Zombies Inspire @evernote @postachio #writing #edtech

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Are you a new teacher looking for writing ideas to share with your students? Or, perhaps, an experienced teacher hoping to inspire students with a twist on traditional writing approaches? Be sure to check out Literacy Today, a site curated by school district literacy specialist, Jananne Healey. Jananne writes the following:

It's not always easy inspiring your students to write.  Some students simply push back and say, "Nothing ever happens to me..."  Here are some wonderful ideas that just might spark an idea and make them excited about writing.  Writing Ideas

You can find Writing Ideas online at Literacy Today. What you may not know is how easy it is to adapt writing ideas with technology to make them a must-do activity for your students!  John Spencer (Education Rethink) is one of the sources for writing ideas that Jananne points to; here’s one of his examples:

Follow this easy 3 step guide to adapt writing ideas, and/or lessons, with technology:
Step 1 - Explore the Writing Idea or Lesson!
“Is this something worth doing?” I don’t know about you, but getting students to underline adverbs and adjectives in a piece of writing isn’t worth the time and effort…doing it on a computer or mobile device (e.g. iPad, Chromebook, smartphone) is just throwing quality time and effort after bad. When I look for writing ideas to implement, I want ideas that would sink my hooks into me as a human being who writes to learn more deeply, that allows me a deeper level of expression.

Writing Idea Connection: With the instruction manual for zombie care, I would dearly love to prime the pump with students. For example, you might read from a copy of The Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies by Mac Montadon. And, there’s a lot to cover in this Goodreads.com list of young adult zombie fiction.

Once you’re done getting them all excited, why not dig a little deeper? (get it? dig…). Many zombie tales involve destruction at the end of the world, but zombie care involves solution-finding. In fact, several books take the perspective of what to do AFTER a zombie apocalypse has been solved and everything is back to “normal.” What to do with rehabilitated zombies? The ideas are, while not endless, certainly worth getting into the guts of.

Step 2 - Connect and Collaborate or vice versa!
As exciting as writing a journal is, once you get past the daily excitement of finding out what you’re thinking, playing with words, the first thing most writers look for is an audience. And, that audience isn’t just their teacher or mentor. As a writer, I’m thrilled at the idea that someone is going to be reading my writing. That’s why it’s important to look for ideas that make it easy to connect and collaborate with others. No part of the writing process is sacred—all of it can become an opportunity to connect and collaborate with others at a distance.

Ask yourself then, if the writing idea has potential for sharing. One of my favorite approaches to writing tales was one Clay Burell took with Thousand and One Flat World Tales. He gave it a modern twist:

Tell the aliens a good tale from earth, or face your country’s annihilation….
[Read more]

Using his blog and social media (you could use Twitter, G+, or Facebook, of course), Clay was able to solicit participating classes from around the world to capture stories from around the world. Simply, his students were able to read stories from other groups of students because they posted their work online.

These days, it’s quite easy to connect with other educators. All you really need is a Twitter account and follow fellow Language Arts/Writing teachers. You may also want to build a “virtual space” that can serve as a hub for posting content. One of my favorite tools to use is increasingly Evernote and Postach.io (a blogging platform based off of Evernote). You create a free Postach.io account, then use that to capture student writing.

In the old days, students would have to be granted access to a wiki, GoogleDoc, or whatever. Now, using Evernote, you can share an email address that people can send content to and add #notebookname (replacing #notebookname with the Postach.io notebook in Evernote). Then, the teacher can add the “published” tag to those entries that are ready to be worked on. With an Evernote Premium account, the teacher can invite other educators to have rights to assist with publishing, or better yet, invite students to do it. As Amy Stengel (NorthEast School of the Arts (NESA) in San Antonio, Texas, USA) put it, The more I do, the less my students will. That’s why I’ve learned to turn over responsibility for the student publication completely to them! (a poor paraphrase)

Writing Idea Connection: Connecting and collaborating with other writers around the world shouldn’t be an issue. For example, what are zombies like in India? Pakistan? Italy? New Zealand? Canada? Will taking care of zombies take on a cultural difference or significance in countries where caring for family members in your home is a priority?

Note: Find out more about Postachio and Evernote for Education online

Step 3 - Media-SIZE It!
While many would argue that the primary goal of writing isn’t to publish, but rather, to think through new ideas, bring order to chaos, whether that be in fiction or non-fiction, publishing is a lot of fun. But with the Web so easy to share content on with the world, many of us need to start thinking about how to take actions with traditional activities that go beyond the classroom.

Tip: Evernote makes it easy to include audio in your “notes” that can be saved into your Postach.io notebook. Those MP3 audio files are automatically shared by Postach.io, and appear beautifully embedded in a Postach.io blog entry. Read more

You know what I mean, I’m sure. Walk into any school, you’ll see traditional posters and handwritten pieces of paper doomed to be thrown away in a month or so, buried beneath mounds of paper bodies. You can lengthen the life of student work by publishing it online in written format, but you can also take advantage of multimedia.

Whether you are using a computer, Chromebook or iPad, you can easily publish writing and add audio to it. You can extend that activity by having students script their writing, or even, creating animation, video and making that available. Instead of just a print instruction manual, you now have a multimedia manual of awesome ideas.

Writing Idea Connection: Now that you are featuring students manual on how to take care of zombies via your online Evernote+Postach.io site, why not do some interviews? Students can record audio interviews—as well as connect with other students outside of class, around the world using Skype or Google Hangouts—and share those, too. Read more about how to do this with Evernote and Postach.io online.

Ham it up a little and have a conversation about how tough taking care of a zombie is. Maybe, two people can play “Ain’t it Awful?” about what’s involved in zombie care (e.g. missing digits, muddy footprints on the kitchen floor, lack of bodily fluid control) and share that interview. Of course, they would have to “script that interview out” and practice “quality interview techniques.”

Lots of possible ideas for enhancing writing in the classroom with technology, but tools like Evernote and Postach.io make it easy to collect student writing and then quickly share it online with a world waiting for new writers to rise up.

Twitter: @mguhlin

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