Tag: audience

The Six Word Writing Challenge This Week's COW Writing Challenge

This week’s COW Writing Challenge is a variation on one of more popular writing challenges.  

In October, hundreds of students wrote the “Five Word Writing Challenge.”  This writing challenge is even better.  It’s called the “Six Word Writing Challenge.” 

The bonus word list the students will use is only six words long. These words are:  throw, castle, slide, glove, glass, and question. (If they use up all of the bonus words on this list, they’ll be fed more bonus words from the COW Bonus Word List.)

An important aspect of this writing challenge is the sharing of stories after the writing session. When the students share their stories either orally or on the class bookshelf, the other students in the class can see the various ways these same five words have been used.  The individuality of each writer’s creative direction is brought to light. 

Tell your students to have fun making these six words a part of an amazing story!  

My Amazing Summer–Fact or Fiction? Using this week's Writing Challenge in the classroom

This week’s Alieo Writing Challenge  is “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” with a twist.  We’re asking writers to get creative and imagine the most incredible summer vacation ever.  Here’s the twist– only one part of their story must be true.  The rest can come from their imagination.  Can they make it really difficult for their readers to tell which part of their story is true? 

After your students have written this week’s Alieo Writing Challenge, here’s a classroom extension activity to further engage the class as writers share their work.

As each student reads their piece of writing, have the rest of the class listen carefully.  Their job as listeners is to attempt to determine the facts from the fiction.  After each student has read their piece of writing, have the students guess which part of the story was fact and which was fiction.

An alternative approach is to have the students read each story on the Class Bookshelf.  They then write down one part of each story which they think is factual.  The culmination of this activity is to have each writer reveal to the rest of the class which part of their writing was fact.

It never hurts to have some fun while turning your students into motivated writers!

The Onomatopoeia Writing Challenge Start the year off with a BANG, a SQUELCH, and a FLIP-FLOP!

Onomatopoeia are words that can be associated with sound effects.  Their meaning is tied to the sound of the word. 

For this writing challenge, select the Onomatopoeia Bonus Word list.  (Teachers can copy it from the Shared Bonus Word Tab, then assign it to their class.)  Try to incorporate all of the sound effect bonus words into your story.

Here’s the really fun part!  Get creative when you share your Onomatapoeia story.  Print out your story, then go through and highlight the onomatopoeia bonus words.  Then, you can share it in one of these ways:

1.  Get Dramatic

In reading your story, when you read a sound effects word, get dramatic!  Instead of just reading “bump,” read it like, “BUMP!” This is a great way to combine drama with reading your story aloud.

2.  Encourage Audience Participation

Another way to present your story is to make up signs for each of your sound effect words.  So, for example, when you get to the word woof in your story, you hold up the sign and everyone listening to your story joins in by making the sound effect.

3.  Become a Foley Artist

Look around for objects that make sounds similar to the sound effect words in your story.  For example, for boom, find a large bucket and bang it with your fist.  For pop, you could find a plastic bag or even a balloon.  As you read your story to a friend or your classmates, instead of reading the word, make the sound effect with the objects.

The Class Bookshelf Peer Audiences and Motivated Writers

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Among the many questions which have dogged, fascinated and bewildered educators is: “What motivates students to write?” There is no silver bullet. There is no all-encompassing answer. Even so, let us wade into the swamp of possibilities.

One source of motivation to consider is that of the writer’s audience. When writers write, their work is consciously and unconsciously influenced by their audience. Writer’s Block is often a symptom of sitting at your desk with that imaginary editor peering over your shoulder and commenting on every word that comes out of your creaking keyboard.

In the traditional classroom setting, the intended audience for a writer is the teacher who evaluates the writing and often gives a grade. This select audience of one does prove motivating for some young writers.

But what about the others? What of those reluctant writers who don’t respond to the carrot of good grades, or a gold star on their paper, or a pat on the proverbial back from their teacher?

To motivate students who are unmotivated in writing “school assignments,” it’s time to look at considering a writer’s audience in the school setting. One strategy to motivate these reluctant writers is to broaden their audience from the lone teacher to an audience of peers.

Rather than writing to please the teacher or get that good grade, the student responds to the knowledge his or her work will be read by a wider audience of peers. Providing an outlet where writing can be shared respectfully among peers often proves to be a powerful source of motivation for the otherwise uninterested writer.

