Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tech on Tuesday...Pocketbooth Writing

One of my favorite subjects to teach is writing.  I love the freedom and creativity it affords to me as a teacher, but also to my students.  When I look at the way that I was taught writing, I really cannot remember lessons focused on specific craft techniques.  Never did anyone talk to me about developing an idea or adding voice to a piece.  I was always instructed to follow the 5 paragraph essay model (under much scrutiny here lately).  I don't know about you, but I very rarely use a 5 paragraph essay when I am writing.  

A few years back, I had the opportunity to become an official 6 + 1 Traits of Writing trainer.  I boarded the plane and headed out to the Pacific Northwest where Education Northwest is located.  We met at Cannon Beach, Oregon (my favorite place in the world), and immersed ourselves in all things writing for an entire week.  I ate it up like a spoon.  Being on the beach also contributed to my happy disposition, but that is a story for later.  When I left the training, I had a much better understanding of what writing could and should look like in my classroom.  

Out of all of the traits, I enjoy teaching Voice the most.  This is where a writer's personality really shines.  I love to read the pieces of my students and hear their emotion and flair.  Over the past few years, I have spent a lot of time on this trait because I feel like it is very important.  We've all read pieces that were difficult to get through and dry.  Honestly, that is one of the things that motivates me in teaching voice.  I am tired of reading writing that has no pizzazz.  Up until this year, I did all of this without using technology, but this year was different.  

Enter the iPad. I purchased a fun little app called Pocketbooth.  Basically Pocketbooth is a tool for creating photostrips just like the photobooth machines found at the mall, amusement parks, etc.  I have an entire box of those strips from my youth.  I loved them and still do.  So, I wanted to use this little gem of an app.  I think I paid 99 cents for it and I have definitely received a good return on my investment.

After showing my class the ins and outs of the app, I let them loose.  Their task:  Take a photo strip that shows 4 different emotions.  (I wish that I had videoed that step in the process.  They were hilarious.)

Hope you can get the gist of the pictures without his eyes.

After taking the photo strip, we printed them out so we could utilize the photographs.  Each student had their own strip.  Next, students were grouped with a partner and identified the emotions present.  Many of my students wrote only one word for each photograph, but there were those who used a thesaurus to generate a  bigger list.  (This could turn into a word choice lesson as well).  

Once all of the emotions were identified, students were then given the challenge to work those emotions into their writing through events, reactions, words, etc.  You could use this on a new piece of writing or have students return to a previous piece and incorporate the words.  

This was one of my favorite projects as well as my students.  Not only did I get great writing out of it (wish I could share, but the writing was on my hard drive and it crashed), but I also had a great group of hilarious photos to display.  

If you try it out, please let me know how it works in your classroom.


  1. Shasta- you spoke to our group yesterday during iPad training and I got the hunch you would be a blogger too so I Googled you and came across your blog. I am always excited to follow other bloggers, especially ones that love technology as much as I do and are from SC!
    Check out my blog if you have a chance...
    Tales from a 4th (and 5th) Grade Teacher

  2. Thank you for seeking me out! I enjoyed being with you guys yesterday. If you need anything throughout the year, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.


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