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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Entry 2: Developing Digital Writing Skills at an Early Age

In The Digital Writing Workshop, Troy Hicks discusses three elements of the framework of digital writing: your students, the subject of writing, and the spaces in which we write in.  Personally, my experience with digital writing workshops is limited; however, after reading Hicks (2009) notes in Chapter 7, I was able to make connections between these three important elements and how they are portrayed in the classroom.  Through reflecting on my student teaching experiences, I am able to compare and contrast the framework of digital writing to what I encountered in the classroom.

In early Fall I student taught in a first grade classroom at State Road Elementary School.  Since my students were between the ages of six and seven, they had very little exposure to the digital world.  As a result, my cooperating teacher and I implemented a computer program to assist them in learning how to type.  We incorporated this activity into our morning centers routine, which allowed students thirty minutes of computer interaction; consequently they began to develop digital writing skills.  Another center which also supported these skills was the writing center; here students would write and explore about topics pre-selected by myself and my cooperating teacher.  Through practicing writing, students began to develop literacy skills that will help them become proficient writers in the future.

Writing goes beyond pen and paper, and it was my goal to illustrate this to my students.  Many times we acted out our thoughts or drew pictures instead of using words to tell a story.  As a result, my students were able to learn about different crafts they can use to get their ideas across to others.  We also explored the concept of a genre and learned about the many different types we come across when reading.  Although digital writing involves a computer, teaching my students these basic skills will help them to organize their ideas, choose appropriate writing forms and audiences, and become confident digital writers.

The last element, space, is essential in order for students to become the best writers they can be.  As educators we need to set up our classrooms in order to support individuals in their learning.  First graders need a lot of space; therefore, my cooperating teacher and I set up the computers and chairs along the back wall to allow for “…easy movement and communication” (Hicks, 2009).  We also made sure to have writing tools such as scrap paper, pens, pencils, dictionaries in accessible areas around the room.  Students had everything they needed to be successful learners in the classroom.  As my students grow older, I know they will not need as much space and will be able to use Wiki’s, Blogs, and other writing tools to publish their hard work.  Spending time as a first grade educator, my objective was to provide them with the basics of their background knowledge on writing and teach them skills to support them in their future.

Technology is growing rapidly and becoming more and more accepted in the educational field.  I believe it is imperative for teachers to become familiar with these advances and incorporate them into their pedagogy.  We may not always feel comfortable with change, but it is our professional responsibility to take risks in order to be the best educators for our students.

Hicks, T.  (2009).  The Digital Writing Workshop.  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann  


  1. At the end of your second to last paragraph, you state: Spending time as a first grade educator, my objective was to provide them with the basics of their background knowledge on writing and teach them skills to support them in their future.

    I am left you think you did all you could have? After reading Hicks, is there more you realize you could have easily focused on that you had not thought of before? Are there questions you still have regarding how best to implement these instructional plans?

  2. Dr. Jones, I believe there is always room for improvement. It is important to me to reflect on my teaching in order to grow and become a better educator. Looking back on my experience, as a teacher in first grade, I think I could have done more if time allowed. I would have loved to have more time for them to use their imagination and practice writing. In relation to Hicks, I am still wondering what is appropriate when introducing/utilizing technology in a classroom with younger students. How far can you go with it?