How I Use It
I have used the full version of Write About This for a couple years with 1st and 2nd graders. I have used the app projected on the whiteboard as a whole class writing prompt to teach specific writing mini lessons, such as adding detail or using commas in a series. On other occasions I have used the app for individual and partner writing assignments as I would normally, with the added benefit of a photo to accompany and drive the assignment. The app has 3 levels of questions for each photo so it's great for differentiation and student choice. For some assignments I assign students to a particular level of prompt (I go around and whisper to them the prompt I want them to use) and other times I allow them to choose the prompt they like best for a particular photo. There are photos in many different categories, including family and holidays, so I have tied in the writing prompts to different curriculum we are studying as well as using it as a weekly writing prompt without a specific curricular tie-in. There are 125 different photos, so plenty to last the whole year and offer variety. Some prompts require informational writing while other prompts encourage opinion writing or narrative writing, so I can use the apps with all the types of writing we cover for Common Core. Sometimes I offer students several photo and prompt choices within a particular type of writing. I have also had students add photos and create prompts for each other.
I think this app is fantastic. It engages my students and provides a visual to go along with a question. Often that visual helps students get started in their writing compared to times when I have just posed a prompt for them to respond to without the visual. For students with lower reading abilities the app allows for the prompts to be read aloud. Write About This has provided prompts for us to discuss and respond to whole class and prompts for students to respond to with a partner or individually. Depending on the situation I use it both ways. There are enough photos and prompts to last the whole school year without repeating, although there is the flexibility to use the same photo but complete different prompts and I can also add my own photos (or have students add photos). Some students like it so much they ask to use it during choice time and then choose a photo and write what they like without direction from me. I like that the photos are crisp, varied and of interest to elementary school children. I appreciate that I can create my own prompts and that the existing prompts are ones that I usually want to use--as with the photos they are relevant to my students and written in a way to engage them.