Over the last several months, teachers, students, and families have experienced several different learning platforms and iterations of school. Throughout the experiences, both parents and caregivers have expressed the challenges of writing instruction in a virtual or hybrid model.
I’ve always recognized the challenges of writing instruction, whether it’s happening in school or at home, and our current situation creates a sense of urgency, a challenge, and an opportunity to partner with caregivers more than ever. Every chapter of my book, Every Child Can Write, addresses a concept of writing instruction and ways to support striving writers in classrooms — and all these strategies are also useful when children are learning at home, too. But how to communicate the ideas with parents and caregivers?
In the spring of 2020, I began creating videos for caregivers — just three- to four-minute clips answering questions, providing ideas, and offering solutions. These videos became the foundation for the Distance Learning Companion to Every Child Can Write, a downloadable video and resource guide for educators to share with students’ parents and caregivers.
Every Child Can Write offers practical strategies for meeting children where they are in the continuum of learning to write, then providing them with entry points, bridges, and new pathways to become writers. All of the strategies lean in to students’ strengths, providing solutions that help them write more and better. While these strategies aim at striving writers, all young writers can benefit. When children write more, they not only develop their skills, but their teachers can discover where they need more support.
Now, when you provide these resources to caregivers, they can use similar strategies to support writers at home — in conjunction with students’ in-school writing work — so that writing skills grow at the highest rates possible. To correspond with each chapter in Every Child Can Write, the distance learning companion contains interactive digital boards that include:
- A brief written summary of the big ideas and how they connect to a home environment
- Short video clips that explain those big ideas with the least amount of education lingo possible
- Documents that teachers can share with caregivers to facilitate instruction, bolster practice, and strengthen understanding when students are learning at home.
In classrooms, teachers set up environments, systems, and structures. Caregivers can do the same within their homes. You can share the videos and downloadable tools directly with caregivers or watch yourself for guidance on clear communication about teaching writing. Although the writing process doesn’t always have clear-cut answers because there are many complexities for individual writers, the distance learning companion focuses on high-leverage concepts.
The 2020-2021 school year still lacks a clear map for many school districts, and there will certainly be fluctuations in setting. But writing instruction will always be central. I hope this resource will help teachers and caregivers provide the supports young and striving writers need, regardless of whether they’re writing in the classroom, at home, or both.