Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Get Students Reading and Writing with The Cell Phone Novel

Not only are people using cell phones to send texts, they’re actually using their phones to write novels! Textnovel is a free, fun way for students to read, write, and revise serial fiction in their basic text enabled cell phones (or computer). With Textnovel you can give students a real audience and the ability to read and write on the go, in class or at home. Students create an online serial story – a novel, journal, poetry, whatever. Textnovel is set up so they can invite classmates, friends, or family to rate, subscribe or write with them. With tools like Textnovel the incentive to write comes from more than just a grade. The site offers cash prizes to winners and publishing opportunities. Keep writing projects going as homework with the updates on stories sent to subscribers by email or text. Readers will enjoy voting for their favorite stories.

This is not just reading or writing via cell phone, but a whole new genre of literature, perfect for Generation Text called the cell phone novel. Cell phone novels offer short chapters full of cliffhangers, dialog, and dramatic plot twists which get students engaged in their reading. Writing cell phone novels challenges students to show narration, poetry and even visual art by choosing line breaks, punctuation, white space, and rhythm.

Educators choosing to use Textnovel will need to become very familiar with the site and the settings where the stories are given movie type ratings. More information on Textnovel can be found in Teaching Generation Text.
  • Lesson ideas
    • Even if cell phones are banned in your school, choose a cell phone novel and have students read it for homework. Choose a G rated story and encourage them to comment.
    • Collectively write a cell phone novel as a class project, or within cooperative learning groups. The social nature of the site will bring students together to create, revise, and develop their stories.
    • Use the Textnovel site for journal writing that will never get lost or destroyed. The entries are online and students are already texting constantly, now they can also journal through texting. They simply send their entries to their journal where the teacher can comment. Updates are sent via text or email. The journaling process can become an ongoing conversation.

  • Text Talk: Classroom Stories
    Krystal Swarovsk - High School
    Like most students, high schooler Krystal Swarovski was never given an opportunity to write for a real audience in school but with Krystal has a large fan base and was awarded the Text Novel Editor’s Choice award for her story Slices of Pie. Here is an excerpt from Krystal’s bio from the site which provides a glimpse into what contributing to the site has meant for her.

    So, most people on this site put their writing career to date in their about me section, but since i'm in high school, my writing career to date has been a short story (B-), a collection of poems(A+), and many many many informational essays and literary criticisms, grades ranging from C+ to A+. More on the A side though... :) Anyway, point is, the only writing I have ever really done has been for school, with varying degrees of success. However, last year, a good friend of mine (whose pen name here is Anabelle) was telling me all about her story and this fabulous website during study hall, and she convinced me to get an account on textnovel, and that's where I started writing. I have to say I am surprised by the amount of votes my stories have received. I didn't think I would get over 20! ;) So thanks to everyone that's read what I've. :D
For more on TextNovel and other great tools for literacy see

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