iPad Devices and Writing Instruction

The iPad devices are more than a tool to deliver answers to questions and a way to use the programs we have purchased as a school. Having one-to-one iPad devices in the classroom means that our options for offering our students an effective and customized learning experience are only as limited as our imagination.

This week, I was connecting with a student who was having a hard time and he shared with me that writing was a subject that was particularly frustrating. While I am sure that this was not the only thing going on with this student, I know that writing is a particularly hard subject for many of our learners. Writing is more than simply getting words on paper – it is spelling, reading, grammar, language, creativity and so many other underlying talents compiled into one part of our day.

As I was talking with this student, I started to wonder first what it was about writing that caused so much frustration. With many of our students, they are able to tell us verbally what they want to put down on paper or they are able to draw a picture that reminds them exactly what they want to say. Then the additional skills needed to actually get their words written hinder what they mean to say.

So many teachers are already providing great resources with their iPad devices during writing time – access to videos, shared notes, help charts, spell check, text to speech for those students who need it, shared documents for group writing projects and so many more amazing strategies. It got me thinking, how powerful would it be if a student recorded exactly what they wanted to say and then had a resource to go back and listen to when they got stuck during their writing time. This could happen right after that student identifies the topic, audience and purpose of the writing task and reads the article if one is included. They could do an additional recording after their graphic organizer is complete. For the students who need it, they would have access to CLOZE paragraphs or sentence frames to get their ideas started and to make sure they are including everything required in the rubric.

While the idea of recording your voice is not innovative, meaning that it is something that is not new or better than anything else in existence, it is a strategy that could make a huge difference for some of our students. Getting thoughts out without the added pressure of spelling, grammar and handwriting could be a relief for some of our learners. If you have a student who is really struggling in writing but who can verbally express themselves, have them give this strategy a try, see what happens!

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