This year, teachers are learning that teaching writing virtually comes with many obstacles. To add to this, teachers have all had to make huge adjustments this year personally and professionally. Our personal daily habits, weekend and holiday plans, procedures and protocols, lesson plans and shopping have all changed dramatically. As a middle school English Language Arts teacher, I have seen, watched and heard about many of the new struggles teacher are having. One thing that keeps coming up as a hardship for colleagues is teaching writing virtually. Between limited instructional time, technology issues and everyone’s comfort levels with the new style of teaching and learning, it’s no wonder that teaching a subject as perplex as writing has become even more challenging. Check out some quick tips for how to help alleviate some stress when teaching your middle schoolers to write.
Tips for Teaching Writing Virtually
1.First, give your students writing expectations. Be sure to tell your students exactly what these expectations are. They have never learned through a pandemic before, just as you have never taught through one. Students need to know they should not be working in a room full of distractions (including their phones!). They also will need to become better advocates for themselves if they are having trouble with something. Try to give students a brief explanation for why these expectations are in place so they know why they are important.
2.Second, give yourself expectations. Make sure that your students are aware of what they are as well. This will help you stay accountable. It will also help your students see what you are doing for them and why they should complete their work for you. When you teach a new writing standard, model the new standard and give students the opportunity to practice the new standard. Always provide feedback for how the students are handling the new writing activity just as you would have in the past. You can use an extension like Mote. Here, the teacher can give voice feedback.
3.Next, and I can not express this enough-expect and be okay with changes. You are going to do things differently this year; there’s no doubt about it. As frustrating as it can be when administration is constantly changing things, try to bear in mind they have never run a school during a pandemic either. Everyone is just doing the best they can, as are you! And in case no one has told you today, you’re rockin’ it!
4. Model, model, model. Every writing task you give, you will want to model and setup how your students should approach it. If you want your students to write a topic sentence, model the topic sentence for them. With this, you can create your own document camera with your phone. You can also use Google Slides or a website like Explain Everything Whiteboard.
5. Choose a video platform you are comfortable with. My favorite free video platforms are Loom and Screencast-o-matic. Both of these let you record your screen and have you face within the video simultaneously. This is important because it makes the video more personable. Your students really need to see you at all times.
In addition, you can either go live if you are comfortable with this or prerecord yourself. Video is something everyone has to get used to in general, so again, choose the platform you are most comfortable with and you can use with ease.
Help! How I am going to plan and teach writing virtually?
I actually have two ideas for you! Knowing many teachers are struggling and overwhelmed with teaching writing virtually, I wanted to put something together to help and guide my fellow teachers. I also know this would be a learning opportunity for me. Hey listen…we are all in this together, right?
With this, I have put together a 3-part series LIVE masterclass, Stress Less Teaching – Teaching Writing Virtually. I am so excited to share this with you!
In this masterclass, I am going to share with you:
- Tips and tricks to teaching writing remotely
- How to break writing into mini-lessons that are manageable
- How I teach the introduction, body and conclusion paragraph, and how I will teach and model these paragraphs virtually
- Recorded model videos to share with your students
- Feedback ideas for writing
- An instant workbook and writing freebie download
- Professional Development certificate (if needed)
- Of course, there will a Q & A during the live masterclasses, and replays will always be available
If you would like to dig deeper into some tips for teaching writing this school year, be sure to check out my writing masterclass! It will open NEXT WEEK (Week of October 19th, 2020), and the spots will be limited. You can get on the WISH LIST right HERE. You will be the first to know when the masterclass opens to get your spot!
If you are looking for something right now and to get started with immediately, I created a whole course around teaching expository writing in the virtual classroom. This course comes with 10 videos and a workbook. You can check it out right HERE.
Happy teaching and writing. If you have any questions, please always feel to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.