January 19, 2012

Creative Writing Tools - Scholastic Story Starter

I've explored Scholastic Story Starter

This tool seems like an interesting tool to try with my 11-14 year-old girls and boys learning English as a foreign language, to practice writing in a creative and fun way.

The task comes in four levels: K-1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4-6th. You choose a level and start the adventure: you find yourself in front of a strange looking machine with four wheels you can spin with a click of one of four buttons or you can decide to click a big button which causes all parts of the machine to spin at the same time It looks quite amusing and game-like.

Every time you click you choose one part of your writing task:

  • Form ( Write a postcard/ letter/ invitation/ to-do list,… Describe.., Write a funny/horror/.. story …)

  • An adjective describing the main character (brainy, nerdy, young, old, stubborn, …)

  • The main character of your story (movie star, rock star, dentist, weasel, gorilla, …)

  • A part of the plot – a dependent clause (…. who writes murals, … who ages 20 years in one day, …)

I had a lot of fun spinning the wheel over and over and these are some tasks I got for level 4.6:

  • Write a to-do list for a know-it-all president who explores a newly discovered planet

  • Write a horror story about a greedy president who discovers she has superpowers

  • Write a postcard from an unpopular vampire bat who ignores orchestras
    Write a brief biography of an old rock star who hitchhikes cross-country

What I liked about the tool:

  1. a lot of creative ideas for writing

  2. visually attractive for students

  3. activity can be done in the computer lab but also printed or with one computer and a projector

  4. activity can be done in different ways, the tool gives only the idea and the template for writing and allows the teacher a lot of space for turning it into a lesson

  5. if written on the given templates, stories can be printed and look very nice because students can use drawing tools, too

  6. the tool is free.

Possible problem I've noticed:
- stories can't be linked to or embedded, only printed.

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