Maybe I am getting old… but I feel like old schooler who just hates change, or at least scared of it!
The number of tools, resources and information can be totally overwhelming to me! I still don’t understand google drive for goodness sakes! I think I’ve uploaded a file and then bam it’s disappeared somewhere! I truly loved using SeeSaw for communication and lessons and activities during online learning. However, the request to transition to Edsby this year wasn’t the smoothest for me!
That being said, I cannot blame technology! I can only blame myself for not diving in and embracing such changes!
So as I decided to take EC&I834 this semester, a rush of anxiety came over me and at the same time a no brainer, as this world adapts there is no time like the present to adapt along with it.
This week our task was to choose an online tool, play around, have some fun and think of the benefits and challenges it would provide in a learning environment.
Well let me tell you as soon as I opened the (never-ending) list, I was faced with the challenge of what to choose!
I clicked around and here are a few I tried:
JamBoard– Signed up but didn’t really know where to start!
EDPuzzle– Lots of good videos and questions/ quiz to enhance comprehension.
Adobe Creative Cloud– Super cool platform for presentations, but not really for the grade 1 and 2’s I work with.
The one I was pleased to stumble upon was BoomWriter. Writing can be one of the most challenging subjects for my grade ½’s. Their stamina, ability to generate original ideas, confidence and general engagement can be so difficult to hold onto. Yet, you put a tablet in front of them… BAM! They know letters, trying to spell words and create sentences. Actually, remember to use their periods! It is amazing!
I may have made that sound to good to be true, but seriously overall participation went from like a 3 to an 8!
Let me back track a bit here…
The set up for BoomWriter was very simple. Email. Name. Role. Verify Email. Done!
It then allows you to set up classes, which would be handy if you taught a variety of class or groups of students.
Each student is then provided a printed sign in/
QR code, which is also emailed directly to parents and guardians. This means its okay to find their code in their backpack 3 months later!
Then just get going on assignments. Teachers can designate activities but students also have open options for free write use. The site contains a wide variety of collaborative group projects, individual journals, prompts, questions and the list goes on!
Choose first what kind of writing you would like students to complete.
At the school I am currently teaching at we wrote a collaborative story, passing it on to each class as each grade wrote a “chapter”. I wish I would have known about BoomWriter Earlier! So Cool!
It also allows you to start off your own story OR the choice to pick a prompt to continue!
Now as you can see these prompts are a little intense for a grade ½ reader and writer. However, this is supposed to be a collaborative class project and if that’s the case then there would probably be some assistance provided. Take a look! Aren’t they are great story starters!
From there, students can add their additions to the story and submit for teacher approve. I would love if there was a talk to text option or auditable option to read the prompts to the students.
For my beginner writers, I would not as for a chapter each but simply a sentence or three to continue the story.
Once its complete you have the option to download and print for free or actually order a personalized copy in book form!
The next section is the Personal Journal.
In this section teachers can again ask for specifics, such as topics, use of vocab, connect to current events, pop culture, or academic topics.
Or Students can free write!
If you take a look at the benefits for students above it conquers every challenge I was thinking of plus more!!
I tried this out with a few students in my class, it was so fun to watch! They got started right away, worked for the entire ten minutes and had this mature confidence about them!
I also love the fact that it familiarizes keyboard skills from such a young age. It is a skill you truly cant get by without these days!
Another advantage is the instant results provided to and from the teacher. All students writing and feedback are in the same place with easy access to go back and review or display progress!
The last section of course is to create your own assignment. To be honest, I didn’t dig into that section much because… the others were just so fun!!
I really thought this would have been a great resource during Online Learning in the Pandemic. It would have been interesting for students to keep an online journal of their time spent in lockdown and it also could create a learning community without all participants being active at the same time.
I love how it can be used as a group or as independent work. I hope to work it into some of my Literacy Centers in the future.
I do wish that there were some more basic and simple activities for grade one and two. Although I have it set on a grade two setting the prompts are quite elaborate. Although, I can see this being used with my students that need a more challenging assignment!
Lastly the cost… I did not see anywhere that it was a free trial I was using or that I would need to sign up for a subscription in a month. However, when I used my handy search engine skills, it did say that after the first month, a subscription would cost $12-14 a month.
Check back in a month and I’ll let you know!
In conclusion, I should really get over my fear of trying new things… who knows you might stumble across something that get you and your students as excited as I was about BoomWriter!