Using Writing Prompts to Jumpstart Student Writing

Reposted with permission from

The last few posts on this blog have been on word prediction software, which is a technology that can help a variety of struggling writers. While the technology itself is great, it is important to keep in mind that great technology without appropriate instructional strategies can still lead to poor results.

One of my favourite models to help represent this is the TPACK model (see image below).



According to the TPACK website, the TPACK model identifies the knowledge educators need to teach effectively with technology. It includes knowledge on technology, content, and pedagogy (strategies).

While I think most educators are comfortable with the content piece, I often see many struggle to effectively integrate instructional strategies with the technology they are using. For example, while word prediction software is an excellent technology support, simply handing it over to a struggling writer may not produce immediate benefits. Instead, combining this technology with an instructional strategy such as a writing prompt can help to improve student writing more quickly.

What is a writing prompt? Basically any text, image or other medium that can jumpstart student writing. For example, “What was your favourite part of summer break?” or “What is your favourite food and why?” Do a quick Google search on writing prompts and you will find hundreds of examples (such as this post with 180 different prompts).

The purpose of writing prompts is to simply get students writing. Practising writing, on any topic, helps students become better writers. Combining this with technology such as word prediction can get even the most reluctant writers going.

What strategies can you use to help motivate student writing? If you are looking for more ideas on using word prediction, be sure to get my free report containing 6 Word Prediction Strategies for Struggling Students.

Jason Carroll

Jason first learned of Assistive Technology while working on his undergraduate degree where much of his spare time was spent assisting a regional education centre with basic technology needs. Amazed at how this technology could benefit so many students (particularly those he grew up with) he was hooked and immediately became an expert at the centre. After receiving his Masters, Jason returned to the coop to serve as a full time Assistive Technology Consultant serving over 200 schools in the central Kentucky Region. Since this time, Jason has trained thousands on Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning concepts throughout the United States and beyond. His focus is on integrating research based practices into the work he does and helping others ensure that what they are doing works. He specialises in assisting people to bridge the gap between operation of technology and actual implementation. Jason is a published author, has taught Instructional Technology and Universal Design for Learning at the University level, and spends a significant amount of time on e-Learning and blended learning initiatives. He is a graduate of the Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program (ATACP) from California State University at Northridge and holds a Masters in Business Administration. Currently Jason serves as Product Marketing Manager for North America at Texthelp Inc. where he oversees new product launches and speaks nationally on a variety of Assistive Technology topics.

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