And the author is...Using Digital Tools For Writing

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SWBAT create a narrative, revise and edit their work, and use a digital tool to publish and share with peers.

Big Idea

Empower students to recognize that they are thinkers and writers! They will collaborate on a writing piece to brainstorm, organize and publish ideas with a digital tool.


  • And the Author is... powerpoint
  • Writing Process list/poster for reference... here's a nice visual to use if you don't have one
  • Group work rules - also good to have a poster or list to refer to
  • ipads/computers with internet access for the students to work in groups  (4-5 students in a group)-when I used this last time, it did not work on the iPad so I suggest computers
  • PREVIEW the link 'story-maker' first so you are comfortable when you demonstrate - there is no login required (that's why I like it!)
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: writing, publish, beginning, middle, end, narrative, brainstorm, rough draft, edit, final draft, publish
  • whiteboard set up


This is the second lesson in my 'Introduction to 2nd Grade Writing. In the last lesson, Waldo Says 'Where's Writing?', students looked for writing examples and learned that there are some different kinds of writing.  I used the words 'narrative', 'informative' and 'persuasive' so the students had exposure to these terms. I also set up collaboration as a strategy and we created a 'Group Rules poster' that we will use throughout the year.  The students are excited about writing now and ready to write!

In this lesson, I am guiding students toward writing. I show several different website creations as examples of writing to show just a few of the MANY MANY ways you can write on the web.  Remind students that writing means not only sentences... pictures, words, letters... those are all kinds of writing!

Let's Get Excited

10 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.


Engage students: 

  • "We know that writing that surrounds us - look on the walls, on the doors, on your papers - its everywhere!"  Pause, let them look.  "What kinds of writing do you see?" Refer to signs.. "Is that writing?... pictures in the class... are those writing?  What about this letter? Is that writing?" Ultimately lead them to the idea that writing takes many forms.
  • "Today we are going to be looking at writing on the internet using 'digital tools'." (powerpoint slide 1) 
  • "Since we discovered last lesson that there are lots of kinds of writing, let's create and publish some writing on the computer!"
  • (slides 2-4) "Here a some kinds of writing that I created on a website.**  Today, you will become authors and publish (new word - emphasize it and pause) your own writing.
  • "Today you will have a chance to write by using a website.  You will create a story with your group. When you are done, you can share your writing as a group."


**Websites are included in the PPT if you choose to create a sample as you teach, but that is very time consuming. I chose to make them ahead of time and just show what I created.  I would encourage you to personalize these screenshots on the powerpoint to current topics your kids are studying - weather? history? science?  You could link these to a science or social studies topic!!

Teachers' Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • "Today you are going to be an author of a story, or narrative. I'm going to demonstrate how to collaborate with 3 students and we'll go through the steps of the writing process." (powerpoint slide 5)
  • "We talked about this process in the last lesson, but this list is a little more specific. (slide 6)
    • brainstorm - organize - draft - revise - publish." 
    • Its helpful to have a poster or list with the steps to the writing process up in your classroom. I made a bulletin board and left it up for the year.
  • (slide 7) Pull up the 'My StoryMaker' Website.
  • "Let's look at the website and brainstorm and organize (refer to the writing process visual)-- we have to brainstorm and organize our ideas. We will 3 scenes for our narrative - a beginning, middle, and end."


Students are focusing on a topic and strengthening writing by following the writing process, including planning, revising, deicing and publishing with digital tools. (W.2.5) This focus on digital publishing and the use of writing process is a key shift in the Common Core State Standards toward process writing, explicitly teaching the process of writing through practice and guidance and support from adults and peers. As students use these digital tools to produce and publish writing and collaborate with peers, they are using technology to create novel pieces and interact collaboratively with peers and adults. (W.2.6)


