How to Support WritingCity with Remote Tools

As questions about the future of education linger in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, distance learning remains a chief concern for educators.

Whether you are attempting to provide virtual education throughout the summer or you are simply hoping to prepare in advance for the upcoming fall semester, WritingCity aims to continue providing tips for remote learning to make the process of connecting with students far more streamlined.

We’ve previously discussed tips and methods for teaching remote and tips for making remote teaching interactive via some of our favorite digital tools that educators can use; now we’ll dive into some specific ways that the tools we already laid out can be used to enhance the WritingCity curriculum and support remote instruction. To exemplify our favorite tools and tips, we’ll dive in with some examples from our 1st grade and 4th grade curriculum.

Advice for Remote Instruction

This type of education is still relatively new for most teachers, so if you’re struggling to find your footing, you’re not alone. These are some of the best practices you can call upon to ensure your remote instruction of the WritingCity curriculum is effective:
  • Focus on using one tool at a time
  • Prioritize student connections to avoid feelings of isolation and disconnection
  • Emphasize active learning (as opposed to lecturing)
  • Clearly communicate expectations to students
  • Build in time for flexibility
  • Automatically allow student feedback
Armed with these best practices, you can generate a virtual learning environment that’s interactive and fosters connection.

Tips for Enhancing 1st and 4th Grade Lessons

The tips and tools we have outlined here are designed to accompany lessons focused on narrative writing. It’s important to start by identifying the goals and standards of a lesson prior to diving in; these will be laid out clearly for you to make note of prior to beginning. Objectives and instruction styles for 1st and 4th graders will obviously differ, but the tools discussed here are relatively universal.

Supporting Modeling, Anticipatory, and Input Sets Through Digital Platforms

Teachers must find new ways to model the pertinent details of a lesson for students, so it’s vital to get creative with this initial phase.

In order to show 1st graders the importance of identifying the three W’s of a story (who, where, and when), and the three major plot points (beginning, middle, and end), you can create a Fiction Planning Chart on Kami with six boxes to accompany the six points just mentioned. By filling this chart in yourself you are modeling the lesson from afar.

For 4th graders who are more advanced and ready to learn about a concept like dialogue, you can imbed a relevant video within a Padlet for students to watch as part of the lesson’s anticipatory set.

Students can add text boxes with what they recognize as dialogue within the video, and discuss why dialogue is important within narrative writing; this will tell you how much students already know about dialogue.

For the input set of the lesson, educators must model dialogue for 4th graders. Jamboard is an excellent tool to achieve this goal—you can read a piece of writing aloud, and add sticky notes pointing out areas in which dialogue is used.

Building Independent Learning and Guided Practice with Virtual Tools

Once students understand the concept at hand through the modeling portion of the lesson, they are ready to take on their own tasks.

In the instance of 1st graders learning fiction planning, students can select a story for which they want to create a Fiction Planning Chart, and draw their own on Jamboard (a free whiteboard service). You can periodically check students’ screens to ensure they are grasping the assignment.


To help 4th graders practicing dialogue, you can utilize Jamboard once again by asking groups of students to add new sections of dialogue to previously-created pieces of narrative writing. This guided practice gives students the opportunity to present their understanding of the lesson.

Sharing Completed Tasks as A Form of Conferencing and Completing Exit Tickets for Closure

Asking 1st grade students to share their completed Fiction Planning Charts gives you insight into how well they have absorbed the day’s lesson, and allows you to create groups with or send messages to any students who need a little extra assistance.

Exit tickets are an excellent form of closure for older students. 4th graders can provide responses to questions that you generate about the day’s lesson through Flipgrid to provide feedback about the instruction, or to further assert their knowledge of dialogue.


These circumstances may still not feel ideal, but the right digital tools can help you continue to connect with students through the WritingCity curriculum with methods such as these. As we all attempt to navigate remote learning for the foreseeable future, follow along with us to learn more about our favorite tools and practices for making the most of every lesson, and to find means of connecting with your students despite the distance.