How to Find the Best #edtech for Your Class or School, 1st Steps

Best #edtech for your school or class - Writing with Design

Whether you follow the the #edtechtimes on Twitter or you have the #edtech Magazine as your homepage, you’ve probably noticed how big the trend is becoming. And in the 21st Century, it makes perfect sense for teachers and principals to consider how technology can play a role in their classrooms and schools.

But as educators, you’re probably also casting a critical eye to any tool you use to ensure it’s working for you and your students.  As an #edtech company ourselves, Writing with Design knows how important it is to provide educators with the tech tools they need to get the job done. At the same time, we’re also bringing you the tips you need to choose which piece of software or which latest app is right for you and your students.

Write out what challenges you’d like your #edtech to address

It’s essential to understand what needs your #edtech will be addressing in the classroom. For example, for Writing with Design, our #edtech helps teachers create articulate, adept, and analytical young writers of any grade level.

Research all the different options that are available to you

Typically, each type of challenge has a few contenders offering their solutions. A few different ways you can find them is by asking fellow educators, hitting the #edtech hashtag on Twitter, or browsing one of the sites we listed above.

Set your budget and compare the prices against each other

While price isn’t always the most important factor, it will definitely guide many educators in their decision. This will also help you understand how your choices stack up and whether a few extra bells and whistles are worth it.

Make a list of key questions for your #edtech

First and foremost, your top question should be about the data behind the #edtech. At Writing with Design, we’re extremely proud of the measurable results our resources provide writing teachers. But you’ll also want to ask what devices are supported, how it matches up with your teaching philosophy, and more.

Stay tuned, because we’re not done helping you choose your #edtech just yet!

Even more Teacher Tips for Re-charging During Summer

Teacher blog - Writing with Design.jpeg

First, your friends at Writing with Design shared 5 tips to make summer a time of re-energizing for you teachers. Then we shared 3 more outstanding ideas to give you some additional ideas, and now, we’re bringing you even more teacher tips to give you an awesome summer full of energy.

Start a teaching blog

Summertime is one of the best times to start a teacher blog. If you’ve been considering it, the extra time during the break can give you a chance to research what the best options are for you. You can also create a list of possible articles for your first few months of the new school year, all without worrying about juggling your classes right now.

Meet with your fellow educators

Even though we suggested connecting with the educator community digitally, it’s also a wonderful idea to get together in person with a few teacher friends. You can meet over a cup of coffee or even for a night out. This way, you get to create a stronger connection by focusing on getting to know one another better.

Check out some new #edtech

There are numerous #edtech companies out there that can really transform your classroom into a powerhouse of creativity and success. In fact, Writing with Design is one of them. Check out our store for access to our writing software. Not only does it help teachers create adept young writers, it can also bring a smile to your face this summer! 😊

We want to hear from you… what’s your favorite way to de-stress during the summertime?

3 More Summertime Tips to Help Teachers Re-charge

Teacher tips - Writing with Design

Recently, we saw how important it is for teachers to re-charge during the summer. We also discovered a handful of excellent ideas to make it happen. Well, today, your friends at Writing with Design are bringing you 3 more tips to de-stress, refocus, and energize during the break. And best of all, they’re perfect for teachers!  

Run a movie marathon with your friends

Probably one of the best ways to just “veg out” is to enjoy a film or two. Whether you invite your friends over, fellow teachers, family, or just someone special, this one is a fool-proof way to relax a bit.

Explore sites like Instructables

And when you’re done binge watching your favorite films or TV shows, this one provides an educational way to de-stress. Sites like Instructables allow you to explore your own creativity in a fun way. Plus, you might even find ideas for your class for next school year.

Stay away from your screen

Today, it’s easy to get glued to a screen for a large portion of the day. Constant updates from social media, frequent text messages, and plenty more. It might sound crazy, but try turning your phone off for a day or even a whole weekend to allow yourself to step back and re-focus.

If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to check out our other 5 tips to make your summer totally relaxing!

5 Tips to Re-Charge During Your Summer, Just for Teachers

Re-charge During Summer, Teachers - Writing with Design

It’s not just the students! Now that summertime is here, educators are welcoming plenty of much-needed relaxation. Even though many of us may have additional obligations, it’s especially important to de-stress, refocus, and energize. And because the Writing with Design team is with you every step of the way, we have 8 tips to help you do just that during your teacher summer. 😊

Celebrate your “wins”

Whether you’re a new teacher or a seasoned veteran, you’ll find that each school year has its own special “wins,” those successes that made you feel completely on top of the world. Celebrate them! You’ve faced obstacles, changed lives, and finished this school year. And you’re awesome for it!

