So much new technology has emerged since I’ve had a classroom of my own; I barely know where to begin. The Internet was in its infancy when I taught full-time, and over the past ten years I’ve discovered many little treasures that would have been absolutely inspirational to even my most reluctant student writers.
Creative writing is a passion of mine, and I did have my students create daily journals, but I was always struggling to think of topics that would appeal to everyone. I have contributed to Helium.com several times, but it had never occurred to me that it could be used for an amped-up journaling tool. There are categories upon categories of topics to choose from. There is a Debate section that allows writers to receive votes from the Helium community to see whose argument is the most compelling, which would be perfect for honing those persuasive writing skills. For those students to whom writing has a special appeal, there is even an option to contribute articles for payment, which seems like an appealing springboard to a writing career (also a much more exciting opportunity than the fast food industry). Introducing students to Helium would be beneficial in so many ways, and unlike a student blog, there are a plethora of topics provided for them that can help them get started. Additionally, those students who become recognized within the Helium community of writers by receiving high ratings have something extra to add to their resume or college application. Whether they truly enjoy the activity of writing or not, contributing to Helium will allow the students to find a topic that they are truly passionate about, which for some students is half the battle.
“Wreck This Journal: More Ways” ©Davidd 2009 http://www.flickr.com/photos/puuikibeach/3784412518/
Under Bloom’s taxonomy, writing articles and/or participating in debates would fit perfectly into the Synthesize/Create level. For instance, one of the article contributions I participated in was to discuss “Guilty Pleasures: Fried Dough”. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I contributed an article to a debate about whether “medical advice should trump parental rights”. When left to their own devices, students are likely to limit themselves to topics such as “what I did over the weekend”, so asking them to write about a topic on Helium would provide them with more sophisticated subjects, a broader audience, and a competitive environment in which they will want to stand out. Additionally, students will never again have to waste time staring at a blank page trying to figure out how to write, and I gain extra space in my classroom where stacks of spiral-bound journals used to be.
Visit Helium here: http://www.helium.com/