Creative Writing with Emoji Prompts

Creative writing copy

What kid does not love emojis? I came across this website byrdseed.com/emoji and thought this would be a great lesson for my students. I feel strongly that our kids don’t have enough creative writing time, so I wanted to give them time to dig deep into their creativty. I recently introduced my students to their Google accounts, so I thought this would be a great way for them to explore writing in Google Docs. I instructed students to open their documents and then create a new tab so they could go back and forth from the emoji prompts to their document. The kids absolutely loved this project and the stories they wrote were creative, witty, and fun to read.

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This is what the emoji prompts look like once you start clicking “and then”

How It Works:

Each time you click “and then” users get a new emoji to include in their story. I had my students take screenshots of their emojis when they were finished and include them in their document under their title. Additionally, I had the students underline the word that corresponded to the emoji they used. I found it interesting how students interpret what the emojis are…because they certainly are open for interpretation! Here are a few samples (screenshots) from some of my students! Super fun writing activity and they all gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up! This lesson combines lots of useful technology techniques with creative writing.

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Keyboarding Punch Cards

KEYBOARDING PUNCH CARDS

I am a big fan of Dance Mat Typing for elementary students. To make it more fun, I use punch cards for when students finish a stage within the levels. There are 4 levels and here is how they are broken down.

Level 1: Stages 1, 2, 3 (home row, e and i, r and u)

Level 2: Stages 4, 5, 6 (t and y, w and o, q and p)

Level 3: Stages 7, 8, 9 (v and m, b and n, c and comma)

Level 4: Stages 10, 11, 12 (x and z, / and ., and shift keys)

When a student finishes a level, they come up for a punch in their card. I think this makes students feel a sense of accomplishment and pride as they finish their levels and it also ensures that they finish an entire stage within the levels before moving on.

You can download the punch cards at the bottom of this post. Print them, cut them out and find a hole punch in a unique shape and watch how the determination increases by having something as simple as a punch card!

Click here to go to the Dance Mat Typing website.

Keyboarding Punch Cards with levels/stages from Dance Mat Typing

Keyboarding Punch Cards with levels/stages from Dance Mat Typing

Keyboarding Punch Cards (appsolutelyapril.com)

Here’s a picture of how I organize the punch cards since I teach so many different classes.

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Create “Home Row Pumpkins” in Pages

HOME ROW PUMPKINS IN PAGES

Want a fun way to get kids inspired to practice their typing skills? This activity allows students to learn some of the formatting features in Pages (you could modify this to use Microsoft Word, as well) and gives students the opportunity to practice typing using the home row keys. I encourage students to practice without taking their eyes off of the paper and to practice looking at the screen and paper rather than down at their keyboard. When they are finished following the directions, they will love to see what all of the letters have created!

Click on Home Row Pumpkin to download the instructions.

Here is an example of what the pumpkin will look like once finished.

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Happy Halloween!!

Happy

Keyboarding and the Common Core

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As a technology teacher, teaching younger students keyboarding is something I’ve considered a best practice for many years. I’ve always thought that technology wasn’t “going anywhere”, so kids better learn how to be as productive as possible with technology tools, keyboarding being one of them. I believe students as early as kindergarten should be learning the basics of the keyboard as well as basic shortcut keys to increase productivity. When I mention to my students that we are practicing keyboarding, it is unlikely that I will hear a loud cheer from them because naturally, it is not the most fun thing to do. However, you can make it fun and create an environment where your students really love to challenge themselves and they want to go home and practice. That’s the key here…practice. Expecting a student to achieve great results in typing accuracy when they only get to practice an hour a week is really setting them up for failure. Kids need to be doing drills at home and at school as well as typing within applications to create a meaningful learning experience. The upcoming PARCC exams will be used in our district to assess students’ mastery of Common Core State Standards. The PARCC will be given to students in grades 3 and up, beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. The PARCC exams will be administered digitally, with students completing the tests on computers. You can read more at PARCConline.org. Since the PARCC’s ELA test will be taken on computers, students will need to type their written answers. While examples of type-written questions have yet to be released, we can draw conclusions about the rigor of these writing tasks from the Common Core State Standards. According to CCSS w.4.6, fourth graders must be able to type “a minimum of one page in a single sitting.” CCSS w.5.6 requires fifth graders to type “a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.” Here are some ideas to try out when you are using laptops or a computer lab with your kiddos in preparation of the PARCC as well as meeting critical Common Core Standards.

-Make a fun theme for the beginning of your big focus on keyboarding! Some examples I’ve used in the past: ‘Keyboarding Survivor’, ‘Are You Ready for Some Keyboarding?’, ‘Keyboarding Olympics’, and ‘Keyboarding Bootcamp’…you get the idea. It just sets the kids up to have some fun.

Keyboarding Boot Camp from April Requard on Vimeo.

 

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Keyboarding Boot Camp

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Are You Ready for Some Keyboarding?

Keyboarding Survivor

Keyboarding Survivor

-Go over proper typing technique (I call it the Important 4)

1. Sit up straight

2. Feet flat on the floor in front of you

3. Look up more than down

4. Hands on the home row keys

-Do a pre and post assessment on your students so you can measure their growth.

-Have your students participate in many free web-based learning games for keyboarding (I’ll list them at the bottom).

-Have your students participate in frequent timed tests to assess their growth. Create a spreadsheet to record the data.

-Have your students do this exercise: Pick a topic and have your students type for one minute. Time will be called after one minute. Have them count their words and type it next to their paragraph. Repeat this exercise a total of three times and see if their accuracy and or speed improved.

-Stress the fact that accuracy and proper typing technique is more important than speed!

Those are some ideas to try out! Now, let’s put those ideas to use with some practice for your students!

My favorite web-based program where you can track your students’ progress is Typing Web. You will have to make them an account, but it’s really great for going in and looking at how many exercises they’ve completed and if they are completing their assigned homework. Also, it gives great pre and post data to how your student is progressing. I use this will all students in grades 2-5.

Dance Mat Typing is another favorite because kids love it and it really goes through all of the steps in correct finger placement and it is quite interactive. I got this awesome idea from another teacher to create “punch cards” for students to get punched after they finished a level in Dance Mat Typing. Here is the website this teacher created with “stages” that correspond with the punch cards. You can download the cards here.

Here is another list of keyboarding links: (some may be repeated, as these lists have been grabbed from multiple lists on my computer)