Reading before writing? Writing before reading? It’s a “did the chicken or the egg come first?” type of quandary. As educators, we know that reading and writing go hand in hand. Research shows that regular reading helps students become strong writers, just as practice in writing helps students build strong reading skills. We can probably also agree that writing well does not come naturally for many students. It is an acquired skill that needs time and experience to develop and mature.
So, how do we get our students comfortable with and adept at writing? Simply put, start early—the earlier the better. In our 21st century world, writing is a crucial life skill. Whether students are collecting their thoughts for a research paper, creating a cover letter, or even simply writing a thank-you note or email, they need to know how to write well in a wide variety of situations and for a variety of audiences.
What can teachers do to help their students become strong writers? There are lots of effective digital tools that educators can take advantage of. Online tools can help provide students with critical opportunities to practice reading comprehension, grammar, and composition. Managing writing assignments online also helps students create a digital portfolio of their writing and see the evolution of their own skills. At the same time, these kinds of tools help teachers easily collect student assignments and offer constructive feedback. Being able to provide comments and quickly make revisions with online tools helps educators guide students to better expression. I would also suggest that a main benefit of using technology to teach writing is that it meets students where they are. Our 21st century students are very comfortable with technology, and it’s the environment where they will learn and work.
The value of online tools in writing curriculum was reiterated to me just before the winter holidays when I had the opportunity to work with a group of pre-K and kindergarten teachers looking to expand their usage of Reading Eggs, Edmentum’s literacy program for pre-K through 2nd grade. For early learners, the key benefits that online tools can offer for building writing skills are engagement and practice, both of which are central to Reading Eggs. After uncovering several areas of the program that these teachers had yet to dig into, I introduced them to the Story Factory. This feature scaffolds the writing process for young students, helping them craft their own stories around a particular weekly theme as they practice fundamental skills.
When students enter the Story Factory, they start on the Factory Floor, where the topic of the week is presented to them along with the steps to writing a story. First, students are able to select and order illustrations for the cover and pages within their books. Next, they are encouraged to fill the pages with ideas and events that relate back to their chosen illustrations. Lists of sample words and phrases are available to help develop the setting, identify characters, and sequence events in the story. There are even hints at the top of the screen about what to include on a page, like “What happened next?” or “How does your story end?” to aid in the writing process.
When your young writers complete their stories, they have the opportunity to save their published work in their avatar’s house for later rereading. Additionally, they can print their stories to be shared in class or at home. Students even have the chance to submit their stories to the Reading Eggs Weekly Contest, in which students across the country can vote for their favorite selection, and the winner receives Reading Eggs currency in the form of 200 Golden Eggs!
Imagine having your students feeling so comfortable with writing that your next assignment elicits grins instead of groans. Early immersion in the writing process through exciting weekly submissions with the Reading Eggs Story Factory will build student skills as well as confidence. Who knows? The next New York Times bestselling author might be getting his or her start in the Story Factory!
Interested in learning more about how Reading Eggs can help your students grow as writers and readers? Learn about our Comprehensive Approach to Balanced Literacy!