Take time to daydream

As educators, we’re often juggling many, many multiple things during our day. Sometimes, we can forget to enjoy just daydreaming and allowing our minds to wander. But it’s healthy for your brain to do so!

Enjoy your favorite meal during a night out

Equally true, we have a habit of munching on granola bars and other less than adequate food during our teaching week. Taking time out to savor our favorite meal at a good restaurant can be a fine way to de-stress and re-charge.

Find a weekend to get lost in a new book

As educators, we’re also learners. And nothing can be more relaxing than diving into a new book and just letting a weekend slip by while sitting in a cozy spot.  

Connect to the digital education community

Even though it’s summer, the education community on Twitter and Facebook is still fired up! And now is the perfect time to connect to fellow educators throughout the country for talk on your favorite subjects. There’s #2ndaryELA chat, #edtechchat #ntchat. You name it, and there’s probably an education chat for it. This allows you to sit back and just… chat! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Have a special way that you like to de-stress during summer? We’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment and share!

Lets Step Out of the Box, WWD Student Guest Blogger Series

Thinking outside the box by LPHR Group - Writing with Design

As we get ready for summertime, you're probably whittling away those last days in your classroom. And you're likely also looking back on what's worked and what can be improved on for next year. Well, for our continuing WWD student guest blogger series, we're bringing you 12th grader Morgan Bauer to give you a personal experience as a young student writer & a Writing with Design enthusiast. 

Let's Step Out of the Box by Morgan Bauer

In my writing journey, there has been one thing that has held me back... restrictions. For myself, being told exactly how I had to structure, map, and plan a story or essay drove me crazy. When I was handed a map and told I had to have exactly three ideas, with three certain words, I automatically knew I was put in a box.

It was not until this year that my teacher Ms. Pomaville broke out of the box and taught me ideas that helped my writing process, such as free writing and lists. I believe that if I would have been taught these unique ideas before I was a senior in high school, my writing could have excelled even more. 

So ultimately, I would advise teachers to give your students freedom to chose how they will brainstorm (since not every kid thinks the same way). I know you'll be amazed by how this one simple trick will allow your students to excel.

I do believe that chats are also helpful, but let them choose what type and how many bubbles to use or branches in a tree when they're planning their writing. Just stepping out of the normal box causes students to have to think: How do I learn? What will help me in the world?

Next fall, when I begin college, I will not have to go through a trial and error of what works for me, because one of my teachers stepped outside the box, so I can now excel all on my own.

3 More Tips for Keeping Your Students Writing Through the Summer

Summer Writing - Writing with Design

Earlier in the week, we shared 4 tips on how you can encourage your students to continue writing all summer long. But the Writing with Design team is all about getting teachers even more tools to create adept, confident writers in their classrooms! So here’s 3 more tips to keep them writing, even during the summer.

Need even more strategies and tools for your writing class? Check out the Writing with Design store!

Keep Your Students Writing All Summer Long

Keep Students Writing - Writing with Design

Summertime! For teachers and students, it’s a time we all look forward to. You can recharge, refocus, and get ready to re-engage for another year.

Still, because we want to encourage our students to embrace a life of writing, we also want to encourage them to continue into the summer. But how do you motivate them to write, write, write when school isn’t in session? These tips from the Writing with Design team!

  • Set up personal blogs with them and tell them you’ll continue to follow theirs all summer.
  • Present them with bullet journals and ask them to document their summer adventures.
  • Connect them to a local creative writing group, where they can meet fellow writers.
  • Send them an exciting weekly writing prompt by email and ask them to share their work.

What’s your favorite tip for inspiring a lifelong passion for writing in your students?

Cutting the Fluff During Essay Writing

Cutting the Fluff by crdotx - Writing with Design

Probably every ELA teacher in the world has experienced this one once or twice... you collect a class' set of essays only to discover multiple students filled their essays with... fluff. In many cases, the students may have intended well, but simply fell back on a strategy that made sense to them. After all, if you just need those few more lines to finish that last page of writing... adding some fluff is the perfect way to close the gap!

Or is it? Obviously, as writing teachers and coaches, we know there's a better way. Still, sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint for a student exactly how they can make the switch from fluff to higher quality writing. But have no fear! The Writing with Design team is here to offer you some practical tips and advice.

  • First, let them know that cutting fluff will make their ideas shine even more.
  • Explain or model ideal sentence length, where every sentence is the right length to express a singular idea.
  • Let them know they can skip fluff words like "very," "just," "actually," and "basically" that don't add to the meaning of a sentence.
  • Hone in on sentences that are descriptive, precise, and concise. Be sure to draw examples from their own writing.
  • Ask them to skip redundant sentences that aren't being used to remind the reader of a previous point.

