I have been working on a large project using handhelds and desktop computers to enhance student writing, and I am more and more convinced that one of the best uses of technology is in the area of writing. For many kids who have struggled with writing in the past, a keyboard can free them up to be successful writers.
Good software is a key as well. This picture is of a wall of Inspiration-generated concept maps. (Teachers will always have bulletin boards.:) Students used Inspiration to generate ideas for a persuasive essay. These concept maps were then converted to outlines that students used to organize their ideas and add details. I’ve seen kids really latch on to the idea of paragraph development using this method. The outlines were then transferred to Word, where kids wrote their persuasive essays.
This process emphasizes the steps of prewriting in a way that is more approachable for kids and makes the actual writing a lot easier. When tasked with writing a 500-700 word essay, kids groaned at the task. After using Inspiration to plan their writing, one little girl said to me “I’m gonna have WAY more than 500 words! Is that ok?” Now that’s the power of technology.:)