Model the writing process

  • brainstorm: "I'll list my name as author. Then I'll look at all of the choices of story ideas and choose what I want."
  • organize: "Before we write the story, let's talk about what goes in the 3 parts to make a narrative (story)."
    • I need a beginning to introduce, a middle scene to show a problem, and an ending scene to fix the problem."  
    • The idea of a introduction, problem, and solution is worth mentioning because some of the students may have learned about story structure.
  • draft & collaborate: "I like that dinosaur, but you guys don't so we can use your boy picture.  Let's listen to Joe's idea before we decide what to do.  We are almost out of time so let's just pick an idea."
  • revise: "Wait, that doesn't make sense.  Let's move that here.  Look over the story one more time. Can we delete that because it does not look good?"
  • publish: "Ok, we wrote a story and are ready to publish That's cool that we could collaborate and create a story together!"
  • Here's a teacher demonstration of how to using the website.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • "Today you will be become authors, following the writing process, and publish it with digital tools."
  • "you'll be using iPads - let's review the iPad Rules so we can keep the technology safe."
  • Set up groups... "Remember the group rules that we created."
  • "A few things to remember:
    • You will work in groups (remember to assign a timekeeper, recorder who will 'screenshot' the image, and reporter who will talk about what they did. Be sure to collaborate (W.2.7) and give each person a turn. 
    • List all of your names as authors and decide on a title.  
    • Your story will be 3 squares.  Each person should give ideas. The cartoon should be a narrative, or story, so think of a beginning, middle and end of a story.  Include some actions, thoughts, and feelings!"
  • "Brainstorm before you start and look at the options. Draft the project and edit as you go."
  • "Your presenter should be ready at the end to present."


Monitor as they work

  • Give them some time parameters.  I let the kids work for about 10 minutes and then gave a 5 minute warning to the timekeepers.  At one minute, they had to pick their favorite scene to 'screenshot'.
  • Some students did need prompting to use the idea of a beginning, middle, end.  I thought the idea of a beginning or introduction, middle with problem and end with a conclusion would be more familiar.
  • Some students wrote stories that were just 3 loosely related events, so as I monitored their progress, we talked about using the beginning to introduce a character and setting, the middle to tell a specific problem and the end to solve the problem.
  • Here's on of the student's created stories.


Students are writing narratives to recount a short sequence of events including details to describe actions, thoughts and feelings. (W.2.3). They are writing these stories to develop imagined events using effective techniques, well chosen details and well structured event sequences. I expect active participation from all students in the collaborative groups in the use of digital tools to create writing samples.

Apply It!

5 minutes

Discuss the ideas

  • "Now that you've created this fabulous stories, let's share.  Authors SHARE their writing.  I'm proud of all of you for creating stories and working together so well. When you share these stories, remember to speak clearly so we can hear your stories and use expression so we can get the feelings and fun of your stories."
  • Let the 'reporters' come up with their group and share their favorite scene and a bit about their story!
  • "So... let's reflect about writing today."
    • What was your favorite thing about creating a narrative?  What was easy?  What was hard?"
    • "Did you like working in a group?"
    • "Did you follow the writing process - what was the hardest step of that process?"
    • "Would you use this website again? Did you like being an author on a website or would you rather have drawn and illustrated your own story?"  
    • Take ideas, encourage discussion.  This reflection is AS IMPORTANT AS the activity.  Kids hear each other say that .... was hard or .... was easy and it makes them realize that parts of writing can be challenging for everyone.
  • "I see some of you liked the digital tools and some people said they like to draw and write on paper.  Writing is a process that's different for all of us.  Its great to try out new ways of story creation so we can discover what we like."
  • "We will be doing more narrative writing and publishing in the future in other ways so you'll have a chance to try out lots of ways to be an author!"


Here's an animated student story that shows how the movie looks when its made.  The students can click on characters to make them show emotion, move and interact.

As students recount their stories with relevant descriptive details, they are speaking audibly in coherent sentences and presenting the word so that listeners an follow the story. (SL.2.4) Following the shift in teaching practices from the Common Core State Standards, I have created a carefully structured situations so students can practice speaking and listening skills in groups and then share their stories with the class.


Scaffolding and Special Education  This lesson could be easily scaffolded for lower and higher level readers/writers.

This lesson could be used for writers who struggle.  The collaboration and group work is GREAT because they can freely share ideas and share the burden of forming complete sentences and getting words on 'paper' (or the screen). It is also good for them to hear the modeling of the average and above average writers.

For students who have strong writing skills, the website offers the opportunity to write longer sentences with more complex vocabulary.  However, just because you have strong writers, does not mean they excel at brainstorming or organization.  The collaboration with mixed groups will afford all of the kids to share their talents, whether they be typing, organizing, ideas, sentence fluency, or creativity!!