What about you, what are your best tips for eliminating fluff in student writing?

 

4 Tips for Spreading a Culture of Writing at Your School

Spreading a culture of writing - Writing with Design

One of the foundational values for the Writing with Design team is pretty simple, but totally huge. When it comes to teaching young writers in your school… doesn’t it make sense to foster an entire culture of writing at your school?

Imagine it: students sharing their poetry together in spoken-word sessions, hip-hop lyric writers incorporating Shakespeare into their songs, and students writing passionate essays about… well, everything. From today’s political activism to cutting-edge technology discoveries—no topic will be off limits. So how do you make it happen? Here’s 4 tips:

  • Walk across the hall! By pairing up with your fellow teachers, you’re bringing in science, math, psychology and so much more.
  • Meet with your students for 1-on-1 conferences to discuss what excites them. Then let them explore those topics in their writing!
  • ·Understand, that today, communication is rapidly changing. Look to how you can incorporate your school’s social media into your writing class. You can even start a student-run school blog!
  • Grab tools that allow you to self-publish your students’ work in your classroom. Then get with your school librarian to create a local, school authors section in your library.

Want to really encourage a culture of writing at your school? Check out our shop for writing tools that will help you unite fellow teachers, create adept writers, and save the day!

Even More Tips on Encouraging Confidence in Your Young Writers

Encouraging Confidence in Young Writers - Writing with Design

Confidence is a huge part of writing, especially for the young writers in your class. And as you can see by our student testimonials, the Writing with Design program places a huge emphasis on fostering that confidence for each of your students.

Well, today, our team is bringing you some more of the tips you need to boost confidence and get those students writing! This way, not only will they have the tools they need with WWD, together we’ll also be spreading a culture of writing where every student has a voice that can be heard loud and clear.

Highlight Specific Success

When you celebrate your students’ writing, you’re showing them that their voices matter. While general praise is good, highlighting specific aspects where they succeeded provides a better connection. It can be how a story of theirs touched you or the particular way they worded an argument. Either way, you’re showing that the little details are important in your classroom.

Write, Write, Write

This one might seem a little obvious, but we can’t stress enough how every day writing can benefit your students’ confidence levels. Need an extra writing prompt or two right now? Check out our monthly writing contest!

Share the Struggles of Famous Writers

Over on our WWD Facebook page, we shared an interesting video for teachers. In it, billion-dollar writer J.K. Rowling shares her personal doubts about being a writer and how she overcame them. But really, it puts the writing process into perspective for everyone if even this highly successful writer can have doubts. While the video is a bit dry, it might make an excellent resource for older writers. And we’ll continue to share more of these for younger writers as well.

Teach Writing by Running Your Own Blog

Teach writing with a Teacher Blog - Writing with Design

Once you realize that writing your own teacher blog can also serve as a motivation tool for your students... well, it's like you're getting the best of both worlds. On the one hand, you're sharing your teaching journey with the world. Whether it's the challenges you're facing or the rewards you're enjoying, the fact remains the same: you're inspiring people across the globe.

At the same time, when your students see that you're truly passionate about writing yourself... they can't help but be impressed. This simple strategy can help inspire many of your younger writers, whether they have an interest in technology or journalism. Plus, when you're running your own teaching blog, you can be as flexible as you want. For example, you can bring your students into the mix as guest bloggers or have them interact in the comments. And of course, you can tell any part of your story that you need (or want) to. 

Looking for a good resource to get started? Check out Edublogs. Not only do they provide a platform for your blogging, they also deliver some pretty cool writing prompts just for teachers. And we love that!

 

Doing Good in Schools with WWD Teacher Awards

When it comes to national teacher awards, you're going to love this...

As many of you know, we recently honored Michigan educator Jennifer McCollum with Lisa's Legacy in Literature Award. For the Writing with Design team, this was an unbelievable opportunity to celebrate our educators, but also to do even more good in our schools. Well, we have some seriously extraordinary photos to share with you on how this award is directly impacting students in their everyday lives.

Happy Students - Writing with Design

Our Teacher Award Helped Fund Some Big Changes!

For Jennifer, the teacher award funds provided a chance to make a few needed updates to her special needs classroom. In addition to purchasing materials, she was also able to enhance her ELA center and reading area. Take a look at how happy her students are! This photo really made all our team members smile here at Writing with Design.

