How I Use It
I would use Boomwriter in my classroom to give students another opportunity to write, get them excited about writing, and to develop a community of writers in my classroom. In other words, I would use it ideally in September when we begin with narrative writing, or at the end of the year as a fun culminating activity. Colleagues who used Boomwriter last year reported that the students were very engaged by the project, and liked reading (and voting on) the versions their peers came up with. Boomwriter also gives me latitude as a teacher to conference with students and help them strengthen their writing.
By itself, Boomwriter will not make students into better writers. But in tandem with explicit instruction during Workshop, Boomwriter provides students with another opportunity to practice their writing skills at school and home. And the prospect of students having their ideas published in a book, makes them experience writing as an enjoyable activity and motivates them to write more. The best thing about Boomwriter is that it is flexible. Although originally conceived to create narrative chapter books, a teacher can easily use Boomwriter to write informational or opinion writing. I am particularly impressed with the way Boomwriter has students compete with each other to choose the best chapter for the final book, but does so in an anonymous, engaging way that fosters collaboration. So students who are struggling writers, can still practice and improve their writing skills while feeling part of the process.