Being able to create and share content is one of the main advantages Web 2.0 technologies offer educators and learners alike. Pen.io is a writing tool that simplifies this process and allows you and your students to create and maintain a work portfolio that can be published and shared on the web.
My 6th Form (17 year olds) Spanish students and I were looking for a way in which they could build a portfolio of research on one of the main topics of the A2 course (the final school year before University) that they could then publish, share and, importantly in my view, own.
Having considered other very useful tools for this purpose such as Google Docs, we decided to use Pen.io because of its simplicity: it employs a basic, clutter free interface which results in a simple web page which is content-focused, free of the usual internet distractions.
As was already mention above, ownership of the content was an important consideration for us. Pen.io allows users to customise their own URL (web address) to reflect either the author’s name, the topic about which they are writing or indeed anything at all. My students were really proud that they were able to create their own web pages to showcase their work.
I tasked my students with researching, writing and publishing three essays on the Transition to Democracy period in Spain’s recent history. My students shared their passwords with me so that I could add corrections and AfL commentary. On this occasion the students did not share passwords with one another, although you can easily see how this could have easily been used as a collaborative writing tool if they had.
The collaboration in our specific task stems from the fact that my students could all see what each other had written. When students learn from one another, I often find, is one of the deepest forms of learning.
We also projected draft essays in Pen.io on the interactive whiteboard, highlighting corrections to be made and further exploiting grammatical structures and vocabulary.
The final product, having researched the required topics, studied the necessary grammatical structures and perfected the vocabulary necessary to turn ideas into a sophisticated piece of writing in Spanish, is a simple yet compelling web page that can be shared, not only with current students, but also with future ones.
Here are some examples of the work my students produced:
What do you think of Pen.io? How would you use it?
Your comment is always very much appreciated.