In a presentation the other day, I chose to share http://wallwisher.com/ and (http://primarywall.com/..text is restricted to 160 characters. Anyone who uses twitter knows it is restricted to 140 characters. Students need to know how to say what they need to in the least amount of 'words' for things like resumes. Are we providing practice for that? What are your favorite writing activities or strategies?
An extreme and amazing example is Ernest Vincent Wright's 1939 Gadsby -- a 50,000 word novel written entirely without the use of the letter "e". By the way, writing that eliminates a letter of the alphabet is called a Lipogram (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipogram). Letter e lipograms are among the most difficult. Try writing even a paragraph without an e.
While these are good exercises to improve our writing in general, they have a practical purpose too. As our students begin to write college applications, seek employment, and vie for competitive grants, they will find that careful attention to guidelines can mean the difference between success and failure.
Your students are developing skills that just may give them the edge they'll need in the future.
Back to the electronic wall...have kids create a word wall for storytelling (adjectives, nouns etc.), then have them work in groups to use as many of the words that they can in a short story. Words posted might include exclaim, tell, shout, said, enormous, gigantic, large and so forth. By using WallWisher, you are limiting the amount of words they can use.
As students practice writing across the curriculum, here's a reminder of what the FL Writes Assessment is looking for.
The FLORIDA WRITES! requires students to produce a piece of writing within established guidelines and specific parameters.
Each student receives a writing folder containing one writing prompt (topic) with two lined pages for the written response. Students are given 45 minutes to read the prompts independently, plan their responses, and write their responses in the folders. A separate sheet is provided for planning or prewriting activities (e.g., outlining, clustering, mapping, and jotting down ideas).
The student responses are scored by trained readers using the holistic method to evaluate a piece of writing for its overall quality. The readers consider four elements: focus, organization, support, and conventions. In this type of scoring, readers make a judgment about the entire response and do not focus on any one aspect of writing.
Focus refers to how clearly the paper presents and maintains a main idea, theme, or unifying point. Papers representing the higher end of the point scale demonstrate a consistent awareness of the topic and do not contain extraneous information.
Organization refers to the structure or plan of development (beginning, middle, and end) and whether the points logically relate to one another. Organization also refers to (1) the use of transitional devices to relate the supporting ideas to the main idea, theme, or unifying point and (2) the evidence of a connection between sentences. Papers representing the higher end of the point scale use transitions to signal the plan of development or text structure and end with summary or concluding statements.
Support refers to the quality of details used to explain, clarify, or define. The quality of support depends on word choice, specificity, depth, and thoroughness. Papers representing the higher end of the point scale provide examples and illustrations in which the relationship between the supporting ideas and the topic is clear.
Conventions refers to punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and variation in sentence structure. The conventions are basic writing skills included in Florida's Minimum Student Performance Standards. Papers representing the higher end of the point scale follow, with few exceptions, the conventions of punctuation, capitalization, and spelling and use a variety of sentence structures to present ideas. (http://www.fldoe.org/asp/fw/fwapdesc.asp)