Writing in the Fourth Grade
Students use the computer as a tool to stimulate and organize the brainstorming process as the first step toward creating a well-written document. Kid Pix is a software tool available to help in thinking and brainstorming.
For some projects, a better brainstorming tool might be the simple word processor. As ideas come to mind, type them down line by line on a page in the word processor. New idea, new line. The important thing to remember is that you are brainstorming, not composing sentences for the assignment itself. The talking word processor and rebus features of Kid Works can help students collect their thoughts. They can also listen to their oral reports while writing the essence of the idea. ESL (English as a Second Language) students may benefit from a talking word processor.
Many teachers use an idea web to help students with the first stages of the writing process. An idea web links brainstormed ideas graphically. A computer drawing program can help a student generate, compose, and revise a web moving elements from place to place, making new links, and so forth.
A spreadsheet can help in the writing process. At this stage it can help in the recording and ordering of ideas.
To make a quick storyboard, upper elementary students can use the Slide Show function of programs like Microsoft Power Point. Let each page or each slide represent one event or one idea that you've brainstormed. Use words or images to represent each idea. Images can come from your drawing or from a collection of clip art that accompanies slide show programs.
Storybook creation programs such as Storybook Weaver from MECC and Imagination Express from Edmark can also help get the creative juices flowing when a student is called upon to do creative writing. All the elements of a classic fairy tale, legend, fable, or science fiction story are available in the program, including great scenery, classic and not-so classic charcaters, and all sorts of props.