Posts Tagged ‘organizational tools’

Nov. 19 Writing Process Webinar Notes

November 20th, 2009 Comments off

Thanks to everyone who attended yesterday’s webinars. I had a great time talking with Jim about Organizing and Connecting Ideas and Information, and I hope you had fun listening and adding your ideas. If you missed it, links to the recordings are on the Webcasts page of this site.

We asked two questions early in the webinar about the kinds of writing you do and the kinds of writing you ask your students to do. I thought it would interesting to compare the two so I collected all the responses from the chat boxes and made Wordles so we could compare.

Here are the responses to What kinds of writing do you do?

teacher writing

And here are the responses to What kinds of writing do you ask your students to do?

student writing

We looked at some tools for helping students organize ideas and information. Below are some resources for helping you learn more about these:

Graphic Organizers and Mind Maps

Lists and Outlines


If you are interested in the Student Research Guide notebook, you can download it from the ACTEM NoteShare server. It’s in the Barbara Greenstone Collection. If you need directions for accessing notebooks on this server, please send me an email message.

Ideas and Resources Harvested From the Webinar Chats

  • Some students organize information in their heads before they start writing.
  • New Yorker cartoon about organization (mentioned by Jim)
  • MaineLiteracy Portaportal page
  • Resources from Greece, NY
  • The 2.0 Beta of is very stable, and can embed URLs in the nodes.
  • “When I write I use both mapping and informal outlines.  The web helps me get started–to generate ideas, see connections, etc. Then I go to an informal outline to organize as I start to draft.  Thus I have learned to be more flexible when working with young writers–need to know our students to know how to help them work through the process of writing.”
  • Give students experience in a variety of tools rather than assuming they will always use the one they use first…
  • Venn diagram classic GO for compare/contrast
  • This tool ( would be great in brainstorming a new unit! 
    •  yes, very helpful at uncovering kids’ prior knowledge as well as gaps
  • “One of my students showed me OmniGraffle.  She was quite pleased to discover it before me.”
  • Social Studies students could use this to outline govermental structures (or any other kinds) and include that in their presentations.
    • and exported as images, placed in iPhoto, useful across many apps.
  • That’s pretty cool (keystrokes in OmniGraffle) because the interface is pretty busy – so you don’t have to even click on any of those buttons in the toolbar 
  • Everyone should use the ACTEM NoteShare server!
  • Helping students to think metaphorically about the topic/ideas can also provide a stucture for the text.
  • Using visual images first is often an ice breaker for reluctant writers!
  • Or their cell phone cameras – they’re an amazing resource (to document field trips).
  • Can use presenters notes in Keynote for text and slide for images.  Kind of like a storyboard

Thoughts about synthesis:

  • Students are more likely to think deeply and create something new when they care about the topic.
  • We have to give them repeated opportunities to do this, to have conversations that have real implications.
  • Challenge based learning – make it real!
  • Examples of “making it real”
    • Interviews with older people or with a career person.
    • 7th graders published and illustrated picture books for first graders
    • “Last year my Mandarin classes wrote captions in foreign languages for photos of school events.  We published a few pages of these in the school paper and had readers guess what they meant.  English answers were on another page.”
    • Making a movie about cells and how they work for 5th graders
    • Storyboards and scripts
  • Thinking of Bloom’s Taxonomy and cognitive skills
  • We have many great tools to make those ideas “whole.” Keynote, iWeb,iMovie, iDVD, Garageband and podcasts to name a few. The variety of the tools gives learners the motivation and the control. The greater learner control, the more meaningful the content is to the learner and the longer the information stays with them.