Thursday, December 9, 2010

Turn Texting Teens Into Published Novelists with

Like most students, high schooler Krystal Swarovski was never given an opportunity to write for a real audience in school. Her work died with the teacher. An "A+" had no audience. A "B-" was not given a chance to improve. When a friend introduced her to Krystal experienced something new when she wrote. Unlike her experience in school, she had readers, she developed a large fan base and she was awarded the Text Novel Editor’s Choice award for her story Slices of Pie. Today, she’s excited to have a real audience reading and commenting on her work providing not only an authentic audience, but authentic assessment as well. is a social network for authors and readers of serial fiction and the first English language cell phone novel website, allowing members to write and read fiction with their cellphones or computers, using text messaging, email and online tools. Textnovel runs contests for fiction writers, allowing them to demonstrate the market potential of their work through its unique serial publication and voting format. The novels are rated (G, PG, PG-13 and R). Illustrations can be uploaded. Twitter can be linked and there are many settings to use to customize the experience and make it fit for your students.

Here is insight from Krystal from her bio on the site:
Um, yah. me. lol. fun stuff. :P i like reading and writing and music and drama (real life drama, not fake icky TV drama). I like fun and shopping and boys and good fantasy novels. I hate seafood, people who think they can win an argument with me (because they never can), and people who try to pretend they know more than they do. Um, other than that... I dance, i luv my boyfriend to death, and i do track and field. i debate, i'm in robotics club, french club, taking extra classes at MIT... what you might call a well-rounded person. or a nerd. :P

So, most people on this site put their writing career to date in their about me section, but since i'm in high school, my writing career to date has been a short story (B-), a collection of poems(A+), and many many many informational essays and literary criticisms, grades ranging from C+ to A+. More on the A side though... :) Anyway, point is, the only writing I have ever really done has been for school, with varying degrees of success. However, last year, a good friend of mine (whose pen name here is Anabelle) was telling me all about her story and this fabulous website during study hall, and she convinced me to get an account on textnovel, and that's where I started writing. I have to say I am surprised by the amount of votes my stories have received. I didn't think I would get over 20! ;) So thanks to everyone that's read what I've written. :D

When teacher’s want to encourage reading and writing, they can bring some of the excitement Krystal experienced into the classroom with available free through students' phones.

Here are five ideas for using Textnovel
  1. Create a book group using one of the novels. Bonus - Students will never loose their books.
  2. Encourage exploration of various styles and authors.
  3. Challenge students to create a novel of their own with a novel that they could be made public
  4. Partner with the art class for illustrations
  5. Encourage group/peer editing inside or outside of class by inviting students to read and comment on one another’s work via cell phone

Here's How to Get Started:
  • Sign up for and add your cell phone number.
  • Wait for the confirmation email and click on the link.
  • You are set up to login and begin.
  • Familiarize yourself with all of the settings and choose the ones you want for your students prior to walking them through the setup
  • When the student create their novel make sure they set it to a G rating.
  • From your cell phone, send a text message to this email address (you will want to add this to your contacts)
  • The body of the text message should contain the text that you want to add to the story.
  • The subject of the text message should be of the following format: storycode:chapter number.
  • So for example if the story code is 12 and the chapter number is 2, then the subject should be 12:2

In the 21st century world in which our students live it’s no longer fair for educators to just say “hand it in.” is a terrific option to let any student with access to a phone the opportunity to “publish it.”

This post was written by Willyn Webb and Lisa Nielsen, co-authors of Teaching Generation Text. Webb and Nielsen are prolific and well-respected experts in the field of education and innovation with more than 20 years of combined experience working to support students, teachers, leaders, and parents. As frequent conference presenters, keynote speakers, and published authors, Nielsen and Webb are often the go-to persons when the media wants to know what works in educating today’s students.

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