Jennifer McCollum Accepts Teacher Award - Writing with Design

Writing with Design is Founded on Supporting Teachers and Students

But we also wanted to share some of Jennifer's words. Her enthusiasm is truly touching and a testament to Lisa's own passion for teaching young people. It also lets us know that Writing with Design is making a huge difference in schools everywhere. Here's what she had to say about accepting the award:

"I am so humbled and excited to have been the first recipient of the Lisa Legacy in Literature Award ."

The entire Writing with Design team wants to thank each and everyone one of you for sending in your nominations. We're looking forward to honoring another amazing educator next year with this teacher award!

A Talented Young Writer's Story, WWD Student Guest Blogger Series

Young Writers on an Adventure - Writing with Design

At Writing with Design, we support many teachers and students throughout the country in creating a culture of writing at their schools. And really, each of these young writers has their own unique story to tell about their writing journey. Not only are they all from different backgrounds, they also have passionate opinions, compelling arguments, and original ideas.

So with that in mind, here at WWD, we're bringing you a new monthly series featuring a guest blogger. But these aren't just any guest bloggers... they're real students writing in classrooms all over the United States. And best of all, the Writing with Design team is right there alongside them, supporting their personal journey in becoming talented young writers with something to say. Without further ado... here's Carter Albrecht, a brilliant young student writer from Ms. Pomaville's class at Pinconning High School. 

Sharing a Story About Becoming a Young Writer by Carter Albrecht

Unique Point of View - Writing with Design

 Writing is an invaluable skill that is not only enjoyable, but empowering, and advancing such a skill is very rewarding. Teachers, contests, and my improved personal work ethic and ability to think freely has aided me in my journey of becoming a young writer. 

 In my beginning years of high school, I did not enjoy writing like I do now. I found that the vast majority of my written assignments were to analyse works of literature and write about the work of other people. Although these types of writings are important, I found that they more or less told you how to think and write rather than allow an individual to share personal experiences and opinions. I began to find myself in a “copy and paste” pattern as I wrote these analyses, seemingly setting up each writing the same and cloning ideas and sentence structures. It was not until my junior and senior year that I began receiving writing assignments that allowed me to speak my mind and share my personal point of view on specific topics. This new found freedom allowed me to excel as a writer as I found immense joy in sharing my thoughts. My teacher, Ms. Pomaville, and the Writing with Design monthly contests helped me broaden my skills as a writer through allowing me to express my individualized point of view. Through WWD, I had the opportunity to write my own scary story, talk about hot button issues, and come up with an original business plan.  

An unrestricted style of writing is what I strive to excel at, and it's the main reason I fell in love with writing in the first place. I am excited to keep developing my skills and share my personal opinions at the college level next fall.  

And Now... Your May Writing Contest!

Of course, while we've seen some outstanding poetry from your young writers, we're not done yet! Your May writing contest is here!

Because this month represents an opportunity to celebrate our teachers during National Teacher Appreciation Week, we knew exactly what theme to use. Really though, May's writing contest is also an exceptional chance for you to bring your students writing prompts with a focus on storytelling. As they share their learning experiences, they're also diving into what matters when it comes to sharing knowledge, encouraging new ideas, and lifting people up. And they're doing it all while honoring the impact our educators have in our communities. 

So, grab some writing prompts, get those students writing, and send in those entries!

May Writing Contest

Your April Writing Contest Winners

Please join us in congratulating our student writers and their teachers for our April writing contest! We had some phenomenal poetry that showed imagination and a passion for thinking outside the box. From novel metaphors to ironic quips, the poems we read showcased how young writers have a creative flare that's impressive. But really, we also want to congratulate all of you for spreading a culture of writing at your school!

2 Digital Tools to Bring Your Students Current Events & More

Bringing Students Current Events and More - Writing with Design.jpg

As we teach the writing process, we also want to be able to bring our students current events, as well as access to trends in science, technology, art, and more. After all, being able to regularly read about what’s going on in the world, and from trusted sources, also allows them to have more ideas at their fingertips. This in turn leads to more citations in those essays, arguments made stronger by real-world examples, and a connection to everyday life. Sounds pretty incredible, right? Well, these 2 digital tools can make it happen.

Digitally Bringing Your Students Current Events

  • Google News - If you have yet to use Google News, it’s a pretty handy tool. On the site, curated and trending news is brought to you from a variety of categories. You can even customize it further to include different regions and focuses. Best of all, when you select an article, Google recommends more on the same topic from other sources.
  • Feedly - If you subscribe to a blog, chances are you do so using RSS. Without getting all fancy or technical, RSS is the standard the delivers the articles for you. And Feedly is one outstanding RSS reader for subscribing to blogs. What we love best about Feedly is that you can also easily seek out new sources that they’ve lined up for you.

