Friday, 12 February 2016

Question!

The structure of any question is as devoid of neutrality as is its content


This is an excerpt from Niel Postman's Technolopy: The Surrender of Culture to Technology.

To put it simply, like any important piece of machinery— television or the computer, for example—language has an ideological agenda that is apt to be hidden from view. In the case of language, that agenda is so deeply integrated into our personalities and world-view that a special effort and, often, special training are required to detect its presence. Unlike television or the computer, language appears to be not an extension of our powers but simply a natural expression of who and what we are. This is the great secret of language: Because it comes from inside us, we believe it to be a direct, unedited, unbiased, apolitical expression of how the world really is. A machine, on the other hand, is outside of us, clearly created by us, modifiable by us, even discardable by us; it is easier to see how a machine re-creates the world in its own image. But in many respects, a sentence functions very much like a machine, and this is nowhere more obvious than in the sentences we call questions. As an example of what I mean, let us take a "fill-in" question, which I shall require you to answer exactly if you wish full credit: Thomas Jefferson died in the year ––––––. Suppose we now rephrase the question in multiple-choice form: Thomas Jefferson died in the year (a) 1788 (b) 1826 (c) 1926 (d) 1809. Which of these two questions is easier to answer? I assume you will agree with me that the second question is easier unless you happen to know precisely the year of Jefferson's death, in which case neither question is difficult. However, for most of us who know only roughly when Jefferson lived, Question Two has arranged matters so that our chances of "knowing" the answer are greatly increased. Students will always be "smarter" when answering a multiple-choice test than when answering a "fill-in" test, even when the subject matter is the same. A question, even of the simplest kind, is not and can never be unbiased. I am not, in this context, referring to the common accusation that a particular test is "culturally biased." Of course questions can be culturally biased. (Why, for example, should anyone be asked about Thomas Jefferson at all, let alone when he died?) My purpose is to say that the structure of any question is as devoid of neutrality as is its content. The form of a question may ease our way or pose obstacles. Or, when even slightly altered, it may generate antithetical answers, as in the case of the two priests who, being unsure if it was permissible to smoke and pray at the same time, wrote to the Pope for a definitive answer. One priest phrased the question "Is it permissible to smoke while praying?" and was told it is not, since prayer should be the focus of one's whole attention; the other priest asked if it is permissible to pray while smoking and was told that it is, since it is always appropriate to pray. The form of a question may even block us from seeing solutions to problems that become visible through a different question. Consider the following story, whose authenticity is questionable but not, I think, its point:
Once upon a time, in a village in what is now Lithuania, there arose an unusual problem. A curious disease afflicted many of the townspeople. It was mostly fatal (though not always), and its onset was signaled by the victim's lapsing into a deathlike coma. Medical science not being quite so advanced as it is now, there was no definite way of knowing if the victim was actually dead when burial appeared seemly. As a result, the townspeople feared that several of their relatives had already been buried alive and that a similar fate might await them. How to overcome this uncertainty was their dilemma.


One group of people suggested that the coffins be well stocked with water and food and that a small air vent be drilled into them, just in case one of the "dead" happened to be alive. This was expensive to do but seemed more than worth the trouble. A second group, however, came up with a less expensive and more efficient idea. Each coffin would have a twelveinch stake affixed to the inside of the coffin lid, exactly at the level of the heart. Then, when the coffin was closed, all uncertainty would cease. The story does not indicate which solution was chosen, but for my purposes the choice is irrelevant. What is important to note is that different solutions were generated by different questions. The first solution was an answer to the question, How can we make sure that we do not bury people who are still alive? The second was an answer to the question, How can we make sure that everyone we bury is dead? Questions, then, are like computers or television or stethoscopes or lie detectors, in that they are mechanisms that give direction to our thoughts, generate new ideas, venerate old ones, expose facts, or hide them. In this chapter, I wish to consider mechanisms that act like machines but are not normally thought of as part of Technopoly's repertoire. I must call attention to them precisely because they are so often overlooked. For all practical purposes, they may be considered technologies— technologies in disguise, perhaps, but technologies all the same.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Teaching Writing Skills and Creative Writing through ICT

(This modules were prepared for teacher training programme organised at Regional Institute of Education, NCERT, Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh - coordinated by Dr. Shruti Misra. It is published in the training module also)

How to Cite?

APA Style:

Barad, D. (2016, Feb.). Teaching Writing Skills and Creative Writing through ICT. Training Package on Integrating ICT in ELT at Secondary Level, 48-67. (S. Tripathi, Compiler) Bhopal, MP, India: RIE - NCERT. Retrieved from http://dilipbarad.blogspot.in/2016/02/teaching-writing-skills-and-creative_7.html

MLA Style:

Barad, Dilip. "Teaching Writing Skills and Creative Writing through ICT." Training Package on Integrating ICT in ELT at Secondary Level. Comp. Shruti Tripathi. Bhopal: RIE - NCERT, Feb. 2016. 48-67. <http://dilipbarad.blogspot.in/2016/02/teaching-writing-skills-and-creative_7.html>.

