Writing Fun – a visual writing aid – by Jenny Eather

Posted on Oct 30, 2008 by kjarrett 6 Comments

Good morning all,

I teach in a lab. There are “open” times when I don’t have class and teachers bring their kids in for projects. Often, they are writing or research projects. And, many times, I see kids struggling with the process of organizing their thoughts into a finished document. It’s hard to watch. :( What to do?

Thanks to a Twitter post from Amanda Marrinan of Brisbane, Australia, I just learned about Writing Fun by Jenny Eather:

Can you tell Jenny likes the color purple? ;-) She is a brilliant Flash programmer and has built a handy tool to help kids produce a variety of written texts. The page loads quickly and the site is easy to use. Take a look at the interface. Shown below is the “Information Report”:

She uses a graphic organizer to … graphically organize thoughts and prompts to help kids “see” what they have to write. She uses color effectively to categorize information and has coded other intuitive elements into the site (menus, navigation, etc.) Multiple examples of each writing style are provided, as well as a template:

I like this ‘word processor’ because it focuses on WRITING rather than tempting kids with text effects and graphics that always seem to chew up up their available time in the lab. There is no spell checker, and there is no save or export option; the only form of output is a printed document (which looks wonderful!)

I could see this being used as a ROUGH DRAFT generator and to help kids organize their thoughts and sentences. They could then proofread that document, perhaps turn it in to be marked up, and then create the final deliverable in Microsoft Word.

What do you think? Does an online “graphic organizer” like this have benefits vs. the traditional paper ones I see kids coming into my lab with? Is the fact that it’s online (and the coolness value) offset the lack of save/export and other features? Will kids USE this tool? Will it HELP them? Perhaps you have some firsthand experience with it? Let me know your thoughts!