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Many students dream of being the next J.K Rowling or Stephanie Meyer, and creative writing apps can be useful to help them develop their skills, capture their thoughts and express their ideas in a structured way. Boomwriter is an online creative writing tool that promotes collaborative writing, and encourages participation by appealing to a students’ desire to be published. The app offers a unique way to keep students engaged in the writing process, offers additional practice, and teaches a host of important writing skills.
The app begins by giving enrolled students a “story start,” or the first chapter of a book. The students are then given a word count limit and a challenge to write the second chapter (or third or fourth, depending on when students enter the writing process). Boomtown users then participate in a blind vote to determine which chapter is the best fit for the story start, and the winning chapter(s) are subsequently published in a real book that friends and family can purchase. For voting and participating, students receive “Boom Dollars” and points that can be used to purchase customized clothing and accessories for their Boomwriter avatar.
Students can participate in a limited number of writing experiences if a school is signed up through Boomwriter, or individual students can join in the more expansive “Writing Club” when parents pay an annual fee of US $39.95. The Writing Club offers unlimited writing opportunities, celebrity guest author competitions, one free book a year, and other perks that the limited free account does not offer. For students who love to write, the investment would likely be a wise one.
Even with a limited free subscription, teachers can use Boomwriter in a host of constructive ways to teach writing and language skills. Think about using the Boomtown creative writing tool to:
Teach the power of collaborative writing.
While many lower grade teachers have students participate in a collaborative writing project, few projects are as long or as challenging as the Boomwriter model. Students using Boomwriter learn how to keep one piece of writing cohesive as one of many authors, a skill that many university students still haven’t mastered.
Help students understand tone and characterization.
Each student is given a story start with a distinct tone
and containing particular characters. In order to create
a subsequent chapter that works, students will have to learn how to identify—and match—tone and characterization skillfully. This type of exercise will certainly also make use of key reading skills, like vocabulary identification and context clues.
Practice often-tested writing skills.
Description and paragraph structure, as well as language skills, like sentence structure, punctuation, and parts of speech, are clearly at work in the Boomwriter app. Understanding how to identify all of the adjectives in a sentence, for example, to understand tone, helps to improve student skills.
Introduce the idea of peer review.
Evaluating the other chapter entries to determine which of them best matches the story start will help students learn the skills needed to impartially assess a piece of writing. Taking them through the process, from that first initial emotional reaction to the identification of the criteria for a “good” chapter, will teach them how to approach a task analytically as well as give them skills to use when reading a classmate’s work later.
Allow students to frequently practice writing skills.
The old adage that “practice makes perfect” may not be completely accurate when it comes to student writing, but frequent practice does allow writing to become more fluid and less intimidating for students. This will be especially important if your area administers a writing test for students; frequent writing practice calms nerves and improves your ability to target skills that need additional work.
Create a fun independent activity or center.
Students who are finished with their assigned work will love the opportunity to log into Boomwriter and work on a story. It might feel like a reward, but you’ll know that it’s actually building skills—the best of both worlds!
Find out more about Boomwriter and how it can be used in the classroom via their Schools section.