Using Technology to Teach Writing

Instructor: Rachel Tustin

Dr. Rachel Tustin has a PhD in Education focusing on Educational Technology, a Masters in English, and a BS in Marine Science. She has taught in K-12 for more than 15 years, and higher education for ten years.

In this lesson, teachers will learn how to use technology in order to teach students writing and publishing techniques. Additionally, this lesson will discuss how teachers can use various technological resources to facilitate students using written communication in various modes in their classrooms.

Using Technology to Teach Writing

There are many reasons why a teacher might be hesitant to use technology in the classroom. For some of us, we grew up just as PCs were becoming a common fixture in homes, and so we cling to paper with a sense of nostalgia. Others, it is the fear of trying to manage a classroom of students online. Finally, in some cases, there are teachers who aren't fortunate enough to work in a district with 1:1 technology. In all these cases, as teachers, we have to overcome our fears and embrace the benefits of using technology to teach writing.

Student Writing with Technology

Although there are benefits to learning by writing on paper, there are as many to writing digitally. For example, most teachers have had students with learning disabilities in their class. Often for these students, just the act of trying to form words on paper or through typing can be such a challenge that they lose sight of the writing strategies you were trying to teach them. For these students, they can use any number of free apps that will allow them to speak their words, and have the computer type them on the screen in an online word processing program.

Benefits of Using Technology to Teach Writing

Another benefit of using technology to teach writing is that students can get immediate feedback in multiple ways. First, there are many free grammar checking applications and websites that students can easily use in order to help students proofread their work. There are websites or free extensions that work in the web browser as well. These tools are helpful for students who perhaps are reading at a lower grade level, who are learning English as a second language, or simply struggle to write using appropriate English.

Additionally, using technology offers all students access to other resources such as online dictionaries and thesauruses. They can also easily share documents with you, their teacher, to gain feedback at every stage of the writing process.

Using Technology to Facilitate Students Writing for Publication

Trying to get students to collaborate on a piece of writing using pencil and paper can be challenging. For example, most teachers have faced the dilemma in their classrooms at some point where your students say 'My partner is gone, and they have our papers.' Then we heave a deep sigh, and either ends up having the student redo the work or work on something else in their partner's absence. Technology removes this issue altogether. Whether students are simply creating a document in an online word processor or writing a website or blog, all the members of the group can have access to the document as long as your Wi-Fi at the school is functional.

Modes of Publishing Student Writing

Blogs are a great way to encourage students to write collaboratively outside of the typical report assignment. In writing a blog, students can write practicing their formal, academic English. However, they can carry on discussions with each other and yourself in a format that is a bit more flexible. If you are feeling ambitious, your students can carry on discussions with classrooms across the country or around the world.

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