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How to Motivate More (And Better!) Writing With Blended Learning

How to Motivate More (And Better!) Writing With Blended Learning

By Jessica Sanders

Blended learning is the perfect solution for every teacher, whether your school can’t afford enough technology to go completely digital or you simply believe that technology is an important part of the modern classroom.

While blended learning can improve any lesson or unit, it’s especially beneficial with writing. Writing is challenging for many students, and blended learning makes it more attractive and less daunting. Using tools that engage students and gamify the learning experience to motivate them to do it more often, becoming better writers in the process.

Gamify Writing

Blend it: Use gamified tools to reward students for their writing.

Gamification has been used in the classroom for decades, and with technology, it’s even easier (and more fun!) to use. With gamification tools, students are rewarded for completing certain tasks, can level up within the program, earn badges and compete with classmates. All of these features motivate students to work harder, and in this case, write more.

Try It: 750Words 

While this website was not designed for students, it’s a great way to get them writing every single day. The idea is simple: students write 750 every day, in their own private “notebook,” helping them to develop, not only a habit of writing, but their own style and voice.

If students write anything at all, they receive 1 point. If they write the daily allotment, 750 words (or more), they get 2 points. If they get on a writing streak, putting “words to paper” for more than two days, they get even more points.

They’re also able to access a variety of data sets that tell them all about their writing, from words per minute to time spent typing and number of words written that day. All of these gamified features will encourage friendly competition and motivate students to write as much as possible. 

Data

Blend it: Use data to personalize lessons and recommendations. 

Big data, personalized learning… these phrases may sound daunting, but in the world of blended learning, they’re your best friends. When students use technology to write, you’re able to gather information that allows you to cater lessons and assignments to what they need specifically.

This helps to make them more confident learners and better writers. When students feel confident in the work they do, they’re intrinsically motivated to do it more often.

Try It: Whooo’s Reading

This K-8 tool allows students to log their reading and answer standards-aligned questions about what they just read; each question is tied to a specific writing anchor. The questions are open-ended to promote critical thinking, and students can choose from one of three question categories: book review, blog post or comprehension question.

All responses go to you, where you’re able to give them a score and provide private, immediate feedback. While this will allow you to collect some unstructured data on how each student is writing, the Data Dashboard is where you’ll get the most valuable information.

Within the data dashboard, simple graphs show you who is excelling or falling behind within each writing anchor. You can also see a class-wide and individual data on average response scores, number of responses written and more. With this information you can provide students with the materials they need to improve within certain standards or help them find more challenging reading material so they can excel. 

Provide Students With an Authentic Audience

Blend it: Use an authentic audience to inspire students and motivate them to write for a greater purpose.

When students write a traditional book report, it’s seen only by you, and perhaps by a tutor or parent who helped them write it. When they know their friends, family and perhaps even people they don’t know can see their writing, there are more inclined to do a better job.

Using an online platform also allows students to write more often because it’s easy for them to access. You could assign a bi-weekly blog post—requiring even just a paragraph or two—on a subject students learned about in class or a current event.

Try It: Edublogs

Blogging is one of the easiest ways to get students writing for an authentic audience, while learning a variety of other skills such as how to choose online media, how to work within WordPress, and how to reference sources in a blog format. Edublogs was designed for use in a school setting and is therefore safer, with a number of admin features that allow you to ensure students are using the tool appropriately.

Pair blogging with an app like Writing Prompts, which provides students with 600 creative writing prompts, in the form of text, images, colors, genres and more.

For a truly authentic audience, have your students write on Figment, an online community of teens who write and critique each other’s work.

Engagement

Blend it: Use engaging apps and tech tools to keep students excited about writing.

Engagement is the name of the game at a time where students are more distracted than ever before—cue video games, social media and YouTube. However, you can use this to your advantage by bringing engagement-based learning tools into your classroom. While many tools aim to engage students, not all are effective, so finding the right one to truly motivate your students is the challenge.

Try It: Magnet Poetry Kit

If you’ve ever seen word magnets on a refrigerator, then this will be familiar to you, and likely your students. Students start with a little more than 20 word magnets that they have to drag and drop to create a poem. They can request more words if they’re stuck, or start over if they don’t like the finished product.

Once done with their poem, students can use a tool like Prezi, created for making presentations, for them to bring these words to life. With Prezi they can add animations, imbed videos, upload images and more.

Blended learning can transform your classroom into an exciting learning environment, motivating students to write more (and better!) than they ever have before. Consider how you can bring these tools into your lessons tomorrow!

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