Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared on The Character Tree’s blog.

When we were just a couple weeks into distance learning, I started to really miss writing workshop time. Over the years, I’ve come to cherish this part of the school day and I know my little writers feel it’s a special time too! I became determined to find a way to bring the feel of writing workshop into the homes of my kindergartners.

As a result, I have been creating and recording writing lesson videos for my students. I have been assigning 2-3 videos a week for my students and since I have been doing this, I’ve received such positive feedback from my students and families about writing time being their favorite part of the at-home school day!

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I share this not because I’m doing anything extraordinary with my writing videos, but rather because they’re quite ordinary. Ordinary in the fact that I’m continuing to teach writing very similarly to how I have for years, except instead of having my kids right in front of me, I imagine them on the other side of the camera lens. Is it perfect? No. Far from it. I’m not able to be as responsive in my teaching as I am in the classroom. I miss being able to share examples of my kids writing in the moment. And, I long for the day I’ll be able to pull up a chair right beside my little writers and confer with them. But, by following the same structure of a mini-lesson that I always do, I have been able to provide my students and myself with some semblance of writing workshop. It is my hope that by sharing my teaching and lessons, we can bring the writing workshop into the living rooms of many homes and ultimately cultivate a community of children who find joy in writing.

Here are the 10 writing lesson videos I created.

Lesson 1: Writers Set up Their At-Home Writing Spot: Have students find a good spot at home where they can focus without many distractions. Have them draw a picture of themselves in their writing spot and share it with their teacher. Watch my video lesson here.

Lesson 2: Writers Gather Materials for Writing at Home. Discuss the types of materials students will need to write a book. For example, a pencil, crayons paper, and a tablet or computer to use to watch the online videos. Show them how to staple or fold several pieces of paper together to make a book. Have them take a photo of their books and share it with their teacher. Watch my video lesson here.

Lesson 3 Writers Remember How to Write a How-to Book. Have students make a list of things they know how to do such as making a sandwich or making a pizza. Describe the components of a “how-to” book and show some examples. Have students pick something off of their list and create their own “how-to” book. Watch my video lesson here.

Lesson 4: How-to Writers use Diagrams to Teach More. Explain what a diagram is (a detailed picture with specific labels). Discuss the components of a diagram and show an example. Have students go back to their “how-to” book and add a page with a diagram. Have them take a photo of their diagram and share it with their teacher. Watch my video lesson here.

Lesson 5: How-To Writers Can Write an Introduction for Their Readers. Explain what an introduction is and why it is important to introduce the topic of your “how to book.” Describe the different types of introductions and have students write an introduction to one of their books. Have them take a photo of their introduction page and share it with their teacher. Watch my video lesson here.

Lesson 6: How-To Writers Can Write a Conclusion for Their Readers. Explain what a conclusion is and give examples of different types of conclusions and how they help the writer tell the reader goodbye. Have them write a conclusion for one of their “how –to” books and take picture of it to share with their teacher. Watch my video lesson here.

Lesson 7: Writers Share Advice by Giving Tips. Discuss why writers might want to provide advice. Discuss what kinds of words writers use when they provide tips. Give examples and have students write tips for their “how-to” books. Have them take a photo of their tips page and share it with their teacher. of Watch my video lesson here.

Lesson 8: Writers Share Advice by Giving Warnings. Discuss why warnings such as “be careful when using a knife,” are important to help readers stay safe when they are completing the task in the “how-to” book. Discuss the kinds of words used in warnings. Have students add warnings to their book and have them take a photo and share it. Watch my video lesson here.

10 distance learning writing lessons

Lesson 9: Writers Use a Checklist for How-To Writing. Discuss why a checklist is important for writers when drafting their book. Describe the different things on the checklist such as the introduction, numbering the steps, using transition words and a conclusion. Have students create a checklist for their “how-to” book to make sure all the parts are there. Watch my video lesson here.

Lesson 10: Writers Get Their Writing Ready for Their Reader. Explain what should be on an editing checklist such as proper punctuation and spacing between words, and how this checklist helps writers get their books ready for readers. Have students use the checklist for their own books. Watch my video lesson here.

Lesson plans and charts: The lesson plans and charts that I used when recording the videos above can be accessed here.

Online writing celebrations: Another simple success I have found along the way of distance learning was in the form of an online writing celebration at the culmination of these lessons. My writers were eager to share their writing with each other and equally as eager to give one another compliments on their work as writers. Click here to download the chart I created for setting the expectations for our online writing celebration.

I will continue to share my distance learning writing videos and lesson plans with my email list; click here to sign up to be on The Primary Pal email list. You can also find me on Instagram, @theprimarypal.

Looking for more ways to teach positive character traits in the classroom? Check out our blog or subscribe to The Character Tree for educational videos and fun classroom activities!

About the Author:

Sara VanderWel teaches first grade in Washington State and portrays “Miss Sara” in The Character Tree’s character development video lessons for early elementary school students. She runs The Primary Pal blog and is a teacher-author on Teachers Pay Teachers.


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