Teaching Writing Skills and
Creative Writing through ICT

1.     Writing Skills

Introduction:

Writing Skills - one of the important skills for effective communication is of utmost importance among the four basic skills (i.e. Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing). This Skill helps students in appropriately expressing their views, emotions, feelings, thoughts and ideas. Our curriculum designers and pedagogist have always given significant space to writing Skills in teaching and learning process. In this module we will explore possibilities of teaching writing Skills through integration of Information and Communication Technology in traditional (face-2-face) teaching-learning environment.

Objectives

The objectives of teaching writing Skills do not change while we think of integrating ICT. There is just the difference of ‘typing’ rather than ‘hand-writing’, rest of the Skills/s remains similar. But the big difference is that the learners constructively acquire ICT Skills when teachers device activities, tasks, projects based on ICT / Web 2.0 tools. The integration of ICT impacts positively on the performance of students. They constructively acquire following Skills when teachers make integrative use of ICT / Web 2.0 tools in the classroom:
·         Students acquire habit of self-learning
·         They become confident learners
·         Their outcome becomes effective as their efficiency in performance increases
·         They become innovative and divergent thinkers
·         They learn new Skills: analytical and evaluation
·         They become responsible learners as ICT encourages independent and active learning
·         It helps in reducing social inequality among students as they learn with other in order to complete given activity / task / project
·         It has significant impression on the teaching performance of the teachers
·         It will bridge the gap between the classroom and the outside world
·         It will engage students for more hours with learning
·         It will extend classroom interaction beyond closed walls of classroom / school
·         It will help overcome time and space barrier between the learner and the learning.
·         It will help to cater the needs of both the slow as well as the fast learners in the mixed ability class.
·         They acquire the necessary skills in digital citizenship
Apart from these benefits, various researches have proved that the integration of ICT makes learner feel more successful and stimulated. It increases self-confidence and self-esteem. There are the soft skills which, if once ignited, the teacher’s job is half done. Ignition of these softer aspects of learner-personality makes a huge difference in the performance of the students as valuable citizen of society.

Writing Skills as it is taught in traditional classroom environment

Writing Skills is taught in traditional classroom:
·         With the help of printed text book
·          . . .Writing activities are prescribed at the end of chapter/s
·         . . . Writing activities like answer in one line or a few lines (text based comprehension questions)
·         . . . Paragraph writing
·         . . .Essay writing
·         . . . Letter writing
·         . . . Imagine and write etc
No doubt, these activities and tasks are very useful. We are not going to challenge its utility in enhancing writing skills. We are not going to replace them with new sets of tasks and activities. The teachers shall use same activities which are given in the texts books but with a difference. The difference is – the integration if ICT / Web 2.0 tools. The traditional activities and tasks will take care of basics of writing skills; the new integration will help us enhance the traditional learning practices. In the process, the new integrations will create new learning environment. The newly envisioned environment will connect the class with the outside world. The outside world is making immense use of technology in their day-to-day life. The everyday social interaction requires new sets of skills. Out integration aims to bridge the so that our students learn, not only the necessary writing skills but also the new gadgets, new tools with which people communicate in digital era.  

How to integrate ICT to teach Writing Skills

In this module we shall have a look at some innovative ways to integrate ICT / Web 2.0 tools in devising activities to enhance writing Skills. We shall divide our discussion in two sections: 1) Let us know the ICT tools; 2) how to use these tools for writing skills

 Let us know the ICT / Web 2.0 Tools

We know that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an umbrella term. This technology engulfs basic technologies of mobile phones, satellite television to high end technologies used by space scientists and militia for national securities. Our purpose is to concentrate only on basic, popular and easy to use technologies under ICT. Similarly, there are innumerable Web 2.0 tools available. Everyday some new tools are coming in the market. The race to cope up with all the web tools or the latest is never ending rat race. So, we shall concentrate on some web 2.0 tools which are successfully used in Indian classroom environments. Let us have a cursory look at some of such Web 2.0 tools and know about them in brief:

Email

Email is the electronic mail service which gives us space to type our message and can be send across internet and other computer networks. Now-a-days, it is the most popular tool for communication. It developed along with development in I & C Technologies. Today, it is available in most of the hand held mobile devices which makes it one of the web tools which is easy to find in classroom environments.

From where to get it?

Popular free email service providers are
www.rediffmail.com  and many more. 

Wordle

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to your own desktop to use as you wish. These word clouds are useful to summarize large documents and it helps in teaching writing skills to the students. It is web based service which requires java script installed on browser. The mobile phone browsers do not support it and hence generation of word cloud cannot happen on mobile phones. For generation of word cloud one must use laptop / Desktop, later on learning activities can be carried out on any other devices in the classroom.

From where to get it?

Blog

Blog is also known as Weblog. It is a sort of dairy on the website. People use it for various purposes. It is a frequently updated personal journal chronicling links at a Web site, intended for public viewing. It is used for journal purpose writing, sharing photos, audio-visual material.