To provide a forum for the sharing of student writing, the designers of COW(Creative Online Writing) at Alieo Games have created a feature called theClass Bookshelf. Writers are given an opportunity to share their writing with their peers on a class bookshelf monitored by the teacher. In addition, if teachers wish to create a printed class anthology, the stories are easily downloaded and printed.

With no simple one-size-fits-all solution for motivating young writers, teachers must explore a wide variety of approaches to find those key elements which get each particular individual fired up about writing. So, for starters, think about the audience.

Inspiring Reluctant and Not-so-reluctant Writers to Write COW: The Gamification of Creative Writing

Creative Online Writing (COW)

COW is an online web app designed for students of all abilities in grades 3-8. The goal of COW is to improve writing fluency– the ease with which ideas are generated and put into words. This is accomplished by giving students a gamified writing experience to encourage repeated practice and develop creative thinking.

COW also provides teachers and parents with a valuable tool to examine student writing through the use of advanced text analysis algorithms.

How COW Inspires Student Writers

  1. Blasting Off with Prompts
    There’s nothing like a good prompt to ignite the spark of creativity. When a student begins a new writing session, they are given the opportunity to draw from a bank of highly motivating prompts to get their creativity flowing. They also have the opportunity to forego the use of a prompt and just get writing.
  2. Stretching Creativity with Bonus WordsEvery 40-60 words the student writes, a bonus word will appear on the side of the writing page that the student can choose to incorporate into their writing. By using a bonus word within their writing, students will earn Alieo Dollars. Attempting to incorporate these bonus words into their narrative greatly enhances a writer’s creative agility.
  3. The Incentive of Earning Alieo DollarsAs students write, they will be earning Alieo Dollars. These are awarded for:
    • a. every Bonus Word used.
    • b. every word over six letters used in their writing.
    • c. using a descriptive word from each of the five senses of taste, touch, smell, hearing, and seeing.

    We are currently working on an avatar system in which the student can use their Alieo Dollars to purchase items to customize their avatars.

  4. Writing up through the Levels: From Micro-Fiction to Epic SagaThe number of words the student writes for each story will be added to their accumulated word total. COW has a level system such that as students write more words, they’ll progress from the Microfiction level (1,000 words), to Short Story (7,000 words), to Novelette (20k words), and so on until they’ve written enough words to reach the highest level of Epic/Saga (200k words).
  5. Sharing With an AudienceStudents’ stories are saved on their own personal Bookshelf. Young authors using COW will also have an opportunity to share their stories with an audience of peers on the Class Bookshelf.

COW: The Teacher Perspective

When educators log on, they see a dashboard where they can set up accounts for their students all at once. Each time a student finishes a writing session, the teacher can view the text the student has generated, as well as text analysis which includes:

  • the number of words the student wrote
  • the number of words over 6 letters long
  • the number of sensory words used (e.g. sound, sight, smell, touch, taste)
  • the number of adjectives, adverbs, nouns, prepositions, and verbs used
  • what tense the student wrote in, that is, how many verbs were past, present, or future tense
  • average length of sentence

Such text analysis can prove to be extremely valuable in directing instruction for individuals and classes.

Educators can also set a classroom word count goal. As each student writes, they contribute towards this collective writing goal.

A Class Bookshelf (with all stories approved by the teacher) is a place where students, colleagues and parents can view the students’ writing.

How to get involved in the initial prototype test of COW

If you are interested in running a user test in your classroom, please contact exec@alieogames.com with the subject heading ‘[COW tester]’ and we’ll send you a username and password so that you can see for yourself what COW is all about.

We are in a very early stage of development where only the bare bone features described above are available. Our goal is to tack down what your biggest challenges are for improving language literacy and writing fluency in your students. Even if you do not have the bandwidth to test out COW in your classroom, please don’t hesitate to email us and talk to us about your experiences with evaluating student writing and what you do to get kids to write more.

Technical requirements to test

Each student needs a computer with the following requirements:

  • An internet connection
  • Chrome, IE 9+, or Firefox

About Us

Alieo Games (alieogames.com) is an educational games company. It was founded by:

Chris McMahen, a teacher and children’s book author from British Columbia
Kit Chen, Neesha Desai and Nathaniel Rossol, three Ph.D. candidates from the Department of Computing Science at the University of Alberta

© 2017 AlieoGames

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