Today, with our tenth grade class we started using a website called Collaborize Classroom. It is a great site that we are using to have students write to given prompts. We do this everyday in the classroom with paper and pencils but this is a fresh way to get the kids excited about writing. The best part is that they can write their own response, respond to their classmates responses, and have an online discussion. What is even more great is that they can vote on the written answer that they liked best and can suggest writing topics (to be approved by the teacher).
Using this site is something we plan on doing on a weekly basis for out tenth grade class, today, being the first day they really took well to it and enjoyed it. Even after we ended for the day they were still talking about and discussing the questions. Even if the students do not finish they are able to go home, log on, and finish the work.
What is great about this site is that there are hundreds of prompts ready to go for your use. The students are getting practice writing, responding respectfully to each other, and thinking more deeply into the prompt. There is also a great feature that will not let the students post inappropriate words. Today, for example, a student tried to use the word poop in his response. A pop up box appeared and let him know that the chosen word was not appropriate to use and that it would be removed. There is also a free app for the iPhone that is well set up and easy to use as well.
Another great website that we use is edmodo. Edmodo is similar to a Facebook account, but is used in the classroom. Teachers are able to post links, which makes it easy for students to log in there and go to the link needed (such as Collaborize Classroom). Also we post rubrics, due dates for work, and best of all students submit their work to the site. Everything is all in one place and there is a lot less paper to deal with on a daily basis.
There are a lot more features about these sites that are great, but it would be great if you checked them out for yourself!