From where to get it

Some of the famous free blog service providers are:
www.blogger.com (it is Google service so works with Gmail email id and password)

eGroups

eGroups, initially, were just email list management websites. Now, they have developed into online discussion forums. It provides common platform for sharing common interests. They are also known as SIG – Special Interest Groups. eGroups offers at least two kinds of discussion group; in both cases users can participate in threaded conversations, either through a web interface or by e-mail.

From where to get it?

Podcast: Sound Editing Software and Voice Sharable Web Platform

Podcast is the digital medium over which audio along with other forms of media can be shared. The podcast service provider platforms are web based as well as available in form of mobile applications. It is one of the digital platforms which can be used for dictation activities to enhance writing skills. For editing sound / voice, audacity sound editing software can be used.

From where to get it?

WhatsApp

WhatsApp Inc. is an early stage technology startup founded in the heart of Silicon Valley. What does the name mean you ask? Well, WhatsApp is a pun on What's Up. This is a multiplatform mobile phone messaging service that uses your phone's internet connection to chat with and call other WhatsApp users. As it is available across various operating systems on mobile phone and supports pictures, audio and videos, it provides better opportunities in academic environment to enhance writing skills.

From where to get it?

Download and install from mobile app downloader. For example ‘Play’ in Android based smart phones.

Short Message Service (SMS)

SMS is text-only messaging services. It helps in sharing text messages without internet connectivity. All mobile phones by default provides this service.

From where to get it?

It is default service is all mobile phones.

How to use these tools for writing skills?

For effective writing skills, the sub-skills like vocabulary, word choice, grammar, sentence structure, organization of thought, and expression of ideas shall be enhanced. Any activities / tasks / projects aimed at improving writing skills shall include evaluation of these sub-skills in their rubrics. Let us see how various activities can be prepared using ICT tools. We shall see that these activities are in support of face to face classroom teaching with the help of prescribed text book. So the activities thought out shall be in continuation of writing activities in the text book. Blending ICT tools with face to face traditional teaching is for extended learning. It is for engaging students with learning. Thus, the use of tools shall have dual objectives:
a)      The text book activities shall be incorporated in the activities prepared with ICT tools
b)      The teacher shall go beyond the text book and prepare activities which forces learners to explore additional resources
The former will help slow learners, the later, the fast and smart learners. Thus, one of the objectives to cater the need of mixed ability among the students in the class can be satisfied.

Email

·         Suppose, there is a lesson on letter writing or a task on email writing. The teacher shall draft an email and send ‘real’ email to all the students. In this email, s/he shall ask students to complete whatever task is given and students shall mandatorily post their answers in reply email to the teacher.
o   For example, write an email to your parents to inform how the celebration of Independence Day was organized in your school. Send this email to your parents, if they have email id and to your teacher on teacher@myschool.com
·         Secondly, the activity for extended learning. There is lesson on festivals of India. Teacher drafts an email for students asking them to share about the last festival they have celebrated with their family members. The students shall reply via email. If students are attaching photographs, it should be encouraged so they learn to express through various media.

Wordle

·         Wordle helps to create word picture from small essay, short story or poem. It is fun to read the word cloud and write a paragraph on it.
o   For example, this wordle is created from the poem The Vagabond by R.L. Stevenson. The students can be asked to minutely observe this picture and write a paragraph. All the words shall be used at least once in the paragraph.
·         In the above activity, we have prepared word cloud from the poem in the text book. The teacher can create similar pictures from any other topic from current affairs, news paper and magazines and the task can be given to the students.

Blog

·         Blog is one of the best tools for writing skills. All the lessons which require writing tasks can be converted into blog tasks.
o   For example, at the end of the chapter on any story, there may be task on paragraph writing. The teacher can take a snap of photo from the text book or google photo similar to the story and post it on his blog. The students are given task to read the image and with the help of classroom discussion on the story, write a paragraph in 100 words in the ‘comment’ section below teacher’s blog. Click her for example: http://dilipbarad.blogspot.in/2013/09/story-writing-skill-english-language.html
·         Secondly, to go beyond the curriculum, the teacher will blog post a task on essay writing, paragraph writing, notice writing and report writing. The blog link can be shared via email or eGroup or WhatsApp message with students. The students shall respond to the task in ‘comment’ section.

eGroups

·         The integration of ICT is incomplete without eGroup of the students. If ever teacher thinks of integrating ICT in the classroom, s/he should first of all see to it that all the students shall have their email id. Then all email ids of the students shall be enlisted with the eGroup. Teacher can use either Google or Yahoo groups for various online discussions. The advantage of eGroup over email is that eGroup gives better facilities for archived emails and for threaded conversations.
·         Firstly, for the text based activity on eGroup, the teacher shall draft an email for the writing activities given in the text. In this email, the teacher asks students to complete the task and send reply mail to the teacher. It should be strictly instructed that the students shall NOT CHANGE SUBJECT LINE. This is necessary to keep all the conversations threaded together. The benefit of activities using eGroup over simple email id is that, all students are able to view activities done by other students. This remains invisible to other students in case of email based activities. When the activities carried out of students are open to entire class, it gives several benefits. Firstly, the other students learn from their classmates. This is one of the most successful modes of learning. Secondly, the transparency in assessment can be achieved as things remain open to entire class. Thirdly, students develop digital citizenship skills. It is very important to teach students to digitally communicate in public spaces in an appropriate way.
·         Secondly, for the activities other than in text book, eGroups can be used. Teacher can initiate online discussions. An email asking for opinion building on the topic from current affairs which may or may not be distantly connected with topics in text can be initiated by teacher. The students shall reply the email of the teacher without changing subject line (so all mails are threaded together and can be accessed from the archives in future).