Speaking of blogs, have you shared the Writing with Design blog with a teacher friend or two? Make us smile & let them know all about the great resources here!

2 Excellent Poetry Apps for Your Students

Poetry apps for students - Writing with Design

In today's world, it seems like there's an app for just about everything. Why shouldn't there be a few for reading poetry? Even better, what if these apps could help your students write poetry? Well, we have some news that you're going to simply love... 

In addition to inspiring teachers and students everywhere to cultivate a culture of writing in their schools, we always have our hear to the ground for cool writing apps. So when we found these 2 poetry apps for National Poetry Month, we knew we had to share them with you. We also love that you can download them for both iPhone and Android devices.

Poetry Apps for iPhone and Android

  • POETRY - From the Poetry Foundation itself, this app rocks. With it, you can search countless poems and even share them. It's also pretty amazing that you can shake the app and get a new poem! Android | iPhone
  • HaikuJAM - With a name like HaikuJAM, you know you're in for a ton of fun. With this app, students write their own haikus and then share them with the world. They can also read the haikus of people everywhere. Pretty sweet! Android | iPhone

Do you have a writing app that you can't get enough of? Tell us about it in the comments, so we can share it with everyone!

Last Call for April's Poetry Contest!

Your friendly reminder that tomorrow is the final day of April's poetry writing contest

We're seeing some totally awesome poems from so many of your students, and it's simply wonderful, but also truly inspiring. To see such a creative outpouring from young people is something that just can't be compared. 

Don't let your students miss out! And we can't wait to read all the entries. :)

Have a question or two about how to upload your students' entries? Leave a comment for us or connect with us on our Facebook!

4 Modern-Day Poetry Movements for Your Students

Poetry Movements for Your Students - Writing with Design

A great deal of poetry that students are exposed to tends to be before the 1900s. From Shakespeare to William Blake, these movements have many amazing poets, as well as intellectual ideas behind them.

Still, within the 20th and 21st Centuries, our world was flooded with changes as a result of innovation in communication, travel, and more. Why not introduce your students to a few poetry movements that’s a little closer in time and context?

Especially as poetry became more experimental in style and subject, it also took on the potential to really capture the attention of young people. Now, some of the poets in these movements are probably best for more mature students, even seniors, due to controversial themes. But each one is unique in its approach and mission.

Confessional Poetry

Starting in the 1950s, Confessional poetry focuses on the individual expression of a poetic self. At the same time, the movement still valued more traditional forms of craft, even as it explored autobiographical material, personal relationships, and life experiences.

The Beat Movement

From the 50s to the 60s, the beats were the counterculture movement that inspired much of the hippies that would follow them. While the subject matter can be intense at times, many of the works explore politics and social themes in a way that celebrates spontaneous and authentic voices.

Surrealism

Set earlier in the 20th Century, Surreal poetry merged disparate images into one landscape. If you’ve ever studied the paintings of Salvador Dali, you have a window into this international art movement.

Flarf Poetry

Did you say “flarf?” Yes, that’s exactly right, this poetry movement is called “Flarf.” Spawned in the 21st Century, it was a tongue-in-cheek movement that rejected traditional standards of poetry. The central poets were even known to “steal” the results of Internet searches for their poetry. It really is an out-of-this-world poetry movement that isn’t afraid to get silly.

And speaking of poetry… have you entered your students in this month’s writing contest? If not, now’s the time!

More Insight on What to Expect at a Title I Conference

A culture of writing at Title I - Writing with Design

Last week, Writing with Design founder Amber gave us great perspective about her recent trip to a Title I Conference. She shared what it’s like to connect with fellow educators during these conferences, but also the opportunity to pick up new strategies for teaching young people.

Well, we had a few more questions to ask Amber about her trip and her talk during the conference. And we knew we just had to share her answers here with you.

WWD: What inspired you most about this Title I Conference event?

A: Whether it was a superintendent from AK or a teacher from FL, I so enjoyed getting to connect with educators from across the country. The issues that student writers face span coast to coast, which has strengthened what Writing with Design offers as more and more schools use our resources and activities.

WWD: Tell us about your conference talk and engaging with the audience. What do you enjoy most about these opportunities?

A: Being invited to speak at Title I's national conference is quite a humbling experience. I love getting to share tips and tricks that plant the seeds of powerful change about writing in schools. Teachers, parent advocates, and even superintendents came up after the session was over to share insights they gained and ask about next steps.

WWD: It certainly sounds like attending a Title I Conference is awesome for spreading that culture of writing!

Amber, thank you for answering our additional questions. And for those of you in our audience, if you’d like to schedule a conversation with Amber about how Writing with Design can transform your school writing culture, get in touch with us!