Note: This blog entry is part of a series entitled, iPadifying the Writing Workshop.

Our job as writing workshop facilitators can be pretty harrowing. Even a paper-centric writing workshop involves juggling colored sheets to create books, setting up writing centers, helping students deal with the daily struggle of journals and journal responses, and, crafting mini-lessons that engage and endure. The focus is always on student writing. As workshop facilitator, you can work to find the answer to the question, How can technologies we now have make the HOW of writing workshop easier for the teacher?”

One possibility is to reflect on the teacher’s role in the writing workshop, and the technology available to organize the writing workshop. Let’s review the essential components of the Writing Workshop; those include the following:

  • The Mini-Lesson;
  • The Status of the Class;
  • Write/Confer; and
  • Group Share.

There are many more components and activities, but these present a starting point. Consider taking just one of these–such as the mini-lesson–and building an online writing space that allows you to share and archive your mini-lessons. Here are some simple ways you can iPadify these Writing Workshop components:

a) The Mini-Lesson: Creating and sharing mini-lessons–which can be based on anchor charts, like the one shown on the ECISD’s Literacy Today web site at –can easily be created using various tools on the iPad. One of my favorites is the $2.99 Explain Everything app that enables you to blend photos/images, web sites, video, text, and add your recorded audio to each slide in a presentation. In less than 10 minutes, you can create a mini-lesson to share with your students that will be available long after you have moved on to another topic. Accomplish that by posting to Google Sites wiki.

b) The Status of the Class: If every child in your class has an iPad, then why not get them to quickly submit via a GoogleForm or contribute to an Edmodo assignment, sharing what their status is. At a glance, you will be able to ascertain where students are at with their writing. But don’t limit your students to words. Ask them to snap a photo of the writing and submit it via Edmodo or email it to your Evernote or ThreeRings account. You can actually see words on a piece of paper, then offer feedback.

c) Write/Confer: During write/confer portion of the writing workshop, consider recording your conferences with students as a way to easily document their progress. You can aggregate their work by posting your conference audio into Evernote in a notebook for that child. At the end of the year, the child will have a notebook of audio feedback that documents their growth. You can also ask students to snap pictures of their work, then record audio feedback from their peers.

d) Group Share: One of my favorite aspects of group share is the ability to have students share what they are writing about. In my writing workshop, I often asked students to share the lead sentence of their piece. Students in the circle could follow the TAG approach:
  1. Tell one thing you liked about the written piece shared;
  2. Ask one question;
  3. Give one suggestion.

With iPads, students are able to record this feedback–audio or video–and reflect on it for later. This is very important in group share and the recording(s) can stimulate further growth and work on a student’s piece.

While some of the ideas above are elaborated in this article, consider how technology, rather than complicating your life, can make it easier for you and your students over the long run of a writing workshop, eliminating the constant paper chase.

iPadify Tip #3: Take advantage of the multimedia recording and sharing capabilities of the iPad, not just the text.

Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-3445626-5’]); _gaq.push([‘_setDomainName’, ‘’]); _gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]); (function() { var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true; ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘’; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();