Podcast: Audacity and Sound Cloud

·         Dictation activity is useful for both listening skills as well as writing skills. The teacher can use podcast service to share his/her dictation with students. In turn, students shall listen the voice and write or type and send it back to the teacher for evaluation. If some sharable platforms are used, all students can view activities of other students and also help in peer evaluation.
·         Preparing activities on this sort is very easy. Recording facilities are provided in all mobile phones. Even PC / Laptops have recording facilities. If it is not possible to avail these facilities, teacher can download free to use sound editing software like Audacity. Apart from recording dictation, it can help in doing simple editing as well.
·         The recorded audio clip is to be uploaded on podcast service provider websites. From which students can listen it, type the dictation, and share it with teacher and other students.

WhatsApp

·         WhatsApp can be linking platform for all the activities carried out using ICT tools. Blog links, emails, group interactions, word clouds – everything can be shared over WhatsApp. It has been proved that more users use internet over mobile phones rather than PC or laptops, it is advisable to use mobile platform for integration of ICT in classrooms. The State Governments are coming up with classrooms where wifi connected tablets and hand held devices are given and ICT enabled classroom are becoming reality. Thus, teachers exploring possibilities of such platforms will make them future-ready.
·         Activities in the text books can be done on WhatsApp also. The teacher shall either prepare a Group or Broadcast on WhatsApp and share the activity. S/he can take photo on his/her mobile phone from the text book and ask students to do the task during off hours (out of classroom or after regular teaching).
·         Apart from text related activities, teacher can share word-cloud of news paper write-up or any other authentic material and various activities can be thought out. The purpose shall be to ask students to view small video, a picture and write something on it. Quite an interesting amount and quality of language can be generated in this activity.
·         Dictation is very useful for developing writing skills. The teacher can record brief dictation in WhatsApp and share voice thread in the group. The students shall listen and type in reply to teacher’s posting.
·         Students shall learn writing skills along with various other skills like reading other media, using mobile digital gadgets for academic purpose.

Short Message Service (SMS)

·         SMS is very good for writing activity if there are no smart phones or internet connectivity. The teacher can use SMS for only-text based activities.
o   For example, first sms, related to one of the lessons in the text is sent to first group of students in the classroom. That group shall ‘read’ the message, ‘redraft in their language’ and send it to another group. This continues till the last group receives and sends the message back to the teacher. The teacher shall write the message he sent and what he has received on black board or display on screen via projector. This gives an opportunity to discuss the natural language generated in informal environment.
·         Similarly other tasks related to text book or other than text book can be prepared. The more the teacher is innovative and expert in the use of technology, the better activities and tasks can be prepared.

Writing Activities and the ICT / Web 2.0 Tools

Writing Activity
ICT / Web 2.0 Tool to be Integrated in Activity
Paragraph Writing
Blog, Email, eGroup, WhatsApp, SMS, WordCloud
Essay Writing
Blog, Email eGroup, WhatsApp, WordCloud
Letter Writing / Email Writing
Email, eGroup
Report Writing
Email, eGroup, Blog, WordCloud
Note Taking
WhatsApp, eGroup
Dictation Activity
Podcast, Sound recording /editing software, Blog, WhatsApp

Rubric: Online Assessment by Teacher, Peer and Self

Normally, in traditional classroom, the teacher is the sole assessor. Not only s/he is the only one to pass on judgment of the performance, s/he is also the one with the most randomized assessment system. Most of the time appropriate and uniform rubric to assess writing activities is not prepared by the teacher. Such rubric, if it is prepared, shall be available to students, and students shall play active role in peer assessment and self-assessment. As and when teacher thinks of integrating ICT / Web 2.0 tools, s/he shall make provision for internet based online rubric for assessment by teacher, peer and self. For this there are two easy to use tools: 1) Google Form for online rubric, 2) Flubaroo for generating auto grade, if need be to ascertain right and wrong answers. Generally, in the rubric for assessment of writing activities, there shall be no right or wrong answers. Only if it is comprehension type quiz, there is need of Flubaroo in the assessment rubric.
The rubric should see that the language generated in all these activities will be informal and natural. As technology is to promote unstructured and informal methods of learning, the language generated may be quite easy going, natural, full of errors, typos and spelling errors. There should be space and freedom to use similar language in all these writing activities. Here is one sample of online rubric for assessment of writing activities: http://dilipbarad.blogspot.in/2015/10/rubric-for-evaluation-of-written.html

