Monday, February 27, 2012

Poetry Publishing on the iPads

We’re in the heart of our unit on poetry. My students have learned several strategies that poets use including repetition, onomatopoeia, alliteration, visual imagery and line breaks. This week a few students wanted to draft their poems on the iPad. We had not tried this before, so I decided to let my students “have a go.”

As I watched my students carefully, I tried to think about how this experience was different than writing or publishing on paper. I noticed two big things right away.

First, the concept of line breaks and how to use them effectively was evident when writing on the iPad. Planning line breaks and reworking them to fit in a handwritten poem is labor intensive for the average first grade student. When writing on the iPad, line breaks become easy to fix, move and manipulate. This results in line breaks that make an impact for both the reader and writer.

Second, kids were more likely to revise their drafts when working on the iPad. Similar to what I observed with line breaks, it was easy for kids to manipulate the text and change the layout without having to erase, rewrite and reorganize. Many times I saw my students write a few lines then share their work with a think partner. When the think partner would provide feedback, kids were more willing to use the feedback to enhance their poem because insertion or revision was a quick fix on the iPad. In previous writing attempts, I had not seen my students work so flexibly or be as open to feedback.

There were additional benefits to writing on the iPad including the ease of organization and diverse options for sharing. Not all students desired to draft on the iPad and that is perfectly fine by me. I want to provide my students many options for thinking, writing and sharing their work. I hope to create an environment where kids move seamlessly between tools, modalities and resources.

It seems as though the students who drafted on the iPad were inspired by this experience–many wrote multiple poems and 4 or 5 are creating an ePub anthologies. I’ll try to provide an update next week on Poetry Friday.

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