I love teaching English, but teaching writing can feel like I am constructing a house with the tiniest of tools and materials. Often, I’ve had a writing lesson that I know went well. It went so well that by the time I taught it to my last period, I was glowing with the effects of success. Then my students would write a response or an essay and my glow would dim. I would tell myself, “That’s okay, we still have time,” and I would plan another lesson or unit.
Then it would happen again. Their writing was not getting better. Except for a few students, the greater majority of their work would stay pretty much the same. This process happened so much that in my second year as an English teacher, I almost gave up. The work was too hard. I wasn’t constructing sturdy houses of skill and knowledge. I was building, if anything, temporary tents of flimsy facts. After a lot of research and training, I discovered the right tools needed to learn how to teach writing with technology and make my students coherent, consistent, and confident writers.Learn how to teach writing to make students coherent, consistent, and confident writers!Click To Tweet
Students need Writing Support
Students need a lot of feedback to become better writers. I give students feedback during the process and after they have submitted their draft for evaluation. The problem with feedback lies in the fact that many students don’t actually read and implement the feedback they receive (what a waste of my purple ink!). Also, with so many students on our rosters, feedback can become a burden to teachers. Students need to internalize the feedback they receive and reflect on their process. I have found Nearpod to be a great multi-tool for learning how to teach writing. Nearpod has a variety of features that allow teachers to reach all learners. It allows students to dive into the writing process, especially the feedback loop, and practice their skills.
How to Teach Writing using Nearpod
Nearpod has a variety of features that can strengthen writing instruction. For example:
Exemplars are important to the writing process. Use the Slide/PDF function to upload exemplars of the type of writing you are asking students to complete. This is especially helpful for visual learners so that they can compare their writing to the exemplar.
The hardest part of writing is coming up with something to write about. Collaborate is a great tool for brainstorming and working through complex ideas. Collaborate allows students to tackle the prompt together. They can also post potential thesis statements and their classmates can vote for the strongest one.
Matching Pairs works best when teaching new writing skills. It is a great way for students to learn the vocabulary words they will hear most often in a particular unit or class. Have students match new writing vocabulary with their definitions at the beginning of the lesson, then again as a final check for understanding at the end of the lesson.
The Draw-It function allows students to annotate and color code texts. First, upload an exemplar, mentor text, teacher sample, or sample from a student. Then, have students color-code for the writing features you are teaching them. You can easily see if students can find the components in other pieces of writing before crafting their own.
Nearpod’s integration with Youtube allows for other teachers to come into your classroom and instruct students on trickier concepts. I like to use writing videos often especially the revision modules from Mr. Durfee’s Writing Lab. Embedding these into a Nearpod allows for students to get 5-7 minutes of instruction on the skill before practicing it in the lesson.
Open-Ended Responses help students to reflect on the work they are doing. Having students do this often within a lesson helps them begin to think about what they are learning and how they will use it. When I look at the reports on my writing lessons, I pay close attention to students’ reflections. This is how I know what the next lesson should cover.
Example Secondary Writing Nearpod
Go here for an Example Nearpod for Secondary Writing. My students used this to revise a current poetry analysis that they had completed and received feedback on.
Making Sure It Sticks
I cannot stress this final point enough. Make sure students are given clear next steps as to what they are to do with their work. Are they turning this back in for feedback? Is this ready for publishing? Should they craft another draft based off of the revisions they’ve done? Make sure students DO SOMETHING with the work so it doesn’t become an isolated activity.
Each school year I intentionally plan how I will construct students’ knowledge houses. I often wonder if I am using the right materials and tools to make learning concrete. In Stephen King’s memoir On Writing, says, “[I]t behooves you to construct your own toolbox and then build up enough muscle so you can carry it with you. Then, instead of looking at a hard job and getting discouraged, you will perhaps seize the correct tool and get immediately to work.” Perhaps it is not that our students aren’t grasping learning fast enough but that we are using the wrong tools.
We’d love to hear from you. What are some ways you’ve used Nearpod to teach writing?
Ready to add Nearpod to your teaching toolbox? Check out the lessons available in the Nearpod library to get started.
Meagan has been a Nearpod PioNear since 2014. She was a 2006 Teach for America corps member in Houston, TX where she taught 7th grade Texas History. After her time in Houston, she went back home to Dallas to teach 6, 7, and 8th grade English and Humanities at a small charter school. Following an urge to develop and expand her leadership capacity, she took two years off from teaching to serve as a Dean of Instruction, instructional coach, and curriculum developer. During this time, she received her Masters in Education with a focus on curriculum and instruction. She really missed working in the classroom, so she moved into teaching high school. Meagan has taught 9-12 English and has served as a department head and an exemplar teacher. She currently teaches at an international school.