Friday, May 25, 2012

Tools to help you generate writing ideas, Day #3--10 great writing apps

This day should have probably preceded the one before it, so you may return to this one.

Part of the brainstorming process is figuring out how to present a topic, but the other portion is figuring out the topic. And, this is what my students struggled with the most. Many would say, "well, I don't know what to write so I'm not going to." If you think about it, how often do you postpone doing something because starting the task is too intimidating? This is the same problem students face when beginning the writing process. In fact, this is probably the most difficult step.

So, what are some tools that can help students generate ideas? Try some of these in addition to the standard:


  • Photographs
  • Surroundings
  • Newspapers
  • Found items

Standard 2.0:

  • Stumbleupon: This site generates random pages. These pages can be filtered by topic as to help students narrow down a broad interest they have. Just be sure they enter with a goal in order to avoid getting lost in the maze.
  • TDB Special Projects Generator: This generates random three-word phrases that can help spur ideas and thoughts. 
  • Random Quotations: Quotations are a great way to generate writing ideas. This site provides random quotations each day to provide students with writing topics. 
  • Wikipedia Random Page: Yes, this is Wikipedia. However, it's Wikipedia with a twist. Each time you press Alt+Shift+X, you'll have a new random Wikipedia page. Once again, these pages can give students topics to ponder. For instance, when I clicked on the link, I was directed to a page on Podocarpus milanjianus--a species of conifer. This can generate topics on plants or even plant locales. 
  • Google's Photo of the Day on iGoogle: This takes the traditional use of photographs to a new level.
  • Random Photo Browser: This gives you a random assortment of photos each day. 
Of course, there are always question prompts and other tools to generate writing ideas online. However, these call upon the unique collaboration ability of the Web. 

Stay tuned for more building vocabulary and sentence structure with Web 2.0 tools. 

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