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Activity and strategy

Writing Prompt Roulette

Strategies to support braille students with writing prompts, using a shared writing approach on a BrailleNote Touch to promote braille literacy

So, what third grader doesn’t get a little anxious when they hear there will be a writing prompt in class that day? I know my third grade student gets a little flustered when she starts thinking that she is being given a creative writing assignment with no control over the timeline. 

To help alleviate some of the anticipated anxiety with her writing prompt exercises in class, occasionally I will present her with a “surprise writing prompt lesson” and ask her to brainstorm, plan, write and edit in a short period of time. She is not graded on this, but rather it is a time for her to try to work on all steps of the writing process in a compressed amount of time that is stress free!

Typically I have D. pick from a list of 3 or 4 topics that I dictate to her and she makes the decision of what she would like to write about. This Wednesday, I actually embossed a list I found online of “third grade writing prompts” and made it more of a game than a structured lesson. She liked that I had a stack of topics and that she had no idea what she was going to get.  My goal was to recreate the same situation she experiences when presented with a topic that is unknown and chosen for her.

a bunch of writing prompts written in braille, held in fan display       student selecting a writing prompt from a bunch of options

I found a list of writing prompts online.  D. picked prompt one: “Imagine you have had to wear a huge, furry coat all day in the baking hot sun. Now, using all your senses, describe what it would be like to take that coat off and walk into the sea.”


Writing a Shared Story

The spin on this writing prompt was that we were going to write a shared story. D. was going to write the first sentence, I would write the second, she would write the third, and so on. She wasn’t completely sold on the “fun factor” of this activity, but she was open to trying.

Below, D. reads the prompt she chose and begins to write on her BrailleNoteTouch.

D reads the writing prompt she selected        D begins to write her response on her braillewriter


BrailleNote Touch

Side note here… I love the BrailleNote Touch! Other students of mine have used the Apex braillenote, but the BrailleNote Touch by Humanware rocks! I will definitely be posting a lot more about the BrailleNote Touch and all the cool stuff it can do in the future. It is such an amazing tool that I feel is very user friendly for a young braille reader.
In the first picture below, D. has brailled her first sentence and in the second picture she is reading back her sentence to check if she needs to edit anything. I have flipped the 6 key entry braille keyboard up to see the display screen showing what D. has written in real time. Amazing!
display screen showing what D has written       D writes her story
When it is my turn to braille a sentence, I intentionally misbraille letters that D. will have to locate when she reads back what I have written before she can write her next sentence. She locates my “intentional” mistakes, calls me out for my poor braille skills, edits the word for me, and brailles her next sentence without skipping a beat. She keeps me on my toes for sure.
Time allowed only for an introduction to our beach adventure, but overall it was a great lesson in which we got to work on a ton of skills while having fun! The product of our creativity is below. 
screen with text

Text of Beach Story

“Holaelooyah it feels so good to take this off!!!” I have no idea why I thought wearing a coat on such a hot day was a good choice. “I feel like I could go to the north pole in a bathing suit and live!” Good thing I am so close to the ocean! I am going to do a huge cannonball into the waves! “Ooooo look at this hermet crab ow ow ow ow ow bad bad bad!” Oh brother, I was hoping for some relief in the nice cold water, but instead I got pinched by a nasty crab! “I am going underwater now.” I came up out of the water flaling my arms and screaming owowowowowowowowowow because a hermet crab diciced to lach on to my nose.


Practicing Emailing Attachments

This story will not live in D.’s BrailleNote until next week when we will work on some editing skills. Instead, I asked her to email it to me as an attachment, which is something I just taught her to do last week. We have been working on sending and receiving emails from family members.  This seemed like a good place to start, since they are the most likely to reply in a timely manner, which will enable her to work continuously on the skill with a purpose. Adding attachments and opening and reading them is the next skill that I would like her to master.
D. opened up her Keymail menu, created a new email using the email list I had embossed for her as a quick reference, entered a subject and short message, and, from the context menu, selected the option to add an attachment. She located her story and attached it to the email she had opened.  Before she sent it, she asked if the ringer on my phone was on because she wanted to make sure she could hear my phone ping when I received her message.  She hit send and…
Here it is! This is a screenshot from my phone. She emailed an attachment successfully, and we have a really funny story to keep working on next week.
screen shot of an e-mail saying here is our beach story with a Word file attached


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