Example of Rubric for Assessment of Written Activities

Grading Rubric for Written Activities

Elements
1-5
6-10
11-15
16-20
Content and
- Content is
- Content shows
- Content shows
- Content shows
Development.
incomplete and
low level of
some level of
high level of

inaccurate.
comprehension
comprehension
comprehension

- Major points are
and accuracy.
and accuracy.
and accuracy.

stated.
- Points are not
-Some points are
- Major points are

-Shows no
clearly stated and
stated clearly and
stated clearly and

originality and
supported.
well-supported.
are well supported.

creativity
- Shows little
-Shows some
- Shows originality


originality and
originality and
and creativity.


creativity.
creativity

Structure and
- Structure of the
- Structure of the
- Structure of the
- Structure of the
Organization
Write-up is fairly
Write-up is not clear
Write-up is fairly
Write-up is clear and

clear and easy to
and difficult to
clear and easy to
easy to follow.

follow.
follow.
follow.
- Demonstrate

- May have
- May have minor
- Demonstrate
cohesion and

inappropriate
digression from
some cohesion and
coherence

transitions that
the thesis.
coherence
throughout the

disrupt the

throughout the
Write-up.

progression of

Write-up.


ideas.



Grammar and
- Write-up contains
- Write-up contains
- Write-up contains
- Rules of
Punctuation
numerous
few grammatical,
minimal errors in
grammar, usage,

grammatical,
punctuation and
grammar,
and punctuation

punctuation, and
spelling errors.
punctuation and
are followed;

spelling errors.
- Language lacks
spelling.
spelling is correct.

- Language uses
clarity or includes
-Contains minor
- Language is clear

jargon or
the use of some
violations in
and precise;

conversational
jargon or
writing, but do not
sentences display

tone.
conversational
distract the
consistently


tone.
meaning; well-
strong, varied



structured
structure.



sentences, varied




structure.



Google Form for Online Rubric and Online tests

The online rubric for the assessment of writing activities can be prepared on Google Forms. Even the online tests for comprehension type activities can be prepared on Google Forms.

Flubaroo for Auto Grading and Emailing Grades to Students

The benefit of using Google Form for online exam will be that a particular script named Flubaroo will help teachers in auto generation of grades. The same script will help in sending grades with correct answer to all the students via email. This will save teacher time and burden form reading each and every items one by one. The saved time can be used for innovative activities. Interactive quiz can be prepared on Hotpotatoes as well. It can be downloaded from hotpot.uvic.ca.






2.     Creative Writing

Introduction

Creative writing is one of the toughest things to teach. One can teach tough match problem or science concept but to teach write simple poem or story is hard nut to crack. The curriculum designers always put stress on teaching creative writing as it is very well understood that this is very important skill to be developed among the students. If the students have learnt the process of thinking creatively, it will help them in what so ever things they do in future, let alone writing poetry or stories.

Objectives

The objectives of teaching creative writing skills do not change while we think of integrating ICT. There is just the difference of ‘typing’ rather than ‘hand-writing’, rest of the Skills/s remains similar. But the big difference is that the learners constructively acquire ICT Skills when teachers device activities, tasks, projects based on ICT / Web 2.0 tools. The integration of ICT impacts positively on the performance of students. They constructively acquire following Skills when teachers make integrative use of ICT / Web 2.0 tools in the classroom:
·         Students acquire habit of self-learning
·         They become confident learners
·         Their outcome becomes effective as their efficiency in performance increases
·         They become innovative and divergent thinkers
·         They learn new Skills: analytical and evaluation
·         They become responsible learners as ICT encourages independent and active learning
·         It helps in reducing social inequality among students as they learn with other in order to complete given activity / task / project
·         It has significant impression on the teaching performance of the teachers
·         It will bridge the gap between the classroom and the outside world
·         It will engage students for more hours with learning
·         It will extend classroom interaction beyond closed walls of classroom / school
·         It will help overcome time and space barrier between the learner and the learning.
·         It will help to cater the needs of both the slow as well as the fast learners in the mixed ability class.
·         They acquire the necessary skills in digital citizenship
Apart from these benefits, various researches have proved that the integration of ICT makes learner feel more successful and stimulated. It increases self-confidence and self-esteem. There are the soft skills which, if once ignited, the teacher’s job is half done. Ignition of these softer aspects of learner-personality makes a huge difference in the performance of the students as valuable citizen of society.

Creative Writing Skills as it is taught in traditional classroom environment

In the traditional classroom, the students are given points of the story and are asked to develop a story joining the point. At times, the beginning lines of the poem are shared and students are asked to go on adding rhyming / non rhyming lines. Sometimes, teachers prefer to use metaphorical language in letters or essays or paragraph writings. The topics like expansion of an idea requires creative use of language and students in traditional classroom write on piece of Write-up what the teacher has dictated or is found in books. It is very rare to see that creative writing emerges in the class as a part of activity. It rarely happens that the process of teaching generates creative writing in the classroom. It may be happening in the class of very innovative teachers but as it is time consuming and is quite unstructured & informal; our traditional pedagogy may not leave any space for it. Thus, we identify some scope and space for integration of technology in teaching creative writing.

