Concretizing Connection: How Do We Determine “What’s What?” In Remote/Hybrid Learning

  1. Offer free writing at the start of the class every day. For me, this is always Writing Into The Day, or Taking A Line For A Walk, but it may be journaling, or a ledger, or doing more with place-based writing (as many of us did with #WriteOut).
  2. Provide them with structured or ruled creative writing exercises. Many authors understand that writing creatively unblocks them as they prepare to write their more formal, public pieces. However, free-writes may be too unwieldy for their sequential minds. To that end, scripted dialogue writing exercises can be used to have students create conversations with themselves, with other historical or literary figures, with teachers, etc. The mechanism of the prompt can be hugely generative.
  3. Ensure your students have “share-proof” writing spaces. As we aim to create life-long writers, they must have a place they know is unassessed and for their own private daily practice. The share-proof writing might be a focused meditation on “precepts” or beliefs they have. If you recall, this is the exercise done by Mr. Brown, the English teacher in Wonder.
  4. Write beside them through Nanowrimo. I am doing this now with my two ESL courses, and a healthy, inquisitive writing community has spontaneously developed. The questions about craft and our struggles as writers come unbidden. Sharing, too, is an exciting and eager action.
  5. Celebrate events and take part in interconnected projects. December 7th is National Write A Letter Day. There is almost no better way to connect than writing an ACTUAL letter. It is “bonafide printed matter,” and it doesn’t just make the recipient happy, it satiates the writer, too. The sheer fact that there is an intended audience collapses distance, and connects people. The DWP CFYC hopes to host a virtual workshop on this for students. Stay tuned!
  6. Write in digital spaces. Many of us are doing this all of the time anyway, but effective collaborative writing happens in Sutori and Parlay, or Kami or Skitch BookSnaps, and/or Book Creator.
  7. Use Google Meet Activities: Polls and questions have been a great friend these last several weeks. The beauty of them is that they operate as quick writes, formative assessments, engagement prompts, and they are recorded automatically by G-Meet and emailed directly to you in data charts as soon as the meet ends. You can garner a great deal of information from your community through those G-Meet activities.
  8. Backchannel while watching something together: This is like a Netflix Party, but for school. I have shown parts of Romeo and Juliet and The Outsiders in class, and we discussed scenes and lines together remotely while backchanneling in Padlet. It is a fast-paced and fun conversation for all.

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