Friday, March 27, 2015

Overcoming Writer's Block

Ever struggle with students saying that they don’t know what to write? They know they have the story in their head, but they are struggling to get it down on their google doc. We can debate whether or not "writer's block" is real, but that debate won't change the fact that some of your students are struggling to get started and you really, really want/need them to start writing.

Or maybe they know what they want to write, but the typing process is so painfully slow that they get frustrated and quit? While typing skills are important and should be worked on in context, sometimes you just want all of your students to have their writing to work on so that they can start the real learning of revision, receiving feedback, and more revision.

Try this nifty little trick:

Have students open up their email on their phone. The student then addresses the email to themselves and then uses the talk-to-text feature to get their story out of their head and into text. Then they hit “send,” open up their email on their laptop, copy and paste into a google doc, and begin editing.

Another possibility is to use the free Chrome App, "VoiceNote II." Its speech recognition has improved greatly and the app includes some rudimentary editing tools right in the app interface.

There are other ways to accomplish this besides using phone email or VoiceNote II: Evernote has remarkable talk-to-text capabilities, and there are free apps such as Dragon Dictation that will accomplish the same thing. I prefer Evernote, because it’s a close to seamless process: when using Evernote, the student can create a notebook and then create different notes for different assignments. They can then be edited directly in Evernote, or copied and pasted into a google doc.

If the student doesn’t have a phone that will do talk-to-text, maybe there is an iPad in the room that will? iPad Airs and iPad minis have talk-to-text capabilities.

Wanna play around with this, but don’t know where to start? Contact your community’s ed tech coach, and we’ll show you just as easy it can be!

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