How to integrate ICT to teach Creative Writing

In this module we shall have a look at some innovative ways to integrate ICT / Web 2.0 tools in devising activities to enhance writing Skills. We shall divide our discussion in two sections: 1) Let us know the ICT tools; 2) how to use these tools for creative writing.

Let us know the ICT / Web 2.0 Tools

We know that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an umbrella term. This technology engulfs basic technologies of mobile phones, satellite television to high end technologies used by space scientists and militia for national securities. Our purpose is to concentrate only on basic, popular and easy to use technologies under ICT. Similarly, there are innumerable Web 2.0 tools available. Everyday some new tools are coming in the market. The race to cope up with all the web tools or the latest is never ending rat race. So, we shall concentrate on some web 2.0 tools which are successfully used in Indian classroom environments. Let us have a cursory look at some of such Web 2.0 tools and know about them in brief:

Email

Email is the electronic mail service which gives us space to type our message and can be send across internet and other computer networks. Now-a-days, it is the most popular tool for communication. It developed along with development in I & C Technologies. Today, it is available in most of the hand held mobile devices which makes it one of the web tools which is easy to find in classroom environments.

From where to get it?

Popular free email service providers are




Wordle

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to your own desktop to use as you wish. These word clouds are useful to summarize large documents and it helps in teaching creative writing to the students. It is web based service which requires java script installed on browser. The mobile phone browsers do not support it and hence generation of word cloud cannot happen on mobile phones. For generation of word cloud one must use laptop / Desktop, later on learning activities can be carried out on any other devices in the classroom.




Blog

Blog is also known as Weblog. It is a sort of dairy on the website. People use it for various purposes. It is a frequently updated personal journal chronicling links at a Web site, intended for public viewing. It is used for journal purpose writing, sharing photos, audio-visual material.

From where to get it

Some of the famous free blog service providers are:




eGroups

eGroups, initially, were just email list management websites. Now, they have developed into online discussion forums. It provides common platform for sharing common interests. They are also known as SIG – Special Interest Groups. eGroups offers at least two kinds of discussion group; in both cases users can participate in threaded conversations, either through a web interface or by e-mail.

From where to get it?

Podcast: Sound Editing Software and Voice Sharable Web Platform

Podcast is the digital medium over which audio along with other forms of media can be shared. The podcast service provider platforms are web based as well as available in form of mobile applications. It is one of the digital platforms which can be used for activities like story writing, poem writing, expansion of an idea which are useful in enhancing creative writing skills.  For editing sound / voice, audacity sound editing software can be used.

From where to get it?

WhatsApp

WhatsApp Inc. is an early stage technology startup founded in the heart of Silicon Valley. What does the name mean you ask? Well, WhatsApp is a pun on What's Up. This is a multiplatform mobile phone messaging service that uses your phone's internet connection to chat with and call other WhatsApp users. As it is available across various operating systems on mobile phone and supports pictures, audio and videos, it provides better opportunities in academic environment to enhance creative writing.

From where to get it?

Download and install from mobile app downloader. For example ‘Play’ in Android based smart phones.

Short Message Service (SMS)

SMS is text-only messaging services. It helps in sharing text messages without internet connectivity. All mobile phones by default provides this service.

From where to get it?

It is default service is all mobile phones.

How to use these tools for writing skills?

For effective creative writing skills, the sub-skills like creative thinking, vocabulary, word choice, grammar, sentence structure, organization of thought, and expression of ideas shall be enhanced. Any activities / tasks / projects aimed at improving creative writing skills shall include evaluation of these sub-skills in their rubrics. Let us see how various activities can be prepared using ICT tools. We shall see that these activities are in support of face to face classroom teaching with the help of prescribed text book. So the activities thought out shall be in continuation of writing activities in the text book. Blending ICT tools with face to face traditional teaching is for extended learning. It is for engaging students with learning. Thus, the use of tools shall have dual objectives:
c)      The text book activities shall be incorporated in the activities prepared with ICT tools
d)     The teacher shall go beyond the text book and prepare activities which forces learners to explore additional resources
The former will help slow learners; the later, the fast and smart learners. Thus, one of the objectives to cater the need of mixed ability among the students in the class can be satisfied.

Email

·         Suppose, there is a lesson on story writing or a task on poem writing. The teacher shall draft an email and send an image related to short story or poem to all the students. In this email, s/he shall ask students to read the image and construct a story around it or write a poem on the given image. Students shall mandatorily post their story or poem in reply email to the teacher.
·         Secondly, the activity for extended learning. There is lesson on festivals of India. Teacher drafts an email for students asking them to reconstruct the myth connected with the festival. The students shall reply via email. If students are attaching photographs, it should be encouraged so they learn to express through various media.

Wordle

·         Wordle helps to create word picture from small essay, short story or poem. It is fun to read the word cloud and write a paragraph on it.
o   For example, this wordle is created from the well-known story The Lion and the Rat. The students can be asked to minutely observe this picture and write a story. All the words shall be used at least once in the story.






