Tag Archives: non-fiction writing

Poetry Creator at a price?

From Evernote:

Poetry Creator at a price?


 This ‘free’ app works like a set of fridge magnets. There was something similar on Teach it called Word Quarry(?) which allowed you to take words from any source and reassemble or create. So far so good. Apart from the fact that this app doesn’t seem to have that easy import features and instead offers to sell you words. For money. I think I’d rather pay once for an app than be offered bits to buy along the way!  I can’t quite see for which audience this is intended….


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Using Posterous for a multi-contributor class blog


Image Some rights reserved Building 1000 families on flickr


Posterous offers the opportunity for class blogging free from some of the limitations of a standard school VLE. It allowed my students to use a versatile and flexible platform which would enable multi-posting and the potential to open up to wider audiences.

The Year 8 class (students aged between 12-13), were scheduled to work on a group Media project. After discussion, they decided to create a site in which they tried to offer help and advice to their parent in understanding how they use technology.

Initial ideas for features included: a guide to the mysteries of facebook and chatrooms;  advice on which phone is best for a child; and advice on how long their children should be allowed to spend on the net.

We wanted to go beyond the class magazines/newspaper approach and so, together, created the following brief using in terms of a TAPs analysis:

  • Type: multi-media blog;
  • Audience: parents;
  • Purpose: writing to argue, persuade or advise.

Although the easiest arrangement would have been to create a new site ‘off’ s3atlarge, it seemed better that a school’s site should not ‘point’ to an independent site.

One of the joys of Posterous is that it automates so many things. However, I couldn’t find a way of removing links back to my personal site. It took a little while to work out that one way was  to severe the link to my primary email address by creating a new dedicated email account.

The ‘How to Do It’ bit:

Create an email account simply for the project. I used gmail. This meant that the site would link directly to this account and that all notifications coming from successful points could gather in one place.

Using this new email account, create a new Posterous account. URLs do tend to be rather long, so I used a shortened form for the primary site with a longer name appearing on pages.

Having logged in to Posterous, use the Manage section to add the emails of students as Contributors who wish to post directly to the site. Students can also create dedicated email accounts for this to give greater personal security. (Our school network seemed happy with gmail accounts but we seemed to meet some restrictions on hotmail equivalents.)

During the writing process (and practice phase) I ‘locked down’ the system with a password so that only my class could read the posts. This gave us some time to practice posting, enabled some peer proof-reading, encouraged students to compare the ‘look’ of different kinds of posts, and let me keep an eye on the content and any personal security issues e.g  We discovered that forwarded emails gave full details of email addresses and so these were edited out.

The password can then be either given out to the intended audience (in this case – their parents) to allow reading and comment posting, or removed entirely to let the site ‘go live’.

What’s next?

That’s where we are up to at the moment. Once parents have had a look and everyone is happy, I’ll remove the password and post a link here. Here’s the link!



The students were genuinely excited at the idea of writing for a real audience, and it would be great if they could see their work being read beyond their local community. Perhaps we can track this using Google analytics in due course.








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Great interactive BBC resource on writing OOV (out of vision) scripts for television news


This is a particularly good interactive resource would be ideal for anyone teaching non-fiction writing or media. After watching videos of what makes a good OOV (Out of Vision) script which can be found on the left frame, students can have a go themselves.

I’ve had a go at the option to ‘click to launch the tv version’. The scenario is about a mid-air collision between an RAF fighter and a light aircraft. Instructions are clear and the resources include the images to be broadcast, a police report and a statement from the RAF Commander.

Writers have only ten minutes which adds considerably to the challenge. There is a model answer against which students may compare their efforts. The email facility also adds the possibility of getting students to submit their copy before a deadline. This could even be done directly to Posterous or a VLE to bring the whole thing to life.

Well done, BBC’ as they say on ‘Points of View’.


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Writing BBC English : an outstanding resource for non-fiction and media study



I’m not even sure how I stumbled across this site, but I know I will be back. This vast resource will be of great interest to those with aspirations towards Journalism, but there is material here of benefit to a wide range of students. This is certainly one for every English teacher to bookmark.


The Skills section could be of interest to KS3/4/5 students and beyond and includes The English Course with advice on  spelling and punctuation.


There is also an excellent section on ‘Writing and wordswhich includes advice on troublesome words and champions the cause of clarity.


Here is not the place to go in to the issue of whether it is part of the BBC’s remit to be creating sites like this: let’s just be thankful they have.






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