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Help Students Organize and Write Ideas: Mobile and Online Tools

EducationWorld is pleased to present this article contributed by Jennifer Birch, a tech education correspondent for Techie Doodlers and a fan of projects initiated by the youth organization Think Big.

Many students consider writing a huge challenge—even getting started can be tough. While digital distractions can make it hard for kids to stay on task, mobile and online tools also can inspire them to become better and more efficient writers.  And since literacy expert Cathy Puett Miller recommends that students individualize their writing, tech tools present the perfect solution.

The applications below can help students refine their writing skills, including everything from organizing files to practicing effective writing processes.


Organization and Storage

Before students can become good writers, they need to learn good organization skills. Storage applications like the iCloud make it easier for them to back up and organize their files. An iCloud-equipped device such as the iPhone 5C can store documents and more, as it creates a local folder which is synched on the cloud. This lets users access and share their written work across all iDevices, including their Mac at home.

Below are other apps students can use for storing and organizing files:

Zotero helps organize the online sources needed for a research assignment. Zotero lets kids manage all sources into a centralized library, share files with others, and post feedback on them. The app also helps foster learning communities, which can help young people become better writers.

Dropbox is the easiest way for students to submit writing homework and view handouts for their next assignment. Dropbox works with most devices, and files can easily be accessed from the cloud. With its 2GB storage capacity, it’s also a good place to back up important documents.

Evernote’s online notebook makes it easier for students to organize all their content. The app also allows them to store PDFs, images and even hand-written notes. It’s a great way of keeping everything they need in one place.

Index Card lets young writers gather and compile their ideas before writing. By touching and dragging each card, they can easily organize their thoughts. These projects can be shared via email or Dropbox.


Essential Tools for Writing

Thanks to advances in mobile technology, students can now write whenever and wherever inspiration strikes. They can use numerous apps inside and outside the classroom.

Below are some examples:

Q10, designed and built with writers in mind, is a really simple text editor that will help students avoid distractions and focus on their work. The app’s simple toolbar shows the character, word or page count for each document, and the Time Alarm feature is perfect for setting timed-writing sessions.

Bluster! offers fun and learning at the same time. The word-matching game helps would-be writers develop their vocabulary. Students can play different games to match adjectives, synonyms, rhyming words, homophones, suffixes and prefixes. They can play solo or go head-to-head with a classmate or friend.

Cool Writer inspires students to take notes and write. The app offers customization features such as emojis, shortcut keys, keyboards, characters, article pictures and more. It allows users to work with their Office, iWork and even PDF documents. Cool Writer also can be used with online storage accounts like iCloud.

Writer, another notable and simple writing application, streamlines the whole writing experience. The app removes all the bells and whistles to make writing a really simple task for students.


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