·         In the above activity, we have prepared word cloud from the story known to all. The teacher can create similar pictures from any other poems or stories in the text book.

Blog

·         Blog is one of the best tools for developing creative writing skills. All the lessons which require creative writing tasks can be converted into blog tasks.
o   For example, at the end of the chapter on any story, there may be task on paragraph writing. The teacher can take a snap of photo from the text book or google photo similar to the story and post it on his blog. The students are given task to read the image and with the help of classroom discussion on the story, write a paragraph in 100 words in the ‘comment’ section below teacher’s blog. Click her for example: http://dilipbarad.blogspot.in/2013/09/story-writing-skill-english-language.html
·         Secondly, to go beyond the curriculum, the teacher will blog post a task on expansion of an idea, If I were. . . , poem or story writing. The blog link can be shared via email or eGroup or WhatsApp message with students. The students shall respond to the task in ‘comment’ section.

eGroups

·         The integration of ICT is incomplete without eGroup of the students. If ever teacher thinks of integrating ICT in the classroom, s/he should first of all see to it that all the students shall have their email id. Then all email ids of the students shall be enlisted with the eGroup. Teacher can use either Google or Yahoo groups for various online discussions. The advantage of eGroup over email is that eGroup gives better facilities for archived emails and for threaded conversations.
·         Firstly, for the text based activity on eGroup, the teacher shall draft an email for the creative writing activities given in the text. In this email, the teacher asks students to complete the task and send reply mail to the teacher. It should be strictly instructed that the students shall NOT CHANGE SUBJECT LINE. This is necessary to keep all the conversations threaded together. The benefit of activities using eGroup over simple email id is that, all students are able to view activities done by other students. This remains invisible to other students in case of email based activities. When the activities carried out of students are open to entire class, it gives several benefits. Firstly, the other students learn from their classmates. This is one of the most successful modes of learning. Secondly, the transparency in assessment can be achieved as things remain open to entire class. Thirdly, students develop digital citizenship skills. It is very important to teach students to digitally communicate in public spaces in an appropriate way.
·         Secondly, for the activities other than in text book, eGroups can be used. Teacher can initiate online discussions. An email asking for opinion building on the topic from current affairs which may or may not be distantly connected with topics in text can be initiated by teacher. The students shall reply the email of the teacher without changing subject line (so all mails are threaded together and can be accessed from the archives in future).
·         Teachers can be creative with this platform. For instance, the first line of a poem is written by teacher and share with the group along with some photographs or images or word clouds. The students shall read these media and start writing subsequent lines. Whoever drafts next lines shall share in the common thread with the class. The other students shall read teacher’s line along with students and add their lines thereafter. A beautiful poem can be created which the teacher shall discuss in the class or make final version and share with all students in email to end with the activity.

Podcast: Audacity and Sound Cloud

·         Activities based on audio can equally be interesting and fun. Here the teacher records first few lines of a poem or story or on an idea to be expanded or If I were a tree in the compound of the school. . . . Share this audio via any of the podcasting service wherein all the students are member or have the app in their mobile phones. They will get notification that the teacher has uploaded sound file. They will listen and write to complete the poem / story or paragraph in the given space (comment). The teacher will get notification as and when an activity is done on his podcast. S/he will check the work submitted by students and give final comment as a past of assessment. Again, such activities are open for peer and self evaluation as students can see activities done by other students also.
·         Many more similar activities can be thought of. The creativity of teacher in preparing new activities itself can be great learning lesson for students in creative writing.

WhatsApp

·         WhatsApp can be linking platform for all the activities carried out using ICT tools. Blog links, emails, group interactions, word clouds – everything can be shared over WhatsApp. It has been proved that more users use internet over mobile phones rather than PC or laptops, it is advisable to use mobile platform for integration of ICT in classrooms. The State Governments are coming up with classrooms where wifi connected tablets and hand held devices are given and ICT enabled classroom are becoming reality. Thus, teachers exploring possibilities of such platforms will make them future-ready.
·         Activities in the text books can be done on WhatsApp also. The teacher shall either prepare a Group or Broadcast on WhatsApp and share the activity. S/he can take photo on his/her mobile phone from the text book and ask students to do the task during off hours (out of classroom or after regular teaching).
·         Apart from text related activities, teacher can share word-cloud of story or poem or any other authentic material and various activities can be thought out. The purpose shall be to ask students to view small video, a picture and write something creative on it. Quite an interesting amount and quality of language can be generated in this activity.
·         Students shall learn creative writing skills along with various other skills like reading other media, using mobile digital gadgets for academic purpose and creative / divergent thinking.

Short Message Service (SMS)

·         SMS is very good for writing activity if there are no smart phones or internet connectivity. The teacher can use SMS for only-text based activities.
o   For example, first message, related to first line of a poem or story is sent to first group of students in the classroom. That group shall ‘read’ the message, add a line or two and forward it to another group. This continues till the last group receives and sends the message back to the teacher. The teacher shall write the poem / story he has received on black board or display on screen via projector. This gives an opportunity to discuss the natural language generated in informal environment.
·         Similarly other tasks related to text book or other than text book can be prepared. The more the teacher is innovative and expert in the use of technology, the better activities and tasks can be prepared.

