Free Ed Tech Resources eBook

  • Over 100 Pages of Free Instructional Technology Resources
  • Tools for collaboration, gamification, active learning, screencasting, tablets, smartphones, and much more!
  • YOURS FREE just for signing up for blog posts!
 

Sign Up Now

 

The Importance of Writing Skills: Online Tools to Encourage Success

by Kelly Walsh on November 21, 2010

Share

Good writing skills are critical for today’s students, here’s a few online tools to help develop and reinforce them.

As teachers, I think we’d all agree that communication is pretty important. In fact, it’s a necessary component of education, livelihood, and basic functionality in our society. It’s also fairly obvious that there are two main ways to communicate, although more obscure forms exist. Basically, we talk and we write. That’s how we let other people know what’s going on, and it’s an important skill to have. Just about every student can talk, but how many can truly write well?

Why Students Need to Write Well
Writing is not for turning out cookie-cutter essays in AP Lit & Comp. It’s not for texting friends, keeping diaries, or even for getting a better SAT score. Writing is important because it’s used extensively in higher education and in the workplace. If students don’t know how to express themselves in writing, they won’t be able to communicate well with professors, employers, peers, or just about anyone else.

Much of professional communication is done in writing: proposals, memos, reports, applications, preliminary interviews, e-mails, and more are part of the daily life of a college student or successful graduate. Even if students manage to learn the material in their college classes without knowing how to write well, they won’t be able to express their knowledge to the people who are making the big decisions. Potential employers won’t know whether or not head knowledge can be applied to everyday demands unless it’s through a spoken interview. Even the majority of certifications and licensures require basic writing skills to obtain. The inability to write makes for a stillborn career.

Introducing Online Writing Tools
There are several different ways to help develop students’ writing skills, but implementing online tools is one of the best choices. This is due to many students’ inherent interest in all things technological – a lot of students have a fascination with any new tool that can simplify a basic task (like writing). If you’re interested in using online tools to help your students with their writing, the following list contains some useful ideas and websites.

Blogging: Let’s start with something simple: give your students a blog. You can have each student start his or her own page, or you can assign pairs, groups, or an entire classroom to one blog. This isn’t a fancy tool that will do part of the writing legwork for your students, but it’s a huge motivator and it’s fun. You might consider assigning blog topics, or you can have students research and propose their own “blog identities” before they start to write. The more you can get them invested in the idea of blogging, the more they’ll learn from the experience. Click here to learn more about getting started with free student blogging.

ReadWriteThink’s “Student Interactives”: Head over to this page at readwritethink.org for the handy Webbing Tool, Notetaker, Printing Press, and more. Many of the “Student Interactives” like these are useful, and they’re also indexed by grade level appropriateness. These types of tools can be a great interactive way to gain useful writing skills.

Model Bank: Introduce your students to Model Bank, a website with interactive versions of successful writing in common middle school and high school formats. For example, students can find a sample of a good poem analysis with notes in the margins and a printable “Writer’s Guide” to help implement the successful parts of the sample. The concept of “leading by example” does have merit in writing, and Model Bank is a great way to accomplish that.

These are just a few of the many types of free writing related tools and resources available on the web. Do you know of some other tools like this? Please comment and share!

Guest writer Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching areas of online colleges and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Video Blog Entry for this post (on EmergingEdTech’s YouTube Channel)
Free Creative Writing Resources
15 online resources for help with English homework and class

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer and a faculty member at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

Print This Post Print This Post

Previous post:

Next post: