Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Kid Writing Instruction in a Remote Learning Environment with Dr. Richard Gentry

In a follow-up to the free 2-part Kid Writing Webinar series (watch by clicking here), Dr. Richard Gentry invited educators to ask him more about Kid Writing in the 21st Century. We will be publishing the questions and answers on our blog throughout the year. If you would like to submit a Kid Writing-related question, please click here for more information. 

Q: How do you provide effective Kid Writing instruction in a remote learning environment?

A: Kid Writing offers extraordinary opportunities for remote learning. For example, each of the four basic steps offers possibilities for long-distance group interactions with the teacher modeling or using a child's writing to engage with whole groups or individuals. Here's a reminder of the steps to follow:

  1. Draw-Your-Story or Draw-Your-Information discussions are great for planning.

  2. Kids do the Kid Writing, then come back together for sharing.

  3. The teacher does Adult Writing/Teacher Publication, then the students read back and reread the student stories using the conventional model. After that, students read each other's stories. Over time this is a great way for students to achieve text reading fluency.

  4. Sharing/Mini-Lesson/Direct Instruction provides special opportunities for evidence-based word study based on one child's sample.

Think about the video in the webinar showing Dr. Eileen Feldgus doing the adult underwriting with one student's piece on tornadoes while eliciting responses from "helpers." You can follow this model for long-distance learning.

I would recommend collecting at least one piece of kid writing each week from each child. Take screenshots or share pieces electronically. Remember, the kid writing sample is ongoing data collection and helpful for monitoring progress and assessment.

Of course, the particular platform you are using will offer various options and constraints for long-distance learning. You may have to be creative, but the possibilities with Kid Writing and reading stories back are amazing.

I know of no better source of ideas, activities, and resources for remote learning than Kid Writing in the 21st Century! Pull out your book and check out Chapter 4. It's chocked full of ideas for units of study in all genre types and content area study. Each comes with recommended read-alouds, mini-lessons, and downloadables in the appendices. 

For example, check out the Health and Safety Connections unit for lots of possibilities. There's the Ouch Pouch, where children write about their injuries or illnesses on paper shaped like adhesive bandages. Long-distance learning has opportunities to talk about safety concerns and good health practices during the pandemic for kids at home. There are health-related songs and nursery rhyme tips, and opportunities for reading books like Poor Sore Hungry Giant by Joy Cowley. Your Kid Writing book provides tips such as a teacher write-aloud while soliciting help from long-distance participants. Lessons on health-related topics such as the "Sad Tooth" lesson for dental health comes with all the possibilities mentioned above that may be retrofitted for long-distance learning.


– Dr. J. Richard Gentry