February 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

StarWalk Kids Media to Announce New Collaborative Writing Software


Next week, at the FETC educational technology conference in Orlando, FL, StarWalk Kids Media will introduce the new StarWalk Writer software, funded by a 2014 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). StarWalk Writer is a cloud-based classroom software that creates a single collaborative environment for reading, writing and research for students in grades 3–8.

Designed to make learning and teaching reading in complex nonfiction subject areas like science and social studies more effective and exciting for students, the writing software integrates three specific types of interactivity proven to help children develop literacy skills: writing to read, writing for an audience, and writing together. The software package, which will be available beginning in January 2015 for schools to purchase, will also support educators by providing curriculum support materials, individual and group assessment rubrics, and LMS compatibility.

A research study conducted by StarWalk Kids Media and Education Development Center’s Center for Children and Technology (EDC) reveals that students in high needs schools showed greater improvement than their peers when using the prototype StarWalk Writer software to create persuasive essays.

The study found that students in classrooms using the StarWalk Kids eBooks, along with the StarWalk Writer software, wrote essays that scored somewhat higher on average than did their peers in classrooms that not use the StarWalk Writer software. Importantly, the largest difference in students’ final essay scores was in the most high needs school where only 19 percent of students are “proficient” in reading. At this school, on average, students in the StarWalk Writer classroom scored half a point higher than their peers in the StarWalk Reader-Only classroom.

Additional Findings:

  • Students and teachers found using the StarWalk Reader with the StarWalk Writer to be highly engaging, and teachers reported students were fully invested in the study task throughout the 5-day study period.
  • Users reported that using the StarWalk Kids eBooks and the StarWalk Writer tools together made it easier and quicker for students to gather evidence in the form of both text and pictures.
  • Students liked the collaborative process and felt they benefitted from monitoring and learning from each other’s writing. According to one fourth grade participant, “What I learned about myself as a reader and writer during this project was working as a team you can accomplish much more. I know this because as a team we worked harder and quicker.”

Visit here for information about a free 14-day trial for your school/library. Also, visit www.StarWalkKids.com.

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