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Sunday, March 10, 2013

How to Elaborate Writing with Telescopic Text

Telescopic Text allows writers a chance to share a story just one bit at a time, while revealing small and large thoughts alike in a measured manner. You can best understand this site by checking out the site creator's example.

Here's a video that explains the creation process and gives some examples:

Sample Applications for the Reading/Language Arts Classroom:
  • Use this site for students to practice elaborating simple texts (see one silly but effective student example). The fact is, elaboration is a tough to teach topic in writing. Telescopic Texts is perfect for tackling that topic in an interesting, unconventional way. If you're looking for some lessons on elaboration, I'd recommend you check out this blog post that references using picture books to model elaboration.
  • After studying genre, challenge students to create a silly story that changes genre with every extension of the text.
  • Assign students the task of describing historical periods in an expanding series of events.
  • Have students reveal changes in a character's traits or feelings over time.
  • Challenge students to write humorous texts through unexpected twists and turns in the plot.
Notes and Caveats:
  • Students should register for their own accounts and learn the difference between saving and publishing (saving allows future edits; publishing does not).
  • If students create telescopic texts, they can share them with classmates without saving them; be aware, however, that once the page is closed, the text is gone forever!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Google Docs Story Builder: Creating the "Back Story" to Documents

Most of us have used Google Docs in a collaborative setting, and we've seen how multiple users edit and add on to each others' comments. But Story Builder allows students to create a narrative around those changes by animating the discourse between fictional writers on a Google Doc. The best way to understand this site is to visit and see some of the sample stories there.

Here's one of Google's own examples:

Sample Applications for the Reading/Language Arts Classroom:
  • Two of a book's characters can describe a shared event, told from their unique perspectives. For example, two fairy tale or fable characters can each explain their side of a story, contradicting and correcting each other as they go.
  • Given a quote from a novel, two or three of the novel's main characters can begin discussing it, and possibly modifying it, to express their individual world views.
  • In the book Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, we hear dual perspectives of the book's main events as the first person narrative switches from Bryce to Juli with each new chapter. Google Docs Story Builder would be the perfect tool for telling both protagonists' point of view in a novel such as this. You might even consider having students work in pairs, with each taking on the role of one of the book's characters.
Notes and Caveats:
  • I haven't pushed this app to its limits, and cannot attest to the maximum time or number of characters permitted. I'd recommend keeping it simple to start.