It's another Monday morning and a dreadful beginning for some of the elementary age students who walk into our classrooms.
Because, if it's Monday, it must be "Start the Week with Journal Writing," a ritual where students are asked to write about their weekends. For some students, this is a piece of cake. For others (see previous post), this is like asking them to run a mile to school - they can do it but it is painful and challenging.
So, let's think about some alternatives for those students "who have great ideas up here (pointing to head) but can't get them down here (pointing to paper)." Let's think in innovative ways to offer kids different methods of expression.
1. Use Garage Band (Mac) or Audacity (PC or Mac) to record students voices as they describe their weekend activities. Create a weekly Monday morning podcast for an authentic audience. Use the podcast to teach students about oral presentation and audience. What makes a presentation captivating to the audience? Let them hear their own responses and critique what they said and how they said it. Extend upon this activity by using simple graphic organizers to help them highlight two key activities. This will help them determine saliency - what were the two most important things I did this weekend? You can also build in categorization, similarities and differences and compare and contrast if you capture all the students' responses.
2. Have students use TuxPaint (an open source drawing program download, similar to KidPix) or Kerpoof (two free online drawing/creation resources) and then upload their creations to VoiceThread. Use the recording tool to have students describe their weekend. Encourage them to post a response to each other's pages. Talk with them about appropriate responses that will encourage and support their classmates.
3. Encourage students to use the speech bubbles found on the Drawing Toolbar in Word to create vignettes with dialogue that describes their weekend. This can be especially effective for students with non-verbal learning disabilities or who are on the Autism spectrum as this allows them to understand another person's point of view.
4. Some students may prefer to write a response. Upload their responses to the class VoiceThread if one has been created.
5. Use Dial2Do - a free speech to text tool that will transcribe voice to text via email. Copy and paste it into Word, make any changes or additions and then print it out and add it to the student's Journal folder.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. They extend the activity well beyond a traditional writing task. The point is to offer choices, to offer multiple ways for students to complete an activity as this is an essential component of Universal Design for Learning and promotes students engagement and success.
Do you have any other ideas you'd like to share? Please do!