Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tools for Writing

Again I started this week so late. I have another course that is really fantastic. However, DigiTools course is fabulous too and I liked it so much because I can find time to explore and experiment new tools and exchange experiences with my colleagues. In this week, I tried a lot of tools concerning Creative Writing; one of my interest areas. Before I reflect on my second week, I want to tell you something that makes me a little bit sad and disappointed. You know that everyone has his/her unique ideas and experiences. What do you feel if someone copies your idea and pastes it in his/her connected world as his or hers?  .... so astonished ... so sad? I have a mixed feeling. I'm trying to forget that now and start accomplishing the second week's tasks. I'm so sorry my dear colleagues to say that, but I found myself can't complete the tasks. Maybe, talking about this matter makes me feel relaxed.

Let's start reading my reflection ...

Objectives of Week 2:

During this week, participants will 

  • explore some digital tools for writing in the classroom.
  • see examples of how these writing tools can be used in the classroom for creative writing and research projects. 
  • share ideas on how they would use those tools with their learners.

Week 2 Tasks:

Task 1: Creative Writing: Character, Setting, and Plot:

During this task, I selected three pictures (one character (1B), one setting (2A), one plot (3C)), then wrote a 50-word story-starter. 

Here is the Introduction to my story:

"So strange man with big glasses and cat eyes broke the silence of darkness and said to me "Come with me".
I felt scared and ran madly along a narrow street. Suddenly, a yellow bus stopped and somebody dragged me inside. In a minute the bus flew as a bird."

Although it seems easy to write a 50-word story-starter, it took a lot of time to make it creative and funny at the same time. I enjoyed reading my colleagues story starters. All of them are so creative and I'm eager to see how they will end up.

Task 2: Creative Writing Tools Review

In this task, I discovered some new online tools for creative writing clicking on each of the three pictures I chose for my character, setting and plot. Then, I shared two of them with my colleagues in our Edmodo Group. Here is a description of what the tools do, how I would use them, what age group I would recommend the tools for, what is unique about the tool and possible problems or limitations I see:

a) Creative Writing Prompts

It is a website including some creative writing prompts that help the students to create their stories. It gives us some starters to begin our stories. I can ask the students to choose a starter that suits them and start their story. I can type these prompts and print them for the students to choose from. This website is suitable for the intermediate (13-15) and secondary (16-18) students. However, I found some starters that suit the primary students like “Use these words in a story or a poem: grandfather, photo album, post office and folder.” I think that I can adapt them to suit all age groups. I don’t like to adopt activities. I have to add my touches. It includes varied 346 starters from easy to difficult. Thus, it matches a lot of students. One of its limitations is that all the prompts are not downloadable. You have to be online and choose your starter. You are going to point your cursor to any number, read the prompt and then write your story. So, if I’m going to use them in my classrooms. I have to type them first and then print them to the students.

b) Bitstrips for Schools

It is a cool educational tool that engages students using medium they love – comics. It is 100% web-based with nothing to install. There are hundreds of curriculum-connected activities. As I like to mix tools, I will use both the “Creative Writing Prompts” website and “Bitstrips”. After students’ selection of the suitable starters from the “Creative writing Prompts” website, I ask them to work in groups of three to create a comic narrative with at least 12 panels and multiple characters. The story will be based on the starters that they selected earlier. This narrative must include a middle (a variety of events) and an end. The narration must be in the past tense (Inspired by one of the ready-made activities included in the website of Bitsrips)

This tool is suitable for primary, intermediate, secondary, university students, and children with autism. In addition to engaging students in their learning process, it teaches them a wide range of critical skills, e.g., reading, writing, social skills, critical thinking, emotion recognition, inference-making, collaboration, and digital storytelling. Moreover, it is a safe learning environment where students can work and create. You have a news dashboard showing you the latest students’ activity. You can also find curriculum-related activities by grade, subject and popularity, assign them to your students, review their work and provide individual feedback. One of the most wonderful features is to create and share your own activities. Another feature is to add classrooms as much as you want. Each classroom includes 40 students. Unfortunately, this wonderful tool is not free. You have just 30-day free trial and after that you have to upgrade.  

Task 3:  Collaborative Writing

During this task, we explored a variety of online tools, e.g.,

I explored all these tools. Most of them are like MS Word, but online. I liked to try new things with my students. That's why I selected  MixedInk. It is very useful for educators. You have to give it a try. Anyway, for this task, I decided to use Anna Conway's starter "The two-year-old boy was trying hard to understand why his mother had turned into this narrow street they had never been to before. The street finished abruptly, and his mother stopped in a place where nothing could be seen. His mother coughed and suddenly a non-existing door opened" and this cool tool. First, you have to create an account to collaborate with me. Also, you have to watch this video ...... ....... before you start your collaboration to write A Strange Day Story. Here is the link to my story Then, I shared the link with other participants in our Edmodo Group. I'm waiting for their collaboration. 

Please wait for my next post in which I will talk about this marvelous tool 
called "MixedInk"


  1. Cheer up! you're unique. I was looking for your posts during this week and I must confess I missed you!
    Very enriching your blog. I would like to work with CREATIVE WRITING POST. See you around!

  2. Dear Azhar,

    What a thorough reflective post about week 2 and the treasures you found. Thanks for taking your time to share it with us. I was really happy to see that you've been profiting from our time together in the digital tools session.