PicLits calls itself "Inspired Picture Writing." I like it because it's great for visual learners, and it combined writing with grammar. Students can select from a wide collection of photos, and then drag-and-drop words from grammatical categories (nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs) to create sentences, poems, or to brainstorm words and phrases for a longer composition. I spent one whole day during the summer creating my own PicLits as story starters for descriptive writing practice. I dragged words from the adjective and adverbs columns (making sure that each picture contained a few words that I thought my freshmen would not be familiar with) and then I had students write descriptions of the photos using the descriptive words on their PicLit. It went so well that I laminated them for reuse. I was amazed at the compositions that developed out of this exercise and, while the words weren't completely of their own selection, most students eagerly turned to a dictionary in order to find the meaning and were able to use the words appropriately. I also have students return to this previous writing at times, when they feel uninspired by the descriptive writing muse.
Jessica Pilgreen is a high school English teacher, a Piasa Bluffs Writing Project fellow, and a technology enthusiast. The main purpose of this blog is to help her keep track of all of the fabulous tools out there that she has encountered, but if she can help a few others along the way, that's good, too.