Wednesday, 9 December 2009

What do I put my students through?

This year I particularly stressed the importance of planning before writing, something my students were not entirely convinced of. One of the reasons was that they're much more used to typing than putting pen to paper and, of course, it's a lot easier to make changes while you write that way.

Some of them were about to sit international exams where they would not have access to a computer, so I thought it was important for them to at least be aware of some techniques they could resort to in order to organise their writing. I showed them what I could and they paid attention -some of them even tried out the strategies.

Recently I found out that there are online writing organizers and I'm thinking that this could be helpful mainly in two ways: first, they can act as a bridge, with students trying out the organizers in a familiar medium and getting used to exploring the possibilities different organizers have to offer. The transition, I imagine, should be much smoother then. The second advantage I see is that these online organizers can become part of these students' "writer's toolkit" (I think it's a Stephen King phrase), so that when they have to write something in real life that needs planning they'll be familiar enough with the tools to use them without help.

Of course, the next logical step was for me to try out these organizers so I could offer first-hand accounts of the experience. I browsed several websites and, for no particular reason, decided to start with exploratree . There's a wide range of ready-made thinking guides which you can use and adapt, or you can simply create your own.

I tried one of the ready-made ones and liked it. I need practice because I'm really used to using paper and pen, but it felt more natural than I'd expected, and I was able to brainstorm some ideas on a topic that I'd like to include here when it's done. So I'll keep trying and sharing my experience with you.

All in all, it seems promising.

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