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We teach kids to speak real Spanish. For Life

by Erica Fischer on Feb 28, 2011

What can you do to get your students writing more?

Do you need some fresh ideas to motivate your students to write more in the target language? Your colleagues at #LangChat shared many wonderful ideas, as usual. Read on to discover fresh ideas, links to inspiring sites and even see some work samples from students.

Blogs are a great way to get your students writing independently. Many teachers encourage/require students to blog. Some students are given topics or images to generate ideas. Others are simply allowed to write freely on anything they are interested in discussing (see @SECottrell’s blog post on the case for free writing on blogs). @bselden doesn’t correct student grammar in blogs, but she does encourage upper level students to go back and update their blog post from previous years. Blogs can also serve as a hub for student portfolios.

Options for student blogs:

Places to blog:

Glogs:

  • Students can view many resources in one location and comment with Glogster. (SraSpanglish)

Writing Prompts:

  • Wordle – Find an article on a topic of interest in the target language. Highlight the text, paste into the text box on wordle.net and randomize the result until you like the layout, fonts and color scheme. Save it and send students the url. Students then have ideas, vocabulary/spelling help to assist them in their writing project. @CalicoTeach
  • Photos and Wikis: “We did wiki stories with photos. Each writing ‘team’ added funny details to the original.” @SraSpanglish
  • Photostory: free software from Microsoft @NinaTanti1
  • Taggalaxy is a favorite with so many options at one time. I use it more for speaking activities but it would be great for writing.” @NinaTanti1; @SraSpanglish used Taggalaxy to have students make a shopping list to create an ofrenda.
  • Flickr for visual prompts @SraSpanglish; for creating a visual thesaurus @maestrachevre
  • Picasa for visual prompts @SraSpanglish
  • Label pictures and annotate documents found online. @pamwesely
  • BigHugeLabs.com: Have students use free flickr ‘toys’ to create movie posters, magazine covers and inspirational posters. Samples of magazine covers: http://bit.ly/hePxFz @bselden
  • Comic Strips as writing prompts: http://zachary-jones.com/zambombazo/category/tiras-comicas/ @ZJonesSpanish
  • Animoto: Great way to get kids writing as they create video slideshows! @bselden
  • Overstream: You can add subtitles to videos. @NinaTanti1
  • Write about future plans and drop boxes http://mmehenderson.typepad.com/my_weblog/french_i/page/3/ @mme_henderson

Collaborative Sites:

  • Wikis
  • Glogster
  • Google Docs
  • Wallwisher: Add your (short) story to the #dlmonth wallwisher http://bit.ly/i5jlE5. @nnaditz
  • Voicethread: Great and easy to use kids can speak, write, video comment @NinaTanti1, @maestrachevre An interesting use of voicethread can be seen here: http://bit.ly/glOLsb @[email protected]
  • Vocaroo: @cybraryman’s Vocaroo page: http://tinyurl.com/4cehft9
  • Bubblr: a way of putting captions ie bubbles to pics @NinaTanti1
  • YouTube: Have students comment on videos can be done in conjunction with Glogster @SraSpanglish

Cartoon and Video creation sites:

  • xtranormal: Students create dialogs using provided cartoon characters who can speak and move according to the dialog you type or record. There is a free portion, and paid upgrades are available. Use it for “re-arranging” dialogue into the correct order or as a quick spontaneous writing at end of unit. You could also do a full length recap at the end of the year. @usamimi74
  • ToonDoon (aka ToonDoo) @BrunoELT Make 1 box and leave the rest blank for students to finish. @SraSpanglish
  • Options from cybraryman1’s Cartoons, Comics and Animation Sites http://tinyurl.com/4n55ckv
  • GoAnimate.com @NinaTanti1

Surveys:

  • Survey Monkey: Surveys are especially fun at the beginning of the school year as students get to know one another. @NinaTanti1
  • Polleverywhere.com: great for short written activities. Teacher posts question and can pull a stream of responses up on the SmartBoard. @beselden
  • Google Moderator is a great way for students to create questions, vote on their favorites, add comments to other questions, etc.

Digital Storybooks:

  • From Technology Tidbits: Top Ten Digital Book Creators @SECottrell
  • Storybird:@bselden learned of this site which is popular in England. Students compose storybooks in the target language.
  • Bookr (http://www.pimpampum.net/bookr/) is also a great tool for short stories. Use photos from Flickr to create digital storybooks. @mundaysa
  • Digital Storytelling Page from @cybraryman

Newspapers and Magazines Online

  • From the Tech and Learning blog: Top 10 sites for magazine/newspaper http://bit.ly/d1D0P4 @SECottrell
  • Have students write captions for online images from target language news sources.
  • Have students review movies and submit to online magazines and newspapers. Here is a review from a former student who is in France for a semester! http://www.allocine.fr/membre-galeotes7542/ @mme_henderson
  • Have students write letters to the editor regarding articles found online. @SECottrell
  • Have students write reviews of books on amazon.fr or amazon.de (for upper level) #@usamimi74
  • Back on Actualidades I used to do “Periodistas estudiantiles” http://is.gd/lq5pu2 Any one interested? @ZJonesSpanish

Synthesis Essays for Advanced Students

Connect Internationally:

  • Epals.com: Connect with students around the world @SraSpanglish
  • Twitter: Require students to tweet 2-15 times per week in the target language using the hashtags #charlando for Spanish and #parlons for French.
  • Read InnovativeEdu’s post on 5 Ideas to Connect with Real Audiences. @SECottrell
  • Do translations for International Children’s Library…fairly long process though. http://bit.ly/fzkrbf @k2quiere

Follow these amazing educators on Twitter. It is easy to find them by searching the #LangChat hashtag Twitter!

See past #LangChat posts and archives at the Language Teachers Collaborate Wiki.

Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

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