Teaching Writing in Hybrid Classrooms
Apr 7, 2021 8:53:18 AM
Remote learning, online learning, hybrid teaching. When it was thrust upon teachers, students, and parents in early 2020, it seemed like a temporary fix, but as time goes on it becomes clear that much of this reliance on technologies to allow for remote teaching and learning is here to stay.
As more and more schools begin to reopen or go through rolling lockdowns, more educators are contending with some version of hybrid learning. Some students are in class. Some students are at home. In many jurisdictions, some version of teaching that combines face-to-face teaching with online learning modules seems to be here to stay.
And teaching writing in these conditions is far from ideal. We believe this is why we've seen a lot of interest from dedicated high school educators and college-level composition instructors who are looking for solutions for themselves and their students that can help teach writing online.
Teaching writing using EssayJack vs. Google Docs & Slides
If you're using Google Classroom, you've probably tried or been teaching and guiding student writing using lessons you've constructed in Google Docs or Slides. Which is not a bad solution, especially if it's working out well for you.
On the other hand, as this pandemic continues, if you feel like you want a more long term writing solution that allows students to work on their writing and progress whether they are sitting in front of you or not, EssayJack provides more functionality than cobbling something together with Google Slides or Docs.
Typically with Google Slides, you'd put together your lesson and walk students through the slides, perhaps with focus questions or worksheet tasks.
Typically with Google Docs, you'd put together a guide in a blank document so that students can begin writing.
EssayJack combines the tips and guidance that you can provide in a Google Slide with the real-time composing of Google Docs in an all-in-one interface. And, yes, students can always export to Google Docs once they've gotten a draft completed in EssayJack. But why start with a blank document, when they can be guided every step of the way?
You can use EssayJack to teach online, in-class, or in a hybrid classroom; it's an all-in-one writing tool that'll help you keep you organised and focused on supporting student writing.
Get teaching quickly with pre-made writing templates
With a Google Doc or Slide, you first have to create your own templates and scaffolds, and figure out ways to share them with every student. EssayJack's ready-to-use smart templates support students with scaffolding that educators would provide in class or through templating worksheets. And each template can be shared with an entire class in 2-3 clicks.
You can tailor things if you want, but if you're overwhelmed and want a trusted resource that you don't have to build from scratch on top of everything else you're juggling, you can use EssayJack's "off the shelf" templates, created by our team of educators which include:
a list of sentence starters and transitions for each section of each paragraph,
written tips and video guides for each section describing what is required,
interrogative prompts to get students started on their writing task, and
templated structure to get things right!
As an educator, you can provide as much or as little support as you want through these templates.
Teacher Tip: If you have a classroom filled with students with varying levels of writing proficiency, you can use a differentiated learning approach by quickly replicating templates with tweaks for individual students or small groups of students. So you can use the same template with a minor (or major!) modifications depending on your students' needs.
Teach using progressive templating for hybrid learning
Chunking material is also difficult to achieve through a regular Google Doc or Slide. If you use these tools, students often get everything all at once, but EssayJack templates lend themselves well to what is known as progressive templating - teaching writing section-by-section. Turn on one section at a time, to focus students' attention on the introduction or even just the opening sentence. Giving them time to learn and practice it before moving on to the next section - all within one template.
Seeing the individual parts come together into one cohesive piece of writing can be motivating and part of the fun of writing for students. Combining progressive templating with our Sneak Peek function which shows the essay coming together without the scaffolding and chunking provided by the templates (on the right side of the image below), gives students that added incentive to keep going.
Teacher Tip: Using progressive templating, you can spend a lesson on any one section (say the introduction, or even just the thesis statement), and then just turn on that section for students so that they can write that section in their own essays. Then during the next lesson, you can turn on the next section (say the body, or even just the topic sentence of the first body paragraph). This way, students can progress through step by step, never getting overwhelmed.
Easy feedback...from everyone!
It's a well-known fact that students learn the most from formative feedback during the writing process rather than summative feedback or comments once the assignment is done.
In Google Docs and Slides, you can provide feedback easily using the comments function, allowing for real-time collaboration. This is great!
Or is it?
The one hiccup with providing students with feedback using Google Docs, is that as an educator, you can be tempted to just go in and fix all the grammar or spelling errors yourself. But, of course, students need to identify and fix their own errors in order to truly learn.
EssayJack's commenting and rating functionality allows you to note an error, but not fix it.
As well, students can benefit from peer feedback as well as educator feedback.
In EssayJack, feedback is guided by our built-in rubric which covers the main areas of any piece of writing: organisation, style, content, and spelling, grammar and punctuation.
The review is done in a separate window where the contents of the essay itself cannot be changed, empowering the author of the essay to learn from and incorporate the feedback themselves once the review is returned to them.
You can have students send you their writing at any point for review. But with the built-in review rubric, students can also review each others' work or even their own work in a structured way. This gives them a chance to develop a deeper understanding of what good writing is all about and how to improve their own writing.
Teacher Tip: You can have students use the EssayJack built-in rubric to do a first round of formative feedback on their own writing. They can learn how to self-edit and compare their writing against the rubric for each section.
These are just some of the ways that set EssayJack apart from Google Docs or Slides when it comes to teaching writing. There are many other features that support your endeavours to teach writing including uploading your links and resources, adding attachments, creating groups of students, and Grammarly and ProWritingAid integrations to help your students help themselves!
Here's a rough summary of what EssayJack provides. We take writing seriously, and we've got a dedicated writing platform...why not try it out?
And, from EssayJack, if you do create custom content, we have an easy button that allows you to copy the link for any assignments you might make, and you can post them in an email to students, or right in your Google Classroom interface.
Teacher Tip: We understand that many educators have been digging into their own pockets in the past year to find, try, and use the best education technology tools that they can find. As a company founded by educators we relate to this commitment to providing the best for your students and so we're equally committed to making EssayJack a possibility for everyone.
We provide very minimal pricing for bulk purchases which can be easily covered by students or the institution themselves. If you're keen to learn more fill out this form and we'll get back to you ASAP with pricing and answers to any other questions you might have.
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