Here are some suggestions for making PoWs more effective within your
class and your school:
- Create a small group of 4-6 teachers who use PoWs and are willing
to commit to a 10-minute "Stand Up Meeting" once a week.
The idea is to meet regularly for a short time to share ideas and
brainstorm strategies. Choose a facilitator who can funnel any communication
- If your school/district uses FirstClass or a similar group communication
system, ask your system administrator to set up a PoW conference/group
for participating teachers to share ideas, especially in districts
with multiple schools.
- Incorporate PoW writing into your school's literacy program. Technical
writing is often overlooked as a genre, especially for younger children.
- The online submission process:
- If you school does not already do so, consider teaching keyboarding
to students as early as grade 3.
- Enlist the help of parent/senior volunteers, or older students
(HS service projects?) with keyboarding skills. Have solvers produce
a hand-written draft and edit according to your normal writing
process. Rather than dictating their solution, they'll read their
edited text to the typist. Their thoughts have been refined, and
yet the typist doesn't have to try to decipher the student's writing.
This can develop into a nice role model project.
- A team or partnership can compose a group submission and divide
up the typing. Having one person read to the typist from a written
draft is far less tedious than having a typist looking back and
forth at a piece of paper, whether the typist has keyboarding
skills or not.
- Graphic images can be uploaded with your solution. Follow the
instructions on the submission page. Files saved as .jpg and .gif
work best. They can be digital photos, screen shots, computer
generated drawings, scanned images of a drawing on paper. For
best results try to size them at no more than 600 pixels wide.
This is helpful for conveying visual representations that do not
translate easily to text. We've even had students compose their
entire solution on paper and send it as a scanned image. Motivation
for legible handwriting!
- Does your school own AlphaSmart keyboards or laptops? These
can provide flexibility of time and space to help get the job
done. AlphaSmarts might even be loaned to go home overnight.
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