Sunday, April 18, 2010

Making Writing Centers Accessible for All through Voki

My most challenging center is my writing center. Most of my first graders are not quite yet able to read and comprehend written directions. By the time they rotate to the writing center, they forget most orally stated directions. Pictorial directions have helped with routines, and I allow free writes on topics of choice or picture cards for topics. They have access to all of the usual items a writing center has: lists, notepads, booklets, etc.

This week, I have decided to offer my students the opportunity to write to a writing prompt via their favorite tool- the internet. Each writing assignment, incorporated into the science content area lesson on storms, will ask students to respond to a pictorial weather scene and a Voki avatar verbally describing the scene. The student will be expected to write about the type of storm depicted. Students will be able to replay the writing prompt as many times as necessary. Here is a sample of a Voki we will use:

At the end of the week, students will create their own Voki avatars and describe a weather phenomenon for their peers to define. They will need to first write their description before recording it. During science, the avatars will be used to informally assess students on their ability to identify storms. My hope is that my students will be able to use the writing center independently, remain fully engaged throughout the writing time, practice writing, and reinforce science content at the same time.

Please share your favorite writing center tips and tricks in the comments section.