This is a blog post about using free online generators to inspire learning.
Online generators have been on the web for donkeys years-often infringing copyright rules but always giving the ordinary online mortal a chance to imagine.
To pretend that their name is up in lights on a movie billboard, that their own band is playing on their iPod or that they can have a snazzy animated logo without a sniff of programming knowledge.
Having explored and used them in the classroom, I can definitely say that generators are an under-used web resource and are great for independent learning.
You often just click the mouse for a drop down menu or type whatever you want and then click ‘Generate’-it’s as easy as that!
Generators for stimulating story writing.
The beauty with Generators is that they will produce a piece of text from nothing! Very useful for reluctant writers-especially boys. I use them as starters for a longer piece of writing or just to stimulate ideas within a topic or theme.
It’s all about ownership, if those reluctant writers can enter a few words or choose a few objects, they can generate their own text. I have found this to really empowering, as often these reluctant writers are only ‘reluctant’ because they find it difficult to actually start writing. I find that ironic, because even the greatest authors in the world have tricks to help stimulate their writing when approaching a blank page.
This is the fabulous Ambleweb story machine (From Ambleside C of E Primary school in Cumbria)-enter one word on each of the prompts and create pieces like this-
One day while I was scratching in the Cellar and a crazy computer fell through the roof. It immediately jumped on the stool and knocked over the mobile phone. Then it ran out the door into the kitchen and slipped on the TV stand. It then knocked a glass of slime off the coffee table. After twenty eight minutes of chasing the computer through the house I finally caught it and put it outside. It quickly climbed the nearest tree.
The Proppian Fairy Tale generator is similar but no words are needed just ticks! Based on Vladimir Propp who used this method to decipher Russian folklore and fairy tales.
Really very easy and produces text like this-
One of them who came forward looked nothing like the others. She was dressed in white fluff and smelled clean. Her eyes were like a child’s. “I’m in need of assistance,” she said softly. “I need some help and I think you can help me.”
The silver fish leapt from the water from his gurgling mouth came a bubble that solidified and dropped into my lap. Just as quickly as he had emerged, the fish plopped back into the water, leaving me to puzzle over this mysterious orb.
But since I had been given my gift I did not fear what stood in front of me. As his body touched mine if fell to the floor covered in a carpet of needles.
(Although unfortunately it looks like the website has been shutdown-will post link when it re-appears)
Next is the British Council Story Maker-
You can choose between generating a Fairy Story, a Horror Story or a Sci-Fi Story. It also gives you loads of options to choose from before generating your story.
This produces text which looks like it is written in a book.
There’s the brilliant Scholastic (US website) Story Starter which is really about generating ideas to start a piece of writing. What is different is that it also packages them up with some jazzy presentation.
It gives you options on the end product you want the writing to appear, especially useful if teaching different writing genres.
Then pupils have the chance to type on lovely letter-headed notepaper.Looks brilliant when printed and stimulates the pupils to produce some excellent work.
Finally there’s the awesome My Story Maker-you move characters like an animation and it writes the story for you!
Take a look at this screen shot-very inspiring especially as you can print it out.
Well hopefully you’ve seen enough to try these in your class.
They definitely will inspire your students to write and create their own stories.
Part 2 coming soon….Written by Julian S Wood - www.ideasfactory.me/about/"rel="author"