WriteSite was developed by Nick Viani, a middle school teacher whose language arts program was profoundly affected by his training at the Bay Area Writing Project in the early 80’s. With the arrival of technology, initially word processors and, more recently, the Internet, there was a natural segue into what is now the 3rd version of the highly professional WriteSite. While emphatically NOT a writing program, WriteSite embraces and supports Oregon’s instructional writing standards in a secure, password-protected online communicating environment.
Nick writes: “Throughout my writing program’s development, it became apparent that certain components of the writing process were, in fact, better managed using technology. WriteSite, an online writing management program, provides the perfect opportunity for outside readers to assist in the writing process by both reading and responding to authors (ostensibly before writing is submitted to a teacher). This serves several purposes: students apply writing standards when responding to peers, and educators happily discover that their outside reading loads are diminished and the quality of submissions improved. Tapping into the unlimited realm of outside readers (e.g. peers, students in other classes, schools, and/or countries, administrators, content-specific experts, parents, or eager volunteers residing in ‘wired’ retirement centers), WriteSite provides an easy-to-use tool that increases the amount of feedback to student authors and powerfully expands the educational opportunities of any curriculum.”
All WriteSite training materials are maintained by the University of Oregon and are free for everybody to use. You may access these excellent writing resources at cate.blogs.com/writesite . A free, fully-functioning demo version of WriteSite is hosted by its licensing agent, the Organization for Educational Technology & Curriculum (OETC) at ws.oetc.org .
Key features in the current version include:
- password protection,
- the ability to limit access of all projects to all students (perfect for online journaling or small-group project work),
- support for all stages of the writing process (drafting, revising, publication, and reflection) and
- a less sophisticated discussion forum wonderfully adaptable to content-area writing and, finally,
- the ability to search and generate work samples for both individuals (perfect for parent conferences) or for an entire class (equally perfect for compiling project anthologies.
In spring, 2007, WriteSite will be completely re-coded and will feature additional features not currently available. Best of all is its price. Unlike sophisticated course management tools costing districts thousands of dollars, WriteSite is streamlined to do expressly what teachers have requested over its 8-year development—efficient simplicity. A “school” license for fewer than 500 students is less than $100 (classroom & district licenses are explained at ws.oetc.org/wsprice.html). This project was developed by a teacher for teachers and has been classroom-tested in hundreds of instructional settings. Why not give it a trial run, and see if this is what teachers with a technology disposition have been dreaming about.