s and work through a four week cycle. The four blogs take it in turns to be the focus of the quad, one week at a time. This not only means that children are guaranteed a spike in their audience that week, but it also gives them the chance to write quality comments about other pupils’ work during the other three weeks.

Last month, the idea went one stage further with Feb29th.net described as ‘the world’s biggest blogging project’. From the minute the first time zone entered February 29th, the site was open for anyone to blog about their day. The number of blog posts written by people of all ages and nationalities is believed to be around 10,000 (and they’re still being individually moderated as I write!) and with over 20,000 unique visitors to the site, the truly global audience shared through a blog couldn’t be more obvious.

100 Word Challenge

The 100 word challenge is a project run by Julia Skinner, a retired Headteacher. The premise here is simple, each week a prompt is provided, which is sometimes a phrase and sometimes a picture. Children then write no more than 100 words in class and publish it on their class blog, linking from their post to the 100 word challenge blog. This means that every visitor to the 100 word challenge blog sees all of the links and can choose to read, and comment on, as many as they wish.

Twitter

There are hundreds of educators sharing resources and ideas on Twitter, but there are also some great classes who are using the site to tell people what they’re up to, and to share their work. Twitter is not only fantastic for sending information out, but also amazingly brilliant for getting genuine immediate responses to questions e.g. what’s the temperature in Sydney right now? Take a look at Giraffe Class’s tweets and see what they’ve been learning this week.

These resources are just some of the great ones out there, available so easily, to provide a genuine audience for today’s learners. There’s no reason for any piece of work not to be shared!

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