How can a digital organizer improve student writing?

Do you see this in your class? One of the biggest problems I faced with student writing assignments was encouraging them to plan their writing ahead. They didn’t want to take the extra time to use a graphic organizer before diving into writing. The results were writing that was scattered, confusing, and well, not very exciting. Why not make graphic organizers more interesting by using the Biography Cube on  Read Write Think to make a digital organizer?


Digital organizer

What is Read Write Think?

Read Write Think is an online tool that provides free ELA resources that match the standards. You can find out more about this site by watching the video you find here.

Read Write Think Video Introduction

As you can see, The Biography Cube is a versatile resource that can be used in many different ways. One of the choices is to create a biography cube. A biography cube acts as an online prewriting graphic organizer for information about a real person. And if they print it, the students can use it when writing.

What makes this better than a paper organizer?

There are many improvements this activity makes on traditional paper graphic organizers.

Easy Materials Storage

First of all, you can store everything you need for this project online. Keeping track of materials was always something that drove me crazy. No matter where I told my students to store materials they would need later, they magically disappeared by the next time we worked on it. If your kids have the same problem, this activity can fix that. If your students use the Google Doc to record their research and cite their sources instead of a paper one, they can save all this work to their Google Drive, and it will be easy to retrieve. The student can also save their online work for the cube to finish later.

Add a little variety

This digital organizer from Read Write Think takes away the monotony of traditional graphic organizers by putting all the information on the six different sides on a cube and using technology. Kids love it when we shake things up a bit.

Require Summarizing

Since the cubes can only hold a limited amount of information (about 40 words on most of the sides), the kids will need to use summarizing skills to select the only the relevant material for the report.

Address Standards

If your students write an essay, the bio cube addresses common core standard W.4 by asking students to produce “clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.” Even if it is not written out in a formal manner, the cube demonstrates correct organization of information because each side of the cube has a different topic. If your students struggle with organization, the printed and completed cube gives them a hands-on example.

Better Quality Writing

Using the digital organizer and the online Google Doc improves the quality of writing because it indicates where there is a problem with their spelling. There is no reason why there should be simple spelling errors on the final product.

Learn About Research and Citing Sources

Google explore helps students research topics and cite sources in an easier manner than ever before. I found it much easier to explain and have the kids use citations on Google Explore than any other method I tried in my career. Since they understood it better, there were even students who would cite information when I hadn’t expressly asked them to do so.

Easily Upgrade with 21st-century skills

You can quickly add 21st-century skills like a collaboration component to this by having kids work together on one cube. If you want an extra dose of communication, have pairs or small groups share their cubes and ask questions of each other.

Making a Biography Cube

To make the cube, visit Read Write Think’s website by clicking on this link:
To get started, print out a planning sheet from their site, or use the similar Google Doc I made. The kids can fill it in online. It also makes research for the biography cube easier to complete.

Now, introduce the idea to your kids! Here’s a simple plan to complete the activity.

  1. Assign or let kids choose a historical figure from a similar category such as scientists, Civil Rights leaders, or presidents.
  2. Next, students should open their Google Doc and use the explore feature (the star in the bottom right corner) to look up information.
  3. Copy information into the first page of the organizer. Click on the quotation marks in Explore to cite the information.
  4. After they are done researching, the students write their information in their own words in the second organizer, share it with you, and revise and edit before copying and pasting it onto the cube.

Give a digital organizer a try!

In conclusion, our kids need us to shake things up a little sometimes. No matter what you do, it can become mundane for the kids as the year progresses. This 3D cube organizer is just one way to keep your lessons engaging by using technology and 21st-century skills.

Do you want access to online recording sheets, additional ideas for using the cubes, and premade rubrics for scoring this digital organizer? You can find them in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

digital organizer
Digital Story Cubes

There are many other activities on Read Write Think that easily lend themselves to seamless technology integration. How can you use this in your classroom? Give us your ideas below!

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