I Can Write Online is a Web-based writing program that leads students through
the writing process. It is aimed at students in 2nd through 5th grades, and utilizes
six-trait writing. A license needs to be purchased for each student, and it is
good for one year.
The first thing a child sees when beginning a new writing project is a page prompting him for a topic. If he does not have a topic in mind, the program will suggest a few ideas. After the topic is chosen, the student needs to choose a writing genre (descriptive, narrative, persuasive, or expository). From there, the child is given a few more choices based on the genre, such as choosing whether a descriptive essay will be about a person, place, or thing, or deciding if the narrative will be a story narrative or a personal narrative. After these initial decisions, filling in a graphic organizer is the next step. The graphic organizer offers various questions and spaces for the student to get their ideas out of their head and ready for the rough draft. On the draft screen, the notes the from the child's graphic organizer are displayed to help with writing the first draft. The next screen is the revise screen. Here there are tips to help the child revise his work, and there is also a place where the child can read "Teacher Comments." After the child revises his work, he then does a final edit. This screen includes an "Editor's Checklist," which is a list of six proofreading items that the child needs to check off. Finally, the child is ready to publish his work. He can print it either with a decorative border or with space to illustrate it himself.
This program allows parents to view their child's work online. They are able to make comments about the writing assignment, and these comments can be viewed by the child on the revise screen of the program. Parents can also customize the "Editor's Checklist" to include specific things their child might struggle with. All writing assignments are stored on the company's server for the duration of the subscription, so past assignments can be accessed at any time.
My 10 and 9-year-old sons are using this online software for a creative writing class they are taking at a small co-op. They are enjoying it--especially since it means they don't have to handwrite their assignments. I think the graphic organizers have helped walk them through their different assignments. I have enjoyed being able to check their assignments online at any time, instead of waiting on them and reminding them to email me their assignments. It's also convenient to be able to give them feedback online.
One of the main issues I had with this program was that I could not customize the way the final copy printed out. It prints with the student's name in the upper left hand corner, then the title centered, and then the date is printed in the upper right hand corner. Also, the program provides the option to print without a border, but I could not get this to work.
If your family does a lot of creative writing, I would recommend a subscription to this website. It simplifies the creative writing process, and at $10 per year for each student, it is well worth the money.