Saturday, November 22, 2014

What I'm Doing to Improve Student Writing

I need to start this post off by saying that I'm not getting paid to write this

So, what am I do doing to improve my students writing?
Well to start off I put up their quality writing on the wall.
They have even began to ask to put up their own writing instead of me doing it for them.

In my class we have something called the "MOLA" - The Museum of Language Arts.  
Usually we just have poems in our museum but that is all changing.

We've begun to use the MOLA so often that I'm now able to tell them that they need to be writing museum quality work and they know what that is.

But, lets be honest, not everyone cares about having their work up on the wall... do they?

So I went to an inservice a few weeks ago and at it this lady quickly showed us an app.  It was a very brief introduction to it and the sad thing about this app was it required wifi to work (something we don't have at my school so I dismissed it as a good idea if only we had wifi).  
It also required an iPad and what I'm about to say will seem odd but... I forget that we have a class iPad all the time. My students use it all the time to work on their writing (maybe I'll write about that app another time) but I rarely use it and so I forget about it. 

ANYWAYS, we had been making "how to..." videos and they were handing in writing to go with it but I wasn't entirely sure how it was all going to come together... then I thought "Aurasma"

This app is really cool.
I think my students think it's magic.

Anyways, when they do a good piece of writing that is "museum worthy" I have them read  or summarize it on video.  Then I take the writing home (because we don't have wifi at the school) and upload the video to this lovely little app and take a picture of their writing to go with it.  
Then I'll bring the writing back to school and tack it up in our museum and when a student opens the app and holds the iPad up to the writing the app recognizes the writing and pulls up the video on top of the writing.  

When I showed them how the app works on Thursday I asked them who was excited to do really good quality writing so that we could take videos of them and at least half the class put up their hands.  Another quarter of them I'm sure just didn't want to admit they were excited.

Anyways, that day I finally got a bunch of quality writing assignments for their how to videos that I took home (I always have to take their writing home because I have wifi at home and therefore can upload everything at home but the actually recognition works without wifi once everything is set up).  I paired everything up and I would say we probably have about 10 how to write ups in our MOLA that are attached to a video now.  

Friday was an exciting day because they could finally watch some of their videos through the app.

When they are done their work I'll give the iPad to a small group of students (about 3 at a time) and they wander through the MOLA watching videos and reading what others in the class are up to.


They've been showing off the program to their friends in other rooms and any teacher that wanders through our room.  
I'm just so excited that they are excited.

Anyways, I found this YouTube video to help you see exactly what it does 
(we are just using it to pull up a video of the student but it appears there is so much more it can do!)

I should mention that the screen that recognizes photos comes up as soon as you open the app.  
So super easy for students to navigate because there really is nothing they have to do!

As soon as you pull the iPad away from the image the video disappears.  So in our MOLA they can walk through it and switch videos just by switching papers that they are holding it up to.

I've also told my students to either add a picture or outline their title with a colour to make it more distinguishable.  On the bottom of the screen when you take a picture of the image there is a bar that goes from red to green... it won't let you take the picture in red because it isn't distinguishable enough from other images... your goal is to get it to green but for my students most of their work has fallen under yellow which (so far) has worked out just fine for us.

You can also put the app on your iPhone (and probably iPod as well)

Oh, and best of all, the app is free!

So, in conclusion.:
My students love Aurasma
I'm sad that this iPad in my classroom isn't actually mine and is just on loan... I hope no one comes asking for it back anytime soon.

Do you think you'll try this app in your classroom?

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