Creative Writing Activities and the ICT / Web 2.0 Tools

Creative Writing Activity
ICT / Web 2.0 Tool to be Integrated in Activity
Expansion of an Idea
Blog, eGroup, Email, WhatsApp, WordCloud
Story Writing
Blog, WordCloud, eGroup, Email, WhatsApp, Podcast
Poem Writing
Blog, WordCloud, eGroup, Email, WhatsApp, Podcast
If I were . . .
Blog, WordCloud, eGroup, Email, WhatsApp, Podcast
Dictation Activity
Podcast, Sound recording /editing software, Blog, WhatsApp

Rubric: Online Assessment by Teacher, Peer and Self

Normally, in traditional classroom, the teacher is the sole assessor. Not only s/he is the only one to pass on judgment of the performance, s/he is also the one with the most randomized assessment system. Most of the time appropriate and uniform rubric to assess writing activities is not prepared by the teacher. Such rubric, if it is prepared, shall be available to students, and students shall play active role in peer assessment and self-assessment. As and when teacher thinks of integrating ICT / Web 2.0 tools, s/he shall make provision for internet based online rubric for assessment by teacher, peer and self. For this there are two easy to use tools: 1) Google Form for online rubric, 2) Flubaroo for generating auto grade, if need be to ascertain right and wrong answers. Generally, in the rubric for assessment of writing activities, there shall be no right or wrong answers. Only if it is comprehension type quiz, there is need of Flubaroo in the assessment rubric.
The rubric should see that the language generated in all these activities will be informal and natural. As technology is to promote unstructured and informal methods of learning, the language generated may be quite easy going, natural, full of errors, typos and spelling errors. There should be space and freedom to use similar language in all these writing activities. Here is one sample of online rubric for assessment of writing activities: http://dilipbarad.blogspot.in/2015/10/rubric-for-evaluation-of-written.html

Example of Rubric for Assessment of Creative Written Activities

Grading Rubric for Creative Written Activities

Elements
1-5
6-10
11-15
16-20
Content and
- Content is
- Content shows
- Content shows
- Content shows
Development.
incomplete and
low level of
some level of
high level of

inaccurate.
comprehension
comprehension
comprehension

- Major points are
and accuracy.
and accuracy.
and accuracy.

stated.
- Points are not
-Some points are
- Major points are

-Shows no
clearly stated and
stated clearly and
stated clearly and

originality and
supported.
well-supported.
are well supported.

creativity
- Shows little
-Shows some
- Shows originality


originality and
originality and
and creativity.


creativity.
Creativity

Structure and
- Structure of the
- Structure of the
- Structure of the
- Structure of the
Organization
Write-up is fairly
Write-up is not clear
Write-up is fairly
Write-up is clear and

clear and easy to
and difficult to
clear and easy to
easy to follow.

follow.
follow.
follow.
- Demonstrate

- May have
- May have minor
- Demonstrate
cohesion and

inappropriate
digression from
some cohesion and
coherence

transitions that
the thesis.
Coherence
throughout the

disrupt the

throughout the
Write-up.

progression of

Write-up.


ideas.



Creativity
Write up is very creative.

Write-up follows
Write-up attempts to be creative by is cliché by and large
Write-up is cliché
There is scope of improvement


most guidelines for creative writing


Cliché completely absent in the write up
Cliché almost under control

Grammar and
- Write-up contains
- Write-up contains
- Write-up contains
- Rules of
Punctuation
numerous
few grammatical,
minimal errors in
grammar, usage,

grammatical,
punctuation and
grammar,
and punctuation

punctuation, and
spelling errors.
punctuation and
are followed;

spelling errors.
- Language lacks
spelling.
spelling is correct.

- Language uses
clarity or includes
-Contains minor
- Language is clear

jargon or
the use of some
violations in
and precise;

conversational
jargon or
writing, but do not
sentences display

tone.
conversational
distract the
consistently


tone.
meaning; well-
strong, varied



Structured
structure.



sentences, varied




structure.



Google Form for Online Rubric and Online tests

The online rubric for the assessment of writing activities can be prepared on Google Forms. Even the online tests for comprehension type activities can be prepared on Google Forms.

Flubaroo for Auto Grading and Emailing Grades to Students

The benefit of using Google Form for online exam will be that a particular script named Flubaroo will help teachers in auto generation of grades. The same script will help in sending grades with correct answer to all the students via email. This will save teacher time and burden form reading each and every items one by one. The saved time can be used for innovative activities. Interactive quiz can be prepared on Hotpotatoes as well. It can be downloaded from hotpot.uvic.ca.

Quick Links

How to . . .
Links to self-help learners . . .
Podcast

Blog

Email

SMS

Integrating ICT in Teaching and Learning
·         http://edtechreview.in/trends-insights/insights/959-advantages-of-using-ict-in-learning-teaching-processes