Remove the fear of writing for all of your students
"It helps get ideas out of my head"
G4 student in Milford MA, June 2018
Your students are spending a class period writing personal narratives. Most kids take to this kind of open-ended assignment pretty quickly. One student has been staring at his Chromebook screen for several minutes with a frown that says "I wish the bell would ring NOW". You can imagine how awful it is for him to be surrounded by his peers eagerly typing while his own mind has gone blank from fear. He feels like the stupidest kid in the class.
It could be a learning issue that makes it harder for him to form sentences. It could be a healthy aversion to risk, because so much can go wrong in expressing your own thoughts. No matter how skilled, confident, or socially adept a child is, creative anxiety can strike at any time.
How can you help?
Topical Storm is a free online prewriting app that gently draws students into conversations by asking questions tuned to their individual interests. It's not as good as the questions a teacher can ask, but nothing is. Topical Storm saves you time because all of your students can write independently while you concentrate on the ones who need help. When someone gets stuck, you can see this on your dashboard and contact them silently with a teacher note that pops up in their writing session.
Writing with Topical Storm follows a cycle that goes from automated interview, to teacher feedback and peer review, to assessments, to more writing and editing by the student. Your dashboard tracks all of this student effort along with the scores on your custom rubrics for academic skills and engagement.
A WRITING CYCLE
Check out this three minute video for a student's view of the program.
Who is it for?
Grades 3-5 are when many kids either learn to love self-expression or shut down for years. Topical Storm has made writing a fun experience for students in a dozen Massachusetts classrooms. Students write personal narratives, arguments, informative essays, and short stories. (See "Testimonials")
Scaffolding includes voice dictation, text-to-speech, sentence starters, and a long list of other supports. Lessons adapt to three levels of student proficiency.
Your students' privacy is protected because student logins are anonymous and no student data is read from the school computer. Topical Storm belongs to The Education Cooperative Student Data Privacy Alliance (SDPA) and is bound by individual data privacy agreements with school districts.
What do students think?
Students love the thought-provoking questions and appreciate how it organizes their answers into well-structured essay drafts in real time.